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195 Page Mill headed for possible lawsuit, again

Original post made on Aug 20, 2008

Atherton developer and patent attorney Harold Hohbach, 86, is threatening to sue the City of Palo Alto unless it agrees to abbreviate its review of his controversial proposal for a 105,000-square-foot building at 195 Page Mill Road.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 21, 2008, 10:54 AM

Comments (89)

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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 20, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Well, let's see here. It looks like Bob Moss and company have cost Palo Alto $87, 500.00, not including the lost opportunity cost of the tax dollars that would have developed if Holbach's building were not delayed.

Moss has also cost whomever moves into Mr. Holbach's new digs, if he ever gets them built, because Holback will now have to pay more money to build, in addition to his legal costs. So, the 200 or so people who end up paying an extra premium on their rent will have Tom Jordan and Bob Moss to thank.

Add to that the cost of city staff time caused by Moss action. probably another six-figure number. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Add this to the many sales dollars that have been lost by adjacent California Avenue businesses - dollars that would have developed as new business at least 18-20 months sooner than will be the case. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Very well, Jeremy, maybe you don't like American law but I do. Palo Alto owes Bob Moss a huge gratitude for conclusively demonstrating that this project was plain illegal. The judge decided that based on the law and the evidence, and he was upheld on appeal.

The city staff had rightly rejected the project, but five councilmembers overruled them on personal impulses, and only Moss had the courage to put his money on the line and set the brakes under this circus. Maybe his next lawsuit will stop that nuclear fuel reprocessing plant from being built in your neighborhood. Or maybe you'll just glow in the dark.


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Posted by JEREMy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 20, 2008 at 5:57 pm

Illegal? It was APPROVED by a duly-elected City Council. Moss and company found a technical legal glitch, and cynically used it to have its way. He bragged and even hoped for a counter-suit, claiming that he and his attorney's would "clean up". It looks like he was right. So, on that evidence, how does Moss come off as a contributing public citizen?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I've seen other stuff happen just like this, and I'm tired of it. The Weekly's coverage in this instance doesn't come close to raising the true costs of Moss actions.

You show ignorance of what transpired on that project. Holbach is not an angelm but he played by the rules as they were established. Moss played by the law as it can be manipulated. So be it.

The FACT remains that Moss' actions cost this city a bundle, for what? To hold up a housing development that's going to happen anyway? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ken
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2008 at 6:10 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I suppose you want to build over an obvious toxic waste site. It was Bob Moss who exposed the necessity for a toxic clean up and for that we must thank him. This site must be cleaned up before it is built over.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Mr Losksi,

Bob Moss and Tom Jordan possibly saved Palo Alto and Mr. Hohbach millions of dollars in class action lawsuits.

This property overlies toxic soil and groundwater. If the tenants moved in and discovered this, or became ill, they could have easily sued our city and Mr. Hohbach in a class action lawsuit.

Much of the land in the Stanford Research Park area, Park Blvd (near Page Mill Road), and South California, are on contaminated soil or overlie areas of highly contaminated groundwater.

There is a danger of off gassing of these volatile chemicals when a building is built on top of this soil.

I am uncertain of Mr. Hohbach understood the need for vapor barriers and possible site remediation of soil and possibly water, in his initial building plans.

Tom Jordan and Bob Moss are actually our heroes.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 20, 2008 at 7:17 pm

"Bob Moss and Tom Jordan possibly saved Palo Alto and Mr. Hohbach millions of dollars in class action lawsuits."

This could have been accomplished without a lawsuit, and the accompanying delays. Any legal amateur knows this.

Bob Moss and Tom Jordan know this.

The lawsuit was a way for Bob Moss to "teach the City Council a lesson" because they voted against his original arguments against the building, arguments that had NOTHING to do with vapor plumes.

Why didn't Mr. Moss bring this up earlier? It was a late find, and a technicality. Why wasn't Mr. Holbach simply reminded of this risk, instead of being sued for it?

Anyone who thinks this has saved Palo Alto money, or the developer money, is naive. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Mike -

You may think that all development is good, but it isn't.

You may think that all development is legal, but it isn't.

Some people care about their own lives and towns, and the law allows them to do something about it.

You can try to change the laws if you don't like them. For you, laws you don't like are technicalities; laws you like are laws.

Why are you so pro-development? What's in it for you?


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Posted by mirror mirror on the wall
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2008 at 12:39 am

Again -

You may think that all development is bad, but it isn't.

You may think that all development is illegal, but it isn't.

Some people care about their own lives and towns, and the law allows them to do something about it.

You can try to change the laws if you don't like them. For you, laws you don't like are technicalities; laws you like are laws.

Why are you so anti-development? What's in it for you?


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 21, 2008 at 10:25 am

Sorry, Jeremy, but it's your wishful thinking versus the education and experience of two judges. Like when I ride an airplane, I prefer to have the pilot handle the controls instead of the guy in seat 14B.

There's a distinction between a process and its outcome that you should be aware of. A majority of the city council can indeed approve an illegal thing through a legal process. They did exactly that at 195, and they got their hands (and our municipal treasury) slapped for their carelessness. Instead of acting on personal impulse they should have done their homework, listened to advice, and thought this thing through.

Their ineptitude and disregard of expert advice cost the city money and possibly your pet project. Scold them.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 21, 2008 at 12:33 pm

"A majority of the city council can indeed approve an illegal thing through a legal process."

The City Council was advised by its own attorney. Bob Moss found a technicality to stop a build whose _character_ he didn't like. He and Tom Jordan, instead of requesting that environmental issue be dealt with, sued the developer, and as part of that the city. All this instead of simply making the city aware of his finding.

Bob Moss wanted to create inconvenience and delay for the developer. That's a standard tactic around here be the anti-housing crowd.

So, instead of making note of an oversight and having the developer - in cooperation with the city - correct that oversight, Moss and Jordan sued.

As a result they have COST Palo Altans, Palo Alto business, future residents, and the developer a considerable amount of money. Much of the money that Mssrs. Moss and Jordan cost us was OUR TAC DOLLARS.

So, the next time that Mr. Moss whines about a lack of money for blah, blah, blah, as he is wont to do in his weekly advisory visits to City Council meetings, they should remind him back about the costs that he has caused our city to incur, and this ISN'T the first time.

And,, I wonder why the editor removed my comment about vagrants who reequent the no-man's land that Mr/ Moss actions are the direct result of. Vagrants have been living near and on that property since the delay occurred. I know because I see them. They leave human waste and other garbage, and create a sense of insecurity in nearby residents.

In any case, that development will be built, and it will look much like it has intended to be in the first place. The sad thing is that it will be far more expensive to the residents thann it would have been if Mr. Moss and Tom Jordan hadn't used the same old delay tactics that always cause short term delay, and end up costing everyone money.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Technicality schmecticality, illegal's illegal. I bet if you were in jail you'd be grateful for any technicality that got you out.

In his lawsuit the plaintiff (Moss) had to spell out his complaints. It was up to the defendant (Hohbach) to read the lawsuit, comprehend it, and respond. So we can safely presume that Mr Hohbach, being diligent, was aware of Moss's contentions. Likewise the city might have read the lawsuit, thought twice, and rescinded its approval of this illegal building. It did not, and that's what's cost us.

