Multi-Family Housing

Welcome to the Town of Atherton's dedicated webpage focusing on the critical issue of multi-family housing within the Town’s Sixth Cycle Housing Element. This page is designed to shed light on the challenges the Town is facing in gaining the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) approval for the Town’s Housing Element and what steps the Town is considering to comply with state law.

Why hasn't HCD approved the Atherton's Housing Element?

The primary reason HCD has not yet approved the Town's proposed Housing Element revolves around the Town’s proposed approach to multi-family housing. The Town’s initial proposal to facilitate multi-family housing on private school properties did not provide housing opportunities for the general public. 

HCD determined that this proposal would violate the state-mandated objective of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). AFFH is an initiative sent in place by HCD to combat housing discrimination, eliminate racial bias, undo historic patterns of segregation and lift barriers that restrict access in order to foster inclusive communities and achieve racial equity, fair housing choice, and opportunity for all Californians.  HCD has instructed Town staff that Atherton must include multi-family housing opportunities to the broader public in order to produce a compliant Sixth Cycle Housing Element.

Upcoming Public Meetings

  • Joint Study Session with Atherton City Council and Planning Commission
    November 1, 2023, 4 p.m.
    Hybrid (Zoom/In-person)
    Atherton City Council Chambers
    Join virtually
  • Virtual Community Meeting: Multi-Family Housing in Atherton's Housing Element
    November 8, 6 p.m.
    Join virtually
  • Community Workshop #2
    November 13, 2023, TIME TBA


State Requirements for a Compliant Multi-Family Housing Plan

Beyond the Numbers

It's important for residents to understand that the issue at hand is not about the number of housing units the Town needs to provide. The Town's current plan already meets its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers through various means, including Accessory Dwelling Units(ADUs), SB 9 Units, new single-family development and housing on school sites, but the state's requirements for a compliant Housing Element extend far beyond the mere number of units.

The State's Requirements

The state is requiring the Town to incorporate a provision that will permit multi-family housing open to the general public. The Town’s goal is to meet HCD’s stated requirements, while preserving the Town’s character.

Balancing Unique Needs and Character

The question facing the Town is how to comply with this requirement in good faith while maintaining Atherton’s unique character. This is a complex and nuanced challenge that will require community input and thoughtful planning.

Community Engagement

Join the Discussion

To address this critical issue and shape our Housing Element in a manner that serves the best interests of our residents, the Town will be hosting a series of events designed to engage our community. We encourage all residents to participate and voice their thoughts and concerns on this matter.

Stay Informed

Be sure to check the Town’s Facebook page regularly for updates, event announcements and opportunities to participate in the dialogue about Atherton’s Sixth Cycle Housing Element. Your input is invaluable in helping us find a balanced and compliant solution that reflects the essence of our community.

Thank you for your engagement and support in creating a Housing Element that best serves the Town of Atherton and its residents.