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Voters shoot down Maybell development

Original post made on Nov 5, 2013

A grassroots campaign in Palo Alto to overturn an approved housing development on Maybell Avenue scored a sweeping Election Day victory Tuesday night, winning by more than 1,000 votes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 10:24 PM

Comments (262)

Posted by green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm

The City Council and the City of Palo Alto just will never be satisfied until every inch of land in Palo Alto is built upon. Hopefully, the Measure is not going to pass. I'm a low-income senior, and I'm glad. YAHOO!!


Posted by Fabulous, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Fabulous result, and I think Karen Holman's reading of it is exactly right.
I also bet PAHC doesn't sell, and "somehow" finds a way to build there anyway.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Guess the City and PAHC shoulda spent more money.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Wait, the Housing Corporation says that they're probably going to sell the land? But the Weekly promised us that we could send the Council a message without losing affordable housing! What happened? Can't we have our cake and eat it too?
Please, Weekly, explain to us how it is all going to turn out all right? I mean, it couldn't be hubris that drove that editorial, could it?


Posted by Demosthenes, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

This is very good news to be heard. I believe that all sides of the argument are anticipating for the final answer. It seems like it will be a close call. Hopefully, this will wake Palo Altans up and have them see other projects that may turn out like this around Palo Alto. I hope to see Palo Altans satisfied with the turnout.


Posted by 18 year resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I'm sure PAHC will sell the land for a nice profit. They should at least repay the city with interest.


Posted by Will o People, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Hopefully Jerry Underall will listen to will of the people and stop fighting this thing. Congrats to everyone who became active on Palo Alto issues because of the re zoning. Your voice IS important.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm

On the next ballot, we need a measure eliminating Planned Community Development loopholes. As long as developers can bypass the master plan by getting PC zoning, they will.


Posted by Voted AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:03 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by 50 year resident, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Maybe the completely out of touch city council will finally get the message to save what little is left of the character of Palo Alto.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

At the next election, we need to take issue with the mayor, gail price, karen holman, liz kniss and the rest of the council that doesn't get the message. Congrats to the Against D coalition. Glad palo alto is seeing the PAHC for what it really is. Back in the spring, when they held the council sessions on this subject, it was sickening to see the council cozying up with the PAHC officials in council chambers. Their condescending and dismissive treatment of the the concerned residents was shameful.


Posted by Voted Against D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Who says you can't fight city hall? Who says you can't fight big business?


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

The City Council unanimously agreed to take action that the majority of the voters disagreed with - wake up City Council and get a clue!


Posted by HUTCH 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

We a victorious but we still have along way to go...LETS KEEP THIS BALL ROLLING PA! :)


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Holman was surprised - I was surprised too- that it was this close.
Holman says this is "concern" over new developments. It's more than that.
I suggest it is repudiation of everything the Council,ARB, and staff are doing- of the end results we are getting, of what is happening to our City. The residents who spearheaded this referendum deserve our gratitude.


Posted by Just the first step, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Fellow neighbors, voting against D was just a first step.

We got to this point only because a group of out-of-touch politicians tried to force their priorities on us. Please remember how they ignored us when we first raised our concerns, and they would still be dismissing us if we had not fought back successfully with a grassroots and underfunded campaign.

Definitely remember who these politicians are next time we have local elections.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Let's get together to cleanup City Hall and City Council in the 2014 Election


Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Donya is a registered user.

PAHC has never been willing to give us numbers on these alleged long waiting lists of low income senior Palo Altans.
On their tax credit application they claimed Palo Alto Medical Foundation is 1.5 miles away from the proposed Maybell apartments as well as other misrepresentations. Please ask for some evidence before you assume there are so many low income Palo Alto senior residents who would have qualified to live in Maybell.

Marybeth Mattingly who is at Stanford and whose area of research is poverty told us that the demographics of low income Palo Alto residents is so small that it is very hard to get accurate data on them. The waiting lists that PAHC keeps mentioning are mainly made up of Bay Area residents who are happy to rent in Palo Alto as long as they can the rent is low. If you walk into some of the PAHC properties it is extremely difficult to find an English speaker.

PAHC is not run by little old ladies. Their board is mainly made up of developers, corporate attorneys, real estate attorneys and so on. Here is a link to their board of directors:

Web Link



Posted by resident, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Remember- despite being told of the morning traffic concerns on maybell, none of the council bothered to visit and check it out for themselves.

-"It's very instructive," Holman said. "It shows that people are very upset about development in Palo Alto and the quality of it." -

No kidding- that's what we were saying all along.


Posted by Nimbys win, Palo Alto loses, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I hope a private developer builds the 46 code compliant homes on that parcel and 92+ new drivers move in and the opponents of this senior housing not for profit proposal get what they deserve. Talk about a failure to appreciate an opportunity for smart growth. What a bunch of (fill in the blank).


Posted by Against D, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I, for one, am surprised the against d campaign won, and was sure that the PAHC tactic of making this a senior issue would win out. That, and their high priced PR firm and massive campaign fund surely couldn't lose to a grassroots organization. Some credit should go to the local papers who took the time to delve into the issue and explain it to their readers. (Early on I felt that the coverage of the council meetings were biased in favor of the council.)


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm

The arrogant and out of control City Council and City staff got blown
out of the water! They always support "outreach". Well tonight we had
outreach and feedback.


Posted by Tired of the Road Rage and Gridlock, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm

And can we now also get rid of the horrible, failed "traffic calming" experiment on Arastradero too.. Even without the overly dense potential development, the traffic is unbearable.


Posted by NIMBYs RULE, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:02 am

When NIMBYs across the city join together, Palo Alto wins!!!


Posted by Palo Alto Urbanist, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 am

I voted Yes on D.

Palo Alto has around 65,000 residents and 35,000 registered voters. Today 11,473 ballots were cast, 6,437 against and 5,036 for Measure D. So 56% of those who voted cast a no vote. But those 6,437 votes represent just over 18% of all Palo Alto voters and just under 10% of all Palo Alto residents.

The No on D campaign -- The Palo Alto Land Use Tea Party -- ran an energetic campaign; always easier to do when mobilizing supporters who are motivated by fear, anger, selfishness, resentment, suspicion, sarcasm, sourness and an unwillingness to engage facts and logic while dismissing truth.

The Yes on D campaign ran a tired, traditional Palo Alto ballot measure campaign. It presented the progressive position as an earnest, eat-your-peas vote, one that well-meaning people should take because it was the right thing to do. It did not robustly embrace a vision of an urban Palo Alto that is more green, just, vital, dense, diverse, tall and fun! And its strategy and tactics employed none of the new data-driven approach to campaigning that the Silicon Valley Obama campaign employed so successfully in 2008 and 2012.

The good news for Palo Alto urbanists is that those 6,437 no on D voters, those 18% of Palo Alto voters, represent a pretty full accounting of the base of support of the Palo Alto Land Use Tea Party. If there was a voter out there who was "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," chances are that that voter voted.

That leaves the remaining 82% of us -- 28,653 voters, of whom 5,036 voter yes.

I believe that the 23,527 of us who did not vote include many whose values and preferences trend urban. They vote with their feet by where and how they live. Yes on D could have easily extracted the additional 1,500 votes needed to win had it used cutting-edge targeting, organizing and messaging.

So the narrative about Palo Alto's future will, in the short term, emphasize the triumph of suburban fear and selfishness over earnest do-gooder incrementalism.

I hope for a different narrative and outcome. I hope this election prompts Palo Alto urbanists to mobilize and engage in the land use process in support of continued rapid development of a world-class, regionally important, culturally vital city (we are, after all the "City" of Palo Alto, not "Town" or "Suburb"). A City that enables its residents to live in more affordable, compact, transit-oriented housing, consuming (per capita) less land and oil, while enjoying more vibrant, active, dense neighborhoods and commercial districts.


Posted by Core Values, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:20 am

Council wants to figure out the "Core Values" of Palo Alto. This election should give them a few clues. 1)Integrity, 2)Competent Staff and Council and 3)Financial Responsibility.

What we don't want is to be ignored, lied to, stuck in traffic jams, searching for parking, surrounded by stack and pack homes, overcrowded, and paying for every dumb idea of staff and special interest groups.


Posted by Kenneth Scholz, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:42 am

Kenneth Scholz is a registered user.