Cost or not, Mr. Moss did us all a favor when he stopped our city from making a potentially very costly mistake by allowing a building to be built on toxic dirt in violation of the law. The city could have been sued really big time by anybody who got sick as a result.

Also, after alleging what he did, if Moss just shook hands with the developer and walked away, he might have risked being an accessory to the matter in future proceedings against Hohbach and the city. Moss was smart. He referred the matter to competent legal authority to decide.

Now you please calm down. I like to read your whole postings, but I can't always get to a computer before the censors get at them.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Paul, you write a logical note. Who can disagree with any of it?
Jeremy, I think you are bright, though very fervent. Here the MESSAGE is 195 Page Mill Road's proposal does not hold up legally. The MESSENGER was Bob Moss. Because you are bright, you must also have been aware of the shaky ground this development proposal was based on. To save the City money, YOU could have stepped up, and if persuasive enough, you could have convinced the parties to fix the proposal. Doing so would have saved money and time. But you didn't. Moss and Jordan did.
Now you want to shoot the messenger!


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Mr Loski -

Vagrants have not been living on Mr. Hohbach's property.

The property is fenced.

I have only ever seen one person (most citizens know him), occasionally park his vehicle on the side of the property which is now owned by the city of Palo Alto. This is the proposed site for our new Police Station.

Workers for the Cal Trans project are using the site across from Mr Hohbach's property as an office. There are often workers in this area in the evenings since they work night shifts.

Your personal attacks against these two outstanding citizens is uncalled for.

As a younger long time resident, I am grateful to both Mr Moss and Mr Jordan for their hard work, leadership, and civic engagement.

I believe that our city is insured against lawsuits. This settlement appears to be small.

There is no telling how much a class action lawsuit against our city and Mr. Hohbach would have been.

There could have been tremendous costs incurred from possible deconstruction, site remediation, restitution, and litigation. These costs would have surely exceeded any costs in the delay of an appropriate project for this site.

Several cities in the Bay Area made mistakes of approving and building redevelopments on contaminated sites.

They (and the developers), are now faced with huge class action lawsuits, and empty buildings.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 21, 2008 at 10:52 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Mr. Holback (who can be a tough and stubborn negotiator), the City Council, and many, many neighbors who wanted that building built (with the added benefit of improving on the derelict nature of a property that has been a health risk and aesthetic eyesore for years), could have been informed and presented in a way that would have prevented the lawsuit.

As far as I'm concerned, in this instance, Messrs. Moss and Jordan "got even" with our City Council for not agreeing with their assessment of the aesthetic qualities of Mr. Holbach's development. In their misguided attempts to have their way, they disregarded the costs to the City, the developer, and the developers future customers.

As for vagrants living on the property, it's correct that they don't live ON the property, but they DO live in back of the property, on the street bordering the property, and slightly into the neighborhoods that border the property. And, they live in proximity to the property BECAUSE it is such a wasteland, and so easy to "disappear" among the derelict nature of the surroundings of the property. I know because I walk there several evenings every week. The many puddles that fester on the property are perfect breeding ground for rats and mosquitos. And who knows how much longer the property will fester? It's absurd, and unnecessary.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 21, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Loski,
You've gotta wonder who would WANT to live on poisonous land, across from the construction of a police building where police will be entering and exiting 24/7. Add to this the noise of trains roaring by, the fumes from oregon, alma, and an old transformer station nearby, and this is not an ideal place for housing - it's industrial.

With the new police station slated to be built across the street, I think a 24/7 coffee shop, sandwich shop, and a pastry shop would do well. Maybe some other offices and retail.

The renters that I know who live in the apartments on the other side of of Oregon near the train station HATE living there.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 22, 2008 at 1:35 am

"You've gotta wonder who would WANT to live on poisonous land, across from the construction of a police building where police will be entering and exiting 24/7. "

Why don't you let people make up their own minds about where they want to live. And, the land will not be poisonous (it's barely that, now) when this complex is finally built.

"The renters that I know who live in the apartments on the other side of of Oregon near the train station HATE living there."

Baloney! I know many of these people, and they take pride in the neighborhood. Go make up another story. Those apartments disappear super fast when they go to market.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 22, 2008 at 2:24 am

Typically councilman Barton votes in favor of more high density housing, but he knew there were a number of serious problems with this proposed development.

If John Barton voted against a housing or mixed use project, he must have valid reasons. This is his area of expertise.


Watch this clip and you will see...

Web Link


P.S. The people that I know that live in those apartments tell me that they often need to wear ear plugs, and there is no feeling of community and security. Not many people know one another since there is such a high turnover. The California Ave train station lets off right where they live. No privacy or peace.


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Posted by love my home
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 22, 2008 at 10:20 am

I live in one of the units you're talking about. It gets pretty frustrating listening to people who would never have let me live here if they has had their way


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

The development was simply too massive and did not conform to zoning regulations.

With the knowledge of contaminanted groundwater and soil, and the proximity to the proposed new safety building, he will have to start over.




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Posted by George
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm

>Mayor Larry Klein, Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier and Councilman Jack Morton voted in favor of the project in 2006
Have these three ever voted against, or suggested major improvements in a project?


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Posted by George
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm

>Hohbach originally proposed the housing as rentals, but last summer, AFTER council approval, he applied to convert the research and development space and the two upper floors of housing into condominiums.
Now he says
>On Friday Janz said Hohbach intends to rent out the residences, although they might be legally designated as condos all owned by Hohbach.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by interested resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2008 at 6:37 pm

I beieve that Bob Moss warned the City council several times before they voted for this project that TCE might be in the ground beneath this project site. I don't know if TCE is really there, but shouldn't the City Council have insisted that tests be performed prior to appoving the project. Then, all the controversy and the law suits would have been avoided.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 23, 2008 at 6:50 pm

"I beieve that Bob Moss warned the City council several times before they voted for this project that TCE might be in the ground beneath this project site. "

In all the rantings I heard against that site, TCE never came up. Remember, Moss and Jordan's actions cost YOU money, with a lot more to go, because our city staff si no re-involved on the site.

btw, I suspect that Holbach is making money from CalTrain, as they dig the new tunnel approach, because they're storing equipment and dirt on his property.

The place is a mess. THis didn't have to happen, but again we have fanatics who will do anything to stop housing. When I explained what had happened to the property to aq CalTrain supervisor he said that it was right in character for Palo Alto, which is a laughing stock among contractors and housing advocates in this region. That took me aback, but didn't surprise.

The bottom line is that lawsuit-happy anti-housing advocates don't have to live with the consequences of their actions. They're like misguided Robin Hood's, stealing from the taxpayer as they imagine they are defeating developers, who eventually find a way around them every time. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm

"The development was simply too massive and did not conform to zoning regulations."

THAT was the primary complaint. "Too massive" and blah, blah, blah. There was NO way to ameliorate a few people who were dead set against having a back wall 500 YARDS from their precious view.

We are living among anti-housing Neaderthals when it comes to urban vision. They want to re-create the bungalow aesthetic in Palo Alto, with fenced yards. They're out of touch, and the sooner that our policy makers permanently disregard them, the better off our community will be.

That day is approaching. Palo Alto is growing up, and will eventually look beyond the mundane vision of those who revel in nostalgia, and deny the future.


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Posted by George
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Too massive = 84 condos,
er, 84 rentals,
er, 84 rentals legally defined as condos.
As John Barton said (look at the YouTube site referenced above) the structure violates every zoning rule. He could not find a way to justify it.
The staff actually recommended turning it down, which is very unusual.


