Palo Alto City Council kicked off 2019 with the election of Eric Filseth as new Mayor and Adrian Fine as Vice-Mayor on January 7. The new, smaller City Council will take up work in earnest next week with a vote on approval of a new 59 unit affordable housing project at 3703-3709 El Camino Real. The so-called Wilton Court project would be the first to take advantage of relaxed development standards in the Affordable Housing Combining District established last year. The entire project consists of below market rate units, including 25 percent designated for adults with developmental disabilities.
Also on the docket in January, the Architectural Review Board will weigh in on a third cluster of wireless cell equipment in the public right-of-way (this time in Downtown North). The City Council will consider removing the Palo Alto Avenue rail crossing and a Loma Verde bicycle/pedestrian crossing from the Connecting Palo Alto grade separation review process, deferring those items to future planning efforts, and limiting analysis of a rail tunnel or trench option to the area south of Oregon Expressway. In late January, Council tentatively anticipates a vote on repealing the Downtown Commercial Cap, a longstanding ceiling on new non-residential development downtown that has or soon will be reached and stands as a barrier to conversion of the President Hotel Apartments from residential to hotel use.
Meanwhile, the Final Environmental Impact Report for Stanford’s GUP has been completed. Stanford’s General Use Permit application seeks to add 3.5 million square feet of new development in the next 15 years. The county FEIR conclusions fall short of city and school district hopes regarding required mitigation of the local impacts of that growth, elevating the importance of a separate Development Agreement that offers flexibility to negotiate other mitigations and community benefits in exchange for approval of the project. City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider a formal letter requesting terms for inclusion in a possible Development Agreement on January 28.
Notable Upcoming Action
January 14, 2019
Transportation Management Association: Council will hold a study session on the annual report from Palo Alto’s TMA. Beginning at 7:00 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
Wilton Court Affordable Housing Project: Council will consider plans for a 100% affordable housing project at 3703-3709 El Camino Real (at Wilton Avenue). Beginning at 7:35 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
3743 Redwood Circle: Council will consider an appeal of the Individual Review Approval of a two-story single family home. Beginning at 9:00 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
January 17, 2019
Wireless Cell Equipment: The Architectural Review Board will hold a hearing on Crown Castle/Verizon plans to deploy six cell nodes on wood utility poles in Downtown North. This will be the first formal hearing on the Downtown North deployment, known as Cluster 3. Meeting begins at 8:30 am (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
Hotel at former Su Hong Restaurant: The Architectural Review board will vote on approval of the design for a 5-story, 51,300 square foot hotel proposed for the former Su Hong Restaurant at 4256 El Camino Real, adjacent to the Palo Alto Redwoods multi-family residential complex. Meeting begins at 8:30 am (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
January 22, 2019
Weed Abatement: Council will adopt a resolution ordering the abatement of weed nuisances. Beginning at (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
Green Waste: Council will vote to approve an amended $22,183,000 agreement with Green Waste of Palo Alto for Solid Waste, Recyclable Materials and Compostable Materials Collection and Processing Services. Beginning at 7:15 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.
Grade Separations: City Council will discuss removing Palo Alto Avenue and a bike/ped crossing at Loma Verde from the grade separation analysis process, deferring them to future study and planning efforts. Council will also consider modifying the city-wide tunnel alternative to be south of Oregon Expressway only. Beginning at 8:30 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report. Note: this discussion is continued from December 17, 2018, public comment has already been heard.
January 24, 2019
Cubberley Redevelopment: The third community co-design meeting will dive into site organization and building massing, and gather input on look and feel for future redevelopment to accommodate shared school/city use. 7:00-9:00 pm, Cubberley Community Center Pavilion (gym). Click here for the Program Document synthesizing input and proposals to date.
January 28, 2019 – (Tentative)
Stanford Expansion: Council is tentatively scheduled to review and provide direction on a draft letter to Santa Clara County requesting terms for inclusion in a possible Development Agreement related to Stanford’s General Use Permit (GUP) application. The GUP proposes to add 3.5 million square feet of new development over the next 15 years.
Downtown Commercial Cap: Council is tentatively scheduled to consider repealing the current cap on downtown non-residential development. Current commercial development is at or near the cap. When reached, the cap triggers a one-year moratorium on new non-residential development downtown. The Downtown Commercial Cap currently presents a major obstacle to the conversion of the President Hotel Apartments from residential to hotel use.
February 2, 2019 – (Tentative)
City Council Retreat: Beginning at 8:30 am, location TBD.
February 4, 2019 – (Tentative)
Transportation Impact Fees: City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider Finance Committee recommendations for a new ordinance that would impose a one time fee for new development and redevelopment city-wide to fund transportation improvements to accommodate and mitigate the impacts of future development in the city. (Continued from May 7 and August 13, 2018).
Roof-top Decks Downtown: Council will vote to amend the zoning code to allow extra Floor Area to provide access to roof-top decks in the Commercial Downtown (Community) district and approve a conditional use permit for a 2,600 square foot roof top deck atop a commercial building at 285 University Avenue for the exclusive use of HOUZZ, the tenant currently occupying the 2nd through 5th floors of the building. (Continued from November 19, 2018).
Wireless Cell Antennas: Council is tentatively set to hear appeals of Verizon’s plans to install wireless cell equipment in the public right of way. The planned installations are called Cluster 2, and would be located in Downtown South. (Cluster 1 was already approved despite appeals in South Palo Alto).