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Infill Housing
What's Going Up Around the 'Hood
by Irvin Encroachment
July 2004

Alma Bowl (Tamien Place) - up to 260 units
Northwest corner of Alma Avenue and Lick Avenue
Project planner: Carol Hamilton

Developer-sponsored changes to the Tamien Specific Plan allowed Barry Swenson Builders to propose up to 260 units for this 3-acre parcel, a density of over 80 units per acre. The proposal has 12 three-story townhouses along Lick and the remaining units in two 120' condominium towers. City Council approved rezoning for this controversial project in September 2003, with conditions - read the Council memorandum here.

The community protested this development - review the protest issues here.

Barry Swenson held three community meetings to collect public input on the development's architecture. This public review was required by City Council after public outcry over the designs developed internally by Barry Swenson builders. The third meeting, which reviewed the development's proposed plans, was held on July 15. The plans go before the Planning Director on July 28, at a public meeting.

A preliminary report of the
second public meeting,
held on June 8, is here.

For a summary of the first public meetings, go here.


Granny Unit Zoning

Many people in North Willow Glen oppose any change to current zoning for our area, because allowing granny units would increase traffic, parking problems, and make it nearly impossible to remove second units that are a problem to neighbors.

City planners have developed a proposal to allow second units on R-1 properties. Summary:

  Required for Second Unit
Minimum Lot Size 6,000 sq ft
NOTE: lots in North Willow Glen generally range from 5400 to 6200 sq ft.
Maximum Second
Unit Size
650 sq ft
Number of Bedrooms One only
Required Parking One open parking space, outside of front and side setbacks (in addition to the two covered spaces required for the primary dwelling. NOTE: the proposal allows "tandem" parking -- it does not require the additional parking space to be independently accessible. So the driveway leading to a garage could be declared to be an "open parking space" and satisfy the parking requirement. This is not good.
Siting Criteria Attached Units: within existing buildable envelope
Detached Units: within existing buildable envelope for homes, minimum six feet from existing house. NOTE: existing code currently prevents second units from being built over garages, but Code may expand the height and square footage limitations for accessory structures.
Exterior Materials Must match existing house
Roof Pitch Must match existing house
Door Location Not visible from street
Ownership One of the two units on the property
must be owner-occupied.
NOTE: This provision obviously may be difficult to enforce.

Conclusion: the proposal does not protect North Willow Glen residents from the most critical impact of granny units: an overburden on parking. A property owner could install a granny unit and declare his driveway to be a "parking spot," yet in effect the driveway is never used that way (because it blocks the garage) and the tenant parks on the street.

In North Willow Glen, it's rare for homes to use the garage for parking for the primary house. Adding granny units will just compound the parking problem. At a minimum, the proposal needs to require an independently accessible parking space for the second unit tenant, as well as ongoing enforcement that primary homes have and use garage space for parking, and owners continue to reside on site.

The North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
passed two motions objecting to
the granny unit ordinance.
Here's why.

Planning's complete memo here.


Delmas Park -up to 123 units
SE Corner of Bird and San Carlos

Planned Development Rezoning to allow up to 123 affordable multi-family
attached residences and up to 6,000 square feet for commercial uses on a 0.8
gross acre site. The net density will be 154 dwelling units per acre.
These units will be studios, one and two bedrooms units. The project is
intended to be developed as a 100% affordable housing project with units
marketed to teachers.

The project consists of an eight-story building built at grade, with a
five-level parking garage hidden within the core of the building. The unit
mix includes 32 studio units, 43 one-bedroom units, and 48 two-bedroom
units. The proposed retail space would extend along the northern elevation
facing W. San Carlos Street, and wrap around the corner approximately a
third of the way down the western elevation facing Bird Avenue. A total of
174 parking spaces are provided. The first level of the parking garage,
containing 32 parking spaces, will be dedicated parking spaces for the
retail uses and guests of residents and will be accessed from W. San Carlos
Street. The upper levels of the parking garage will be dedicated to
resident parking, and will be accessed by a driveway off of Columbia
Avenue. The main pedestrian entrance to the project willl be located at the
corner of Bird and Columbia Avenue, with an open stair extending to all
floors of the building. Approximately 30% of the units will have private
open space provided in the form of a 60 square foot balcony. Common open
space will be provided in the form of a large rooftop deck above the top
level of the garage. The total quantity of common open space is in
conformance with the Residential Design Guidelines requirement of 100 square
feet of common open space per unit.

- info from Patrice Shaffer, city planner


Del Monte - up to 400 units
The cannery site north of Auzerais, just west of the creek
Project manager at Planning: Erin Morris

The project is located at the northeast corner of Auzerais Avenue and Sunol Street. This is a Planned Development Rezoning from Heavy Industrial to A(PD) Planned Development to allow up to 400 housing units consisting of 156 single family attached residences (3 stories) and 236 multifamily attached units (5 stories). The maximum height is 90 feet. The net density will be 46 dwelling units per acre. There are 104 one bedroom units, 204 two bedroom and 84 three bedroom units. The project is located in the Midtown specific plan. The Del Monte water tower is proposed to remain; any other buildings are anticipated to be demolished.

An Environmental Impact Report is currently underway which will consider historic resources as well as traffic and other impacts. Neighborhood groups held a meeting on March 8 to discuss the project's environmental issues; we don't yet have a summary of what transpired. Another meeting will be held March 17; here's a bulletin about it.

- info from Patrice Shaffer, city planner


Elks Club (or Elks Lodge) - up to 600 units?
South of Lelong and Alma Avenue, just west of Hwy 87
Project planner: TBA

The changes to the Tamien Specific Plan that allowed Alma Bowl also allow up to 600 units on this site, and a 120' tower on the northeast section of the 6-acre parcel. This parcel reportedly has a buyer, and development may be moving closer. More info to come.


VTA - 250 units?
The 6-acre lot just north of Tamien Station and west of Lick Avenue
Project planner: TBA

Under terms of the development agreement on Alma Bowl, this site is to have 250 units. This is more than the community indicated it wanted (150) and community outreach needs to happen. Current height limit: 65'. No developer yet. More info to come.


Yellow Cab
The area southwest of Bird/Virginia to the train track,
except for the Fairmart market (to remain)
Project planner: TBA

Townhouses of 2-3 stories. Zoning is approved. Blackhall is the developer. More info to come.


Other Developments:

PDC 03-047

This is a 23-unit project on the east side of Almaden Road near Curtner. City Staff are reviewing it at this time.

PDC 03-050

This is on Hicks Avenue near Dry Creek Road. The developer wants to build 8 single family homes on the property (currently it's the Gateway Church). It is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on November 19th and the City Council on December 16th.

PDC 03-078

Planned Development re-zoning on Canoas Garden Avenue near Almaden Road. This project includes 7 single family detached residences.


Copyright 2003