Portola Valley council takes next step to buy nursery site for affordable housing
The Portola Valley Town Council on Sept. 12 took another step in its plans to buy a 1.68-acre former nursery on Portola Road for eight to 12 small homes affordable to people of moderate incomes. The council voted to engage broker Coldwell Banker to sell four parcels that the town owns in the Blue Oaks neighborhood.
A contingency in the purchase agreement for the nursery at 900 Portola Road requires the town to sell the Blue Oaks parcels for a sum at least equal to the cost for the nursery site. That cost includes $2.6 million for the property and up to $400,000 to clean up herbicide residues in the ground. The purchase agreement requires closing on escrow on or before Dec. 21.
In a closed session on Sept. 12, the council voted 4-0 (with Councilman John Richards absent) to refer all business related to the sale of the Blue Oaks properties to Coldwell Banker listing agents Ginny and Joe Kavanaugh, Town Attorney Sandy Sloan told the public when the council returned to open session.
A state mandate requires all cities and towns to have land zoned for housing for people of moderate and low incomes, even in towns like Portola Valley, where the median home price is in seven figures. In San Mateo County, a moderate income is around $86,500 for an individual and $123,600 for a family of four, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The mandate does not require that the homes be built, but it does specify sanctions that a judge can impose if a group such as an affordable housing advocate successfully sues a city or town over its inaction.
Portola Valley's agreement with Coldwell Banker has stipulations, including these two:
• If the homeowners association at Blue Oaks purchases the property on its own, the town will owe Coldwell Banker 2 percent of the sales price.
• The Kavanaughs, upon the successful close of escrow, will make a personal donation to the town of 1 percent of their listing commission.