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250 homes to be built along Cal Ave, El Camino

Original post made on Apr 13, 2013

Long-awaited plans to build 250 homes for Stanford University faculty and low-income Palo Alto residents are expected to have their first airing before the city's Architectural Review Board in May, university officials said on Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, April 13, 2013, 3:52 PM

Comments (51)

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Posted by Gail
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Low-income? What is considered low income? What about all the useful small offices in that stretch of El Camino? Where would they go? How nice it would be if the low income housing were dispersed around the Stanford housing.

What I see is ever more traffic congestion and pressure on the existing neighborhoods. Let the traffic go through the campus. Stanford never wants to inconvenience itself. My opinion: tough. Standford should bear the burden of traffic.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Let's see what obstacles college terrace tries to throw n the path of this project. A signed agreement? Doesn't matter to college terrace. I wonder what " mitigations" they will demand.
College campuses, in general, try to recent through traffic from going through campus for obvious reasons. Stanford has campus drive, which circles the university. But if ail wants the traffic to go through campus, it would first have to go through college terrace.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let's see - Palo Alto desperately needs housing and this project will also significantly increase the amount of property taxes to palo Alto from these parcels so who is against it?
Oh yes, College (We are an island) Terrace.


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Posted by Confused?????
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

WHAT?????? I really don't get the city managers!! Most of El Camino up and down the peninsula has always been the location for businesses. Now Palo Alto wants to change the way we live? WHY??? The banks in this location have plenty of parking and is used by lots of people and have friends who work there and this would mean they might loose their job?? This location is the most convenient one for me to use without having to waste valuable time going into congested down town and hunt for a hard to find parking space.
A city can not run on houses alone. It needs businesses with easy access for everyone including people visiting from out of town who may not even know where Palo Alto downtown is.
It does not make since to put homes on a busy road. Put businesses on the high traveled roads where they can found and used. Put homes in quiet less traveled areas where it is quiet and safer for children.
I hope the city managers are listening and care enough to re-consider.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Oh .. and let's not forget that our Planning Department told the City Council that "no new construction" (or words to that effect) was being planned in the California Avenue Business District area.

Since that time, there has been nothing but new project after new project after new project proposed for that area.

Is there anyone in our City Government who has ever told the truth about anything?


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 13, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Joe-- I believe all this construction is part of the agreement between Stanford and the city, so it is not some surprise that has suddenly been uncovered. I remember the council crowing over this agreement at the time. Now it is time for the city to live up o their side of the agreement-- which may mean reining in college terrace


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

> I believe all this construction is part of the agreement
> between Stanford and the city

So the Planning Department should have at least offered this project up as one that was "on the horizon". They didn't. Why? Well, only they can tell us for certain--but it's doubtful that they will be telling the truth.


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Posted by Alexis Williams
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm

What about all chemicals that were found to be carcinogen on Hewlett Packard sites?

There's little mention of it in the whole discussion, while all residents might be at risk of severe damage. Web Link


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Posted by Bruce
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm

The commercial building being replaced by 70 below market rate housing units is the 2450-2500 El Camino building between Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America (both bank buildings remain for now). On the ground floor of this building along El Camino will be 7,000 square feet of retail space and nonprofit services for tenants.

The end of S California Ave, the building at 1600 where Facebook had its headquarters for several years and all the commercial buildings down to 1400 will be demolished and replaced with 70 single family homes plus 110 condos for Stanford faculty and staff.

Yes, there will be some construction traffic, just like there is every time something obsolete gets demolished and replaced with something new and better.

The comprehensive agreement between Stanford and the City of Palo Alto, reached nearly 10 years ago, still looks like a win-win to me and nearly everyone in town.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

My prediction is that even though college terrace may feel it is good for the city, they will act all upset and try to leverage this construction to gain benefits for the neighborhood. CT knows how to play the system to get what they want from the council.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm

As someone who was forced out of PA by the rent and is now commuting in. I'm very grateful for anything that will increase the housing stock and help to calm the extreme prices. It's a small step, but for bizarrely anti-urban Palo Alto, what more can really be expected?


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Posted by The-Last-Thing-PA-Needs-Is-More-Housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:50 am

> a lot of property taxes ..

