News

POST announces 'strategic' land acquisition

Property will allow better hiker and bicyclist access to Mindego Hill from Russian Ridge

A newly purchased 97.5-acre property on Skyline Ridge will open an additional trail to bicyclists and hikers, the nonprofit land trust Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) has announced.

Known as the Silva property, the land is next to the Mindego Hill portion of Russian Ridge, which the trust saved from development in 2007. It is on the western flank of Skyline Ridge, four miles southeast of La Honda. (View map)

POST purchased the property from the family of the late Jack H. Silva of Santa Clara for $3.09 million on Dec. 17, 2010. The land previously required an easement to cross from Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve to Mindego Hill.

The parcel will be added to the Russian Ridge preserve and will be transferred to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for management sometime in 2011.

The property includes nearly a mile of frontage along Alpine Road. It is surrounded on all sides by other protected open space, including the 3,025-acre Russian Ridge to the north and west and 2,142-acre Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve to the south and east.

The property offers panoramic views of Mindego, the San Mateo coast and Santa Cruz Mountains. It also may support or be home to endangered and threatened creatures by providing a migratory corridor for California red-legged frogs and potential habitat for long-eared owls.

It has rolling grasslands and oak-and-madrone woodlands that support golden eagles, coyotes, badgers and mountain lions. Dense Douglas-fir forests line steep creek canyons, and the headwaters of Alpine Creek flow on the property into San Gregorio Creek, which supports threatened steelhead trout, according to POST.

"This rolling landscape is a natural extension of Mindego Hill and surrounding protected lands," POST President Audrey Rust said.

"Our purchase of this strategically located property helps expand the connection between Skyline Ridge and Russian Ridge preserves and creates an opportunity for ... a trail connection to Mindego Hill. It also ... ensures that the heart and soul of Skyline Ridge remains protected from development."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2011 at 7:58 am

I love the hills above Palo Alto, enjoy using the space from time to time, but having grown up in Palo Alto, I do feel that the local open space movement is totally & royally kicking the ass of the developer community. The reality of living around here is this - either you have family money, or you hit the motherlode at a tech firm and can own a nice place in a nice area - and in which case you protect the hills - or you drive 45-90 minutes each way to and from work on the Peninsula.

Dare I say that us have-nots would like *more* development above the super-wealthy-only enclaves of LAH, Woodside and PA Hills? Is expanding the base of housing available in/near PA to the *relatively* poor upper middle-class an issue anyone here cares about?

I'm one of 11 childhood friends who grew up in PA, and while virtually everyone would've wanted to continue living in PA, only 3 do. 8 don't, and of the three that do only 1 owns. This despite *every single one of us* having college degrees and successful careers (doctor, lawyer, CEO, GM, SVP, etc).

There's a way to keep the hills in place that doesn't require our area become an aging bastion of the wealthy to super-wealthy, but expanding open space at all-costs while denying building in the hills is not, dare I say, sustainable?


Like this comment
Posted by thanks POST
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

Thanks POST. I'm looking forward to visiting this new open space.


Like this comment
Posted by Tax-Equally
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

There is an incredible amount of land that has been taken out of the tax base, because of activities of groups like POST. All land needs to be taxed, in order to keep from shifting the costs of government onto the backs of a decreasing number of people.

It's bad enough that working farms are lost, but to lose taxes too makes these sorts of activities not in the best public interest.


Like this comment
Posted by Small residence owner
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm

It is wonderful that we have such a green belt around us. That's what makes it worthwhile to live around it. If we did not have it or if we, god forbid, ever weaken this further (we've already had way too much development in the hills), we would then become another Los Angeles area. This place would lose its soul and would stop being such a desirable place to be.

Those who complain about having to commute far away: Have you considered living closer by but in a smaller dwelling? That's the sacrifice our family has made. We bought and only have a tiny house here. There is less expensive real estate in the area if you are willing to compromise on this.

We love the hills, hike there frequently. They are a life saver in this stressful place and time.

Keep it this way. Thanks POST!


