Zoning and Land Use, Plus Creek Committee Report

by Bob Moss, Chairman

Interest in development along El Camino Real continues at a good pace. Happy Donuts opened at the former AAA Muffler building at 3916 El Camino. They seem to do a steady business and are open 24 hours. Hollywood Video plans a store at the former La Cumbre site at 3901 El Camino. They will demolish the existing building and build a new 7200 square foot building and enlarged parking lot. The Museum of American Heritage moved into the former Parnelli Jones Tire shop across from Fresco's (please see separate write-up). All American Market is proposing improving the building facade and adding landscaping in the parking lot. There is yet another modified plan for a new restaurant to replace Dinah's Shack. This one orients the building parallel to El Camino, has underground parking, and removes the old radio tower.

The Little Garden got final approvals to add two apartments above the existing restaurant, and a 1990 sq. ft. building for a restaurant in front. Work has not yet begun. Walgreen's began construction of the new building to replace Chez Louis on March 7. We continue to hear of proposals for the Rudolfo's site. The latest were for higher-priced senior housing and for a Longs Drugstore. Redevelopment of the Hyatt site to 72 townhouses, 17 homes and two duplexes is proceeding with final approvals likely this summer.

The BPA prepared a database of all commercial properties along El Camino so that we and the rest of the community can track changes in uses, vacancies, and opportunities for improvements to the area. City staff also is creating a database of commercial properties on El Camino. Our information was submitted to the staff so that they can incorporate our data into a single, comprehensive database. We may post the final list on our Web site once it is available.

The Barron Park Preschool at La Donna and Kendall obtained a permit to paint the building and repair the fence. There still appear to be some traffic and safety issues, due to double parking in the narrow street when dropping off or picking up children, and insufficient on-site parking, causing back-ups and even blockage of the street during rush hours.

Creek Committee

Construction of the bypass culvert from Matadero Creek to Matadero Ave. was delayed by the rain. The last section of culvert was installed Jan. 4. There still is 693 feet of culvert adjacent to Bol Park to be completed as the weather permits. Once there is a break of four or five days to allow the ground to dry, installation of the rest of the culvert can begin. The diversion structure at the Gunn settling pond is complete. The diversion structure at the bike bridge will be completed by late June. SCVWD is planning a re-dedication of Bol Park and the bike path this summer after the project is completed.

The BPA arranged for SCVWD, the School District and Palo Alto to improve drainage and flood control from surface waters by building a berm and drain parallel to the walking path behind McGregor and Cerrito, with a connection to the culvert near the phone booth on the bike path. Part of the berm closest to the bike path was installed and seems to be diverting runoff away from McGregor. The rest of the berm behind Cerrito cannot be installed until final grading for the project because there is no place to divert the runoff until the diversion structure at the bike path is finished and the surface drains have someplace to send the water.

Regrading Strawberry Hill to it's previous height and slope, with modifications to improve runoff and minimize the chances of flooding on adjacent property, and major re-landscaping of the entire area will be done in mid-1996. Maintenance of the new landscaping will continue for at least 3 years to assure that the new plants survive. Plants native to this area will be favored.

We greatly appreciate the sacrifices and discomfort of the neighbors adjacent to the project along McGregor and Ilima in the past year. The entire community owes them a real debt. Their discomfort frees hundreds of homeowners and businesses from the threat of flooding, and will allow the City to redraw the flood maps to remove homes from the flood zones. Removal from the flood-zone maps means that homeowners no longer will be required to pay for flood insurance, and will not have to disclose a possible flooding threat when selling their home.

The detour on El Camino near Fresco's was supposed to be fixed and the center divider reinstalled in January. The rains and some delays in completion of the telephone vault next to the creek delayed repaving of the street and removal of the barricade until late March or early April, depending on the weather.

It is important to note that this flood control project was the result of more than 20 years of discussions with SCVWD, the city and the community about the flooding problems and how best to eliminate them. All alternatives, including doing nothing and permitting over 500 homes and businesses to suffer significant and repeated flood damage at costs in excess of $10 million per major flood, were explored. An added property assessment to construct flood control projects was passed by 74% of the voters in the 5th Supervisoral District (also the NW Flood Control Zone).

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