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Vanguard Properties

Kevin K. Ho, Esq. + Jonathan B. McNarry

proudly present

1050 Los Trancos Road

Portola Valley
Dream Home Parcel + Plans
San Mateo County

The Perfect Setting for a Modern Californian Home

Vacant Parcel with Permit-Ready House and Site Plans



Marketed By:

Kevin K. Ho, Esq.
Jonathan B. McNarry

Top Producers, Top 21 Vanguard Properties, Top 1% of San Francisco Agents


Have a question? Want to setup a showing? 

Feel free to call or text us…

Kevin (415) 297-7462

Jonathan (415) 215-4393

SOLD: 1050 Los Trancos Road
Portola Valley Development Opportunity with Approved Plans

Idyllic + private, 1050 Los Trancos Road is an approximately 6,800-sqft undeveloped forested + quiet parcel. The San Mateo County Planning + Bldg Dept has issued a “ready to issue” permit letter for an open and bright 2,154-sqft, 3-bed, 2.5-bath house with 400-sqft deck and detached 400-sqft, 2-car garage. Sellers are providing those plans, permit applications, required studies and contact information for the various geologist, arborist).

While the property is in unincorporated San Mateo County, it has a Portola Valley address that is within the Portola Valley School District, which is one of the best school districts the Bay Area. The site is quiet and forested with valley vista views. While it’s tucked away from major traffic, the location is just 15 minutes away from Stanford and minutes away from 280. The parcel’s forested setting, which has been studied by an arborist, features mature Sequoia and Oak trees. Building on this parcel has been confirmed via geotechnical study + recommendations. The northeast-facing parcel measures approximately 95 feet long by 80-90 feet with municipal utilities from the street.  

The purchase will include the approvals from the County as well plans and drawings from San Francisco-based architects Winder Gibson, who are more than happy to assist the parcel’s new owners through the build process. The architects created a home that is modern yet restrained to honor this special setting. Preliminary general contractor estimates are also available. The home will have 10-ft ceilings on the main level and 8.5-ft top-floor ceiling heights which will also feature large windows, patio doors that let in the views and forested light.

Offered at:




MLS Listing Number: ML81687135

SFAR Listing Number: 465502


Official Links.

  • Search for the County’s Building and Planning Permits here. (Use the APN of 080082040)


  • See the area’s parcels in the subdivision map here. (Search for APN 08008040)


The Parcel.

  • Sloping, 6,800± sqft parcel with trees of varying sizes 
  • Aka Lot 57, Los Trancos Woods, Tract 1, Portola Valley, San Mateo County (no formal address assigned) 
  • Assessor Parcel Number: 080-082-040
  • Northeast facing, sloping parcel view treeline views 
  • Heavily shaded and forested parcel with canopy
  • Black Oak and Sequoia trees (among others) examined by arborist for site approval
  • Arborist study and report included with recommendations to reduce number of tree removals for construction
  • Extensive soils and geotechnical studies to confirm site is buildable by Murray Engineers, Inc., of Los Altos 
  • Detailed structural engineering plans and drawings completed for proposed structures by MacLeod and Associates of San Carlos
  • Parcel measures approximately 95 feet long by 80-90 feet deep
  • Parcel is located 15 minutes from Palo Alto and 30 minutes from San Francisco 
  • Sale includes contact information for various professionals, vendors and County staff

The House Plan

(Proposed and Approved) 

  • Permit-ready approved plans for a 2,154+ sqft single-family house, 400-sqft terrace and 400-sqft detached garage 
  • 2-story home with open-concept main floor that captures the views and setting with windows and patio doors 
  • 3 Beds, 2.5 Baths with large terrace, 10-foot and 8.5-foot ceilings, plenty of windows with a design that still preserves the area’s tranquil natural beauty ; 2-car garage is detached
  • Plans available for review and included with purchase, drawn and created by Winder Gibson Architects of San Francisco 
  • 3 general contractor bids/estimates for construction range from $1.2M-$1.5M with 1-year of construction estimate 
  • Plans and approvals were product of extensive approval process and Seller efforts that have taken at least 3 years of time  
  • Home is in the Portola Valley school district and will be connected to the West Bay Sanitary District (water + sewer) 


If the above tour doesn’t load, then take a look at this virtual tour of the proposed house here.

The Photos.


The Main Level. (Courtesy of Winder Gibson) 

Click the image for a PDF version.

The Upper Level. (Courtesy of Winder Gibson) 

Click the image for a PDF version.

For a full set of plans, please click below. 

 (Dropbox link)



Q: Why are the Sellers selling? 

A: The Sellers bought the parcel with the intent of building a modest house for themselves — a married couple with 2 children. The Sellers said that they intended the house’s scale to be modest. “It’s big enough for my family, but not blown out to maximize profit from development,” the Sellers said. “It will be full of light and air with a lot of open space and huge windows.” The design, by San Francisco-based architect Geoff Gibson of Winder Gibson, is contemporary but subtly so as the house is also meant to fit into the neighborhood, which is a mix of A-frames, contemporary Californian and updated rustic homes. Instead of building the house however, they ended up moving to Seattle for a job that was too good to pass up in 2015.

Given they were so far in the planning and application process the Sellers wanted to get all of the paperwork and approvals ready so that they could at least have the parcel ready for a new owner to build.   

Q: Is the Seller doing a 1031 exchange? 

A: No. There are no current plans to do so.  

Q What’s the address for the parcel?    

