News

New condos planned for El Camino site

Palo Alto's architecture board lauds proposal to add density in Barron Park neighborhood

A pair of three-story buildings that are slated to go up on a vacant lot in the Barron Park neighborhood have some area residents fretting about the visual impacts and proposed density of the El Camino Real development.

The city's Architectural Review Board, which on Thursday morning got its first look at 4146 El Camino Real, had no such concerns, with members arguing that more density is exactly what the area needs.

Pitched by Su Chen Juan and Chung Chiun Jan and designed by prolific architect Ken Hayes, the new three-story development would consist of 21 condominiums and one level of underground parking. The development would be located near Maybell Avenue, east of the Barron Square condominiums and across the street from Starbucks, Subway and other small businesses that line the commercial thoroughfare.

Though the project is still in the early stages of Palo Alto's planning process, it got off to a promising start Thursday morning when members of the architecture board supported the applicant's bid to build at a higher density than existing zoning allows. The developer is proposing rezoning the site from RM-15, which would accommodate up to 11 residential units, to RM-30. Though their purview was largely limited to design and architecture, board members generally agreed that with housing in short supply, El Camino is a logical area for accommodating more density.

"I think higher density is really important," Chair Lee Lippert said. "We're looking for housing sites throughout the city. We're struggling."

Vice Chair Randy Popp concurred and pointed to the regional mandate that the city is facing to provide more housing. Popp lauded the project for bringing in new units while controlling their potential negative consequences.

"I think it's really a great idea to increase the density and take every advantage of opportunity to provide housing," Popp said.

One issue of contention revolves around a pathway between the new condominiums and neighboring residences. City planners want to see better connectivity, including a new path for bicyclists and pedestrians. Neighbors have opposed this proposal, city officials said, with some arguing that increasing foot traffic could bring problems, such as vandalism, to the neighborhood.

The board sided firmly with city planners. Board members Alexander Lew, Clare Malone Prichard and Lippert all said they would like to at least see plans for new connections, if not actual implementation, so that the new condominiums would not preclude future construction of bike paths. Popp took it a step further and argued that an improved connection should be a condition of approval. The amenity, he said, "will make the neighborhood better."

"It's a connection between neighborhoods, and I think that's good for everybody," Popp said.

The board also criticized some design aspects of the proposal, including a plan to build the new condominiums on a 4-foot podium, or grade. Several board members, including Lew and Lippert, said 4 feet is too high and suggested an elevation of 2 feet. Board member Robert Gooyer criticized the design of the buildings as "too repetitive" and encouraged more variation. Because this was a preliminary review, the board didn't vote on the project, which will return with revisions at a later date.

The board heard from several speakers who live at Barron Square. Jeff Eustis said the developer should provide a simulation to neighbors that would show the visual impact of the new buildings to existing residences.

"I believe the board and community need additional information to make a decision and the proposed application should be supplicated," Eustis said

Ruth Lowy, who also lives at Barron Square, wondered whether the proposed buildings would be too dense for the area. She noted that the buildings would be located at a 0.75-acre site.

"I really feel it's a dense project for such a small parcel of land," Lowy said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Come November, just make sure to remember which incumbent councilmembers vote to approve the upzoning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Seems to me that most of the Peninsula and South Bay Area has the good sense to keep apartments, condos and townhouses off the main El Camino.

The thing with Palo Alto is that the residential areas do not want non-single-family-dwellings mixed in with them. Who would really want to look out their front window and see El Camino, yet Palo Alto is doing it all over the El Camino.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Why are all these large projects always being upzoned? Because the developers know they will be approved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I am informed by staff that if this increase in zoning is approved from 11 to 21 units, then 10 fewer units would be needed in the new Housing Element.

My understanding from the press coverage is that this development would have 42 parking spaces and a 20 foot setback.

As a choice among alternatives for the new Housing Element, might this not be a better choice?

The city council does not get to put 0 units in the Housing Element. They are going to put the required number of sites in the plan. The choice is which ones.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A better idea
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

How about this crazy idea: build to the current zoning.

Palo Alto should just boycott/withdraw from ABAG already. With Palo Alto refusing to participate, they'd quickly lose what little legitimacy they are clinging to. The Housing Element is a smokescreen for the city to give away density gifts to its developer friends.

They all need to be voted out. Then in 2016, Kniss and Berman need to go as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

The state HUD representative was asked by Marin County folks what would happen if they dropped out of ABAG.

He said that then he would assign the required planning target to Marin cities and it would probably be higher than ABAG assigned.

From what I know the same result would occur if PA pulled out of ABAG.

This is a state law and requirement. The Housing Element is not like Maybell where the city made a discretionary action that could be overturned by a vote.

It is time for residents to understand the difference between legal zoning and legal requirements and where discretion is allowed.

This idea that voting out the council or dropping out of ABAG will eliminate future housing is a fantasy. Better in my opinion to be involved in shaping the choices that are on the table in the Housing Element update.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm

So what would HUD do, condemn Mitchell Park?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

My bad. I meant HCD not HUD.

I am not an attorney but my understanding is that illegal actions by the PA council would open the city to large private lawsuits and a waste of taxpayer money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Doesn't Stephen Levy consult for ABAG?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Yes in the past I was a consultant to ABAG.

That is how I happened to be at the meeting where the state HCD representative explained to the Marin County folks what would and would not happen if they withdrew from ABAG.

I provided projections to 2040 for the regional growth plan and had nothing to do with the housing planning targets for the region or cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Measure D Part II, the sequel...coming to a ballot near you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voter
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Id love a measure d2.

Advice to the Barron park folks: if you referend this latest soon to be rubber stamped developer giveaway, please carry recall petitions as well for the 2016 incumbents. My signing hand will be sore.

And to Mr. Levy: the threat of having yet another set of unelected bureaucrats trying to force us to overbuild is no reason to keep ABAG around.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sophistry
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Steve Levy says he, "provided projections to 2040 for the regional growth plan and had nothing to do with the housing planning targets for the region or cities."

I thought that Levy's projections for the regional growth plan were input that were used to develop the housing planning targets for the cities after the state assigned ABAG its region's total housing target.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ sophistry

You are wrong.

I have explained this maybe six times now.

The regional housing target was given to ABAG by the state BEFORE the projections I was involved in were known.

And posters should give up this "unelected bureaucrats" nonsense.

The ABAG decisions are voted on by members who are elected officials from the cities and counties.

This is like calling the members of the Senate Finance Committee who are elected senators appointed to the committee " unelected bureaucrats"

For an intelligent group of residents, you cling to some strange and incorrect notions.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm

You can find an argument to justify any upzoning; some arguments are worthier than others.

Independent of the merits of 4146 El Camino or any other individual case, I think it's it's noteworthy that the current Architectural Review Board -- as far as I can tell, anyway -- agrees with nearly EVERY upzoning proposal that comes before them.

How can this be? One hypothesis is that developers are so disciplined that they only bring the worthiest of upzoning proposals to the ARB, each with only the greatest community benefit to offset the unavoidable negative consequences of increased density.

Another hypothesis is that this ARB fundamentally disagrees with City zoning laws. Such a circumstance would raise several complex issues, because when every project is an exception to the law, there is no law; yet City zoning law isn't nominally the charter of the ARB.

I hope it's the first one. But worth pondering.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote 'em out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2014 at 7:31 pm

@Eric
It's not the first one. Only chumps abide by the current zoning laws. We need a new city council that will defend Palo Altan' interests.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It's not rocket science
a resident of Southgate
on May 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

This parcel was owned by Mistry&Sons who planned to ask for 11 units,and recently sold to the new developers.
They hired glassbox fabricator Ken Hayes to break the zoning for them. He is certainly expert at that - with the help of our planning department of course.
Why does the ARB consistently approve breaking the rules? They re Architects. Architects earn a living designing for developers. This is not rocket science.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maybell again?
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

City council studiously ignored the Maybell Avenue safety and traffic issues which lead to the Measure D referendum. Now it appears they plan to studiously ignore the resulting increased congestion created by an additional 21 units at the intersection of that same narrow Maybell Avenue--a "safe" route to school--and El Camino.

Must there be a tragedy some morning on the school run for city council to finally understand?

I'm ready for Measure D 2.0. Hope city council is too.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on May 15, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Is ABAG asking those who live in Atherton along the El Camino to change the zoning in order to fit more housing units? Barron Park should have own neighborhood characteristic too! Those in the review board, is any one from Barron Park? [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2014 at 10:47 pm

We have a public/private partnership here destroying the City. That pretty much sums it up, but even so understates the problem we are facing because the results we are getting are so uniquely bad. This is simply overwhelming.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Greenacres is a registered user.

Don't you just love these elevations that make it look like there's nothing but open space around these structures?

This is a really bad place for any more density. I think most Palo Altans recognize that the intersection at Arastradero and El Camino (Maybell is the next one over) is already heavily impacted by the overdevelopment already approved, and will be even more impacted sooner by the opening of that 22,000 sq ft hotel (replacing a 3500 sq ft structure) on the other side of the intersection, and the new building at VMWare that has yet to be completed and will double business traffic on that corridor before it is done, and the buildings along El Camino on the other side at the bowling alley site, etc.

Arastradero is an important east-west corridor and already a completely different road than the residential arterial it was a few years ago. We are promised protections in the Comp Plan - the whole point of the comp plan is to protect the character of our neighborhoods and quality of life, and we over here have been hugely impacted.

it's time the City Council and ARB accept that they've gotten away with murder already over here, what with that hotel, the upzoning and building out to El Camino at Arbor Real, etc etc. That new senior center on El Camino is actually a pretty decent addition, but we're built to the hilt now. I challenge everyone to go through El Camino way around that circle most of the day now, especially when school gets out. Good luck. The parking and congestion, and conditions for the kids on bikes is just horrible.

Serious question for everyone: how do we get a two-story overlay zone here? That would probably help preserve the neighborhood character somewhat. What are the steps?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 15, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Greenacres is a registered user.

Hey everyone!

The ABAG allotments amount to a huge unfunded mandate for our town. Check this out
Web Link

"When the Governor or Legislature mandate a new program or higher level of service upon local
agencies and school districts, the state Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies
and school districts for the cost of these new programs or higher levels of service. State law
establishes the Commission on State Mandates to determine if new laws impose reimbursable
state mandated programs.

The purpose of this guidebook is to describe the mandate reimbursement process." and "This guidebook will assist the public in defining their role when they choose to participate.

How do we stop this madness? Force the state to pay for what is essentially an unfunded mandate creating huge burdens on our public services and infrastructure! And if we don't stop them, at least we make them pay for the impact on our town!!

I'm sure we have a lot of citizens who would be able to start making a running list of costs we could take to the Commission to ask the state to pay for this. Not just the ABAG allotment, but for the bonus density rules. We had a good BMR program, the bonus density rules they impose totally messes with it and is a developer giveaway that incentivizes destroying existing affordable housing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 4:29 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

[Portion removed.] Please speak with the residents from Barron Square who were at the preliminary screening session with the ARB yesterday: Jeff Eustis, Ruth Lowy and Lazlo Tokes. They raised questions, listened hard and consulted with the architect after the hearing on next steps, modifications that might address commissioners' concerns as well as those of the next-door Barron Square condominium project.

The city sent out notification cards to residences within 1200 feet of the project. The BPA mailing list was alerted to the meeting by BPA president Markus Fromherz. A handful of people were present, the ARB chairman took great pains to invite public comment.

