Black Mountain Project on Hold as Developer Bellies Up.

November 28, 2023


Veev Closes Its Doors.

The oft-discussed and controversial plan to convert the old Black Mountain Water property at 808 Alameda de Las Pulgas into 87 luxury condominiums took another strange turn today when the developer of the property announced today that they are shutting down operations due to their lack of ability to obtain funding that was necessary to continue operations.

Veev, the owner of the acreage and the lead developer, just received final approval in May of this year from the City of San Carlos to proceed with development of the 11.4 acre site, so this announcement is somewhat of a surprise to those no privy to the day-to-day details. But considering that no apparent work has taken place at the site in the 6 months since the approval, this shouldn't come as a surprise after all.

If you've lived in San Carlos for more than 5 years, you'll likely remember the contentious ballot initiative that attempted to preserve this parcel and an adjacent parcel as a public park, but the Measure failed on election day, thus opening the door for this massive development plan.

What's Next?

According to the article, Veev will be liquidating all of its assets much like a bankruptcy proceeding, so the 11.4 acres they own will likely be sold to another entity. According to the City of San Carlos, the new owner would have the option to develop the property per the approved plans, or they can request changes. Depending on the extent of the changes, it may require review by the Planning and Transportation Commission which would obviously delay the development even further.

At the time of this post, there have been no inquiries from interested developers to take over the project. So much to delight of the homeowners whose properties border the 11 acre parcel, it appears that it's going to remain open space for the forseeable future.

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  1. Harry on November 29, 2023 at 11:01 am

    If the proposed project looks anything like the rendering I hope the new developer starts over .
    Maybe the new developer can find a decent architect . Those town homes are very unattractive,
    some might say they are down right UGLY.

  2. Chuck Gillooley on November 29, 2023 at 6:27 pm

    If they do make significant changes, it will essentially be just like starting all over again. When it’s all tallied up, this will likely be a huge loss for this developer.

  3. Darryl on November 30, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    I vote for a “do over”. Those are far from anything attractive, and should have never been approved.

  4. J Newdoll on December 1, 2023 at 6:07 am

    Park. The tiny winding roads up to the entrance will never work out. They cut down so many trees. What was wrong with the park idea? Many people regretted not voting for that. Some said they didn’t like the wording of the initiative. Fix that and vote again. Maybe the city can buy it now for a reasonable price.

  5. John Dugan on December 1, 2023 at 4:47 pm

    As a city we did a good job pushing for good roads, sidewalks, open space and guest parking in the current plans. A new developer may well start over and put together a much lower cost plan as new state laws have given housing developers more freedom from city planning.

    That will get housing built, but at a cost to the future neighborhood. The next developer may well push for more homes in a denser site plan as hillside development is challenging. That’s why Viiv proposed townhomes btw.

  6. Christine Boland on December 4, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Measure “V” in 2015 was $19.78 per $100,000 of assessed value and needed 66% to pass. At the time, it probably felt like a lot of extra money. Today, it would have just been another line on the tax bill and easily absorbed because of what would have been built by the city for all to enjoy. There is no other parcel anywhere like that Black Mountain property in San Carlos. It’s extraordinary.

    Hindsight is now 20-20 and generations will say “we should have voted for it.”

  7. Steve on December 4, 2023 at 10:07 am

    I don’t think the wording of the ballot was the problem. It was unclear what the city wanted to do with the space. They didn’t have a plan – maybe a park, maybe something else. And the cost to all recent homebuyers was unacceptable. I recall calculating it would cost me over $300 for a year for a park I would likely never visit. Didn’t seem worth it.

    We should try and get midpen regional open space to purchase and preserve it.

  8. Chuck Gillooley on December 4, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing about getting Mid-Pen Open Space to purchase it, but they seem to be more interested in land that is larger and more strategically contiguous (like Skyline).

  9. Mark Olbert on December 8, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    Thanx for the update, Chuck. I only heard about Veev’s demise when a Daily Post reporter called me for comment.

    A few points sparked by the comments so far, from the perspective of a former council member who supported Measure V…

    – Generally speaking, communities don’t get to decide the specifics of what a development looks like. They can establish general rules, but those are constrained by the need to respect private property rights, which are pretty fundamental. Also, the rules can’t be transactional (i.e., they have to apply equally to all comparable property; communities can’t reject a project just because many residents don’t like what it looks like).

    – If a property owner wants to build something that’s unattractive, they’re generally free to do so. If they can’t sell what they built, well, they need to do a better job next time.

    – The state has taken back some of the discretionary planning authority they previously delegated to cities. Why? Because in most cases cities did a poor job of balancing commercial and residential growth. They opted for commercial development, which brings in more tax revenue than it costs to support through public services, and “told” the employees to go live someplace else. Which tied up the roads and what-not funded by the state. FYI, I own part of this failure relative to San Carlos, as I did not push to have us comply with state mandates on new residential construction (we, and many other communities, got away with that because the state wasn’t enforcing those laws until recently).

    – There was a plan for the land if Measure V was approved. Could it have been more fleshed out? Sure! But remember, the former property owner had put it on the market…and land is so valuable around here the expectation was it would sell quickly. A great plan approved after the property is sold is no plan at all.

    – There was a lot of misinformation spread by Measure V opponents, including assertions that you couldn’t build the number of homes that Veev ended up getting approval for.

    – The “gotta buy it soon!” perspective ended up being wrong. More time >>could<< have been taken (e.g., to develop plans further, to sell the idea more, etc.) and the price might not have gone up so much that it would've been out of reach of a somewhat larger bond measure.

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