News

Buena Vista owner hits another snag

City asks Jisser family to further revise relocation report

The owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park must go back and further revise his plan for compensating the residents who would be displaced under a plan to convert Buena Vista to a dense apartment complex, Palo Alto's city attorney has ruled.

For the second time in recent months, the city has found that the Jisser family, which owns the park, has not submitted a completed Relocation Impact Report, a mandated document that lays out the Jissers' strategy for compensating Buena Vista's residents. As in his previous finding, Grant Kolling from the Office of the City Attorney had determined that the latest report submitted by Jissers' attorney does not include enough information about compensation and lacks the required responses from residents.

Kolling also wrote in a letter that the city needs more time to collect questionnaires from Buena Vista residents. The failure of Jissers' contractors to obtain all the questionnaires for its first Relocation Impact Report was a major reason for the city's rejection of the document. Since then, the city had offered to obtain these questionnaires itself, a process that Kolling said can be completed in a week or two.

Once the report is deemed complete, it will be forwarded to the hearing officer, Craig Labadie, who will determine whether it comprises sufficient compensation for Buena Vista's residents.

"It is not the City's intention to unnecessarily or unduly delay the City's processing of the application," Kolling wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to Margaret Ecker Nanda, the attorney representing the Jisser family. "The City intends to comply with the requirements of the PAMC and facilitate a process that would enable the hearing officer to render a decision in an expeditious, efficient, fair and impartial manner."

The city is also requesting that the Jissers include two- and three-bedroom units in their calculation for relocation assistance. While Buena Vista has a few two-bedroom units, its only three-bedroom homes are ones in which the third bedroom was installed illegally, according to the letter. Kolling noted that the city is "compelled to conclude that this situation has occurred with the express or tacit approval of the owner."

The Jissers have offered an $11,000 lump payment to each household for relocation. In the new letter, Kolling once again asks the family how they arrived at this figure.

"Today, the City is still unable to understand how the Owner calculates this sum," Kolling wrote.

The proposal to close Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park has prompted an outpouring of support for residents from local housing advocates and from the surrounding Barron Park neighborhood. The newly formed Buena Vista Mobilehome Park Residents Association had offered to buy the park from the residents but the Jissers had declined their $14.5 million offer.

Comments

Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

They turned down 14.5 mil? I love it when greedy landowners are forced to obey the law. I hope it costs them so much that they regret not taking that offer.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I really dont care if it stays or goes, but I am so sick and tired of the city stepping on peoples toes. The city now needs more time to gather information? this is going to lead to a costly legal battle that we are all going to pay for and lose as the owners run off with millions.


Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm

How about they get nothing. You had a good stay, now it's time to move on. And how about Palo Alto stop allowing all these dense apartment buildings from being built and just rezoning areas on the fly. What a crock! Who said this is ok? I say we revolt and take back Palo Alto. But lets still close/sell the trailer park :)


Posted by nat, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Doesn't the City have to change the zoning to allow the park to be made into luxury apartments? Can the City stop the eviction of the residents and the closing of the park by not rezoning it? Isn't this something the City Council has control over?


Posted by Something like that, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The city does not think this is a democracy and that they can order us all around as if they were dictators and anyone worth less than a billion dollars is just a serf. This is the most feudal place west of the Middle East!

I am so glad to be moving away!


Posted by avjwc, a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Is the city going to come up with some other excuse To reject the next draft? Seems like the city is stalling. Adding comps for 3 bedroom is easy but how can you require the owners get all the residents to fill out the survey? These people clearly don't want to leave and won't be helping the owners by answering surveys.

I agree with Berry, most of these people don't deserve any money when they have enjoyed years of low rent. Only seniors and the disabled should be protected. Everyone else have to pay to live here like I do.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm

> Can the City stop the eviction of the residents and the closing of the park by not rezoning it?

Under state and federal law, the owner has a right to close Buena Vista. Closure of any mobile home park causes hardship for residents. California has laws governing the closure and describes procedures for determining the minimum compensation due to the residents. Many cities, including Palo Alto, have additional laws covering the both the closure as well as the manner in which compensation gets determined.