Your boiler-plate arguments here sound out of place and political.

I appreciate that you have engaged this issue using a registered Town Square identity.

A personal word about the last remaining piece of the Thain farm. I will miss that grassy lot of tranquility on busy El Camino Real greatly. For me and thousands of motorists every day it has provided a brief glimpse of what was here a couple of generations back. The billboard seems almost quaint, another reminder of what highway driving used to be. I've always been curious how much space on that billboard cost and how long income from it would stave off the impulse to develop.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

What a spectacularly hideous design, and completely disproportionate to everything around it. And while they're at it, why not try disrupt the adjacent property with pedestrian paths and bike lanes!

Let's face it, neighbors - no one benefits from this other than the landowner and the developer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 10:26 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Baroness,

The suggestion for connectivity would be to give access at the back of the 21-unit project to the Thain Way cul-de-sac so residents could walk or bike up Maybell without causing more congestion at the El Camino/Maybell intersection, a goal which I suspect you may favor.

After the meeting I biked over to see for myself whether it would be reasonable to give the families there access to the safety of Thain Way (a public street) to get kids safely to school. At the meeting various possibilities were suggested, like having a locked gate which residents of the new project could use to access Thain Way. It was a good, informative discussion.

Please go take a look yourself. Talk with the Barron Square participants at the ARB meeting to get a fuller picture of what the choices are. As at Maybell/Clemo, building nothing isn't one of them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

Mr. Underdal, I don't need to take a look at Thain Way for myself, I live there. Perhaps when you biked over there you noticed that Thain Way is a narrow street with parking on both sides, and lacking proper sidewalks beyond the initial curve. Are you suggesting we send the pedestrians and bikers down the middle of the narrow street?

Everyone in this community understands that "building nothing" is not an option, so let's put that accusation to rest. We bought into this community knowing that the lot would be developed, and for many residents who have lived here 25+ years, we understood the lot to be zoned as RM-15. This zoning change benefits no one in our particular community of more than 60 residents, and it risks devaluing our property purely for the economic benefit of one landowner, who has to be badgered to cut the grass/weeds when they reach two feet high.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

I just noticed new Palo Alto City Limit sign on Hiway 101. It says our population is 63000+. This is up about 8,000 I think from the 2000 Census. What is our 'assignment' from ABAG for increased housing? I thought it was about 2,000 more units. If we are already housing 8,000 more people, doesn't that cover it? Especially since so many of these new units are small and not housing big families?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

Isn't it remarkable how Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton don't up-zone, refuse to increase their population density, and are not punished by by ABAG. Cities that refuse to lose their character and soul, don't. In Palo Alto we have, tragically, an irresistible impulse by the city council, in full collaboration with developers, to develop and overpopulate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 11:36 am

We DO NOT need, nor do we want, any increased zoning anywhere in or near Barron Park. We are described as a semi rural neighborhood. Let's keep it that way.
We do not need more housing or offices or any other sort of high density projects anywhere in this area.
What we could use is a good full service grocery store with a proper fresh meat counter, fresh produce area, and good foods. We nees something to replace J J & F on the Barron Park side of El Camino.
If you live in University South or Crescent Park or University North and think the proposed building is a good fit for this area, perhaps the next such development should go in your neighborhood.
Please, someone who is into making lists, make a list of the offending council members and circulate it.
We also should look into the latest council idea to not have voting by district and to increase term limits and pay for city council members.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 11:44 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

@Sunshine,
Paying City council members is not their idea, it's the oppositions. The whole point is that we need a full-time Council that works for the people, not a part-time Council who are independently wealthy or beholden to developers. There's a reason City Council always comes mostly from the north side of town rather than some representation from south which holds half of us (and growing).

I used to think we should have voting by district, but weshouldnt restrict ourselves, we should have a fulltime salaried Council, we'll get a larger more diverse pool.

Extending term limits is their idea. Schoolboard got away with extending their terms by changing the election cycle.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 11:59 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Baroness

Great to hear that you're actively involved and know the setting. So many people have strong opinions about our neighborhood without ever coming over for a look.

I just went over to make sure that what I describe here is accurate. Going from the cul-de-sac towards Maybell, a distance of two blocks, I saw a few cars parked on the right side. The left side was, apart from driveway cutouts, almost all marked red to prohibit parking. Where parking was allowed near the community center (maybe 4 car lengths) the street had been widened so cars parallel parked there would not interfere with the flow of traffic.

I would send pedestrians and bikers up the right side of the street. Barron Parkers are used to walking and biking on the streets and have fought to maintain the ability to do so without having sidewalks imposed. I wonder how many people we'd be talking about putting on your public street from those condominiums. Please keep in mind that the condominium residents would not be likely to facilitate easy access through their property for non-residents to access the gate.

Look on the bright side re. that property. The new owners aren't likely to let the grass grow at all. They'll probably be owner/residents like yourself, concerned that you continue to maintain Barron Square in good condition so it won't hurt their property values.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

@boscoli,
"Isn't it remarkable how Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton don't up-zone, refuse to increase their population density, and are not punished by by ABAG. Cities that refuse to lose their character and soul, don't. In Palo Alto we have, tragically, an irresistible impulse by the city council, in full collaboration with developers, to develop and overpopulate."

Excellent point. City Council likes to point out that Atherton got dued, but that's because they did nothing at all for years and years and ddn't even make plans of any kind. The thing I'm having trouble understanding here is that during the Maybell debates, we were told in one of those small meetings that Palo Alto already had more than our allotment, and we didnt even need those Maybell units, but that the state actually required us to show MORE than our allotment. Huh?

During the public Maybell meetings, our Council actually had the City Attorney stand up before the public and bring up a state law that ostensibly tied Council's hands when it came to affordable housing and they couldn't say no to anything. Looking up the law afterwards, some of us found that it explicitly did not apply to rezonings. This did not stop the Council from overtly asking the City Attorney to hunt through the law to see if there was something in there to tie their hands so they had to rezone.

I've seen this happen in other acts since - City Council telling the public they can't help it. Don't believe it.

Everyone who is reading this - someone else isnt going to do it, question each assertion yourself. We must call them on every claim. Do we really even need any more ABAG units? Something doesnt add up, literally, since the staff even told the Council we had exceeded our required allotment. They'll probably claim we now need more for some future time. Really? Probably not. Start going beyond them and questioning the state. Use the link above, how can we ask the state to pay for these unfunded mandates? Because Palo Alto has such a highly ranked school district, the additional housing is an even bigger unfunded mandate for us.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Right now the ARB is the problem. Mostly non-resident architect "experts". Of course the project will be pushed up to the CC for the up zone approval. And then we will have Measure D2...and then we will all vote it down again.

Or should I be hopeful that the CC learned their lesson on D1? LOL


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Mr. Underdal - I encourage you to visit our street at various times of day before making recommendations about what works best here in our community. Most of us work during the day, so how about checking out the parking situation in the early morning or evening. Then check out the intersection of Thain Way and Maybell in the morning when hundreds of kids commute to school, and see what it's like for us to get out to El Camino between 7:45 and 8:15AM.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

I'm concerned about the process of determining what goes on that property. I did check out the Thain Way access option and think it should be considered. But it's not my call. Barron Square is on the case and will look out for themselves.

I want to pre-empt complaints about lack of information from the city about what's being planned, about having a project sprung on the neighbors without their input. In short, the argument that remained part of the online discussion of the Maybell project despite the evidence of actions taken in shaping the Maybell proposal in response to community feedback.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Then of course, when we do get out to El Camino southbound, Arastradero traffic sits in the intersection because that street is fully congested. Then once you clear that mess, prepare for lane closures because of the construction sites. Tell me again who is benefiting from this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Baroness

Good idea. I'll try to do that Monday. I'm well aware of the Maybell access problem because I live a block away on Georgia and have to wait for a break in traffic to turn left off Abel onto Maybell.

But I haven't seen what traffic is like inside Barron Square at that time of day. (I should say "those times" because you invited me to take a look in the morning and in the evening.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm

>Right now the ARB is the problem. Mostly non-resident architect "experts". Of course the project will be pushed up to the CC for the up zone approval. And then we will have Measure D2...and then we will all vote it down again.

Good point, CPD. However the elephants in the room are state mandates...which are due to global warming alarmism and the obvious grab at political power, both at the state, regional and local levels. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Greenacres is a registered user.

"I want to pre-empt complaints about lack of information from the city about what's being planned, about having a project sprung on the neighbors without their input."

This line of reasoning is really a waste of time. The problem here is overdevelopment, not whether the City Council has got the process down, because that's a moving target of their own doing. You might want to read Doug Moran's very astute recent blog post about Potemkin Villages.

The whole Maybell process was on a really short time scale as these things go. But some of us warned them that the neighborhood would be very against such upzoning at that location once people realized the plan. I made an effort to contact every City Council member last winter before the ARB meeting, explaining that, but they all told me the new process was that we needed to go through the process with City staff and the ARB votes before going to them. I made an effort to contact every single ARB member with my objections, and I know other neighbors did, yet the newspaper said ARB members reported no objections.

When some of us continued to raise objections, we were told we were a small minority and that everyone else wanted the upzoning. We were told our objections were too late (another fraudulent line of reasoning often used against unsuspecting citizens, as if their realizing something at one or other stage in the process before there is a vote means they lose any right to object.) This claim continued until the eve of the election, with Gail Price telling me that our neighbors - who voted over something like 85% against upzoning - were actually for her position and that I was in a small minority.

After the election, City Council were twisting themselves into pretzels trying to misuse the standard low turnout numbers of a special election, some like Marc Berman even laughably comparing their total vote count in a general election to the total vote count against Measure D, as if somehow that made any sense. (A, I voted for him and regret it, B, he got like 18% of the vote in a general election and Measure D won by 56% of the vote in a special election where C, the City Council shilled for passage and the City Attorney wrote a dishonestly biased ballot that never even addressed such basic things as enumerating costs if it passed or didn't. And D, we won a landslide in a land use referendum where we had no money, no expensive political consultants, our opposition outspent us by over $100,000, and we were up against a record of no one having won a land use referendum in decades in this town, probably because of the City Attorney being able to write the ballot.)

You would think that would be message enough.

So, all that business with Nancy Shepherd complaining about how this all the opposition just came out of nowhere is complete baloney. Some of us actually spent time trying to get people at PAHC to listen to us so they could work out a way to get the housing that would work with rather than against residents. They said City Council is who told them to go after the property, that the neighborhood was for it, and they weren't afraid of opposition, and head of planning said it was going through and that was that. All this other stuff about who knew what when is just a side show. (Well, except the stuff about the City knowing the property hadn't been rezoned and acting as impartial source for the grant application to keep it in the running when it didn't actually qualify on account of not having the zoning, CEQA appeals expiring, and other misrepresentations. Which reminds me Jerry - have you spent any time visiting any of the less well-heeled communities whose affordable housing projects lost out because ours asked for such a large chunk without really being qualified in that round? A LOT of us know about that stuff and more - which makes me wonder why this Council seems determined to rile us up again.)

The major point here is that people in this neighborhood have lives. The neighborhood has zoning we should be able to rely on and a comprehensive plan. The neighborhood just went through the trouble of rebuking the Council for upzoning in the neighborhood, and giving unprecedented feedback that we are fed up with the overdevelopment.

