Finding a place for 500 new homes: LAH mulls housing sites inventory | News
The town of Los Altos Hills reviewed a sites inventory for its housing element at a meeting Monday, held after the Town Crier’s print deadline.
The previous draft sites list, presented March 24, revealed Los Altos Hills’ attempt to balance two mandates – the town’s signature 1-acre lot-size minimums laid out in its founding “green sheets” versus the nearly 500 units state housing authorities are asking the town to account for in its updated housing plan.
Town officials’ strategy early in the process was to restrict new multifamily housing to sites currently under nonresidential use. At the March 24 meeting, city staff and consultants proposed such an approach to avoid upzoning any single-family neighborhoods and largely maintaining the 1-acre lot minimums.
The town’s strategy is still in flux, according to planning director Sofia Mangalam.
“We haven’t gotten to a point where we have a draft for public review,” she said, noting that the list presented Monday was in no way final. “It’s a constantly working list.”
Like many other cities, including neighboring Los Altos and Mountain View, Los Altos Hills may face questions about whether its proposed sites have a real chance of seeing housing development within the next eight years. Although the March list of sites was preliminary, representatives of some of the organizations whose land was included said they haven’t heard from the town about their inclusion.
Portions of the Gardner Bullis School campus were on the town’s initial list of potential sites, but the Los Altos School District’s incoming superintendent Sandra McGonagle said she hasn’t heard from the town yet.
“We saw our name on the list, but that’s as much,” McGonagle told the Town Crier.
McGonagle added that the matter of selling land has not yet been brought to the LASD Board of Trustees, and the prospect of selling a portion of the campus would be “a big and deep conversation that just hasn’t even begun.”
St. Nicholas Catholic School, also listed in the town’s potential sites as of March 24, has considered adding housing on its property before but had not yet heard from town officials. Diocese of San Jose spokesperson Cynthia Shaw told the Town Crier that the Diocese had identified a vacant parcel along El Monte Road as a potential site for housing in the past and has been discussing the possibility of constructing housing for a number of years.
Still, she said there is “no way of predicting” whether housing could realistically be constructed in the state-mandated time window of 2023-2031.
Also included in the town’s preliminary list were two parking lots on Foothill College’s campus and land owned by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, along with two town-owned parcels.
A spokesperson for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District told the Town Crier that the town and the district have been in contact. They plan to meet next month to discuss “the designation of housing sites at Foothill.”
For followup coverage of Monday’s meeting, see this week’s news alert email.