Town Square

In North Fair Oaks, a battle is brewing over redevelopment

Original post made on Dec 27, 2021

Like many local neighborhoods, North Fair Oaks has become a hotbed for new developments. But many feel that the past year has ushered in a new era, due in part to Thomas James Homes, a now-ubiquitous name in parts of the Peninsula.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, December 26, 2021, 9:51 AM


Posted by Think.
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 27, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Think. is a registered user.

What Tattersol continues to deliberately ignore in his comments is that the houses he's building are priced in a completely different range from most existing homes in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood. North Fair Oaks is a great neighborhood, friendly and collaborative, and is one place where you'll find many people who can't afford to buy in the parts of the area. In my block, for example, there were at least six homes with teachers. There are _no teachers_ that can afford to buy the homes this developer is putting up. So the argument that there are people who need these homes is true, but ignores the steady displacement of firemen, teachers, etc, because of the steady destruction of 'affordable' housing. Tattersol is tearing down houses that did hold that possibility while simultaneously driving up the prices of the rest. In addition, he does not address how these houses, while often pretty, do not fit the esthetic of the neighborhood. They tower over the one story ranches, and crowd as close to the property borders as they're legally allowed. The yards here are charming, but small, and afford a sense of privacy that adds to the livability of a small home. So, he is destroying this as well. Lastly, and not addressed by him, are the important trees he is taking down.
Tattersol and company are certainly living the American dream: Making big money and feeling good about providing homes. Tattersol are simultaneously depriving others of that same dream, both in affordability and the joy of living in their long time home.
It's interesting to me that Menlo Park, despite repeated calls to provide housing that fire people, nurses, teachers, restaurant workers, etc etc etc, can afford seems continually to be headed in the exact opposite direction.

Posted by sjtaffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 27, 2021 at 2:17 pm

sjtaffee is a registered user.

TJ Homes is doing what capitalist developers do: maximizing returns for investors. The County must create policies and procedures aimed at creating and maintaining affordability and diversity in our neighborhoods. Developers won't do this unless forced to, and then they will attempt to do the minimum or receive significant concessions in terms of infrastructure or tax breaks from the government.

Teachers are certainly one middle income group that benefit from the affordable housing in this neighborhood. I know several that live there.

FYI - the average firefighter salary in MPFPD with overtime is $213,209.45 according to Transparent California (Web Link

Posted by Celia
a resident of another community
on Dec 27, 2021 at 3:51 pm

Celia is a registered user.

We know that there are buyers for these new, huge, expensive homes that enrich the TJ Homes company, but they are being built at the expense of the environment and quality of life for their neighbors. My son lives in an older one-story home in Redwood City. TJ Homes bought the property next door, and then built a 2-story home as close to the property line as possible, a number of feet closer to the street than his home, and farther back in the rear yard. There is virtually no sunlight and no privacy anymore, as the new property has windows right across from their windows and casts shadows across his older property next door. There isn't all that much privacy for the new owners, either. The Redwood City Council allowed this intrusion on the neighbors and the character of the neighborhood despite the objections of local homeowners. This kind of behavior has been repeated at a number of locations in Redwood City by TJ Homes. This activity is legal, but the morality of such decisions is questionable, even before one considers that these homes are out of the affordable price range for the service workers we all depend on.

Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 2, 2022 at 10:22 am

Iris is a registered user.

The county and cities should pass zoning rules that protect privacy and avoid shadowing.

Speculative developers are laughing to the bank. They are able to highjack a neighborhood with their idea (maximizing profit) rather than preserve the best of a neighborhood (character, affordability). Is there a way the county and cities could discourage spec developers, such as to put a big surcharge on houses that flip quickly, say within 2 years of building completion?

Posted by Charlie
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 3, 2022 at 10:07 pm

Charlie is a registered user.

TJ is doing a better job than most small builders in this area in terms of trees. At least they are planting new trees for the houses they build. For the ones who say their new houses sell much more expensive than the old one, of course it does because it is new and bigger. Saying you don't care there is a market to it is basically saying you don't welcome your new neighbor who wants to buy a nice, big enough house in this area, who can't afford to buy in nearby Palo Alto or incorporated Menlo Park, where comparable new houses sell twice the price. Also, there are families who are tearing down their own old houses and build new and bigger ones. And you are basically asking them to move. That is not very nice. Don't you think? The Menlo Park part of North Fair Oaks was never the cheapest of Peninsula. Its price has always been, and still is, very similar to neighborhoods such as Redwood Oaks, etc. Neighborhoods evolve. It is not realistic to always keep things as they are and get stuck in the past. TJ is picked because it is an easy target as they have a brand name. They are not doing worse than the majority of other smaller builders who are tearing down old and building new in this area, or anywhere else in the Bay area. To demand stricter zoning rules from County is fine, but one thing to note is what you own is your land. You don't own the surroundings. View, privacy etc. are nice, but those were never guarantees when you purchase the land. It is selfish to not allow others to build just because you want those things. Think of all the people who are living in condos or townhouses. And it would be weird for county to pass such restrictions considering all new communities are built with much larger density.