Thursday 9/5: Share your vision for the Future of El Camino Real!

Thursday 9/5: Share your vision for the Future of El Camino Real!

This coming Thursday, September 5th, please join us in attending a panel discussion on the future of El Camino Real, hosted by Santa Clara Community Advocates and Livable Sunnyvale.

Where: Central Park Library (Margie Edinger Room); 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051 (map)

When: Tuesday September 5th from 6:30-8:30pm

Sign up at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/envisioning-el-camino-tickets-69148385683

In the meeting’s Q&A session, community leaders are looking forward to community input on how the El Camino Corridor can serve our Peninsula communities’ needs for sustainable transportation, affordable housing, and efficient urban planning, so that the Corridor can be enjoyed by all! We look forward to voicing support for all 3 of these initaitives.

El Camino Real at San Tomas Expressway. Photo credit: Gabriela Landaveri

We’re excited to hear from the experts on the panel:

  • Sue Serrone, Chair, Livable Sunnyvale
  • Vikas Gupta, Santa Clara Community Advocates
  • Gwen Buckley, Planner, San Mateo County Transit District 9 (supporting Grand Boulevard Initiative) 
  • LaShonda Kennedy, Vice Chair, Redwood City Transportation Advisory Committee
  • Steve Le, Assistant Planner, City of Santa Clara
  • Jay Lee, Senior Planner, City of Sunnyvale
  • Moderator: Nikita Sinha, Walk San Jose Program Manager, CalWalks

Any questions? Just reach out to envisioningelcamino@gmail.com.

Note: This is not a Library-sponsored event. The City of Santa Clara is neither responsible nor liable for information provided by users of the Library meeting rooms.

San Bruno rejects El Camino condos – what next?

San Bruno rejects El Camino condos – what next?

We were disappointed that the San Bruno Mills Park project failed to pass due to a single “no” vote at City Council last week, and now may not be built.

The development, as we covered last week, was under thoughtful review for three years and was slated to provide:

  • 425 condos
    • Including 64 deeply affordable units for households well under the Area Median Income
  • A new grocery store for the neighborhood

All right within close proximity to SamTrans, Caltrain, and BART, enabling residents to enjoy a true transit-first lifestyle and reducing traffic and emissions on area roads.  

Mills Park’s plans complied with local code and regulations, delivering what 68% of voters had asked for by approving 2014’s Measure N, the “Downtown and Transit Corridors Economic Enhancement Initiative”.  This initiative allows for moderately taller buildings in the downtown area — enabling more people to have homes near transit, stores, and jobs. The Mills Park site is also part of the Transit Corridors Specific Plan area, approved by San Bruno City Council in 2013.

Architect’s rendering of the Mills Park development

San Bruno’s planning commission had unanimously approved the plans.  However, a few residents of nearby areas opposed the new homes and spoke at this Council meeting.  The City Council held a smaller than usual vote on the project, with only 3 council members able to participate (as 2 others owned property near the site).  This meant the project required unanimous consent from the remaining council members to pass, and ultimately failed due to just one of the three council members, Marty Medina, voting against the project.

The failure of Mills Park is only the latest example of why local government leaders who emphasize local control over housing decisions have ultimately failed to act in the best interests of local residents, workers, and the Peninsula region.  San Bruno City Council recently sent a letter in opposition of SB-50 (the MoreHOMES Act) to the bill’s author, State Sen. Scott Wiener.  But the city stated that it is already working to increase housing supply via its existing procedures and does not need state intervention:

“SB 50 disrespects local values and penalizes communities that have adopted thoughtful approaches to increasing housing supply”

– San Bruno City Council, April 24, 2019

However, the failure of projects like Mills Park is not uncommon in our region these days.  Projects that confirm to city code and voters’ wishes should not be able to fail at a late stage due to a small group persuading a single councilmember to vote against the much-needed homes.  

The city may not be legally allowed to turn this development down under state law – the Housing Accountability Act prohibits cities from denying housing that fits local rules unless there is a major risk to health and safety.  Cities’ lack of self-regulation reinforces the needs for state standards to solve our region’s housing crisis.  

What can you do to help?

