Apartments for disabled adults offered in the Portola Valley | New

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Several years ago, longtime residents of the Portola Valley, Jim and Patty White, began researching where their daughter, Amy, with Down syndrome, could live independently as an adult. They were struck by the lack of options.

With that in mind, the couple plan to submit a proposal to build 13 apartments for adults with disabilities at 4388 Alpine Road to the city’s Architecture and Site Control Commission on December 13.

The proposed project, estimated to cost between $ 8 million and $ 10 million, would be located in a trade corridor known as the Nathorst Triangle. It’s an area former town planning commissioner Betsy Crowder said two decades ago would be a great place for affordable housing.

The housing project, called the Willow Commons, would only be available for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I / DD), defined as differences that are usually present at birth and that uniquely affect the trajectory of the child’s physical, intellectual and / or emotional development. ‘individual, according to the national institutes of health. It would also be aimed at low-income people, rented out to qualifying residents for around $ 600 a month, according to the Whites.

“Our inspiration here is Amy; it opened the door for us to understand the challenges families face, ”said Jim White, who has lived in the city for 20 years. The Whites submitted a request to the city for the proposal early last month. “People are struggling to find permanent supportive housing,” he said.

Until June, Amy was in an east coast residential school for people with developmental delays. She is now renting a house in the Portola Valley to continue to exercise independent skills, he said.

Finding affordable housing for the I / DD population is a “chronic problem,” according to whites. San Mateo County has lost 11% of its licensed care facilities, while demand has increased 20% to 30% over the past six years (to just over 300,000 people in category I / DD) , according to a presentation last week by Housing Choices, a group that helps people with developmental and other disabilities find housing.

These housing units could also count in the significant increase in the number of housing units that it must provide in its Regional Housing Allowance (RHNA) 2023-2031. This cycle, the municipality is responsible for designating 253 housing units.

The project provides the city with some of the first small, low- or very low-income housing units, according to a Willow Commons project sheet.

Another Alpine road project, often referred to as the “Stanford Wedge”, has been a lightning rod for the public debate on construction and the risks it poses to fire and traffic safety. The 39 housing units offered by Stanford University, called Portola Terrace, would be located on a 75-acre portion of university property that is not currently developed or used for horse boarding.

The Willow Commons project is very different, said Jim White. The site is adjacent to a trade corridor on “very accessible flat land” in the moderate area of ​​the 2008 Moritz Fuels risk map and has a “relatively lower risk of seismic activity,” according to the proposal. The targeted residents, who for the most part would not have a driver’s license, would have multiple job opportunities within walking distance of their homes, the Whites note in their proposal. Woodside Priory School, The Sequoias, Roberts Market and the Portola Valley School District wrote letters of support for the project. Residents have the potential to be a “local and loyal work force,” the proposal says.

“The needs of Stanford professors are so different,” said Jim White. “This project (the Willow Commons) is not a fire risk area. … It will have the same height as the (current) building. It will not be visible from the streets. It will improve it by an old, and not well maintained, building. “

The housing would only be open to those eligible for support services offered by the California network of regional centers.

The Golden Gate Regional Center, which supports residents of San Mateo County, reports that more than two-thirds of adults with I / DD in the county do not have independent housing. This figure includes 100% of adults with I / DD who live in the Portola Valley, a statistic that must be reported annually to the state for RHNA compliance.

The couple would set up a nonprofit organization to run assisted living services and hired an executive director, Brenda Bachechi, who has worked in special education for decades in San Mateo County.

The project is proposed on a 53,473 square foot site that is administrative / professional zoned and uses the legal provisions of the state density bonus and supportive housing laws to enable the creation of permanent and affordable supportive housing.

There is currently a small building on the site which once housed Linwood Real Estate and Langley Hill Quarry (a septic system company) before the Whites acquired the land.

They would build 11 one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments spread over six buildings. Each would have an area of ​​less than 500 square feet. There would also be an adjoining Accessory Living Unit (ADU) of similar size and design, and a second detached two-bedroom, two-bathroom ADU of approximately 870 square feet. The small size of the unit also serves to accommodate 13 units on site. They would each come with a washer and dryer.

The average building would be 18 feet tall. The city code imposes a height limit of 28 feet. The buildings would be set back approximately 75 feet from the street (similar to the existing Linwood building).

ADUs are designed as staff houses so that the facility can “attract and retain quality support staff in a high cost of living area,” according to the fact sheet.

“The specific needs of the target population guided decisions regarding

elements of the proposed supportive housing community ”, according to the fact sheet. “The size of the apartment units is intentionally small, to be large enough for residents to have a space of their own, but not so large that they would rather spend their time there rather than interact with the residents. other members of the community. This is important because research has shown that many adults with I / DD who do not have adequate social interaction become isolated and may develop depression. “

Whites expect an expedited approval process (between 15 and 18 months) as the 13 proposed units are licensed “as of right” (without conditional use permit) under the Density Bonus Act. White said they hoped to see residents move in as early as late summer or early fall 2023.

Residents would enter the Willow Commons through a common entrance to a building housing a staff office. This common building would include a kitchen, dining room and living room where residents can prepare and share meals.

The architecture of Willow Commons aims to “preserve and enhance the ecosystems and native habitats of the site and the region,” according to the proposal. The residences would be organized behind a main support building that faces Alpine Road. The roofs would be equipped with photovoltaic panels. There would also be 17 parking spaces on the site.

For more information on the project, go to here.


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