Palo Alto's ordinance covering the closure does not require a development plan for the site at the time of the closure. As a result, the closure of Buena Vista and any rezoning of the site are separate. The park's owner has not applied for a zoning change because Palo Alto's closure ordinance does not require one. Requiring the site to remain a mobile home park would not be legal. But tying the development of the site to an affordable housing requirement would be, especially if the site were to redeveloped for apartments or other housing. This approach has been used in many other cities in California as a way of mitigating the impact of a mobile home park closure. Unfortunately, the lack of any element tying the closure to future development is one of many flaws in Palo Alto's mobile home ordinance.

Mr Sheyner's writing that the "city attorney has ruled" is perversely amusing but maybe that's just reflective of Weekly's limited legal understanding and a short memory of Palo Alto history. Mr Grant Kolling is Palo Alto's infamous "Enron Guy". Mr Kolling expertise is in energy law. He negotiated the Enron contracts and insisted on the mediation clause.

After Enron imploded to due to fraud, the city was forced into mediation with the remnants of Enron. During the mediation, even though evidence was uncovered by FERC that Enron was guilty of rampant fraud, Mr Kolling agreed to a settlement that required the City to pay Enron $21.5 million dollars. See: Web Link Mr Kolling and others hailed Palo Alto's settlement as a great victory. However, it turned out the FERC evidence supported the widely held belief that Enron was guilty of fraud. No other cities paid Enron, and in all likelihood received some of Palo Alto's money as part of their Enron settlement.

That said, I'm not sure that I share Mr Sheyner's enthusiasm for Mr Kolling's legal judgement.


Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Shut the damn thing already. The left wing City Council has done everything it can to slow the shut down and conversion process to a crawl while a group [portion removed] is trying every tactic to force the owners to not close the trailer park. The residents led the good easy life for many years [portion removed.]
Grow up people, the trailer is ancient, is a fire trap, and for people to continue to live there would need someone to rebuild the electrical, water, and sewer services and tear down half the trailers since building codes would only allow approx. 60 units, and not 107. The owners don't owe anything to these people, just tell them to leave and go. For a change let's get some apartments with high rents that would help pay taxes to the city so PA could continue its high spending left wing ways.


Posted by j7, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

If the new community were housing or townhouses or condominiums the State/City could shake down the developers to require the 10% low income housing. I live in a community that suffered from the 10% low income or "below market rate" as it is called and 90+% of our problems over the decades have come from the residents that live in the affordable housing section.
If the new residences are apartments, the 10% rule is not a requirement.
The current owners have gone out of their way to work with residents and keep them informed and are trying to make their move as easy as possible and it's only the City that is holding it hostage. Why collect surveys from the residents? They have no stake in this, they don't own the land and what they will receive is dictated by law. This is lunacy.


Posted by Hausfrau, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Palo Alto is a city with far too many very, that is VERY expensive high density developments. The Buena Vista, is a low density, and that means less impact on traffic, schools and services than any other use for the property except a park, or nursery. Even a business would generate a traffic impact on the area.

Who are these name calling commentators that are so hostile to requirements that the owners follow existing regulations that have been made clear to them?


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm

As Joe said, different laws govern the closure of Mobile Homes than other types of property.

@Raymond, @Nat - Buena Vista was appraised at $30 million dollars under both the existing zoning or the proposed in zoning - as long as the mobile home is removed.


Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm

This just boils down to greed on the part of the Jissers... disgusting, out and outright greed. There is no empathy in this society for the "have-nots." Only the top 2% of the "haves" seem to enjoy the "pursuit of happiness" at the expense of everyone else, and they are rewarded beyond belief for their greediness. Why does Palo Alto allow for the building of the contaminating, noise-producing, traffic-congesting, and overpriced high-rise condos at the expense of long-term residents who just might not have enjoyed the same kinds of privileges as others? Shame, shame, shame...


Posted by Margaret Fruth, a resident of Ventura
on Oct 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Friends have asked me what can we do to help save the existing low income housing at the Buena Vista Trailer Park. If Measure D fails, it will send a message to other greedy developers that Palo Alto will not double their money by allowing a density bonus at the expense of current residents. Then the owner, & the developer who has incited the owner's greed, might negotiate a fair realistic price to sell to the residents. Keep the kids in the Palo Alto schools! Please vote no on Measure D.


Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

I consider myself a left-winger, environmentalist and always vote democrat. Still I can't understand the logic of people complaining about the owners of the land. They have every right to sell the land at the highest price. Why is that greed?

I agree that its a good goal to keep the residents where they have lived for many years. But why do you think the owners must take a loss for this? you want the park to stay? You pay for it. Let the city of Palo Alto buy the land from the owners at market rate and keep the park as it is. Let all Palo Altans share the cost burden. Its ridiculous to expect the owners to take the loss alone.


Posted by A, a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

I don't get the No on measure D folks. Measure D will not stop developers from closing the mobile park. The owners can always sell the land for low density housing. So instead of apartments, the land can turn into market rate single family homes. That is the opposite of providing low income housing. Same thing will happen at Maybell if measure D fails. The land will turn into expensive single family homes.


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

Measure D is really going to show if ignorance prevails. The land at Maybell has already been purchase for market price. That being said change is going to come. It can no longer remain AS-IS. Its either going to be affordable senior housing (as per want the city wants) or million dollar family homes (the current zoning).

That being said the argument against measure D is in short ignorant. Senior housing will provide more affordability, less traffic and less school congestion for the neighborhood. All the arguments against measure D are either a lie or twisted facts.

So please do not make up your minds by reading one sided blogs, please do the research and vote accordingly.


Posted by the way I see it, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The mobile home park will close. The only point of contention is how much the owner will need to pay the current residents. $11K is a low-ball offer; $50K seems exorbitant, but is the higher end of the going rate for tenants of rent-controlled residences. Undoubtedly they'll negotiate some mutually acceptable figure in-between.


Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm

@B - I don't think you are paying attention to the issues raised by the opponents of measure D.

We're not against affordable senior housing. We are against re-zoning for this purpose. If you look at past projects, all kinds of benefits have been promised in return for rezoning with very little benefits actually showing up. This is just an excuse for higher-density housing of which many are springing up all over the place causing an already unbearable peak hour traffic to get worse.

Apparently you believe the city politicians and the developers are honest and that the opponents are dishonest. Go take a look at Alma Plaza and its history and what "benefits" were actually provided for the in-your-face packed development that even waived setbacks for Miki's market.

The city claims this rezoning is for "keeping families together". Yet they cannot discriminate against residents of other cities in allocating the houses when it is finished. So its clearly not just for palo alto seniors as they claim. Given this it is really foolish to pick as expensive an area as palo alto for low-income housing. Try Santa Clara or sunnyvale or Redwood City.

If the senior housing cannot be built without rezoning, a claim I do not believe, do not subsidize projects on the backs of neighbors and do not rezone. This burdens a small fraction of the population and creates all kinds of traffic problems besides ruining the suburban feel of palo alto. Let all Palo Altans pay for the subsidy. Add a parcel tax to the ballot or a fee. If it doesnt pass, then Palo Altans do not want to subsidize senior housing.

NO Rezoning. There is enough high-density housing sprouting in neighboring cities that will cause traffic problems for us.


Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Even if the tenants can purchase the park for 14.5 million dollars which then afterwards has to be brought up to code. Building and safety coded not to mention other upgrades in the park. I understand that some of the older trailers will not be allowed to return once improvements are made.

Who will pay for all the upgrades and yet such a number of residents will be displaced.


Posted by Maria, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Garrett, the mobile homes all passed state inspection last year. Palo Alto city building codes do not apply to the mobile homes, so nothing needs to be brought up to code.


Posted by Jane , a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Maria. If the city has no jurisdiction over the park. Why on earth do they have a say in its closure? In 2001 the city passed this ordinance knowing it is impacting only one park/ one owner. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen and no state court will back the city's action. I'm only wondering why the owner hasn't sued the city as of yet.


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm

@midtown resident. The way I see it is existing zoning vs new zoning. It's senior housing or 40+ homes. These are the options. Measure D is not about principle but about facts. The senior project is much better than the 40 new million dollar homes


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

@Margaret Furth - per the City website, no zoning change is require for the land at Buena Vista to be worth $30 instead of $14 million, the only requirement for the increase in value is the removal of the mobile home park. The zoning change is required for Prometheus to build apartments, but the land could be used for other types of housing under the existing zoning.