The process is, applicants go to the ARB. Then to Council. They both already know the score here and how we feel, or they should. If anyone claims they don't, they should be treated as a total liar or too clueless to hold office another day.


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Posted by Once Again
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Once again, they up zone something in South Palo Alto and Barron Park. When will it end? Vote them ALL out! Traffic congestion is at an all time high in South Palo Alto. Build it for what it's zoned for!


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 1:55 pm

> He said that then he would assign the required planning target
> to Marin cities and it would probably be higher than ABAG assigned.

Interesting. Seems these housing assignments are more political/arbitrary than we are often led to believe. If there were an assignment that was based on some process, then it stands to reason that the same number of housing assignments would be made, no matter who was doing the work.

Sounds like that isn't so. Time to start asking some very hard questions.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Greenacres is a registered user.

@ Joe,
I agree. And it's time to start asking the state for money to pay for the unfunded mandate we've already done our duty by.

@Once Again,
There's a lot of damage they will do even if we do vote them out -- they are reworking the comp plan and trying to get it done before they leave, leaving us all with less recourse. We can't wait for the Council elections, when there are things we can do now.

There are many things we can do by Citizen initiative and referendum.

I believe initiative is where citizens make a rule like Council would normally do. There is a process and we have 6 months to collect signatures, though it's possible to qualify it in less if the signatures are gathered. Then Council is supposed to decide to either adopt what we want, or put it to vote. Referendum, such as Measure D, is where City Council makes a law, such as to create a new zoning district for Maybell that exceeds the existing zoning in every way, and citizens have 30 days to collect signatures after the 2nd reading of the ordinance. When they have qualified the signatures, City Council has to decide whether to do what they ask, or put the matter to a vote.

An example of an initiative we might consider is to adopt city elections code similar to San Francisco's where they have an impartial ballot committee that takes input from both sides in a public process to decide what goes in a ballot, instead of the ballot being written by the City Attorney (which is kind of like the fox guarding the hen house since referendum and initiative are generally resulting from citizens disagreeing with city hall). San Francisco has been doing this for 30 years, it works. They had a similar election to our Measure D, which the rezoning opposition won by an even much larger margin, I think almost 70%, because the question was more impartial.

So having such a change in our City code gives all of us citizens more power to expect our rules will be followed, because City Hall is less likely to prevail by manipulating the subsequent election in the event of a referendum and initiative. They didn't have to put us through the election with Measure D, seeing as they had historic levels of opposition to the rezoning, but they did because they never expected to lose an election in which they had such control of the ballot question and ballot analysis. If City Hall no longer has that control, that's actually a check and balance on City Hall short of even having to go to referendum and initiative, because City Hall will be more likely to listen to us knowing they will lose down the line. That's democracy. (And the outcome might have been far better for all involved, as some of the Measure D leaders have been previously involved in a citizens working group that resulted in saving the Terman School site when someone wanted to put apartments there, and also resulted in the 92-unit affordable Terman apartments.)

The elections code is quite simple in SF. PASZ has already called on City Hall to make this change and Council haven't, so it's time we citizens did it. Anyone want to take this on? It would be a great project for high school students because I can guarantee if they write a decent proposal and put even a little work into it, they will be successful and what a thing to put on a college resume, that they changed local elections code to improve democracy (it's not even a partisan issue).

All they have to do is get a copy of the PA and SF elections code. Modify the SF code a little bit since we are a smaller city. Run it by the community for input, and maybe modify it again. Run it by a government law firm for any problems in form or law (contact PASZ, they have a small war chest and might be willing to help pay for this, it will run around $1,000 - or maybe a high school student could get pro bono work -- I am not speaking for PASZ, just suggesting because they have called for this same thing to be done).

Other things can be done. Look at Menlo Park. The citizens group there is trying to get ahead of the overdevelopment and make it so it's harder to ask for an overdevelopment without direct approval from the people. They have an initiative movement for that for the next election.

I haven't had a chance to follow up on this, but we should form a citizens Hack Palo Alto brigade:
Web Link


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Posted by Joel
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Joel is a registered user.

I would love to see a Community Garden at this site. Any chance the City could buy the site for this community benefit?
Let's start thinking outside the development box!


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I don't want any more houses, condos, townhomes being built in Palo Alto. New housing increases the traffic which is already horrible but the strain on the schools/teachers with the increasing number of students. Stop and think about this - we are way over crowded as it is right now.


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Posted by Baroness
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

RM-30: Projects at this density are intended for larger parcels that will enable developments to provide their own parking spaces and to meet their open space needs in the form of garden apartments or cluster developments.


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Posted by Barron Square owner
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

@Jerry Undertal,

Routing the traffic from the new development onto Thain Way would be a safety hazard. The only way off Thain is on to Maybell. During school hours, particularly when it rains, there is NO way to get off the cul de sac and on to Maybell. None. We asked city council for road marking when the Measure D was pending saying "keep clear" at the intersection of Thain and Maybell. We got nothing, and frustrated parents idling in the Maybell traffic are not usually in the mood to leave an opening for a resident to get out.

In addition, at certain times of the year, the way the sun shines down Thain, you are almost blinded, unable to see other cars on the street.

Adding another 20+ cars onto Thain just doesn't make good sense.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

My first comment is Congratulations on your upset Measure D triumph. But there's more, of course.

David Price of the Daily Post saw the stakes involved when he editorialized that a triumph at Maybell would have echoes across the peninsula as an inspiration to citizens looking to restrain or undo actions taken by their local governments.

Mimi Steel, founder of the SF/Bay Area chapter of Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) and a recent featured speaker at a full-house PASZ event at Barron Square cited the Maybell Measure D outcome as a major triumph of the property rights movement in an interview with The Right Side TV. In explaining to the interviewer for the viewing audience's benefit that Measure D involved a 5-story (factual error, it was 2- and 3- story) stack and pack project.

Web Link

She was also a featured speaker at the April 14, 2012 Bay Area Tea Party Patriots Rally at Justin Herman Plaza in S.F.

Web Link

Who knows, maybe it's gotten international coverage as well.

The outcome of the rejection of Measure D is still undetermined, and with no intention to sell, I expect to live with the results of that vote as long as I live. Maybe traffic on Maybell will be a little bit smoother. Maybe my house will be worth a little bit more because luxury condos occupy the site. But there'll be no affordable senior citizens housing, nor orchard, at the intersection of Maybell and Clemo.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Barron Square owner, a resident of Green Acres

"Adding another 20+ cars onto Thain just doesn't make good sense."

Completely agree! That could only happen if the exit gate to El Camino Real near the tennis courts were thrown open for all. Not at all what's proposed.

Please check the details in earlier posts or ask the Barron Square attendees at the ARB meeting to explain.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Joel, a resident of Barron Park

Wouldn't that be great! I love the idea.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm

"But there'll be no affordable senior citizens housing, nor orchard, at the intersection of Maybell and Clemo."

There IS affordable housing at Buena Vista, and the money tied up at Maybell was not available to help at BV when it would have been most helpful because of that push.

The housing at Maybell would not have been "affordable" overall -- it would have been at a cost of $30 million+, any future taxes on that parcel, 100 established fruit trees, the character of the neighborhood, and the safety of thousands of schoolchildren. I know, you disagree with me, but see, I would have been happy to have the issue actually studied with a traffic analysis [portion removed.] Still a trustworthy look at the traffic has not been done.

The biggest cost of that erstwhile effort may be the far greater affordable housing at BV, because not only was the money in the affordable housing fund that could have been applied at BV not available all those months, the energy of residents who would have helped and WOULD have joined in the effort to help BV was lost. [Portion removed.]

We have a right to expect zoning laws to be respected. I'd like to call on the Planning Department to, from now on, require anyone who wants a violation of zoning rules to also submit a plan within zoning with the one that violates zoning, along with a petition from at least 80% of the people in the surrounding area demonstrating that they WANT the zoning violation. Then Planning can CONSIDER violating the law. No more of this treating the laws like they don't matter.

A tip to everyone else -- in the rest of the state, cities actually have to follow the zoning laws or people can challenge upzoning in court. We can't do that here because we are a charter city and the comp plan gets treated like nothing, but in the majority of charter cities, there's a rule that allows people the right to enforce the zoning. We should have the same.

The lesson from Measure D is that all of you reading this have the power and ability to do that.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

> Mimi Steel, founder of the SF/Bay Area chapter of Citizens' Alliance
> for Property Rights (CAPR) and a recent featured speaker at a
> full-house PASZ event at Barron Square cited the Maybell Measure D
> outcome as a major triumph of the property rights movement in an
> interview

Am watching the video right now. She only mentioned it in passing.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 4:04 pm

> Mimi Steel
> Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights
> Maybell Measure D outcome as a major triumph of the property rights movement

I... I don't even know what to think anymore.


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Posted by C
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Why do we need to keep building up in Palo Alto? Aren't we built up enough? Don't we have the right to have our land developed the way we want? There is only so much an area can take in development before everything gets ruined! Does Atherton have this problem? I doubt it.Ec6C


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

> Don't we have the right to have our land developed the way we want?

No, you shouldn't have that right. That's what we're arguing for, or against... I can't tell anymore.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 4:36 pm

"C", a resident of Barron Park wrote:

"Don't we have the right to have our land developed the way we want?"

Robert, a resident of another community responded:

"No, you shouldn't have that right."

Hmmm .. it seems to me that the US, and even the British Colonies, were really all about developing property along the lines of local control (or no control), and ultimately on some sort of inherent property rights.

This "Robert" fellow seems to be striking at the very nature of what it means to be an American--claiming "you shouldn't have that right" .. or some such. One can only wonder if this "Robert" fellow doesn't belive in this right--how many other rights that we Americans enjoy might be be ready to take away from us, if he could?

The idea of a regional, unelected, and unaccoutable government that simply proclaims: "From now on, you don't have any rights!" is certainly something that we can expect. Given the massive immigration that is being planned for this area--none of those people will bring with the the DNA of library .. so they will very likely be willing to do what they are told .. once they are here.

So .. why shouldn't local governments, accountable to local electorates, have the right to oversee local land use/development?


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Typo Fix:

Should have been: "the DNA of liberty"


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Oh I think you misunderstood, I *do* believe we have the right to have our land developed how we want. Unless its for high density housing, then we shouldn't have that right.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Palo Alto has already been grossly overdeveloped, so any further development and additional overpopulation destroy what's left of our character, heritage and quality of life. I don't accept the notion that some state agency can force us to be who we are not and dictate our character and quality of life. our next neighbors, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills won't allow it, why do we?

Palo Alto is now filling up with new residents from societies in which one household with multi generations is common. This is increasing our population density at an alarming rate. It is absurd to think that we have no right to be totally passive about it.


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Posted by Kent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Architect Ken Hayes is destroying the beauty of Palo Alto. [Portion removed.]
As a palo Altan, I feel helpless, as I watch the beauty of our town slip away.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm

> Unless its for high density housing, then we shouldn't have that right.

Why not? Who (or what agency) should have that right? And should the local residents have anything to say about high-density housing in their towns?

Oh, and what do you call high density? 2 units, 4 units .. how many units per acre becomes high density?


