The town of Portola Valley is negotiating to buy the 1.68-acre site of the former Al's Nursery at 900 Portola Road and build a group of homes affordable to people of moderate incomes, Mayor Maryann Derwin has announced.
The town would build at least eight homes, Town Planner Tom Vlasic said in an interview. In San Mateo County, a moderate income is around $86,500 for an individual and $123,600 for a family of four, the mayor's statement said.
It's too early to speculate on whether the homes would be attached or detached, Mr. Vlasic said. The only significant attached housing currently in town are the apartments at The Sequoias retirement community.
"The Al's Nursery parcel acquisition responds to Portola Valley's housing obligations under state law and is well-suited to address the need for affordable housing in the town," Ms. Derwin said. "With this parcel, we finally have the opportunity to provide housing to people who work in our community and love Portola Valley but can't afford to live here."
The town has long sought to build such housing on two parcels designated for affordable housing that the town owns in the upscale Blue Oaks neighborhood, but the hillside topography and the need for expensive grading complicated the project, Mr. Vlasic said.
"The Portola Road location is far superior in terms of its ability to make the numbers work, as well as access to municipal services," he said.
"The intent is to at least fit the eight we had committed to in Blue Oaks, and possibly a little bit more if at all possible," Mr. Vlasic added.
Significant public process is ahead, including consultation with residential and commercial neighbors, coming up with compatible designs, and locating an experienced developer to do the work at a price acceptable to the town.
The town plans to finance the project by selling the two Blue Oaks parcels.
"We intend to listen carefully to the suggestions of all those who have an interest in the success of this project," Ms. Derwin said in her statement.
In a 2003 referendum, a group of residents opposed to multi-family housing funded a direct-mail campaign that bitterly divided the town and ultimately reversed a Town Council zoning decision that would have allowed construction of 15 to 20 small homes near the corner of Alpine and Portola roads.