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Sunnyvale: Eichler neighborhood asks to be free of two-story homes

Residents of a Sunnyvale neighborhood consisting of mostly Eichler homes persuaded the city council to introduce an ordinance to modify the area's zoning to be limited to single-story homes.

The council voted unanimously April 19 to approve the plan after neighbors on Dartshire Way and Devonshire Way came forward requesting the change.

The rezoned area will cover 36 homes and according to the applicant, Martyn Griffiths, the push to rezone had support from 72 percent of the residents in the neighborhood. The neighborhood includes homes from 748 to 838 Dartshire Way and 747 to 837 Devonshire Way.

Many of the homes in the tract are single-story Eichler homes. The architectural design, named after developer Joseph Eichler, began appearing in California in the 1940s with many built in the Bay Area. The open, single-story layout features large glass windows and walls that make specific use of sunlight while providing an open feeling.

"Eichler communities are becoming an endangered species," Griffiths told the council during the meeting. "Eichler neighborhoods are unique, architecturally significant and iconic. Like all endangered species, they are so worth protecting."

Griffiths cited a similar effort in Palo Alto to restrict two-story homes in Royal Manor as one of the reasons the Devonshire and Dartshire neighborhoods wanted to take this preventative measure.

Griffiths added that his neighborhood purposely chose a small number of homes, 36, because he and others felt it would be easier to get support for the rezoning. There is one two-story home in the neighborhood that will be unaffected by the rezoning.

Several council members praised the neighborhood for working together on the proposal.

"It makes me happy to see you got a group together with all the neighbors and that you are going to put this on," said Councilwoman Tara Martin-Milius.

The ordinance calls for the council to officially rezone the homes in question from R0, low-density residential, to R-0/S, low-density, single-story residential. The maximum building height will be 17 feet rather than the current 30 feet.

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