News

Editorial: For developers, tough sledding in Palo Alto

Citizen activists put city staff and council to the test in reviewing new projects

For real-estate developers in Palo Alto, 2014 may be looked back on as a turning point in how things work for them at city hall.

Experienced property owner-developers with track records of quality projects have enjoyed a relatively hospitable environment at city hall for a long time. The likes of Chop Keenan, Jim Baer and Roxy Rapp, and the architects they hire, have had good professional relationships with city staff and commission members and enjoy easy access to council members. And they have generally been more appreciated than criticized for their projects, even as they ask for zoning concessions or favorable rules interpretations.

More often than not, these developers have been able to win approvals because the quality of their buildings has been viewed as superior to what others might build. They also have an advantage of more historical knowledge about the details of the zoning laws and how they've been applied in the past than the planners who are reviewing their applications.

But there is a palpable change taking place, and it is disrupting council alliances and creating angst and discomfort among planning staff and city management. It's as if a metaphorical compass has been lost, and everyone is trying to sort out this new political landscape, unsure of just how tough to be with these familiar developers with long track records in the community.

At least between now and the November election, there is little appetite on the city council for giving any more ammunition to vocal critics of past policy decisions.

The city council's heightened sensitivity to a wave of public concern over development, parking and traffic, particularly downtown, was on full display Monday night, when it appropriately rejected a staff recommendation allowing for a significant expansion of the iconic historic building at 261 Hamilton Ave. just vacated by University Art.

A few years ago, it is likely that a majority of the council would have voted to support this project. Instead, it was rejected on an 8-1 vote, with only Gail Price supporting it.

The key issue was building owner Roxy Rapp's plan to expand the building with a new three-story wing behind the current historic structure, along the alley called "Centennial Walk."

The existing building size already vastly exceeds the current zoning limits but is grandfathered under the law, meaning that Rapp can maintain the current usable square footage but not add to it. In an ingenious move, he proposed converting the large basement to a garage with parking for nine cars, which he argued then allowed him to reallocate the 6,000 square feet of basement space to enable the building of the new three-story office wing.

His reasoning was that since below-grade parking does not normally count in a building's square footage under the zoning law, by switching the basement's use to parking he "gained" 6,000 feet in new above-ground development potential.

As opponents pointed out, this method of creating 6,000 square feet of brand-new additional commercial office space where the existing building already exceeds the current zoning is just the sort of increased development that residents are rebelling against. The nine new parking spaces wouldn't begin to accommodate the number of workers who would occupy the new wing of the building, so downtown's parking deficit would have only worsened with Rapp's proposal.

Remarkably, the planning staff went along with Rapp's interpretation of the rules and recommended that his plan be approved.

Fortunately, the proposal found an ally only in Gail Price, who felt the benefit of the building being renovated with improved fire-safety features was worth the additional square footage. The other council members, especially those anxious to be responsive to a restless electorate, could hardly wait to go on record opposing the project. It is but another indication of the sea-change in attitude that has come over Palo Alto politics.

The council clearly made the right decision in this case, and by doing so hopefully makes clear to developers that under-parked projects are dead-on-arrival no matter the offsetting benefits. And the same should apply to other creative developer efforts to stretch current zoning limits by offering offsetting benefits.

We have little doubt this will remain the current council's attitude until the election; our hope is that the council elected in November will make this a clear mandate for the future.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by About Nancy Shepherd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 9:37 am

I was at the meeting. I heard Mayor Shepherd talk about the fact that the building has a basement under the sidewalk. And it was leaking and sagging. So she was still willing to give the developer credit for the space lost under the City's sidewalk. So she was still willing to expand the building in the remodel. Because of her comments, the motion was amended to clarify the definition of "building envelope" to mean the current skin of the building.

It is interesting that some claim the definition of "building envelope" changed to the skin of the building in the energy and efficiency context. A more likely explanation is that the term was reused in this new context with a similar meaning to the old context, that is, the skin of the building.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by About Nancy Shepherd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

Sorry, I didn't explain above that the basement under the sidewalk was proposed for being filled in to resolve the leaks and sags. So Mayor Shepherd still wanted to give the developer credit for the portion of the basement being filled in, by giving the developer above ground office space still.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Similar Roxy project
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2014 at 9:56 am

In 2007 Roxy proposed "partial reconstruction" of 64 Willow Road in Menlo Park. It turned into a demolition with changes made AFTER approval by the Planning Dept.
His plan was to add 6,000 square feet of office. Does this number sound familiar? Maybe we were saved from the demolition of that beautiful building on Hamilton Ave.
www.almanacnews.com/print/story/2007/09/05/linfield-oaks-residents-fume-over-demolished-building


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jonathan
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

This change in the wind is long overdue. I would like to see the Weekly publish a map showing the holdings of Chop Keenan, Jim Baer, and Roxy Rapp. Their domination of the Palo Alto Monopoly board -- and of the city council and staff -- should be documented.

Longtime residents are constantly being told that the destruction of downtown Palo Alto, its independent businesses, its theaters, its livable public spaces, was due to the "free market," when in fact it has been anything but. Instead, it has been the work of monopolists and corruption.

Palo Alto homeowners need to wake up and realize that, despite the current bubble, the damage these developers do will be hurting property values for everyone else over the long term.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kenagain
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

Excellent editorial, late in coming but brings focus to a problem identified 7 years ago by citizens and ignored by staff, commissions, and especially by City Council. Someone needs to go back and add up the $60,000 per parking space subsidy given to the favored few developers in that time. I believe they will find it exceeds 1,400 spaces -over $80 million dollars. A gift to those who don't need it. (Finally an answer to the question "what do you give to someone who has everything?"). A gift that should be returned in full to help solve the problems created.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

[Portion removed.]
Gail Price continues to side with developers. She isn't running for re election in November (thank goodness), so she can continue thumbing her nose at her constituents.
It is imperative that Mayor Sheppard, and council member Scharff don't get re elected in November.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Developers = the devil
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

[Portion removed.] Who do they think they are? Building houses, office space, parking?!! WHO NEEDS IT??? I wish Palo Alto was like it was before THEY came. Nice creeks, scrub, occasional trees. Bird sounds. NO DAMN HUMANS!! Heritage everything, as far as the eye could see. Squirrel's eye, that is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Developers = the devil
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

When I ran for City Council in 2012, Gennady Sheyner of the Weekly said I did nothing but "railing against the developers". If that was true then, it is less true now. I am putting a lot of energy into blogging against the developers. For instance:

Web Link

I continually say that the Weekly, even above, is for some reason too soft on the developers.

