South of Forest Area (SOFA)



In March 2000, the City Council adopted the South of Forest Area Coordinated Area Plan (or SOFA CAP) Phase 1.  City Council also adopted a Development Agreement to define future land uses in the approximately 9-block portion of the SOFA area in which most of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation holdings were originally located. As part of the Development Agreement, the City acquired the title to the historic Roth Building, land for a new public park, a site for a child care facility, and a site for a below market rate housing project. The City granted approval for 160 new dwelling units and 30,000 square feet of retail and office space. The Working Group continued to participate in the second phase of the planning effort, known as SOFA 2.


Phase 2 of the SOFA CAP is long-term Plan that addresses a specific nine-block area (approximately 19 acres) bounded by Forest Avenue on the north, Addison Avenue on the south, Alma Street on the west and Ramona Street to the east.  The emergence of substantial new development in the commercial portions of the nine-block area was a major impetus for Phase 2 of the CAP. These new developments generally included commercial office and residential uses in denser developments than the existing automobile-oriented service uses, which previously dominated the area. SOFA 2 serves as the Comprehensive Plan and defines land use designation and zoning for this area. Although some of the goals and policies are the same for Phase 2 as Phase 1, the Phase 2 CAP is an independent document that does not rely on Phase 1 for its direction or implementation. It is a document that is intended to preserve the primary features of the existing character of a unique area within the City of Palo Alto.

SOFA Today

Thanks in great part to the SOFA CAP planning process, this area of our city is thriving! It is home to new parks, playgrounds, affordable housing, restaurants, retail and walkable streets! 

Want to learn more?

View the adopted area plans below to learn more.