Affordable Housing

Among the major topics on Affordable Housing are the lack of an ordinance for “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADUs or “Granny Units”) and one to fully implement the California Density Bonus law.

More than 80% of Los Altos residents are individual homeowners who live in homes they own. A “granny unit” at every home–if the unit were rented out to a couple, for example–could double the population of Los Altos. That could double the traffic, double the parking and double the services needed, without doubling the property taxes paid.

The Density Bonus Law impacted city decisions on the multi-family development at 4880 El Camino, and a draft ordinance with a menu of developer options was finally reviewed at the Planning and Transportation Commission on June 1, 2017. The PTC directed staff to incorporate commissioners’ and public comments and bring back a revision for recommendation to City Council. Read more here. 

Other affordable housing items the city council is considering:

  • Imposing “linkage fees” on development (potentially all commercial and residential development) to fund affordable housing.
    Staff report is here.
  • Policy options to increase affordable housing, based on the “Housing Element” of the General Plan. This is one of council’s priorities for 2017.
    Staff report is here, and the Housing Element of the General Plan can be found here.

Want to make a difference? Write the Los Altos City Council on this important issue. Email them at Short, clear letters are best and can really make a difference.

Write a Letter to the Los Altos City Council

Write to the Los Altos City Council!
Council members and the staff at Los Altos City Hall are responsive to cards, letters and emails. Don’t hesitate to write them.
Send an email addressed to Often council members will write back. If you prefer writing in a more classic fashion, just send your cards or letters to: the Los Altos City Council, City Hall, 1 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022.

The California Density Bonus Law and a Local Ordinance to Match

The long-awaited Density Bonus Ordinance draft was presented to the Planning and Transportation Commission June 1, 2017. This draft proposes incentives for developers and is a critical piece of decisionmaking about changes to the CT zone and to downtown visioning.  The proposed menu of incentives for developers includes:

a. Yard/Setback. Up to 20 percent decrease in the required width or depth of any individual yard or setback except along any property line that abuts an R1 or more restrictively zoned property. 

b. Lot Coverage. Up to 20 percent increase in lot coverage limits. 

c. Lot Width. Up to 20 percent decrease from a lot width requirement. 

d. Floor Area Ratio. A percentage increase in the allowable Floor Area Ratio equal to the percentage of Density Bonus for which the Housing Development Project is eligible, not to exceed 35 percent. 

e. Height. In any zone in which the height or number of stories is limited, a maximum of 11 additional feet or one additional story may be added to the underlying base height. 

f. Yard/Setback. Up to 20 percent decrease in the required width or depth of any individual yard or setback except along any property line that abuts a single-family R1 zoned property. 

g. Open Space. Up to 20 percent decrease from an open space requirement, provided that the landscaping for the Housing Development Project is sufficient to qualify for the number of landscape points equivalent to 10 percent more than otherwise required by Chapter 12.40 (Uniform Code for the Abatement of Dangerous Buildings) and Landscape Ordinance Guidelines "O."

How do you feel about this? Los Altos residents do have a say. Contact your City Council at: You can make a difference.

Why Preserve Los Altos?

Why Preserve Los Altos Now?

We all chose to live in Los Altos for its unique charm. Now we’re working with our neighbors to make sure its special qualities endure.

We want to preserve the rural, small town character of Los Altos. This website is a portal that provides information and updates on topics that impact our city and residents. Current topics are: Affordable Housing, Granny Units (ADUs)Downtown Los Altos, El Camino Real , Historical Preservation, Loyola Corners , Parking and Traffic, and Village Court.

Want to suggest a new topic or offer to curate the content for one, please use the contact form.