A: 1050 is merely a placeholder address number that we’ve used to make it easier to remember and for marketing. A future owner who completes the process can work the relevant authorities to issue a final address for the parcel.   

Q Are the plans included with the sale?    

A:  Yes, a license to the plans from the architect to the Sellers will be transferred to the new owners. The Sellers will provide those plans, applications and communications with the architect with the sale. They’ll also provide documentation, reports and contact information for the other professionals they retained to date in getting the site ready for construction. 

The Sellers will also provide contact information for the professionals they hired to complete the approval process. The Sellers will also provide contact information for relevant San Mateo County Planning and Building Department staff members who worked on the project’s approvals.  

Q: Is it possible to make changes to the plans and approvals obtained to date?  

A: While anything is possible with the right amount of money, effort and time, the Sellers advise that any change would likely require another round approval(s) with the County and require additional architect time.

Q: Does the parcel have access to utilities and municipal services?

A: Yes, water and sewer services as provided by the West Bay Sanitary District are available at the street. There is an “annexation” process that needs to take place with the District. Instructions about how that is done and a rate sheet from the District are included with the disclosures. The county’s Department of Public Works has granted an easement agreement that allows for these services to be connected to the mains which are located under the road. A copy of this agreement is attached to the disclosures, which you can request from Kevin and Jonathan.     

Q: Has a building permit been issued?  

A: Not yet. Because a permit needs to be acted upon within 6 months of issuance and because there are various fees and costs that need to be paid before a permit can be issued, and because the Sellers have no idea of what a future owner will do with the current approved plans the Sellers have not asked the County to issue the actual permits. But the County has issued a “ready to issue” permit notice which is the next-to-last step in San Mateo County’s approval process. The Sellers understand that the following steps need to be done before the actual permit for the current plans can be issued — sellers have not paid the fees associated with each step:

  • Application for and issuance of a water service permit and a sewer connection permit with the West Bay Sanitary District (e.g., complete annexation process and prepayment of those fees and the additional annexation fee of $70,000 approximately) 
  • Payment of school fees (Sequoia Union High School District)
  • Preconstruction site inspection for erosion control and tree protection plan (general contractor task, staff inspector)
  • Submission of the property’s fire sprinkler plan (a general contractor task) 
  • Payment of permit application fee (approximately $13,000–$14,000)

Q: The Sellers legalized the parcel, what else did they do?

A: The Sellers navigated the long approval process of getting the project approved, which is evidenced by the RTI (ready-to-issue) letter the Sellers received from the County meaning that the County is ready to issue a building permit for the site. From when the Sellers bought the parcel to the point of getting the RTI, which is tantamount to permit issuance, the Sellers were either asked to and have completed the following:

  • Legalize the parcel with respect to the County;
  • Obtain and establish the parcel’s corner records with a land surveyor;
  • Obtain a extensive geologic soils study for the parcel;  
  • Obtain an extensive geotechnical study for the parcel and area from a geologist;
  • Submit a tree survey and arborist report for the parcel;
  • Secure a right-of-way access agreement with the County’s Department of Public Works; 
  • Confirm connection procedures for a future home with the area’s water district;
  • Submit and revise application materials, proposed plans with specific plans, studies or drawings that included materials related to structural engineering, building schematics, traffic control, topographical conditions and building code compliance; and, 
  • Worked through an encroachment question with the neighbors at 1064 Los Trancos.
  • And, for their own knowledge, the Sellers asked 3 contractors to estimate construction costs for the project. Those estimates, which range from ballpark figures to detailed line-item detail are included with the disclosures. An updated estimate from January/February 2018 is also included that show the projected costs remain consistent. Do remember that the Sellers make no warranty or representations about these bids as they are only provided here for general information purposes. Buyers should investigate these costs for themselves.

Q: Are there any forms you’d like to see buyer agents use?

A: Yes. Please use the latest California Association of REALTORS Vacant Land Purchase Agreement accompanied by relevant agency disclosure documents. In an ideal world, your buyers would also submit inspection waivers, contingency removal documents or even an “as-is” addendum, but there is no requirement to do so of course. If you are using the CARS form, please be sure to include the following local practice and customs: Sellers pay transfer tax while Buyer pays for escrow fees and for their title insurance policies. (These terms could be part of negotiating terms of course).   

Q: Is escrow opened anywhere? 

A:  Yes. Because the property was bought via tax sale and because there are certain ownership steps that need to be taken, the escrow must be handled by Boston Title Company’s Southern California office. After this sale, the future owner is free to use any title company they wish as far as we know. 

Q: Is there an offer date?  

A: No, offers are as they come. If an offer comes in we will alert any other interested parties of this development to be as fair as possible.  

Q: Have the Sellers received any offers?   

A: Yes. Various parties have submitted offers to the Sellers, one of which was accepted. Those buyers, however, moved to cancel the contract as they experienced cash flow issues that were unrelated to the property. Each offer received has been all-cash. Out of respect to the marketplace, we cannot discuss respective offer prices.  

Q: Any advice about making an offer?  

A: Yes — Please send your messages and materials both to Kevin and Jonathan. Buyer diligence and investigations should be completed before submitting an offer. We advise your buyers to do the best they can. The Sellers would like the most people to see the Property as possible but is also keen to accept a strong and confident offer that is as simple as possible.

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The information contained in the above material is deemed to be reliable and accurate but it is unverified. Potential buyers should take all steps necessary to satisfy themselves regarding the information contained herein or any other matter related to the property they see fit as Vanguard Properties nor its agents make any warranties regarding the property, its development potential or otherwise.