@B - although off topic - a lot of people see a "No" vote on D as a vote against zoning changes, not just this particular change.


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm

@ Palo Alto resident. I do understand that a No on measure D is a principle vote. But all land has a specific use. So new structures are inevitable. maybell is no different. It has a current use and proposed use. The proposed zoning is better than the existing zoning for the neighborhood


It's the same story with the mobile park that people just don't understand. The current zoning works for this landlord. The proposed upzone maybe be a Better fit for the affordable housing, but regardless it's worth $30m with or without the up zone change. It's why the park will close regardless. It's only a question of time and what the new stucture will look like.




Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:07 pm

It is human nature to fight the inevitable. We don't just roll over and die.


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

@B,
The idea that the existing "low-density" zoning at Maybell is somehow worse than a high-density rezone for the densest development in Palo Alto in decades is like telling me your tour bus is less impactful than a compact car, because for sure, the compact car will be a clown car with 45 passengers in it.

Don't fall for it, it won't happen. This is just like the City promising a park and a community center for the people near Alma Plaza. It just ain't true.

You might be surprised to learn that Buena Vista isn't zoned for high density either. I know I was. If the builder had to build under existing zoning there and subdivision rules, they could not put a high-density complex there.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

This property belongs to the jissers.. They have the right to close the place and sell. How many of the people would sell their property at half the assessed value? The real greedy people are cat mom and Margaret furth who refuse to sell their homes and use the money to buy the park from the jissers


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

@Not an issue,
You are right, the property does belong to the Jissers. It's different at Maybell, because PAHC entered into a contract, then decided to ask the City to pony up $7.3million and the county $8million so they could have and develop it. Seems to me that property actually belongs to the taxpayers (according to the loan documents, should the City choose that option, it actually would belong to the taxpayers).

It's a 4 acre property. If the city and county are going to spend that kind of money, why not stop the nonsense at Maybell and go in with the residents of BV instead and purchase the Jisser property for the appraised value? Isn't it interesting that the offer on the table from the residents plus the City and County money at Maybell equals almost exactly $30million? The City and county would know they are saving over 400 low-income spots the next second, they would own half the land, and could put in place a plan so that over time and attrition, they eventually end up with half the property, 2 acres, clear and buildable to develop for more affordable housing.

The Jissers actually sound like decent people and would probably go for something like that if the offer were close to the market value.

Bob Moss or someone else in that campaign is going to come forward with an initiative to curb PC zoning in residential areas soon anyway. The trailer park is RM-15 zoning, not RM-45. That gives another reason to sell to the residents if such an offer came forward. Bird in the hand.


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm

@ Vote against D - This is truly my point. denial of the truth simply doesn't make the issue go away. here are the facts. The city funded the purchase of Maybell with the intentions of building senior affordable housing on it. After the purchase they passed a vote to rezone the property accordingly to allow affordable housing for seniors. The land cost was approx $6.5M an acre.

If measure D passes the city will build a building that houses 60 senior apartments plus 12 townhomes. These homes will be sold at market rate to help fund the senior portion. basically land cost in Palo Alto is so high ($6.5Million an acre) that offset the cost of the affordable homes and land the city will profit on the town homes.

Else if measure D fails, then the city is stuck with the current zoning (NOT the current structures) thus they will unload the land to a developer who will be able to build 40 to 43 homes. These will be sold at $2+Million.

these are the two options. if the homes are built, the families moving in to these homes will be working class families with children. Thus the 43 homes will equal to approx 120 bedrooms which translates to 80 to 100 new cars and children. versus the senior project which will reduce these numbers considerably


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@ Vote against D - interesting enough I like that Idea, take the tenants money plus the money spent on Maybell, give it to the jissers, then use 2 acres to keep the tenants in the mobile home park that actually want to stay and develop the other two.

Someone should put that deal together.


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

@B,
[Portion removed.]

You have been badly misinformed. This is why it was such a shame that the City Attorney didn't deal with the consequences of passing and not passing the Measure in her analysis.