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Posted by Younger Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 23, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Jeremy - why do you want want more housing in the California Ave area? It makes me think that you have some kind of business in this area, and are hoping it will bring more business for you.
I don't know how old you are, but younger families don't want more crowding here. We are already suffering! Special treatments should not be given to the developer just because it is near a train station - I didn't know about this. This is ridiculous - people are still going to drive
Look at the housing built near Whole Foods - the building makes the streets gloomy and dark. Even though it is near a train station, people drive. The building looks so out of place - it looks like it belongs in SF.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 1:00 am

The developer followed the letter of the law; the City Attorney approved; the City Council voted it up. Barton and a few others were in the minority.

Vendetta? Ha! I post on a measly bulletin board. Bob Moss cost our citizens $86,000, and counting! GIve me a break! THAT's a vendetta.

Just a few people were able to COST our city money. Some of it was MY tax money.

More crowding? Palo Alto's population is going to INCREASE. Get used to it. Why didn't population increase stop in Palo Alto just before YOU came here? Before Bob Moss came here. Answer that question, please. What I hear in all of this is elitist, exclusionary, and selfish NIMBYISM. It's pathetic, and beneath the place I call home.

Bottom line: more housing is going to be built. A LOT more housing. Some of it is going to be BMR housing. We are also going to develop mass transit that's far better than what currently exists. This IS going to happen.

You can put your finger in the dike until it turns blue, but eventually a LOT more housing is going to be built, whether you like it, or not.


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Posted by Younger Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 24, 2008 at 2:21 am

To Jeremy Loski:
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You will likely see an increase in the number of us younger residents speaking up about all the infill housing and high density housing. Although it is hard for us to sit through late night council meetings since we get kids up at 6 am for school, then go to work, and come home to homework and dinner, but next year we will speak out. You will definitely have a new group of younger residents speaking up about about the increased density and crime.

I guess if it gets too crazy down here, we can always join the developers in Woodside, Portola Valley, or Atherton.








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Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Jeremy loski. People are claiming that your views are clouded by commercial or other financial interests. Why not set their minds at rest? First state that neither you nor your family nor your friends and relatives have any profit motive, none whatsoever, in population growth in the California Street area, nor indeed anywhere in Palo Alto or nearby towns. You could then offer a substantial prize to anyone who can demonstrate otherwise. And this would include the real you, in case Jeremy Loski turns out to be fictional.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 2:39 pm

"You will likely see an increase in the number of us younger residents speaking up about all the infill housing and high density housing."

and

"Give me a break! The city carries insurance. Younger residents pay a lot more than you you will ever pay in property tax, and we will be here longer too."

LOL!!! More bluster. Bring it on! Your words reveal that you could care less about how much this costs our city. INsurance rates go up when the City is compelled to a pay out. Who do you think pays the insurance premiums, Santa Claus? Also, I want someone to show me that insurance covers this. It doesn't, as far as I know. IN the end, it doesn't matter anyway, because Bob Moss has already cost our city lost tax revenue from lost sales taxes, and cost future residents who purchase or rent at 195 Page Mill a higher premium.

ABAG and the State of California are doing the _right_ thing, trying to make a large difference in commuting patterns, to help save our environment - while you and a relatively few other NIMBYS recycle aluminum cans and cardboard boxes, along with other token activities, and then revel in calling yourself a "green" citizen. When the going gets rough, and NIMBYs are asked to change their large-scale environmentally wasteful ways, they pull back and bleat like a fearful baby goats.

When it comes the _inconvenient truth_ of large scale changes that _must_ be deployed to make LARGE improvements in our environment, NIMBYISTS and anti-housing supporters chicken out. Too many of our policy makers are following in your stead. If this continues, perhaps some serious consequences from Sacramento are in order.

I and _many_ other citizens are going to urge the state to penalize, and penalize with heavy consequence, our city, or any city that tries to escape doing their part to get people out of their cars and living (generally) closer to work. Our environment and the health of our children are at stake.

There is going to be a flip side to the anti-housing movement from now on, because it appears that a select few have chosen to hurt the future of our region, and completely disregard large scale solutions for environmental management because its _inconvenient_. They have their cake, and damn the rest of humanity, or the environment. they can make themselves feel better because they're driving a Prius. That isn't enough. You and the rest of us are going to have to dig deeper.

We are quickly going to find out what Palo Alto is made of. We're quickly going to find out if all this bluster about "Green" is full of token actions and "Greenest City" awards (based on things like paper recycling and other actions at City Hall, whose consequences fall on City Hall employees, and not residents), or a willingness to confront change and some inconvenience to make changes that MEAN something. Do you have the courage/guts/vision for that? I wonder.

One way or another, NIMBYS and anti-housing are going to start to pay for their bad environmental choices. If they change their ways and learn to adapt to necessary change, there will be a price. If they don't, there will be a larger price.

There is nothing you or anyone else can do to keep more housing from being built in our city. We need a LOT more infill housing, and affordable housing that is _aggressively_ targeted toward local workers. (we've never done the latter).

We need _leaders_ who are willing to take the reigns and LEAD this region to _compel_ better private and public mass transport.

These two things are the most immediate and important challenges that our and other Silicon Valley cities face. No doubt we have other challenges, and cooperative efforts in the direction of making significant environmental changes will no doubt spill over to cooperative efforts in other areas. We should follow the lead of Redwood City, which is making Palo Alto look like a backwater. If we chose to lead, or follow, no matter. More local infill housing is going to be built, and mass transport that is iFAR better than what we have is going to happen. Count on it.

If our policy makers decide to listen to the loud NIMBYISTS on this issue, everything possible will be done to cause their action to be FAR more expensive that building the housing that should be built here.

We are going to get people living closer to urban clusters, and we're going to get all of us out of our cars. Change isn't easy, but it's necessary. Prepare yourself.



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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 2:55 pm

"People are claiming that your views are clouded by commercial or other financial interests. Why not set their minds at rest? First state that neither you nor your family nor your friends and relatives have any profit motive, none whatsoever, in population growth in the California Street area, nor indeed anywhere in Palo Alto or nearby towns. You could then offer a substantial prize to anyone who can demonstrate otherwise. And this would include the real you, in case Jeremy Loski turns out to be fictional."

I have already, in other places stated as much. Why not ask Amory Lovins the same question? Why not ask Ralph Nader? I'm not fit to tie the latter two gentlemen's shoes; they're environmental and consumer heros.

I have none of the interests you state - nor does anyone I'm affiliated with, but if I did, so what? What about you? What about YOUR profit motive? There must be some reason that you don't want to help the environment. Do you hold stock in GM, Ford, Exxon, etc.? Al Gore was right. He said that when push came to shove on the large changes necessary, people would most likely resist. You either live your values, or make excuses. It looks like _some few_ around here are well into the latter.

The REAL questions are: "Do you, or don't you, believe that we must stop suburban sprawl"? "Do you, or don't you, believe that we must find far more efficient modes of mass transport, and get as many people out of their cars as possible?" Don't try to sidetrack this debate based on personal financial gain, because their isn't any.

