News

Palo Alto seeks consultant for traffic-reduction programs

Palo Alto looks for help in forming Transportation Management Association, expanding shuttle services

Palo Alto is preparing to solicit proposals this month for a consultant who would help the city form a Transportation Management Association, an organization that would manage downtown's traffic-reduction efforts.

The new association is among the most ambitious proposals in the city's multi-pronged approach to treating downtown's parking shortage, a topic that has emerged over the past two years as a leading City Council priority. The association would be charged with marketing and coordinating new transportation programs aiming to get cars off the road. These would include new shuttle services, provision of Caltrain Go Passes to downtown workers and various car-share and ride-share services.

According to an informational report from Jessica Sullivan, Palo Alto's parking manager, the city is planning to release a request for proposals in mid-April for a consultant to help develop the new agency. The consultant's duties will include selecting a steering committee of stakeholders (this will include downtown businesses, residents and city officials), community outreach, development of the association's formal structure and data collection.

The report states that the association is envisioned to be self-sufficient by its third operating year, at which point it would be managing and marketing transportation services for downtown as well as potentially other parts of the city. The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to consider this report Wednesday night.

In addition, the city recently released a request for a proposal for a provider of new shuttle services. The proposal includes the existing city-run Crosstown Shuttle and eight suggested routes, including one on Embarcadero Road that would help serve a new satellite parking lot east of Highway 101. The West Shuttle Route would provide services between South Palo Alto and Stanford Shopping Center, while the California Avenue Business Noontime Shuttle would link Stanford Research Park with the business district during the lunch hours. Other shuttles would link East Palo Alto with the University Avenue Caltrain station and ferry drivers between downtown and the Fremont BART station. The city has also proposed an "open air trolley" that would run from University Avenue to Stanford Shopping Center during summer months.

The request for proposal also invites shuttle providers to propose their own routes.

In addition to these transportation-demand-management policies, the city is also looking at ways to increase supply. Last year, the city instituted a valet program at the Alma/High Street garage to accommodate more cars. A similar program is being considered for the City Hall garage, according to Sullivan's report.

Officials are also planning to build a new downtown garage, a project that would be supported by funds from a hotel-tax increase voters will be asked to approve in November.

The staff report also notes that the city is developing several requests for proposals for "garage-technology updates, including parking guidance systems and revenue access controls." As part of this process, staff will also consider having paid on-street parking, the report states.

Comments

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Posted by Real purpose
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

Its most important function is to increase the bureaucracy and the City Manager's kingdom.
The staff is now a consultant-managing uber-organization.
Give that man another raise!


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Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

Thanks to the Daily Post, taxpayers know what our City staff is paid, and it is handsome, with city managers claiming generous pay scales are needed, in order to hire and retain qualified people. So why is it for almost every issue, Council hires more and more highly paid outside consultants?

Can't staff handle the issues, leaving their offices, going out and talking with people, seeing the problems, then brain-storming solutions that will benefit the majority, together at staff meetings? Is that not how a city is to work? Or is it not a City Council that, with its finger on the pulse of what is going on in their community, would come up with ideas themselves?

Perhaps I am still living in the Old Days, when salaries were fair for everyone and staff did the job for which they were hired.

After retirement, Palo Alto staff goes to neighboring cities to solve problems, (double-dipping, Daily Post news-story yesterday). One would think there were NO qualified people in the outside world to do these jobs.
What is staff paid to do? What is council elected to do?


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

Don't hire another high paid consultant to tell you the obvious. Stop the endless building of new condominiums, townhouses, hotels, and apartments. Too many people, same old streets. Does not take a genius to figure that out.

And the bike lanes, Cal trail passes and ride share are just nonsense.

And stop decreasing lanes on existing streets like the city did last year for Arastadero. It has caused a traffic nightmare going to the freeway and especially coming back and turning left at El Camino. After school it takes more than 20 minutes to turn left because of the concrete islands and two lane street. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by SallyAnnRudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

I will merely point out that building more parking garages only makes the job of an agency charged with "getting cars off the road" even more difficult and is going to increase traffic congestion problems beyond the unliveable levels we currently suffer.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Ermmm, don't we already have City staff who are supposed to look after traffic, parking, etc.? Why do we need another consultant. City staff should be doing this already as part of their job description.

