Portola Valley plans affordable housing project

Town is in negotiations to buy the site of the former Al's Nursery

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.


Like this comment
Posted by john
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Great idea PV town Gov't. Hope that the project can be completed successfully, fulfilling a State of Ca goal.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Affordable housing, but you need at least $85K annual income?! That should keep the riff-raff out. How about truly affordable senior housing, 65+, such as a classy, low density, pre-fabricated homes community? There would be no school expansion needed, no multiple car garages, and minimal increase in traffic. Instead of home owners buying the land, there could be a reasonable rental fee for each property area, providing a steady income stream for the town.

Seniors are a plus to a community and there is virtually no crime to worry about. Such communities can and do vet new owners and may have rules that allow them to remove objectionable residents.

$85K is hardly low-income; in fact it makes a mockery out of the salaries of hard-working people like social workers.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

According to this site: Web Link

average social worker salaries are $70k anually. Hardly that far of the mark.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

The median salary for social workers in our area is $57,659. Not exactly enough to live on in Portola Valley area. A few workers may earn more while other may earn as little as $45k. There are many other local occupations that don't pay close to that, but we don't want that trash here, right?
By all means let's nit-pick on what is a livable salary in this area. How many Portola Valley area residents get by on even $85K?

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm


I have to ask, so what? So social workers can't afford to live in Portola Valley? They can't afford to live in Woodside and Atherton either. So what? We all make choices in life understanding that those choices have concequences. One of which is that if we don't choose a profession that makes a lot of money we don't get to live in places that cost a lot to live in. I'd love to live in Atherton or Woodside or Portola Valley. I don't make enough money. Boo hoo. It's because of what I chose to do with my life and my profession. I have no expectations that someone provide me with something I can afford in any of those towns. This "affordable housing" is socialism, pure and simple.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 849 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 605 views