Los Altos is poised to nearly double its affordable housing stock with just one project, as Santa Clara County moves forward with plans to build a housing complex with at least 90 units available for low-income residents.
County supervisors picked a nonprofit housing developer, EAH Housing, and pitched in $4.6 million on Tuesday to kick off development of what would be Los Altos' first all-affordable housing project. Located at 330 Distel Circle, the project is expected to serve families making up to 80% of the area's median income in a city with some of the highest housing costs in the country.
If built, the project would be a huge boost to the city's affordable housing. Los Altos has 105 deed-restricted housing units for low-income families, according to the city's website, all of which are included within market-rate developments. Mountain View, by comparison, has 1,358 units in affordable housing developments alone.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to bring much-needed affordable housing to our community," said Los Altos Mayor Neysa Fligor in a statement Tuesday. "It also aligns with the City Council's 2021 goal of supporting the creation of housing that is diverse, equitable and affordable for all income levels."
The early funding for the project comes from the county's $950 million Measure A bond, which passed in 2016 and has largely funded development outside of the North County. That changed last year when supervisors voted to provide $19 million to build an affordable housing project across the street from Microsoft's North Bayshore offices.
"This project provides a real opportunity to address the ongoing housing affordability crisis in our community," County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a statement.
Though the bulk of Measure A cash is earmarked for extremely low-income residents and those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, the demographics for the Los Altos project may look much different. Half of the units are expected to be available for those making up to 50% of the area's median income (AMI), and 45% of the units will be for those making up to 80% of the AMI, according to a county staff report.
The 0.87-acre property in Los Altos is currently the headquarters for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which for years has signaled its intent to relocate for more space. The district agreed last year to sell the property to the county for use as an affordable housing development for $10.4 million, which also came out of the county's Measure A fund.
Midpen voted in 2017 to buy property at 5050 El Camino Real in Los Altos, practically next door to existing headquarters, and intends to move into its new home early next year. The agency has operated from the Distel Circle property since 1990.
The vote Tuesday kicks off months of public input and workshops on the future housing development, which will span from April through July. Simitian said these meetings will help determine the design and architecture of the project as well as amenities that could serve "unmet local needs" in the area.
"We won't know how this project can best serve the community if we don’t hear directly from the community," Simitian said. That's why I encourage local folks to come to these community meetings and share their thoughts so the final product really does reflect local sensibilities."
The tentative timeline is for Los Altos to hold a public hearing on the project in March next year, followed by construction beginning in December 2022.