by Alex Lew
The proposed Prometheus project at 455 West Evelyn Street went through the City’s Design Review Committee (DRC) on January 8th, and it is now tentatively scheduled to be heard at the February 10th Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) meeting. The official agenda for the public hearing is released to the public at least 10 days in advance, so check the city’s website, the library, or the city clerk’s office beforehand. The EPC meetings are typically at 7pm in the council chambers at City Hall.
The EPC is a 7 person appointed commission that makes written recommendations to the City Council to approve, modify, or disapprove the project. If the EPC recommends forwarding the project to the City Council, it could be heard by the Council as soon as March. The City Council will then vote to approve, modify, or disapprove the project. Modifications, if any, can be referred back to the EPC for further review.
The project’s development standards are governed by the 1994 Evelyn Avenue Corridor Precise Plan. However, the project seeks a high density project instead of the designated medium density residential, so a General Plan Amendment is required in addition to the typical development project approvals. The City is preparing a mitigated negative declaration for the project, so an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is not required.
In addition to the Precise Plan, the City’s 1992 General Plan provides long-range and flexible policy for development without providing specific zoning standards. Policy #44 calls for making land use decisions that support transportation alternatives to the automobile. Action #44A calls for encouraging mixed-use projects and the City’s highest density residential projects along major transit lines and around stations.
At the State level, Assembly Bill AB32 and Senate Bill SB375 call for the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations and market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, a 25% reduction. The impact of the bills will affect transportation and buildings, two of the major contributors to greenhouse gases. Having high density housing near transit lines that serve jobs is a key component in reducing auto emissions.
If you want to learn more about the proposed project, the developer’s website is www.455westevelyn.com. In addition, there is an architectural model at the Planning and Building Department.
Whether you are in favor or against the proposed project, I encourage you to get involved with the OMVNA and attend the public hearings. While serving on the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board, I have seen several projects become better designed because of active citizen engagement.
Alex Lew is the current chairman of the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board and a resident of Old Mountain View for last 7 years.