Based on what's at stake here - i.e. our very environment - how can you even ask the question? You, I, and our policy makers KNOW what has to be done to make large scale differences in land use and reductions in carbon emissions. The easy stuff has already been done. Now it's time to get down to dealing with the _inconvenient_ truths that _some_ Palo Alto seems so glib in its avoidance of.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2008 at 3:55 pm

"the FULL costs"

Are you serious, Jeremy?

Instead of allowing Hohbach to build according to the current market environment, you and yours have forced him into a housing/BMR/retail corner. This has forced him to build above the height limit. Now, Moss is using a blunt club (EIR) to counter your social design plans.

Dense housing in Palo Alto has MANY hidden costs, which you, apparently, refuse to acknowledge. Schools costs? Social welfare costs? Crime? Police coverage? Traffic? More bars? Bums?

There was no need for any of this. Hohbach should have been provided the free market to build within the zoning (at the point that he bought the land). We would all be better off.


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Well, Jeremy, you sort of hinted at an answer, though covered over by defensive questions. Can you tell us whether your real name is Jeremy Loski, or is that an alias? ......without deflecting this question with defensive questions. Before you ask, I will state that Curious is not my name. There. Now how about you?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2008 at 4:58 pm

This is a blog about city rule violations, and the disclosure of them. And will the Developer
generate more of them. And, I guess, whether the policeman who nabbed the rule-breaker should himself be chastised for being so brave as to risk his money in the spirit of justice.
This blog is not about that worn-out notion that maybe having more 900,000 dollar condos in PA will cut down on driving times for someone who makes 75,000 per year. Nor is it about how can we degrade our schools so people will quit moving here just so their kids will get a PA education. Even if the parents work elsewhere and will have to drive MORE each day.
This blog is about rule of law. Opponents cannot properly call lawful citizens WHINERS, NIMBYISTS, NAYSAYERS (if you want to use that term, who is the naysayer here?), or such negative names.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

"Dense housing in Palo Alto has MANY hidden costs, which you, apparently, refuse to acknowledge."

It's ironic that you should mention only those costs borne by Palo Altans in your analysis. THis isn't only about Palo Alto, it's about every single city on the Peninsula. It's about the larger costs that are born by those who use the environment. Why not do a cost analysis of THAT.

Also, your assumption that "bums" would come from BMR housing is absurd on its face.

You mention market forces. Are you kidding? Anti-housing advocates have dome their level best to frustrate and pervert market forces for housing, and retail, too.


******
Curious, Gee, no kidding - "Curious" isn't your real name? I never would have guessed. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 5:08 pm

"This blog is about rule of law. Opponents cannot properly call lawful citizens WHINERS, NIMBYISTS, NAYSAYERS (if you want to use that term, who is the naysayer here?), or such negative names."

No, this thread (it's not blog) is about the rule of the laws of nature. It's about the laws that we have been breaking for a long time, and how smaller, local, laws are used to frustrate efforts to live in better harmony within the larger legislating of Darwin's survival meme.

We must _adapt_ to information we've learned about the environment. We need to build more housing, a LOT more housing, near ALL employment centers of significance.We must also enable those employment centers with FAR more efficient, cheap, and accessible mass transport than is the case, today.

Holbach's project is perfectly representative of how small groups can cause to much pain and outward cost, just to keep their preferences intact.

Not ONE of the parties to that lawsuit lives in the neighborhood that Holbach's property lies in.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2008 at 5:23 pm

"It's ironic that you should mention only those costs borne by Palo Altans in your analysis. THis isn't only about Palo Alto, it's about every single city on the Peninsula"

Jeremy,

Palo Alto is exactly desirable, becasue it has sold itself to the elite, since the first stone was laid at the corner of the Quad at Stanford. To turn it into a generic city on the Peninsula might satisfy your sense of guilt, but it will depress our property values.

Other cities can decide what is best for them. Some may want to emphasize jobs, others housing, others preservation.

Bums? You betcha...check out Downtown. Do we need this on California Ave.?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Loski writes

"I and _many_ other citizens are going to urge the state to penalize, and penalize with heavy consequence, our city, or any city that tries to escape doing their part to get people out of their cars and living (generally) closer to work. Our environment and the health of our children are at stake".

Your posts make you sound vindictive.

Urging our state to penalize our city with heavy consequences - does this mean fines, and not issuing loans or something?

I reather take the penalty and keep the quality of life.

I think some of the cities where those developers and architects may have decided to do this.

Our environment is already suffering from over crowding - water shortage, over-crowding in our schools, increased crime, air pollution, severe water shortage, and a deterioration of the overall quality of life here. Dirty streets with grafitti, and newer homeless people moving here. Why don't they camp out in Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos Hills, or Portola Valley? Why do they choose here to live?

Look at our real estate market - it has dropped. We are not immune to what is happening all over California.

There are other places to live and work, where the overall quality of life is better.

It seems like you are the only poster on this blog who is in favor of breaking the rules to build a projects which violates the rules.









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Posted by TV watcher
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2008 at 9:32 pm

"J.L." Amazing to see your persistent refusal to answer a simple question. Whether you have won a "debate" is not responsive. Again, is Jeremy Loski your true name?
Now you are unhappy that a PA citizen, who does not live right near the project in question, would dare question it.
And there you go, saying that Moss cost the city a bundle, but if things don't go your way, you will work to have state agencies sue PA. Your logic?



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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Jim: "Palo Alto is exactly desirable, becasue it has sold itself to the elite, since the first stone was laid at the corner of the Quad at Stanford. To turn it into a generic city on the Peninsula might satisfy your sense of guilt, but it will depress our property values."

Palo Alto will always be a notch above, but it will have a lot more homes than it does now. Guilt? Not one iota of guilt here - just responsibility. Some here appear to be lacking in that. Responsible Palo Altans don't pee on the environment, nor do they pass responsibility on to their neighbors. Most of us are better than that.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2008 at 11:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2008 at 7:33 pm

From: Fred Balin
Date: August 25, 2008 7:28:37 PM PDT
To: Mayor Larry Klein <klein.larry@dorsey.com>
Cc: city.council@cityofpaloalto.org, Gary Baum <city_attorney@city.palo-alto.ca.us>
Subject: Hohbach Attorney Jeffrey Widman Letter of July 28

In her article of August 21, "195 Page Mill headed for possible lawsuit, again," Palo Alto Weekly reporter Becky Trout wrote:

"Another Hohbach attorney, Jeffrey Widman, sent a letter on July 28 to Klein's office, bypassing City Hall, asking for a meeting with the city council without any planning department staff, particularly Interim Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie, or any city attorneys."

Web Link (4th paragraph from the end)


Mayor Klein,

If the above is accurate:

(1) Kindly forward the letter you received to the city attorney to determine if such a restricted, closed session is permissible under the Brown Act, and ask him to prepare a written response.

Stipulate that both the July 28 letter to you and the attorney's response become part of the public record and included in the packet of letters released prior to council meetings.

(2) Ask the city attorney to clearly point out where in the council protocols, other council procedures, and/or the municipal code, the council's disclosure policy is detailed. Although a number of capsule descriptions on council agendas (such as for the hearings on 195 Page Mill Road) are followed by an asterisk (*) and the words in bold type "Quasi-Judicial Items Subject to Council's Disclosure Policy," I have have not been able to find the specific wording of such a policy.

If the policy is posted on the the city's web site, kindly ask the city attorney to point out its location and also request of appropriate staff that it be given more prominence.

