Palo Alto Commons, a housing complex for senior citizens on El Camino Way, would get 44 new housing units as well as a new gym, lounge and indoor pool if the City Council approves a zone change to enable the expansion tonight (March 7).
The proposal would add a three-story building to the existing 121-unit complex on El Camino Way, between El Camino Real and West Meadow Drive. The city's Architectural Review Board and Planning and Transportation Commission both gave the project unanimous endorsements.
To make the project possible, the council would have to change the existing "planned community" (PC) zone on the project site. The zoning designation allows developers to exceed the city's density requirements in exchange for negotiated "public benefits."
In this case, the main benefit is the project itself. The project would add rental housing for seniors to a city with a widely acknowledged shortage of such housing. The PC zone for the existing development was approved in 1987 with "an acknowledgment that the use itself, senior housing, was a public benefit," Planner Jennifer Armer wrote in a staff report.
While senior housing continues to be the primary benefit, other benefits include pedestrian improvements along El Camino Way, upgrades to the existing bus stop on El Camino Real, new plantings and a walkways in front of the new addition and a $100,000 donation to Avenidas to fund programs for low-income seniors.
The council will decide tonight whether these proposed benefits warrant expanding the existing 1.7-acre PC zone by 0.8 acres. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. or as soon as possible after a closed session on labor negotiations. It will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.