The Menlo Park Planning Commission reviewed a proposal for a 62-unit affordable housing building at the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) campus at 795 Willow Road.
The VA, in collaboration with developer MidPen Housing, is planning to build a complex of 62 apartments for veterans and their families who earn between 30% and 50% of the area median income. For a four-person household in San Mateo County, that includes those making $55,900 to $93,200 annually. The complex will be largely three stories tall, with a two-story area closest to the street.
The complex calls for a majority of one-bedroom apartments but includes five two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units.
The two-story building will be only 40 feet from the street, and there were concerns about setback compliance from the commission.
“What is being put forward here does not strictly comply with setbacks, parking regulation, and frontage landscaping, but it generally complies with the intent and the spirit,” Commissioner Andrew Barnes said.
That assessment is important. The VA campus is located on federal land and doesn't need city approval, but it does require a letter from the city of Menlo Park giving general support for the project.
The VA campus was listed in Menlo Park’s recent housing element as an opportunity site, and the city can count these 62 new units toward the city’s overall Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goal of nearly 3,800 new housing units by 2031.
The VA plans to perform extensive community outreach, and MidPen Housing has already met with Menlo Park City Council members and local housing advocacy groups such as Menlo Together and The San Mateo County Housing Leadership Council, as well as hosted a virtual neighborhood meeting last July. The VA also plans to survey veterans who will need the housing, and continue doing community outreach in the neighborhood.
The VA said that the plans call for including courtyards in the property that “celebrate the existing trees and minimize the need to reduce them.” Out of 125 trees in the project area, the development will preserve 94, 72 of which are heritage trees.
The housing complex will be mostly powered by solar power, which prompted some concern with Menlo Park’s recent power outages. Commissioner Henry Riggs asked what residents of an all-electric building would do when it comes to rolling blackouts and power outages, and the VA said that planning backup generators for each unit would be cost-prohibitive, but there could be backup generators for community areas.
“The building sits very well in the landscape,” Vice Chair Linh Dan Do said. “It's clear from the presentation, and even from a site plan … that the building works with the limitations.”
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 18, 2023 at 4:36 pm
on May 18, 2023 at 4:36 pm
The new housing on the VA campus will be great, hopefully construction will begin soon!