Palo Alto Homeowners Advocate Zoning Changes To Protect Eichler Neighborhoods

We Eichler homeowners love the walls-of-glass that bring light and openness into our homes. We don’t love them quite as much, however, when a 2-story house moves in next door and the neighbors are provided with a direct view into our private living spaces! In Palo Alto, Eichler homeowners have decided enough is enough and are doing something about it. In an effort to maintain the integrity of their neighborhoods, homeowners have asked the city to establish/revise zoning ordinances pertaining to the scale of homes in the area.

The controversy centers around remodel, renovation, and complete teardown/rebuild projects which create homes that are not within the character of the existing neighborhood – and (in particular) two story homes that compromise the privacy of their single-storied, glass-walled Eichler neighbors. The lack of formal understanding (zoning) in some neighborhoods has led to several very uncomfortable confrontations in the recent past, when disagreements among homeowners has arisen over size and style of remodels.

While portions of several Eichler neighborhoods in Palo Alto (including parts of Greer Park, Triple El, and Barron Park, as well as Channing Park, Walnut Grove, Meadow Park, Greenmeadow, and Charleston Meadow) have had ordinances prohibiting the addition of a second story for years, the hope is to expand the zoning to include other neighborhoods. Eichler communities that are hoping to join the “single-story overlay” zoning club include Faircourt, Royal Manor, and expansion of the areas already protected in Greer Park and Triple El.

It will be interesting to see how the city of Palo Alto handles this somewhat thorny issue. Will they implement more single-story overlays, which tend to be somewhat generic – or might they possibly consider establishing Eichler “zones” of historic preservation overlays similar to the Eichler subdivision in Granada Hills? Time will tell!

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