Don't bet on it.

Without knowing any of the details of this project, the best we can do is guess that Stanford will spend somewhere around $150M (or maybe a little more) building these dwelling units. Depending on what Stanford does with them, the tax liabilities can vary significantly—from tax exempt to full market value.

If the units are not sold, but rented—the initial property tax assessments will be made by the Santa Clara County Auditor—based on some very arcane valuation formulae.

For every $100M of assessed value, only $1M in property taxes will be generated. The City of Palo Alto will receive about $90,000 from each $100M assessed valuation—hardly enough for about a firefighter's salary/benefits cost.

Depending on whether this project ends up using City of Palo Alto utilities, there might be a little extra UUT (Utility Users Tax) flowing into the City's General Fund, but Stanford is not a City of Palo Alto Utility customer, in general.

There might be a few dollars that end up in various "in-lieu" funds, but those dollars would not be very great, in general.

The PAUSD will get about $460,000 for every $100M of property assessment, but the costs to the District because of new students is an open question. In general, housing projects produce more school-aged children than property tax dollars to educate these children.

Lastly, keep in mind, that Stanford enjoys a $5B property tax exemption in Santa Clara County—so they are not likely to do anything but find ways to avoid paying taxes, based on past practices.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

I worry about the loss of business space, while housing is getting more and more expensive. So is business space, forget tech firms, lawyers, but someone who wants to open a business other then high end retail or supermarket.


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Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm

And no studies? What about impact to schools, police, fire and paramedic services, etc? The City is actually eliminating a Rescue unit from Hanover fire station. I've also heard this project is just the start of more planned new housing for that area. Homes and people will require city services, I have not seen any action on the Cities part in regard to services being supplemented so they can at least maintain current levels, instead the City has reduced police, fire and paramedic services.
There seems to be no study of how adding homes and population affects the services the city provides, in my opinion the city should be figuring out how these projects can pay for the increased demands they will place on existing services. Does the City Council and City Manager honestly think these type of projects will not put more stress on already reduced services?


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

More like an isthmus than an island, Peter, except that the water is Stanford on three sides.

Just trying to keep the neighborhood and its streets livable for current residents as well as those who move into the new housing.


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Posted by Notan issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Seems that CT is very livable. You have major traffic calming, permit parking, your own library branch etc. are people fleeing the neighborhood? I think not. Seems like you are laying the groundwork for demanding mitigations for imagined problems. These claims that Stanford is evil and negatively impacting your lives is getting old. How valuable are your homes now thanks to Stanford?
And, BTW, why didn't you object to the agreement between Stanford and the city a decade ago?


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

CT remains very livable in large part because of the dedicated efforts of its residents over decades, and it certainly benefits from its proximity the the university.

I did object back them and spent hundreds of hours --hours I could not easily afford -- as part of a neighborhood effort, from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2004, when the 100-page development agreement and the draft environmental impact report were released, until the project was approved the following May. As a newbie to Palo Alto civic matters is was a true education.

The neighborhood's concerns were on two grounds: (1) the compatibility of the housing to be built next to our predominantly single-family residential neighborhood and (2) that plans were for all the traffic to and from the 17-acre, Upper California Avenue housing site would enter and exit onto California Avenue.

Stanford's recent designs for the Upper California Avenue housing show substantially more single family units than stated in 2004/5, with "complete streets" into the site, and a 1-acre park open to the public; all real improvements.

Residents are currently working for additional improvements with regard to access to and frond the site during and after construction.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm

So you are saying that Stanford has made " real improvements" to the plan. yet, you want more" improvements"? Is there anything that will satisfy CT's insatiable appetite for " mitigations" from the city? Does the good of the city as a whole ever come not play for CT.
The city signed an agreement. It is time for the city to live up to the terms of the agreement? Will the city be able to keep CT in check? Or does CT believe that only certain agreements should be honored?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some of the people in College Terrace remind me of people who move into next to an airport and then start complaining about the noise.

There is not a single resident in College Terrace who lived there before Stanford owned all of the land surrounding College Terrace.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:23 am

I am worried about exacerbating the school over-crowding. Maybe some land should be carved out for future elementary school, middle school and high school there.