This project failed because it conflated two issues, in my opinion unnecessarily. Below market rate housing, done properly, is a good thing, fits Palo Alto's values, and we should continue to hold onto this goal. Treating a residential neighborhood as an ATM by up-zoning and subdividing before flipping for a profit is quite another. It seems that this time most voters felt that the the ends didn't justify this means-finally.

I'm hopeful that the city both maintains its commitment to provide below market rate housing and has the will to find more equitable ways to assist with the financing, and the integrity to both provide and be guided by adequate traffic and environmental impact studies. Requiring developers to provide the proper levels of BLM housing in their projects would be a good start, or at least charging in-lieu fees sufficient to enable projects elsewhere, such as this one. And we have the Stanford funds.

How about raising funds by selling the existing Maybell houses, resubmitting a plan for Sr. housing with truly adequate parking and Sr. relevant ammenities, making Clemo into something like community gardens that truly would be an asset for both the seniors and the neighborhood, and having the city make up the difference? Everyone could be proud of this, and Palo Alto can afford it.


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:42 am

This is a very good thing. This is a watershed event that will benefit all of Palo Alto.

The tide has been turned. Now let's do something really good for seniors -- I'll kick in the first dollars to build something in harmony with the community.

Best regards,

Tim Gray

Tim Gray


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:32 am

I personally think the best outcome is a working group that figures out how to to combine the almost $16 million in public money committed at Maybell with the $14.5 million on the table at Buena Vista, making a competitive bid to purchase the 4 acre property and save the low-income housing there.

If that runs afoul of ABAG goals, we offer them the biggest letter-writing campaign ABAG ever saw to shame them into prioritizing saving the far more existing affordable housing spots (that don't count for ABAG) over wiping that away for a few BMR units in a luxury apartment complex that they can count against their allotment. Saving existing low-income spots is far cheaper than building new ones.

If the money were reallocated to saving Buena Vista, the City/County would then own as much property there as at Maybell and in the future, more housing could be built there without evicting long-time residents - the space would eventually open up just through attrition, no evicting anyone. I would hope at the same time, a group would call for working out a way of preserving the orchard as parkland/public space or other similar low-traffic use for the site. This side of town desperately needs a community meeting space.

Let's be honest, that location was never a great place to build senior housing. Building senior housing under existing zoning would be the best development option for the neighborhood, but not for the seniors. Far better for the neighborhood would be saving the orchard/parkland. Didn't the City promise a park at Miki's?

If saving the BV and orchard came out of it, it would be a true win-win. I wonder which the yes side will choose, nursing grudges or realizing the potential if they set them aside and realized their neighbors were trying to tell them the truth all along. Imagine both sides, joined together, Monday at City Hall, to demand we find a reasonable way save BV and the orchard?...


Posted by Wake up and smell the coffee, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:54 am

Apparently the message has not been heard. Palo alto urbanists' arrogant claim of those who didn't vote is an example. The tired " NIMBY" accusers are another. If this was about a few angry voters near the project it wouldn't have swept the whole city.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:43 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Seniors do drive.
Seniors do have cars and sport trucks.

There are many seniors as our close by neighbors.
They *all* still drive their OWNED vehicles.
Measure D hopefully gave City Staff a big dose of 'Use realistic numbers' when you endorse a project.


Posted by Bonanza, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:52 am

Let's face it, the D opponents were more worried about the services these senors will need. Senors tend to take advantage and deplete any service there is. It's not about zoning, traffic or "ugliness" of big buildings . It's about economics. Wake up shallow alto!


Posted by Ken , a resident of Professorville
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:10 am

Congratulations. Still a lot of work to do.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:36 am

Congratulations to the No on D campaign. This is a great start in helping to push back the tidal wave of high density developments.

Remember, the city council chose the time of the ballot (this year and in 2014). The city wrote the language of the ballot measure. The cabal of council campaign contributors and council members themselves made sure that PAHC could outspend the No on D seven to one. Even with all these advantages, the pro Measure D lost.

The city council and the city staff is really out touch with the majority of residents. Unfortunately, it cost the city taxpayers $600,000 to find out by having a special election (note: the city is spending a lot of money doing multiple polls to see if they can pass more taxes for paying for things like parking garages, maintaining the streets, etc. instead of just budgeting for this stuff out of the regular budget).

The next step is we need a city council that is more in touch with the majority of Palo Alto. We need a more assertive city council who will criticize city staff when they produce one-sided staff reports, and when they leave out facts to support these high density developments.

We need to replace Scharff, Price, Shepard - that would send another message to the other pro-developer council members (Kniss & Berman).


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:58 am

correction: Holman is quoted as saying residents are "very upset", as
opposed to "concerned" as I earlier posted, about "new development in
Palo Alto and the quality of it" and she said "it's very instructive".
This is an important qualitative difference and I apologize to her.

I also said it's about the full impacts of what the City is doing-
"the end results we are getting, of what is happening to our City".







Posted by Satisfied Voter, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:16 am

To all those who claim that this was a 'NIMBY' vote:

Many of my neighbors and I DO support low-income senior housing at the Maybell site. What we didn't support was the backwards method that the City Council used to try to ram PAHC's ridiculous plan down our neighborhood's throat. We especially oppose preferential rezoning. If the City had REALLY listened to the concerns we shared at their numerous meetings, we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.

So, enough with the NIMBY insults. Let's talk about the issues, and come up with a better solution. Remember that when people run out of arguments, insults usually follow.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:33 am

This is a wonderful result. I have been bombarded with pro D flyers for weeks and thought that the unlimited financial resources of the developers would tip the scale in favor of the Yes vote. I was pleasantly surprised. We all know that the developers and their enablers in the city council wouldn't stop unless every square inch in Palo Alto is developed and paved and our population density resembles that of Hong Kong, but this is a very satisfying small victory.


Posted by Mark, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:33 am


The message should be clear - PA residents care about seniors and affordable housing. But, we are fed up with counsel deals with developers and "loopholes" that are destroying neighborhoods and bringing ugly oversized buildings, disappearing sidewalks, traffic and parking problems and density sprawl. The answer here is for counsel to reign in the developers and to re-propose the senior housing a more reasonable sized private housing component.


Posted by Nancy Peterson, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:16 am

I voted against D for one reason: Sizeable development projects in Palo Alto need a timeout. Many haven't been designed and sited properly and we are left with bulky, fortress like structures that crowd our streets. I hope we can sustain needed civic engagement so that a reasonable, architecturally appealing balance can be struck.


Posted by Relieved in Green Acres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:22 am

I don't know what all the arguing is about. The people that live in this area didn't want it ruined like the rest of Palo Alto and voted it down. Enough said.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:26 am

With the crusade to ram this thing through and the huge bias in the editorials published in Palo Alto Online, I am so surprised and pleased that D failed. It restores my faith in my neighbors.

The total voter numbers are rather low, and perhaps it's possible to spend even more money and lie or scare people into voting something like this in, but I think the vote shows Palo Altans are against the current city government and developers. They don't like being lied to, manipulated, ignored, steamrolled, or dismissed.

I think if we had some alternative voices in the people running for city government the current group would be out very quickly. Palo Altans holding on to Palo Alto is an uphill fight, there will always be the loud, pushy voices with the arrogant, all-knowing tone that tells everyone they are wrong to try to resist what the big money wants. I'm glad there was push back and I hope it continues and grows.

Great job Palo Alto.


Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:27 am

It is time for the whole city council to resign.
Start with Larry (city in de)Klein - what a sellout he is.
Long in the tooth. Used to a force for good now is much like Al Davis - hanging on with past accolades. Begone all y'all.


Posted by Will o people, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

City council has 12 months to change its tune but don't be fooled. We saw their real colors when they thought they could steamroll us. Expects some political repositioning and remember the pro development council when it's time to elect a new slate and clean house.

I expect the reasonable growth side will continue to be far out raised in terms of money. So keep paying attention palo slto !


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:42 am

What a sad, sorry role the Weekly played in this, helping to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about what is at base a good project. Editorializing against it in order to use this project to make your point about Page Mill and 27 University was just an absolute bottom. The Weekly has, in my view, a large share of the blame for this terribly unfortunate outcome. Although I will, I admit, laugh my a$$ off when they build a giant ugly (hopefully the ugliest yet) complex of hideous condos with many driveways onto Maybell.

Absolutely the only thing that happened here is that you shot the old people you were holding hostage in order to teach a lesson to the for-profit developers of other projects. The problem is that those developers never cared about the old people to begin with because these things are not logically connected. Now you will have the same amount of for profit development, with less affordable housing. Yay. Pass the punch and cookies. Drink up, Weekly. Your judgment was spot-on as always.


Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:52 am

The city and POST need to buy this piece of land and make it part of the park.
Perhaps a community building as well.
It's also tie for Jim (not so)Keene to go as well.
He is an incompetent wolf in sheeps clothing.
There is not a single act of his which is of value.
From wanting to build a auto dealership in the bay
to wanting to close the Animal Shelter
to wanting to put a huge electronic billboard out there
he long ago sold his soul to the top $. ..all the while trying to look
cool with his laidback style. Bunch of crap. Go away and stop ruining Palo Alto.


Posted by Measure D Opponent, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:54 am

Congratulations to all Measure D opponents.
As a real estate broker, I think PAHC will be hard pressed to get their investment back. The price they were paying was predicated on the increased density which will not happen. A lower density will command a lower price for the land.
Is the city going to step up and cover part of any shortfall?
Several council members and the mayor should consider resigning from the council. The council's arrogance has to end.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

So now we are back where we were before PAHC purchased the Maybell property.

That will clarify matters a lot. Without the affordable housing option there (I believe PAHC when they say it can't be done within current zoning) it's wide open as to what we'll see the purchaser try to put there. Condos? Apartments? Single family homes? An orchard and visitors center?

The people have spoken. They don't want the affordable senior apartments with private homes at the edges. But they're pretty divided about what they hope will go in there. If there's another battle about that property, it'll likely be between factions of the "No on D" coalition.

That's the very local impact, of little concern to zoning hawks, who have gained a real triumph in the campaign to block super sized developments in Palo Alto. It's a shame that PAHC has been treated in this campaign as a proxy for developers who abuse Planned Community zoning, but that's the way it is.

The need to make Maybell an attractive and safe option for bicyclists and pedestrians going to and from school is no less now than if Measure D had passed. I worry that the focus will be on restoring Arastradero Road to its former expressway-like status for the benefit of car users in Green Acres, which would increase the hazards on that street without addressing some easily realizable improvements that could be made on Maybell itself.


Posted by Genevieve , a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

Definitely a sad outcome. As a long time resident of Palo Alto, I didn't think I would ever see the day when neighbors would be so spiteful and full of hate. Irrespective of all the conscience related 'reasoning' behind the 'No-on-D' supporters, it reeks of NIMBYism. The only people who truly have lost in this election are low income seniors. I too hope PAHC sells the land to a for profit developer and look forward to seeing the +-46 homes with all their drivers and additional school age children move in. Hope the NIMBYs keep smiling!


Posted by Pat, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

A big thank you for all the people who worked hard and long hours to make this happen,
I'm a senior and helped to make it known how I felt about this project and I'm a Realtor.
My faith is back that we can make a change and Say No to Large ugly projects in our city.
I have lived here a long time and we are tired of being pushed around by the city council
and planning dept.
Seniors do drive.
Yeah!!!!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

I think that this result says more than just about the Maybell issue.

I think that this result is a no confidence vote in the City Council. I think that this result shows that Palo Alto voters are now taking more note of what is being thrown at us by those who are meant to be representing us.

Not sure where we go next, but it is time for the next City Council elections to get some real residents to take part. Tim Gray, and others, please look to the future of representing residents first in the next election.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:15 am

@Palo Alto Urbanist at least has a vision.

Why not develop that vision into a planning map? Why not discuss openly what it means for existing neighborhoods?

Why not discuss best practices for how 100, 75 and 50 year-old neighborhoods can transition to the various visions in a way that's beneficial to existing as well as new uses?

We've been barreling toward a vision that hasn't been disclosed, openly discussed and endorsed by the local community.

If we're a regional center, then how do we benefit from that vision and how do we start to create "cultural vitality?" We're in the cultural shadow of San Francisco. In Bay Area terms we are a suburb. We will never have the traditional markers of culture: regionally relevant museums, performing arts, music. We don't have any iconic buildings or architecture. We've consumed so much political capital with Stanford over mitigating harm from something really good they're doing (building a new hospital), that we have no negotiating space left to develop cultural alliances.

What we have successfully done is gathered tech businesses that would traditionally have located in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara and dropped them into Downtown and California Ave. But that makes our Downtown a tech Disneyland, not a cultural center. And it's putting inordinate pressure on the existing neighborhoods. Which is why Measure D failed.


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:17 am

Thanks Jerry for your yeoman service trying to combat the misstatements of fact and outright falsehoods that characterized the No on D campaign. You were a model of non-anonymous honesty and good humor and manners throughout it all.

I do take one issue with your post above, which is that the zoning hawks have won no victory here against "super sized developments in Palo Alto." The Maybell project was not a "super-sized development" by a for-profit developer. Defeating Maybell had simply nothing to do with Page Mill or University. This was a small-bore project that would have served the neediest among us. Those are massive scale developments that offer things like new Police Stations and entertainment complexes as their public benefits. Money talks, and nothing about Maybell will change that fact.

Regrettably, Palo Alto Housing, a 40 year old venerable nonprofit that cares for the poor and unwanted, immigrants, and disabled -- that provides social services, child care, parenting help, homework tutoring, and a plethora of other good works in our community -- regrettably, that nonprofit run by aging members of a generation that still cares about the poor -- was cynically used by No on D and this newspaper as a stand in for the business community and for-profit developers. And as PAHC had no police station or entertainment complex or new Paly gym to offer, it was slandered, trashed, and pushed around.

The for-profit developers are utterly unaffected by Measure D. Measure D will come to be seen as exactly what it was -- a local, NIMBY effort to keep affordable housing out of Palo Alto. There won't be any more affordable housing built here as a result for quite some time. But all those other projects will just go on as they were.

Oh, and Tim Gray will be elected to City Council. So at least it helped one poor person to get a job and improve their life.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:28 am


Thank you to the people who organized the referendum petition. I was among those who signed the petition because I felt the process was wrong.

I hope Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning will continue the important work.


Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

Now I know why the new Mitchell Library is so huge -- that's the new urban plan for Palo Alto. Thank goodness that Measure D did not pass, and that sends a message we don't want to be the new San Francisco. The accusations of NIMBY are silly given how many apartment buildings and BMR housing are already here. We moved here knowing this and we are fine with it, so please stop with the silly accusations that we are selfish and shallow.

Congratulations to all those who helped to get out the facts!


Posted by Me too, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

I share some of my neighbors' dismay at the tactics used by the Measure D opponents, including smearing the PAHC. I don't think this means much about large-scale development in Palo Alto. This was a fear-based campaign. Scorched earth more than grassroots.
As to the Weekly's editorializing and reporting, it did play a role in turning this from a vote on affordable housing to looking like a chance to have a free "send the bums a message" vote. If the PAHC does sell the land for commercial development, maybe the Weekly can bemoan the "lost opportunity" that it helped to lose.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Thanks Weekly!

Thanks for your cogent analysis and the kind words. Your point is exactly correct that this was not a super-sized development, but it will be treated as if it were for purposes of advancing the cause.

David Price announced in the Post many weeks ago that the Maybell campaign would be the spark for similar campaigns against PC zoning throughout the Peninsula, perhaps the state.


Posted by Liza, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

I almost went to the polls last night to vote yes on D until I drove down Lytton Avenue off of Alma and was completely disgusted with the backed up traffic and way over built corner of Lytton Gateway project. This project was grossly over built! This wonderful quaint town with charm and character is long gone and it isn't even pleasant to go downtown anymore. TOO many people and no more room to breath!! I never made it to the polls because I was in bumper to bumper traffic, but I have to say that I'm quite glad that No on Measure D passed!


Posted by Relieved in Green Acres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

Now it's time to rezone city council!


Posted by Wake up and smell the coffee, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:48 am

Timothy Gray for City Council!


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:54 am

This was an important vote because we also have a new Planning Director
just starting. It's time to change the direction of the City in a dramatic
and profound way. It is late and much damage has been done and more is
in the pipeline.It is time for Palo Alto to be Palo Alto- not an
industrial park for local developers trying to cash in while the Council
and staff cheer lead and the fabric of the City, the neighborhoods, the
aesthetics just collapse in a sea of ugliness and tackiness and gridlock.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

Jerry

You make it sound like a bad thing that the people have spoken and want to take back control of the places we live rather than the developers. To me this is progress. The people having a say in what they want their town to look like is supposed to be what happens, not nameless big corporations telling us. If we are going to have surveys (as the library survey) please give us real choices, not either "a building you have no say about or leaving a decrepit building", that is the way it has been. Now we want more of a say with various alternatives to choose between.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

Even San Francisco doesn't want to be the new San Francisco. Voters there rejected the Prop B & C waterfront densification supported by their mayor.


