In the latest Around Town column, granny units are on the rise in south Palo Alto, C-SPAN recognizes young video documentarians from Paly and Cantor Arts Center adds 1,000 photographs to its permanent collection.
MUCH ADU ABOUT HOUSING ... It's been almost two years since Palo Alto passed a new law that loosened restrictions for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), with the goal of encouraging more such units throughout the city. Now, the program appears to be bearing fruit, with south Palo Alto leading the way. According to an update that the city's Department of Planning and Community Environment released earlier this month, the city received 54 permit applications from residents for new ADUs in 2018, up from 28 in 2017. Overall, the city had issued 45 permits in the two years, the report states. While ADUs are a relatively small piece of the city's housing puzzle (historically, the city had only issued about four ADU permits per year), city officials hope that they will gradually become more popular. While only 11 ADUs have been constructed since early 2017 (others are in progress), the number is expected to increase as more properties become eligible for these structures. In December 2018, the city further revised its ADU requirements, removing a "minimum lot size" requirement that limited ADUs to relatively large parcels and waiving the impact fees for garage conversions and "junior ADUs." In the final quarter of 2018, the city had received 11 permit applications for ADUs, of which nine came from south Palo Alto. Ten of the 11 applications (including all nine in south Palo Alto) were for properties zoned for single-family use, while one was for a property in a multifamily residential zone. The new units vary greatly in size and configuration, with the smallest one comprising 328 square feet and the largest one 794 square feet (the average size is about 500 square feet). Five of the 11 are brand new units, while the remaining six are converted garages. City Manager Ed Shikada highlighted the promising trend during last month's City Council retreat. Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the retreat that while it's too early to identify trends, it's clear the city is producing more such units than it had in the past. "We did anticipate there will be more (permits) in the second year ... as people get familiar with the ordinance," Lait said.
FINDING THE RIGHT ANGLES ... Three student teams from Palo Alto High School are among 340 winners in C-SPAN's national 2019 StudentCam competition, the public affairs network announced on Wednesday. Each team earned third place and a $750 prize for their work, which challenged them to address the question "What does it mean to be an American?" The contest required them to select a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event, then show how it defines "the American experience." The local winning teams were Alex Selwyn and Ben Stein, who produced "Young, Undocumented and Alone"; Catherine Reller, Ryan Seto and Paige Thomas for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"; and Emilie Difede, Isabelle Koutsoyanis and Blake Elfsten for "Striving for Gender Equality." "Each year, we are impressed and inspired by Palo Alto area students' insight and creativity tackling national issues through their short videos. This year's winners creatively portrayed what it means to be American," Lorena Hernandez, Comcast's California director of community impact, said in a statement.
CAPTURED MOMENTS ... Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center is now home to 1,000 photographs by American artists including Ansel Adams, Helen Levitt and Edward Weston, the university announced in a press release on Monday. The works were donated by Capital Group Foundation, which also contributed $2 million to create a curatorial fellow position and support the exhibition. The museum was selected after a two-year nationwide search of 20 institutions."For years the collection of photographs has been absolutely essential to how the Cantor Arts Center presents photography in our galleries and study rooms, and now this gift will transform how the museum addresses the aesthetic and social concerns of 20th-century American art," Elizabeth Mitchell, the university's Burton and Deedee McMurtry curator, said in a statement. Mitchell is assembling an exhibit featuring the new photographs set to open in September. Plans are underway for another two exhibits in 2020.