Zombie Properties

There are believed to be 18,821 zombie properties in California. If a bank notifies an owner that there is going to be a foreclosure sale on their home, the owner may move out but the bank doesn’t follow through with the foreclosure.

The home is left without anyone to maintain it or paying property taxes. The unsuspecting owner may later find that he still owns the property when legal action is taken to recover past due taxes and other bills related to the property. The owners wages may be garnished, his credit destroyed and tax refunds seized.

Cities are often forced to deal with the problems of the zombie property.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/28/us-usa-housing-zombies-idUSBRE92R0YQ20130328

Plans for Middle Schools – Mountain View

The board of trustees on June 20 approved the design plans for modernizing both Graham and Crittendon middle schools.

MVWSD Crittenden Master Plan

MVWSD Graham Site Plan

The modernization of classrooms is expected to be finished in the summer of 2014, the library at Graham in the fall of 2014, and the new library at Crittenden in the winter of 2014.

A new sports center at Crittenden is to be completed in 2015. New auditoriums at each school are scheduled to be completed well into 2016.

Palo Alto Housing Vision 2007-2014

The City of Palo Alto and many other bay area cities have been struggling to comply with the regional housing mandate required by Senate Bill 375 (2008). The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)  have been setting the goals for individual cities to meet.

The City of Palo Alto was required to plan for 2,860 units of new housing for the 2007-2014 time period. On Monday June 17, 2013 the city council voted to adopt the needed new housing vision. A recent complication to the plan was the inclusion of the planned development of Maybell Avenue. The vote took place shortly after a zoning change was approved allowing the Maybell Avenue development to proceed forward.

http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=30048&e=y

City of Palo Alto June 19 Planning and Transportation Issues of Interest: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=34954

Maybell Development Approval: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=2298&TargetID=268

Panera Bread – Opening near El Monte & El Camino Real

Panera Bread is opening near El Monte & El Camino Real at 1035-A El Monte Ave

Panera offers meals generally priced below $10 and donates daily surplus bread and pastries to local charities. They also have free wifi and free coffee refills. “The patio is probably the most beautiful of all 1,700,” – Jeff Burrill president of Pangenera.

They will donate $1 to Second Harvest Food Bank for every person who signs up for a Panera Card before June 30.

New Mountain View Homes – Plans Approved

The Mountain View City council just approved the plans for 21 detached row homes, each three-stories tall, on a mostly vacant 1.4 acre lot at 137 Easy St. The homes are planned to be from 2,000 to 2,900 sf and sell for an average price of $850,000.

http://www.mv-voice.com/news/show_story.php?id=7048&e=y

Caltrain Grade Separation

Caltrain announced their trains have begun using the new San Bruno Grade Separation. http://www.caltrain.com/… Bruno_Grade_Separation.html

The high speed rail must have all railroad crossings grade separated. On Jan 25, I published a short post about Caltrain’s plans for grade separation.  http://julianalee.com/blog/community/high-speed-rail-road-crossings/ Only four months have passed since then so no changes would be expected other than possible schedule changes.

The next phase, of grade separation, planned to be completed in early 2020s,  affects four crossings:

  1. 25th Ave in San Mateo
  2. Broadway in Burlingame
  3. Linden Ave in South San Francisco
  4. Center Street in Millbrae

There are still several years before work on the planned partially elevated tracks with trenched under crossings begins in the south peninsula cities.
http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2012/12/grade-separation-decadal-view.html

 

2013 Distinguished School – Graham Middle School, Mountain View

Isaac Newton Graham Middle School has been named a distinguished school for 2013. Graham’s Academic Performance Index rose 33 points from 815 in 2011 to 848 in 2012. Graham’s API increased by 53 points for Latinos, 63 points for socioeconomically disadvantaged, and by 50 points for English learners.

http://www.mvwsd.org/news-a-hot-topics/496-graham-middle-school-selected-as-2013-california-distinguished-school

Graham Middle School website http://graham.mvwsd.org/

Wildflower Covered Hills in Palo Alto

Craig Dremann and others have a dream of returning native California plants to many local areas. The “Poppy Project” removed non-native weeds from an area above the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve parking lot and replanted it with seeds from local poppies.

If you’ve seen the areas in Southern California around Gorman or the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve when the flowers are blooming you must be hoping for success restoring local areas

Visit http://www.ecoseeds.com/arastradero.html to learn more.

Mountain View City Council approves Castro & Church development

On April 23, 2013 the Mountain View city council approved a mixed used development at the corner of Castro and Church streets. A four-story 28,000 square foot building will be built at 605 Castro which is planned to have offices on the upper levels and either retail or offices at the ground level.  Eight three story condominiums will be built behind the office building.

A underground garage will provide 87 parking spaces, which is 16 percent less than normally required.

High Speed Rail – road crossings

Many homeowners living near the Caltrain tracks have been wanting the High Speed Rail to be built in a way which improves their neighborhoods. Trenched, tunneled, and raised tracks have all been discussed. A recent blog post probably shows the future. It looks like raised tracks are likely in south Palo Alto.

The Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog posted an article on Dec 29, 2012 titled “Grade Separation: The Decadal View” showing expected changes to railroad crossings. The blog can be reached at: http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/

The first phase is simply to complete the San Mateo/San Bruno grade separation in 2013.

The second phase shows four at grade crossings in San Mateo County being changed to grade separation by a combination of raising the tracks and trenching the road to go beneath the tracks. By changing these four crossings, the HSR would have longer uninterrupted sections for higher speed travel. Presumably a key factor for both raising the tracks and lowering the road is to minimize how much property would have to be seized through eminent domain … clover leaf interchanges require space (Oregon Ave underpass)

The third phase creates a stretch of track free of grade crossings from the southern half of Palo Alto all of the way to San Jose. Completion is expected in the late 2020s. Again the grade separation is achieved by combining raising the tracks and trenching the roadway.

Homeowners currently living near the tracks have been hoping better solutions would be found. Unfortunately the blog is probably quite close to what will happen.