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Palo Alto Affordable Housing Wins RARE Zone Change



After 7 long years, Palo Alto’s affordable housing developments have received a rare zone change from the Planning and Transportation Commission.


The Camino Real Development


The Commission will apply the key zone change to Palo Alto’s non-profit housing on 3705 Camino Real beginning this 2018. In addition, this low-income project will soon house residents that make in income of 30 to 60 percent of the overall area’s median. With 65 units in place, 30 of the units will also be designated for residents with disability.


Overcoming Project Discouragement


Though commissioners were skeptical about the zone change, city councilors went ahead and created it anyway. With a 7-2 vote, council agreed to pursue the “Affordable Housing Combing District.” These were initially created to promote more low-income housing projects with higher level allowance, greater density, as well as less-strict parking restrictions. When word of the new change was spread throughout town, many emails urging to push the affordable housing were received. Others were weary that the zone’s overlay would affect other neighboring areas, as well. But - given the 100% dedication to the zone’s purpose of fulfilling affordable housing, everyone was soon on board.


"I don't think we should be treating housing as a luxury, and we're far behind on our housing production as a state," Monk said. "We are seeing people living on the streets in numbers that just keep growing. We do need to do our part to address that problem."


Failed Projects


Palo Alto’s newest affordable-housing project will be the first of its kind since the 45-unit Treehouse development on Charleston Road in 2011. Additionally, the city attempted to build another 60 units for low-income seniors and 12 single family homes in 2013. Unfortunately, the council-approved zoning was overturned by city voters.


Creating More Affordable Housing


Other neighborhoods should see Palo Alto’s rare zone change as motivation to continue building these much-needed affordable-housing projects. Even after having the proposal of the housing be overturned or discouraged, the low-income development proved to be worthy.

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