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Posted by The-Last-Thing-PA-Needs-Is-More-Housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

> I am worried about exacerbating the school over-crowding.

It really depends on what Stanford intends to do with these dwelling units. Senior housing, and high-end apartments don't generate many school-aged children.

That said—the PAUSD made an agreement with Stanford some years ago to accept $10M to help refurbish/reopen the Terman middle school. In return, the PAUSD promised to never ask Stanford for any money/land, in perpetuity, for school-related matters.

So—if Stanford generates hundreds, or even thousands, of new students—the PAUSD taxpayers will have to pick up the bill to educate these Stanford-based students.


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Posted by former Stanford campus resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch - that's all most of the people in Palo Alto ever do - complain about anything and everything that changes, plus complaints about what may bring more traffic, who might drive on their street.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

JJ and F had better stay, and the old 88 bus had better be brought back.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

Why can't Stanford build on their land off of Foothill Expressway/Page Mill? Then their traffic won't bother El Camino Real.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why can't Stanford build on their land off of Foothill Expressway/Page Mill"

Note the the new Palo Alto housing policy is for housing to be built downtown, on California Ve and on El Camino - just as Stanford proposes.


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Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Facebook shuttles don't look so bad now, do they?


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I've read a few articles saying one of the biggest threats to California's economy is housing costs. The people with this drawbridge, "I've got mine, screw the rest of you" attitude, getting in the way of any new housing being built, are directly responsible. These people should be ashamed of themselves.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

PA native-- actually the housing provides a new opportunity for CT to play the " our lives are so miserable because of Stanford" card. They milked what they could from the Facebook shuttles. I am sure the CT neighborhood association that looks for any and every opportunity to get concessions/ mitigations from Stanford and / or the city.


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Posted by Barry
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

"Let's see - Palo Alto desperately needs housing and this project will also significantly increase the amount of property taxes to palo Alto from these parcels so who is against it?

Oh yes, College (We are an island) Terrace."

Palo Alto desperately needs housing? Says who? I say we need to stop building housing, period. PA is wayyy to overcrowded by my own standards. Build this housing in your own town buddy. See who complains then. And you're from Atherton? Why are you commenting here? We should be like Santa Barbara: Limited development and no more buildings over 3 stories high. Who cares if we don't get state monies for not building low income housing. I think PA is doing fine on it's own. The college Terrace is awesome! Well... until Stanford built those ugly track houses over that stretch of field on Stanford ave. I loved those fields. And the neighborhood will be even worse off when this project goes down.

But yes, let's continue to build office space and housing and CRAM as many people in this little town as possible. Great idea.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" that stretch of field on Stanford ave. I loved those fields."

Did you offer to lease those fields at fair market value in order to keep them as fields? Or did you simply want Stanford to provide you with a benefit at no cost to you?


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

@Peter Carpenter

This whole argument is based on a "I like things as they are so nothing should change". I doubt most of these people crying "no new housing" would be singing the same tune if they actually had to pay taxes on the full value of their houses.


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Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm

"Did you offer to lease those fields at fair market value in order to keep them as fields? Or did you simply want Stanford to provide you with a benefit at no cost to you?"

Heck no I didn't offer to lease those fields. How much would that cost, like a million dollars? It was just great to have and one of the benefits of living in CT that has been removed. Oh well, that's the way it goes I guess. Again, you say you're from Atherton... why are you commenting here?

"This whole argument is based on a "I like things as they are so nothing should change". I doubt most of these people crying "no new housing" would be singing the same tune if they actually had to pay taxes on the full value of their houses."

Yes, We the people of CT did like things the way they were. And you're right, I pay a sweet sweet low property tax on my house because I bought it in 1977. So what... I can still complain. Build this crap on your block pal.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Glad to finally see someone from CT actually admit their greed and: selfishness:

It was great to have the fields-- in other words Stanford should provide us free benefits. The fact that the land is Stanford's does note matter. If it benefits CT, the it should remain that way.