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Posted by Barron Square owner
a resident of Green Acres
on May 16, 2014 at 8:45 pm

@Jerry Underdal

I was not making the assumption that El Camino traffic would be permitted onto Thain Way from the 4146 development. I thought you meant that traffic from 4146 would be routed on to Thain Way, without access from 4146 to El Camino. What I am saying is Thain Way cannot handle the increase in traffic from 4146--God forbid there would be access from El Camino too.

When Arastradero was first choked off, I saw that drivers looked for any alternative, including Thain Way, driving at breakneck speed down this narrow street-narrower than Maybell--and executing dangerous, brake-squealing, high speed U-turns when they realized there was no way on to El Camino from Thain.

Since it is almost impossible to exit Thain onto Maybell safely now with the current volume of traffic, imagine how much worse it will be with 20+ cars from 4146, especially during those times of the year when it rains or when the light down Thain is blinding and it is almost impossible to see other cars.

And, what would happen to the intersection of Maybell and El Camino when all that additional traffic finally makes it off the cul de sac?

Someone, someday, will really truly get badly hurt in this area. And then it will be too late to fix.


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Posted by It's not rocket science
a resident of Southgate
on May 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm

>They hired glassbox fabricator Ken Hayes to break the zoning for them. He is certainly expert at that - with the help of our planning department of course.

Come to think of it, Ken Hayes seems to have a very cozy connection in the Planning Department. They agree with anything he wants.

Doesn't pass the smell test.


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Posted by Voter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Simple. This is a pure developer giveaway that adds nothing to the public good. Yet the city/developer incest continues at the public expense and the upcoming appears set to be rubber stamped. We referended the last giveaway and the answer was clear despite a 10/1 funding disadvantage.

We still have the infrastructure in place to go out and get another 4000 signatures in a little over a week. This time it will be much easier should we decide to go this route: who (besides perhaps Jerry) will cast their lot behind a straight developer giveaway that just happens to be "punishing" the neighborhood that splattered egg all over Marc Berman, Liz Kniss, Greg Scharff and the other developer stooges the last time they overreached.

Referendums are the ultimate way to keep our out of control city government in check (recalls wouldn't hurt either). Now that Measure For has shown where the public stands, D2.0 will be a cinch.


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Posted by Voter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 16, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Typo (autocorrect error): measure "D" has shown where the public stands


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Barron Square owner, a resident of Green Acres

Sorry, I really do need to clarify. No cars would have access to Thain Way, no matter what gets built there. The question is whether there should be bicycle and pedestrian access to the Thain Way cul-de-sac at the back of the 4146 lot.

Kids and parents from the 21 or however many (fewer if the neighborhood gets its way) condos would be able to cut diagonally through to Maybell instead of going to the corner, where all the bike traffic from El Camino Way accumulates and flows across El Camino in a stream, and then up Maybell. It could be safer and less congested. Take a look and see if you think that could work.

Laslo Tokes told the ARB about problems in the past relating to non-resident youth accessing the tennis court and swimming pool illicitly, which is a security and liability problem. Those concerns were also communicated to the architect.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Right now instead of exercising normal government control over land use and
design we have essentially a public/private sector partnership in place to facilitate the build out of the city, without constraints, just rolling over any opposition or concerns about what is happening to the City. To re-establish land use and design control over what happens here we need to go beyond what is proposed in Menlo Park of requiring citizen approval for outsized projects, and create a Citizens Committee with review power over all major projects and actions by the City which affect the physical environment. This type of citizen review power would completely change the dynamics.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2014 at 8:04 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2014 at 9:54 am

@boscoli,
"Isn't it remarkable how Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton don't up-zone, refuse to increase their population density, and are not punished by by ABAG. Cities that refuse to lose their character and soul, don't. In Palo Alto we have, tragically, an irresistible impulse by the city council, in full collaboration with developers, to develop and overpopulate."

Excellent point. City Council likes to point out that Atherton got dued, but that's because they did nothing at all for years and years and ddn't even make plans of any kind..."

Whoops, atherton never got sued. It was Menlo Park. And only because they did nothing at all. MP is also different in that it is largely an industry town with much smaller population. Not a comparable situation in any way.

Sorry for the error. My main point was that in the Comp plan meeting where they said the fx wasnt in on Maybell, staff also reported we already had more than our ABAG allotment even without Maybell. Time to challenge, challenge, challenge any assertion City Hall makes when they claim theycant help it, the devil made them do it.


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

No more ABAG, no more "affordable housing" in Palo Alto. Barron Park already has 4 apartments/condos for below market housing (with all the crime that comes with it) in addition to the trailer park and hopefully that will be gone within a year. After many years of providing a service to the city and especially to the residents its time to let Mr. Jisser sell the place and move away.
How many "below market" apartments, homes, and condos are located in Low Altos Hills, Woodside, Los Altos, etc. But Palo Alto always volunteers for more, this City Council is just like the Berkeley City Council and we don't need any more left wing government. Worry about the escalating crime problem downtown, burglaries and vandalism throughout Palo Alto and the complete lack of parking downtown and California street, mostly caused by runaway development.


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Posted by pissed off in PA
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

Where are we going to drive? I do not know how we all are getting to work now. Try to get through the city between 8 AM and 9:30 AM, and then during lunch 11:30 AM to 2 PM and then starting 4:30 PM to 7 PM.

This is a disaster.
This town is being destroyed by developers and the treacherous city council. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

As an active member of the citizen's working group on the Housing Element, I've proposed that we remove the sites along El Camino from our current housing element (which are slated to be carried over) and replace them with sites near the Caltrain stations at University and California Ave. This would greater better balance and line up with the goals of our Comprehensive Plan.

I believe the issues is PLANNED growth. What we are getting is spot changes, without appropriate city planning. Just because the owner of this property seeks up-zoning is not a reason to grant it. We need to plan for sufficient neighborhood services before just placing housing anywhere.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@ Tom,
Thanks for your sane comments and involvement.

One problem is the new development application process. People submit to the ARB first, so they get a sheen of approval if it meets ARB approval, which it almost certainly will.

The rules should require applicants to submit something within zoning along with a potential upzone request/plan if they want one. That way the ARB can choose to grant the one within zoning, and if the applicant doesn't make it a good plan, they may be stuck with something lousy. Plus it also means they have to put energy into working with the zoning.

Citizens should expect zoning laws to be respected.

I also would like to ask you as an active citizen to please consider that at this point in our growth, Palo Alto really needs a separate Safety Element and separate Traffic Circulation Element in the comprehensive plan, as is recommended by the state. Cities don't have to do it that way, as long as the way they do it is adequate, but I don't think it is especially now. The state mandates these elements, and we aren't going to really deal with those important issues adequately unless we pull them out and make them separate elements as the state really intends. Safety really needs to be much more of an explicit issue and priority in this town, and how it interfaces with development needs to finally be dealt with.

@jerry99,
With all due respect, I live in this neighborhood, too, and the low-income housing does not increase crime, these are very safe areas. You have a good point that City Council is acting like huge NIMBYs trying to push more projects over here - which is not a good idea even for low-income residents themselves to try to concentrate developments in one place -- but you are wrong about the trailer park. First of all, it's not subsidized housing, it's the last major patch of actual affordable housing in this expensive town. If the residents are able to purchase it, they will be able to and have incentive to improve it. It would be an asset to this community to retain and improve it. There is absolute evidence that the families who live there value the community and their kids work hard to be contributing members of society. I think a giant high-density development there would be another horrible hit to our quality of life here. I would much rather see the trailer park residents and the park itself remain.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I'll tell you what DOES increase crime. There is evidence that abrupt changes in density in urban areas leads to crime crossing over (hence the urban planning maxims of having transition zones, and spot zoning being illegal most places). This drive for getting away with intense densification and spot zoning in Palo Alto by City Council is almost certain to lead to urban challenges including crime for our neighborhoods for years to come.


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Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on May 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Each of the units (11, or 21, or some number in between, or more than 21, or less than 11) -- each of the units should have a tree planted not too far from it. Trees are the most important part of our landscape and we must really start taking climate stuff seriously and doing what we can. Plant trees. Ask canopy.org for info.


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Posted by Honor
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Honor is a registered user.

What we have here is a classic case of trying to stuff "ten pounds of [portion removed] into a five pound box." This is a very desirable area in which to live, obviously. We're bursting at the seams. Most important, it is incumbent upon the City Council to uphold the existing zoning and building codes. Citizens, pay attention!!


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

@Marianne,
The sad thing is that just around the corner, at the Maybell property, still sits the old Maybell orchard with 100 established fruit trees that have survived without care all these years, and a dozen ancient oaks. There is a nesting red-tailed hawk. The orchard has been there for years and is an important link in the patchwork of open space for wildlife between the foothills and the bay.

Neighbors asked City Council to just give them a chance to save it. City Council was involved in the purchase of the property in the first place and had to overtly decide NOT to purchase it when PAHC decided to sell it. Council could have simply purchased it and given the neighborhood 6 months to come up with a way to purchase it from the City -- Barron Park also purchased the land at Bol Park to save it from developers, we seem to mostly need to provide our own community space and parks on this side of town, so we are resigned to it.

[Portion removed.]

Look in the City Code - there's actually an open space requirement that we are due for development. The City isn't going to do this, and the activists among us are pretty busy -- every citizen has to take it on themselves to see these things happen. Can you look at the code, and calculate all the open space we are due but never got? If you don't know how to do this, can you reach out to community activists like Doug Moran or Wayne Martin with outstanding institutional memories and knowledge of our City? Greg Schmid is also a treasure trove of knowledge about Palo Alto, and the only Councilmember worth his snuff.

Once you have something concrete, find allies -- take it to the PASZ group (www.paloaltoville.com) and maybe you can get other neighbors who will help you find a way to force the City to provide the open space to which we are legally entitled after all this development. Go to one of the City Council meetings and read what you find into the record so the rest of us can view it online. Hey M (paloaltoville), how about making a Vimeo or Youtube space on the paloaltoville site so we can put up really good citizen statements??


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on May 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm

I think we should move Milk Pail Market in that space but without access to Thain.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm

@ Pat,
That would be AWESOME! But logistically? Anyway to get the owner at the San Antonio Center to make it worth their while so they could get the property to move here?...


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Posted by cumudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm

"As an active member of the citizen's working group on the Housing Element, I've proposed that we remove the sites along El Camino from our current housing element ... and replace them with sites near the Caltrain stations at University and California Ave. This would greater better balance and line up with the goals of our Comprehensive Plan."

There's always some excuse to dump your fair share of the housing burden onto someone else's other neighborhood, ain't there? And if the residents in your proposed dumping area insist you carry your fair burden in your own neighborhood, they're NIMBYs, right?

Your motive is understandable: what if your new-urbanist theories somehow happened in your own nabe? Scary.

Face it, pal. R-1 zoning may be sacrosanct to suburbanites, but suburbia is where the underutilized real estate is. To efficiently utilize our limited resources, we got to give up the suburban dream, and pave over and build up that open, lushly-landscaped, water-intensive space to urban density.

Mass transit can easily come to your street by adding a bus route or two. Then you and your new urbanist neighbors can live your now-safely-abstract fantasies right at your own homes. What prospect could be more satisfying?

Or what prospect could be more scary?


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2014 at 9:27 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Tom Dubois

Thank you for making a serious contribution to Town Square discussion of the housing element. I hope people on Town Square will consider and respond to the substance of what you've said.

