Palo Alto, Mountain View concentrating future housing along this corridor. But can he handle the pressure?

PALO ALTO — As City Council considered another dense housing development along San Antonio Road on Monday, residents warned the area desperately needs comprehensive urban planning to avoid what could quickly become a “jungle of concrete” and a transportation nightmare.

During a Monday night study session, Palo Alto council members heard from a developer hoping to turn three buildings at 800 San Antonio Road into a five-story condominium complex with 75 condos, 15 of which are affordable, parking underground and a suite of equipment.

While council was generally in agreement that the project is what the city wants to see in the area, many expressed concern that too much development along the San Antonio Road corridor could be disastrous, as the bike and bus infrastructure is lackluster at best.

“I’m listening carefully to what all of the members have said and each of you has made great points,” said Palo Alto resident Penny Ellson. “Everyone stresses the need for an area plan. We need to talk about how these projects are all connected and how they connect with what will be built in Mountain View. »

Rendering of the facade of the proposed residential project at 800 San Antonio Road.  Courtesy of the City of Palo Alto
Rendering of the facade of the proposed residential project at 800 San Antonio Road. Courtesy of the City of Palo Alto

Mountain View and Palo Alto — facing state demands to build more housing as the Bay Area continues to grapple with its housing affordability crisis — have focused much of the city’s future development. housing on the historic industrial and commercial route of San Antonio.

The area has its political and economic advantages for both cities: the developments are away from the expensive neighborhoods near Castro Street and University Avenue, where opposition from residents is more likely, and the industrial and commercial lands of the region are cheaper for developers. The San Antonio Road Corridor also benefits from a Caltrain station at its center – where Mountain View has concentrated large developments – and connects Los Altos to Mountain View and Palo Alto along a busy road that connects to the 101 Freeway. .

While Mountain View has a very detailed master plan for its stretch of San Antonio Road—outlining height limits, aesthetic standards, park allocation, and other urban design considerations—Palo Alto has long overlooked a master plan. to guide development in this neighborhood and others.

Palo Alto has already seen massive housing development in the area. The council approved a development adjacent to 800 San Antonio Road, and the rest of the block was identified as lots for dense development. The AC and Citrine hotels are down the street, the Taube Koret campus for Jewish life is a block away, and there are retail businesses in the area, including a Costco and other big-box retailers. surface on the Mountain View side.

Now that the area has become essential for future housing growth, the need for a dedicated bus route along the corridor, safe and protected cycling infrastructure and a decent network of parks and public amenities in the region has become crucial, say council members.

Mayor Pat Burt said the city also needs to look at ways to dedicate parks in the area, as the city expects “hundreds, if not thousands, of new units.” He said while there are retail businesses in the area, not much is within walking distance. And he said that while the city is talking about new urban concepts – walking, cycling and public transit – “we’re starting to develop this corridor and it’s not happening in an urban way.”

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Post expires at 2:23am on Sunday August 28th, 2022