Proposal for troubled property

Daily Post Staff Writer

A developer has applied to build a seven-story apartment complex next to El Camino Real in Redwood City, on a property that has attracted squatters and scammers throughout its years of disrepair.

Jake Lingo, from Integrated Community Development, applied on Feb. 29 to build 178 affordable apartments at 112 Vera Ave.

The half-acre property is just off El Camino between Happy Donuts and Davies Appliance.

The property — owned by John Galet and his conservator, Scott Galet — has likely been unoccupied since 1992, Lingo said in his application. 

Someone complained about the property in February 2015 for being a public nuisance, the Post reported at the time.

Firefighters, health officials and police officers all became regular visitors to the complex, dispelling any squatters from the five duplexes.

Building inspectors reported caved-in ceilings, human waste, empty beer bottles, stacks upon stacks of newspapers, old tool boxes, chainsaws and broken windows.

The city tried working with John Galet, 92, on fixing up the property, but he was in a Roseville hospital at the time, public records show.

Amr Higgy, 53, of San Mateo, heard about Galet’s situation and visited him repeatedly in Roseville, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Higgy convinced Galet to add him to the deed of the $4 million Vera Avenue property, and a $1.7 million property on Eaton Street in San Carlos, the DA said.

But prosecutors found out, and a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ended up voiding the transfer of the deed, public records show.

Higgy was charged with theft of an elderly adult. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in December 2020 and was sentenced to two years of probation and 300 hours of community service, Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said yesterday.

Scott Galet signed an agreement with the city to clean up the property on Nov. 9, 2017. The city had declared the property a public nuisance at a meeting on April 3, 2017. 

The council unanimously voted to declare the 10 apartments a public nuisance, citing concerns of fires occurring in the abandoned apartments and due to the deteriorated state of the apartments. “I’ve been in a building like this as an EMT and at it again when it was on fire,” said then-Mayor John Seybert. “We don’t need people in there.”

Galet had the structures demolished in 2019 and began construction on five replacement in duplexes in 2020. 

The new homes were never finished, Lingo said.

Galet signed a form on Feb. 9 certifying that he is in escrow with Lingo to sell 112 Vera Ave.

All of the new units would be reserved for low-income residents, with rents set to match their income, Lingo said in his application.

For a single person, that means making less than $65,250 a year and paying no more than $1,742 for a one-bedroom apartment.

The building would have 25 studios and 153 one-bedroom units. It would be 88 feet tall. 

The proposal includes six parking spaces.

Assembly Bill 2097, passed by the state in 2022, banned cities from requiring parking if a development is within a half-mile of public transit.

The new apartments would go across the street from two higher-end apartment buildings and Elco Yards, a six-block complex of apartments, offices and retail that’s under construction.