We need the work done by the people we already have, not a new department. This should be a top priority and it should be in progress now.


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Posted by Hey, it's an opportunity!
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Hey, instead of being pessimistic, look at this as a job opportunity! If you think you can make a positive difference, you should apply to become the highly paid consultant. Somebody's going to get the job. Might as well be you!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Is it any wonder that there is a "traffic problem" in and around Palo Alto?!! The wonder is that the City has allowed such rampant development without due thought or measures to mitigate and ease the situation in the first place. Now that the traffic (as well as the parking) has reached critical mass, a search is underway to find some genius to fix the sins of the past. Might I suggest that before spending gobs of money for that endeavor, that the City take a good hard and honest look at itself and practices to date? Shop in your own closet before going out and blowing a whole lot of tax payers money on hiring someone else when that may not be necessary. Oh yea, and start acting more responsibly when it comes to new development.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm

@ Honor,
I agree. Instead of hiring someone else, how about replacing the people who have been telling us that every new development would have "no impact" on traffic?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 9, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Our money would be better spent buying the City Councilmembers bikes and bus passes, and requiring them to give up their cars for the next few months. Oh, and requiring them to make their way to work by making the rounds through South Palo Alto every day, too (the part of town where they are dumping density). Nothing spurs innovation like a frustrated user.

Here they are telling the families with kids who have to make a run to Costco on the way home from work in the rain and dark, or the worker having to get their cancer treatment in the middle of the day, that they should be giving up their cars, but they themselves have dedicated parking spots under City Hall.

Boston public transit was like a giant concrete urinal until Gov Michael Dukakis took the T to work everyday. Then things changed.


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Posted by ThisSoundsFamiliar
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

And a nice big and oh so innovative report will be made, passes and shuttles to go with - and then the whole thing will be in place to JUSTIFY the next round of office development and oh yes, the dense housing that we just must have to meet regional and state requirements because - you bet - so many people need to come to Palo Alto to work! Now how did that happen? Well, it's the Circle of Development that our special-interst council loves us to live in and know is best for us. Now mind you, if we don't do all this Palo Alto will loose its vibrancy and fall into a death spiral of decline...


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

And the ridiculous free-spending city strikes again. I'm sure the merchants are dying to reduce traffic and shopping. But no problem, just raise the Utility bills. Again.

How about we block off every street, every driveway. And make sure to add more buildings and denser developments that people will telecommute to on their broomsticks!

One bike fanatic told a PROFESSIONAL that he should only work within walking distance. The fanatic was a BARRISTA who's paid a pittance to lobby for all bikes/pedestrians all the time nonsense.


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Posted by Palo Alto Grandma
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

The solution to the current traffic/parking problem is obvious - stop adding new office space. That will also help with the housing problem. The more jobs Palo Alto adds, the more housing ABAG will demand that we build, and the cycle goes on until the city is in permanent gridlock. It is now only possible to actually move around Palo Alto between about 10 - 11 am, and between 1 and 2 pm. Outside of those hours the streets are full. The drivers of the cars are frustrated, speed, drive recklessly on their way to work and make Palo Alto streets an extremely unpleasant place to be. I don't even dare bicycle any more.

And increasingly residential streets are being used to avoid traffic. I live on a street which is anything but a direct route to anywhere, and we still have people racing down the streets to avoid the Embarcadero traffic lights at Newell and Middlefield.


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Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

You hit the nail on the head, Palo Alto Grandma! Look at what is happening in Menlo Park, where they are resisting more office space on El Camino, because they know it will bring more ABAG mandated housing.

My husband bikes to work in Menlo Park and the stories he tells me about getting to work are hair-raising. At some point he too will start driving and become part of the problem instead of the solution, because the traffic is just too dangerous.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm

@Palo Alto Grandma

I'm curious then, what do you do when offices continue to hire more people within the current amount of office space, more or less just reducing the space per employee, as they have been doing? Should we ban them from doing that?