  • If you’re a San Bruno resident and would like to explore action against the city for potential violations of the HAA — please contact sonja@carlaef.org
  • Call CA State Senator Jerry Hill (who represents this region) at (650) 212-3313 to express support for state housing legislation, including SB330 (Housing Crisis Act of 2019) and SB50 (the MoreHOMES Act)
  • Contact the San Bruno City Council to encourage the building of more much-needed housing: Links to message council members are here, or, call the City Manager Jovan Grogan: (650) 616-7056 
  • Join Peninsula for Everyone to help spread the word
Monday July 8th: Join the first Sunnyvale Village Center Public Engagement Process meeting!

Monday July 8th: Join the first Sunnyvale Village Center Public Engagement Process meeting!

Sunnyvale is making exciting plans to redevelop old shopping centers into new Village Centers following a goal set by the city with its recent General Plan update. Village Centers will be new medium-density mixed-use places that will blend housing and retail, close to transit. We’re really excited about the opportunities to evolve aging shopping centers into places with homes and convenient access to the needs of daily life.

The Planning Commission will be reviewing a draft plan for the Public Engagement Process for a Precise Plan for the first of the Village Centers. Because Village Centers are brand new in Sunnyvale, it will be helpful to come and be supportive.

When: This coming Monday, July 8th at 7pm

Where: The Council Chambers: 456 Olive Ave

Meeting Agenda: Here, with additional details on the project and Engagement Process here

The first Village Center under consideration is at the corner of W. Fremont Avenue and Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road:

Map of the area for the first project at E. Fremont and Sunnyvale-Saratoga

Some great features of the Village Centers include:

  • A focus on walkability and transit
  • Space for community gatherings and interaction
  • Proximity to services and businesses for residents of the Centers and the surrounding community
  • Residential diversity through new housing types (multi-family properties) in areas that skew heavily towards single family homes
  • Land designation that allows up to 4-story buildings and 18 units per acre (averaged across the site)

Please join us to support more housing as a key component of these Centers, and engage in the Public Engagement Process.

Also, whether or not you can make it, please voice your support for these new developments:

  • Reach your councilmembers here
  • Voice your support to Project Planner Cindy Hom at (408) 730-7411 or Chom@sunnyvale.ca.gov
Tuesday July 9th: Support 425 homes at San Bruno Mills Park

Tuesday July 9th: Support 425 homes at San Bruno Mills Park

On Tuesday July 9th at 7pm, the San Bruno City Council will be meeting at the San Bruno Senior Center (1555 Crystal Springs Rd, San Bruno, CA 94066) to continue the review process for the Mills Park development. Please join us to support the project! The agenda for this meeting is here.

This is a great, dense development on El Camino Real with frequent bus service, and walking distance of the San Bruno Caltrain station, and roughly 1 mile (a longer walk, or quick bike/scooter ride) away from the San Bruno BART and Shops at Tanforan.

The ~5-acre site is mixed use with a housing focus, with plans to add:

  • 425 condominium homes, 64 of which will be deeply affordable
  • A 41,890 sqft grocery store
  • 4,000 sqft of commercial space
  • 879 parking stalls

This project fits neatly with the community’s wishes for greater development in the transit corridor area around Caltrain, BART, and El Camino Real. The Mills Park site is part of the Transit Corridors Specific Plan area, approved by San Bruno City Council in 2013. In 2014, voters approved Measure N, the “Downtown and Transit Corridors Economic Enhancement Initiative”, which allows moderately taller buildings like this in the downtown area, close to transit.

We’re excited about this project’s ability to bring more homes to our area, especially so close to transit. Residents will have a lot of alternatives to driving, with easy access to many local businesses and a grocery store right downstairs. That’s a level of convenience many of us dream of!

Please join us in support of this project at the meeting.

And whether or not you can make it, please contact your local officials to show support — you can message council members here.

Want to learn more?

The City of San Bruno maintains a website for the project with a range of detailed documents describing the project, and all the studies and review done thus far.

In a nutshell, the proposed buildings range in height from one to five stories with the tallest portions at the maximum of 70 feet in height, with many building portions below this maximum. The buildings are divided into smaller components with articulated building setbacks and stepbacks.

The project has also been endorsed by our friends at the San Mateo Housing Leadership Council:

See you in San Bruno!

