San Mateo fire station project heads to court

San Mateo property owner William Song said he doesn’t plan to fight eminent-domain proceedings against the house he owns at 317 S. Humboldt St., he just wants a chance to argue the property’s value in court.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to begin eminent-domain proceedings against Song’s property, which officials say they need to acquire in order to rebuild the 40-year-old Fire Station 24 next door. The city will pay to relocate a family that has lived there for more than a decade.

The decision to move ahead with seizing Song’s property came after Song declined to accept the city’s $1 million offer to buy the house. Now, the city expects eminent-domain proceedings to last from the end of this month till February, when a judge will decide on Song’s compensation for the property.

Song said he doesn’t mind selling or trading his property, but said the city’s appraisal didn’t properly account for the fact that he owns four adjacent parcels that could be used for a larger housing development.

“Quite frankly, if this was one single property, this would have never happened. I would have come to terms with them years ago,” Song said. 

Across town, firefighters at Fire Station 23 on 27th Avenue have moved into a temporary trailer and tents as the city begins rebuilding that station, a $5.2 million project the council also approved this week. Funding for both projects comes from sources such as a voter-approved bond and redevelopment money.

“It’s a good, strong architectural effort that will last us another 50 years,” said Ralph Petty, the city’s construction project manager.

Fire engines returning to Station 24 currently have to stop in the middle of Humboldt Street, blocking traffic, and back into the single driveway. In order to have drive-through engine bays in the new station, officials say they need Song’s property.

Song offered to share the new driveway with the station, but officials said that raised liability and security issues.

A woman who answered the door at the house said the family doesn’t know where it will go.

“We know as much as everyone else does,” she said.</p>

The replacement of Fire Station 23 required no court hearings. When completed next summer, the new 10,000-square-foot station will have an emergency operations center, drive-through truck bays and separate dorm facilities for men and women, among other upgrades.

Upgrade plans

Fire Station 23
Location: 27th Avenue and Edison Street
Built: 1950s
Upgrades:
– Two-story, 9,700-square-foot building
– New training area
– Drive-through apparatus bays
– Male and female facilities
– Storage for wildland equipment
– Emergency operations center
Scheduled completion: July

Fire Station 24
Location: Fourth Avenue and Humboldt Street
Built: 1960s
Upgrades:
– Drive-through apparatus bays
– Other details to be determined during planning this fall
Scheduled completion: Late 2012

Source: City of San Mateo

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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