Two buildings would be located at the rear of the property, close to an existing single-family home and would be two stories tall. The other two, at the front of the property, would be three stories tall with a fourth-floor roof deck, the plans show.
The townhomes would range from two- to four-bedroom units, each of which will have a two-car garage. The two-story units would also have private side yards.
The Morgan Hill-based developer Dividend Homes is relying on Senate Bill 330, which is legislation that bars the city from revising design standards for new projects. By filing an SB 330 pre-application, the developer is ensuring that the city will only rely on measurable "objective" criteria in reviewing the project and that the review process will be limited to no more than five public hearings.
Because the site is already zoned for multifamily residential use that allows up to 30 dwellings per acre, the developer will not require any zone changes to get the project approved. In the project description, Dividend notes that the variety of unit types in the new development will allow it to "cater to a larger range of population." Two of the 16 townhomes would be designated as affordable units, making the project eligible for waivers and concessions under state law.
"The on-site inclusionary units along with the variety in unit types makes this a mixed-income missing middle housing that would be a wonderful addition to the housing fabric in the city of Palo Alto," the project description states.
Bryan Wenter, writing on behalf of Dividend, also noted in a letter that the state Housing Accountability Act guarantees the project can be built essentially as proposed and limits the city's ability to demand fewer units.
"Accordingly, if a project complies with applicable, objective general plan, zoning, subdivision and design standards in the eyes of a reasonable person, the project cannot be disapproved or conditioned on a lower density unless, based on a preponderance of the evidence in the record, it would have a 'specific, adverse impact' upon public health or safety and there is no feasible way to mitigate that impact," Wenter wrote in a March 3 letter. "If a city's disapproval or conditional approval is challenged in court, the burden is on the City to prove its decision conformed to all the conditions specified in the HAA."
If it advances, the Acacia Avenue development will be just the latest in a wave of new housing proposals in Ventura, a historically underserved and centrally located neighborhood south of the California Avenue business district. The city recently celebrated the grand opening of Wilton Court, a housing complex for low-income residents and individuals for disabilities. City planners are also now reviewing a proposal for a 129-apartment complex pitched by Charities Housing, a nonprofit developer, for the former site of Mike's Bikes at 3001 El Camino Real.
The most ambitious project, however, is the city's proposed redevelopment of the former Fry's site at 340 Portage Ave. The current plan, which the council negotiated with the property owner, The Sobrato Organization, calls for Sobrato to build 74 townhomes along Park Boulevard and to donate land to the city for a future affordable-housing development.
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