Housing crunch forces Monte Sereno to change with the times

It seems high-density housing is going up everywhere in the Bay Area, with few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Monte Sereno, a city of single-family homes, or at least it was. But the housing crunch is forcing this hold-out to change with the times.

“Housing is in such demand, and any little bit that we can do to help, it’s a good thing,” said Monte Sereno incumbent Mayor Burton Craig. 

Since its incorporation 60 years ago, Monte Sereno has remained the quiet suburb at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Gates define many property lines here, and street lights and sidewalks are scarce. What’s non-existent, multi-family homes.. All the houses in Monte Sereno are single family.

“The state has mandated a long time ago that housing, the issue of housing shortage, is a problem. And hence why the have all the requirements around housing elements,” said Monte Sereno first year city manager Terry Blount.

The city council just annexed from Santa Clara County the site of the shuttered Hacienda Inn, on Route-9, which sits within the city’s so-called sphere of influence. The owners propose building 21-market rate single family homes, and 15 multi-family homes , which would be the first in the city’s history.

“There’s 36 new units coming into the Silicon Valley area, which is something we desperately need these days,” said Mayor Craig.

Not everyone is in agreement, with many residents desperate to keep the opulent enclave of 3,500 residents the way it’s been since the Giants moved west. Multi-family homes would mean a big change in the land of single family dwellings. 

“There’s a lot of residents in the area that aren’t very happy with the ruling. So my guess is there’s going to be other people looking for ways they can slow this down or they can reverse the decision,” said Mayor Craig.

But there’s a sizeable group of residents, such as Ed Lopez, who feel the inevitability of change means it’s best to make this move now.

“I think they should do it. Because sooner or later they have to do it someplace somewhere. High density. And that’s the right place for me,” said Lopez.

The city council had to change the general plan to allow multi-family homes on the site of the Hacienda Inn. That will require a second reading next June 19, and then 30 days before construction drawings and building permits are submitted to City Hall.