I'll listen hard now for the serious arguments that compare downtown/Cal Ave to El Camino Real as suitable places to allow more housing to be built.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 9:46 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Hi jerry and tom,

At each of the last three meetings (once right after Tom spoke) I have argued for more housing downtown where I live and around Cal Ave.

My sense is that if this is to be done in the housing element or comp plan, there would need to be some changes in zoning to allow more units downtown in exchange for taking some south PA sites out of the housing element update.

I think the council should examine various choices for where new housing of different kinds might best go.



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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2014 at 10:00 am

@Jerry wrote--

> I'll listen hard now for the serious arguments that compare
> downtown/Cal Ave to El Camino Real as suitable places to
> allow more housing to be built.

So Jerry .. 1) just how many housing units are there in DT and CalAVE now, and how many would you like to add?

2) Why?

3) Is there any limit that you would agree to, or are you hoping to add tens of thousands of new dwelling units to these two areas?

Please provide us some numbers.


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Posted by It's not rocket science
a resident of Southgate
on May 18, 2014 at 10:53 am

Tom Dubois wrote
>replace them with sites near the Caltrain stations at University and California Ave. This would greater better balance and line up with the goals of our Comprehensive Plan.

Tom you just lost my support.
Shift the bad development somewhere else? NO thanks, Goodbye Tom.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Joe

You're showing how hard it is to have a serious discussion on issues that the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) has taken a position on. I'm no expert in this field. Any numbers I threw out would be worthless.

Generally, I'd like to see Palo Alto dial back the jobs and dial up the housing. Seeing the 27 University and Jay Paul projects deep-sixed was very satisfying. The number of housing units within the boundaries of Palo Alto cannot be permanently fixed at what it is now, for many reasons.So how many more units and where to put them is what we need a serious community discussion about.

@It's not rocket science

Did you realize that Tom Dubois is member of the citizen's working group on the Housing Element as a representative of PASZ (Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning? Good luck in putting together a slate of city council candidates if you attack an ally who could be a serious candidate in this way.

For those not familiar with CAPR, check out their web side.

www.capr.us


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm

@Jerry

Thanks for a seemingly honest answer .. but you have to admit it's not at all helpful to the discussion.

Just saying "more" .. "more" .. or "dial-up"/"dial-back" doesn't get us anywhere.

The City knows exactly how many dwelling units there are in DT and CalAVE. That information is in various databases they keep—both in the Planning Dept. and the Utility Dept. This information should be available to us on the Palo Alto government web-site .. but sadly, it isn't.

Once you had that information, then determining the number of people/dwelling units per acre, number of single-family homes per acre, number of multi-family homes per acre, and so on would be straightforward to determine (although perhaps tedious with the right software).

At some point, we need to make some sort of assessment of certain variables, such as "quality-of-life", transit-time, traffic-light queue time, on-street parking, etc., as a function of density. This really isn't rocket science.

We should not be having this discussion without the Planning Department providing this information to the residents.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

The council seems to be blind. We are a no-growth city. No more condos, apartments or commercial developments. We are done; saturated. Only upgrades to existing single-family homes. And, no more foreign investment from Chinese money. I do not want to become a Singapore dense urban area. It is really time to run a no-more-growth ticket in November and use the referendum vote to prevent any ADDITIONAL development by existing council members. As a homeowner, it's past time to take back Palo Alto for what made our town a quiet and peaceful place to call home.


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Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Just to clarify, what I'm suggesting is a balanced approach, not an absolute shift. There are no easy answers here.

Someone asked for numbers. Greg Schmid presented some numbers last week at the Housing Committee meeting. These are from my notes and I have not verified them. Currently, our housing element zones for new housing units with 23% at Cal Ave, 24% Downtown, and 52% in South El Camino area.

The initial sites proposed for the new Housing Element that would extend until the year 2023 has housing units allocated with 30% at Cal Ave, 20% downtown, and 50% South Palo Alto.

Greg Schmid also suggested removing some of the South Palo Alto sites and adding more downtown. He ended up with 30% near Cal Avenue, 30% downtown, and 40% South El Camino. I would suggest something similar, something like a distribution of 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3 in these areas (and away from our R1 neighborhoods).

A top down approach makes sense and allows for proper planning. We need planned development, not just picking the easiest spots all over town. If we continue to push the majority of housing to locations without services, then we need also need to plan to dramatically increase the investments in services near those locations - parks, pools, theaters, and other amenities.

FYI - I'm on the citizens panel as a member of both PASZ and the Midtown Residents Association.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Joe

Thank you for sharing what data you would want all parties to have on entering a discussion on housing.

I don't know what argument the Planning Dept. would make in response but assume they've been asked for the data you seek and answered in some fashion. Your post didn't mention any position taken by the Planning Dept.

I'm not a good person to make the call as to the reasonableness of requests for collection, assessment and distribution of data, but I have heard the comment that the Planning Dept. may be understaffed to handle all the projects that are being brought forward. If that's the problem, add more staff.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Great Discussions. I appreciate all your inputs. Based on such discussions, here are my recommendations to preserve our dear Palo Alto and maybe even reverse some of the overdevelopment trends:

1. Use referendum mechanism to reverse any current and future development proposals until we elect a majority council who will vote down all growth proposals.

2. Run a no-growth ticket in the upcoming November election.

3. Draft a Contract for Palo Alto document requiring existing council members to make a public commitment in favor for more development or no development. Refusing to identify a position will be identified by the Contract as the same as a representative for continued development.

4. Pursue, as cited by others, the replication the City of SF codes that will remove the City Attorney for drafting the language of any future referendums.

5. Conflict of Interest Legislation: All Palo Alto residents (or non-residents), who derive any income or consideration from developments (commercial or private) are not allowed to serve on any transportation, infrastructure, architectural review boards, or any other committees that has to do with adding commercial or private housing to Palo Alto as a conflict of interest condition.

6. As a condition of running for the City Council, no elected CC member can be a development consultant in Palo Alto following their term in office (a ban on in-house lobbying practices from previous contacts while acting in the public trust)

7. Lower the council number to 5 members with PAY; this will allow South Palo Altains a better opportunity to protect the rest of Palo Alto by making this a career position to substitute for the position currently held to pay for their mortgages.

8. Ensure that College Terrace, Baron Park, and South Palo Alto all have voices at the table by creating 4 zones: North Palo Alto, College Terrace, Baron Park, and South Palo Alto - plus the fifth City council member who would be the Mayor.

9. The Mayor should be elected direct by the residents of Palo Alto - NOT an in-house election by City Council Members. The Mayor's only advantage over his/her colleagues are: Mayor Office, Title, Chairs the full-council meetings, and may command more media attention when creating a legislative agenda for the city. Pay is the same as fellow council members. Full-time council can devote more time to the issues and reduce the influence by staff and volunteer committees.

10. Complete moratorium on any further commercial and multifamily units (condos and apartments)

11. With the Business Registry, a strict enforcement on the number of employees allowed per commercial building site; unannounced inspections by the City of Palo Alto building enforcement office. First time offense: 5% of a firms gross receipts per person infraction. Second infraction, pull the companies business license to operate in Palo Alto.

12. Establish a strict per-person residency requirement for all homes, condos, and apartments. With the influx of the Chinese population (When I went to Gunn in the early 70s, we had 4% Asian - according to the 2014 figures, Asians are now the largest group at Gunn with 41.6%!). Whites at 41.1% and Hispanics at 8%. This group (and others - common in the Hispanic world too but not a large issue given the number of Hispanics in Palo Alto) has a practice of generational norms allowing large number of extended family members in a home intended only for four people. All Palo Alto residents would then have the right to call the PA police if the per person residency requirement might be ignored - just like a noise ordinance. To Stanford's credit, we had this same problem in College Terrace during the 70s-early 90s before that grad school population finally put pressure on SU administrators and thus began a large Grad School housing boom that has now relieved those previous abuses. By-the-way, this is not a racist position: I would promote the same policy if a group of blond, blue eyed Scandinavians were practicing "generational norms" of packing their homes with extended family members and/or friends beyond the intended capacity of a dwelling.

13. Preventing further commercial development equals no legislative authority of ABAG to require additional housing in Palo Alto

14. All laws are NOT in stone. Put together a multiple of ABAG area interest groups to REVOKE the ABAG policy of employment to generated housing ratio. It can be done. And ONE person can make a difference to start this process. We all have plenty of historical examples of one person helping our hurting the human condition.

15. PUSH the success of Silicon Valley OUT to other Bay Area cities in desperate need of REDEVELOPMENT - like large sectors of run down San Jose neighborhoods and business districts. AND: PUSH technology firms to other parts of California entirely and our Nation. We will always have plenty of success in Palo Alto owing FIRST to our WEATHER; second, Stanford. Third: our existing technology firms, venture capitalists, and intellectual property law firms - the triad of the technology economy.

16. A personal favorite: no more development at California Avenue: housing or commercial. I have long since given up on downtown Palo Alto owing to a lack of parking and feeling like a third-world crowd with a frenzy mentality to get-in and get out. The previous city councils have destroyed that area. New game plan: they want California Avenue too, where I spent my childhood during my days at Escondido Elementary. Today, as an Adult, I will not allow my children to ride to California Avenue like I use to. Simply too high a chance of getting hit by angry motorist, especially during the commute times. That's not right. I know I can not return to my days at Patterson's, the Movie Theater, Wine Barrel, Music Store, and Pet Store - but I sure do not want another downtown PA.


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Posted by iconoclast
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

"I have argued for more housing downtown where I live and around Cal Ave"

I have also argued for housing, but spread evenly over the city (including, even (shudder) "affordable" housing in (gasp) Crescent Park and Old Palo Alto). Major third rail event here.

A city benefits from a diverse housing mixture in every neighborhood. A two-tiered housing approach which assigns density to designated ghettos [portion removed], while reserving the high-end neighborhoods for the elites, is a signature third-world arrangement that ought to have no place in Palo Alto.

The logical next step is a series of gated communities, to keep the density riffraff in their "place," or at least out of where they don't "belong."


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Palo,alto native- much of what you propose will not stand up in court. But go ahead and propose those items-- I am sure you will get no,traction on those items. Suggesting that Palo Alto should put a stop to,all development is not realistic and would seriously harm the city. Times change, people change and cities change. Think about why there is the need for development in Palo Alto-- or would you prefer the alternative?


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Iconoclast

I agree with a diversity of housing choices. I hope you are not saying university south and downtown are ghettos- can you explain what you meant?

Our prices and rents are far higher than in most is south PA even with a number of subsidized housing and density. People want to live here.

I am more worried about overall housing choices than these controversies over where new subsidized housing goes. If the Maybell opponents are right that the Maybell location was not a good choice, then probably the middle of crescent Park isn't either.

We are one city. I was trying to say I would welcome more housing in my neighborhood and hoped that would tone down the north versus south anger.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I think Rupert is correct but I am not an attorney much less a land use attorney.

I hope readers, potential council candidates and other interested residents clarify the law before proposing ideas that will cost taxpayers money defending illegal actions.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

" By-the-way, this is not a racist position: "
Then why specifically single out specific ethnicities? We already had one person saying, on this thread, that Asians are a problem in palo,alto.
Do you have specific knowledge of homes/condos/ apartments are occupied by too many people? What does that have to do with development. As I stated most of your proposals are not realistic. Are you,planning to,reveal,your identity and run for city council?


