City of San Carlos plans to replace 6 housing units with 25 to 30 of them

SAN CARLOS, Calif. (KGO) -- The city of San Carlos is partnering with HIP Housing and Eden Housing to build 25-30 affordable housing units in place of six existing affordable housing units off Cherry Street.

HIP Housing owns the property. San Carlos Mayor Ron Collins says this was not an easy decision to make.

"It's certainly going to be a disruption," Collins said.

The mayor said any time they do an affordable housing project where they have to displace residents, they have to find them housing first. "HIP owns and manages several properties in San Mateo County, so being that there is only six units, hopefully that won't be too much of a challenge," Collins said.

He says even though this will disrupt tenants in those six units, the need to build more housing is necessary. "We have a list right now of 2,000 people who either live or work in San Carlos and are looking for affordable housing and we don't have 2,000 units," Collins said.

Executive Director of HIP Housing, Kate Comfort Harr, says these plans have been in the works for 10 years.

Harr said they sent tenants a 'friendly condemnation' letter in July of 2019 regarding the plans. Harr says the plans are dependent on whether the city can purchase the property next door to the Cherry Street location, then they can move forward.

Harr says even if these plans do go through, it will be at least two years until construction would start. If construction takes longer than a year then they will find alternate permanent housing for the existing tenants, if construction takes less than a year, they will find them temporary housing.

Harr says rent will be the same if tenants decided to come back to the newly constructed units. Harr says this situation is unique and this will be a "new opportunity to grow the number of available units."

HIP stands for Human Investment Project Inc., it is a non-profit that has a total of 17 properties in San Mateo County.

ABC7 News went to talk to residents at those six units.

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Rick Sandoval has lived in his apartment for more than 10 years. He said he first found out about these plans when he read the newspaper. "That's a pretty bad way to find out anything, is to find out in the paper you're targeted for a demolition or a change that's going to disrupt your life," Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he and other tenants there tried to get answers. "When we first heard about it, we asked a person at HIP Housing if they could give us some kind of indication so we can plan our lives you know and the answer came back - well we really can't talk about it," Sandoval said.

Sandoval said since he's retired and single, it could be easier for him to adjust to a new place, but one of his neighbors just moved in and just had a baby.

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"You would think that somebody would say - you know we got to talk to the people affected. Even if it's a short meeting like hey, this is what's going on, guys you're in our thoughts, you're in our plans, this is what we have in our intentions we want to keep you informed and give you a person you can call all the time to get a status," Sandoval said.

Another tenant, Matthew Viegas, says he found out the news through a newspaper as well. He's lived in his unit since 2012 and his main concern is how long construction will take. "I'm kind of afraid of what the timeline would be. Because the building they built behind us five years, I think five years it's been," Viegas said.

Sandoval hopes if there is as little disruption as possible and construction goes quickly, then maybe the city of San Carlos will be a model for building other affordable housing units in the Bay Area. "If they plan so that there is absolutely and truthfully little disruption to the people affected, then they've done the right thing," Sandoval said.

Ron Collins says right now, the city is in escrow and they're continuing negotiations with HIP Housing. "We haven't really heard from the property owner or their attorneys, so we're sort of waiting right now," Collins said.

Overall, Collins said they are looking forward to these plans, "We're excited to finally be building affordable housing. It's sorely needed in the entire Bay Area."

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