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High School Proposal Pits San Carlos Neighbors Against High School District

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Education Showdown.

Despite the protests of a vocal San Carlos neighborhood group, the Sequoia Union High School District voted unanimously last week to proceed with the purchase of the industrial complex at 535 Old County Road with the intent of constructing a magnet high school. As reported a few weeks ago on this site, the District is looking to build two magnet high schools within its boundaries as a way to alleviate capacity constraints at its existing schools due to surging enrollment in the area. The other location that the District has purchased for the second magnet school is at 150 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park. The District hopes that the schools will attract 300-400 students each, according to this article in the Mercury News.

The San Carlos location that has been chosen for the magnet school creates an obvious problem that must be sufficiently addressed by the District: Traffic and parking. On a normal day, the combined intersections where both Industrial Road and El Camino Real meet Holly Street are extremely congested, especially at peak commute times. A big question mark with this proposal is how to accommodate the ingress, egress, and parking needs of 400 students plus faculty without completely overwhelming the area with gridlock.

I know from firsthand experience that when there are baseball and soccer games at Laureola Park, parking and traffic can be extremely challenging, and the attendance at these kinds of events are only a fraction of what a high school will draw on a daily basis. So coming up with a viable solution for this problem should be at the top of the District’s list of priorities if this project indeed moves forward.

And therein lies the big question — whether or not the project will indeed proceed. Neighbors in affected areas of San Carlos are extremely well informed and organized and they have certainly been battle-tested recently, addressing local developments such as the new parking restrictions on Holly Street, the Landmark Hotel proposal, and the Transit Village. The residents don’t object to building a magnet school in San Carlos, or even in the greater eastside section — provided that it’s a sensible location. This particular location creates some real and serious issues that must be adequately addressed.

From the tone of the comments in the Mercury News article, these residents appear ready to dig in their heels on this one.  There is a petition posted on the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association website which is seeking support to block the initiative.

What Do You Think?

What is your opinion of a proposed magnet high school at 535 Old County Road? Good idea, or ill-advised?  Register your vote in the poll below, or as always, voice your thoughts in the comment section.

Should a magnet high school be built at 535 Old County Road in San Carlos?

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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 12-13-14.

Holiday Calendar

As we enter the final weeks of the year, the pace of activity is starting to slow down.  This is to be expected, since December and January are perennially two of the slower months in the real estate year.   Last week, “2” seemed to be the magic number — two new listings, two pending sales, and two closed escrows.

I would expect more of the same this week as we start the final “full” week of 2014.   Most people who are considering selling their homes will likely wait until after the first of the year to avoid competing with the holiday season. This is a big reason why our inventory is where it’s at  —  a combined total of 5 homes, townhomes, and condos available in the entire city!  I can’t remember a time when inventory was that low.

But rest assured, that will change in the new year…

Here are the details from last week:

By the Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 12-13-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 12-13-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 2 5
Average Sold Price: $1,288,000 $1,255,100
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $1,009 $798
Average Sold – Percentage Of List Price: 120% 114%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 17
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 18 18
No. of Active Listings: 4 6
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,344,250 $1,467,798
Average DOM of Active Listings: 19 35
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $777 $722
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.21 : 1 0.33: 1

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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 12-6-14.

Calendar

We are moving into the second week of December, and the San Carlos market is showing quite a bit of resiliency to the normal holiday slow-down. Three listings braved the calendar (and the elements) and made their market debut this past week — and why not?  Even with the addition of these three homes, there are still only 6 homes for sale in the entire city! If competition is what you want to avoid as a seller, you can hardly ask for a better climate than what you have right now. There are still plenty of buyers out looking for a home, too, as open houses were reportedly well-attended over this past weekend.

Here are the details from last week:

By the Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 12-6-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 12-6-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 5 2
Average Sold Price: $1,255,100 $1,342,500
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $798 $675
Average Sold – Percentage Of List Price: 114% 120%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 17 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 18 20
No. of Active Listings: 6 6
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,467,798 $1,347,650
Average DOM of Active Listings: 35 25
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $722 $814
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.33 : 1 0.3: 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 11-29-14.

December Calendar

It’s kind of ironic that today is Cyber Monday, because there’s virtually nothing for sale in the San Carlos real estate market.  As of this morning, there are only 6 single-family homes for sale in the entire city, which is spot on to what I predicted last week. It’s even worse in the condo/townhouse market — there’s only one of them for sale right now. December is not typically a month that sees lots of new listings, so you can expect that inventory is going to stay in the tank until after the first of the year.

On the topic of new listings, it certainly appears now that 2014 will finish with the lowest level of new single-family home listings to hit the market in the past 10 years — unless a flurry of new listings were to hit in the next 31 days. I will post all of the relevant statistics in the annual year-end wrap-up, but that’s a significant trend that most certainly had an influence on the direction that housing prices headed in San Carlos in 2014…which, to nobody’s surprise, will likely be the highest level on record.