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I have to stop reading the newspapers to keep down my blood pressure. This council is SO BAD it is ridiculous. We have thousands of highly paid staff - reportedly most of whom don't even live here, and the Transportation Department has been 'out to lunch' for a lonnnng time. Don't hire another consultant!! Previous ones have made some bad errors. This council just doesn't listen to the growing rage out in the 'hoods'. Stop building office space, apartments, condos, townhouses.. We don't have the room. We sure won't have the WATER with Stanford's also massive expansion.. We won't have enough schools. Traffic is so bad now - north-south and east-west. The For years Transportation Department has made a mess of many arterials. (It sure does know how to paint intersections with gaudy green and yellow paint.) Let us hope the next election can reverse this disaster.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm

The real problem is that this is not a Palo Alto issue, but a regional problem. Mountain View and Menlo Park have traffic problems too. Piecemeal band aids will not fix the problem.

To do this well we have to look at it working with our neighbors to the north and to the south. Palo Alto residents work in Menlo Park and Mountain View just as much as they work in Palo Alto. Palo Alto workers live in Menlo Park and Mountain View, etc. Putting in shuttles that stop at the borders of Mountain View and Menlo Park will only frustrate those that live just a bit further away.

How about a shuttle that runs the length of Middlefield from Mary to downtown Redwood City? How about another that runs along the length of Central Expressway, along Alma and up Sand Hill (oops that means fixing the intersection with ECR - a bonus)? How about a shuttle that runs from the Page Mill/280 intersection to PA Airport? How about a luxury shuttle bus from Castro Street to both SFO and SJC - people drive to these places every day just to drop/off and pick someone up, a trip to Castro Street would be much more efficient and keep traffic off 101!


Rather than each City having its own Traffic Team - there should be one team for all this area. Unless these Cities work together, I strongly doubt anything worthwhile will occur. Commuters travel from one City to another - wake up and get the Cities to innovate some out of the box solutions.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm

"It is now only possible to actually move around Palo Alto between about 10 - 11 am, and between 1 and 2 pm. Outside of those hours the streets are full. T"
This is another of the gross exaggerations the permeate any thread dealing with traffic. Really? Only 2 hours a day when you can move around the city. Ridiculous. Have you considered what the up,side of all this traffic means?


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Posted by Good Grief
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

OY! Another million dollar outside consultant paid for courtesy of the generous Palo Alto taxpayers. Why are we continuing to hire City of Palo Alto six-digit salaried full time employees masquerading as managers if every single issue requiring an educated thought process is automatically referred to outside consultants. It would seem that even City Council has no confidence in the City Manager and his staff as every city issue results in consultant hiring followed by blue-ribbon committee diagnosis followed by no action. Perhaps we should eliminate the City Manager position, save ourselves money, and hire a contract consultant who has the capability of making educated decisions on city issues. Obviously our money is not being well spent on current city staff. It is time to think outside of the box and get rid of deadwood holding our city back.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Since 1960, I have observed quite a few changes in Palo Alto. I have been making this case for a while - and Grandma post and I are of like minds. City council must pass a moratorium on any future commercial office space. We can always revisit this issue if times change. We either reelect those city council members who support this moratorium or campaign and elect a slate of new members who will. Who's with me!? Let's do this.

Home owners - we don't have to worry. Our housing values are good. With less dense housing built in Palo Alto (condos and apartments), there will be more demand to buy our homes when we cash out and retire to the Pacific Northwest (what Palo Alto use to look and feel like in the 60s-70s) or a place of your choice. We can keep upgrading our places or knocking down our older homes and replace with larger new ones - we know in most cases we pay for the land not the home we bought (beginning in the 80s).

As noted, more commercial businesses equal more jobs which equals more traffic and possible mandates for denser housing (condos and apartments). Palo Alto should be a place to live, not work. For those who currently have both, great for them. We have enough wealth. Stanford will always be here. We already have an oversupply of start-ups, venture capitalists, and law offices - the triad of Silicon Valley economics. We are losing our quality of life every year. Of course, I saw this process beginning in 1982-84. Naturally, that was relative to the calm of the 60s-70s in Palo Alto. And friends of mine who graduated from Paly in the Early 40s said, "you should have seen Palo Alto then: "middlefield" road was literally the middle of a field! However, we really have reached a point of only building up - not out. Density is not the answer and more traffic has finally hit the saturation point to cause (thankfully) a new political activism by the quiet majority in Palo Alto.

