Affordable Housing Overlay

Dear Planning and Transportation Commission,

On this Valentine’s Day, we he hope you give affordable housing a little love!  Palo Alto Forward is a community group made up of Palo Alto residents who support the City’s efforts for to create better housing and transportation options.  We were highly supportive of the housing policies outlined in the Comprehensive Plan and are excited to see an Affordable Housing Zoning overlay so it can help the friends, neighbors and community members in our city who need housing the most.

 

We urge you to recommend move the Affordable Housing overlay forward, but also ask for your consideration to strengthen and expand it by considering the following points.

  • Along El Camino Real, a 2.0 residential FAR and 0.5 parking spaces/unit will support more housing and remain compatible with the shallow parcel sizes and lower densities in the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • For University Avenue and California Avenue sites, please consider increased residential FAR (at least 3.0) and selective height increases. Cal Ave and University Ave have greater transit options (Both areas have a Caltrain stop and Univ Ave is the terminus for 3 regional bus lines) and the surrounding context has greater general density that are appropriate for larger projects with more housing units. This AH overlay can help us meet our housing needs for the next 10, 15, 20+ years, and we should offer greater flexibility for future affordable housing projects at the most transit-accessible, service-rich locations. (Housing Policy 2.1.1, and Comp Plan Program L2.4.1.)
  • Please expand the Affordable Housing overlay to the Research Park and General Manufacturing area. This offers flexibility to support future affordable housing near Stanford Research Park along El Camino.  (Comp Plan Program L2.4.2)
  • Please offer flexibility on the retail requirement for 100% affordable housing sites. Retail makes 100% affordable housing projects difficult to finance - AH projects can be  financed through tax credits, however there are no tax credit dollars to support construction of a retail space. (Housing Element policy H2.1.6)

Thanks to your efforts, we look forward to seeing more affordable housing in the pipeline as soon as possible!


Sincerely,

Palo Alto Forward Board of Directors

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