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Town Council 3.27 Meeting Update – Stanford Study Session, ADU Ordinance, Wildfire Preparation

Post Date:03/28/2019 4:00 PM




Since the late 1990’s the Town’s Housing Element has included a program, currently called the Affiliated Housing Program, to allow three institutions in Portola Valley (the Priory, the Sequoias, and Stanford University) to construct housing on their properties. As part of the Housing Strategic Plan adopted by the Council in late 2016, the Town has been exploring options to increase housing opportunities for three Portola Valley populations affected by the ongoing housing crisis:


  • Residents who wish to age in place who have limited options to do so
  • Housing for those who grew up in Portola Valley but cannot move back
  • Workers who support the community

At the March 27th meeting the Town Council heard a presentation from Stanford University on a proposed faculty housing site on “The Stanford Wedge”, their property along the northern side of Alpine Road roughly between Golden Oak and Westridge. The Town Council directed Stanford to hold a community input process over the next few months in inform the community and solicit questions and feedback.


ADU Ordinance

After two previous Council and six Planning Commission meetings, the Town Council adopted a new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance.

The new ordinance includes the following provisions:

  • Size limits for External ADUs (new square footage) on parcels less than 3.5 acres of 1,200 SF or 50% of the existing building (whichever is more restrictive)
  • Size limits on Internal ADUs (conversions of existing buildings) of 1,700 SF
  • Permitting  ADUs in all zoning districts and on properties less than one acre in size (with some limitations)
  • Permission to provide for a  separate address and separate utilities from the main house
  • A streamlined review process that would shorten review times while preserving the opportunity for neighbor comments
  • Permitting of second driveways, in rare cases, with ASCC approval.

The following existing requirements would not change:

  • Adjusted Maximum Floor Area (AMFA) and Impervious Surface (IS)
  • Setbacks, including property, scenic corridor, earthquake, and creek setbacks
  • Maximum height for each base zone
  • Landscape, lighting, and material requirements
  • Number of ADUS allowed on any property
  • ADUs cannot be sold separately and the property owner must live on-site.

The Ordinance is expected to go into effect in the spring of 2019. More information on specific regulations can be found here:


Wildfire Preparation


The Town Council held a study session on wildfire preparation and heard suggestions and concerns from the community. On April 10th the Council will discuss the creation of an ad hoc committee on wildfire preparedness.



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