City Council Planning

4880 El Camino Plan vs. Colonnade Development

4880 El Camino_vs. Colonnadex600
Should the new 4880 project treat the rear residential neighbors as well as the Colonnade project does?
Written by lalahpolitico

July 6, 2016. Since Los Altans are fretting about precedents for 62 feet building height being established by the 4880 El Camino development plan, perhaps we should consider  precedents for a building’s rear setbacks and firelanes established by the recent Colonnade development. The reason: let’s ponder what is sensitive to rear neighbors, and what is economically feasible.


FYI: This topic is spread across three posts. You are at Part 2.

Part 1 – Council Meeting June 27, 2016 Summary/Action/Analysis

Part 2 – An Aside: 4880 El Camino Plan vs. Colonnade Development

Part 3 – Minutiae of Public & Council concerns June 27/ Diagrams, Photos


Look at the Existing Colonnade Development

Colonnade is the El Camino apartment/condo complex between Whole Foods and the new Bevmo store. Elder hint: It’s where Marie Callender’s and the Los Altos Master horticultural nursery used to be.

The key point about Colonnade is that Lennar Homes developers made significant changes to its early plans for very tall, 3-story, free-standing townhomes that would abut Chester Circle single family homes. [As LosAltosPolitico remembers it.] Seeing the townhomes plan, homes owners on Chester circle asked for more height privacy. What was apparently built instead of the tall, free-standing homes was a greater number of shorter, two-story attached condos, not over 20 feet to the roof deck, 25 feet to the ridge. See Colonnade Figure 1.

Colonnade Satellite Map 

Compare the Colonnade development to the proposed 4880 El Camino...rear setbacks.

Compare the Colonnade development to the proposed 4880 El Camino…rear setbacks. In both projects, the 4-5 story construction is kept 100 feet plus distant from rear neighbors.

Colonnade Figure 1

Two story condos under 25 feet, with no windows to the single family homes on Chester Circle.

The Rear part of Colonnade has two story condos under 25 feet, with no windows facing to the single family homes on Chester Circle. The El Camino 4 story apt. building part of Colonnade is over 100 feet from the Chester homes. The white home in the center of this photo is on Chester Circle.

Colonnade Figure 2

4880 El Colonnade condos abutting Chester Circle

Two rows of the Colonnade condos are over 30 feet from the rear fence abutting Chester Circle. Two other rows of condos have only a 10 foot setback. There are apparently no windows or only tiny windows looking at Chester.

Colonnade Figure 3

The 4-story apartment building stands over 100 feet from rear neighbor...

The 4-story Colonnade apartment building (white in center)  stands over 100 feet from rear neighbors… namely from the Chester Circle single family homes.

Colonnade Figure 4

Here is the private land -- off of Sherwood land -- that leads to the Colonnade condos cul-de-sac.

Here is the private lane –a turn off of the City’s Sherwood Street — that leads to the Colonnade condos private cul-de-sac. The Colonnade 4 story apt. building is on the left, over 100 feet from most neighboring single story homes.

Colonnade Figure 5

The Colonnade apt. building, view from the rear

The Colonnade apt. building, view from the rear – is leased in its entirety by Stanford university for its employees – it is 4 stories

Colonnade Figure 6

Colonnade apartment complex's interior courtyard

Because of itsits much larger land area, the 4 story apartment could be designed with an interior courtyard, guaranteeing courtyard views for most living units.

The developer of 4880 El Camino said they tried to buy the 4-5 adjoining parcels in order to do a design more like the expansive Colonnade or like Dahlin Groups’ large projects at 100 First Street or 960 S. San Antonio.  Lalahpolitco: Sadly no owners near 4880 El Camino were ready to sell.  Mohr Clocks is not ready to retire. Jack n Box is corporately owned. The developer says they have spent a year to create the current plan and had about 30 meetings with staff, neighbors and/or the Planning Commission. The 4880 El Camino plan has passed through City Staff and the Planning and Traffic Commission with a 6-1 vote. To see the merits of and concerns about the 4880 plan, read the Part 3 post.

Colonnade Figure 7

The Colonnade two-story condos abut the side neighbors with a 10 foot setback

The Colonnade two-story condos abut the side neighbors on Sherwood [this photo] and the side neighbors at Los Altos Square [not shown] with only 10 foot set backs from the property line


This topic is spread across three posts. End of Part 2 – Go To

Part 1 – Council Meeting June 27, 2016 Summary/Action/Analysis

Part 2 – An Aside: 4480 El Camino Plan vs. Colonnade Development

Part 3 – Minutiae of Public & Council concerns June 27/ Diagrams, Photos

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.

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