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Cottage clusters becoming a thing of the past?

Original post made on Oct 13, 2017

Palo Alto could soon lose two cottage clusters, the small groupings of bungalows built between the 1930s and 1950s that some people say are a vital part of the city's diverse housing stock.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 13, 2017, 6:45 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 8:00 am

Thank you to councilmember Holman and to Ms. Dremman for shining a light on this very important issue!

Cottage clusters are a very important and charming part of our neighborhoods and we cannot allow them to be destroyed and replaced by McMansions!
Quite often they are historically significant as well!

It is not enough to discourage replacing them we must past a law to prohibit replacing them!

Posted by Community Member
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2017 at 8:43 am

Fantastic article - I had no idea cottage clusters were at risk.
City council please pay attention to this and help protect our cottage clusters.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2017 at 9:05 am

I saw the newspaper ad that these were for sale in order for someone to build a mansion on Churchill. Very sorry.

Posted by Can we rezone to keep the cottages?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:04 am

Can we rezone to keep the cottages? is a registered user.

Couldn't we rezone the existing cottage cluster to multi-family instead of R-1, with the caveat that only the same number of units could be constructed. The lot on Churchill would be a great place to keep multi-family housing, it is walking distance to Cal Ave, University and El Camino. There are several pockets of R-2 housing in Old Palo Alto, including some less than a block away on Churchill. Some of Alma in Old Palo Alto is R-15. A great place to increase density truly near transit.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Just another case of the diminishing effort to preserve and protect housing as we knew it back in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and beyond. Oh, our wonderful Housing Element will save and preserve all that. Hah! hah!

Posted by Francie
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm

I love our cottage cluster. It is a community within a town. We help each other when someone has surgery, we water each other's plants, feed each other's pets, etc. I could never afford to live in Palo Alto if it weren't for my cottage. I own it, not rent. They are well built, well maintained and charming. City Council Members- please protect my and my neighbor's homes. I promise we are citizens worth having in Palo Alto.

Posted by commonsense
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2017 at 2:02 pm

The city should buy them and call it affordable housing. Better yet, Holman and the commenters here should buy them and preserve them. Council, please spend your time on useful tasks, not this achieve nothing bs for political gain. We have a housing CRISIS!!!

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm

So ridiculous that we don't assiduously protect the housing we have. And what about all the fad for micro- units and here we have more modest housing that we allow to be demolished for expensive housing.

Our policy and laws don't make sense - or we are hypocrites.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Cottage courts are doomed. They have too many amenities, like open space, that make living in them pleasant for their inhabitants, but less profitable for their owners. Yuuuge violation of the Silicon Valley ethic there.

Posted by No
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm

It's one thing to say protect housing but what is really going on is limiting the right of the land owners to develop these properties when they have absolute right to do it. The city can use taxpayer money to buy them if it wants, but let's see the uproar on that.

Posted by Developer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

If the city genuinely wants to preserve cottages, it should relax the rules for subdividing the lots. Both of the lots on Channing and Churchill are perfect candidates for smaller homes on smaller lots because their locations are not prime. However, the city does not allow subdivision of such lots.

Posted by realtor for the newly rich
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Alain Pinel Realtors advertises: "lot is ideal for someone to build their estate home."
I wonder whether the realtor cares how disliked they are in town. When I receive one of their expensive magazine-advertisements I hasten to recycle it, it makes my stomach turn. Toss perfectly good people out so you can build an estate. Yuk.
Such bad taste, such a loud display of wealth by the newly rich.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm

The courts are charming. They have been in Palo Alto for a long time, and they are part of what we all like here. Removing them would be a mistake. They are charming and a part of Palo Alto that should definitely stay.

Posted by End of story
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:08 pm

I believe that these lots are private property. Is the city considering buying them? If not, then end of story. We all know that Holman likes old (“historic”)things, but that is no excuse to abrogate private property rights.

Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 15, 2017 at 9:06 am

I agree that there should be some way of retaining these cottage clusters. Not only do they add charm to Palo Alto, but, more importantly, they offer much-needed additional housing.

Posted by Progress Sucks
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2017 at 9:24 am

To argue that cottages are inexpensive housing, or somehow promote diversity is naive. The cottages are almost as expensive as any home because it is the LAND that they sit on that is expensive - not the structure.

Folks, the Dam has already broken and the flood of workers, cars, and cash only buyers is way past the point of turning around. Time to accept the new reality and build up the place. I tried to stop it 10 years ago when we saw this coming, but it is too late now and there is no gong back. Denser and higher is the only path at this point. I wish we could be a community of cottages - I wish I could stop global warming - I wish I could house and feed the poor.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

From Karen Holman in the article: "Cottage clusters provide housing for many who otherwise would not be able to live in Palo Alto due not only to their size typically being smaller, and thus somewhat less expensive, but also because they expand the number of housing opportunities that exist," "

This is hilarious. For many?!

It provides housing for *very few* people.

If Karen were really about fixing our housing situation, what she would do is push forth that cottage clusters need to continue to be multiunit, regardless of development.

Instead, she really is for maintaining the mono-ethnic identity of Palo Alto.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Mono-ethnic identity of Palo Alto"?????

Palo Alto's already 40% Asian. So says one of the slick realtor brochures I got last week from a firm known to offer bus tours and other inducements to Asian real estate investors.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park are two neighborhoods without any BMR, high density development. Those neighborhoods are suffering from a lack of diversity. Palo Alto Housing Corporation should purchase these opportunities, ask the council to rezone to RM-45, and develop a 40 - 50 unit complex so that these neighborhoods can have the benefits of diversity those residents so ardently support.

Posted by Eric
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 15, 2017 at 10:14 pm

It definitely sounds pretty ridiculous to try to dictate what a property owner can do within the rules. As long as zoning is fair and applied equally to everyone I respect the right of the city to do it. So many people on here are so quick with their opinions of what others should be allowed to do. Change the rules, just for this one property! Don't let anything change!

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm

"Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park are two neighborhoods... suffering from a lack of diversity."

You clearly haven't been to Old Palo Alto or Crescent Park lately.

Posted by Cottages vs. Tiny Houses
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2017 at 8:09 am

Aren't cottages the precursors of tiny houses -often presented as one of the solutions to housing shortage (see: Web Link -?

Shouldn't Palo Alto try to preserve them?

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