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

>A two-tiered housing approach which assigns density to designated ghettos [portion removed], while reserving the high-end neighborhoods for the elites, is a signature third-world arrangement that ought to have no place in Palo Alto.

Well said.

My view is that ALL future [portion removed] housing in PA should ONLY be put into the elite neighborhoods (subject to their secret vote, of course). If the elite neighborhoods agree, it will probably take them about 30 years to catch up with the dumping that they have forced on the non-elite neighborhoods for the past several decades.

At a macro level, PA should be a progressive city, and lead the effort to stop state housing mandates on its cities.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Wow. An " original " posting from Craig.
Why don't you run for city council, Craig? It would be by secret ballot!!!!


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm

>Wow. An " original " posting from Craig.
Why don't you run for city council, Craig? It would be by secret ballot!!!!

I try to make my posts consistent, not always original(although they can be). I, as a citizen, prefer to express my ideas in a public forum.

I don't run for CC, because I have no interest in late nights of political theatre. Also, I don't want to get pigeonholed. Also, I would never get elected. But Rupert, please throw your hat in the ring, if you wish. Perhaps you can start by using your real name on this blog...might help your campaign!


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm

You are correct, Craig, you would not get elected. I think that you just enjoy stirring the pot and have no real interest in doing anything for the city. But at least you had another " original" comment-- demanding my real name ( as if that has anything to do with the discussion).


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm

>You are correct, Craig, you would not get elected. I think that you just enjoy stirring the pot and have no real interest in doing anything for the city.

Rupert, correct, I would not get elected. However, I think my ideas are good ones for our city (and I am always willing to defend them), and I am not just stirring the pot...as much as it may seem to you that I am doing so. I think I am very commonsensical, yet you and others appear to think that I am merely an iconoclast, going against the PA liberal orthodoxy. I pick my own issues and my own approaches...and I defend them.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Rupert of henzau.
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2014 at 6:37 pm

> I don't know what argument the Planning Dept. would make in
> response but assume they've been asked for the data you
> seek and answered in some fashion

It was my suggestion that the Planning Dept. take the initiative and make this data available without being asked. People around town that have tried to get data from the Planning Department have been frustrated by their refusal to provide some data, as well as their refusal to even answer requests for information.

> The initial sites proposed for the new Housing Element that
> would extend until the year 2023 has housing units allocated
> with 30% at Cal Ave, 20% downtown, and 50% South Palo Alto.

Percent of what? The current ABAG allocations? Need a base number to make sense of a percentage.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 6:40 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Yrs, %'s of the 2,000 or so units the Housing Element update is identifying.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 6:58 pm

[Portion removed.]

Should there be an upgraded zoning for this plot of land? I don't think so. I also don't think there should be upgraded zoning for the BV plot, once that goes through. However, I am not opposed to upgraded zoning when there is a strong community benefit...I choose to analyze them on their individual merits/demerits.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Craig Laughton

I've read your complaint about what you call "welfare housing" for some time. Am I incorrect in reading a touch of class resentment into your call to ban it from all neighborhoods other than the "elite" ones. What if, under your secret vote of the neighborhood regime, a non-elite neighborhood approved an affordable housing project?

Is Barron Park burdened by the presence of PAHC's Oak Manor Townhouses on Los Robles, an private apartment complex that was purchased for affordable housing by PAHC in 1993? They are very well maintained, and look better from the street than other apartment complexes nearby.

How about Webster Wood Apartments, which were built in 1978? While passing out Yes on D fliers in that neighborhood I went inside that tranquil, park-like complex and was surprised when a woman who came to the door explained that she didn't need an explanation of what PAHC was and the importance of affordable housing because PAHC was her landlord. I hadn't realized that it wasn't a privately owned complex.

Just down the street, the CEO of Yahoo had just bought the Roller and Hapgood Mortuary property, which PAHC had hoped to add to its affordable housing properties. Her home at the time was close to Webster Wood. Does that qualify as having affordable housing in an elite neighborhood?

In a city of $1.5M homes that will be tear-downs if sold, to be replaced by larger structures with wealthier owners, it's hard for me to escape the idea that every neighborhood in Palo Alto is in some sense potentially, if not already, "elite." Distinctions could be made between "elite," "very elite," and "super elite" but I don't think there'd be total agreement on the rankings.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Jerry Underderal & Tom Dubois

I am very disappointed that Old Palo Alto & Crescent Park are not being proposed for any allocation of high density housing in the housing element. Old Palo Alto is close to the California Ave Train station; and I don't see any difference between Crescent Park and much of South Palo Alto. One of the main tenants for BMR tenant is to distribute them, so that diversity is promoted. It seems to me, people like Larry Klein, Nancy Shepard & Greg Scharff could benefit from having a more diverse set of neighbors - it would certainly help them be better council members.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2014 at 7:29 pm

>Am I incorrect in reading a touch of class resentment into your call to ban it from all neighborhoods other than the "elite" ones. What if, under your secret vote of the neighborhood regime, a non-elite neighborhood approved an affordable housing project?

Jerry, yes you are incorrect. I just want a level playing field. If the elite neighborhoods want to vote in welfare housing, I will completely accept it (but they won't). Same for the non-elite neighborhoods (although I seriously doubt that want any more of it). I just don't want to see it get dumped on the non-elite neighborhoods anymore. Secret neighborhood votes should resolve the issue. Do you agree, Jerry?


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Posted by iconoclast
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm

"I hope you are not saying university south and downtown are ghettos- can you explain what you meant?"

Nope. Not yet, at least. But I see that as the intent. Stick Downtown with what/who nobody else wants.

I too live very near Downtown. I enjoy the diversity immensely, even (or especially) the homeless. They have stories. I'm very sorry we lost Gloria and Bunny.

The experience of the neighborhood was much enhanced after Heritage Park and Oak Court brought in a rich diversity of young families of many ethnic origins. It's great to converse with them.

Tony Judt wrote about the benefits of living in Edge Cities, where many cultures meet and synthesize. North University South has become a true Edge Neighborhood.

I wish that experience on all Palo Alto neighborhoods. But I don't think all of them want it.

I somewhat cynically predicted the anti-density revolt would come when the R1 neighborhoods genuinely faced a density threat. Hence Maybell. The city's Soviet-style steamroller helped tip things over, but the spark was there. Don't touch R1.

Depressing to be a cynic. Events prove you a prophet.

"If the Maybell opponents are right that the Maybell location was not a good choice, then probably the middle of crescent Park isn't either."

In what sense were they right? That R1 is sacrosanct, and everyone else is the dump for what R1 doesn't want? What's so holy about R1?

R1 is where the least efficient land use is. Especially in Crescent Park. Why not add well-planned density in Crescent Park? People very successfully live there now. Why not many more?


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm

"up with 30% near Cal Avenue, 30% downtown, and 40% South El Camino"

Really, why are South Palo Alto residential areas considered fair game? What if it were 20% north Palo Alto and 20% south, or all north neighborhoods until they have what we have or make the City Council stop? (i don't really mean that, of course, I really think it's time to put a moratorium on growth and deal head on with safety and traffic circulation, etc. )

Tom, you have said makes me wish you would run for Council.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Iconoclast

I did not say the Maybell opponents were right. I was pointing out the potential hypocrisy of arguing against the PAHC proposal there and then arguing for it in a crescent Park.

I favor putting most new housing near services and Crescent Park is a stretch there. But putting density near Urban Lane or at 27 University if owners would agree, is closer to services. So are places around Cal Ave and most of these are close to but not in the middle of R1 neighborhoods.

I don't think all places are equal as good locations for new multi- family housing, most of which will be fairly expensive-very unlike a ghetto but also not like Hong Kong.

I surmise we both enjoy living in University South.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marla
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by iconoclast
a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

"I favor putting most new housing near services and Crescent Park is a stretch there. But putting density near Urban Lane or at 27 University if owners would agree, is closer to services. So are places around Cal Ave and most of these are close to but not in the middle of R1 neighborhoods."

Closer to what services? Except for Walgreens and CVS, Downtown retail is high-end and/or luxury-oriented. "If you don't need it, we got it." The nearest mass-market food store is Safeway in Menlo Park, as (post Lytton Gateway) is the nearest gas station. Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) is essentially a grocery boutique for the privileged.

Our Downtown development pattern has energetically priced out neighborhood-serving businesses in favor of "highest and best use" maximum ROI enterprises. That is not the basis of a viable urban lifestyle.

It is not practical to shop for life's basic necessities using transit in Palo Alto. One MUST drive a car. So, we build lots of density Downtown and what have we got? Urban density with suburban driving necessities. It's the prescription for the perfect gridlock storm; and exactly the wrong approach to reducing carbon emissions.

Our doctrinaire New Urbanists have to get beyond religion and face the world as it actually works here.

"I surmise we both enjoy living in University South."

Yes. We have a very good thing now. Let's keep it liveable.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Craig Laughton

I still like the idea of representative rather than direct democracy. Make good choices of representatives, stay informed and stay in touch to monitor and advise, raise hell or praise as appropriate, repeat the cycle. I recognize the impulse, in this tech-soaked area especially, to look to internet polling tools for making these kinds of decisions, but I'm not ready yet to make the switch.

So, no, I don't agree in mini-plebiscites on every land use decision, with every neighborhood (why not street, or block, or even just neighbor of the property at issue) being able to block a proposal because for whatever reason it doesn't suit one's fancy. I do agree, though, with consistency of zoning rules (including when some flexibility can be afforded for a clearly defined public benefit) in the framework of a comprehensive plan.


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Posted by Why Is Growth Necessary?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Hi. I've read through this whole thread twice now, and I can't figure out why Palo Alto must grow, and by how much. I fully agree that, if we do, it should be planned, and not ad hoc. And I fully agree that, if this is due to some mandate, then we should seek compensation for the costs of that growth (but how do you charge for crowded streets, parks, schools, etc)?

But isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

If we are going to foist all of this growth on the residents, shouldn't it be crystal clear why this has to happen? This relentless growth is a very big deal, one that can irrevocably change the character of Palo Alto. So the utter lack of clarity about whether this is needed, and why, is really concerning.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm

This thread is a reflection of where we are in Palo Alto after more than
a decade of uncontrolled growth, no planning,no design control which has
made a mess of this City. And many projects are just coming through the
pipeline. We are facing a crisis of government and growth impacts. What is
needed is a moratorium on all new projects and a study of down-zoning
and reduction of FAR's in both commercial and residential areas.Instead
the discussion is where can we put more growth. That discussion should
have occurred more than ten years ago. By any estimate we are approaching
if not in a state of crisis and that requires a different set of responses.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2014 at 7:50 am

I disagree that development and increased population density are inevitable and that if we stopped allowing more development we will be sued. Growth is not inevitable, it is a choice. We can make a decision that we have been grossly overdeveloped and overpopulated, and we certainly have, and just have a moratorium on any further developments.

We also absolutely must pass an ordinance that limits the number of people living in one household. There are households in Palo Alto in which multi generations:grandparents, their children, married grandchildren with their own children and sometimes even the the odd uncle and aunt live all in the same house. The fact that it's common in some societies doesn't mean that it should be allowed in Palo Alto, unless we don't mind resembling a sardine can. The sky will not fall if we put a hold on further development, guaranteed.