We can make our town more like Los Altos Hills, Atherton, and Woodside in terms of a place to live, not work. And by extension, make this a better place to live in (quality of life) while growing our housing values, too.





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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 6:43 pm

PA native-- [Portion removed.] Where do you think the revenue will come from if you kick all business out of town? Should we start by shuttering the Stanford shopping center? What about all,the revenue from people that come for the football games?
Can the council actually pass a moratorium on office space?will it stand up in court?
Be careful,what you wish for-- you do not want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg


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Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Palo Alto is renting too much space to high tech firms. What will happen if the high tech industry decides to move to, say, Texas, or another state that has lower taxes and is more business friendly? Palo Alto could become another Detroit, because we relied too much on high tech to fuel our economy. It's never good to put all your eggs in one basket.


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Posted by Enough is Enough
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Palo Alto Native and Grandma: You are dead on - Palo Alto is bursting at the seams and continuing to add more businesses and high-density housing will not make our town a more desirable place to LIVE. As a fellow native, I too see what a different place Palo Alto is becoming, and it's not just because of "progress." 20 years ago Palo Alto was considered to be "built-out," which is part of what drives the high price of homes - there is no more land. Replacing Single Family Residential, open space, and parks with high-density housing and more commercialism is not going to make this a nicer place to live - it's going to make it the next San Jose - and neighboring towns with more sense will become the best places to live.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm

@Rupert of henzau - How much does office space really drive revenue for the city? Retail provides some sales tax revenue, but office space, especially if it displaces retail, is probably a net loss to the city once you factor in all the negative strual impacts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2014 at 5:18 am

[Portion removed.]

Mr recycle- what about the money these office workers spend In the city?


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

There is no need for a consultant. Stop allowing developments, both residential and commercial that increase the population density. Palo Alto is totally saturated and has already been grossly overdeveloped. We don't need any more office buildings and we don't need an even greater population density.


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Posted by Carole
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:10 am

This is ridiculous! Hiring someone to fix the bad decisions made by our city council. The city council should not have let this mess happen in the first place.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

The traffic is happening now and this needs to be fixed now. Hiring another body when we already have one is outrageous.

Having said that, we could theoretically stop building more homes and offices, but that won't fix a problem we already have. More homes are on the cards already and as for offices, there is no way of regulating how many people work in the office space we already have. The current trend is to get away from cubicles to work spaces in large communal areas so we are going to get more workers into existing space.

Working with neighbors in other cities to address traffic is the most sensible option. People cross city boundaries a couple of times a day including weekends for all sorts of reasons. Thinking of this as a Palo Alto problem/fix isn't going to solve it.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

This is as absurd as a person who keeps getting mugged because he walks alone at night in crime infested neighborhoods hiring a consultant to figure out why he keeps getting mugged. The reason for the bad traffic problems is bad decisions and judgement by the current and a succession of previous city councils who have allowed Palo Alto to be grossly overdeveloped and overpopulated.


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Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

It is true that this is a regional problem, and due to overbuilding of office space that brings in commuters from all around the Bay Area.

The Mountain View city council continues to authorize more office space to be built within the Microsoft/Google corridor, while traffic is backed up mornings until 10AM and evenings from about 4PM-7PM with cars, bumper to bumper, even now.

They are trying to fit another multistory story office building to house an additional 1500 employees soon, all the while, not making any changes to the configuration of Shoreline Avenue. The ripple effect is a back-up on Highway 101 and on 85.

What is ironic is I understand retired Palo Alto employees are double-dipping in Mountain View's Transportation Dept, this while they could not solve our Transportation problems, by even using common sense.

Taxpayers in the region lose, one way or the other. I agree that reading newspapers is depressing and raises ones blood pressure. What can we do?


