Portola Valley may set public hearing on affordable housing plan | November 14, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - November 14, 2012

Portola Valley may set public hearing on affordable housing plan

by Dave Boyce

The Portola Valley Town Council on Wednesday, Nov. 14, is set to discuss, perhaps briefly, a go-ahead from the Planning Commission to proceed with a complex contingency-laden plan meant to create housing affordable for people of moderate incomes in a town where homes typically sell for seven-figure prices.

Town Planner Tom Vlasic recommends the council "briefly review the matter" and schedule a public hearing for the Dec. 12 council meeting.

The council meets at the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road. The council will likely emerge from a 6:45 p.m. closed session and meet in open session at its regular time of 7:30 p.m. A staff report recommends that the council review the commission's recent decision approving proposals to reconfigure lot lines and building envelopes at town-owned properties in the Blue Oaks neighborhood originally intended for below-market-rate housing.

The complicated topography of this 2.5-acre property mitigated against such housing, so the council is hoping to sell it at a market rate and use the proceeds to purchase a more amenable property. The council is looking at 900 Portola Road, a flat 1.68-acre site for an as yet undetermined number of small homes for people with moderate incomes who live or work in Portola Valley.

In San Mateo County, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), a moderate income is around $86,500 for an individual and $123,600 for a family of four.

Though the plan is opposed by "Keep PV Rural," a group of about 21 households from single-family homes just behind 900 Portola Road, the council is pressing ahead to comply with a state mandate that requires cities and towns to accommodate residents of very low, low and moderate incomes.

Single-family homes are a Portola Valley tradition and the homeowners argue that the proposal would lower their property values. In recent letters made public, the group says it is unopposed to affordable housing, but claims the process has not been "democratic and open" and that the state obligation could be met with a "creative approach that emphasizes second units."

Many towns use second units to address mandates for very-low and low income housing, but the state requires zoning for "a variety of housing types, including multi-family," HCD spokesman Colin Parent told the Almanac.


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