The current zoning on the Maybell site is R-2 low-density single-family residential and RM-15 low-density multifamily residential. The property, technically, as of today October 24, 2013, remains that zoning. The property HAS NEVER BEEN REZONED AS OF TODAY.

When the Council voted on it, city CODE provides that the property is not rezoned for 30 days after the 2nd reading of the ordinance, in order that citizens may referend. You can read that in the staff reports, too. Citizens have the right for any decision like this. When citizens did in fact referend, the ordinance to rezone was NOT ENACTED.

The City Council then, according to city code, had to decide to either set aside the ordinance or put it to the vote of the citizens. They decided to set aside one of their decisions that put the rezoning in the Comprehensive Plan for the first referendum, but put the rezoning itself to the vote for the 2nd referendum. In the meantime, the zoning remains as it was. The property at Maybell has never been rezoned.

MEASURE D IS A VOTE TO EITHER ENACT THE ORDINANCE TO REZONE, OR NOT TO ENACT THE ORDINANCE TO REZONE. PERIOD.

Those who are FOR rezoning, vote for passing Measure D. Those who are AGAINST REZONING from the existing low-density zoning to high-density zoning, vote AGAINST Measure D.

It is possible to build senior housing under the existing zoning if Measure D does not pass. It would just have to be a different plan that was more in keeping with the neighborhood.

If Measure D passes and PAHC does not build, then the property ALSO REVERTS TO THE PREVIOUS LOW-DENSITY ZONING. The PC zoning is only given for a specific application and does not transfer to a new one. If Measure D does not pass, i.e., if voters vote AGAINST it, then the zoning remains what it was before all this started. It remains the current low-density zoning.

You have gotten confused by all the rhetoric, the people who want you to believe the existing low-density "compact car" zoning will for sure be a clown car full of more than a bus load of people.

If AGAINST Measure D succeeds, and the zoning remains as is, neighbors have welcomed PAHC to build the senior housing under that zoning. If they and the City simply spend almost an identical amount of money per unit as was spent at 801 Alma without violating existing zoning, they could afford to do that. This is why neighbors have complained that the City is rezoning in order to pay for the project at their expense - because more than 55% of the project is being upzoned for a market-rate developer and not going for affordable housing, and it's not the difference between having affordable housing or not as we see at 801 Alma (imagine they had built that thing twice as big to make some money!), it's just about saving money through violating the neighborhood zoning and making the neighborhood absorb all the impacts.

PAHC could build almost as many units for seniors there under existing zoning -- in fact the neighbors would have gone for them building the 60 senior units in an honest plan that was JUST the senior housing (some said so in City Hall meetings), had a real safety analysis, and didn't take up 55% of the property with the market-rate upzoned development -- but there's no scenario where such density could be built under existing zoning.

So the two scenarios I am going to compare here are
1)what PAHC could build under the existing zoning for seniors, and
2) what could be built if they sold the property to a market-rate developer, who built UNDER THE EXISTING ZONING. Which is the only option. The PC zoning DOES NOT TRANSFER if PAHC decides not to build. Or if Measure D does not pass, also the zoning remains as is.

Wow, I wish that had been more clear that people who hadn't been so involved in City politics didn't realize that!! (Thank you again!!)

So, 1) PAHC builds under existing zoning for seniors

To build the 41 units under existing zoning counts on two exceptions a market-rate development would not have under existing zoning:
**Bonus density rules that allow a much greater number of units for affordable housing, and
**the City improperly applying the zoning rules. Neighbors are actually willing to let that one slide for affordable housing, because contrary to how they are being portrayed by their opponents, they do in fact support this land use for seniors (just not a plan involving huge violation of zoning). But they would NOT let that slide if a market-rate developer built there, and they have the ability to enforce it in court (and will)

RM-15 is defined as and is supposed to act as a transition zone between disparate zoning densities, in this case between the historic exception of the Tan Apartments which were built under county rules and grandfathered in when it became part of Palo Alto, and the R-1 neighborhood that surrounds. That is why the parcel is RM-15 to R-2 to R-1 all around.

RM-15 is supposed to be 8 to 15 units per acre. When the City talks about what could be built there, it starts with 15 units per acre, adds the affordable housing density bonus, and they have the 41 units.