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

First, thanks to Enough is Enough and Boscoli for their like-minded support on beginning the process to prevent additional commercial space development in Palo Alto. Future development means increased traffic and pressure for dense housing. Moreover, thanks too for Enough is Enough reminding Rupert on the importance to use this forum for a lively but respectful discourse - that's the spirt of Palo Alto I recognize. And though I may respectfully disagree with some, I appreciate their help in sharing multiple lenses on complex challenges facing our city. In fact, opposite view points help me develop public policy proposals that try to assuage fears of change or unintended consequences. Hence, my response to some of those concerns below:

Rupert: preventing "additional" development is not advocating removing existing employers. Will be be just fine, even if we returned to 1990 levels of office space demand. However, given Stanford's Research and Development presence plus the proximity of Venture Capitalist Way on Sandhill and downtown Palo Alto (they love being clustered in terms of building trust based on past mutual successes and putting together funding packages), there will always be demand for our office space inventory. And of course, for those that may forget life in the Midwest, South, and Northeast - we have the absolute best weather in the world (in terms of those regions having horrific heat and humidity in the Spring/Summer or Ice/Snow in the Winter). Formerly resentful, I now totally understand why my native California is the most populous state in the union. Knowing what I now know, if the shoes were reversed, I would move here for the weather first and job second: again, quality of life over quantity of life.

Office workers who spend money in Palo Alto are indeed a benefit. However, part of the benefit only comes from firms in Palo Alto that serve those office workers - not just office space rentals. In contest, owners of commercial real estate generally go where the money is. Thus, this explains the trend we have been reading about to not renew a lease for a bookstore, cafe, art store, exercise store, non-profit store, speciality shop. Instead, they lease their space at two to three times the income to another technology related firm. In short, if the trend continues, there will be fewer and fewer places to spend office worker money. And those that do exist will be expensive and crowded.

Your Stanford Shopping Center concern: I remember when the Stanford shopping center was in its infancy. No, am not advocating removing its presence either. Stanford has done very well leasing that space and creating/leasing industrial parks, too. In fact, I am so glad Stanford is here. Otherwise, we would already have dense housing all the way to 280 and on the other side, too.

The Stanford Stadium/Football draw: as a long term loyal Stanford Indian (and former employee), I certainly embrace Stanford football (since 1960) and encourage their continued success. I really miss the old stadium (lots of family memories) but the new smaller venue provides two pluses: first, great views any where you sit and second, we can not host future Superbowl's, Olympics, or other events requiring larger seating capacity. Thus, less one day or weekend traffic potentials. Thanks to you, I finally now see an "upside" to the downsizing of my former favorite stadium. As a side note, I am especially proud of our recent two back to back Rose Bowl appearances. I still remember meeting Jim Plunkett on the Stanford football field after yet another victory and hearing those names: another completion to Randy Vataha and Gene Washington! What years! And I miss Timm Williams, Aka, Prince Lightfoot. Sorry for the trip down memory land. Thanks for your indulgence.

Can the city council limit office space: Yes, a city council can make a decision to not approve additional office space applications. Just like they have done the opposite by changing zoning areas for more multi-use development or providing height waivers in exchange for some "public benefit." The Golden Goose is just fine. As much as I'd like to return to calmer days of Palo Alto, I reluctantly accept the existing density, want no more, or would be happy to see some firms move to other communities (especially the East Bay and East Palo Alto). If we suffered some loss, I would welcome less traffic, more parking, and frankly less people who sometimes lose their kindness in an environment with too many people per square mile. Just a few years ago (1940s), most Palo Altains took the train to the "City" (SF) for work and we did just fine. Now, I know I can not return to those days (the secret of Palo Alto is out of the bag), but I certainly do not want to continue to lose the quality of our lives to overdevelopment: for those that live here, and those future Palo Altains that will buy here or inherent their parents home.

To my fellow Palo Altain in Old Palo Alto: I agree. A business mix of firms (technology and others) has the same sound management approach as a mixed investment portfolio. Following passage of a proposal to halt further commercial applications, the next phase is to protect and promote retail space for art, exercise, bookstores, non-profits, unique shops and others. We've lost lots of Palo Alto culture to the office space demand placed by technology firms. This of course has complex legal complications relative to free-enterprise but we could explore how other cities - across the nation - have created public policies to protect a diversity of services written in such a way to pass legal challenges. You are so right, It's never good to put all our eggs in one basket.

