In the Maybell Avenue project the upzone is called a Planned Community (PC). Each PC is almost a blank slate for the developer to create what he or she wants.
The site consists of two areas, one zoned R-2, the other RM-15. (See the zoning map on Page 10 of the “Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet” you received in the mail.)
The R-2 section is a 0.62-acre rectangle along Maybell Avenue that contains 4 single-family homes with an average lot size of about 6,700 square feet. The R-2 zone allows 2 units on a lot, but only if the lot is 7,000 square feet or more, which is not the case here.
The RM-15 section is a 1.84-acre parcel of undeveloped land, the former Maybell Orchard. RM-15 allows up to 15 units per acres, or 27.6, let’s round it up to 28 units.
So if the Maybell Avenue site were developed exclusively for market rate housing under current zoning, 32 units could be created as a matter of right, unless exceptions or variances were requested.
The Maybell PC calls for a 60-unit building for seniors and 12 single-family homes; 72 units in all. The PC also eliminates the zoning standards that currently exist to create new ones from whole cloth.
In comparison to a 100% market rate housing project, The Maybell PC would more than double the density, while breaking many other zoning standards.
Note however, that California’s Density Bonus Law permits as a matter of right, significant incentives for the development of below market rate and/or senior housing. Not in the R-2 zone, but on the RM-15 lot a 100% low-income senior housing site is entitled to a 35% density bonus. So this raises the maximum theoretical density for senior housing on this lot to 38 units, and 42 in total for both lots.
And in addition, the density bonus law would entitle the project to three concessions, i.e., exceptions to development standards, such as height, floor area ratio, and setbacks.
Yes, California’s density bonus law allows exceptions to current zoning in the pursuit of encouraging more affordable housing. This is true for the RM-15 Maybell site or any other multifamily zone, as well as any commercial zone that changes to mixed-use via addition of a sufficient amount of affordable housing, either in Palo Alto or anywhere in this state
PAHC can take advantage of the density bonus law and its significant development concessions to build up to 38 senior units on the RM-15 site. But some reason, this is not enough for PAHC.
Say no to the Maybell PC
There is a viable path on the books to build low-income senior housing on the site.
Vote Against Measure D.
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