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Terri Balandra

Fiesta Lanes - the Continuing Saga, since 2001

 

The Fiesta Lanes Bowling Alley site, contains two phases of one big Affordable Housing Project, - with the City of San Jose having a unique position of being a Financing Partner with the two developers CORE and ROEM.

The Redevelopment Agency, drew a line around the Fiesta Lanes Bowling Alley site, and had the City change the zoning from Commercial to Residential/Mixed Use. It was touted as one of the first high-density T.O.D. Developments - Transit Oriented Development, even though I believe the only transit on W San Carlos St, is one bus line.

This development was proposed to this neighborhood in 2001, and approved in 2004. The first phase, "Vista", 32 W.San Carlos-Willard Townhomes were started in Oct 2007, and completed and sold out in 2008/2009,  - and the second phase, The W.San Carlos St Senior Appartment Project which now appears to be getting underway, at the old Mieneke Muffler site. In both cases developers CORE and ROEM have formed either an LLC or a L.P. to build each portion. ROEM built the townhomes, and CORE hopes to build the 58 foot tall, 94 unit Affordable Senior Apts rental project.

A few weeks ago, I became aware that the Planning Dept. noticed that the Senior Apt portion was filing for a Lot Line Adjustment - to separate the one large development, under one permit, - into two parcels. I objected, as there are two unresolved serious issues, from original construction, on the first Townhome portion.

It is my contention that CORE/ROEM are separating the property into two parcels to absolve themselves of responsibility of the two ongoing issues from original construction. There is an ongoing water intrusion/grade/drainage swale issue (I've had four documented water intrusions deep under the soil, under my back fence), as well as a Boundary Line Issue, with the 17 adjacent single-family home owners, adjoining the Townhome site. To this date, none of us have seen any written proof: No  Survey, Maps, nor any written data, that preceded the April 3, 2008 ROEM [letter link], - nor any written "parcel specific" documentation proving that we were all encroaching on the property, by a few inches to ten feet. A few weeks after receiving that letter, we received a one page small "new survey", dated April 16, 2008, with dotted lines on it - nothing parcel specific.

I have attached above, a 2008 article by Mary Gottschalk, that documents events quite clearly.  [article link]

Also a  2008 San Jose Inside blog, written by Jack Van Zandt, the Editor at that time, really explains the issues best:http://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/entries/a_shameful_game_of_inches/ , and best sums it up - regarding the Boundary Line issue. After reading the original post above, under the 13th Public Comment- under the original article, Jack "counters" a comment with:

"I can’t accept your contention that this is all being caused by a couple of “squeaky wheels” who are trying to embarrass the company. The fact is there are more than two residents involved in questioning the company’s actions. Even the press reports in the Rose Garden Resident, the Merc and on TV news bear this out. How would you feel if you got a letter out of the blue one day from a development company making a claim on what you thought was your property? Would you just roll over without pursuing the matter?

 In order to objectively assess the validity of ROEM’s claims in this boundary dispute, it is necessary to have a copy of their independent surveyor’s report, which they have so far refused to make public. Then you would need copies of each of the 17 claims cross-referenced with the report and displayed on an accompanying map. These would then have to be compared to the planning documents and the historical records of property boundaries, and all of this data would need to be reviewed by an independent expert, such as an experienced surveyor or landscape architect, so they can render a “second opinion.”

None of this is possible unless ROEM makes their report public. If it would clear the matter up, then why don’t they? As I say in my column above, their claims may be legitimate. However, the way they have handled this situation leaves a lot to be desired and casts suspicion on the entire project."

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A three foot high grade was installed behind my back  fence, (for the townhome drainage to be slanted towards W. San Carlos St), and even after going down to the Planning Dept, and numerous conversations with numerous Planners, they told me no formal retaining wall was required - unless the grade was over 36 inches. The first three water intrusions occured before any townhome units were sold. After my complaints, a "moisture barrier" was installed after the third water intrusion, with the assistance of the Public Works Dept. On Oct 1, 2011, a fourth water intrusion occured. I had a licensed professional drainage/foundation expert come and do a professional  written inspection, and provided a bid for a repair that would give my property, the greatest protection for these types of intrusions. On May 9th, 2012, I arranged a meeting with ROEM, CORE, me, my inspector, and the Fiesta Lanes HOA Property Manager. Five holes were dug, behind all four Sierra Ave properties that adjoin the townhome common area. It  was discovered that two water irrigation lines were inches from the cement poured around the new fenceposts - all along the back fences of the four adjoining Sierra Ave properties. My fourth water intrusion was caused by a cracked, burst water irrigation pipe, that was sitting directly under the poured cement of one of the back fenceposts.

