Eichler Design Guidelines


What are the Eichler Design Guidelines?

On April 2, 2018, the City Council adopted Final Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines for Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods that were developed by Eichler Homes following World War II. The Guidelines include compatibility criteria for remodels, additions, and new construction within the City’s Eichler neighborhoods. The illustrated Guidelines provide advice and direction for undertaking work in ways that retain the architectural character of these neighborhoods. The Guidelines address common scopes of work such as new building additions, façade changes, moving/lifting buildings on lots, and new construction on developable sites.

What makes Eichler houses so special?

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.

Where are Palo Alto's Eichler homes?

View this map of Palo Alto's Eichler tracts to better understand the widespread influence of Eichler homes!

Who developed the Guidelines?

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. The City contracted with the historic architecture firm of Page & Turnbull to prepare the final guidelines for public review and adoption. Please view the report providing further background to learn more about this process.

How has the community been involved in the process?

The community process has included the following forms of outreach:

  • Regular "E-Blast" sent to those who have expressed interest in being updated about the Guidelines project
  • Three community workshops that discussed the Guidelines project (April 11, 2017), National Register Districts (May 3, 2017) and the contents of the Public Review Draft Guidelines (January 18, 2018)
  • Two Historic Resources Board Meetings which discussed the project (October 12 and November 9, 2017)
  • Three Historic Resources Board Meetings where the public could comment on the draft Guidelines (December 14, 2017; January 25 and February 22, 2018)
  • An "Eichler Memory Event" (August 15, 2017) which was dedicated to sharing memories, showcasing these unique modern homes and screening a documentary film about Eichlers
  • Online survey conducted by Page & Turnbull from mid-April through the end of >May, 2017 that sought additional community input
  • Flyer mailed to all Eichler home owners (February 16, 2018) about guidelines project and HRB meeting of February 22, 2018

What's Next?

The City Council approved the Eichler Guidelines on April 2, 2018 and provided further direction to staff regarding Eichler Overlays. Please visit the Eichler Overlay/Combining District project page to learn more.

Want to learn more?

Check out these resources!

Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) Section 18.12.100 describes single story overlay applicability and site development regulations. Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) Section 18.80.035 describes the rezoning process. Please view these sections within the Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) to learn more.

Get Involved!

If you wish to receive an email alerting you when new information is available, you may submit a request to Eichler@cityofpaloalto.org. For more information on the Eichler Design Guidelines, please contact Amy French. 

Amy French
Chief Planning Official