Almanac

News - February 20, 2013

Portola Valley names nine to affordable housing panel

by Dave Boyce

The Portola Valley Town Council spent the last year dealing with the knotty and controversial state mandate requiring all communities to plan for homes affordable to people of moderate incomes. Now, bowing to community pressure, the mayor has named a committee of citizen volunteers to try their collective hand at it.

A team that included Mayor John Richards and Town Manager Nick Pegueros interviewed the 13 residents who applied for membership. Those chosen were Susan Dworak, Bud Eisberg, Wanda Ginner, Judith Hasko, Judith Murphy, Jon Myers, Andrew Pierce, Onnolee Trapp, and Carter Warr.

The committee's priorities will include thinking about and discussing:

• Whether there is a need in town for homes for people of low and moderate incomes.

• A mission statement that would address the relevant legal requirements.

• Ways to reconcile the town's low-density zoning with the economics of affordable housing construction.

• Priorities in finding and evaluating sites for such housing.

The Affordable Housing Ad-Hoc Committee will meet at 7 p.m in the Historic Schoolhouse on five Tuesday evenings — March 5 and 19, April 16 and 30, and May 14.

The council voted 3-0 to approve the list, with Councilwoman Maryann Derwin and Councilman Ted Driscoll absent.

The committee's non-voting chair will be the former mayor and experienced mediator Steve Toben. The current council decided not to participate or attend, but will rely on the town manager and the committee chair to stay informed.

A verbal progress report from the committee is due the Town Council in late March, with a final written report due in mid-May.

As the state Department of Housing and Community Development explains, the mandate requires communities to submit for approval a housing-related chapter in their general plans, and update it every seven years.

Among the objectives: to "promote infill development and socioeconomic equity," to encourage "efficient development patterns," to improve relationships between jobs and housing within the region, and to increase the mix of housing types and affordability "in all cities and counties within the region in an equitable manner."

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