Here are the details from last week:

By the Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 11-29-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 11-29-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 2 8
Average Sold Price: $1,342,500 $1,139,750
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $675 $907
Average Sold – Percentage Of List Price: 120% 104%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 20
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 20 16
No. of Active Listings: 6 18
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,347,650 $1,244,799
Average DOM of Active Listings: 25 36
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $814 $707
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.3 : 1 1.1: 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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A New High School in San Carlos?

San Carlos Dons

Magnet School Proposal.

When the topic of education comes up in San Carlos, there probably isn’t a bigger lightning rod than the high school situation – or lack thereof, right here in the City of Good Living.

For those of you relatively new to town, San Carlos once had its own high school, which was located where Highlands Park now stands on Melendy Drive. San Carlos High School at that time was the newest of the high schools in the District, but was closed in 1982 due to declining enrollment. The land was sold by the District to developers, and the land surrounding the athletic fields where the school used to reside was converted over to residential property. It was a decision that many San Carlos residents now regret in hindsight, especially now as the District grapples for solutions to solve its rapidly growing enrollment.

If there’s a single shortcoming that ever gets singled out with the otherwise excellent education track in San Carlos, its the lack of a high school.

The option to build another “full-size” high school with athletic fields anywhere on the Peninsula, let alone San Carlos, is virtually impossible due to the lack of the contiguous acreage required, and the restrictions on where such a facility could be built if the acreage was indeed available. This has made the notion of developing multiple smaller “magnet” schools a more feasible solution to the enrollment problem that the District now faces.  In other words, break the problem into smaller bites — not too different than what the San Carlos School District is doing with their “bridge school” solution for 4-5 grades.

The District has taken a definitive step to developing one of these “magnet” high schools right here in San Carlos by entering into contract to purchase the light industrial facility at 535 Old County Road, which is ironically adjacent to Laureola Park (the site of another San Carlos school that was regrettably closed years ago.)  Here is a map of the location:

The school would house approximately 400 total students, which is about 1/5 of the enrollment of either Sequoia or Carlmont High Schools — or, smaller than just the freshman class at either of these schools.   The contract for the purchase of the property has a 60-day contingency period built in to allow the District to complete its due diligence of the location, which involves determining compliance to the rigorous restrictions that are in place regarding where a school can be built today.   If everything checks out, the purchase can close as early as mid-January of 2015.

There’s a great article by Angela Swartz of the Daily Journal with more details about the proposal.  Click here for that article.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 11-22-14.

Thanksgiving calendar

The fall market is starting to wind down, as it normally does right about this time of the year. Only one new listing hit the market last week in San Carlos, and the inventory of available homes has dropped back down to 13. Worse yet for home buyers, when you take a closer look at that list of 13, easily half of those could be in contract before the Thanksgiving holiday, which will drive that inventory well back back into the single digits.  It will likely remain at that level through the remainder of year, short of some unexpected surge of new listings, which is definitely atypical in December.  After the Thanksgiving week, there are really only 3 weeks remaining weeks in the year that are not interrupted by a holiday, so the number of home shopping days is definitely limited.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the loyal readers of the White Oaks Blog!  I hope you have an enjoyable and memorable holiday with friends and family.

Here are the details from last week:

By the Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 11-22-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 11-22-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 8 6
Average Sold Price: $1,139,750 $1,590,833
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $907 $762
Average Sold – Percentage Of List Price: 104% 108%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 20 22
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 16 19
No. of Active Listings: 18 18
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,244,799 $1,391,035
Average DOM of Active Listings: 36 32
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $707 $770
Active-Pending Ratio: 1.1 : 1 0.94: 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 11-15-14.

calendar17

The pendulum swung back toward the buyers direction this past week in San Carlos, at least temporarily, as ten new listings made their debut on the market. And during the same period of time only one home went into contract, which combined to temporarily push the inventory of single-family homes briefly up to 18.  That’s not a huge number, but it’s 80% more than what we had at the same time just a week ago.  Unless we get a similar push of new listings this week, don’t expect the inventory to stay at this level for long — homes that are on the market now are either going to sell, or you can expect that sellers who haven’t been successful may consider taking their home off the market for the holidays, and try a fresh start after the first of the year.   Either way, I believe we will be looking at fairly sparse inventory from this point through the end of the year.

Here are the details from last week:

By the Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 11-15-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 11-15-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 6 3
Average Sold Price: $1,590,833 $1,833,333
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $762 $776
Average Sold – Percentage Of List Price: 108% 117%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 22 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 19 23
No. of Active Listings: 18 10
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,391,035 $1,632,066
Average DOM of Active Listings: 32 57
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $770 $760
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.94 : 1 0.48: 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Redwood City’s Downtown Development Will Impact San Carlos Real Estate..

Box

Redwood City is Growing Up.

