Fueled by federal resources, Palo Alto is getting ready to undertake a three-12 months preparing procedure aimed at answering a essential question: What would it acquire to construct far more housing in the downtown space?
The city has received a grant of $800,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Fee (MTC) for the preparing system, which is envisioned to choose about three years and culminate in a new Downtown Housing Prepare. The Metropolis Council will contemplate accepting the grant on Monday evening as perfectly as focus on committing extra city funds for the preparing work.
If adopted, the downtown approach would enjoy a central job in the council’s endeavours to maximize housing in the city’s most transit-served location. It may well also assistance the city plan for transportation improvements, which include a reconfiguration of the city’s northernmost rail crossing at Palo Alto Avenue so that the road and the tracks no longer intersect.
That said, the boundaries of the proposed scheduling region halt just limited of the downtown Transit Heart, which incorporates a Caltrain station and several bus stations. The plan would cover the space just east of the tracks, among Alma and Cowper streets and bounded by Lytton Avenue in the north and Hamilton Avenue in the south.
Even though transportation enhancements would be thought of as aspect of the planning, the principal aim of the effort and hard work would be housing. The income that the MTC is distributing will come from the Federal Highway Administration and is committed to scheduling in “priority development locations” — places that metropolitan areas designate as ripe for growth and adjust and that are generally found next to transit hubs. The council specified a 206-acre portion of downtown as a precedence improvement area in January 2020, building it suitable for arranging grants. The 76-acre area that personnel has proposed for the Downtown Housing System is incorporated in the precedence progress region.
Setting up Director Jonathan Lait explained that metropolis staff members experienced at first regarded as a broader downtown planning hard work, one particular that deemed the transit centre and improving connections between downtown, Stanford University and Stanford Browsing Middle. The choice to concentrate on the part just east of the transit hub was based mostly on the staff’s estimate of what can essentially be attained with the grant dollars.
Lait famous, however, that personnel has been in discussions with Stanford University about perhaps growing the area to incorporate the transit region if the council opts to do so.
The city’s Detailed Plan, which is commonly noticed as its land use bible, consists of a coverage that encourages an location prepare for downtown. A broad assessment, nevertheless, would call for far more than double the grant funds that the city has been given from the MTC, Lait claimed.
“We are truly speaking about a much more substantial scheduling hard work,” Lait said, referring to the Detailed Strategy policy. “The concept in this article is to capitalize on the prospect that we have now.”
If the council approves the MTC grant, the housing strategy would be one particular of several concurring attempts to create a new vision for downtown. The council has presently directed personnel to examine streetscape enhancements alongside University Avenue to make it additional appropriate with the parklets that popped up along the thoroughfare all through the pandemic and that are now established to turn into long term fixtures.
Then there is certainly quality separation, the city’s big-scale energy to redesign all of its grade crossings so that streets no more time intersect with rail tracks. The redesign hard work originally included the city’s northernmost rail crossing at Palo Alto Avenue, while the council eventually voted to defer its structure perform on this crossing right until it kinds a broader program for the downtown space.
Presented its constrained scope, the MTC grant is unlikely to further more the dialogue of the Palo Alto Avenue crossing. But Mayor Pat Burt pointed out that other funding resources may perhaps develop into accessible for quality separations in the downtown spot. Just one prospective source is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which involved $700 million for grade separation as aspect of its Measure B, the 2016 gross sales-tax evaluate. The revenue is earmarked for Palo Alto, Mountain Perspective and Sunnyvale.
Burt mentioned in an job interview that 1 critical element that the council will take into account in its discussion of the MTC grant is the degree to which the town must be hanging its scheduling initiatives on the regional agency’s stipulations. He also said it is really essential for the housing approach to be regular with the city’s eyesight for transportation enhancements.
“I might want to see a plan that would raise housing in our downtown location significantly more than time and do so in a way that is built-in in not only additional transit use but essential variations that fit quality separations and infrastructure that is approaching 100 decades aged in the multimodal heart,” Burt reported.
The MTC grant involves the city to total its planning energy inside of 3 several years, by April 30, 2025. The funding settlement for the grant needs Palo Alto to complete a sequence of studies as portion of the organizing approach, which include an analysis of the relationships concerning positions and housing affordability, an analysis of existing inequities in between individuals of diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds, and thing to consider of adjustments to improvement requirements that would make housing construction much more feasible.
The plan’s purpose to improve household design in downtown Palo Alto has taken on a bigger sense of urgency in excess of the earlier yr as the metropolis is shifting toward adopting a new housing ingredient, a doc that identifies housing web sites and strategies that will permit it to satisfy its regional mandate of incorporating 6,086 new dwellings by 2031. The region promptly about the downtown Caltrain station could enjoy a pivotal role. Stanford College, which owns the land, experienced proposed a strategy for accommodating up to 530 residences in the vicinity of the transit station. That, on the other hand, would entail a 137-foot-tall creating.
In March, the council backed a additional modest substitute when it voted to include things like 270 apartments at the middle internet site in the next housing component.
Even with a constrained scope that excludes the transit center, the MTC grant is not likely to be adequate to comprehensive the strategy for the 76 acres. Metropolis staff members feel that it would get at least an more $150,000 per year to use consultants who would support the venture, according to the report from the planning office. A critical determination that the council will have to make on April 18 is irrespective of whether to dedicate these money.
The report also notes that downtown faces a lot of difficulties that limit housing manufacturing. These include large land charges, the tendency of business enhancement to be far far more worthwhile for builders than household properties, and the simple fact that community parking
normally takes up a sizeable amount of money of land in the region.
“By a targeted and considerate housing program, the town can discover means to assistance get over these troubles and find alternatives to advertise higher housing output,” the report states.
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