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:00 am

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

@Urbanist,
That's just the kind of fantasy and selfish thinking that got us into this mess.

The City and PAHC had this all sewed up. They outspent neighbors by $100,000. They had the City lobbying for them.

Most of all, they had the ability, via the City Attorney, to write a ballot so biased and leading, I'm still amazed we won. In San Francisco, where they have a an impartial committee write the ballot, in a public process that takes input from both sides, they had two referenda over developments with the same setup - developers using an affordable housing component to leverage big giveaways. San Francisco is even more politically liberal than Palo Alto, Ed Lee and Gavin Newsome appeared in lovely TV ads for the developer side, touting affordable housing, yet there the Measures lost by an even greater margin, like 70% against. If we'd had a more impartial ballot, we would have, too.

No, you lost because you weren't listening to the other side and drew similarly wild conclusions, and you assumed Palo Alto voters were too dumb to figure it out. The people of the City reject your urbanist vision, even when the deck is that stacked against them.


Posted by moo, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

It sure gave me a creepy feeling to have a mailbox full of glossy propaganda from only one side of this issue.


Posted by Green Acres Resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:07 am

The mission and operation of PAHC has always been a mystery to some of us, long time residents. We have seen occupants/owners of the below market housing units (soem aprts, some single family homes) and we see some of these BMR folks prosper over the years while occupying these BMR units. They own multiple luxury cars parking long term in front of neighbors' houses, passed on the resident rights to their adult children while the original residents moved to another area, etc. The more recent placement of low income residents in the new Charleston studio complex is a complete mystery citing the residents are referred to PAHC by various agencies in Santa Clara County (not benefiting P.A. residents at all). I suggest we re-examine and evaluate the mission of PAHC and how to redirect its resources in today's environment in moving forward. The simple statement that they work for the low income 'citizens' is not sufficient.


Posted by 25 year PA Citizen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

Let's elect a new City Council - time for new thinking!


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

Congratulations to all of those who worked so hard to focus the public's attention on this issue. Even though initially seemed like something that was localized to Barron Park, it became clear that there were city-wide issues involved.

To those with the foresight to fight against the odds, you deserve a big round of applause.


Posted by nimby, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

No poor old people in Palo Alto! Gentrification forever!


Posted by JustMyOpinion, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

JustMyOpinion is a registered user.

For those who believe that this was "just the neighbors" voting, please reference the link below to see how Palo Alto voters across the town voted. This map is pretty telling. People really stopped to read and decide for themselves before they voted. I heard stories of voters driving to the neighborhood to actually look at the site before they voted. Measure D has opened a lot of people's eyes as to the way they make decisions when they vote. Ballot statements do not give the whole picture of a complex issue.

Web Link


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

>No poor old people in Palo Alto! Gentrification forever!

As a proud and content NIMBY, I agree that poor people should not be offered [portion removed] housing in Palo Alto, unless it can be established that such people have a long-standing residency in PA. The oft-mentioned waiting lists that PAHC trumpets are a ruse...they come from anywhere in the county, and PAHC even recruits throughout the county to keep the list full.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

@nimby,
Instead of wallowing in bitterness that will cost any chance of scoring a win for affordable housing out of this, how about remembering there are empty BMR spaces still that could be immediately housing over 20 seniors, and some new ones coming online soon. Neighbors pointed out that the needs of Palo Alto seniors, which are a unique population, are not well understood.

If you care about seniors, call for work to understand the needs, and to meet them with the resources already available if possible, and make a plan for what is needed for the rest.

If the neighbors at Maybell showed nothing else, it's that ordinary citizens can make a difference. They were forced into defending the neighborhood against overdevelopment. PAHC rolled out their anti-NIMBY playbook and attacked to get their way rather than listening. Well, it didnt result in anything good then, and especially won't result in anything good now. If you truly care about seniors, make the effort to put away your bile and realize those same energized neighbors really do care aboit affordable housing and seniors - just as campaign leaders realized they care about the character of the neighborhood and student safety and would mobilize - failing to realize that will cost opportunities right now for citizen action.


Posted by Rose Colored Glasses, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

Supporters of Yes on D are quoted in several local papers and on-line posts saying that this campaign contained much misinformation, disinformation, lies, and smear tactics fabricated by the opponents of Measure D. In fact, much of this misinformation was put out there by the Staff and City Council Members. James Keene, the City Manager was quoted during the campaign that Staff Reports contain only the information that supports the Staff Recommendations. Staff Reports and the City website are NOT unbiased presentations of the facts, though most would agree that they ought to be. The opponents of Measure D simply pointed out these errors and omissions and provided the press and voters with enough fact based information for reasonable folks to come to a conclusion different from City Council.

When proponents of Measure D read only the Staff Reports and City website that support the conclusions they want, they are viewing the world through rose colored glasses. They are blindly accepting that the biased city reports represent the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They then assert that anyone questioning their conclusions is an irresponsible liar. That's not an intellectually honest way to analyze anything and is not taking the moral high ground.

Hopefully, one of the outcomes of this election will be that Staff produces project analysis that presents unbiased information and stops the practice of rejecting consultant reports that do not support their desired outcomes.

Restore integrity to the process!


Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

Donya is a registered user.

@Green Acres Resident

Thank you so much for bringing up the issues with PAHC.

Just to add to what you said, I recently walked into a PAHC property, Arastradero Park Apts.,and asked a youngish senior citizen resident about what her connections to Palo Alto were. Her answer: NONE. My next question was to inquire why she would choose to live in P.A.?
Here is what she said: She and her daughter used to live in a low income apt. in Mountain View. But the problem was that after she passes away her daughter had to evacuate that apt. in Mt. View. But renting in Arastradero Park even after she is gone her daughter can stay there. So I guess the daughter inherits the rights to rent with PAHC?

We can choose to subsidize any and all low income residents within the Bay Area as well as immigrants who happened to live in the Bay Area. We can vote on it and have a parcel tax that pays into a special senior housing fund. With Maybell all the cost was transferred to one neighborhood and that is not fair.

If every homeowner had to pay for the parcel tax then they would start asking more questions about PAHC and its waiting lists. PAHC would be forced to answer some of the many unanswered questions that we asked them.


Posted by Cmc, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

The reason I voted against D is because it sends the message that City government can do whatever they want. I just remodeled my house and definitely no exceptions were made for me by the City. So why should they be for PAHC? Or any other project? This strong smell of cash and greed reeks of corruption and Anti-Americanism and I hope the buck stops here.


Posted by Too Many Slacking Americans, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

Happy because I voted "no" and it won, but not happy to see that only 11,000 voted of our 66,300 population. The polling booths are so near to home. "Intelligent" residents here? No wonder we can't get a decent School Board or City Council.


Posted by Another 50 year resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

I have long been appalled at some of the projects that the Planning Commission or the City Council have approved and the constant effort of every new development project to try to evade the existing zoning. Fortress like structures one resident called them, overscale for the surrounding neighborhoods.

I believe it's time to take a harder look at the Planning Commission. They are drinking the Kool-Aid of "New Urbanism." That is not the aesthetic that has made Palo Alto the city that everyone would like to live in. The City Council relies on its staff to give them the proper direction. But they have failed in that responsibility and the voters have had to take that responsibility on. I am so proud of my fellow citizens. Maybe now we won't be so easily dismissed.


Posted by Private Parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

Too Many Slacking Americans:

According to the 2010 census, just under 1/4 of Palo Alto residents are not of voting age. There is also some number of adults who aren't eligible to vote, due to immigrant status and so on. With 11,000 out of 50,000, rather than 66,000, the turnout was about 22% instead of the lower 17%.

Still not great, but about normal for a single-issue off-year election.

And the only thing we know for sure about those who didn't vote is that they didn't find the single-issue on the ballot worth five minutes to fill out and return the ballot or show up at a voting station.


Posted by For affordable housing, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

Now that the election is over, it's clear that we are going to lose the chance to have this affordable housing. That's despite the protests to the contrary of opponents before the vote. I'm afraid that this result is just another example that the poor have no constituency here. The lack of economic diversity in our city is the real change that I am worried about.
The Weekly in my view did a disservice by hiding this fact by claiming that affordable housing will still be built on this site. That seems very unlikely to me. Thank you.


