City of Mountain View Unveils New R3 Zoning Update Framework at Community Meeting | New

Mountain View unveiled a new framework for the future of multi-family housing in the city at a July 19 meeting, the first of six community feedback sessions city staff are holding for each Mountain View neighborhood.

Tuesday’s Zoom meeting drew about 40 residents and focused on the Monta Loma/Farley/Rock neighborhood, though city staff provided further updates on what multi-family housing might look like throughout. Mountain View.

Over the past few years, Mountain View City Council and city staff have been looking for ways to revamp the city’s R3 zoning district. These are the parts of the city where apartments, condos, townhouses, and townhouses are allowed to be built, and that accounts for nearly a third of all homes in the city.

But current zoning ordinance requirements make it difficult for developers to build apartment and condo projects, which tend to be the most affordable types of housing zoned R3. Because of these obstacles, nearly all new development in R3 areas has resulted in expensive townhouses, said Eric Anderson, the city’s pre-planning officer.

The city is seeking to change that by making its R3 zoning ordinance less restrictive, while simultaneously working to curb travel and increase the city’s middle-income housing stock.

In 2020, city staff attempted to reimagine what R3 zoning might look like. Staff proposed a model with four sub-districts, which would each allow for varying building heights, from two to six stories, depending on the location of the development, and estimated that this framework could add up to 9,000 new homes.

“We developed a framework for growth that essentially maximized capacity for development,” Anderson said of the 2020 framework. “The board reviewed this in 2021 and asked staff to get more community feedback, that’s why we’re doing it today,” he said at the July 19 meeting.

The city is now introducing the public to a new framework that emphasizes “shape-based” zoning principles.

“So rather than focusing on height differences, we could also focus on scale and character differences,” Anderson said.

Kevin DeNardi, a Mountain View resident and developer, explained form-based zoning in simple terms: “Here’s the size of your box,” and the number of units inside that box depends on the developer.

“For a perfect example, I just had 50 units approved in downtown Los Altos. In downtown Los Altos zoning, it’s shape-based,” DeNardi said in an interview. ‘there’s no density allowed on site. It’s just, ‘hey, you can only go up four floors, you have to have X amount of setback – how many units can you fit?’ »

DeNardi said this approach removes barriers and makes the process more efficient for developers.

The new zoning model based on city forms divides R3 into three sub-districts (R3-A, R3-B, and R3-C) that would each allow for different scales of housing depending on a site’s location within the city : medium house scale (R3 -A), large house scale (R3-B) or block scale (R3-C).

“House scale” refers to buildings that are the size of a house, typically ranging in footprint from as little as 25 feet wide to 80 feet. These individual house-sized buildings can consist of multiple units and are typically up to two or three stories tall. “Block scale” refers to buildings that are individually as large as most or all of a block, or when arranged together along a street occupy most or all of the block.

The new city framework also improves transitions in height and scale between buildings so that very tall and dense buildings do not end up next to, for example, a single family home. Forms-based standards can also improve pedestrian connections and streetscapes, Anderson said.

“The new alternate map would concentrate development capacity increases in strategic locations, resulting in a lower increase in overall development capacity in the R3 area,” Anderson said. “Also, neighborhoods R1 and R2 are only adjacent to R3-A and R3-B (on the new map). At the same time, we are targeting higher intensities (R3-C) to key destinations, such as transit and services. »

The new map and form-based framework is not set in stone, he stressed, and the city is seeking community input before making any decisions.

“The goal of the project is to facilitate more middle-income units, a greater diversity of unit types, and to update standards that truly reflect a type of development or series of development types that do not haven’t been produced for a long time,” Anderson said. .

But some residents still worry about which neighborhoods will be forced to bear the brunt of growth.

Vivek Chopra, a resident of Monta Loma, told the meeting that his neighborhood has only one walkable public green space, Thaddeus Park, which is less than an acre.

“It’s supposed to be, what, three acres per 1,000 people?” Chopra spoke about the city’s open space goals. “We don’t even come close to that. …There are areas of Mountain View that have a serious deficit of park space, and guess what? These are the areas where you put R3 zoning and higher density.

Meanwhile, Chopra said, “There are areas of Mountain View that have about 2 acres per 1,000 people, which are on the other side of the tracks. We are clearly on the wrong side of the tracks.

As the city holds its next five R3 zoning update meetings, residents of all Mountain View neighborhoods will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the city’s vision for future growth.

“There are a lot of different values ​​that can come into this discussion in terms of infrastructure planning versus meeting a current housing need,” Anderson said, “and we want to know where the community is on that. spectrum.”

Here is the schedule for upcoming Zoom meetings:

• Monday July 25: Moffett/Whisman

• Tuesday August 2: San Antonio/Rengstorff/Del Medio

• Tuesday August 9: Central districts

• Thursday August 11: Springer/Cuesta/Phyllis

• Tuesday August 16: Grant/Sylvan Park

Residents can click this link to join meetings.

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