The housing inventory and supply study is now available for review. The purpose of the study as identified in the development agreement was to provide a framework for future, fact-based actions and policymaking related to long-term housing solutions in the Belle Haven neighborhood and East Palo Alto. The development agreement anticipated that the study would assess the conditions, occupancy, and resident profiles of residents living in the immediate vicinity of the project site, including but not limited to the Belle Haven neighborhood, the Fair Oaks neighborhood (located in unincorporated San Mateo County), and the City of East Palo Alto.
The study is intended to establish a baseline understanding of the housing conditions, facilitate the development of an informed regional housing strategy, and develop recommendations to support the preservation of affordable and workforce housing. The study provides community profiles for each of the three communities (Belle Haven, North Fair Oaks, and East Palo Alto) and outlines real estate patterns within each community. The study outlines recommended actions for housing unit production and preservation, as well as tenant protections. The study also identifies the need to monitor conditions over time and for large employers, such as Facebook, to consider how a company’s internal policies can affect housing conditions in the vicinity and educate employees. The UC Berkeley team presented the findings of the Study at the August 11, 2020 City Council meeting.
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The Chilco Street Frontage Improvements were anticipated to be constructed in phases. Phases 3a and 3b have been combined with Phase 4a, Phase 5, and Phase 6. These phases were anticipated to be completed by early April 2020; however, the temporary ban on construction activities beginning in March 2020 during the shelter in place order delayed the completion date. The only portion of these phases outstanding is the planting/irrigation, and this work has resumed now and these improvements will be completed concurrent with initial occupancy of Building 22. For reference, Phases 3a and 3b were originally required to be completed prior to Occupancy of Building 21. Design modifications and coordination with SamTrans across the Dumbarton Corridor have extended the timeline of the project. Facebook has been working with the City to complete these improvements by combining these with Phases 5 and 6. These improvements will also be finished prior to occupancy of Building 22. Phase 4b is currently under review by City staff and anticipated to be completed by August 2021. Facebook has worked to accommodate modifications to project phasing and design with the City. While Phase 4b will not be constructed prior to occupancy of Building 22, all other phases are anticipated to be complete prior to occupancy of Building 22.
The housing innovation fund is intended to build off the Housing Inventory and Local Supply Study (Term 8.1.1), providing the resources to implement near-term actions recommended by the study and therefore, is intended to be initiated immediately following the completion of the study. City staff and Facebook have begun discussing the approach to the housing innovation fund; however, at this time the housing innovation fund has not been initiated beyond preliminary discussions with City staff on the framework for the housing innovation fund. It is anticipated that in early September, following UC Berkeley’s presentation to the City Council regarding the study, Facebook will formally create the housing innovation fund and begin the process of determining which near term actions to fund.
In the development agreement, Facebook agreed to commit $1,500,000 to establish the housing innovation fund and provide funding for near term implementation actions based upon findings from the Study. The fund would be overseen by an advisory group convened to provide oversight that would include Facebook representatives, local elected officials, and members of local community organizations. The advisory group would be comprised of eight members, including at least one member selected by the city manager of Menlo Park and one member selected by the city manager of East Palo Alto. The remaining six members would be selected by Facebook at its discretion. More information on the status of the housing innovation fund will be provided when available.
The development agreement identifies that the publicly accessible open space would be provided in two phases: an interim public open space and a final public open space. Per the development agreement and conditional development permit (CDP), the interim park is required to be completed prior to occupancy of Building 22 and the final park would be completed after TE Connectivity vacates Building 305. TE Connectivity vacated the site earlier than anticipated (December 2019) and Facebook requested flexibility to construct the publicly accessible open space in one phase. The proposal would result in the construction of the final public open space earlier than anticipated by the CDP and development agreement (but would not include an interim publicly accessible open space prior to occupancy of Building 22). The CDP and development agreement, approved by the City Council, allow for staff level modifications if the proposed modification is substantially consistent with the approved project and the terms of the CDP and development agreement. City staff determined that provision of the final open space without an interim phase achieves compliance with the requirements. In order to construct the final phase sooner, Facebook plans to begin construction on the entire public open space concurrent with the granting of occupancy of Building 22. Staff has evaluated the proposal submitted by Facebook and the information provided and determined that the earlier delivery of the entire publicly accessible open space would be more beneficial than completing the interim publicly accessible open space and then shortly thereafter closing off the space to demolish Building 305 and construct the final publicly accessible open space.
The timing for the delivery of the bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Bayfront Expressway was impacted because Facebook was delayed in obtaining PG&E approval of an easement for the bridge foundation within its easement due to PG&E’s bankruptcy filing in early 2019. Facebook has worked with PG&E and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to obtain approval of the easement. The development agreement includes an automatic extension for the delivery of the bridge due to situations outside the control of Facebook, such as this situation. Access to the bicycle and pedestrian bridge would be through the publicly accessible open space. Due to these factors, staff believes that the modification to the timing for the delivery of the publicly accessible open space is warranted and believes that Facebook has made a good faith effort to comply with the bicycle and pedestrian bridge and public open space requirements.
As of August 2020, Facebook obtained CPUC approval of the easement and a formal agreement with PG&E. Bridge construction is anticipated to begin by the end of August 2020. The bridge construction is expected to take approximately 18 months.