Tuesday, June 25th: Study session for Mountain View’s East Whisman Precise Plan

Tuesday, June 25th: Study session for Mountain View’s East Whisman Precise Plan

We’re excited about Mountain View’s plans to add 5,000 housing units in the East Whisman neighborhood as part of its long-term East Whisman Precise Plan.  Please join us to advocate for more housing at the next Mountain View City Council meeting, where the plan is on the agenda:

When: Tuesday June 25th at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Council Chambers, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, CA

What: We love that the East Whisman Precise Plan:

  • Creates more homes in our community
  • Considers the jobs/home imbalance here on the peninsula and works to nearly balance out the new jobs it will create
  • Encourages alternative methods of transit, including pedestrian access, light rail, and bike infrastructure
  • Includes space for stores and services serving the neighborhood, and policies to enable space for schools
  • Is very close to many local offices, allowing workers there to go car-free — with the added benefit of reducing traffic and emissions for all residents of the area
  • Thanks to the transit-oriented planning above, allows more space to be used for housing instead of idle cars and parking

We want to voice our support for the new housing stock as well the project’s effort to reduce reliance on cars!

A map from the city’s detailed Precise Plan is below.  Please join us in support on Tuesday!

Can’t make it to the meeting?  Voice your support by email or phone to the Planning Department:

Phone: (650) 903-6306     

Email: planning.division@mountainview.gov

Come support second-story ADUs in Redwood City on June 18th

Come support second-story ADUs in Redwood City on June 18th

This coming Tuesday June 18th at 7pm, Redwood City’s Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing about a proposal to make it more difficult to add Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The meeting will be held at Redwood City City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road in Redwood City.  You can view the agenda and materials here.

Especially in the case of smaller lot sizes, one smart way to build ADUs is to add them on top of an existing one-story garage on the property.  A small group of residents in Redwood City have organized in an effort to make this second-story option much less available and attractive for their fellow homeowners to build.  They propose height limits and incentivizing single-story ADUs over second-story units. We believe this will result in the creation of fewer new ADU homes and are strongly against this proposed change.

We encourage renters, homeowners, and other housing supporters to join us at the meeting to share feedback and stories in support of this valuable piece of the housing mix.

An example second-story ADU (source)

For more on ADUs and the proposed change, read on…

Since 2017, California state and local governments have been updating regulations to make it easier than ever for homeowners to build ADUs.  We’re excited about this — ADUs provide more opportunities for housing that can provide benefits such as:

  • Multi-generational family housing
  • Space for a caretaker to live with a family
  • Room for aging homeowners to live in a smaller, smartly-designed unit and rent out their main house — providing income and independence without having to leave their community

There are many reasons people are so excited about ADUs:

  • They’re thoughtfully developed by homeowners who manage them personally.  In nearly all cases, ADU owners are required to live in either the primary residence or the ADU itself.  As the person living closest to the unit, ADU owners are highly motivated to make the ADU situation a great one for both themselves and their neighbors.
  • Second-story ADUs blend in well, often matching the height of the main residence and other surrounding homes.  They also allow residents to leave vegetation and trees where they are, instead of tearing it out to build more one-story housing.
  • Silicon Valley’s housing crisis means that many local workers commute in from up to two hours away.  ADUs are a fantastic solution that allows workers to live locally in the communities where they work, thereby reducing traffic, emissions, and stress for everyone.
  • Smaller homes overall have less of a carbon footprint, with only 60% of the carbon emissions of a “normal sized” counterpart.  Small living is lightweight living!
  • Research shows that ADU residents tend to drive less, especially when near transit, downtowns, and services, or are inhabited by “ageing in place” seniors.  This benefits traffic, parking, and overall carbon emissions by reducing the amount of driving residents need to do.
  • Adding more rental stock to the mix also reduces displacement of those who live in our communities today.

Please help us advocate for second story ADUs on Tuesday:

When: Tuesday, June 18, 7pm

Where: 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA 94063

What: Encourage the Planning Commission to not pass height limitations on ADUs, or incentives that favor single-story ADUs only.

And whether or not you can make it, please contact the Redwood City Planning Commission to voice your support:

By email: planning@redwoodcity.org

By phone: (650) 780-7234