Posted by Lucinda Abbott/55 year resident , a resident of University South
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

NIMBY defeated compassion at the polling booth yesterday. Having grown up in Palo Alto and chosen to raise my children here, I am shocked that I can hardly recognize the progressive, community-minded city I knew. Lest any of the anti-D organizers take this result as a mandate for sweeping change, I would like to remind them that only about 11,500 voters participated in the election yesterday, out of more than 38,000 registered voters in Palo Alto. And only 6400 of those voted against D, vs 5000 in favor. We have multiple developments by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation in this northern part of the city. They are part of what keeps us from completely embodying the old nickname we used in high school for our town: Shallow Alto. Sadly, yesterday's vote only reinforces its appropriateness.
Sources: Web Link
Web Link


Posted by Voted For D, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

I can't believe all the negativity and hate that the majority of the voters against D have portrayed in the responses here. As a long time resident, today is not a good day to be from Palo Alto. The defeat of Measure D is truly a testament that we live in Shallow Alto.


Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

Oh give me a freaking break people, ZONING is there for a purpose. It has nothing against seniors.


Posted by RP, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

I am glad to see that the correct message was sent to the City, that PC rezoning is not a tool for developers to use to make profits at the expense of residents (yes I know PAHC is not-for-profit, but the other developers are). High density development of all sorts is out of control in Palo Alto and, unfortunately for some seniors, this development was the straw that broke the camel's back. Had this project been proposed without the recent history of other developments it may have been approved. It would have been nice to have additional BMR senior housing, but it would also be nice to have more BMR housing for working people too. I am not sure at what point a City has grown too dense, but I believe Palo Alto is near that point. What do you call something growing without limit? Cancer.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

I just wish that some of those who are disappointed with the result and are disappointed with some of the posts here, would actually read the posts.

This is not about hate against seniors, or affordable housing.

If you think that this is what is being said here, then you are not reading the posts.


Posted by For Diversity in Shallow Alto, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

No affordable housing will go on the Maybell site. A developer will buy the property and build houses that only high income earners can afford to purchase. The developers are drooling right now...


Posted by Too Many Slacking Americans, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

Thanks for the data, Private Parent. I forgot we have a ton of kids, thus the overcrowding issues in PAUSD.

I grew up here and my mom still lives in town. How is it that these seniors who raised their children here do not own a home? Why do they need low income housing? Back in the 70s, basic houses costed around $50,000. My dad worked for the government (notoriously low pay) and my mom stayed at home and they could afford a house. I am surrounded by many senior citizens in our neighborhood who obviously planned for their futures.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:23 am

>No affordable housing will go on the Maybell site. A developer will buy the property and build houses that only high income earners can afford to purchase.

I hope so. That would mean that our tax base is added to, instead of subtracted from.


Posted by California Ave Shopper, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

Now it's time to reassess the planned lane reduction for California Avenue before we have a huge traffic jam that extends onto El Camino. As a starting point, we need to have an accurate traffic study that takes into account ALL of the huge developments going in nearby. Convenient neighborhood shopping and local businesses is important. The businesses, business owners, and their employees we have known over the years help to make Palo Alto the enjoyable community that it is. Our California Ave Farmer's Market, attended by hundreds of people every weekend, needs to be taken into consideration as well. And most importantly, Palo Alto citizens should have the opportunity to vote on this important issue.


Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:27 am

Who do we vote for so this doesn't happen again?
Why doesn't PA just buy the land and sit on it for preservation... put that to a vote, bet it'll win.
Do we really need more affordable housing? Isn't there TONS of units available/being built as we speak?
And hey PAHC, don't threaten PA ever again by telling us if a vote does not pass then you'll sell to developers.


Posted by toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

I find it hilarious to read the soul searching going on here.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. Palo Alto is a very conservative place. There's a reason why home values are so high here. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Progressive in PA, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

@Resident, who wrote: "This is not about hate against seniors, or affordable housing. If you think that this is what is being said here, then you are not reading the posts."
I am reading the posts. Take a look at Craig Laughton ("welfare housing"), toady, Berry (do we really need more affordable housing), "Too Many Slacking Americans", and the general hate being stirred up against the good work that the PAHC has done.
This is all about affordable housing and economic diversity. NIMBYism is alive and well in Palo Alto.


Posted by kb, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

It will be interesting to see what PAHC does next. If they really were interesting in building affordable senior housing, they'd go ahead and build under the existing zoning at Maybell, and cover the financial shortfall the way most non-profits do: fundraising. [Portion removed.]


Posted by I'm now a NIMBY, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

I don't want anything built in my backyard as well now. Palo Alto is about money and property values, nothing else. The people haven't spoken, 6437 residents voted yes, 5036 voted no. One side won, one lost, but there is no landslide, just thousands of residents who voted yes or no. This is a dog-eat-dog city.


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

[Portion removed.]

The posts today [portion removed] demonstrate what those of us who supported Measure D and live in Barron Park have been saying from the beginning. We know our neighbors and we know what their motives were. And now it is on display for everyone else to see.


Posted by toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

"This is all about affordable housing and economic diversity."

Right. There's a lot of it around here. it's called East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park.

"NIMBYism is alive and well in Palo Alto"

Yup. LIOBY = "Liberal in other's backyards"


Posted by Concerned Neighbor, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

This is a classic case of NIMBYism.


Posted by question, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:59 am

Are seniors in senior housing allowed to bring their grandchildren to live with them and attend PAUSD schools?


Posted by Linval dePass, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

Palo Alto Urbanist claims that only a small fraction of the eligible voters voted and that the results would have been different if more people had voted. My wife and I were planning to vote against measure D, but we didn't vote at all. I tried to vote after work but I found myself in a massive traffic jam and decided it wasn't worth it.

I agree that affordable housing for Palo Alto seniors is a worthy goal. However, all the seniors I know are living in their own homes, driving their own cars, and parking them in their own yards. Does the long waiting list of seniors who want to live in Palo Alto and don't drive cars really exist? Or, is this a smokescreen for some other agenda?


Posted by Progressive in PA, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:01 am

Rarely am I proved so right so quickly. Now that the election is over, the masks are off, and we're not hearing about safety and procedure any more. Just bile and venom directed at affordable housing and the less fortunate. There is no big principle being vindicated today. Just the same old desire to pull up the ladder and close the gates. Here is my prediction: there won't be any citizen movements against big developments downtown, on Park Ave, etc. Why? Because they are in nobody's backyard, and they don't help people we would rather not have in town.


Posted by Bobniederman, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

Bobniederman is a registered user.

The good news is that lots of people care about the quality of life in Palo Alto. Look at the number of people writing notes! Wow! This shows how hot this issue is. We need to find a way to come together as a community to hear each other. Making the other side villains won't help. There are lots of smart people in Palo Alto. I'm betting we can find solutions that we can be proud of.


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Honor Spitz, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

One of the conundrums facing many cities in the Bay Area is how to maintain enough of the attractive aspects of the community that drew people there in the first place yet keep pace with the demands and needs that comes from an ever increasing population. It would appear as though many cities have gotten a little ahead of themselves in this regard, Palo Alto being one of them. Development in and of itself is not a bad thing. But it has to be done carefully, thoughtfully, honestly and respectfully. Traffic flow (infrastructure), and parking are but just two key components in this picture. Enough people throughout the City apparently felt as though their voices were not being heard and that the City Council was not acting in a responsible and honest manner.

Let us hope that those days are behind us and that the future will be a place where honesty and integrity and true progress are forged. [Portion removed.]


Posted by JoAnn, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

I'm disgusted at being slimed by the Yes on D people in these comments. This was about urbanization, crowding, lack of parking, traffic jams and a City Council happy to let developers run our city for their profit. Not about depriving seniors or that other nonsense.

I'm a low-income senior who could use cheaper housing to stay in Palo Alto but as I'm also disabled I can't run the gauntlet of getting on a waiting list for each site. This should be done online, and the first question should be "How long have you lived in Palo Alto?" If the answer is "I don't," you should go to the end of the line or not permitted at all.


Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

We all agree that low income housing is a good thing and housing for seniors is a good thing. That is a CONCEPT statement. If you raise that flag then there is not a lot of people that will argue with you. The IMPLEMENTATION of the concept was faulty and would not produce the results everyone wanted. We need to separate out the desire from the business risk.