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Posted by Property rights
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

"We also absolutely must pass an ordinance that limits the number of people living in one household. There are households in Palo Alto in which multi generations:grandparents, their children, married grandchildren with their own children and sometimes even the the odd uncle and aunt live all in the same house. "

How many households like that are there in Palo Alto? Where do you get your number from? Is it really a problem?
What about visitors--will they be banned from your home if they will make you over the limit?
What about private property rights? This sounds like another non-problem that people are trying to solve


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2014 at 9:56 am

@Property rights

Keep in mind this sort of push is only going to get more intense, as people realize that many of the issues they associate with "density" aren't caused by an increase in the number of housing units, but by an increase in the number of people. The line of thinking still persists, even though its been proven wrong time and time again, that people simply won't exist, or populations won't grow, if you prevent new housing from being built.


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Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

Is this the vacant lot where Heidelberg Beer Garden used to be?


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Palo Alto Native

No, it's right next to that. The elderly Thains continued to live there in their farm home, surrounded by apricot trees, long after selling the balance of their apricot orchard for what became Barron Square. I don't know who the current owner is.


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Posted by Why is Growth Necessary?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm

No one has had time yet to answer my question, so I'm going to make up a story as to why growth is necessary. It is kind of depressing, so I look forward to the real story.

1. Palo Alto has had education as a priority since its inception. It is a university town, and it has always put a lot of emphasis on schools.

2. This has had (at least) two effects on the town. One is that the schools became good (effort/funding from families who care), and that has increased property values. The second is that the population tends to be educated/skilled, partly because the schools create skilled people, and partly because the town attracts educated families.

3. The fact that we have a highly educated/skilled population has fostered a rise of highly-skilled jobs in the vicinity, to take advantage of this population.

4. The impact of that -- many highly-skilled jobs in the vicinity -- is that people going to work in those jobs want to live in/near the jobs, namely in/near Palo Alto (and Stanford). That further pushes the prices up, because highly-skilled jobs tend to pay more, and those folks can afford to bid up the prices.

5. So -- the town focused on education, which pushed up housing prices. And the high level of education created many nearby highly-skilled jobs, which further pushed up housing prices. Focus on education + skilled labor force => higher housing prices.

6. But the Bay Area county governments prefer more diverse housing opportunities in each city. They would like cities to be more equal. So our city must build low-cost housing. How? Either find somewhere to build non-dense low-cost housing (we could un-dedicate our open space), or add density.

So what you see is: If you focus on education, and have a highly-skilled population, more than the cities around you, then density is in your future. If you want space, then it is much better to have average schools and a less attractive workforce.

Like I said, I made this up, and I'm looking forward to being corrected.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

> Like I said, I made this up, and I'm looking forward to being corrected.

It's difficult to buy into much of this. Historically, the narrative isn't that accurate. It wasn't until after WWII, that Palo Alto began to see an increase in high-skilled jobs, or a highly-educated population. At the end of WWII, Palo Alto's population was only about 18,000.

As to why Palo Alto must grow? It's probably because of its success in creating a desirable place to live, in large part because of its being so small, and then there is the nearness to Stanford. There is a lot of money in this world, and it needs to flow into business opportunities. The people pushing Palo Alto growth can not possibly believe that the town will be better off because of their investing here--as much as they will be richer when their projects are sold off and they can take their money to the bank.

It's certainly time to begin to seriously look at legal options that might be needed to limit growth (local up to the California Constitution). Otherwise, we can expect to see this town destroyed in only a couple of decades.






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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

"This thread is a reflection of where we are in Palo Alto after more than
a decade of uncontrolled growth, no planning,no design control which has
made a mess of this City. And many projects are just coming through the
pipeline. We are facing a crisis of government and growth impacts. What is
needed is a moratorium on all new projects and a study of down-zoning
and reduction of FAR's in both commercial and residential areas."

There are ways to make this happen. City Council and staff will not do it willingly. Residents should not count on an election and should realize that trying to combat this development by development will not work, either.

We also don't have to start from scratch. There are actually rules and laws and government structure that work for us if we identify a plan, get the right professional (legal) help, and go for it.

We are due the discharge of certain civic responsibilities by our City. The state mandates safety elements and traffic circulation elements, for example. These are not just in name, there are state mandated responsibilities that go with it. Safety is a reason City Councils can turn down development even within zoning and cities can reject them, but for lack of any specific rules to evaluate safety, and for lack of proper safety reviews in recent years (development always takes precedence), citizens have no way to demand this. We can have those rules.

In non-charter cities, there are specific rights residents get, such as zoning, that come at the state level, and which we can enforce in court so developers wouldn't be bringing all these overdevelopment plans to City Hall in the first place. In charter cities, these rights come from the city charter, which can be strong or weak or changed.

In the case of Palo Alto, our charter doesn't make following the Comprehensive Plan mandatory (which puts us in a minority of charter cities). We can change that. This development-crazed City Council seems currently be trying to booby-trap the current revision of the Comp Plan in preparation for that. I cannot impress on all of you the importance of citizens stopping this. Please do not wait for someone else to do it, or it will probably not get done. What can you, as a citizen, do to help NOW?

As we learned in the Maybell situation, many hands make light work. Those citizen networks are still there.

We are due things like open space for every square foot of development. That's long overdue. How does the City even calculate this? Even if they do what they're supposed to (doubtful), it's a rigged game.

We have all these various citizen grassroots groups springing up, but we haven't yet coalesced in a way that solves the problems. This is a democracy, and we are the people. This is also Palo Alto, tech capitol. It's time to fix this.

We need the ability to allow residents to participate remotely in City meetings, not to have the City Hall make supercilious attempts to go out to get feedback from a few dozen people so they can ignore the recent feedback of thousands of us.

Here's something we could use or make similar:
Web Link
"What if you didn't have to trek a town hall or city council meeting be heard? could open its ears nearly the entire city? ..."

The above is too limited for our needs, but it's a good example.

Web Link

We have many residents with tremendous institutional memories who have been working behind the scenes, and many of them still remember the last big overdevelopment crisis in this town many years ago. They could be far more effective with the rest of us, connected online, if we identify a set of priorities, a plan, and go for it.

Luckily, the residentialists ultimately won. That's not a sure thing now by any stretch. This could be fixed a year from now if we put our minds to it.


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Posted by Barron parker
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

How many Measure D opponents showed up at the recent public hearing to argue for compensation for the Buena Vista residents, or affordable housing at that site?

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

@ Why is Growth Necessary - I think you have described the growth in Palo Alto perfectly, educated individuals that move here for the well funded (for California) schools that receive parental support in a University town that is arguable the center of the tech universe. And for those who will argue that most of the people in Palo Alto don't have children, I would like to hear from some Realtors about who buys property in Palo Alto, senior citizens without kids or people with and/or planning to have children. Growth comes from new residents.

To all who repeatedly ask why Atherton, Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills don't have to build housing, its is because they don't have jobs within their city limits. If the ABAG was truly regional, the "bedroom communities" like Atherton would have to supply housing a lot more housing.

While we can't "just say no" to more housing, we can say no to thoughtless up zoning and a lack of a well thought out plan.

And as an additional thought, can someone PLEASE get another architect besides Ken Hayes to design new buildings. I thick we would hear a lot less complaints if some of the new buildings were more "traditionally" appealing.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Barron parker, a resident of Barron Park

I counted one, Emily Renzel, who signed the official arguments in opposition to Measure D, spoke in support of the residents of Buena Vista.

But it seemed to me that the rest of the supporters of fair compensation or continued affordable housing at Buena Vista tracked pretty closely with support of affordable housing on Maybell during the Measure D campaign. For them, it has been a matter of support for affordable housing at both Maybell and Buena Vista.

I thought that Greenacres, who fought hard online for a position on Buena Vista that was unpopular with her property rights allies would put something in the public record for the judge to consider--She did a lot to educate Town Square readers about the difference between renters' rights and mobile home owners' rights. [Portion removed.]

On the other hand, Friends of Buena Vista, whose activities were coordinated by Winter Dellenbach, has done a tremendous job of working with Buena Vista residents and the larger community to stand up for the mobile home occupants.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm

"can someone PLEASE get another architect besides Ken Hayes to design new buildings."

It's simple economics. Talented architects charge big fees for their talent. Hayes works cheap. [portion removed]


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Posted by Why is Growth Necessary?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

"We cannot 'just say no' to more housing"

Why not? It seems to me that ABAG says, if your community is too desirable, then you need to make it less desirable by cramming more people into it. Isn't there another direction, that says if your community is more desirable than nearby communities, then do your part to make those other communities more desirable? Does ABAG have any provision for that? Maybe we could assess how/whether Palo Alto residents and businesses contribute to making other communities more desirable, and apply that to our "too desirable" debt?

BTW, I could not agree more on the issues with nearly de-facto upzoning and the almost mind-bogglingly hideous buildings going up. But I am still wondering why we seem to be just rolling over and taking this "more density" mandate.


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Posted by It's not rocket science
a resident of Southgate
on May 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

I'm exhausted reading so many long messages. So I stopped reading(Hint!)
The 5 seats on the Council that are open this November are
Shepherd
Scharff
Price (announced she's not running)
Klein (not running, termed out)
Holman


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm

@ Why is Growth Necessary? The reason we can't "just say no" to more housing is because in theory, if we do ignore the ABAG requirements, Palo Alto loses control of what gets approved and the state takes over. At least that's how I understand it. Of course having that actually happen is another thing...

The City has to come up with a plan to satisfy ABAG requirements BUT it does not have to actually build the units. Again, thats my understanding. I think as residents of Palo Alto, we should expect our City's zoning to be respected except in rare cases.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Many members of the city council & the city management are using ABAG as excuse to zone for higher density - it supports their developer buddies who contribute to their campaigns. For each unit that meets the BMR requirements for lower income household, the city needs to zone for 4 - 5 units of "market rate units", the way Palo Alto has it's rules written.

If the city council were really interested in changing the ABAG system they would hire a lobbyist, organize other cities with similar issues with ABAG, and initiate litigation. Instead the tune they sing is "ABAG made me vote this way". If all the cities who have the same issues as Palo Alto were to organize, the political influence they could exert on the state legislature would introduce reforms to the whole process.

And I believe with a $160 million dollar budget, devoting $500,000 to $1 million on litigation and a lobbyist would be affordable, and money well spent.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm

>I still like the idea of representative rather than direct democracy. Make good choices of representatives, stay informed and stay in touch to monitor and advise, raise hell or praise as appropriate, repeat the cycle. I recognize the impulse, in this tech-soaked area especially, to look to internet polling tools for making these kinds of decisions, but I'm not ready yet to make the switch.(from Jerry U.)

I believe in representative democracy, to a point. However, when major neighborhood issues arise, I think those neighborhoods should have a say. Think about Measure D...if such a secret neighborhood vote have been allowed, that mess would have been stopped much sooner than it was.

At a minimum, CC would not be allowed cover...they would know what the neighborhood wants on major issues, and could not publicly claim otherwise...and the CC's connection with activist groups could be quelled. Imagine, for example, that PAHC got called out in a neighborhood vote...would CC still be in lockstep with them?

A model I think might work is a secret neighborhood vote, with a possible override vote by CC, with a 2/3 majority to override. Sunshine is a good disinfectant.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 19, 2014 at 7:57 pm

@Barron Parker,
"How many Measure D opponents showed up at the recent public hearing to argue for compensation for the Buena Vista residents, or affordable housing at that site?
"

I don't know. I can tell you that Measure D opponents are majority very much for saving the affordable housing at Buena Vista [portion removed.]
PASZ has already made an official statement in favor of retaining BV and in support of the City intervening to help the residents. [Portion removed.]