To my Resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood: I agree, bringing in an outside consulting firm is not sound. Use our existing personnel to research best practices by other cities across the nation (and outside the US). They can make a recommendation(s) following by public input designed to steer the council in a direction that we approve - before they cast votes. For example, just like the public pressure that caused a rethink of widening sidewalks in Palo Alto.

I however must disagree with respect to more homes in the pipeline and regulating how man people work in an office space. Whatever has been approved may not be reversed but the latests collection of articles indicate much greater density planned for the Fry's Electronic location and other areas. We must make sure those are stopped. Second, a city council can regulate the number of people allowed to live in a private home just like they can regulate the number of employees allowed in a working space (either as a part of a maximum capacity in a building structure) or an effort to close a loophole around this (and other efforts) designed to reduce the number of future employees working in Palo Alto. Thank you for your insight on high tech firms continuing to squeeze out every bit of creative juice to the 20 to 30 somethings by a trend to not provide office space or cubicles under the rubric of encouraging collaborative business solutions in product design and marketing. I sit here in my private and quiet office and become even more thankful of the generation I am from. However, conference rooms with lots of white boards are still a good place to network solutions and new product designs.

I agree: this is a regional problem. Some mutual agreements between cities can be achieved but they tend to center on public transportation. I would encourage pushing out the success of Silicon Valley to other parts of the country and the East Bay. We have enough wealth. There should be multiple Silicon Valleys all throughout the nation (and world). Thus, if we lost just 5% of our employers (and possible peninsula residents), I would be thrilled. Even up to 20% would be fantastic. I would however sympathize with those who have to move to Dallas, Chicago, Detroit (oh God), Baltimore, and say New York City for work after having been exposed to our great weather and comparatively less crime.

And to my Longtime Resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood: What can we do? Plenty. City council members are sensitive to this growing resentment on overdevelopment. Power in politics is information, first. As any movement becomes more visible (and more importantly sustainable), the arguments put forward by concerned Palo Altains arm public officials with vote-getting choice options. If the city council will not represent their constituents, we can force a stop on commercial development by a referendum vote (just like the Maybell issue). Of course, council members would then run the risk of not being reelected or leaving office under a legacy of low voter approval. So, a referendum vote is not always required. But we are coming up against powerful commercial development interests. However, their mantra of "let us build and bring more tax revenue to your city" no longer holds our imagination especially with the real prospect of becoming a San Jose or San Francisco. We are lucky we have a highly educated and thus critical thinking group who are less susceptible to simplistic arguments on the benefits of development and progress.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

@Palo Alto Native, I'm in complete agreement with you that the city council can, and should, regulate how many people can live in one household. New residents from other cultures in which it is customary to have an extended family (grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, even uncles and aunts) live in the same house. Such an extended family happens to live on my block, they have at least eight cars between them-one household!! and at least twelve residents. Think of the extra traffic on just this one block that such a household is creating. Such households are becoming more and more common in Palo Alto and constitute a major population over-density trigger.

We should not try to attract more high-tech companies to Palo Alto, we already have many, we don't have the space and infrastructure to accommodate them, we already have a tremendous concentration of wealth while other parts of the country suffer great economic hardship. The same goes for commercial development, we just don't need anymore, while other parts of the country and California need them badly, and again, we don't have the space and infrastructure to accommodate them.

Our quality of life and preserving what's left of our good air and relative tranquility should be the top priority of the city council, not extra development and increase in population density which we just can't allow to continue or Palo Alto will be lost forever.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:35 pm

If the City of Palo Alto has to hire a traffic consultant, then it should fire staff of comparable cost who clearly aren't doing their jobs.


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Posted by Wholly Moley
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2014 at 11:31 am

"city managers claiming generous pay scales are needed, in order to hire and retain qualified people."

With very mixed results, in my observation.