It is time to do a financial audit of PAHC and publish the results. In any government contract that is a requirement - it is called "due diligence". The fact that they are a non-profit is meaningless - that is a tax device only. Any profit realized is folded into Capital and salaries for the employees. If they sell the land then they need to provide back to the City of Palo Alto that money lent to them with interest.


Posted by I'm now a NIMBY, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

One of the conundrums facing many cities in the Bay Area is how to maintain enough of the attractive aspects of the community that drew people here in the first place yet keep pace with the insatiable demands and needs that come from developers.


Posted by Progressive in PA, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

@Honor Spitz and Bobniederman
Those are very highminded thoughts. I guess the idea is that now that the voters have sent a message to City Hall, we can enter a period of civility and public discourse. We just had to go through a painful process, like when teething. That was the Weekly's position too, I guess.
The problem is that we lost a badly needed affordable housing development, further reduced economic diversity in the city, and made it harder to get affordable housing in the future. Now that the neighbors involved have successfully driven this out of their backyards, I really doubt they will show up for the nice planning discussions you are hoping for. Even if the vilest thoughts being expressed on this board don't represent the majority.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

I am happy D was defeated.
I am happy that a 50 foot building will not go up in a residential neighborhood.
I am happy that a severely under-parked development will not flood the streets of my neighbors with parked cars from Maybell.

I am not surprised that the Yes faction is still clinging to:
- we hate seniors
- we're against senior housing
- we're shallow
- we're Nimby
- they still won't acknowledge the out of scale height of the building
- they still won't acknowledge the under parking
- they think people who live in a residential area (and apparently not their neighborhood) should sacrifice what zoning they have

The guilt trip didn't work before and it won't work now.

I predict that there will be another ballot challenge whenever the Arrillaga/University project rolls up. Unless the CC finally understands that PC zoning must stop...


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

@Palo Alto Urbanist's post above is pretty much a screed, but as somebody else pointed out, it articulates a real vision. The choice of two visions for Palo Alto needs to be the defining issue of the 2014 election.

Vision A: Palo Alto is a great place to live and raise kids, a family and college town with good public schools.

Vision B: Palo Alto is the financial and professional-services capital of the Peninsula, it's San Francisco South. But that also means it's a high-rise office complex surrounded by high-rise stack-and-pack condos, with no parking, too much traffic, and overstretched city infrastructure and schools. But it does have lots of restaurants and nightlife.

Palo Alto Urbanist's Vision B is very clearly the vision of the ARB, the Planning Department, and most of the Council except for Schmid and probably Holman. Is Vision B also the vision of most Palo Alto residents and voters, as Urbanist states? I doubt it. But the real test will be next year's election.

If you buy into Vision B, then vote for Scharff "the building itself is a public benefit," Price, and Shepherd.

If you want Vision A, then Scharff, Price and Shepherd need to go far, far away.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

I am delighted with this outcome, thankful to those who organized the No on D campaign and proud of Palo Alto voters. With this result, City Council, city staff and developers are on notice that they can no longer steamroll Palo Altans with ill considered zoning changes. Hopefully the Jay Paul and Arrillaga projects are cleared off the table at this point. Well done!


Posted by Priced out, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

You don't want "stack and pack" housing built in your neighborhood? Ok, then let's allow developers to pave over the remainder of the open space in the Palo Alto foothills to and build more single family suburban style housing. You don't like that either? I didn't think so. Let places like San Francisco embrace high density development... That is, except when San Franciscan's also embrace NIMBYism, and vote to stop a high rise residential project that would have been built....... in their downtown, of all places. Ok, plan D, let's just not build anything anywhere and deny the dream of home ownership to anybody who makes less than $200,000 a year. After all, it's not like you'll lose anything. In fact, I'm sure you're quite happy to see the value of your homes climb to such heights. Plus, you get to march around and look so noble in your fights against those evil developers. Of course, it's all about safety preserving neighborhood character!


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I live in Midtown and voted against D. I voted No not so much because of the Maybell project per we. I did because I am tired of all the rezoning, all the exemptions granted to developers to densify in exchange for next to nothing "benefits". I have seen the results all over our city. Huge, oversize, in-your-face boxes of concrete. Miki's, JCC, Hyatt Rickey's, etc. It's also a message to the ARB. Stop allowing eyesores! Why do we have a new library that looks like an oversize shipping container with a patch of hair? A well-done plant wall can be beautiful (think Quai Branly in Paris). But the Mitchell Park library? I cringe every time I drive by.

Enough with all those monstrous eyesores. If that's being a NIMBY, then I'll gladly be one even though it has nothing to do with who lives where.


Posted by W.W., a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Haiku for Measure D

The time to welcome
The needy to our city
Has past and we mourn.


Posted by John, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Congratulations to the residents of Palo Alto!

I figured the yes vote would start with a solid 40% before the campaigning would even start, what with the professional politicians and their machine, the amount of money spent by the housing corporation, and the misleading
"its for the seniors".
A 5% swing by the undecideds would give it a majority.

This is a solid and resounding mandate. Of course it will be ignored for other projects.

The professional politicians went ahead with this in the face of overwelming opposition, calling and paying for an election, so out of touch!


Posted by Disappointing...the minority rabble has spoken, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

This illustrates perfectly why complex issues like this should NOT be on the ballot. Council made the best available legal choice. The general public got their information from blogs and websites that were deliberately loaded with misinformation--just like this thread here. It's clear to me that many people who voted against D really believe that they are going to get a lower impact project now. They are just WRONG on this point.

If you voted NO, you'd better start planning your next campaign because whatever project next goes on the table will be worse for Maybell. You've opened the door for the for-profit developers to have a field day.

Really? You think the city will buy that land for a park? Have you looked at the city budget? Have you looked at their other obligations?

The proposed project would have delivered fewer school and traffic impacts than what is allowed under existing zoning. This is a mistake made by voters who are generally mad about the way PC zoning has been used in the past and fear about how it might be used in the future. This was a GOOD project--which would have delivered a REAL public benefit. It's an excellent example of how PC zoning was intended to be used. I have opposed many PC projects in the past, but I supported this one. This is a sad day for Palo Alto.

I am profoundly disappointed in my community....and the Weekly. YOU, Weekly staff, should have done YOUR job and investigated and reported on the state density bonus laws. Staff is right. Existing zoning will yield 46 units.


Posted by Annika, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

First, to whoever pooh-poohed 11,000 as being a low turnouti, you forgot to consider the number of eligible voters in PA (if one in three is over 18 and registered, that's about 20,000, a more than 50 percent turnout.
Thank you and congratulations to the No on D leaders. I suggest that PA's last remaining orchard be preserved as a history center (such as the one in Los Altos) and community garden, such as those in downtown and mid-town. A senior center is a nice idea and would work well with an adjacent park. Gardening is a healthy and productive hobby that many retired folks, and people of all ages, enjoy; let's create a vision together. If Palo Alto is as "green" as it claims, city planners will include open space as a priority rather than an after thought.


Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Resident - we live in Santa Clara County - San Jose is the city with a university, airport, multiple transportation choices, tall buildings, and all type housing choices. They are San Francisco South. People here think we are suppose to be the end all answer for every problem - we can't be - we exist as part of a bigger picture and population center for the bay area. Every community has its attributes - let's build on the attributes we have and not be in competition with every other peninsula city - or San Francisco. We have Stanford and that is really great - no one else has that.


Posted by HUTCH 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

"I hope a private developer builds the 46 code compliant homes on that parcel and 92+ new drivers move in and the opponents of this senior housing not for profit proposal get what they deserve. Talk about a failure to appreciate an opportunity for smart growth. What a bunch of (fill in the blank)."

Palo Alto is full there is no room for anymore growth, without destroying the very nature which brings people here


Posted by Sanna, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Now it's time for City Council to show that it can receive input and respond to it's citizens' wishes and concerns and values. The Palo Alto I moved to 41 years ago has many ugly examples of less than admirable development. Let those leaders on City Council who value an inclusive and beautiful city set up a group that can hammer out a plan that would work for a development that would serve low-income seniors and be in harmony with its neighborhood. The Terman Working Group achieved this years back and a Maybell Group could do this again. If the Council really cares about seniors, this is the direction they MUST go in. If they do nothing, then they should not be surprised when the same citizens who voted against D vote against them in future elections.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Why do so many of the people who wanted the project to go through now openly say they want the neighborhood destroyed? They didn't care about the neighborhood in the first place. They want someone else to pay for what is presented as a "good thing" to do.