If the policy has not been formally codified into a public document, kindly ask the attorney to do so and present it to the council for approval.

(3) Give serious consideration to modifying your position with regard to expanding council guidelines beyond mere disclosure of a communication with an applicant, applicant's agent, or an interested party outside of a public hearing on a quasi-judicial matter (i.e., a matter in which council members, in effect, act as judge). As you know, a May, 2007, colleagues memo to refer this concept to the Policy & Services Committee failed on a 4-4 vote. An expanded, explicit, and prominently accessible policy on such communications will provide clear boundaries on the proper interactions with council members on these types of matters, afford increased transparency, and foster greater public confidence.

Thank you
-Fred Balin


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Posted by More Insanity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Wow -

An attorney asking for a secret council meeting with Hohbach's attorney?

The only thing that would make this seem even more outrageous is inviting "Jeremy Loski" to also attend.

I just saw the person who I think is Jeremy Loski walking in my neighborhood 5 minutes ago.





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Posted by Correction
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm

My mistake to the above post.

I intended to write, "An attorney asking for a secret meeting with council without staff present (Steve Emslie, Gary Baum)?

I'm not sure this is legal.









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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm

More insanity, Your name is appropriate.

Just so you know, I've been in my office all day. haven't set foot outside.

Also, I can't blame Mr. Holbach for requesting a private meeting. Public meetings on this issue have become a fiasco, with misguided citizens practically condemning Mr. Holbach as the devil incarnate. It's an outrage. And, it's a further outrage that the property in question remains a trash heap, and the neighborhood derelict. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Now we're talking about MORE staff time; they want staff present at Council meetings. Heaven forbid that Mr. Holbach's attorney should request a way around the dilemma he's in without THEIR city-code-blessed-presence.

I wish more of our citizens, in general, could have an accounting made of how much the needless, excess diligence forced by Bob Moss and Tom Jordan has cost them, as taxpayers. There would be general outrage.

Why doesn't the Weekly report on that angle? Why is it always about some wannabe little Jack be NIMBY attacking the proverbial Jolly Green Developer.

I'll tell you why. Because most of the NIMBYISTS are long-time residents who have a lot of time on their hands, and made city operations their personal hobbyhorse. They're the ones opining at *every* City Council meeting, week in and week out, commenting on everything from the Color of Palo Alto to the color of newsracks. They chat with the press after the meeting; it's all hunky-dory.

Low paid Weekly, Daily, and Post reporters eke a story out of selected quotes from this crowd - after all, they're the self-made experts; they know how this city should run - by golly, they do.

And voila!, there you have the Palo Alto "news" - usually a potpourri of statements from long-time insiders who have, in the long run, cost this city MILLIONS of dollars, as they move from one housing development to the next, from one city infrastructure project to the next, frustrating the efforts of this city to grow in a natural way, unimpeded by delays caused by NIMYISTS, who seem to delight in wreaking havoc, "just because they can".

One has to laugh at the City Council's plea for "civic engagement" earlier this year. The anti-housing, anti-infrastructure, anti-City-Hall crowd (many overlap in these areas, it's a small core group that isn't identifiable by "left" or "right") thought that that plea was about THEM. That's how insular they are; they can never get enough of City Staff's time. They imagine themselves as "keepers of the city", the city that their hopeless nostalgia won't let go of.

Well, guess what? That plea for civic engagement was more about the folks who DON'T come to City Hall every week, so that our citizens can get a full, diverse view of what our city does, and what makes it tick. That's what we really need, but it will probably never happen. People are busy. Why not move City Council meetings to different neighborhoods, and go out among the neighborhoods. That would be refreshing.

What's happened in Palo Alto is that a gaggle of NIMBYISTS and whiners have created a looping echo that repeats itself week after week, year after year, decade after decade. Most of these people have been around for DECADES. We need new blood.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I only wish we could walk most Palo Altans past the embarrassment that is 195 Page Mill. After they've finished their stroll, someone would show them the drawings and plans put forward by Mr. Holbach. I could be wrong, but I would bet that the vast majority - perhaps all - would say "what's the damn probem; why isn't this structure built already?"

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2008 at 10:31 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 25, 2008 at 11:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Younger Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2008 at 11:51 pm

My family lives close to the proposed development (near the Oregon Expressway underpass). The proposed development was too massive.

Mr. Hohbach needs to follow our zoning laws, and the state laws from The Water Board - Toxic's Division.

If not, our city and Mr. Hohbach could find themselves in a class action lawsuit.

You do not see many residents (young or old) begging our city for more housing. I have never heard any resident ever say this. We are pleading for less. Families who are not involved end up angry once a project is approved, and complain about these projects "popping up" all over the city - South and North.

I think it is you (Loski) who has too much time on his hands, interferes, and costs our city money.

And your pet project is?
And your age?

We have elementary school children, so I will be signing off now, since tomorrow is the first day of school.












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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 1:49 am

"You do not see many residents (young or old) begging our city for more housing. I have never heard any resident ever say this."

They *have* their Palo Alto home. Someone built YOUR home, didn't they? PLease read the "NIMBY'S Deconstructed post I put up earlier today. I think you may find some resonance there.

btw, neither Holback or the average developer are angels, but no developer deserves to have to run through the Palo Alto NIMBY gauntlet. It just wastes everyone's time, and costs future residents more money.




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Posted by anon.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2008 at 3:46 am

The people who are begging for more affordable housing in PA are people who make $80,000 and WORK in palo alto!!!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2008 at 4:08 am

Anon -

A short commute to another city is not unreasonable.

PA to Redwood city or Mt. View or Menlo Park is nothing to complain about.

I would like to live in Woodside or Portola Valley since it is closer to my office but I can't afford it, so I live here.

I would like to live on Martha's Vineyard but I only make $80,000 a year.




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Posted by Someone built YOUR home, didn't they?
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 8:00 am

By this argument, any density would be allowable.

The point is that the city cannot support its current population. It's not the time to grow it.

Mike says it's not up to us to control our destiny, but rather, it is fate that we will become an urban wasteland, so let's speed it up and circumvent the law so that developers have an easier time.




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Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

If we believe their developers' rhetoric, which I don't recommend, each one of these proposed monster buildings would solve our affordable housing problem. But three years after 800 High Street promised to house our teachers and firefighters and failed to deliver on that promise, here we go again. Are we gullible or what?

Be that as it may, the developers in question choose to live in Woodside and Atherton, safely out of view of their creations. That's smart.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 10:44 am

Resident: "I would like to live in Woodside or Portola Valley since it is closer to my office but I can't afford it, so I live here."

Why shouldn't those cities be required o provide a housing mix? Granted, it would be a small addition because the jobs/housing imbalance isn't as great in those cities. ALL Peninsula cities need to meet the established quotas. This HAS to be a regional effort, and it will be enforced, one way or another.

Someone: "The point is that the city cannot support its current population. It's not the time to grow it."

That's your opinion. The fact is that new residents bring value, not only cost. You need to consider both sides of the balance sheet. It's absurd to say that any density would be permissible. More scare tactics that don't jive with reality. Urban wasteland? Really? More scare talk.

Tom, Not all developers are bad. There *are* nurturing developers out there. Why isn't our city going out to find them? Some developers live here, btw.

One thing that MUST be done is to better inform residents about development applications *as they occur* and *as they are being vetted by the city*.