The election is about 100 days away and I am imagining another 50 or more such essays and posts and rants even about the political climate here -- and the occasional post here as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by South Palo Alto
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

This is so sad

Developers = Devil, assuming they are using wonderfully crafted sarcasm, has hit the nail on the head. Perhaps we should go back 500 years or so when the Ohlone were the only inhabitants here. That seems to be the direction the anti-progress activists prefer.

Humans hate change, but it seems Palo Alto hates change more than most. Ironic as Palo Alto is arguably the birth place of the high tech revolution that has changed the world these past 50 years.

As a long time resident of Palo Alto, I welcome change. Opposing every proposed development will hurt the city in the long run. Looking at development in Mountain View, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and other near by communities, shows how much need there is for additional development. As Palo Alto citizens bury their heads in the sand, the rest of the area will benefit.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Are You Being Served ?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

The planning commission and the city council serve the developers, rather than the people who elected them. Their jobs are to serve the constituents, which they do not do. The constituents do not want all of this business development in a residential community, but guess what? More people work in Palo Alto than live here, and that has caused most, if not all, of Palo Alto's problems.

Unfortunately, some council members have financial investments in these business developments, and stand to make loads of money. These members should be removed post-haste.

The bottom line is, there really is no more room for more development, more traffic, more roads, more housing.

LEAVE PALO ALTO ALONE!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Mark-- did you buy advertisements for your election campaign in the weekly? Did you " donate" to the for-profit weekly? If not, that may explain gennadys comments.
Oh and BTW, all those people who are complaining about the city council, remember that they were all whole heartedly endorsed by the weekly before the election.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm

The way our City has dealt with development has an analogy in how our technology can dominate our lives and make us less productive. The City manager/staff and Council don't prioritize the nuts and bolts City business — things like safety, big picture planning, quality of life, protecting the character of our neighborhoods and quality of the environment, solving civic problems — City "business" processes aren't structured to keep development in proper context, so developers (between their money and narrow view toward their own wants) end up dominating. Development dominates staff time, City business, City focus, and, when developments are built, they just plain dominate.

[Portion removed.]

Nuts and bolts City work is hard, often thankless, boring work. If you fight tooth and nail to ensure your town has a proper egress network mapped out in case of large-scale emergency, no one is likely to thank you even if the worst happens and everyone survives because of it. Usually fighting tooth and nail for safety before the worst happens is an extremely difficult task, it's why "safety first" is such a necessary reminder for most humans. If someone dies in a neighborhood because response time is 1 minute longer, probably no one is even going to notice. (Who would know, really, if the person would have survived?) It's so much easier to schmooze with nice developers and architects. But we hire and vote for people to run our City so that they put those kinds of nuts and bolts civic concerns first, especially safety.

Residents have expressed alarm and concern for a long time about what has been happening to traffic circulation and safety. Both of those issues are actually mandated as distinct elements in the comprehensive plans of California cities, but we don't have them in our Comprehensive Plan. Safety, for example, is rolled up into "natural environment" and there are very few specific policies that address our current safety needs, particularly with all this development. Safety isn't first, it's an afterthought.

The Maybell development took up so much of everyone's time and attention last year. Before the vote on rezoning the residential neighborhood, neighbors repeatedly called for the "heightened scrutiny" of school commutes that is the City's own policy demands. But what did that entail? There were no rules whatsoever, no specific guidelines that could be enforced, challenged, or improved. The neighbors hired a respected traffic engineer who found there was no examination of the impact to students biking to school or walking at all in the report. The only thing they could do was point out the total absence of any scrutiny, but what guidelines or processes or big picture planning for safety did "heightened" scrutiny even entail?

For lack of a strategy, a "business" process, that prioritizes what's most important, our City just kept treating development as the de facto priority. [Portion removed.]

Cities can deal with safety and traffic circulation elements in their comp plans however they wish, they don't have to have separate elements, but there are specific requirements. Did you know that traffic circulation is even supposed to take the CONVENIENCE of residents into account? We roll those elements into other elements, but it's left us without any sense of civic priority, and in the face of pressure by developers, City Council just picks up whenever developers ping.

When NO on Measure D won, it felt a lot like that scene in Horton Hears a Who where the residents of Whoville finally got that "Yop!" through and those intent on destroying their little dust speck finally hear the residents yelling "We are here! We are here! We are HERE!"

I feel really sad that the result of hearing us is that our City staff become confused, rather than refocused on what's important to residents. It isn't just that they need to change the insular culture, we need good management from Council to examine how to focus City business processes on what's important. Otherwise, they'll just go back to picking up the phone whenever developers call and leaving the most important business of civic life as neglected as now.

I do think Eric Filseth and Tom Du Bois will refocus the priorities on what's most important, so long as we get a majority of residentialist candidates who are as good as they are. I think this kind of clarity will be good for developers eventually, too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A.J. L
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dreaming-of-a-perfect-city-council
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm

> I do think Eric Filseth and Tom Du Bois will refocus the priorities
> on what's most important

Very unlikely that they will achieve very much. Neither seems to have much of an insight into how government works--or even what it is supposed to do. Moreover, the council is bound by the charter to be hands off. If these two are going to have any clout--they will have to deal with an [portion removed] city manager.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm

"Neither seems to have much of an insight into how government works--"

On what do you base that? I would say they've had an impact as citizens that demonstrates a very keen understanding of how government works. Plus, I'm very certain that both of them can read and learn, and know where to look. Couple that with actually caring about putting quality of life here back on the map, I think they will achieve much. Just as our residentialist slate did when Palo Alto development went out of control the last time. Filseth in particular has executive experience.

