Alta Housing’s 108-unit, 100% affordable housing project on Terra Bella Avenue in Mountain View gained enthusiastic and unanimous support from the Environmental Planning Commission at a Feb. 1 meeting. The Mountain View City Council is slated to hold a public hearing about the project in March and, if approved, construction could break ground as early as next year.
The site, located at 1020 Terra Bella Ave., sits directly adjacent to a Public Storage facility, which is also seeking a redevelopment. The developers of the two properties are proposing to reconfigure the lot, with Public Storage proposing to donate 0.5 acres to Alta Housing, allowing the affordable housing project to be fully buffered from Highway 101.
“The land transfer would increase the size of the affordable housing site from about 26,600 square feet to 45,000 square feet,” said city Senior Planner Edgar Maravilla at the Feb. 1 meeting, which will allow for more affordable units to be constructed on the site.
The Alta Housing project proposes a new, six-story building and a two-level parking garage. The 108 units would include 49 one-bedroom, 29 two-bedroom and 28 three-bedroom apartments, along with two manager units. The high proportion of two- and three- bedrooms makes the project especially family friendly, developers said.
The city’s general plan allows for 84 residential units for a parcel of this size. But because the project can increase the number of units through the State Density Bonus Law, which allows developers to build more densely in exchange for building affordable units, the project’s 108 unit proposal is compliant.
The state law also allows qualifying projects to receive concessions that make it easier for the project to pencil out financially. In this case, the project applicants asked for one concession related to parking. The project will provide 96 total parking spaces, about 0.9 spots per unit, which is nine fewer spaces than recommended by the city’s parking study.
Mountain View residents have raised concerns in the past about dense housing projects not providing enough parking to meet the demand, potentially limiting street parking in the surrounding neighborhood. In this case, Maravilla said, “the reduced parking would result in actual cost saving for the project, and must be approved pursuant to the State Density Bonus Law.”
The parcel where Alta Housing plans to build the project is currently home to one of the city's three safe parking lots, where people living in their vehicles are allowed to stay. The Terra Bella lot can hold up to nine oversized vehicles. Some commissioners questioned what would happen to the people living there once the project removes those nine spaces.
Commission member Bill Cranston told the Voice that Alta Housing CEO Randy Tsuda assured commissioners that “they’ve talked to the city about it, and have plans for, when they get close to approval, then they’ll work with the city to transition any people that are in those safe parking areas, hopefully to one of the other sites."
The Environmental Planning Commission also supported redevelopment plans for the neighboring Public Storage site, which include replacing 18 single-story storage buildings with two, multi-story public storage buildings. One of the proposed buildings is six stories tall, and the other is four.
Currently, the Public Storage lot has no trees, but developers are planning to change that by planting 81 new trees.
Both projects also propose to upgrade public sidewalks surrounding the properties. The Alta Housing project will replace the existing five foot wide sidewalk on Terra Bella Avenue with a seven foot, detached sidewalk and a five foot wide landscape strip with nine street trees, Maravilla said. The sidewalk on San Rafael Ave would be replaced with a five foot detached sidewalk with a five foot wide landscaping strip, including two street trees.
The City Council will discuss the project and hold a public hearing on March 14. If the slated timeline for approval pans out, Cranston said, “I think we’re all excited that construction could start as early as a year from now.”