It's understandable to have fear of change be part of the development package; opening up the process at the front end should ameliorate some of those fears.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 10:47 am

Tom "If we believe their developers' rhetoric, which I don't recommend, each one of these proposed monster buildings would solve our affordable housing problem. But three years after 800 High Street promised to house our teachers and firefighters and failed to deliver on that promise,"

There has NEVER been a concerted marketing effort, or even a focused effort of substance to the groups you mention. They have always been mentioned as targets for BMR housing, but neither the developers, or our city, has ever done the hard work necessary to see that BMR housing be built in a way that meets the needs of those constituents.

Developers AND the city, as well as selected NIMBYISTS have all kept BMR from being the success that it can be (and is, in many places around the world).


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2008 at 10:57 am

Is it not a fact that judicial review suggests that the Developer pushed zoning boundaries too far? How do all the observations about the environment, about the future, and about how opponents to the Developers ought to be castigated have anything to do with this thread?
Are they perhaps just distractions to conceal that there is no valid anti-Moss argument, unless and until the judge's decision gets appealed by the Developer?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2008 at 11:25 am

P.S. I NOW SEE THAT THE DEVELOPER HAS ALREADY APPEALED THE FIRST DECISION, AND HAS BEEN DENIED. But he has a history of numerous appeals, so with all of his legal experience, we'll just have to wait and see what he does next. Understand he is a lawyer, as well as a Developer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm

"neither the developers, or our city, has ever done the hard work necessary to see that BMR housing be built in a way that meets the needs of those constituents [teachers and firefighters]."

Unless my eyes hugely deceive me, 800 High Street was in fact built. Come look: High Street between Homer and Channing. Its developer worked hard, and claimed it was for our teachers and firefighters, but how many live there? I do remember that the firefighters union called the bluff and campaigned against the fraud, but who paid attention?

Nevertheless, your argument is ironically correct at its core. Neither the developers, or our city, has ever done the hard work necessary to see that BMR housing be built in a way that meets the needs of those constituents. Instead, BMR is the cynically-proffered developers' bait that suckers in the gullible well-intentioned, again and again. It never fails. It fooled Drekmeier at 195 PMR, and you've bit too.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 1:29 pm

"Are they perhaps just distractions to conceal that there is no valid anti-Moss argument, unless and until the judge's decision gets appealed by the Developer?"

There is an anti-Moss argument. This was a "back-pocket" lawsuit, with private information in hand that was not put on the table. It was an action brought by Bob Moss and Tom Jordan that was meant to "teach a lesson". Bob Moss gets no credit for costing our citizens and future residents more than they should otherwise have had to pay.

Tom :"Instead, BMR is the cynically-proffered developers' bait that suckers in the gullible well-intentioned, again and again. It never fails. It fooled Drekmeier at 195 PMR, and you've bit too."

the funny thing here is that you and others think I support developers. I don't. I support building more housing, especially more infill and BMR units. Not all developers are equal.

That said, Palo Alto has *never* done the two-sided diligence necessary to make BMR housing work.

The well-meaning impetus behind BMR has been frustrated by failures of policy makers, who have not directed City Management to properly do it's job on the marketing and development side.

BMR has also been frustrated by *certain* developers who, as businessmen looking to maximize an investment, will most always do the minimum for compliance.

Last, BMR has also been frustrated by the NIMBY movement here (and elsewhere). We're seeing that same NIMBY influence attempting to shirk our real responsibility to reduce environmental degradation by contributing to an infill housing trend line that will over time reduce miles driven to work, assuming everyone plays ball. And, if everyone doesn't want to play ball, then it's time to call the "delay and obfuscation" game and bring in the big boys - i.e. Sacramento - to say what has to be done, or else.

The NIMBY attitude is not evil; it's not especially affiliated with "left" of "right"; it's mostly about fear of change. It's the normal resistance that comes along with having to adapt to change.

We can't let that fear keep us from doing the two most powerful things we can do to reduce carbon emissions in this region - i.e. make the ABAG requests universally applicable to Palo Alto and all its neighbors, and insist that policy makers immediately work toward solving the mass transportation shortage within the next decade. Anything less is unacceptable, and irresponsible, and giving in to fear.

Palo Altans are better and more capable than that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Why was Mr Moss's suit a "back-pocket" one, and what "private information" did he have?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Jeremy:

Reading these postings I notice you are absolutely impervious to facts and logic, but you apparently have a lot of time on your hands. I have no patience with the former and relatively little of the latter, so I will bid farewell to you and to the reasonable people on this blog.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 26, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Tom "I notice you are absolutely impervious to facts and logic, but you apparently have a lot of time on your hands. I have no patience with the former and relatively little of the latter, "

Tom, Facts exist only as one sees them, and time is a relative thing. In your professed wisdom I would think you should know better, but I'll forgive you anyway (this time).

Bill, Bob Moss knew about a regulation that had gotten through the process. He and his attorney and Tom Jordan used that information to sue, instead of negotiate. It was a petty action that cost Palo Alto $86K, and counting.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Isn't it obvious that all of these high density developments are going to cost long time residents 10's of millions of $$ for the added services,parks, road maintance, etc over the long run?

The city should be collecting 10's of millions in fees from these high density developments as the developers make 100's of millions in profits.

Profits are behind all o f these developments. The developers don't or won't be living in Palo Alto when it becomes a crowded ''''''''slum" like city with no services . The city only collects 10 cents on the dollar of property taxes and the police and fire depts probably cost more than that if they are upgraded or expanded for the new people.

The city is easily short 100 acres of land for parks and playing fields for all of the new residents now.

Why not require a $200/ sq ft fee or more ,floor area, for all developments that have over 6 units per acre?

The city spent something like $20 million for the Heritage Park and Clark building where the P A Clinic was located.
Where is the $20 or $30 million coming from as a result of the new high density project being built in South Palo now?? To build parks ,etc. for the new people.

If new housing is needed for the ABAG requirments it should be built as a new city within the city and/or

on Stanford lands near the jobs so the people can walk or bike to work and it should all be built by Stanford at a low cost, low or no profit project. Houses in other desirable parts of the U.S. are built and sold for between $100 and $250 per sq ft. And this includes a reasonable profit not the $400 to $600 per sq ft profit now being sought by the developers in this city/area.

It will take a big, well organized and decidated effort by single family home owners to stop this high densit frenzy that is going on in our South Palo Alto neighborhoods.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:19 am

long time resident,

New residents also bring revenue. Expect our policy makers to work proactively with developers to *make this work*. We're not creating NYC, we're scaling urban growth in a responsible manner.

the panic behind your plea doesn't reflect reality. For instance, your statement "The city is easily short 100 acres of land for parks and playing fields for all of the new residents now." is way off the mark; in fact it's a gross exaggeration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2008 at 9:02 am

Long time resident, your calm analysis is refreshing. Perhaps Developers should pay significant impact fees for 50 years approximately, because the associated development costs borne by the city will continue for a long time, and with increasing dollar cost because of inflation. Unless they agree to sell condos for about 400 K and forego large Developer front-end profits. Might use pre-fab construction. But all this suffers from the Aesthetics of Living problem: who wants anything close to the Quonset-House style (post WWII) scattered
throughout PA? Staring at permanent ugliness is worse than staring at temporary empty lots.
Having said this, it is still commendable for astute citizens to stop improper Developer applications, if our city administration misses. Mr. Moss is known to be a smart, experienced citizen, and perhaps Developers should routinely learn to consult with him. To avoid situations like the subject Development.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:13 am

"The city spent something like $20 million for the Heritage Park and Clark building where the P A Clinic was located."

