CityLab staffer Laura Bliss says a new zoning change in Palo Alto, Calif. disguises politics behind the issue of historic preservation.
She digs into a recent move by the city council to ban new two-story homes or second-story additions in the pricey Los Arboles neighborhood, which is characterized by Eichler designs:Many homes in Los Arboles were originally developed by Joseph Eichler, the famed developer who brought clean lines, airy spaces, and Modernist style to middle-class housing tracts all over post-War California. Some residents
who led early petitions to create the single-story overlay say the ban intends to preserve that style.Officials say that the Los Arboles zone change is more about protecting residents from neighbors whose second-story additions might interfere with their privacy. But, it seems there may be something more at play, says Bliss.Maybe the single-story overlay isn’t really about privacy or design. Maybe
it’s about preserving the size of the neighborhood at all costs. A single-story overlay sends a loud, clear message to people on the wrong side of the Bay Area’s housing crisis:Amid Dickensian inequality, residents seem to be unwilling to consider what accommodating more humans would look like. No, there won’t be two-story homes here, let alone multi-story, multi-family housing. “Historic” Los Arboles doesn’t have room for that.