Monday – Palo Alto considers area plan for Fry’s site near Cal Ave Caltrain

On Nov. 6th at an agenda item slated for 7:35pm, Palo Alto City Council is scheduled to decide on an MTC grant application for a Coordinated Area Plan for the North Ventura area which is currently occupied by Fry’s Electronics.   Pursuing an Area Plan for this site is included in the Comprehensive Plan that the City Council is in the final stages of reviewing.

The goal of the Coordinated Area Plan would be to transform the area into a “walkable, mixed use neighborhood with multifamily housing, commercial services, well-defined connections to transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.” The Sobrato Organization, which owns the property, is putting up matching funds of $250,000 for the plan and environmental review.

 

Going on 20 years ago, Palo Alto conducted a “Coordinated Area Plan” for the SOFA area (South of Forest).   This plan engaged a community working group and broader community feedback, and planned for mixed use developments with homes, retail and offices, along with a public park and site for a child care facility.

Coordinated Area Plans and their cousins, known as Specific Plans or Precise Plans, have been used successfully in nearby cities to plan for change in areas, taking into account community goals and preferences, transportation and other infrastructure, and amenities desired by the community such as public space.

If you have thoughts about developing this area near the Cal Ave Caltrain into a walkable, mixed use neighborhood, and especially if you live or work in Palo Alto, send an email to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org, or consider stopping by at 7:30 tonight.   Palo Alto Council meetings can run late, but this is the first item of regular business, so it’s likely to be on time.

Later that evening, the City Council will consider a Colleague’s memo on housing that could affect the Ventura area being planned.  The memo proposes allowing increases to housing density near jobs, transit and services, policies for “car-light housing”, updating zoning to allow a greater variety of below market rate and moderately-sized market rate housing, and streamlining housing approval.

The Colleague’s memo has some interesting proposals relating to reducing driving and traffic associated with new housing, including providing support for transportation demand management from the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association, using TransForm’s data-based GreenTrip certification to validate and reduce car trips, and to reduce parking for developments with strong TDM measures.

The process to follow up would include staff study and review by the Planning and Transportation Commission before return to Council for decision.

The Colleague’s memo is scheduled for 10pm.  Send your thoughts in writing to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org, and come by if you will be awake.