Anyhow, wouldn't it be ironic if our new traffic reduction consultant drives to work?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

There are many wonderful, innovative, ideas about traffic and transit on many threads on the Almanac, MV Voice and this Town Square Forum. Is anybody in authority reading and taking note of the out of the box ideas being generated?


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

@ Boscoli,

Great points. I totally agree. I will look into what are Palo Alto limits are for household occupancy numbers. Therefore, once the city ordinance number is confirmed, then one can call local police in response to a complaint about a neighbor violating a household occupancy city ordinance. This will become more and more important as two factors take place in Palo Alto. First, as long as rental rates rise, there will be a natural economic tension to rent homes to one person who will try to sublet to a larger number of people to keep their personal cost to a minimum. This issue has gone down with respect to Stanford graduate students now that Stanford (for the past 8 years) went on a major campaign to build more on campus graduate housing. That population rightly complained that Stanford had an obligation to provide for campus housing given the ever increasing rates to rent in Palo Alto and the smaller and smaller supply. The young professionals are the next group now struggling with this gap. They have degrees but their starting salaries (even at 60K a year) does not go far if the average rent of a one bedroom cottage is between 2k-2,500. And that's if you can find one.

Second, I have noted a huge influx of Chinese and other Asians (Indians, Korean) in the last thirty-five years in Palo Alto. For example, when I went to high school in Palo Alto we had about a 4% Asian population on campus. Today, it is 43% Asian according to PAUSD own public numbers. [Portion removed.]

Last, I agree: allow no more rental office space or building of apartments and condos. That's how we begin to save our town. Good honest discussions on what is really happening in Palo Alto today...


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm

@Palo Alto Native

What about the Americans, and native Palo Altans, that are converting garages into living spaces, and living with extended families all in the same home? Would you propose an across the board rule, or one that just applies to Asians?


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Posted by Disgusted
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Delusional
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Note how craig refuses to address the claims thatbthe has made--- neighbor pitted against neighbor over BMR units, is but one example. Instead , he demands information that has no bearing on the matter at hand. Claiming that he does not want to be " distracted" from the CT project thread is more " ignore the hypocrisy ofthe poster". Not the first time he has used this sorry technique to deflect ridicule from his positions. My real name and address are nt any of your business.
Craig also forgets that we live in America. Here a landlord can charge whatever he wants for his property. Same as when you buy on sale at a store. Have you ever bought anything on sale, Craig? Don't you think that is welfare?


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Posted by Delusional
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Whoops.posted above on wrong thread
Should be on:
Web Link


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Posted by High Cost of Free Parking
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

I think the most promising sentence in the artilce is the last:

"As part of this process, staff will also consider having paid on-street parking, the report states."

As long as the City continues to give away parking for free the problem will never be solved.


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Posted by Traffic counts
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Make sure the traffic measurements are done by Horizon (sp?) so they can again count traffic when school is out, and Stanford counted during semester break.
Gotta love those leaches.


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Posted by Disgruntled commuter
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I drive in each day from 280 to University Ave via Sand Hill Road. Each day I marvel at what seems to be an effort to frustrate your average driver as well as waste huge amounts of fuel, and finally make it a less safe commute. Each time cars come to a stop all of the above take place. In the next city to the north, Redwood City with a similar road, Highway 84, between El Camino and highway 280 in rush hour you can often travel the entire length with one or two of the red lots impeding your trip. 280 to University Ave is the opposite. Almost every day I stop at each stop light, sit idling my car while sometimes not one driver or pedestrian crosses the road. Is this traffic disruption to encourage the use of public transit or is this incompetence? I read that the entire LA basin has timed lights, why do we put up with the overpaid egg heads who think that they know much better how to put the peoples roads to use. We own these roads and should fire all who would impede traffic for what ever hair brained reason.


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Posted by No problem
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Just hire the same traffic consultsnts who worked on Maybell. They measured the traffic when school was out.
Result: No Problems!


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Posted by Dopey
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jul 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

Another waste of funds to tell the powers that be what all of us already know, and have been telling them free of charge for years now.

What a bunch of dopes!


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

Yea!! Let's get the same consultant that decided to convert Charleston and Arastradero Road into one lane!


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