There were now two issues with the grade/swale/fence, according to my expert. First, it was evident to all there, that the water irrigation pipes needed to be of a thicker grade plastic, and moved back from the fence. The second issue: My expert stated that the grade/swale/fence that had been installed, (and apparently signed off by the City), was "Not typical or standard, and not something my company, nor any reputable company I know of, would have ever installed." He also stated that the "moisture barrier" that was installed appears to be Visqueen stuffed in between the dirt & fence, and looks like a "patch job", after the fact. The original ROEM Construction Manager stated "Well, we had to move it over 24 inches." CORE contends that the drainage swale works. The Fiesta Lanes Property Manager and I both say we have integrity concerns over the drainage swale/grade/fence after the expert's written and verbal report.

A few weeks ago, Chet Lockwood found heavy equipment at the Meineke site, trying to open a heavy cement vault that appears to contain years of automotive, toxic (?) sludge. This site has done automotive repair since 1975, and it appears there is no mention in the EIR of a toxic clean-up, or any Environmental Hazards. Apparently, there was also no permit to remove the sludge, as well. Chet filed a State E.P.A. Complaint, and met with CORE and an inspector who took samples of the sludge, and it is currently being tested, and results should be in shortly. The inspector confirmed that it was inappropriate of CORE to remove this sludge, without first testing it.

This incident brough back bad memories of ROEM, in 2008, illegally hooking up to a City fire hydrant, and blasting old lead-based paint chips down street gutters, into  City drains. The two properties required a HazMat Clean-up, complete with tents  and plastic suits.

As a Realtor, I am aware that almost each & every Seller must fill out a State mandated 3 page Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS), and give a completed form to the new Buyer. Page 2, Question 3 asks: "Any encroachments, easements or similar matters that may affect your interest in the subject property?" As of this time, since we still haven't seen any "proof" or any type of documentation that preceded the April 3, 2008 ROEM letter stating we are all encroaching, it leaves us all with uncertain Boundary Lines - All 17 adjacent single-family homes and all of the 32 townhome owners. We all need closure on this, and have still not received any written "proof", that precedes the April 3, 2008 ROEM letter.

This August, the HOA Property Manager asked me to provide some Boundary Line information. I went to the County Recorders Office and purchased 6 certified Maps from 1907, of this area. On one of these recorded documents, it states that the 2007 Subdivision Map was based on an Aug 2002 Field Survey requested by CORE. Why haven't they provided that Aug 2002 Survey to us, with appropriate Maps and proof? That same recorded document has the City of San Jose signing off on that Map, as well. In fact, it seems the City Planners knew about the different fence line/boundary line issue, as early as 2005, in their drawings & blueprints of the Development Plans.

* Why did it take until April 3, 2008 - ROEM's letter, to notify us that we were all "over the line"?
* Our community pro-actively went to community outreach meetings from 2001-2004, why didn't CORE "negotiate in good faith", and give us time to work out the boundary line issue - when they had "knowledge"?
* Did the City have knowledge of CORE's Aug 2002 Survey, back then?
* Since this project is financed by our own taxpayer dollars, shouldn't there be a higher "Standard of Care" used here?
* Why did it cost $570,000 each in construction costs- to build each townhome?
* Why is it going to cost $383,000 each in construction costs - to build each upcoming small Affordable Senior Apt?
* Aren't these construction costs excessive for an Affordable Housing Development, using taxpayer dollars? - Who oversees the actual construction costs of each development?

Now it appears, as of June 2011, CORE/ROEM do not appear to own the RDA funded land that will contain the Senior Apts. It now seems the City of San Jose owns the land, and the developers will lease the land from the City, once the Senior Apts are built. See the two links for more 2011 Council info:

http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/Agenda/20110614/20110614_0401.pdf

http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/Agenda/20110614/20110614_0401sup.pdf

I have  asked Leslye Corsiglia, our Director of Housing, who uses the services of these two Affordable Housing Developers quite often, - to assist in resolving the drainage & boundary line issues, before the Lot Line Adjustment is made, dividing these two portions.

As this 2004 approved project sits in the Planning pipeline, Mayors, City Council Members, and Planners have changed. It's the surrounding community left holding the bag, and trying to pick up the pieces. The City Attorney excuses the City from responsibility of this City financed project, and the community is left to seek expensive legal counsel, even though this Project was financed with our own taxpayer dollars. (Seven of us property owners- of the adjacent 17 single-family homeowners, all sought legal counsel.)

What's wrong with this picture?

Stay tuned for the resolution ... as it will indicate how the City, with its favorite Developers, will continue to add density and higher housing numbers into new "Urban Villages" - seemingly at the expendable existing community stakeholder's expense.

Supporting Documents

Fiesta Lanes 2003 City Mitigated Negative Declaration

Fiesta Lanes 2001 SHPNA Development Committee

Fiesta Lanes, pg 2 of TDS

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 October 2012 10:18 )

 
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