Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines


The City is in the process of developing architectural design guidelines for Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods that were developed by Eichler Homes following World War II. The guidelines will include compatibility criteria for remodels, additions, and new construction within the City’s Eichler neighborhoods. The illustrated guidelines will provide advice and direction for undertaking work in ways that retain the architectural character of the neighborhoods. The guidelines will address common scopes of work such as new building additions, façade changes, moving/lifting buildings on lots, and new construction on developable sites.


  Project Background  

  Updates - What's New?  


  Contact Info - Get Involved!  



The effort to develop the Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines was initiated in 2016, when the City Council directed staff to work with the community to develop the guidelines following a series of Single Story Overlay rezoning requests. A report providing further background is viewable here
. The City has contracted with the historic architecture firm of Page & Turnbull to prepare the final guidelines for public review and adoption.

Real estate developer Joseph Eichler established Eichler Homes in the late 1940s, a period of economic prosperity when many Americans sought new homes and comfortable lifestyles in suburban subdivisions. Eichler Homes is noted for hiring distinguished California architects of the postwar period—including Anshen & Allen, Jones & Emmons, and Claude Oakland—to design affordable homes that were accessible to the middle class. While relatively modest in scale, Eichler residences feature a modern architectural style, which conveys the company’s belief that modern home design improved residents’ quality of life. Eichler homes are identifiable by their post-and-beam construction, striking roof forms with broad eaves, and simple material palette of wood and concrete block. The use of internal courtyards and full-height glazing at the rear helped to integrate homes’ interior and exterior spaces, taking full advantage of their California setting. 
Of the more than 11,000 residences constructed by the company throughout California, well over 2,000 are located in Palo Alto. Two of Palo Alto’s Eichler neighborhoods, Green Gables and Greenmeadow, are historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Draft Eichler Guidelines Available for Public Comment
The Public Review Draft Eichler Guidelines are now available for public comment.  The public comment period will be open until January 12, 2018.  There are a few ways to provide comments: 1) Oral comments can be received at public hearings and community workshops (see schedule below) and 2) Written comments can be sent to either eichler@cityofpaloalto.org or to the Historic Preservation Planner, Emily Vance.

Upcoming Community Workshop #3
The next Community Workshop will be held in February 2018 after receiving public comments on the draft Guidelines.  City staff and the project consultant, Page & Turnbull, will provide information on the format and topics covered in the Eichler Guidelines document, discuss potential code changes and receive further written and verbal comments from the public about the draft Eichler Guidelines and potential code changes.

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Eichler Neighborhoods
The City of Palo Alto's historic preservation intern and Page & Turnbull partnered to create a wonderful self-guided walking tour of our two Eichler neighborhoods that are on the National Register: Greenmeadow and Green Gables.  Take a stroll through history!

Eichler Memory Event
The City of Palo Alto and Page & Turnbull hosted a celebration of Eichlers on August 15, 2017 from 6:00 to 9:00 in the Embarcadero Room at the Rinconada Library (1213 Newell Road). This time was dedicated to sharing memories and showcasing these unique modern homes. The event was open to the public and we encouraged anyone with an interest in modern architecture and Palo Alto's history to attend. The evening started off with craft activities for the kids where they built their own modern home and colored Eichler coloring sheets. Page & Turnbull lead a discussion on Eichlers and provided an update on the Eichler Design Guidelines project. Monique Lombardelli gave a short presentation before the showing of her documentary, "People in Glass Houses: the Legacy of Joseph Eichler." Light, mid-century style refreshments were also available.

Eichler Coloring Sheet 1            Eichler Coloring Sheet 2 


Summary of Community Workshop #2 - National Register District Workshop
Residents of Greenmeadow and Green Gables, which are historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places, were invited to attend a workshop on May 3, 2017 to discuss issues that are specific to these neighborhoods. Approximately 25 residents attended the meeting. Staff members of the City and Page & Turnbull gave a presentation that included background information on the Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines project, as well as provided additional details on National Register historic districts. Topics of the presentation included the National Register designation criteria, historic district contributors versus non-contributors, and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The meeting included a round-table discussion with attendees on topics related to the two National Register districts, such as the neighborhoods’ existing Controls, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

Summary of Community Workshop #1
Approximately 65 community members attended Community Workshop #1 on April 11, 2017. City staff and the project consultant, Page & Turnbull, began the workshop with a presentation that introduced the Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines project, provided background information about the development and architecture of Palo Alto’s Eichler neighborhoods, and outlined the project schedule. A series of activities, facilitated by Page & Turnbull, encouraged attendees to express what they value about Eichler residences and neighborhoods, and to share the types of changes they do or do not want to see in Eichler neighborhoods in the future. The workshop ended with a summary of attendees’ responses that were gathered during the activities. PDF file of the workshop presentation is available to download using this link. In addition, the workshop was videotaped, and can be viewed at the website of the Midpen Media Center. The display boards used during the interactive activities can be downloaded here. Additional workshops will be scheduled in the future when a public review draft of the guidelines document is completed. In the meantime, we are excited to meet with community members and learn more about Palo Alto’s Eichler neighborhoods through walking tours or other fun activities. More details on these efforts will be forthcoming.

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Community input is important during the development of the Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines. There will be several opportunities for homeowners, residents, and the general public to provide input during the preparation of the draft guidelines, including at community workshops, thorough review
of the draft document, and at public hearings of the Historic Resources Board (HRB), Planning and Transportation Commission, and City Council. The proposed guidelines will be subject to a minimum 60-day public review period before being considered for adoption. The following is a tentative project schedule (subject to change):

  Community Workshop #1 (flyer) (PowerPoint Presentation)   April 11, 2017
  Online Survey - Additional Community Input   April - May 2017
  Community Workshop #2 - National Register District Workshop   May 3, 2017
  Eichler Memory Event - Rinconada Library, Embarcadero Room   August 15, 2017
  Historic Resources Board Public Hearing - Update   October 12, 2017
  Draft Guidelines Available for Public Review   November 2017
  Historic Resources Board Public Hearing - Information Presentation   November 9, 2017
  Historic Resources Board Public Hearing - Comments & Recommendation     December 14, 2017  
  Public Comments on Draft Guidelines Deadline   January 12, 2018
  Community Workshop #3 - Mitchell Park Community Center   January 18, 2018  
  Historic Resources Board Public Hearing   January 25, 2018
  Council Public Hearing - Consider Adoption of Guidelines   March 2018
  Final Adopted Guidelines Available   April 2018



Additional information and announcements will be uploaded to this webpage in the future. If you wish to receive an email alerting you when additional information is uploaded to this webpage, you may submit a request to Eichler@cityofpaloalto.org.  

For more information on the Eichler Guidelines, please contact Emily Vance, Historic Preservation Planner, or send an email to Eichler@cityofpaloalto.org

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Last Updated: Dec 8, 2017