Published on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 17:00
Written by Los Altos Town Crier
Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier Los Altos resident Del Beumer traverses his backyard, 10,000 square feet of which the city purchased to build a pathway linking Redwood Grove and Shoup Park.
By Nicholas Luther Special to the Town Crier For years, Delbert and Marlene Beumer endured the nuisance of trespassers using the backyard on their Los Altos property to travel between Redwood Grove and Shoup Park. But rather than block the area, the Beumers have agreed to sell the land to the city. The Los Altos City Council June 16 approved the purchase of more than 10,000 square feet of land from the University Avenue residents to build an official, city-sanctioned pathway between Shoup Park and Redwood Grove. Assistant City Manager James Walgren oversaw the negotiations, which included $115,000 paid to the Beumers in exchange for more than a quarter of their 37,026-square-foot parcel. The Beumers, who moved to Los Altos more than 40 years ago, have always had access to the city parks. Although they never intended the path for public use, visitors to Shoup Park often used it to access Redwood Grove. "I didn't like people walking through my property, but I couldn't do much about it," he said. Aside from the disturbance, Beumer cited youth safety as his primary reason for selling the parcel. "Because of all the activity in front of Redwood Grove, I have always been fearful for the safety of the kids running through the traffic (along University) in front of our house," Beumer said. "We thought that a pathway through both parks would be much safer than having kids run through the street." Beumer said city officials had approached him numerous times in the past about acquiring the back portion of his property, but he never entertained offers until now. Walgren said the city purchased the land for aesthetic and safety benefits. The negotiated purchase price amounts to approximately $11.50 per square foot – well under the current average price per square foot of Los Altos land. When asked about the city's fairly low offer, Beumer admitted that he thought his land was worth much more than he got. "In 1968, one of my neighbors was paid $200,000 for 11,000 square feet," Beumer said, "so, assuming that land prices have about tripled since then, I would say the land for the pathway is worth at least $600,000." According to Beumer, the city broached the issue of eminent domain, or the city's power to seize private property for justified reasons, in return for money. However, Beumer said that he "would rather transfer the land in good faith" than entangle himself with the local and state governments. Walgren said future plans for the newly acquired land include the installation of a good-neighbor decorative wood fence along the west-side property line and a metal decorative fence and gate along the rear property line.