Relief was tangible as the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, Nov. 6, concluded its year of zoning conversations, recommending that the City Council raise density in apartment districts to a maximum of 150 units per acre.
Zoning changes are required to demonstrate that the city is removing barriers to developing affordable housing by allowing denser housing in more parts of the city.
Menlo Park has yet to get its housing element approved. City officials are working on a fourth round of revisions to the state-mandated plan after it was sent back in August. Since the housing element was not certified by the Jan. 31 deadline earlier this year, the city now has until Jan. 31, 2024 to adopt the zoning changes.
If the city does not meet the rezoning deadline, its housing element risks being decertified even if state has approved it.
“Tonight, we're at the end of a very long process," Commissioner Andrew Erich said. "I think there's been a lot of great work done, and the most important thing that we can do is provide a strong recommendation to City Council in hopes that the City Council can move swiftly ... to approve this, and we end up with a compliant housing element.”
One of the major changes is the upzoning in Menlo Park’s R-3 apartment districts, which includes areas of downtown Menlo Park, to as much as 30 units per acre. With affordable housing overlays, which act as a density bonus, R-3 zoned properties could allow up to 150 units per acre.
The Planning Commission also focused on mixed-use zoning, allowing residential and retail to coexist. The mixed-use zones would prioritize retail, restaurants and multifamily housing.
The City Council is set to review the recommended zoning changes at its Nov. 14 meeting.