@Jerry Underdal,
I don't go to many City meetings for any purpose because I have a life, but I did try to go to the BV meetings, things like illness and doctor appts intervened. [Portion removed.] The only reason I try is for the people at BV, but I do defer to people like Winter who are working so hard [portion removed.]

I couldn't come to the meetings myself, but spent a major amount of time I didn't have writing in support. I did submit testimony through the attorney. I do what I can, but I'm not a martyr. The time is a sacrifice, I do what I am most effective at (just as in Measure D, write).

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm

"And I believe with a $160 million dollar budget, devoting $500,000 to $1 million on litigation and a lobbyist would be affordable, and money well spent. "

They spent $600,000 on the Measure D election, even though PAHC hadn't actually met the deadline for the funding that round.

City Council's making it possible for citizens to participate remotely in City meetings isn't about eliminating representative democracy, it's about letting more citizens participate in City meetings. The rest is about doing the job City hall isn't doing, another time honored tradition of checks and balances in democracy (like referenda).

Today I complained to someone in City Hall that we needed a separate Safety Element in the Comp Plan, and that I thought this City Council was going to boobytrap the Comp Plan in favor of developers and against citizens in this revision. I was told, why don't you write (to which I pointed out that I had, on more than one occasion). And then I was told again "if you don't participate in the process..." Argh.

At what point does all that mail we wrote before Measure D, and all the mail we wrote afterwards, count for anything? And if it doesn't count, and all the times we showed up to speak, and all the times we brought up safety and met with our Councilmembers to express our concerns, if those count for nothing, why exactly should I be sacrificing more of my life to the development of that plan? I'm far better off opposing it legally or administratively in the way the law allows when it is done badly (as CC seems determined to do).


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Posted by Barron parker
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]



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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

I saw all the hard work you were doing here online for BV residents and the flack you took for it. That criticism was not coming from supporters of Measure D.

You made a strong pitch for a Buena Vista intervention that would appeal more to property rights/limited government enthusiasts because it wouldn't involve government subsidies, etc., but even so PASZ did not seem engaged beyond posting the Friends of Buena Vista message and adding its name to the list of supporters.

In one of those juxtapositions that happen sometimes, the Mountain View Voice carried an article right about the time of the hearings about the visit to Mountain View of Maricopa (AZ) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was a guest of the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley, which has also hosted Mimi Steel of the SF/Bay Area chapter Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR).

That's not a good association for a group that wants to show its eagerness to support the largely Latino residents of BV. The Voice noted:

"A U.S. District court recently found that Arpaio's department was guilty of racially profiling Latinos in his department's controversial immigration patrols, where those who are suspected to have crossed the Mexican border illegally are detained before their status is determined for long periods of time, the court found."


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Posted by Barron parker
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

"I saw all the hard work you were doing here online for BV residents and the flack you took for it."

I don't feel like I've taken any flak for supporting BV residents. That's been a discussion. [Portion removed.]

"You made a strong pitch for a Buena Vista intervention that would appeal more to property rights/limited government enthusiasts because it wouldn't involve government subsidies, etc., but even so PASZ did not seem engaged beyond posting the Friends of Buena Vista message and adding its name to the list of supporters."

Jerry, people on the anti-Measure D side have been supporters of BV all along [portion removed.] They also don't easily come up with public statements with official positions.

The same person who took over the PaloAltoville website during the election, also put up that Friends of BV website. That was not a small amount of work.

I have spent more time trying to figure out how I can help than you will ever know [portion removed.] I spent hours and hours trying to write conciliatory emails before and after the election, because I could see the political opportunities that were lost [portion removed.]

[Portion removed.] I am a pragmatist. I look a the problem and the different needs and wants, and try to figure out how to solve the problem. If you and yours had given me and mine half the chance, we would have done what was done at Terman years ago, been honor-bound to do even better by affordable housing, save the orchard, and probably save money for the City. But it might not have helped PAHC further their professional goals which were clearly for them the priority at Maybell. It might not have been a senior project because if it turned out the need was greater for the disabled. And it might not have helped whoever in the City Council thought it was a great idea to tie up the money from the affordable housing fund at Maybell so it couldn't be used at BV.

I could also see that if saving BV had been politically joined with not upzoning Maybell, it would have been possible to turn out large numbers of people over both. After Measure D was a really key time when it would have still been possible to get virtually everyone who came out against Measure D to rally for saving BV. It could have been a huge political move. [Portion removed.] The saddest thing of all is knowing how much harder some of us would have worked on that because we hated having to oppose PAHC (but felt we had no choice) and would have welcomed the chance to redeem the situation. [Portion removed.]

I see the need to save BV for the people who live there, and given that we have a range of needs and people in our town, I think of the paths to best get there. When I am speaking to people who have the greatest concerns about certain issues, I address those issues [portion removed.] But I also fundamentally disagree with you and your perspective that the only way for affordable housing is to create large fishbowl subsidized projects. It's not even good for the people in them according to HUD, and it ultimately backfires on the goal of affordability if you create something that is too expensive and does so little to solve the problem overall. That engenders backlash and is not sustainable. This does not make me a tea-party adherent, it doesn't even make me against affordable housing.

Many people living in BV are living there for the affordable housing BECAUSE they don't want to be in a government project, BECAUSE they don't have to fill out a detailed form for someone with all their personal information and feel like they are begging for what they get. They don't just have affordable housing there, they built an asset (that in any fair world they could continue to build). They ARE property owners, that's not just some ideological argument. [Portion removed.]

The biggest misconception about BV is that it is already subsidized housing, so by extension, the public assumes negative things about the residents for pushing for their rights in the hearings. That needed addressing, both because the residents have a right to certain things as property owners, and because the public support is not beside the point. The biggest opposition to saving it -- one that will snowball if not addressed adequately -- is the belief that it can't be done unless it involves a huge sacrificial government handout to people who (in the eyes of the critics) don't deserve it. That's a false conception and it needed addressing too. [Portion removed.]

I care about having affordable housing, and I do think there is a role for government, but if people don't think holistically, it ultimately backfires. I personally was in the Maybell situation because of safety. [Portion removed.]

Going through this Measure D experience has taught me that there are people on the left who are the ideologically rigid equivalent of people on the far right who end up being the opposite of fiscally conservative because they adhere to an ideology over the outcome. Measure D would never have been necessary, and the housing WOULD have been built, if people like you hadn't insisted that upzoning Maybell in exactly that way and only that was the only thing anyone could ever to for affordable housing ever in this town. We might have had the housing, the orchard, better safety in the neighborhood AND a closer community at the end if people [portion removed] had any sense of pragmatism, too. [Portion removed.] Most of the people against Measure D are socially liberal voters and would have worked to create the affordable housing if they'd been given the chance to do anything except fight that upzoning. Most of them are in the group out of an interest in saner planning policies, too. If that means working with people fighting the state over ABAG pushing rules on us that effectively destroy all zoning rules, I say more power to them.

Getting back to the neighborhood and BV.

There is an opportunity here to save BV. [Portion removed.] I have spent the last several months trying to quietly figure out what that is so I can help in whatever capacity I can [portion removed.] However, I recognize that Winter and hers are putting in a lot of energy, expertise, and are the leads on this. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 20, 2014 at 1:43 am

" If that means working with people fighting the state over ABAG pushing rules on us that effectively destroy all zoning rules, I say more power to them."

Well that probably needs clarification. It's difficult to put together the resources to fight the forces that are destroying our zoning laws and principles. If I have to join with teapartyers because they're the only ones doing it, then so be it. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Someone send me the link to Mimi Steel's talk, I haven't seen it.


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 20, 2014 at 10:52 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 20, 2014 at 11:31 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@It's not rocket science

So who will run for city council?

One of the benefits of the Maybell Revolt was a political atmosphere in which it was inconceivable that the hugely disruptive 27 University and Jay Paul projects would get any further (I hope this rejection will be final.)

But looking forward, who will run for the 5 seats that will be contested? Some of the strong voices against Measure D would be serious candidates and could bring a greater spread of opinion to the council. But which ones? And who else will step forward that has good ideas about improving city government but hasn't aligned him/herself with PASZ? Would running a slate of PASZ-endorsed candidates help or hurt the chances of victory for the best among them?


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm

"8. Ensure that College Terrace, Baron Park, and South Palo Alto all have voices at the table by creating 4 zones: North Palo Alto, College Terrace, Baron Park, and South Palo Alto - plus the fifth City council member who would be the Mayor. "

The problem with this suggestion is that you're looking at it by neighborhood without considering population. While it would be nice to neatly divide up the council seats by the 4 zones (geography/street borders), it would be best to divide by population at 25% each.

I don't know how city population is distributed, but I'm guessing that SPA has greater density than NPA. And I would venture to guess that CT and BP don't come close in numbers of either NPA or SPA. If I'm right about that - then it would not be equitable to allow BP or CT equal footing as SPA or NPA.

So you can either create more districts of equal population or adjust the weighted value of the council vote while maintaining the 4 districts by neighborhood borders. In other words, if BP was only 15% of the total CPA population, then that is the percentage of the council vote they are entitled to. Etc.

For the purposes of illustrating my point...In the BV survey story, it was stated that there are ~1700 residences in BP. That translates to approximately 3400 vote eligible residents - 5% of the CPA population (I cold be way off, but hang with me on this for the following...): 5% of the population should not receive 25% of the council vote.




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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm

@Crescent Park Dad - The idea of creating a City Council based on zones also means we need people from somewhere besides North Palo Alto to run for City Council. And for that matter, School Board.

We can't elect someone who isn;t running.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I agree. I think the original poster (though I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth or keyboard) believes that voting districts will open the door for those who have been hesitant to run. Especially if you consider the financial resources that it takes to run a campaign...one of the more frequently mentioned hurdles in the past...the NPA candidates seem to have easier access to donors and/or organized volunteers/endorsements, etc.

And what do you do if no one runs from a particular district? Or what if the only person who runs is either unqualified or "a joke" candidate? What if someone like Victor Frost is the only candidate from a particular district? Will there be a "none of the above" option on the ballot?

I realize that SPA and BP feel under-represented at the CC. I don't question their feelings on that at all. But I don't think the people who have suggested district CC membership have given full thought to the downsides/consequences of this model.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 20, 2014 at 7:43 pm

>And what do you do if no one runs from a particular district? Or what if the only person who runs is either unqualified or "a joke" candidate? What if someone like Victor Frost is the only candidate from a particular district? Will there be a "none of the above" option on the ballot?

CPD, that is only one reason that I oppose ward politics. Ward politicians are every much as susceptible to cooptation as at-large candidates...then they get locked in.

I think we are better off with at-large candidates, along with neighborhood secret ballots on major issues in their neighborhoods. Such a secret ballot will keep our CC transparent...perhaps even honest.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 8:47 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

You have a great story to tell, and the public should know it. Please contact the Weekly or the Palo Alto Daily so they can do real reportage on what's been happening in Barron Park and its connection to Palo Alto, regional, state, and national politics. You'll share your account and then the reporter(s) will talk to other sources to get other perspectives. Town Square is too constrained a venue for your ambitions. Get the word out!


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