You pay a low tax-- in other words to hell with everyone else.
But you forget that palo alto entered in a deal with Stanford and time to honor their side oF the deal. We will see what CT ends up demanding-- maybe the council will finally have the guts to tell CT where to go.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Wow Berry, I don't always agree with housing mandates, but its that kind of attitude that makes me smile when high density housing is forced upon your neighborhood.


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Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Palo Alto blows. The city council, you softies here, Stanford, all these non-neighbor like people moving in. It all blows. You folks can have it. It's not the 1980's PA like I used to know and love. I'm moving to San Gregorio anyhoo.

Berry MckCokinner
-Out


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Posted by Fred Johnson
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2013 at 11:04 am

Peter Carpenter lives in Atherton. Put the housing there.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2013 at 11:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton already has the best housing to jobs ratio in the Bay area.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Plans for a school should be looked at, land should be set aside, it not a school, something public use benefit. Park, pool, community center or child care center. A gym would help.


We do need housing, we have added so many jobs not just Palo Alto, but Mountain View, Menlo Park and Sunnyvale. Either we build here or the Central Valley or how about Napa Valley.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

", something public use benefit. Park, pool, community center or child care center. A gym would help."

You want a second bite from the apple. Stanford already "leased land at Page Mill Road and El Camino Real to the city for $1 per year for 51 years" as a condition of this long ago approved development.

Pure College Terrace greed and extortion.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Wow...the ridiculousness of Atherton residents to comment on Palo Alto high density housing..you guys live on acre+ flat lots on prime prime land in palatial gated communities...quite out of touch with reality ...and anything but green..just the electric bills of these monster mansions are jaw dropping...


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

This isn't really "Atherton resident." This is something extraordinary, somebody who must've had some fantastically wonderful experience of Stanford. It's hard to imagine what, but wouldn't it be great to have a whole series of comments speculating on that?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Actually I lived in Palo Alto for over a decade and served as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner for 4 1/2 years.

But feel free to ignore informed "foreign opinion" if it does not reinforce your own opinion - that is the mark of a true believer.


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Posted by al
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Why isn't the PAHC making the Mayfield project a SENIOR low-income development? It's close to Stanford medical, walkable, to PAMF medical, food, grocery, shopping, Avenidas, free entertainment at Stanford, etc.

Instead, they're trying to spot zone our residential neighborhood, rezoning from low density for a high density development, using the grandfathered-in Tan/Arastradero apartments as an excuse, and seniors as cover. There are absolutely no walkable services, no groceries, nothing accessible from that location. That location is an island surrounded by R-1 residential, and currently zoned only for low density. There is an orchard there currently, I don't think people realize how much putting density there is going to affect the neighborhood and traffic along Arastradero and Maybell.

It is, however, a great place for a field, and large enough to put two playing fields on! It's across the street from Juana Briones park and school. It's the perfect place for a playing field on this side of town, where we currently have NONE for the community. The only way that will be considered is if the community comes up with the money to buy that parcel.

Having playing fields there will mean parents won't have to drive their kids out to the Baylands (whenever those get built), the kids can walk and bike here from a wide swath of Palo Alto and Los Altos (it's very near the bike path that goes to College Terrace and Los Altos). Just giving them a chance for that independence as well as the sports is a REAL community benefit (as opposed to a made-up one to spot zone our cohesive neighborhood).

Aren't there any companies or local philanthropists -- perhaps some concerned about the future traffic delays on Arastradero? or whose kids play in local soccer leagues? -- willing to help? It's a rare opportunity to get open space that will be gone forever if the density hawks get their way!!


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:50 pm

OK, so here is my perspective. I was a small cog in the Mayfield deal.

There were three major issues, at that time: Stanford development rights (which became VMware up on Hillview the old Syntex site), housing, driven by the pro-housing interests, and playing fields, driven by those, like myself, who understood the need.

I am very satisfied with the deal, as a political compromise. I, personally, did not want the housing element; others did not want the development rights for Stanford in the Research Park; others, like myself, supported playing fields. It was, in the end, a political compromise, with significant public benefits, and some detriments. In other words, it was a real world solution.

In terms of design, I think Stanford should align its housing element with the spline road, through the superblock, that has been long promised.