Too bad the vote couldn't be restricted to the neighborhood residents. They are concerned about the real impact, not just what sounds like a "good thing".


Posted by We the People, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Another clear mandate from the people: take back Palo Alto from the city council, ARB and planning commission!


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Don't grow old in Palo Alto, don't build to support new families, don't build to support new companies and ideas. Don't build to replace the need for growing space for retail, services or any new large square footage.

San Francisco turned down the 8 Washington Project and this, it will add fuel to already a crazy Bay Area NIMBY tint. If you wonder why people say our taxes are to high and our jobs are leaving. It is because we can't build enough housing or expand growing businesses here.

Yes they could design things like in Paris, London, Berlin but it will mean putting up 2 to 3 story single family homes. 4 to 5 story flats or apartments. But the way it is working only 1 story is permitted.


Posted by Annika, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

In response to accusations of NIMBYism, remember that Barron Park already has a bunch of low income housing, including 60 families in the Buena Vista trailer park and another 60 or so in Arastradero Apartments. The largely low-income and Latino Ventura neighborhood feeds into our schools and we all benefit from this diversity. Neighbors support each other in bad times. Our property values may take a hit, but we are the most income diverse area in Palo Alto and we think that's a good thing. It's part of Barron Park's unique character, like the Schrek donkey and no sidewalks.. An aversion to low income housing was never the issue. Before pointing fingers, ask yourself how much low income housing is in YOUR neighborhood.


Posted by Allen Edwards, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I will vote against any "Planned Community" development that has a "community benefit" in exchange for violating the city zoning plan. I drive by the community benefit called Miki's every day. The "Planned Community" idea is terrible and needs to be scrapped. Can I vote on that?


Posted by Allen Edwards, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Garret: How about having a city wide zoning plan and sticking to it. Don't like the plan, change it. But not one block at a time. Zoning is there keep the city from becoming a free for all and that is what the "Planned Community" crap is all about.


Posted by southbayresident, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

@Another 50 year resident,

Before you thrash "New Urbanism" remember that the qualities of "New Urbanism" are what made much of Palo Alto such a nice place to live in the first place. It's just that Palo Alto like many other "first generation suburbs" had those qualities before the phrase "New Urbanism" was invented.

New Urbanism is all about building to a human scale. Downtown Palo Alto and it's surrounding residential neighborhoods since the 1930's have been textbook examples of New Urbanism. I get it that the area of the Maybell project is more like typical 1970's suburbia but it's not like a touch of New Urbanism would do any harm (if the project could of even be classified as such).


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

>Neighbors support each other in bad times. Our property values may take a hit, but we are the most income diverse area in Palo Alto and we think that's a good thing. It's part of Barron Park's unique character, like the Schrek donkey and no sidewalks.

Really, Annika? Short of a secret ballot in Barron Park, how would you know?


Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Zoning is a covenant between different property owners, and between property owners and the city. Zoning allows individuals to make large investments of time and money into their homes (or into investment property), because there is some certainty about what development is allowed on adjacent or nearby property.

Ripping up zoning by the city because of perceived "benefits" results in a long-term deterioration of trust; and results in a lack of certainty for long term planning.

The voters must insist that the the city respect the covenant they have made, and stop selling off zoning. Whether zoning is being sold for developer dollars, or sold for perceived social benefits is immaterial because in both instances there is a degradation of an essential contract between citizens and government.


Posted by Jerky, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

>The largely low-income and Latino Ventura neighborhood......

How did you come about this Annika? I live in Ventura and I don't know of any low-income Latino family in my neighborhood.


Posted by An Angry Millenial, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Cities change. The Bay Area is not a bunch of small towns anymore. You need to accept density. If our region was its own country we'd have the 19th largest economy, by GDP. As a major center of research and employment, Palo Alto plays a major role in this economy. It's great that you were able to experience the unique "small town character" of Palo Alto when you bought your home 30 years ago, but that was 30 years ago. There are a lot of people who are trying to find a decent place to live in the Bay Area, close to where they work. By constraining residential development you only succeed in constraining the supply of housing. You're doing nothing to address the insatiable demand that people have to live close to where they work. Too many people in the Bay Area pay way too much for housing, or have to commute long distances from more affordable places like Tracy, clogging our freeways in the process. Though what's even more tragic about this particular circumstances is how low income seniors were hit hardest by your sense of selfish parochialism.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I like the idea of using zoning to change certain streets, areas and places that can take on the housing needs. Palo Alto has a lot of crummy single story building like warehouses, industrial type buildings, those crummy strip malls and run down shopping centers. That is where zoning will work best for things like Maybell, etc and etc.

The problem is property becomes for sale or right for development so the developers have to take what is out there. Infill is not a easy solution to housing stores, offices and most of housing. Look at BV Trailer Park, makes sense to build here but again we have fighting to save something that was put up in the 30's in the middle of what can be describe as a major center.

From The Economist magazine.

"Stephen Levy at the Centre for the Continuing Study of the Californian Economy estimates the GDP of the valley's 2m inhabitants at around $65 billion--much the same as that of Chile's 15m people."

This was from the print edition in March 27th 1997 which I can only imagine the number are greater now. We are having such a greater boom, more kids that are now into the business.


Posted by No More Palotics!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

The city government handed PAHC a $500,000 favor when they scheduled this special election. They could have heard the citizens' voice (the long list of referendum signatories) and reversed their vote. Instead they double downed with tax dollars to try to defend their developer zoning gift.

PAHC could have compromised, but double downed on an election, knowing their allies in the city government would do whatever it took to assure victory, up to and including writing heavily slanted ballot language. They even had the mayor (who is supposed to represent the people) arguing their case in the debate. They whipped out the NIMBY card and played it often, and tried to buy the election.

Now PAHC has lost after dropping close to $200,000 on political consultants, phone banks, repeated mailers, etc. They say that money is in no way taxpayer money, but that argument is a pure clerical smokescreen given that PAHC's main source of income is and always will be the Palo Alto taxpayer (The money they get from rents comes from assets built with PA tax money as well).

Now the city council is frantically exploring ways to sell the public a revenue bond, ostensibly for infrastructure, under the shadow of the flagrant disregard for taxpayer money shown during the Maybell debacle. Their recently hired $250,000 per year (total cost) chief PR officer is no doubt trying to spin the right message / scare tactic to sneak it by the public.

The point is there needs to be a residentialist slate on the next ballot, and Scharff, Sheppard, Price, and Holman need to be bounced, and replaced, along with the termed out Klein, by candidates who are not tone deaf to their constituents and not in the pocket of developers. An understanding of how not to blow money like its going out of style will be a much needed new skill that the council can be infused with as well. This will contain the damage done by the remaining developer candidates (particularly Berman, the know-it-all with no natural leadership skills whatsoever, and Kniss, the career developer-beholden politician) can do until they too are voted out.


Posted by Barron Park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

To disappointing. The Weekly really failed to make clear what at at stake. That goes for affordable housing and what's coming next. Would that matter to many people? Don't know. But you can see the result here. Lots of brave words about fighting the man. Not so much about the needs of seniors or what's really on tap for the Maybell site.


Posted by long term PA resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

A big Thank You to everyone who worked so hard to defeat Prop D even tho' you were out spent. We should all be aware that there is a tidal wave of a project that is looming in the Arrillaga 27 University Ave proposal and there will be a whole lot more money and power behind it. I hope that it will be possible to protect Palo Alto from continued over development.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

What is scary is the small margin of victory. Show what a biased ballot can do. We need an initiative to not have the city attorney alone write the ballot language but have both sides come up with the wording.

In any case "CITY COUNCIL, ARE YOU LISTENING? NO REZONING AND NO GIVEAWAY TO DEVELOPERS"


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Keep fighting the over-development, Palo Alto!!!! I used to live in Palo Alto, and now live in Menlo Park. We are fighting the same over-development issues here in Menlo Park. What has happened to the Peninsula cities in the last 20 years is shameful. Cramming more and more people into a finite amount of land is bad for EVERYONE.


Posted by Crescent Parker, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Actually, unless you want to stop job growth in silicon valley the alternative to more density is more traffic jams. Either people live here or they are driving here. It's going to be interesting to see how it goes when the victim is economic development, jobs, or clean air, not faceless old people.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Jobs, every time a job is created, i am talking about new jobs or places that will have a new job. You need to provide housing, you need to provide services for employees.

People mostly are coming here to work, they want to live close to their jobs. Most likely Maybell will become single family homes. Single family homes are needed for all these workers who get married and decide to have kids.