But the Comprehensive Plan says RM-15 is actually supposed to be on the lower end, meaning, 8 units per acre, when next to R-1 areas, as this property is. PLUS, UNDER EXISTING ZONING, THERE ARE HEIGHT LIMITS, SUCH AS 30 FEET HEIGHT LIMIT, SETBACK, DAYLIGHT PLANE, DENSITY, PARKING AND OTHER IMPORTANT RESTRICTIONS THAT LIMIT WHAT CAN ACTUALLY BE BUILT THERE. (The compact car can only be so big, so you can only have so many passengers)

This property would have to be subdivided, and under the Subdivision Map Act (Govt Code Section 66499.37), the subdivision has to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, i.e., what could really go there under existing zoning, if a market-rate developer built there, is about 16-18 normal-sized houses, and residents can enforce that in court. As Doug Moran pointed out, in residential neighborhoods - rather than the examples the City gave on El Camino and busy corridors where no one was watching - the City has had the opposite problem where builders have wanted to build LESS densely, larger houses, because they make more money that way.

So under existing zoning, should Measure D not be passed and a market-rate developer want to build, they would in fact not be able to put a clown car there! Do not be fooled.

I know it's complicated -- that's city code for you -- If Measure D does not pass, if AGAINST Measure D succeeds, the property would remain its existing low-density zoning.

I hope this clarifies things. Please vote Against D!


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm

@B,
"@ Vote against D - interesting enough I like that Idea, take the tenants money plus the money spent on Maybell, give it to the jissers, then use 2 acres to keep the tenants in the mobile home park that actually want to stay and develop the other two.

Someone should put that deal together."

Sorry for such a long post above, your clarification was an epiphany for me. I hope people have not been arguing over a misunderstanding.

I am totally and completely with you on that someone should put together that deal!! I think many, many people in the neighborhood would, too.


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Dear B,
Lest my long explanation to you above be construed as somehow beginning as hostile because of what was deleted, I just wanted to express to you that the deleted sentence was just my expressing a genuine hand-to-the-forehead-smacking Eureka moment I had to you for clarifying a huge misunderstanding. I said Thank you twice. I do not understand why that was deleted, I think it makes my reply to you sound hostile to start with the 2nd paragraph, and that was not my intention. I think we have some common ground here. (No neighbor-pun intended.)


Posted by B, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Dear vote against D -

Your explanation was nothing short of
Impressive. Thanks for the clarification. I will spend the next few days really reading the details and history. I was ready to vote for it. Now I feel I have much work to do prior to casting my vote. Thanks for the clear explanation and thanks for clarifying the "deleted portion" of your post even though I did not feel it was hostile at all


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

If D passes there is not going to be a square inch of PA that will be safe from up zoning.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm

"B" is also conveniently avoiding the issues of under-parking and that the PAHC wants to build a 50ft high building in a residential neighborhood.

No on D.


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

@B,
I wanted to give you some more reasons that I am against it:

1) Despite active calls from neighbors, and a City policy that calls
for heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute corridors,
the City and the developer failed to do any safety analysis of the
impacts of putting a high-density development right on the two Safe
Routes to School that serve thousands of children traveling to Gunn,
Terman, Bowman and Juana Briones, almost half to the upper schools by
bike and foot. There are no routes in and out of the development
that can avoid those Safe Routes to School. One of them, Maybell, is
a seriously substandard street without room for even one full-width
bike lane or sidewalk. Even though it went through an expensive
safety improvement within the last few years, the medians and stop
signs in front of the school are regularly hit and sometimes knocked
to the ground.

2) The City never prepared an environmental impact report, they
instead prepared a mitigated negative declaration, which included the
following (which you can read in the ordinance under Section 7):
"Sweep surrounding streets daily while contaminated soil is hauled
offsite." The sweeping was deemed necessary to avoid buildup of
contaminated soil on the street and sidewalks. But no provision at
all was made for protecting the small children's playground at Juana
Briones Park right NEXT to those streets and across the street from
the proposed construction. No provision at all was made to protect
the SMALL CHILDREN and their lungs from breathing the contaminated
soil during the construction.

