photo by Sheldon Breiner

Planning for Housing in Portola Valley

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Did you miss the March 3rd or May 5th Community Conversation About Housing event?  Read the event summaries and lend your voice here!  What about the Council Study Session on Second Units held July 11, 2018? Share your thoughts here.

This webpage provides additional information, history, and links to Portola Valley's efforts around housing including:

Community Conversations on Housing

Council Study Session on Second Units (ADUs)


The Town utilized the Home for All Grant to conduct two “Community Conversations on Housing.” The first meeting was held on March 3rd and focused on participants sharing their ideas, thoughts, and stories about housing in Portola Valley. As a result of interest expressed at the first meeting, the Town held a second Community Conservation on May 5th that focused on second units, Town’s policies on second units, and converting a bedroom to an independent unit. The May 5th Community Conversation Summary Report on ADUs is now available online, to view the summary report please click here. If you would like to read the March 3rd Community Conversation Summary Report or share your thoughts on housing in Portola Valley, please click here.


On July 11, 2018, the Town Council held a study session about second units. This study session was in response to suggestions from residents who participated in the May 5th Second Unit Convening and was designed to allow the Council to provide the Planning Commission the priority list for their work on second units in the next few months. It is anticipated that the Council will review the Commission’s work for potential adoption by the end of this year.

Click Here to Add Your Voice to the Study Session on Second Units

 Home for All  State Housing Element Requirements

Town of Portola Valley was awarded a grant in 2017 from Home for All to pilot new approaches to community engagement around the topic of housing. Home for All is a community collaborative addressing housing challenges in San Mateo County through convening community, sharing information and promoting innovation.

All jurisdiction in California must have a General Plan which sets forth the community's visions and goals for its future. The Housing Element is one of seven required elements of the General Plan, and is the only element which the State reviews and certifies as to whether it meets state requirements. For more information about State requirements for the Housing Element, click here.

Ad Hoc Housing Committee

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) - Second Units

The 2014 Housing Element followed work completed by the Ad Hoc Housing Committee in the first part of 2013. Click here to see information about the Committee and the final report of the Committee, as well as agendas and related materials.

The Housing Element of the Portola Valley General Plan calls for the Town to encourage the construction of second units. Second units are a key way for the Town to accommodate new housing while still preserving the rural character of the community. Review the Ordinance and Handout for more information on building a Second Unit. For additional information, please see San Mateo County's second unit resource center

Rich Gordon's Housing Element Task Force

Housing Strategic Plan

Assemblyman Gordon has assembled a task force to identify legislative options to address the pressing needs to balance local control and state mandates, while also addressing the need for affordable housing in the region. Councilmember Derwin and staff will continue to be active participants in this effort. Notes from 7/15/13 Housing Task Force Meeting

In 2016, the Town Council identified housing in Portola Valley as a priority and formed the Ad-Hoc Housing on Town Owned Property Committee as part of the Housing Strategic Plan.The Committee's mission is to examine the possibility of whether any Town-owned properties may be appropriate for modest housing opportunities to support the communities, teachers, public safety workers, and employees. The Committee will not recommend any projects to the Council; rather, they would formally suggest that the Council further review recommended properties for potential housing at a future Council meeting.

HIP Housing - Home Sharing Program

The Human Investment Project for Housing (HIP Housing) is a nonprofit organization that conducts a program in San Mateo County to match housing “providers” with housing “seekers.” Rents are established on a case-by-case basis and can sometimes be partly defrayed by services. For more information on their Home Sharing program, please visit

Portola Valley 2014 Housing Element

The Town's overall plan for housing is set forth in the Housing Element of the General Plan, which describes the Town's goals for housing and programs to plan for and encourage housing in the Town.

California law requires that all Housing Elements be updated on a schedule set by the state. The Town of Portola Valley most recently adopted a Housing Element on January 14, 2015, and will next need to update the element in 2022. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) certified Portola Valley's adopted 2014Housing Element on January 30, 2015. Links to the adopted housing element and the letter from the HCD are provided below:

For information and links to previous meetings concerning the development of the 2014 Housing Element, use the link below:


If you have questions or would like more information, please contact the Planning Department at 650-851-1700.