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Atherton councilman says state gave town an 'F' for housing element draft

Original post made on Nov 7, 2022

Council member Bob Polito called on the council to come up with alternate housing element plans, arguing the town's strategy is inadequate and doesn't address the state's demands.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 7, 2022, 10:46 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Matt
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2022 at 1:38 pm

Matt is a registered user.

The wealthiest zip code in America ignores state law, is hostile to public transport, and even disallows sidewalks or bike lanes on extremely busy roads like El Camino.

Yet they want to use the public schools, trains, and other higher density amenities of their neighbors.

Definition of selfish, and unneighborliness.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2022 at 2:59 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Maybe they can build dense housing in Holbrook/Palmer park? lol


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 7, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Kudos to the Atherton Town Council for working to find an acceptable solution.

Those who try to impede this effort should realize that if the Council does not have an approved solution by Jan 31, 2023 then the "builder's remedy" kicks in. This is a 1990 amendment to the Housing Accountability Act informally called the “builder’s remedy” which says that "noncompliant cities must allow housing at any density and any height, anywhere in the city, as long as at least 20% of the new homes are affordable."
"All Bay Area cities have until Jan. 31, 2023, to certify a compliant housing element. Until last week, many cities, including San Francisco, incorrectly assumed they had a “grace period“ of a further 120 days before penalties started.

They don’t.

These cities will likely be unprepared to submit a compliant plan before Jan. 31. If that happens, builder’s remedy applications would open on Feb. 1."


Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2022 at 8:59 am

Thoughtful is a registered user.

"Maybe they can build dense housing in Holbrook/Palmer park? lol"

Not a bad idea, and could be what this is coming to. It's actually the only "fair" solution given this crazy law.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Thoughtful:

I don't honestly know where else there is land available in Atherton that could house the density. There's several acres on Atherton Ave. that are for sale, but you can be guaranteed the neighbors will file lawsuit after lawsuit to stop it from going in there.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2022 at 4:26 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.


How about buying properties on El Camino to make up the difference of what was submitted to the state that they liked and would approve, Refine that number, It may be minimal, There are parcels next to commercial as a place to start, Then offer to buy any contiguous parcels at market value, or at a bonus value, and or other incentives for property owners who choose to sell, Such as some form of tax relief on their next property or anything the Town has control over. Some people may choose to sell, Some people may choose to stay. It should be voluntary. Include FAR incentives for their next property etc. Then build those properties at medium density. Then resell those contiguous properties at what may be a little less than market rate, but gets the job done, Send out notices to all property owners now to get a preliminary response. Lots of parcels on El Camino,


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2022 at 4:30 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.


I don't know but does the state give any incentives for building units on high-traffic and bus routes


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2022 at 4:32 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Did the state already give a number of how many units they will be short after the last proposal?


Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 9, 2022 at 8:57 pm

Thoughtful is a registered user.

"There's several acres on Atherton Ave. that are for sale, but you can be guaranteed the neighbors will file lawsuit after lawsuit to stop it from going in there."

I don't think filing lawsuits is going to be an effective strategy to hold this off.

I think of this more like a Prisoner's Dilemma. Today there are a few acres available on Atherton Avenue. Next year it will be another area, and before you know it, the street you live on or even adjacent to your home.

Before it comes to that, Atherton should bite the bullet and re-zone the park.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 10, 2022 at 7:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Before it comes to that, Atherton should bite the bullet and re-zone the park."


Under the terms of the gift to the Town if that park stops being used as a park or is used for housing then it reverts to Stanford University.


Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 10, 2022 at 7:31 am

Thoughtful is a registered user.

Buy it from Stanford. Puts the $35M put into the Town Center into perspective. Which is going to affect residents more?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 10, 2022 at 7:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The park is 22 acres and at current market prices would be worth more than $150 million.


Posted by Private citizen
a resident of Laurel School
on Nov 10, 2022 at 1:30 pm

Private citizen is a registered user.

Let’s see mp build affordable housing on its open and park space. Oh wait, our council prohibited that.


Posted by Private citizen
a resident of Laurel School
on Nov 10, 2022 at 1:39 pm

Private citizen is a registered user.

Let’s see mp set the example and remove the restrictions for building affordable housing on its open spaces and park spaces.
@Menlo Voter, Sharon Heights or billionaire’s way along Sandhill Rd would be ideal places to start. “Lol.”


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2022 at 6:34 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Private Citizen:

Sand Hill would actually be pretty good place, of course it would require rezoning. And government subsidies as land and construction costs preclude it it being done without subsidies.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 11, 2022 at 11:44 am

PH is a registered user.

"HCD considers a density of at least 20 units per acre as a "default" density that counts as meeting affordable housing requirements"

I thought the figure in our Metropolitan Area is 30 du/acre. Is Atherton under a different standard?

You can see how the State is encouraging cities to zone for density under false pretense. Market rate units at 20du/acre are still luxury units. House Silicon Valley while pretending to create opportunity for lower income families.

If the State really wished to be fair and create true affordable units it could do as it does with one of the builder's remedies. It could require the 20du/acre overlay to be all-affordable (deed restricted) to moderate income levels. Simply create a state recognized "AHO" affordable housing overlay, that allows the high-density but only when it is deed restricted.

Athertonians may still howl if such a project is built but at least it will be occupied by the correct target market, and if the land economics of Atherton don't lend itself to housing for moderate incomes, then Atherton won't have to undergo an endless State beat down to pretend that it does.

California is pushing for Denmark's housing policy under an American tax regime.

Housing as a human right requires massive subsidies. In expensive Bay Area towns we can ask if those subsidies would be spent most efficiently. So the AFFH goal of income integration clashes with the real goal of housing production.

Count me in for the referendum.



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