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Tonight: Atherton takes look at housing plan

An update of Atherton's housing element, a state-mandated plan for providing housing to people of all income levels, is on the agenda of the Atherton Planning Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

The commission will hold a study session on the housing element. A public hearing on the plan is tentatively set for Sept. 16. The housing element, a section of the town's general plan, will then go to the City Council for final approval. An updated version of the housing element, covering 2014 to 2022, must be approved by Jan. 1, 2015.

A report on the housing element from Baird + Driskell Community Planning shows some changes in the demographics of the town over the past 10 years. The population of Atherton in 2013 was 6,893, slightly down from 2003, the report says, and the population is not expected to grow over the next 10 years.

The number of residents between the ages of 60 and 74 in Atherton has increased, he report says, from 15 percent of the population in 2000 to 20 percent in 2011. Despite Atherton's reputation as a wealthy community, the report points out that 9 percent of the town's residents makes less than $25,000 a year and 600 to 700 Atherton households must stretch resources to pay their housing costs.

Over the next eight years, the town is expected to provide 93 new homes to meet its share of regional housing needs, the report says, with 90 of those to be for moderate income ($107,150 annual income) or below.

The report suggests that Atherton make no changes in the way it has planned to provide additional housing: to allow secondary units, such as guest houses, at the rate of four or five a year, and to allow faculty and student housing at Menlo School and Menlo College of up to 90 units.

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