Council Approves Affordable Housing Zoning Changes

Published on April 22, 2021


The Palo Alto City Council has approved a new zoning tool to help loosen development standards for 100% affordable, multi-family housing projects located within a half-mile of a major transit stop, or a quarter mile of a transit corridor. The “Affordable Housing Combining District” overlay will allow greater density, higher heights, and less parking restrictions for below-market-rate housing developments for residents making up to 120 percent of the area median income, up to $102,000 for a two-person household.

The April 9 Council vote followed months of public discussion, including two lengthy Planning and Transportation Commission hearings, hundreds of emails and letters to Council, and a public petition drive that circulated in support of the new zoning structure process. Council also heard from more than 40 people at the April 9 meeting, with most urging Council to move ahead with the new zone.

Housing is one of Council’s dedicated priorities for 2018, and the Housing Work Plan approved by Council in February emphasized the need for zoning revisions to meet the Comprehensive Plan’s goal of producing between 3,545 and 4,410 units between now and 2030.

Council directed staff to make a few refinements to the newly approved zoning ordinance by exploring the inclusion of moderate-and high-density residential zones. As it stands now, the Affordable Housing Combining District only includes commercially-zoned sites. You can read the full staff report here.

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