PALO ALTO IMPACTS
Overall, approximately 6,000 parcels in Palo Alto could qualify as being in a “Transit Rich Housing Project” area, out of 18,050 total parcels in the city currently.1 This represents about 33% of the total number of parcels in the city, or about 12% of Palo Alto’s total land area.2 Changes would affect most commercial zones (primarily along El Camino Real), as well as most multi-family zoning districts.
Parcels in Transit Rich Housing Project areas would also be affected by a removal in any minimum off-street parking requirements. Palo Alto currently has minimum requirements for housing developments based on the number of units and unit type (for example, 1.5 spaces per 1-bedroom apartment unit).
Currently, maximum allowable heights in Palo Alto do not exceed 50 feet. For example, maximum allowable heights in commercial and office zoning districts is 50 feet (or 35 feet if close to a residential zone) and maximum heights for multifamily zones are 30 to 40 feet depending on density. In some cases, density bonuses for affordable housing allow for an increase to up to 50 feet for qualifying developments.
Given current maximum heights, SB 827 would allow for taller residential developments (up to 85 feet under the bill) in Transit Rich Housing Project areas. Possible changes include:
- Approximately 1,050 parcels (17%) would have maximum allowable heights of 85 feet. These parcels are those along major roads, including University Ave, El Camino Real, and parts of Page Mill Rd and Alma St.
- 3,450 parcels (58%) would have maximum allowable heights of 55 feet. These include parcels within ¼ of El Camino Real and University Ave, but not directly facing a major street.
- 1,500 parcels (25%) would have maximum allowable heights of 45 feet. Parcels affected would include those outside of a High Quality Transit Corridor but with ½ mile of a major Transit Stop – primarily areas along Oregon and San Antonio.
Maximum height limits would change most significantly for those parcels along major roads such as University Avenue, El Camino Real, and Page Mill Road. In some cases, the areas that would be upzoned are those that have already been identified for development in regional planning documents.3 This includes the area in Evergreen Park bounded by Page Mill Rd, El Camino Real, California Ave, and Alma St.