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Posted by al
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:52 am

Craig,
I'm not sure I understand. Given that the housing is going in at Mayfield, I'm suggesting it be designated for seniors THERE, rather than PAHC trying to spot zone in Greenacres 2, using seniors as an excuse.

The Mayfield location is near to all the services seniors would need, without using cars no less. The Maybell location isn't near ANY services, groceries, medical, anything seniors need. (And somehow we're to believe they won't drive.)

The problem with trying to rezone the low-density orchard in Greenacres (the Maybell/Clemo project) to high density is that exact location is right at the intersection of limited routes in and out of the neighborhood, bounded by schools. The traffic on those streets is already affecting quality of life. Putting density right there in a neighborhood that has no other routes out or in, especially where there are schools, is asking for an emergency gone wrong at one of the schools, or a delayed ambulance to one of the elderly neighbors at the wrong time of day.

There are no walkable services there, and it's not going to serve any of the neighbors in the neighborhood. They tend to stay put until they die (and even if they wanted to move in, the minute the sold their homes, they'd be ineligible). Pure and simple, it's a play for sticking density in a residential neighborhood, and frankly, converting a whole residential area into a high-density one so they can put more density here in the future, as some of the other large properties go on the market.

It's a really, really rotten thing to try to do to the neighborhood, from people who don't live back here.

I don't understand what you are saying about playing fields. I think the best thing that could be done with that orchard is convert it to a playing field. Can you help? There are no playing fields at all for the community on this side of town. Barring that, PAHC should build within the existing zoning. (But they won't do that, because they have to impose the density on us in order to make and pay back the money they borrowed from the city to buy the property -- another serious issue with that plan.)


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:26 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

ai,

The plans/agreements for the El Camino Real, 70-unit Mayfield Development Agreement "very-low" income (50% or less of area median) and "low" (60% or less of area median) housing site is to have priority for households of Palo Alto workers and residents, and also non-student Stanford employees.


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Posted by The-Last-Thing-PA-Needs-Is-More-Housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

> Atherton already has the best housing to
> jobs ratio in the Bay area.

Since it's effectively against the law in Atherton to run a business--there aren't many jobs in Atherton to begin with.

Here's a bit of what Atherton is all about--

Web Link

The beginning statement of the Town's General Plan says "the Town of Atherton desires, insofar as possible, to preserve its character as a scenic, rural, thickly-wooded, residential area with abundant open space and with streets designed primarily as scenic routes rather than for speed of travel."
---

So--

1) How many jobs are ther in Atherton?
2) How many affordable housing units are there in Atherton?


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Posted by al
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Fred,
The Maybell/Clemo site is also for very low and low income. They should make the Mayfield project for seniors and stop trying to use low-income seniors housing as an excuse to spot zone in Greenacres.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Al - Senior developments usually have transportation for their residents, so a walkable location is not as important as it is for other age groups Having the park across the street is probably a greater amenity for that age group than grocery stores and dry cleaners. There is already high density housing right next to the proposed housing site (Tan apartments). BTW - I think the current zoning would allow them to build 36 or 37 units of housing.


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Posted by Colin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I live on college terrace along California ave and do not have a problem with this project on the face of it. It was a more than fair trade. The city got two fantastic and much needed soccer fields and College Terrace will soon have 180 new families and/or interesting people living up the road. I can imagine that California ave will have a lot more families/people/bikes, etc going up and down California ave on weekends. This will liven the neighborhood! I believe this is a real win/win.

My only concern is the cut-through commute traffic from the Hanover project to campus. Our neighborhood will between these people and their jobs, so there will be a lot more people zig-zagging through college terrace in the AM, at lunch time and then in the evening. I worry because there are so many children playing in the streets in College Terrace.

Why can't Stanford invest in an ingress/egress on Peter Coutts, which would ameliorate this issue entirely!??!?!?! I get that the issue is that their is a steep slope there -- i have seen Stanford move mountains before, maybe they can do it again (or carve a knoll as this case may be) if they really care. I do believe Stanford cares and I hope they consider this.


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Posted by TheKBHomeDan
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Are homeowners becoming aware of the way KB homes is building homes? The pictures of these homes are haunting...Web Link


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