Community Conversation About Housing

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Did you miss the March 3rd or May 5th event? If so, you can lend your voice to the conversation below! 

The Town Council also Held a Study Session on Second Units (ADUs). Click here to learn more and share your thoughts.

Community Conversation About Housing, March 3, 2018 event

Town of Portola Valley was awarded a grant last year 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.

The grant is designed to help the Town conduct more inclusive, informed and sustained engagement. The Town will continue these conversations, along with other housing-related events and meetings, in the coming months.

We want to hear your thoughts, ideas and stories regarding housing and the events summarized below. Please click here to share your input.

May 5th Community Conversation About Housing - Second Units

As a result of the expressed interest in a session that focused on second units. The Town held a second Community Conservation focused on second units, Town’s policies on second units, and converting a bedroom to an independent unit. This Community Conversation was held on May 5, 2018, at the Town Center Community Hall.May 5th Community Conversation 1

The May 5th convening represented a wide range of perspectives, drawing nearly 50 participants including longtime residents and representatives of local institutions interested in building second units. Some sought more information on how to build an ADU on their property, while others wanted to learn more about constructing tiny home communities in Portola Valley. Four themes emerged during the community conversation:

Strong Support for Shared Housing Principles: Meeting participants strongly supported addressing housing needs consistent with the principles created by the Town Council contained in the Housing Strategic Plan.

Allow All Residents to Build Second Units: The Town currently does not allow second unit construction on lots smaller than one acre. Many meeting participants were keen to create opportunities to allow such construction on properties that are less than one acre.

Mitigate Potential Roadblocks to Construction: Participants were very interested in learning more about impacts from potential sewer hook-ups, tax implications of a second unit, and overall construction costs.

Best Practices from Successful (and perhaps not so successful) Local Projects: Some Portola Valley residents have already built second units, and participants were eager to hear from those who have successfully (or perhaps not-so-successfully) tackled an ADU project. Hearing from architects on layout and design was also high on the list.May 5th Community Conversation 2

At the end of the Community Conversation, participants expressed interest in next steps:

  • This summer Town Staff will bring forward second unit ordinance amendments, including allowing second units on all residential properties, with the adoption of new regulations scheduled for late fall.
  • The Town will reconvene the Ad Hoc Housing on Town-Owned Property Committee this summer, with a “Community Conversation About Housing” event focused on this topic in the early fall.
  • The Town will also reconvene a meeting of Affiliated Housing Partners in late summer to hear about potential new housing. The Town will invite prospective new Affiliated Housing Partners to hear about their housing ideas.

To read the May 5, 2018 Community Conversation summary

March 3rd Community Conversation About Housing

The first major project in the pilot, “A Community Conversation About Housing in Portola Valley” was held on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Town Center Community Hall. The goal of the event was to:

  • Broaden participation in the conversation about housing in Portola Valley
  • Share the Town’s Housing Options Strategic Plan adopted in 2016 by the Council
  • Connect community members who are interested in continuing the conversationCommunity Conversation About Housing March 3, 2018 Event

The March 3rd community meeting drew nearly 70 participants of varying ages and perspectives, including longtime residents, business owners, and people who work in Portola Valley but do not live in the town, representing a range of ages and perspectives. Four themes emerged during the community conversation:

Rural Environment: Many community members moved to Portola Valley for its beautiful rural atmosphere, open spaces and abundant hiking and horse trails.

Family Connections: People are concerned that they, their children, or other family members may not be able to stay in or return to Portola Valley.

Maintaining Vital Workforce: Participants expressed concern that those who work in Portola Valley are unable to live close to Town. As a result, commute times increase and employers (business, school, public safety, health care) struggle to attract and retain employees.

Creative Solutions:  A recurring theme was the need to be creative, “think outside the box” and “try new things.” Community members called for housing solutions that emphasize innovation and reduce barriers (such as regulations and fees) to building more places to live in Portola Valley.

At the end of the Community Conversation, participants expressed interest in next steps:

  • Promote more conversations and provide additional opportunities to be involved.
  • Build on the Town’s long history of volunteerism to help address the housing challenge.
  • Convene a session on May 5th that focuses on Second Units.
  • Develop alternative Affiliated Housing, Town-Owned Property and Shared Housing options.

    To read the March 3, 2018 Community Conversation summary


    Additional Information & Questions:

    If you want to know more about the Town’s second unit regulations or are thinking about building a second unit, feel free to contact us at



    Please correct the field(s) marked in red below:

    What themes from the March 3rd event summary resonated most with you?
    What themes from the March 3rd event summary resonated most with you?
    What themes from the May 5th event summary resonated most with you?
    What themes from the May 5th event summary resonated most with you?
    Do you have any personal experiences or stories about housing that you would like to share?
    What ideas or concerns do you have about housing in Portola Valley?
    Based on the information provided in the report(s), what next steps would you like to see the Town pursue?
    Is it ok if we share these stories on the Town website (anonymously)?
    Is it ok if we share these stories on the Town website (anonymously)?
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