I don't think anyone who is hoping for Filseth or du Bois to win -- and HOPEFULLY a few more good residentialists, or without a majority they really won't be able to do much -- is expecting anything like perfect.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bribes
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm

@Rupert of whatever: I'm tired of your incessant, unfounded attacks on Gennady and your equally unfounded insinuations (or more) that advertising in the Weekly buys favorable coverage. If you have proof of such malfeasance bring it forward; otherwise, cut the crap.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Bribes- i am entitled to my opinion. If you will note what I wrote, I prefaced it as my thoughts on why Marc got the coverage he got ( and note the he was spot on as well, according to many people). A perfect example of what I am talking about is Timothy gray. When he ran , he did not spend any money on advertising. He did not get an endorsement from the weekly. During the Maybell/measure D matter, the weekly completely supported his stance. Seems he would have made a good council member.
Anyway, what is with the selective outrage, bribes. How come no outrage for postings about the school board, the council, the city mananger, plenty of,postings from the same people expressing claims of,one thing or another. Anyway, my friend Jan agrees with me completely.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

@Rupert ,

During Maybell/measure D, PAHC took out at least as many full-page ads or maybe more, than the neighbors. They had $120,000 to spend, the neighbors had shoestrings.

Good people can disagree. I disagreed with Daubers on their Measure D stance, but support Ken Dauber's candidacy for School Board. So much so, I will support "bullet voting" just for him if it looks like it's necessary to ensure a win. I do that with full knowledge that I will not agree with him on everything.

During Maybell, Tim Gray really stepped up to the civic plate in a way that made most of the neighbors wish he had gotten on the Council. I voted for him, but even I had no idea he would shine like that when things got rough. He was willing to stick his neck out and play an important and essential volunteer part of the grassroots. He came across as cool-headed, principled, thoughtful, and smart. Willing to think about things, and take a stand. He doesn't come across as slick, like some other local politicians. That always works against people.

Bribes does have a point, though, Rupert. You do seem to mostly make ad hominem posts rather than discussing the issues.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Greenacres- you are confusing opinions with attacks. I know that in Palo Alto disagreeing with council or city officials is considered an attack. However , maybe you can tell me why Weiss and gray were not endorsed and kniss was, for example. [Portion removed.]
All that said, please note that all the council members that the citizens seem to be unhappy with, were endorsed by the weekly. Note Weiss' comment above regarding the weekly being soft on developers. I think the weekly has been soft on the council for years as well. We need to have real council races, with tough questions asked and answered, instead of the vanilla elections that the weekly supports. Remember the worse thing that can happen to a newspaper is for the readers to consider it irrelevant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by lacking what
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm

RE: "Looking at development in Mountain View, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and other near by communities, shows how much need there is for additional development. As Palo Alto citizens bury their heads in the sand, the rest of the area will benefit."

Just what are we lacking in PA now, such that we need to keep developing to avoid that others "will benefit", supposedly at our expense? We have more retail and office than any of those cities per capita now. Must we continue winning some race for "#1 city" status and king of some preschool sandlot where those with the most toys wins, at the expense of liveability?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dreaming-of-a-perfect-city-council
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 7:44 pm

> On what do you base that?

Firstly, few people in Palo Alto have any idea how government works. So why should these two Johnny-Come-Lately's be any different. But let's consider some specifics. Of the following topics, which of these two men have a clear, and insightful, paper trail:

1) City Government Expenditures (Past, Current, Future)
2) City Government Revenues (Past, Current, Future)
3) Growth of Salaries/Benefits of City Employees?
4) Dealing with all unfunded employee benefit liabilities.
5) Infrastructure Issues
6) Growth of City Obligations--such as why Palo Alto should be assuming the Air Port's operations.
7) Zoning Codes
8) Comprehensive Plan
9) Charter Update
10) Review of all City Ordinances for Relevance/Possible sunsetting.
11) General Transparency Issues.

This is a short list, but it covers most of the important issues that people claiming to be ready for City Council should have, by the time they run for Council, have developed opinions on, and researched, these topics. What paper trail can we look for any/most/all of these issues?

Last week the Santa Clara County Grand Jury weighed in on the transparency issues of the Palo Alto government. Looking around the various blogs, and letters to the editors in the local papers--were there any comments by either of these two gentlement? Or will the Grand Jury Report fall into the dustbin of history--as we go to the polls to elect five new Councilmembers?

Given that both of the gentlement are ill-prepared for this sort of decision-making, it's difficult to believe that they will achieve very much other than some posturing on the dais, if both are elected.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Well, let's see... measure D involved understanding land use rules, CEQA, our planning approval process, the psychology of turning out crowds, election law, setting up a political campaign, writing ballot arguments, City rules for referenda and initiatives - a great many residents familiarized themselves with the Comp Plan - and on and on. None of us knew anything about those things when it started, we just knew we didn't want a high density development and the traffic in the heart of that residential neighborhood. Every last one of us was less qualified than these candidates. three former mayors said we could never win a land use referendum in Palo Alto.

Your claim against the candidates comes down to: "few people in Palo Alto have any idea how government works. So why should these two"

you've just admitted you know nothing about them but are assuming they don't know anything.

If we're dealing in generalities, high-tech people tend to just learn what they need to solve the problem at hand and be the experts they need to be. Filseth and du Bois are smart enough to learn if they haven't already. And unlike other candidates, they are running on prioritizing quality of life for residents. They've also both got kids in school. The schools are really important part of our civic equation, especially since boards are autonomous. What direct knowledge do the current councilmembers have of what is going on in the schools? None. Councilmembers proved during Maybell that they are shockingly out of touch with the schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2014 at 8:40 pm

P.S. Many of the above points you've listed are exactly why I think it's critical to the future of Palo Alto to have Filseth and other residentialists on the Council. Especially because of the comp Plan revision.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm

>> Remarkably, the planning staff went along with Rapp's interpretation of
>> the rules and recommended that his plan be approved.


