San Carlos, CA

1800 El Camino & Eaton

"Catching the Wave"

Posted In — Success Stories |
100-120 DU


As the State of California legislates for affordable housing units to be built, the waterfall of mandates on local cities to create these units increases. The City of San Carlos is no exception to the rule. In 2021 the City of San Carlos began its efforts to meet the State’s mandated housing numbers by embarking upon a “housing element” update to its General Plan. As commercial real estate brokers with deep local and regional experience in and connections with governmental jurisdictions, our team knew that our clients could potentially benefit from this generational shift in zoning laws. The short answer to the question of where new housing units can be built is through more density along transit corridors: higher and denser. San Carlos identified potential new housing stock location along its transit corridor, El Camino Real.

Our team was in discussions with two clients about their properties and specifically, what values these properties could have. One property was a quick serve restaurant with a drive through and ample parking. The other property, immediately adjacent to the restaurant property, was a small two-story retail/office property. Alone, each property would not yield value appealing to the owners if they were selling the properties individually and in their “as is” condition. Combined, however, there may be some potential upside for both properties. But with new denser zoning, the properties could be worth between 50% and 100% more than what the in-place zoning would have allowed. This is when the physical location met our vision and knowledge of existing zoning laws and the new zoning potentials.

Even though neither of their properties were in the preliminary new housing designated areas, our team lobbied the City on behalf of our clients to include their properties in the proposed new housing element update as potential new housing sites. Our efforts yielded 120 and 100 dwelling units per acre and inclusion in the soon to be adopted housing element update. The benefit of being in an adopted housing element as identified housing sites is that the zoning for such redevelopment for housing is pre-cleared and incorporated into the City’s General Plan. This resulted in certainty of entitlements for a change of use from retail/office to multi-family housing at a higher density than the previous base zoning with lower density. In other words, the upzoning of their parcels resulted in instant increases in value to our clients.

These efforts yielded our clients an increase of value by a factor of 2X to 3X from prior lower base zoning values.


This office property sale transaction is currently in process with our team.

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