The figure is about $3 million.


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Posted by gh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:28 am

What he, Hohbach, wanted to build was way too big. Many residents showed up to meetings over and over again to protest the size of the building; eventually many of us couldn't show up to the meetings and guess what, they approved it.
At one of the meetings Hohbach commented that he wanted to put up some huge sound wall (i think he said 30' tall); well guess where the sound from the train will go? That's right, to the East side of the tracks. I am all for building on the site but not at that height and not with a sound wall. Thank you Bob for stopping this project!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 27, 2008 at 11:23 am

"At one of the meetings Hohbach commented that he wanted to put up some huge sound wall (i think he said 30' tall); well guess where the sound from the train will go? That's right, to the East side of the tracks."

This project suffered from nitpicking on almost every issue of size and facade. Residents who couldn't even SEE the wall complained.

When murals that would hide the wall, or concrete facade design that would contain sound were suggested, they were rejected. (btw. it should be known that there is no evidence to show that sound reflects horizontally back from a wall, into a neighborhood.

The MAIN resistance to this project came from people living across the tracks. They didn't like the height of the building, EVEN THOUGH there is an adjacent structure (the "Danger" building) just as high (or higher)

The reaction to this structure has been NIMBY in the extreme. Bob Moss used a tactic to teach a lesson, and cost our city money.

The described use of the property and the physical design are both appropriate. I've spoken to nearby residents who are VERY angry with the halt in this project. They have lived for years adjacent to that mess, and Bob Moss has now not only caused a further delay, he has cost our city money, and only god knows when this project will restart.

Mr. Moss is a smart man, and well-meaning, and from time to time his interventions have been helpful, but this action has more than made up for any fiscal good that he's done in the past. If you look at the cost to the developer (which will be passed on to future residents); the loss of sales tax revenue in adjacent commercial areas; the very real possibility that Google has not moved to the Agilent building because it has been waiting foe the property to build out, and many other factors, this is a net loss.

the great irony is that the structure will probably be built _anyway_. The essential elements of the structure passed legal muster, and could have continued if an over the table negotiation was conducted. Moss wanted to STOP this project, so he sued and got what he wanted - at this city's, and the neighborhood's loss.

As for the adjacent neighbors who complained until the cows came home; they will NEVER be satisfied with anything that's built there, because it's going to HAVE to be high to pay off. I fully expect the local NIMBYS to come out against whatever additional project (or a continuation of the present project) is put forward. It appears that they would rather their neighbors across the street live next to the present squalor, as long as they have "theirs".


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm

gh is right. Many citizens showed up many times to protest. They know some Councilpersons depend on an audience-count to guide their votes. The Developer hammers and hammers. Citizens tire. It takes a long time.
In this case Moss found a fatal flaw and stopped the project. He did legally what scores of citizens could not by logical arguments. Judges trounce logic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by gh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2008 at 8:16 am

Murals to 'hide' the wall, really? Since when does a mural (IMHO they should be called Ghetto Art) hide a wall.

For your information one resident brought sound readings (from the train noise)measured from their house to one of the Council meetings and was able to show how having the Danger building increased the noise from the train by bouncing it toward one side of the track. The fact is many of us are not against building something on that site, just not something so big.

No one at the City is taking in to consideration the sum of all the projects that have been approved or are in consideration for approval. We will eventually be burdened with schools that are overcrowded and emergency services that are overwhelmed, and of course by the additional traffic (all over town).

No I am not a NIMBY, I believe we need to see how all the current developments play out in terms of impact to our resources (police, fire, schools, roads). Then we can make the right decisions in terms of what growth and where it should be located.





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2008 at 12:15 pm

I got it! Let Hohbach build a project just like this one in Atherton, where he lives (he provides the toxic dirt if necessary). Then, if we like it and his townspeople haven't lynched him, we let him build one in Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 28, 2008 at 1:15 pm

"Murals to 'hide' the wall, really? Since when does a mural (IMHO they should be called Ghetto Art) hide a wall."

About noise levels, several suggestions were made to mitigate noise reflection - trees, acoustic treatments, acoustic dampening via facade design, etc. etc. These ideas were always rejected because a few loud protestors did not like the size of the building, even though it was going to be build just down the road from a building that is ann even greater height.

Oh, and here we go with the greatest NIMBY rationalization - i.e. " We will eventually be burdened with schools that are overcrowded and emergency services that are overwhelmed, and of course by the additional traffic (all over town)."

This is pure FUD. We get 10's of thuosands of cars coming into Palo Alto every day. If more of those people lived here, or took mass transit that *worked*, or both, we could have FAR less traffic with MORE people.

Also, might I remind you that even BMR units in Palo Alto are not a piece of cake to afford. New residents here come here often at great sacrifice; they "buy in" to their community. They see Palo Alto as an investment for their kids (education). These are the kind of people that CONTRIBUTE to community, and they PAY TAXES.

The exclusionary nature of this last NIMBY argument really says it all - i.e. "We've got ours, and we don't want to have to share it". The sad irony in the world of NIMBY's is that their arguments are always based on negative assumptions that they can't prove, or that bear out not to be true when development is done with a careful hand.

195 Page Mill, as currently designed, would have been a MASSIVE improvement to the current squalor, brought to us by lawsuit-happy residents who want their way. I hope Mr. Holbach holds out and gets to build that structure. I also hope that whomever is involved in this lawsuit gets countersued. I've had enough of over-zealous NIMBY'S costing me money, and our city's future.



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Posted by Younger Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Loski-

People are not against the development of this land. They simply want something that is legal. Mr. Hohbach's plans were simply too massive.

What type of development would be appropriate across from the (proposed) new police building, an auto shop, a company called "Danger", and office buildings across the street?

Also to consider, the proximity of an old transformer station nearby, a commuter train line (proposing to expand), toxic soil, and groundwater. There are also other issues with this particular site. This is an old industrial area.

Mr. Hohbach has built quite a few concrete high rises in this city over the years. Although he will be gone soon, his buildings will remain here. Us younger residents, and future generations (my children) will have to live with them.

The many residents who have spoken out about projects and policies in this city are involved because they genuinely care about the future of this city - they have no vested interest in any of these projects.

I have noticed that you have consistently misspelled Mr. Hohbach's name in your posts. I wonder what your reason is?

As for ghetto art, I would like to thank poster "gh". This is exactly the term I have been looking for to describe this!

Since you are such a supporter of Mr. Hohbach's project, why not apply for a job working for him? Just remember to spell his name correctly.


















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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm

I was talking to a few employees at Danger today; one of them lives in Palo Alto. She said that it was ridiculous to hold up the project.

We're simply going to have to disagree on this; there are thousands of communities built near mass transit on earth, many of them bordering train stations.

I'm not sorry that you won't get to design Mr. Hohbach's building, mostly because it appears that you don't want a residential property there. Who are you to decide that?

And, that you and "gh" would call mural art "ghetto art" shows a massive misunderstanding and pure lack of exposure to mural art all over the world. the link I put up it hardly "ghetto art". If you think it is, I suggest giving up MTV and getting out to look around at what ghetto art really is, and how it differentiates from some of the great wall murals. Europe is filled with this sort of thing.