That's not remarkable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Out with Sheppard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Are the people really against giving incentives to renovate historic buildings?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

The question is, is this action by the Council a new reality in Palo Alto, or is it just a bump in the road based on political expediency, contingent on the outcome of upcoming Council elections? The voters in Nov need to
give the answer in strong terms.

The editorial initially portrays what has taken place here as a pragmatic approach to get better projects. Where does staff/ARB approval of The Cheesecake Factory fit into that? The special benefits, bonuses, exemptions were a matter of ongoing city policy despite growing negative impacts and opposition and were granted to developers outside this group of three to others who are now transforming the Hamilton Ave corridor adjacent to Crescent Park, with large underparked buildings at 524 Hamilton and now across lane 39 its sister 611 Cowper under construction and 537 Hamilton across the street.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by change the council
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I'll play the world's smallest violin for these developers, while sitting in the traffic caused by this their overdevelopment.

Remember - if it says "Incumbent" on the ballot, vote for someone else.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm

@change the council,
If it says incumbent, vote for someone else ... unless there are fewer residentialist candidates than seats, in which case, don't even cast all the votes available, because a vote not used then will be essentially a vote for your candidate (and not for someone else running against them).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm


If Eric Filseth and Tom Du Bois are opposed to continued commercial space development (especially those wanting exemptions), which I believe they are, then they have my vote and full support! I also would like to cap dense housing development in the form of condos and apartments. I note the massive office space and dense housing development taking place in downtown Los Altos. I am surprised! I thought my good neighbors to the South would hold the line on what makes their community a high qualify of life. Clearly, the temptation of town revenues and likely favoring some developers who come from the same area are greater than protecting the scale of their community. Thus, another leadership moment for Palo Alto to share with our other near by towns. We can stop this runaway train of greed and overdevelopment. And it begin with new city council members and cleaning house on the rest.

I agree with Jonathan - ...change in the wind is long overdue. I would like to see the Weekly publish a map showing the holdings of Chop Keenan, Jim Baer, and Roxy Rapp. Their domination of the Palo Alto Monopoly board -- and of the city council and staff -- should be documented." WELL SAID, my friend.

And thank you Mark Weiss for being the initial voice in the wilderness but who's insight against overdevelopment has now found a once inert electorate reaping the real quality of life "cost's" associated with overdevelopment, anywhere.

And to others that suggest the above are not qualified to run: not so! We all have brains and can learn any political process. I remember some King George the III talking about us colonists not being able to manage our own affairs. Like we were little children.

The process to save our Palo Alto is finally here. Push the success of Silicon Valley to other communities and States throughout the union. Long overdue.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

It's interesting to note the difference in organized political opposition to city council actions regarding development in Palo Alto and Mountain View.

The Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View (www.balancedmv.org) is threatening a referendum against Phase II of Merlone Geier's San Antonio shopping center plan. What is its key demand? More housing, including affordable housing, instead of more offices so the jobs/housing imbalance doesn't get even worse than it is.

In Palo Alto, PASZ appears to be resistant to more housing construction, and has made its reputation by successfully referending the affordable housing project that had been approved for Maybell.

Is this a liberal vs. libertarian difference in viewing a similar problem or are the two cases fundamentally dissimilar?

It's good to be reminded that being against runaway development and city government giveaways to monied interests is not a viewpoint held only by people who hold positions espoused by PASZ. Palo Alto voters should have choices come November which would include the Mountain View approach.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm

@Jerry Underdal,
I wonder if you would have anything to say if you weren't simply mischaracterizing the actions and words of others?

The referendum at Maybell was to overturn a REZONING ordinance, not a housing project. The residents never rejected a housing project, the proponents put them in a position of having to choose between THAT PLAN and the residential zoning in their neighborhood.

The residents called for and welcomed the ability to find a way to do the housing, even in that location, in a way that didn't require such major upzoning, even trying to find a way to finance it so more of the project could be affordable and less of it (the majority) for-profit development. Many of us tried for months prior to the referendum to find another way. We were never listened to, because in that political climate, Council didn't think the neighbors could do anything. Some of the PASZ members like Joe Hirsch and Bob Moss, who were calling publicly for a working group to find a compromise, were part of the Terman Working Group that found a way to see the 92-unit affordable housing development at Terman built as well as save the school site from development. This time, their calls for reason were ignored.

[Portion removed.]

Most of the people in PASZ were and are supporters of affordable housing. They did not like the affordable housing being used as a Trojan Horse for high-density zoning busting of their residential neighborhood. PASZ has not made many official statements, but they officially endorsed saving Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, and the same member who put up the PaloAltoVille website during Measure D also put up the Friends of BV website. It was not a small amount of work.

[Portion removed.]

I would note that the move of residents in the Mountain View citizens campaign you mentioned and the one in Menlo Park is almost identical to here in Palo Alto. We're tired of the overdevelopment. The home page you linked to has a reasonable vision and has zero mention of affordable housing. I hope it will include affordable housing, but the way you have characterized it is, as usual, not accurate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I challenge those claim that more development are vital to Palo Alto to explain why and how will our lives improve with more development. What is it that we just absolutely must have?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Greenacres

[Portion removed.]
There's a good front page article in the June 27 Mountain View Voice "Council deadlocks on San Antonio housing" that gives more of the flavor of what the Campaign there is seeking.

I'm only successful about 50% of the time at inserting web links but I'll try here. Web Link

Just in case that didn't work, Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 9:19 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sound of birds
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Dear Developers, stop boxing us in. Soon we won't be able to see sky when we're walking around Palo Alto due to your sky scrapers:( And has anyone noticed the increase of smog in the area just in the last few years?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@common sense

"The voters have decided that allowing an increase building density along a safe schools route was not right."

And took the gamble that what eventually went in there would generate significantly less traffic and might even yield nice low-density affordable housing, or an orchard complete with visitor's center. One of these scenarios might come true. [Portion removed.]

