Guest opinion: Proposed Stanford development would deepen housing deficit
Original post made on Feb 25, 2013
Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, February 24, 2013, 9:18 PM
on Feb 25, 2013 at 7:19 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
It is not the proposed Stanford development that would deepen housing deficit but rather the city's Specific Plan. The proposed development conforms with the Specific Plan. IF the city really wanted more housing in the ECR-SE area then the city would have/should have reflected that desire in the Specific Plan.
Here is what the Specific Plan says about this portion of the zone:
El Camino Real Mixed Use
The El Camino Real Mixed Use designation allows
for a variety of retail, offi ce, residential and public and
semipublic uses. Building character in this land use
designation relates to adjacent neighborhoods, with
maximum building heights of two to three stories, except
for buildings of up to three to four stories (with provision
of public benefi t) on part of northeast El Camino Real,
and buildings of up to four to fi ve stories permitted on
the southeast end of El Camino Real. The allowed
development intensities vary with the lowest intensity
on the far northern end of El Camino Real, moderate
intensities on the southwest end and highest intensities
on the southeast end of El Camino Real, where parcels
are separated from adjacent uses by El Camino Real (to
the west) and the railroad right-of-way (to the east).
Contrast that to the language for the other portions of the Specific Plan near Santa Cruz:
El Camino Real Mixed Use/Residential
The El Camino Real Mixed Use/Residential designation
emphasizes residential use in close proximity
(approximately 1/2 mile) to the station area and downtown,
in order to support area businesses, transit use and overall
downtown vibrancy. This designation also allows for a
variety of retail, offi ce and public and semipublic uses. The
maximum building heights vary from two to three stories in
most locations up to three to four stories (with provision of
public benefi t) on part of northeast El Camino Real and four
to fi ve stories, and the highest intensities, on the east side
of El Camino Real south of Ravenswood Avenue.
Downtown/Station Area Retail/Mixed Use
The Downtown/Station Area Retail/Mixed Use designation
focuses on uses that enhance downtown vibrancy by
building upon existing community-serving retail and
personal services in the downtown area. While emphasizing
retail for ground-fl oor uses, the designation allows for a mix
of uses, including offi ce and residential uses, enhancing
downtown vibrancy through an increased customer base
for restaurants and retail businesses. It also allows for
theaters (commercial recreation), hotels and some public
and semipublic uses. This designation covers the current
public parking plazas, which could accommodate limited
non-parking uses (see Section E.2.3).
To complement the size of existing downtown business
establishments and building character, the size of some
types of businesses are limited (see Section E.2.3), and
allowable building heights are two to three stories for
all but the area in closest proximity to the train station,
where heights of either three to four or four to fi ve stories
are allowed. Allowed intensities in the downtown core
are generally consistent with historic levels while higher
intensities are allowed in the train station area.
Downtown/Station Area "Main Street" Overlay
The Downtown/Station Area "Main Street" Overlay
enhances the retail emphasis of the Downtown/Station
Area Retail/Mixed Use designation by specifi cally limiting
non-retail ground fl oor uses on Santa Cruz Avenue.
Development standards and guidelines otherwise match
the underlying Downtown/Station Area Retail/Mixed Use
Downtown Adjacent (Offi ce/Residential)
Allowing for offi ce, limited personal services and
residential uses, the Downtown Adjacent Offi ce/Residential
designation complements but does not compete with
retail uses in the downtown area. The category permits
offi ces and personal services (with certain size limitations),
residential uses and public and semipublic uses. It excludes
retail and hotel uses. The allowable building height is two
to three stories, which complements buildings in downtown
and adjacent neighborhoods
In addition the Specific Plan places a higher priority in its public benefit section on housing nearer the train station than it does on housing in the project site:
"a public benefit bonus could be considered for elements including but not limited to:
Affordable Residential Units, in particular for lower affordability levels, particularly in areas nearest the station area/downtown" (note that this does NOT include ECR-SE)
Again the Specific Plan states:
"One of the best ways to protect existing downtown businesses is to increase the supply of local shoppers by encouraging more residential development in the downtown
and station areas" (note that this does NOT include ECR-SE)
Clearly housing was much less of a priority for the city in the Mixed Use ECR-SE area that encompasses the proposed project - and that WAS the city's choice.
Lesson - You get what you plan for. Don't blame the developer. The city could have required more housing in the ECR-SE BUT they did not do so.
on Feb 25, 2013 at 10:44 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
IF the city really wants more housing in the ECR-SE area why don't they offer Stanford a variance - if Stanford adds MORE housing to the project then the square footage of that additional housing will not add to their FAR (floor area ratio)?
on Feb 25, 2013 at 10:49 am
Stanford could just remove some office and have plenty of FAR for housing at the Base level. That would be far better than adding traffic-and jobs-generating office.