3) The proposed development has only 36 parking spots for residents
of a a 60-unit building (plus 5 for employees, 6 set aside for visitors/disabled -
not 47 parking spots for residents as PAHC seems to claim in their ad)
with apartments twice the size of other similar developments, meaning,
more likely to have 2 residents per unit. The development will only be rental
apartments, not a senior center, and is not walkable to any amenities seniors
need, so residents are more likely to have cars.

Overflow parking will take away the already limited parking in front
of Juana Briones Park and Juana Briones Elementary, on the side of
the school serving the families of disabled children at the county
rehab facility and the OH (where parking is already an issue in the
morning).

The impacts to the park and school were not addressed by the MND.
There is currently a CEQA lawsuit by neighbors over the property, to
my understanding, the traffic and impacts to the park are among the
issues, but I'm not a party to it so I don't know for sure.

4) And sometimes I think I'm the only person who cares about this,
but maybe some people on this list will also understand. I am
bothered that the City is allowing a market-rate development with
tall skinny chimney-like houses like at Miki's Market in the middle
of a residential neighborhood, right across from a long-time school
for the disabled. Children with disabilities use the park daily, and
will have a monument to the City's complete disregard for the
disabled in home construction built right in their faces across the
street. Children at the OH use the park daily. People in
wheelchairs or with mobility problems could never live in homes like
that, probably couldn't even visit, and we have a policy in the
housing element about diversity and inclusivity, but the disabled
seem to not count.

These stovepipe houses seem to be the new standard for home
construction in Palo Alto, and they completely exclude the 10% of the
population with mobility problems for developers short-term financial
advantage. The only reason the market-rate portion of the Maybell
development, which takes more than half the property, is being built,
is so the City and developer can pay less than we usually do for
affordable housing in Palo Alto, through the upzoning of the
residential neighborhood and selling off more than half the property
for an upzoned market-rate development. We've never had to do that
before, it's not necessary now. (The council makes a show of caring
about seniors, when the same amount of money used to help save the
Buena Vista mobile home park in the same neighborhood would save
about 8 times more affordable housing. When I've brought up the
impact to the disabled students at the long-time OH program at Juana
Briones not being addressed, it's like they're deaf. Liz Kniss told
me not to bother bringing it up anymore.)

The Mayor has indicated a willingness to let the property become a
community orchard if someone is willing to purchase the property to
convert it into a community orchard. (Though I wonder about his
sincerity as I knew people actually interested in purchasing it for a
playing field and the City actively put them off and misinformed
them.) The site would actually be perfect for a community orchard,
saving the 100 established fruit trees and the old oaks, and the plan
is to make it fully accessible to people of all abilities, but it's
impossible to raise funds while the property is in controversy.

5) Neighbors have also expressed concern that the City Attorney is
the one who got to write the ballot question and "impartial"
analysis, so neighbors feel it is extremely leading and amounts to
advocacy for the pro Measure D side. The yes/no designations are
confusing, so just to let you know:

If you are AGAINST the low-density to high-density rezoning of
Maybell, you vote AGAINST.
If you are FOR the low-density to high-density rezoning of Maybell,
you vote FOR.

(The rezoning has technically never taken place yet, that's why it's
set up that way.)

One thing relevant to our previous discussion is that PAHC now says all the funds in the City's community affordable housing fund are gone now, presumably for this property. Let me ask you: given all the needs we have, is this really the best way for us to spend those dollars to provide for low-income residents? We would be saving far more low-income residents if we instead spent the money at Buena Vista.

Please Vote Against D, if only for this: if AGAINST wins, neighbors have said they are willing to accept a 41 to 60-unit senior complex at that location, if done under or closer to the existing zoning. This has never been for them about rejecting affordable housing. Many of the same neighbors were involved in the Terman working group that managed to save the property at Terman for the school AND give us the 92-unit Terman affordable apartments in the same neighborhood as the Maybell property, and have asked publicly for such a working group again for this property but were ignored. The City and PAHC have proceeded as if the neighborhood is beside the point; even Larry Klein said he'd never seen so much "stonewalling" from an applicant. If yes wins, there will be no negotiating -- the battles will only continue in court.


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