Around Town | October 1, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 1, 2010

Around Town

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSES ... Residents in one of Palo Alto's wealthiest and most scenic neighborhoods have a loud message for city officials: Stop fiddling with our zoning laws! The city is contemplating establishing maximum house sizes for the Open Space (OS) zone district in the Palo Alto foothills. A year ago, the City Council had adopted new limits on development density in the leafy and isolated neighborhood, much to the consternation of some residents. Now, foothills residents are revolting against the latest proposals, which they claim leaves them mired in long-term uncertainty. Earlier this year, they boycotted a meeting with planning staff to discuss the proposed changes and told staff they are no longer interested in participating (only one resident showed up at the February meeting, and then quickly left). The Planning and Transportation Commission had recommended against setting maximum housing limits because the city already has other processes to make sure the hillside mansions don't interfere too much with the scenic views of the foothills. The City Council is scheduled to consider the matter on Monday night. This week, a group of foothills residents called Palo Altans Protecting Opens Space (PAPOS) has sent a letter to the council reemphasizing its contempt with the city's "seemingly endless" zone changes. "Many of your constituents are now frustrated and angry by continuous review of the District's zoning ordinance, and the astonishing number of public meetings in which we have needed to participate," wrote resident Cathy Cartmell on behalf of PAPOS. More than 70 residents had also signed petitions urging the council to drop the latest proposal. The petitions note that the OS district has just 79 homes and that the proposed changes are projected to impact five to 10 properties over the next 20 years. "Is this the prudent use of Council and City staff time and resources??" the petition asks.

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