CTRA Letter re: Wellesley Project

The CTRA board recently sent a letter to the City Council to voice its opposition to the development proposed by Cato Investments at the corner of Wellesley and College. You can read the board’s letter here. Thanks to James Cook for working with the board on the initial draft.

We encourage neighbors to send their own letters to the City Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org. We anticipate that the City Council will have its pre-screening of the project either at the end of this month or in early April. As of yet, the developer has still not set a date for its own community meeting, but we expect that to be sometime before the pre-screening.

Interested in Palo Alto Housing Issues?

We know many neighbors are interested in housing and zoning issues, not just here in College Terrace, but throughout the city. Fortunately, the city is currently looking for people who can make a difference by helping shape housing policy in Palo Alto.

The City Council recently approved the establishment of a Housing Element Working Group to help the City update its Housing Element.  The Housing Element is the City’s strategic plan to meet the housing needs of the City’s current and future residents and the Working Group will be responsible for helping the City select housing sites, preparing housing policies and programs and other duties as part of the update process.

The City is looking for volunteers who are interested in housing in the the City, bring energy and passion to the group and a willingness to meet on a monthly basis. If you are interested in participating in the Working Group, please fill out the online application. Applications are due by 5pm on March 5, 2021.

The City is also currently recruiting for one position on the Planning and Transportation Commission. The Planning and Transportation Commission advises the City Council on the City of Palo Alto’s Comprehensive Plan, land use, zoning, subdivision and other related policy matters. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, February 23, at 4:30pm. Click here for the application and more information.

PA Weekly Article on Wellesley Project

The lead story in today’s Palo Alto Weekly – Housing plan stirs opposition in Palo Alto’s College Terrace – centers on the apartments proposed for the corner of Wellesley Street and College Avenue. The article quotes neighbors in opposition to the project, as well as a representative for the developer, Cato Investment Company, who says Cato is “undertaking a robust community outreach effort and will be holding a community meeting.” As of yet, no date has been set for that meeting, although it is supposed to happen prior to the City Council’s pre-screening of the project (tentatively scheduled for March 25).

The article also summarizes the “battle brewing over R-1 zoning” citywide. It describes Palo Alto’s planned-housing zone (PHZ) process, the projects that have been proposed under PHZ so far, and quotes a pair of city council members (Pat Burt and Mayor Tom DuBois) who believe the PHZ should not apply in single-family neighborhoods.

Wellesley Housing Project Plans Submitted

Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s CTRA board meeting! We had over fifty neighbors in attendance, weighing in with their opinions on the proposed apartments at Wellesley and College. Three neighbors spoke in favor of the project, while 25-30 spoke in opposition.

The project developers, Cato Investment Company LLC, own at least nine properties in College Terrace (including the two on Wellesley) as well as a few others elsewhere in the city. This Monday, the developers submitted their request for a City Council pre-screening to consider their plan to change the zoning at 2239 and 2241 Wellesley from R-1 to PHZ (Planned Housing Zone) in order to accommodate a 24-unit apartment building. View their application and plans here. (Pro tip: visit paloalto.buildingeye.com to see all current planning and building applications in the city. You can also sign up for email alerts.)

We encourage neighbors to review the plans and send their feedback to the City Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org. We don’t yet know when the City Council will pre-screen this project (most likely in March or April), but we will notify the neighborhood as soon as we do so neighbors can attend and share their feedback in person.

New Apartments Proposed at Wellesley and College

An article in Friday’s Palo Alto Weekly describes a new apartment building proposed for the corner of Wellesley and College Avenue in College Terrace. The project by San Francisco-based Cato Investments would house 24 units in a three-story apartment building on two side-by-side lots at 2239 and 2241 Wellesley St. Today, both lots contain single-family homes.

The developer is applying under Palo Alto’s Planned Home Zoning (PHZ) designation, which allows developers providing affordable housing to request exceptions to development standards. Eligible developments must offer at least 20% of the project to below-market-rate units. The project would also require exemptions for parking, height, and setback requirements.

A project website – WellesleyHousing.com – lays out the developer’s vision to provide missing middle housing in a walkable neighborhood close to public transit, in a part of College Terrace that already contains multi-family housing. The developers plan to hold a community meeting before the City’s formal pre-screening of the project, although there is no date set for that community meeting yet. There is also a link on the website for a community survey, but it isn’t active yet either.

We’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available. In the meantime, we recommend reading the articles in the Weekly and San Jose Inside, as well as the project website.