The developer of 2.46 acres on Maybell Avenue near Arastradero Road may be up against a considerable battle with some Barron Park and Green Acres I neighborhood residents, despite already reducing the number of homes to be constructed on the former orchard.
Developer Golden Gate Homes is proposing to build five single-family homes along Maybell; three single-family houses on Clemo Avenue; and 16 homes on the interior along a new, L-shaped street, including four "duet" homes (two pairs of houses whose garages are connected).
The units range from 1,550 square feet for the duets to 2,650 square feet for the houses along Maybell, Ted O'Hanlon, project manager, said. He added that the plans at this stage are only preliminary and are subject to change.
The entire site, aside from the single-family parcels along Maybell, is zoned RM-15, or multi-family residential. Almost all of the homes would be two stories.
The proposal would be submitted as a Village Residential development, which under city code allows for a mix of housing types, including single family, attached rowhouses and townhouses and cottage clusters that can transition to moderate density districts. Densities range from eight to 12 units per acre.
"By implementing the Village Residential code, it allows the project to be feasible with less units and provides a transition from the adjacent eight-story Tan Plaza and the Arastradero Park Apartment Complex to the rest of the neighborhood," O'Hanlon said.
Heeding earlier concerns by residents and members of the slow-growth group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, Golden Gate Homes canceled a review of an earlier 30-home proposal by the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board scheduled for early January. The developer instead plans to submit the scaled-down version of 24 houses, which also features fewer, but still some, driveways onto Maybell.
But some residents living near the site are still opposed to its density and traffic circulation, and several said at a community meeting on Jan. 8 that they would fight the proposal. They don't want any driveways onto Maybell, nor do they want the new L-shaped road connecting with Maybell, which is a dedicated bicycle route serving four schools.
At the same time, Green Acres I residents, who live across Arastradero Road from the project, said they don't want all of the traffic from the development coming down Clemo and onto Arastradero.
Henry Lum, a Green Acres resident since 1965, said he was pleased that the developer has reduced the number of homes, but traffic backups on Arastradero Road at Suzanne Drive and Clemo Avenue already make it nearly impossible to exit his neighborhood during rush hour.
A few residents who oppose the project's density vowed legal action if Golden Gate pushes the 24-home development. They pointed to the 1998 Glenbrook Court development in Green Acres as an example of the kind of density they would support, where there are 14 homes on 3.5 acres.
(Glenbrook Court's developer initially planned to turn the 10-acre Cabana Hotel site, now the Crowne Plaza Cabana, on El Camino Real into 100 single-family homes and townhouses.)
But the project has supporters as well. Barron Park residents Winter Dellenbach and Gerry Masteller pointed out at the January meeting that Golden Gate's plan is within the city's zoning requirements for the site. The project is compatible with the neighborhood, which also has high-rise apartments and multi-family housing as well as single-family homes, Dellenbach said.
Others said after the meeting that the developer has worked diligently to cooperate with the neighborhood, and they did not want the proposal to turn into the same kind of bitter and divisive fight as occurred when the parcel's previous owner, Palo Alto Housing Corporation, proposed 60 units of low-income senior housing and 12 single-family homes. Opposition to that project resulted in a 2013 referendum, Measure D, which voters approved, effectively canceling the project.
O'Hanlon said that Golden Gate hopes "to find a point in the middle for everybody."
"We are very excited about this plan. ... Given that existing zoning allows 34 to 46 units, the plan offers significantly less units and fits very well within the vicinity," O'Hanlon said.
"In this plan the neighborhood would gain the single-family feel it desires. ... The site plan is within existing zoning, which is what the neighborhood stated on numerous occasions would be acceptable during the Measure D campaign," he added.
But some residents insisted they don't want any development at all.
"The best solution is to sell this land to farmers and sell fruit to make your money," a resident said.
Golden Gate purchased the property in April 2014 for $22 million.