Far too many Bay Area families are struggling with the burden of high housing costs and must endure ever-longer commutes to find a home they can afford. Our region needs more of the right development in the right places to give its residents sustainable, affordable communities close to work, shops, and transit options. Several South Bay and Peninsula cities along the El Camino Real corridor have the opportunity to do better for their residents. We’re helping them make it happen.
The process starts with crafting and updating specific plans in each city that will create more homes. But providing more homes is just one component of a thriving neighborhood. These plans should ensure that new development benefits all residents—giving them the ability to walk and bike to shops, providing workplaces, offering convenient transportation choices, and adding access to nature with pocket parks, street trees, and other natural amenities.
In several cities along El Camino Real—a main thoroughfare that spans the length of the Peninsula and South Bay—Greenbelt Alliance is ensuring plans are adopted to create thriving neighborhoods with new homes affordable to people at all income levels. Our work in a few of these cities is highlighted below.
In Sunnyvale, a two-bedroom apartment rents for over $3,200 per month. The city and its residents are hoping to address this urgent affordability problem and get growth right by planning for more homes as part of their El Camino Real plan. Greenbelt Alliance is working with resident groups like Sunnyvale Cool, advocates like Sue Serrone, and the community-based coalition Sue leads, Livable Sunnyvale, to ensure the people of Sunnyvale can impact how their city grows and ensure their needs are incorporated into the El Camino Real plan. Our partners range from neighborhood associations and housing advocates to bicycle and pedestrian groups.
Sunnyvale’s City Council has taken an important step forward, voting to accommodate 6,900 new homes along the corridor, the most homes of all the options under consideration in its upcoming plan. The final plan is expected to be adopted in 2019.
Our Fixing the Foundation report identified key barriers to adding new homes in Sunnyvale. Using those findings as a guide, we are working to ensure the plan increases flexibility to allow for new sustainable and affordable homes to be built in the right places.
- Sunnyvale’s El Camino Real Precise Plan allows at least 6,900 new homes along the corridor.
- The City sets strong affordable housing goals and policies for the area so that everyone across the income spectrum can live close to where they work.
- New development and streetscape improvements are focused near future Bus Rapid Transit stations, include protected bike lanes along El Camino Real, and integrate urban greening elements.
Following in Sunnyvale’s footsteps, the City of Santa Clara kicked off their planning process for their El Camino Real Precise Plan in spring 2018. Creating a thriving, livable corridor is an immense opportunity for the City, with the potential to address the still-widening gap between Santa Clara’s many available jobs and increasingly inadequate supply of housing.
Unlike the historical barriers that Sunnyvale has faced to add new homes, our Fixing the Foundation report shows that Santa Clara has a clear and inspiring vision for infill development—new homes, shops, and workplaces within existing cities and towns. We are working with residents who currently live along the corridor to ensure that this plan and new development will bring major benefits to their community. Ultimately, we’re working toward a plan that improves current neighbors’ quality of life and adds affordable, sustainable housing options to Santa Clara for future generations.
- Adoption of an equitable and sustainable El Camino Real Precise Plan that provides at least 4,400 new affordable homes across the income spectrum.
- The new Precise Plan should include progressive parking policies for new development and improved walking and biking amenities for residents.
- Help local residents form their own groups that support sustainable, equitable development in Santa Clara and encourage their neighbors to support these goals as well.
Big Wins Along El Camino Real
In 2014 our El Camino Real efforts had their first big payoff. The City of Mountain View adopted a final plan for their 4-mile stretch of the corridor that better reflects the needs of their diverse community. It increases the quality of life for those who work and live in Mountain View by creating affordable homes, high-quality bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets, and engaging public plazas.
- Greenbelt Alliance’s report Fixing the Foundation: Local Solutions for Infill Housing and our City by City Analysis including Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.
- Sunnyvale El Camino Real Precise Plan Policy Platform
- Comment Letter to Sunnyvale City Council: February 17, 2017
- Staff Contact: Kiyomi Yamamoto
Map of the El Camino Real Plan Area
Photo: ©Timothy Kozono