It seems as if you can’t drive anywhere through downtown Redwood City these days without bumping into some sort of major commercial development project that’s in process. With no fewer than four different construction cranes that are towering over the horizon and cavernous underground garages being carved out, downtown Redwood City is on a development tear unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. Between new upscale apartment complexes, high-end condominium/retail buildings, and simply commercial office space, downtown Redwood City is rapidly growing “up” right before our eyes.

And this development is not going unnoticed by Silicon Valley.

Redwood City is no stranger to hosting technology companies. One of the biggest tech giants in the world has its iconic glass towered headquarters in Redwood Shores, and a whole slew of start-ups are filling the office towers all around the Oracle mothership. Also, the Seaport Office Park is home to a number of tech companies including Dreamworks, and it’s looking very likely that one of the biggest tech companies on the planet will swallow up the majority of that office park very soon (more on that below.)  As the tech-based economy continues to grow at a breakneck pace, companies are simply running out of office space in the traditional Silicon Valley locations and are starting to look at the mid-Peninsula as the next frontier.

Downtown is Hot.

Up until just recently, there has been no real magnet to draw tech companies to the west side of 101 in Redwood City. The integration of relatively large technology companies into urban downtown areas is far from commonplace in Silicon Valley. Anyone who works in technology knows what I’m talking about — with the exception of San Francisco, the vast majority of tech companies are located in business parks that are usually devoid of restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, and coffee shops. It’s the primary reason why companies such as Google and Facebook have pulled these amenities back onto their campuses and offer them for free (or heavily subsidize them.) Sure, it’s a hiring perk, but the real reason behind these benefits is w0rker productivity. Google in particular figured out that employees are at their working desks working for far more hours every week if they don’t have to drive all the way to downtown Mountain View to get lunch every day. Now, employee subsidized cafeterias are almost commonplace in larger tech firms.

Redwood City has spent the better part of the last decade painstakingly revitalizing its downtown area. The theater complex was genesis of the downtown rebirth, and now the remainder Broadway and the Courthouse Square is teeming with new restaurants, bars and specialty shops. It’s anything but the “Deadwood City” that I grew up in. Until just recently there has been only one ingredient from the formula that was missing from attracting technology companies to the Redwood City downtown — office space.  And thanks to the brilliant foresight of the Redwood City planners, that missing ingredient will soon be filled.

Several tech start-ups have already “seen the light” with respect to what downtown Redwood City can offer.  Evernote (one of my favorite apps) has their corporate headquarters toward the end of Walnut Street, and tech start-ups Turn Inc., and YuMe Inc. have also chosen downtown Redwood City as their headquarters for the reasons cited above.

Those developments alone are quite newsworthy for this part of the Peninsula. But two recent announcements have thrust Redwood City into the “big leagues” as an aspiring technology hub.

Box and Google…Coming Soon.

GoogleThe only thing more eye-popping than the mere physical presence of the Crossing/900 building project that looms over the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Middlefield Road was the announcement that pre-IPO cloud storage company Box signed a lease to occupy all of both buildings. That would effectively bring all 1,100 employees under one roof, with room for ample expansion in the future. It was an aggressive move, but one that was lauded by those who understand what downtown Redwood City has to offer.

In another stunning development, it was recently announced that Google closed on the purchase of 6 of the towers in the Pacific Shores office complex at the end of Seaport Boulevard. While this doesn’t count as a “downtown” development, it exponentially raises Redwood City’s credibility as a technology hub, and will bring thousands of Google employees to the mid-Peninsula.

The Impact.

Will all of this development in Redwood City have an impact on the real estate market in San Carlos?  Absolutely.   First of all, it’s important to note that a significant chunk of the development that’s going on in downtown Redwood City is indeed housing – mostly in the form of mid-rise condos and apartments. For example, the old Mel’s Bowl on El Camino will soon be the home to The Lane on the Boulevard, an upscale 141-unit lease-only living facility. So clearly, developers have thought this through and are working to provide attractive housing for this incoming wave of tech workers who would like to shorten or avoid the unmanageable commutes that are now the norm in the valley. These options will certainly be attractive to the Millenials who want to live in a vibrant community that’s very close to their work, but who are perhaps not ready to commit to the responsibility of owning a single-family home just yet.

For all the rest, the net effect of this explosive growth is that it will bring many more well-educated and well-compensated professionals that much closer to San Carlos.  The very qualities that have made San Carlos such an attractive zip code for technology professionals — great schools, vibrant downtown, and neighborly feel — will become even that much more attractive because of its close proximity to their new work address.  Just look at what Google’s presence has done to real estate prices in Mountain View and Los Altos, and how Facebook blew apart the housing market in Menlo Park. It’s not a stretch to see the same thing happening to San Carlos in the near future, especially if the perceived discrepancy in the quality of their respective schools continues to cause buyers to eschew Redwood City in favor of San Carlos.

That’s obviously great news for people who already own a home in San Carlos, because this will simply push the demand for their homes and subsequent prices higher.  But this should serve as a shot across the bow for buyers that are still hoping to land a 94070 address in the coming years. Their competition is about to get much stronger.

It’s already happening.
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