Regardless of how things work out at Maybell, an important message was sent to the political establishment, one that has had the beneficial effect of alerting city decision makers to the need for resident buy-in and for changes to procedures that gave inadequate protection against developer overreach.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 2:44 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 2:49 am

"And took the gamble that what eventually went in there would generate significantly less traffic "

Actually, the City had complete control over whether what eventually went in there would generate more traffic, because they had first right of refusal on the property and could have bought it in a non-competitive situation, placed deed restrictions on it for safety, and resold it at a profit. Or allowed the neighbors to raise the money for a low-traffic use like an orchard, which would have been the smart political move.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 3:05 am

@Jerry Underdal,
PASZ didn't exist until after Measure D, by the way. Most of the active PASZ members were not there in the beginning. [Portion removed.] Many, many different spheres of citizens were involved in what eventually became Measure D. Measure D was not ever inevitable and was never anyone's first choice. Most of the people involved in Measure D had many hopes for more positive collaborative efforts, but the City and PAHC just really dismissed neighbors' ability to achieve something better/collaborative as much as they dismissed neighbors' potential to overturn the rezoning.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by South Palo Alto
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

Greenacres,

Thanks for the detailed, nuanced background information, as well as the alternatives that did not happen.

It seems that there is a strong "us versus them" attitude throughout these comments ("residentalist party"), and I wonder if this impacts the willingness to find a common ground.

There is much that can be done to set the future of Palo Alto - and the city is reaching out to us. How many commenting here have attended the previous three "Our Palo Alto 2030" meetings? I have found each had wide varieties of views from the citizens, and there were a significant number of city employees in attendance, and taking many notes. There was a continuing sense of civil discourse with strong views presented without emotion.

The world is changing - rapidly. I support active, positive, and civil involvement to direct this change. We can't stop it - change is inevitable. We can help guide it. Polarized political parties will not help guide it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2014 at 11:03 am

Development (change) is not inevitable. We have a choice. Let us choose no more commercial development. Otherwise, we are pressured by ABAG to create more pack and stack housing. Even in the absence of such pressures, we are at capacity for any additional firms or people living / working in Palo Alto. Cap both as the beginning to retaking Palo Alto for those who seek quality of life over an emerging urban blight.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2014 at 11:45 am

Can we legally cap the number of employees in a city? Can we tell private property owners that they cannot develope their land? Can we stop people from moving into the city?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2014 at 11:53 am

If we conduct a study on whether high density housing developments near public transportation options have resulted in traffic reduction we would find out that the answer is no. "Smart development" may work in Manhattan, London, Sao Paulo or Paris, but it will not work here and never has. What we actually do is make a bad problem worse by increasing traffic congestion in areas that can least tolerate it, like our downtown. There is no reason for us to allow any more development and like the above poster said, development is not inevitable. It's a choice. In Palo Alto's case it's a terrible choice we don't have to make. No more commercial development.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I don't think you can place a blanket moratorium on development - major lawsuit potential there. However, the city can at least abide by all current zoning restrictions and not make any agreements to up zone or grant waivers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@South Palo Alto

Thank you for veering the discussion in a new and important direction.

My concern truly is for the city at large. I have appreciated taking part in most, if not all, of the "Our Palo Alto 2030" meetings. At each table group people have expressed their ideas, listened respectfully to each other, and left a record that the city is committed to using as it moves toward preparing the next comprehensive plan.

The process has also worked well in the neighborhood-by-neighborhood consultations held on the Bicycle Network plan. Over a series of three meetings, neighbors in the controversial Maybell/Donald/Georgia corridor gave input that was used to shape measures that will improve safety and promote safe cycling in this part of town.

The negative tone of these Town Square threads has had little resonance, yet the actual ideas and concerns have been expressed. If people feel they haven't been heard yet, they can take part online at www.paloaltocompplan.org.

I am aware, though, that there is a school of thought regarding citizen participation, reflected in many posts and at least one Town Square blog, that considers the whole process of "visioning" (not sure if I'm using the exact wording here, please inform if I'm inaccurate) as an invalid exercise used to mollify dissenters and manufacture consent.

They refer to is as the "Delphi Technique" and urge property rights advocates and liberty lovers to avoid it. Here's a sample, from a link at <www.bayarealiberty.com> entitled ". . .Suppression of Dissent through Visioning and Consensus."

"Since very few people knowingly would vote to subvert their property rights through smart growth and sustainable development schemes, the bureaucrats and their enablers must resort to stealth and deception through the use of the Delphi Technique. Visioning and consensus are the tools in their toolbox to herd opinions to a predetermined outcome. Citizens should be aware that when they see calls for "visioning" sessions, they need to realize that they are being manipulated."

The Maybell controversy and the Measure D referendum revealed a political complacency in the city that gave victory to a mobilized movement that would not settle for half measures. There is no excuse for complacency regarding the city council election in November. The campaign will be similar to what we underwent in Barron Park, but at a citywide level.

Conclusions reached through the Our Palo Alto 2030 process will need convinced defenders if they are to prevail after the election. Stakes are high. The choices must be made clear, and there must be accountability for claims made during the campaign to prevent what we saw during the Measure D campaign.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm

We can do land use planning, zoning, design review based on "holding capacity", infrastructure,environmental constraints, and desire to maintain the scale, character,aesthetic values and quality of life of the City.
This will require a 180 degree turn and strong Council leadership and a new Council majority in November. That's it. As more projects already approved
come through the pipeline and the culture of City Hall continues the enormity of the damage already done and being done will become clearer and even more overwhelming.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm

@resident,
I agree with you 1000%. I also agree with everything Jerry Underdal said in the middle of his above paragraph, except I think it applies exactly to the pretense of listening to us the City is putting us through right now. Doug Moran hit the nail on the head in his blog post "Visioning or Potempkin Villages?" Web Link
Someone complained to me just yesterday about how leading he felt the questions in the City's survey were.'

I agree with you, turning Palo Alto into San Jose Mini-Me isn't inevitable or even smart. There won't be a gradual erosion in people's property values, there will be a tipping point, and the evidence will be that Palo Alto's property values don't hold the way they usually do in the next downturn, unless we work hard now to reverse what has happened to quality of life here. I make that as a warning just as I warned City Council and PAHC that there would be opposition at Maybell.