Here's another wall mural - more ghetto art? Again, turn off your TV.
Web Link

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As for spelling; literacy is largely about context. Yet another thing you need to learn.


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Posted by Coincidence
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2008 at 11:00 pm

When the project was before the City Council a fellow addressed them, he held up a laptop computer and showed them a picture to prove that a mural could hide a wall. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by Say no to the N word
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2008 at 11:31 pm

"NIMBY" is the all-purpose epithet used by people who realize that their arguments otherwise have no weight and that their "reasoning" lacks a factual foundation and logic.




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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 12:17 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 12:20 am

btw, "Younger Resident", you might check out the murals in the Vatican; that's a good start in your art education. LOL!!!!


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Posted by analyst
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2008 at 7:20 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by gh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2008 at 10:22 am

The term "Ghetto Art" doesn't mean its good art or bad, it means murals that look out of place, and generally (IMHO) make the neighborhood look bad. Now if we had some of that Vatican ghetto art, that would be good!

By the way, the Mayor (Judy K) at the time (Dec 2006) agreed with my statements (posted earlier in thread) about the impact of the 195 Page Mill project. She said that voting for the project (195 Page Mill) was a major mistake and it will be regretted one day. (I have the e-mail to prove it).




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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 11:06 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Resident: I said there are nurturing developers out there. I never said that Hohbach was a nurturing developer. I DO contend that his development met all the rules, and that BOB MOSS used the law to "teach the City Council and Hohbach a lesson". BOB MOSS and TOM JORDAN have cost Palo Altans $86,000. That's a fact!!!

They are going to cost the city even more because more staff time will be used to deal with Mr Hohbach's new claims.

So, let's call a spade a spade. This is a development that would have been a HUGE improvement over the current situation. Palo Altans at large have lost money as a result of this action

gh, Murals look out of place??? They're ALL OVER Palo Alto, they're ALL OVER the Vatican. Your so-called "taste" is in serious question. Perhaps you might look at the pictures I've posted, and rethink your position.

btw, the City Council voted Hohbach's project UP. It was a 5-4 decision that was backed up by the City Attorney. It was legal from that aspect, until BOB MOSS used private knowledge to COST OUR CITY MONEY, for what?


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 11:23 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Bob Moss
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Normally I ignore the garbage that is posted anamously on this site, since pople like "Jeremy Loski" [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] are too ashamed to admit who they really are. I am not.

Here are the FACTS about our nicely sucessful lawsuit over the awful project at 195 Page Mill Road that fortunately is DEAD!

Hohbach refused to comply with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, or over 30 years of history requiring BMR units in reidential developments. He insisted on inviolating these normal legal requirements and threatened to sue the City if they did not approve the project. Unfortunately 5 misguided members of the Counil did just that. We sued, and won. Judge Nichols expressly voided the approval, much to the delight of the Planning staff who hate the project and hve minimal regard for Hohbah. Our victory allows the Council to reconsider the project afresh and treat Hohbach like evey other developer who has built housing in Palo Alto since 1975 - provide at least 10% BMR nits with NO special treatment or concessions from the City. In fact a project of the size proposed by Hohbach rquires 15% BMRs with no concessions. The City Attorney' office incorrectly followed the lead of Hohbach's lawyers and rferred to SB1818 as requiring concessions when in fact SB1818 had been superceded by SB435. All legal references should be to GC 65915 which is the real law. That law explictly says that the City is NOT required to violate the Comprehensive Plan in order to comply with the State law. We have lots of very skilled developers doing business here,but NONE of them have ever tried to apply SB1818 or GC 65915. It's not because THEY Are stupid, they just know better and won't try to get special treatment by threatening to sue.

As for the cost to the City, that was Judge Nichols decision. We would have preferred that Hohbach pay it all but the judge rules. In fact the cost is cheap if it educated staff and the Council as to what to do and how to do it properly, and eliminated a truly HORRIBLE project.

The approval by Regional Water Quality Control Board has many errors and omissions that I identified to staff and soon will mention to Council. If the project had been built as originally approved, it is very probable that some of the residents would develop cancer from indoor exposure to the TCE in the groundwater. Fortunately our lawsuit will prevent that.

As for the delights of housing on the site, both we and staff made it very clear that a development compliant with PTOD zoning was fine.


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 3:04 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
This decision was not overturned based on zoning violations, as Bob Moss incorrectly claims; the oversight made by the city and the developer regarding a potential environmental hazard is the main claim that the suit rested on. That was the first step in holding up this project.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Bob Moss, Tom Jordan and the Citizens for Upholding Zoning Regulations group have just cost our city taxpayers and future residents the following:
1) Attorney's fees - probably quite substantial

2) Since Mr. Holback has razed (thank god!) the ugly and dangerous corrugated metal buildings on that site, the neighborhood will now have to wait until a minor environmental review takes place. The site will continue to be an eyesore.

3) The cost of the development will increase, due to construction inflation (about 15% per year, and climbing). This cost will no doubt be passed on to those who aither rent apartments or reside in Mr. Holbach's future building, when it gets built.

4) We will lose the projected use of many small R&D offices in the California Avenue district, negatively impacting restaurants and other service related businesses in the area. Thus, a loss to the city of early projected sales tax and other use tax revenue.

5) The now-empty lot is correctly accross the street from the new Google facility. This means that Google employees, as they occupy their building (the old Agilent building), will have to endure the full weight of a longer-than-anticipated construction project, with all its attendant noise, dust, etc. (update - I have heard from reliable sources that one of the reasons for the Google delay is the condition of adjoining properties)

6) This will put a negative drag on efforts to have CalTrain reinstall more stops at the California Ave. station. This has been a sensitive lobbying effort that has been working to convince CalTrain that the California Avenue PTOD is REAL. This delay will take some wind out of that argument's sails.

Please note that the Citizens for Upholding Zoning Regulations group is ALSO one of the groups that was influential in causing the Google facility to be delayed in re-zoning, thus costing our city the revenue brought by 300-400 Google employees for ONE YEAR (the amount of time it took to change the old zoning, from light manufacturing, to office - even though that space was clearly designed as an office space)

The developer, Mr. Holbach, is no saint. He has not been easy for the city to work with, but went through an extensive period of review, with Mssrs. Moss, Jordan, and a few other determined Palo Altans hassling him all the way.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jeremy Loski
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Let's take another look at the REAL reasons why this project was attacked. Here's a VERY ACCURATE article in the Daily.

Read under the caption for the REAL reason. Mr. Moss didn't like the use that the building was being put to, among practically a DOZEN other things. Why those things were edited out, I have no idea, because they are FACT.

I saw almost every meeting that concerned that property. Opponents nitpicked it to death, everything from the trees, the color of concrete, the window size and blah, blah, blah.

I saw stuff like this happen to the Channing House expansion, where inexpert residents and P&T Commissioners were giving the Channing House architects the WRONG advice, like asking for rooms placed in ways that cantilevers wouldn't support them.

There is simply NO WAY that development should have to go through this gauntlet. The process is broken, and it is costing us BIG TIME.

It's FACTS like this that our citizens and policy makers need to see.
Web Link


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Jeremy, do you have any idea why so many people misspell Mr Holbach, as you and I know is correct, as Mr Hohbach ?


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