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Palo Alto looks to revise zoning code

City Council to consider near-term responses to city's recent growth spurt

The long-awaited overhaul of Palo Alto's land-use bible is expected to stretch until the end of next year, but city officials might not wait that long to start revising local zoning rules in response to recent growth.

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1 person likes this
Posted by wrong target
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 8, 2014 at 12:11 am

I understand the concerns about traffic and parking, but what I don't understand is why El Camino is the target of this suggested down-zoning. It sits close to two Cal Train stations and buses go up and down it all day long and the Stanford shuttle also traverses it. If ever there was a place in this city where larger housing and commercial developments made sense, it's El Camino because it's one of the places where it's easiest to lure car-less residents and because, though I hate to say this, it could really use some brightening up.

When I take visitors up and down El Camino they often ask "this is Silicon Valley?" and I say, "no, wait for it, we'll be at University Ave soon." It has a lot of buildings on it that look like they've seen better days, with very little architectural theme across it. It also looks sort of like a hodge podge- some buildings are right about against the street, some are set back pretty far with parking lots surrounding them, trees line some parts but not others, some are falling apart, some are brand new...it's not an impressive thoroughfare. Very little of it is walkable as well if you don't live right by University Ave or California Avenue. I don't see anyone with a strong desire to stroll El Camino. Retail seems centered in retail plazas rather than up and down El Camino and restaurants are kind of sparse- tucked between gas stations, car washes, autobody shops, etc. If parking and traffic are our real concerns, adding both more retail and more housing in places where it's easier to avoid driving makes more sense than adding development elsewhere.

Palo Alto is required by law to add more housing and if we say "no" to it in one of the places that will be least negatively affected by it (and I obviously think it would be a positive on El Camino), then where will we end up saying "yes"? Somewhere far less optimal, I fear, where your neighbor is more likely to be a single family home than a gas station.


1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 11:06 am

Or we do systems amalysis and get to the point where we say, enough is enough.

Go take a drive from the Great Mall all the way up Tasman. All that ugliness in building may be a shame, but remember what it was like to have some open space? And it will remind you that there is still lots of space for housing, on transit, at far more affordable places. There is no way to provide for all that housing anymore here. We can finally evaluate things like evacuation in emergencies, traffic circulation, impacts to school routes, giving the residents the 25 acres of parks and open space we are DUE in our city code as a result of all the development. El Camino is not a black box that will take whatever we can put there.

How about just dropping the zoning back to what we had before this Council got their little urbanization sellout of Palo Alto underway? Then let a smarter and more honest Council that we will hopefully get in November figure this out?

How does this story jive with the fact that our City submitted our Housing Element to the state for approval over 60 days ago?


1 person likes this
Posted by Fitzroy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

How does the council get away with changing and revising zoning without voter approval? Somehow this seems unethical, if not illegal, although it smacks of impropriety.


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