It has been my experience that when I've tried to tell City staff or Council anything they disagreed with, they simply dismiss what I say. I've continued to give my input but see no evidence of it in anything they produce or how they respond. [Portion removed.]


@ South Palo Alto,
"Thanks for the detailed, nuanced background information, as well as the alternatives that did not happen.
It seems that there is a strong "us versus them" attitude throughout these comments ("residentalist party"), and I wonder if this impacts the willingness to find a common ground."

Don't look at the post-divorce and make assumptions about how the marriage fell apart. And there's two different issues there. One where conflict seems inevitable, and one where it was not and tragic that one side "stonewalled".

"Residentialists" are residents vs this development-crazed City Council that has repeatedly violated the zoning rules and the Comprehensive Plan, and is probably as we speak, hijacking the Comprehensive Plan for their development-on-steroids vision for Palo Alto into the future, while giving the appearance of taking input. That's been the pattern of how they do things, and I see no indication of it changing. That makes the next election very important. Do we want to be San Jose Mini-me? That's where we're headed, and yes, that's an irreconcilable conflict. It's a conflict, like Measure D, that residents intend to win, the future of our town, quality of life and property values are at stake. In Eric Filseth's vision A or vision B, most of the residents choose vision A, and getting it back will clearly not only take a fight, but hard work. It is residents' quality of life and property values versus (some) developers' short-term profits. Stay tuned.

[Portion removed.]

I will say, while I disagree with your conclusion, Mr. Underdal, I think the last post you made is refreshingly full of good information and points. I hope you will continue, it will elevate the debate and maybe even crack the door to reconciliations in the neighborhood. Good people can disagree [portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm

"because the CC used up the money in the affordable housing fund to purchase Maybell even as they knew what was happening at BV."
The above is a false statement. The city loaned the money to the PAHC for the purchase of Maybell. The site has since been sold by PAHC and the city should have their,loan repaid.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

@Rupert,
The city made a 30- year low or no interest loan of money from our affordable housing fund, and that drained the affordable housing fund. PAHC advertised as much in their own ads.

I said "used" and stand by everything I wrote.

The money could have been available at BV at a critical time and wasnt because of Maybell. It is available now as far as I know.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Greenacres-- but the city did not purchase Maybell, as you stated. If the money had been spent, they would not have it now. Anyway, either way the money should not be spent for Buena Vista, and that is really irrelevant to this discussion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by boscli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I fail to understand the rational that we cannot place a moratorium on development for fear of lawsuits. Why should we authorize what's bad for us just because the developers want to get even richer? Let them sue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 8:31 pm

@Rupert,
[Portion removed.]

A PAHC planner told me personally that the City told them to go after Maybell. The City was intimately involved in the sale of the property [portion removed.] Additionally, the City locked up $7.2 million for the purchase of Maybell, in low-interest (or no-interest) 30-year loan, at a time when they knew what was happening at BV.

That money SHOULD have been used to help save Buena Vista -- the residents have a non-profit and there is far more low-income housing at BV. If the $7.2 million had been added to the $14.5 million the residents came up with, between that and the seller not having the expense of eviction, it would have been a comparable offer (other ways it could have been better). At least a large chunk of the money drained our affordable housing fund which has to be used for affordable housing. Mayor Shepherd has said it could be used that way now that Maybell is sold, so why do you think it can't be used for BV? Unfortunately, now things are more expensive and more complicated.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 8:34 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2014 at 9:05 pm

We can impose a moratorium on development because we are facing a crisis
situation in terms of congestion, development impacts on our neighborhoods
while we study and undertake a downzoning and reduction of FAR's throughout the City. Also the unprecedented severe drought situation the dimensions of which are unknown at this time supports a moratorium.

It is not the responsibility of the City to take the risk out of real estate investment. All investment entails risk. However curtailing office supply at the margin will support prices and reduce the possibility of a supply glut at some point in the future. And preserving the quality of life, viability, and unique character of Palo Alto will support real estate prices over the long-run. Contemplate the end game the City is pursuing under current polices.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

@Rupert

"because the CC used up the money in the affordable housing fund to purchase Maybell even as they knew what was happening at BV."
The above is a false statement.

The above is not a false statement. Weekly, if you are going to leave that, please at least leave my attempts to straighten out such a charge.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doubting Thomas
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:13 am

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

Palo Alto was over developed several years ago, and it is continuing to get worse.
This is all too true from the California Ave area south. However, there is also significant overdevelopment in the area around downtown.
None of the residents who do not gain from developers want this overdevelopment.
Unfortunately the City Council for many years has favored developers of all projects. Favoritism is especially notable with regard to over building for most sites and allowing developers to provide fewer than the required number of parking spaces. The basic required number of spaces is already too low for most sites and their purpose.
Housing units will need at least 1 space for each person expected to occupy a unit. Work places require at least 1 space for each person expected to work there when the facility is full.
It is time to sweep out our development-oriented council members. It is time for elections to be by districts--each council member should be required to live in the area he/she represents.
Stop the foolishness now, before Palo Alto becomes yet another blighted western city. At the rate we are going, Palo Alto will soon resemble Millpitis and the east side of San Jose.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm

[Portion removed.]

@ sunshine,
I agree with you, and used to think we needed district representation, too. But someone I really respect says she's seen that turn into little fiefdoms, too. I think better that we have a paid full-time council so that not just rich people can afford to serve.

Instead of having these Councilmembers live in the area he/she represents, how about just making all of them live in the shadow of the most egregious developments they've approved, without cars, for a period of at least 5 years each, especially putting them in South Palo Alto where they think they can just dump whatever density they want? [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don't Worry
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

The NIMBY attitude of Palo Alto will drive developers away. Why any developer wants to waste time on all the hassles of building in Palo Alto is beyond me. Yes, you can get more money out of projects in Palo Alto but the time it takes is not worth it.

