Fueled by federal resources, Palo Alto is preparing to undertake a 3-12 months arranging process aimed at answering a important issue: What would it get to build much more housing in the downtown place?
The town has been given a grant of $800,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for the preparing method, which is anticipated to choose about a few many years and culminate in a new Downtown Housing Strategy. The City Council will contemplate accepting the grant on Monday evening as properly as talk about committing additional city money for the arranging work.
If adopted, the downtown approach would engage in a central part in the council’s efforts to enhance housing in the city’s most transit-served place. It may well also aid the city plan for transportation enhancements, together with a reconfiguration of the city’s northernmost rail crossing at Palo Alto Avenue so that the road and the tracks no for a longer time intersect.
That explained, the boundaries of the proposed setting up location cease just limited of the downtown Transit Heart, which includes a Caltrain station and various bus stations. The approach would address the region just east of the tracks, between Alma and Cowper streets and bounded by Lytton Avenue in the north and Hamilton Avenue in the south.
Even though transportation improvements would be regarded as portion of the preparing, the major concentrate of the energy would be housing. The revenue that the MTC is distributing will come from the Federal Freeway Administration and is devoted to planning in “precedence growth areas” — parts that metropolitan areas designate as ripe for expansion and modify and that are typically found upcoming to transit hubs. The council selected a 206-acre part of downtown as a precedence advancement location in January 2020, earning it eligible for setting up grants. The 76-acre area that personnel has proposed for the Downtown Housing Prepare is integrated in the priority advancement spot.
Arranging Director Jonathan Lait explained that city personnel had originally regarded a broader downtown planning work, a single that regarded the transit center and enhancing connections concerning downtown, Stanford University and Stanford Purchasing Heart. The determination to concentrate on the segment just east of the transit hub was dependent on the staff’s estimate of what can in fact be completed with the grant pounds.
Lait pointed out, having said that, that personnel has been in conversations with Stanford College about quite possibly increasing the spot to contain the transit place if the council opts to do so.
The city’s Extensive Prepare, which is normally witnessed as its land use bible, contains a policy that encourages an area plan for downtown. A broad analysis, on the other hand, would require more than double the grant funds that the city has obtained from the MTC, Lait said.
“We’re really chatting about a additional intensive arranging hard work,” Lait claimed, referring to the Detailed Program policy. “The idea below is to capitalize on the option that we have now.”
If the council approves the MTC grant, the housing system would be one particular of many concurring endeavours to make a new vision for downtown. The council has now directed team to examine streetscape enhancements along University Avenue to make it a lot more compatible with the parklets that popped up along the thoroughfare for the duration of the pandemic and that are now set to grow to be long term fixtures.
Then there’s quality separation, the city’s substantial-scale hard work to redesign all of its grade crossings so that streets no lengthier intersect with rail tracks. The redesign work at first provided the city’s northernmost rail crossing at Palo Alto Avenue, though the council eventually voted to defer its style and design do the job on this crossing till it sorts a broader approach for the downtown location.
Offered its restricted scope, the MTC grant is unlikely to further more the discussion of the Palo Alto Avenue crossing. But Mayor Pat Burt noted that other funding resources may turn out to be offered for quality separations in the downtown place. Just one probable resource is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which included $700 million for quality separation as section of its Evaluate B, the 2016 income-tax measure. The money is earmarked for Palo Alto, Mountain Perspective and Sunnyvale.
Burt said in an job interview that a person critical issue that the council will take into consideration in its discussion of the MTC grant is the diploma to which the town really should be hanging its arranging efforts on the regional agency’s stipulations. He also stated it really is vital for the housing prepare to be dependable with the city’s eyesight for transportation enhancements.
“I might want to see a program that would improve housing in our downtown spot appreciably about time and do so in a way that is built-in in not only additional transit use but vital improvements that healthy grade separations and infrastructure that is approaching 100 many years old in the multimodal middle,” Burt reported.
The MTC grant involves the town to total its planning effort inside of a few decades, by April 30, 2025. The funding settlement for the grant requires Palo Alto to comprehensive a series of reviews as element of the scheduling process, like an analysis of the associations amongst positions and housing affordability, an evaluation of existing inequities in between persons of various racial or ethnic backgrounds, and thought of modifications to enhancement criteria that would make housing construction additional feasible.
The plan’s purpose to enhance residential construction in downtown Palo Alto has taken on a bigger perception of urgency over the past calendar year as the town is transferring towards adopting a new housing aspect, a document that identifies housing websites and approaches that will enable it to meet its regional mandate of incorporating 6,086 new dwellings by 2031. The space straight away all around the downtown Caltrain station could enjoy a pivotal part. Stanford University, which owns the land, experienced proposed a concept for accommodating up to 530 residences near the transit station. That, on the other hand, would entail a 137-foot-tall constructing.
In March, the council backed a additional modest choice when it voted to include 270 apartments at the centre website in the next housing component.
Even with a limited scope that excludes the transit heart, the MTC grant is not likely to be ample to total the prepare for the 76 acres. Metropolis staff members think that it would just take at least an extra $150,000 per year to use consultants who would help the job, in accordance to the report from the arranging section. A vital choice that the council will have to make on April 18 is irrespective of whether to dedicate these funds.
The report also notes that downtown faces a lot of issues that restrict housing generation. These include large land charges, the tendency of workplace progress to be significantly much more worthwhile for builders than residential buildings, and the truth that community parking can take up a sizeable total of land in the region.
“Through a targeted and considerate housing plan, the metropolis
can discover strategies to assistance defeat these issues and uncover options to promote greater housing production,” the report states.