Like this comment
Posted by Big Time Realtor
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:26 am

As a major Realtor, I'd like to thank POST for buying up parcels like these. You see, the more land Post gets, the less property is available for homes. And that pushes home prices up to astronomical levels. We're talking artificially high prices. Yahoo! That makes my commissions bigger, so I can afford my Porsche payments. Thank you POST!


Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:53 am

[NOTE: went to Edgewood Park Saturday, going up to another park today]

@Small residence owner - the soul of this area is not expansive parks accessible largely to the wealthy who live immediately below it, nor is the this area at risk of becoming L.A.

I agree with you on the small homes; smaller homes foster better family relations, and are a great option. But when 3BR *pieces of crap* go for $1.2-1.5M, PA and its environs has a problem. My suggestion would be to open more land up on the foothills to development geared towards making it possible for thousands more to live the Palo Altan dream. As it stands, Palo Alto is getting old, and most of its new citizens have the negative baggage that comes with millions of newfound riches, or dual wage-earning couples who are never there for their children. Not the place I grew up in!


Like this comment
Posted by It's about balance
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

With all due respect, Palo Alto is building a lot of affordable housing. Look at the new Bridge site, the Opportunity Center, the Treehouse project that is being built right now on Charleston.

We have limited land available to develop, and the Foothills provide a view shed and protected environment for wildlife. That is important, too.

I'm glad that our community is working to preserve open space in addition to developing housing. Future generations will be grateful that we had the foresight not to build over every inch of available natural space.

It's a challenging balancing act.


Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Yesterday, I hiked in Arastradero Preserve. From the summit, the skyline was dominated by an enormous new building. I guess it was a house, but it could have housed a dozen families. Does anyone know what that thing is? Its near the water tower. It made me sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Albert K Henning
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

The house visible from the top of Arastradero Preserve, and from Foothills Park, was originally designed and built for/by the founder of WebTV, Phil Goldman, who died suddenly at age 39 in Dec. 2003. The house then was, I think, in limbo for some time, but the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, bought it and is completing it. See:

Web Link

As for the new POST purchase: I like it.

What is driving PA prices is not an absence of housing stock, it is the quality of local schools.

Also, the City has plenty of data showing tax revenue evolution related to the fraction of property tax returned to the city, and even given the housing bubble bursting, property tax revenues are increasing once again, as well as every time new apartments and homes (e.g. Elks Lodge) are added, and every time an old home, paying $700 a year in tax, gets bought for $700K to $1.5M (increasing the tax contribution by 10X to 20X).

The assumptions of several posters about 'aging Palo Alto', or the amount of revenue 'lost' because of land presumed to be removed from the tax base, need to contact the City Manager's Office and get the facts, because assumptions are not true. Also, contact PAUSD and get the most recent data on new families in the area, and increases in school-age population. Elementary enrollments are going up dramatically, from what I've been told.

If I had wanted to live in a place where the surrounding hills were covered by houses, I would have chosen to live in San Diego or Orange County. OTOH, when I can no longer afford to live in PA, I'll have to move. That's the long and short of it. There's never been a guarantee that, if you grew up here, then you'd be able to live here. Other areas of the Peninsula and Santa Clara County are more affordable, and that's just the way it works out. And no one should complain about it, nor apologize for it. Certainly not developers, who make out just fine, I'm sure.

My opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by San Jose resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I grew up in Palo Alto, and now live in nearby San Jose. I have spent a lot of time up on Skyline hiking the preserves, and have a couple of points I'd like to make.
One is that the development value of a the parcel in question is far greater than the 3.09 mil that POST paid for it. If it were developed, it would be for more luxury homes, not for people who are looking for affordable housing.
The other point is that if you read the article, you will see that this property has outstanding value for wildlife habitat (including endangered species) and biodiversity. It is a treasure, and the Silva family wanted it preserved as such. I am so grateful that someday I will be able to go there and hike through it. If it were developed, then it certainly would be enjoyed only by a select few.
Thank you, POST!


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

If we develop the foothills, this area would lose most of its character and much of its soul, wildlife and precious trees would be lost forever and we would look just like Orange County. The worst hit areas in Brazil during the recent catastrophic floods which created deadly mudslides were hilly areas that had been deforested for the sake of housing.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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