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OP-ED: Time to weigh in on Transit Village development
February 05, 2013, 05:00 AM By Mark Olbert

Last week, the San Carlos City Council approved the Transit Village environmental impact report. This proposed major development would straddle Holly Street along the east side of El Camino Real. It is expected to add up to around 280 high-end residential apartments and tens of thousands of square feet of retail and commercial space to our community.

The next few months are the "entitlement phase” for the project. It's when the developer, Legacy Partners, seeks approval to begin construction. Legacy will submit detailed plans for review by the Planning Commission and final approval by the City Council.

During that review and approval process changes to ensure the project complies with the environmental impact report and to make it "fit in” to the overall San Carlos scene will be given to Legacy. In fact, city staff will meet with Legacy even before plans are submitted to lay out a general sense of requirements and objectives for the project.

This isn't a matter of our community telling Legacy what to build. Property owners have the right, within existing zoning codes and statutes, to define their project.

But the community, acting through city staff, its Planning Commission and its City Council, does have a say. That's to ensure developments don't violate community expectations and norms.

Concerned about how multi-story structures on El Camino Real will change the appearance and character of the city? Make your opinion known. Want to ensure the project fosters bicycle and pedestrian mobility? Weigh in. Feel train riders will need incentives to avoid parking their cars on neighborhood streets? You should let your officials know.

In fact, you should put forward any idea or concern you have which involves the project. They may not all be applicable (there are limits on what communities may reasonably require). But it's better to determine an idea can't be pursued than be ignorant of something important that could be incorporated.

The public will have an opportunity to speak at the Planning Commission and City Council meetings that will ultimately decide on the project entitlements. These are tentatively expected to begin in May or June.

But the earlier ideas are surfaced, the more likely they can be addressed. So don't hesitate to contact City Manager Jeff Maltbie ( or Community Development Director Al Savay ( as soon as possible. Copying the council on your emails is a good idea, too. Our email addresses are on the city website at

Mark Olbert is a member of the San Carlos City Council. The opinions expressed here are his own, and don't represent those of the council or the city. You can email him directly at, or

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