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Issue date: May 19, 2000

City hopes to cash in on odd lots City hopes to cash in on odd lots (May 19, 2000)

By Karen Willemsen

Following a 5-2 vote on April 25, the Mountain View City Council has decided to sell off two odd-sized vacant city lots, which it hopes will fetch a pretty penny in the local real estate market within the next six months.

One of the parcels lies adjacent to 396 Dana Street and measures 150 by 97 feet, enough acreage for two or three single family homes, according to Linda deWald, the city's real property manager.

The other, which lies in the 200 block of Calderon Avenue, measures just 40 feet across by 300 feet deep. The narrowness of the strip would pose "quite a challenge" to anyone wanting to build a house on it, said deWald.

Though the lots were appraised last January at $555,000 and $195,000, respectively, speculation among the city council ran high that they could easily fetch much more in bidding.

"This market is moving so fast in terms of property values," said Council member Mario Ambra. "Who knows what fair market value will be if it goes out to bid?"

Ambra and Council member Ralph Faravelli voted against the motion to sell.

Noting that the small size and odd shape of the parcels make them undesirable as potential city parks, Mayor Rosemary Stasek told the Voice, "I don't believe in selling land just to make a profit. But completing those blocks by adding new homes or extending the property of existing ones makes sense."

Four home owners whose properties abut the Calderon parcel told the city council they would like to purchase the lot collectively and divide the land among themselves.

"We'd ideally like to receive preferential treatment, because we live here and want to preserve the large trees on the property, and to use it well," said the group's representative, Aaron Grossman.

Grossman expressed elation at the city's decision to discuss the proposal prior to deciding whether to sell the Calderon site to the highest bidder. If their offer satisfies the council, they could avoid having to compete against other prospective buyers.

Alternatively, the council could ask all prospective buyers for sealed bids and then offer Grossman's group the chance to match it.

Ambra expressed discomfort with both ideas. "I just want the process to be fair to everybody. I think they should put in a sealed bid just like everybody else," he told the Voice.

The Dana site, which shares a back fence with the Sociedade Da Festa Vaelha meeting hall, will very likely be sold in a sealed bid process.

Under state law, though, both lots must first be offered to public entities such as school districts, park districts, and affordable housing groups. If none come forward, deWald expects to put the land up for sale this summer.

Anyone interested in either property may call deWald at the Mountain View Public Works Department at 903-6311. 


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