One of the most controversial of these measures is SB 50. Hailed by advocates as a solution to the Bay Area’s housing shortage, the bill would override cities’ density rules, height limits and parking requirements in areas near public transit hubs. For example, projects within a half-mile of major transit stops — including two Caltrain stations in Palo Alto and one on the border with Mountain View — could be up to 45 feet tall, or about four stories. About 7,000 parcels, or 40 percent of Palo Alto’s total parcels, would be subject to SB 50 rules — enough to transform Palo Alto from a community of predominantly single-family homes into a city dominated by townhouses and apartments, according to the Embarcadero Institute.The legislation could cause the city’s population to grow to 2.7 times its current size and bring up to 30,000 new students to Palo Alto, the report said, potentially stretching the capacity of the local schools in a city renowned for the quality of its public education system. SB 50 also could bring as many as 90,000 additional vehicles to town, according to the report.
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