Development is moving to Mountain View and Redwood City where there is less red tape.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:46 pm

"I said the CC used up the money in the affordable housing fund to purchase Maybell even as they knew what was happening at BV."
okay, green acres the above is your quotation. You repeat it agin here. I previously copied and pasted it from a posting of yours that was edited. Note how you say that the CC used the money to PURCHASE Maybell.
I stated that your comment was false. The city never purchased Maybell. They leant the money to PAHC, a non profit developer, to help them purchase Maybell. I provided a link to a story showing that the money was a loan.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Correction
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

In the book it's spelled Hentzau.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by My Mama
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:37 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 1, 2014 at 1:22 am

[Portion removed.]

@Rupert,
Are you claiming the City wasn't involved in the purchase of the Maybell property? Are you claiming the City didn't USE UP (the words I used) the affordable housing funds for the purchase of the Maybell property? [Portion removed.]

The whole reason the City had first right of refusal on the Maybell property is because of how intimately they were involved in the sale. But who am I? Just someone who has seen a lot of documents related to the sale, like a lot of the neighbors.

[Portion removed.]

I'm constantly amazed that people who would claim there can be no affordable housing in Palo Alto ever again if we don't upzone residential neigbhorhoods (despite the fact that 801 Alma was built within zoning) or engage in similar financing mechanisms that involve giant giveaways to for profit developers (despite 801 Alma being built without needing to), and that nothing is perfect so we have to accept whatever they say has to be done in order to get the housing, would not be pragmatic when it comes to choosing between realistically saving BV and tilting at windmills at Maybell.

The choice between saving over 400 low-income residences of existing Palo Altans with the possibility of no ultimate cost to the City, and a development costing tens of millions for 60 spots without any marketing study to show the need for that segment -- if we're being pragmatic, that's easy.

@ Don't Worry,
I hope you are right. We would all be better off here. Unfortunately, developers show no signs of giving up. I don't know who you've been talking to, but I'm seeing the same anger at overdevelopment from Sunnyvale through Menlo Park. Many of those groups talk to each other now. It's only a matter of time before we take up with that group in SF who rejected the upzoning at the waterfront.

I don't know what you mean by "NIMBY" - if you mean against giant, ugly, overbuilt developments that destroy quality of life and overuse resources and infrastructure, then call away, and good riddance to them. If you mean against affordable housing, I hope you realize all the overdevelopment is actually working against affordable housing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 1, 2014 at 5:21 am

"In the book it's spelled Hentzau"

Correction--you are thinking of my cousin from the twin city of Hentzau. I am from Henzau. Different city.

[Portion removed.]

"Are you claiming the City wasn't involved in the purchase of the Maybell property? Are you claiming the City didn't USE UP (the words I used) the affordable housing funds for the purchase of the Maybell property?"
The city LOANED PAHC the money to purchase Maybell. The city never PURCHASED Maybell. I cannot say whether or not they used up any money, since i do not know how much money they had. And now with the re-sale of Maybell, the city has th emoney back, so that money was not used up at all.
Buena Vista is irrelevant to this discussion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by G. Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:38 am

'Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.'--G. Orwell


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

""Are you claiming the City wasn't involved in the purchase of the Maybell property? Are you claiming the City didn't USE UP (the words I used) the affordable housing funds for the purchase of the Maybell property?"
The city LOANED PAHC the money to purchase Maybell. The city never PURCHASED Maybell. I cannot say whether or not they used up any money, since i do not know how much money they had. And now with the re-sale of Maybell, the city has th emoney back, so that money was not used up at all."

I never claimed the City purchased Maybell. There was only your mischaracterization of what I said, out of context, to distract from the real issue, which is that the City committed those funds at Maybell when they could have been available at BV, and they knew what was going on at BV.

I said the City used up the affordable housing fund for the purchase of Maybell, and tried to give background on how intimately involved the City was in the purchase of Maybell. I never said their name was on the deed instead of PAHCs. But PAHC themselves in their full page ad before the election, purporting to set the record straight, themselves pointed out that there was no more money left in the affordable housing funds from the City (because PAHC had them all).

If the City didn't use those funds for the purchase of Maybell, how is it that they are getting them back now that Maybell is sold? [Portion removed.]

Buena Vista is not irrelevant. If the goal is affordable housing [portion removed] then it's an easy choice to save BV for Palo Alto, even though they aren't part of some program controlled by PAHC. The residents had a $14.5 M offer that was not enough in the face of a $30 M offer from Prometheus. But the City committed to $7.2 M at Maybell, adding that to the 14.5 gives almost $22M. Between the write off the seller would get by essentially donating the difference to the residents' nonprofit, and not having the costs to evict, that's a comparable offer. PAHC used such a write off to get Maybell even though they were not the top bid. The fact that the City made sure those funds from our affordable housing fund were NOT available when they could have helped at BV, and didn't make anything like the comparable heavy involvement they had in the purchase of Maybell instead at BV - both would have made a huge difference at a critical time. And I am well aware that it would have been very easy to redirect the public involvement at that time from resisting the upzoning to saving BV. Most if us were very unhappy feeling forced to fight PAHC to stop zoning busting of our residential neighborhood. It would have been a sweet redemption to put the energy then toward saving BV, which is far more unanimous sentiment in the neighborhood. The support is still there but that particular political opportunity is gone.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Despite the few posters on this board, nobody cares about Buena Vista. Supporters can try to prop up their outrage by pointing to a [portion removed] neighborhood survey done [portion removed.] Supporters can say the city should do this or that, or made bad choices when the residents didn't get a chunk of money to help them purchase the run down trailer park. But in the end, the trailer park has reached the end of it's life. Most of the trailers are 50 years old. It's a one star trailer park sitting in the middle of one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. The property would have to be up-zoned to RM 30 before it could improved. It's non-conforming (what you call 'illegal zoning') today. Even the resident's own expert testified that it's currently configured in what effectively would be RM 25, if the city had such a designation.

Nobody wants to see the residents harmed. But their compensation is determined by the city's mobile home closure ordinance and is paid for by the park's owner. Buena Vista doesn't have future in Palo Alto, so please stop trying to inject it into every debate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Green acres--you state:
"I never claimed the City purchased Maybell."

Yet i have copied and pasted numerous times when you said it. Here is one example:
""because the CC used up the money in the affordable housing fund to purchase Maybell even as they knew what was happening at BV.""

On the 29th of June you responded to that by saying:
"The above is not a false statement."

Now you are saying that the city did not purchase Maybell.

[Portion removed.]

ANyway, the city has the money back now.
Buena Vista is irrelevant to this discussion


 +   Like this comment
Posted by enough
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

A bank makes a home mortgage loan following federal guidelines and under federal insurance. It knows which home is bought and its own people have verified the value of the home. A loan officer is responsible for following dozens of rules to ensure that the investment is proper.

Here's a multiple choice question:

How is the money used by the bank?

a) It isn't used at all.
b) It's loaned.
c) To buy a house.

Answer a) is misleading. Answer b) is technical, ignores known reality, [portion removed.] Answer c) is sloppy, ignoring detail and technical process to imply that the deeper answer is all that matters for the discussion at hand.

Can we get on now with an analysis of what developers actually face in the immediate future in Palo Alto?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Green acres says:
"If the City didn't use those funds for the purchase of Maybell, how is it that they are getting them back now that Maybell is sold?"

Are you familiar with the term " loan"? The city loaned the funds to the PAHC. I have posted this link before,but here it is again:
Web Link

The city NEVER purchased Maybell. Now that the site has been sold, the money as been or will be returned to the city. How it works is, when you loan someone money to buy something and then they sell that something, they repay you the money you lent them.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

"the city NEVER purchased Maybell."

I never said the City purchased Maybell. I never disputed that the City loaned the money. How many times do I have to repeat that? You said that, I didn't.

Once again, I said the City USED UP the affordable housing fund for the purchase of Maybell. Shall I start claiming that you just called Buena Vista irrelevant? I quote you above, you said "Buena Vista is irrelevant"

The fund the City USED UP/LOANED for Maybell, the effort the City made to help PAHC secure the property including telling them to go after it in the first place and facilitating the sale -- they did knowing full well that those funds would then not be available for BV.

According to PAHC's own ad in the Nov 1 Weekly before the election
Web Link
page 15
The City loans came from "the City's Affordable Housing Fund" "not taxpayer dollars from the general fund" and "It is our understanding that at this time, the City of Palo Alto has zero dollars in the Affordable Housing Fund to cover additional costs"

In other words, the City USED UP all the money in the affordable housing funds for the purchase (to facilitate the purchase, to LOAN for the purchase, get it?) of Maybell, so there was, by PAHC's own admission, zero money left over for anything else. Zero money left over to help at BV, all the money in the affordable housing fund deliberately tied up at Maybell and unavailable to help at BV, when the City Council KNEW what was happening.

[Portion removed.]

Since the sale of Maybell, Nancy Shepherd has said those LOAN funds can be used at BV now. So if they had not been USED UP for the LOAN at Maybell, they could have been available to help at BV when they would have actually made a difference. Capiche?

This is absolutely relevant to this discussion, enough, because developers getting away with whatever they want has everything to do with what happened at BV, and somehow our City Council got people like Rupert who claim to care about affordable housing to carry water for them. Tough sledding indeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 4, 2014 at 12:22 am

@Bill,
"Despite the few posters on this board, nobody cares about Buena Vista."

[Portion removed.] I know this neighborhood, and just as I told the people at PAHC before the ARB vote that there was significant opposition to an upzoning in that residential neighborhood, I am telling you now that there is significant support for retaining the mobile home park, for helping the residents to stay, and to prevent the property from being upzoned. [Portion removed.]

In case you hadn't noticed, most of the single-family residences around here are also 50 years old. If money could be found to purchase the park and upgrade it, would you still object? uh uh - don't launch into an argument about taxpayer dollars, I didn't suggest that. If tomorrow, Warren Buffet wanted to buy up the park and fix it up so the residents could remain, would you still object? Please enlighten.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 4, 2014 at 12:54 am

Thank you, Jerry Underdal, for pointing to paloaltocompplan.org, where residents can give their input on the comp plan.

To assist residents in their input, the California state citizens guide to planning has a helpful site on The Required Elements of the General Plan:
Web Link

Note that it lists those elements as:
"(LU) - Land Use

(CI) - Circulation

(H) - Housing

(CO) - Conservation

(OS) - Open Space

(N) - Noise

(S) - Safety "

Which is not exactly how our City has its Comp Plan Elements. Cities can roll the different elements together any way they like, but they can't just leave out mandated stuff. For example, the citizens guide points out things like, "When the noise element is inadequate, the land use element may be invalid, as in the Camp case. "

Note that our Noise and Safety elements are rolled into Natural Environment, where they seem almost detached from addressing the urban aspects.

I think everyone concerned with the future of our City should participate in this online tool. Please also take a look at the state of California's citizen guide, because it will give the background on what should be in the Comprehensive Plan for comparison.

First know what you have a right to expect as a citizen, then please help ensure our City gets them in the Comp Plan.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 4, 2014 at 1:10 am

By the way, links to the Transportation and Natural Environment (which contains safety and noise) elements are broken on the input tool so unavailable to review.

Also, where is the Vision Statement?

I would encourage everyone to compare the vision statement in the Current Comp Plan to what is being discussed in the revision. One gets the sense that the Comp Plan may be hijacked for special interests if citizens do not stay on top of this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2014 at 6:43 pm

village fool is a registered user.

[Portion removed.][Portion removed.][Portion removed.]

_"The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum." ~ Adlai E. Stevenson

Portion removed.][Portion removed.]


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


To post your comment, please click here to Log in

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,856 views

Don't fund the rape culture at my alma mater
By Jessica T | 36 comments | 2,350 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,955 views

Mothers, daughters, books, and boxes
By Sally Torbey | 4 comments | 1,076 views

Campaign Endorsements: Behind the Curtain
By Douglas Moran | 10 comments | 1,047 views