Posted by Crescent Parker, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Yes, that's right. 46 homes, to be exact. Probably the second best alternative, although I guess some of the activists might have some regrets at that point?


Posted by Darwin, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Us Generation Xers and Millenials just need to ride out the storm until the so called "Greatest Generation" moves along. They hold on too hard to the past and leave no meat on the bones for us because they had too many children and are set in their ways. Our time will come. Just not now I guess, and not in Palo Alto.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Angry Millenial,

You sound awfully entitled--what you think you are the only person who couldn't afford to buy a house exactly where you wanted? Palo Alto's been expensive for a long time--some of us waited years and years before we could buy here. Others decided to happily live elsewhere.
--
I had a couple of big issues with D--one was the endless rezoning building boom we've had--particularly in the south. If I wanted to live in San Francisco, I'd live in San Francisco. I find it weird to be attacked as all sorts of heinous things because I value things about my community. Palo Alto is not large geographically; it lacks the infrastructure and grid needed for a large city--as anyone who's dealt with the afternoon traffic knows.

My other issue with D is that the pro-D side never made its case. How is BMR senior housing critically needed here? I never saw any numbers and, given the trajectory of housing prices here, I'd think our seniors are a pretty affluent lot. The ones I know are. If anything, it's their kids who are struggling. I'm not adverse to less-affluent seniors moving here, but I'm not sure I see why we have a civic responsibility to provide non-locals with BMR housing in this case. I'd really rather find a way to preserve the Buena Vista trailer park, which *does* have PA residents who've lived here for years and serves a range of people--singles, seniors, families.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

@Darwin, don't you think the rest of the planet needs your talents more than Palo Alto does? How much good can you really do here compared to places in turmoil or on the edge of poverty? Go build a better world. Earn the luxury you seek. Instant gratification is fleeting.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I'm a boomer. But I find it incredibly ignorant and disrespectful to say "the so called" Greatest Generation.

Without the "GG" there would be no Palo Alto and the high tech environment of today. David Packard and Bill Hewlett to start...

Or do you need a lesson on WWII and the sacrifices that the GG made so that you can be a wise acre today?


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Also don't forget the debacle that is the restriping of Arastradero. It was shoved down the area's throat, was supported by obviously false statistics, and was a fait accompli before the people who live around there learned how much it would affect them.

IMHO, this contributed to the killing of Measure D. The City does stuff, ostensibly in the open, but to those of us who work and are busy, learn about them when its too late to do anything about it. Here, the neighborhood thankfully found out while there was still time to do something. Kudos to them.


Posted by I-Work-Here-And-Live-There, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

> People mostly are coming here to work, they want to
> live close to their jobs

How is it that so many people live in San Francisco, but commute to the Silicon Valley? Generally, this doesn't seem to be true, at least for young people.

What can you propose to help the companies located here move to San Francisco?


Posted by Unsure, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I didn't vote on this one and decided to sit it out.
I see the concerns on both sides.
That said, I do think the city council and PAHC botched their approach badly and have forever tarnished their reputations.
Furthermore, I think it is a mistake to label the opponents as shallow or NIMBY's. By doing this, we are saying that the yes on D opinion is the only valid one and that the concerns of palo alto residents are to be written off. That's how the council produced this mess in the first place. They created a situation they are surely regretting today.
Discussion and compromise along with mutual respect is the only way to go forward.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm

@Crescent Parker.

"Yes, that's right. 46 homes, to be exact. Probably the second best alternative, although I guess some of the activists might have some regrets at that point?"

No. No regrets here. Everyone here is an adult and capable of understanding consequences to our actions. Even if this vote results in a less than ideal sitution or even worse that what measure D would have caused, I will still have no regrets. I voted NO on D to send the city council a message that they WILL not rezone to screw the residents in favor of developers are they did in the case of Alma Plaza where the promised "benefits" turned out to be not so beneficial at all and the city waived all sorts of rules resulting in a in-your-face, packed-like-sardines-in-a-can devlopment which is going to cause hell on Alma once it is fully populated. "NO REZONING"


Posted by stretch, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

@ 50 Year Resident: there is no character left in Palo Alto to save. Character was what Palo Alto had before the influx of newcomers with too much money. To those who wonder whether there really are enough low-income seniors left to move into such a project: probably not, since they've all been priced out of the area.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

David and Goliath-- Go David!!!!!


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Congrats to the NO on D leaders. I voted NO on D, even though I live nowhere near the site, I do recognize the need to send a message city-wide to elected officials and staff.
This proposal was almost to the level of being "kooky" it had so many questionable elements, many of which have been detailed multiple times, and precedent setting negative changes to the City. Then the campaign in favor of this proposal and City officials'/ "leaders'" actions to promote it, really put me off.
Going forward we all need to closely monitor the proposals and actions of these persons; it IS important they work for the benefit of Palo Alto citizens. I think it is time for new elected officials and I hope people fill find out if they might want to run for Council. I find I often am upset at the actions of the (very) incumbent persons.
Priorities should be: citizens before developers; citizens before Stanford; citizens before ABAG.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

@stretch -

No, there's still a Palo Alto to save, for now. But that's why the 2014 election is so important. Another 4 years of this Council, and the die will be cast. If you think that's alarmist, take a look at this link, a map of forthcoming up-for-approval PC projects in Palo Alto:

Web Link

If this direction holds, then in 20 years El Camino Real will be an office canyon from Safeway to San Antonio Road, along with University Avenue, California Avenue, with Midtown and South PA on that path as well.

Again, it really comes down to what future you want for Palo Alto. If you want to look like Paris or Berlin, as somebody pointed out above, then vote to re-elect the current Council. If you don't want that, then you need to bring in a different Council, which basically means getting rid of Scharff, Price and Shepherd.

Almost all the arguments on this board are remarkably consistent with one direction or the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages. It's just a matter of choice. But the window will substantially close after next year. So choose wisely.


Posted by Newbie, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I recently moved to the Juana Briones school district and have to say it is the most diverse school/neighborhood I have seen. With over 50 different languages represented in the graduating class and students/families from diverse cultures it is a sight to behold. I have lived on the east coast as well as redwood city and the east bay, and would say the neighborhood here is very inclusive, tolerant, and multi-generational, and is already home to the Arastradero apartments which is run by the PAHC.
I am a renter and not a permanent resident here, but resent those who accuse Baron Park of being shallow and exclusive.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm

@Resident.

Thanks for the link

Whoa! There are that many sites planning to be rezoned??? Help! We're getting royally screwed by the developers with help from the city. We have to do something soon! The sky-high property values in Palo Alto are attracting unscrupulous developers who are intent on turning Palo Alto into L.A.

I'm willing to bet the developers of these sites don't live anywhere near developments like this but in a nice shady suburb in Los Altos Hills or Atherton in a sprawling single-story house on a 2 acre lot with a view of the hills. We, on the other hand have to pay for their houses with traffic and loss of natural light. No Thanks!


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"I'm a boomer. But I find it incredibly ignorant and disrespectful to say "the so called" Greatest Generation."

This boomer would change it to the so-called "Greatest" Generation. During the fifties and sixties this "greatest" generation mindlessly and energetically hollowed out our then-vibrant cities in favor of the ticky-tracty houses that paved over huge areas of prime agricultural land. Their decaying hulks blight the land today. In the process, the "G" Generation created the high-pollution global-warming automobile commute necessity that their more thoughtful descendants are struggling to mitigate.

The real "Greatest Generation" was the generations between Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt who built America; its cities and industries were the envy of the world.

Other generations have gone to war, and then continued building their country when they returned. None trashed their country after they came home like the so-called "Greatest" Generation did.


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

@midtown resident,
Thanks for having our backs!

We had so much stacked against us, the outcome was surprising even to me. The big disparity in funding, organization, professional services, the City against us, the conflicts of interest among LWV (good people not realizing they are subject to influence as well), etc. Just the challenges of grassroots when people are so busy - there were births and deaths and illness, travel and everything you can imagine going on in people's lives. Many expressed the sentiment that the City's job was to represent us as well, they shouldn't have had to do this to enforce the zoning code and maintaining the neighborhood character which is a central goal of the Comprehensive Plan.

The biggest problem IMO was the City Attorney's ballot bias. The "analysis" was worthless -- she gave no indication of the cost to taxpayers of passing or not passing the ordinance, nor properly described the market-rate aspect where a developer was making millions from the sale of the homes (without THAT money going to the affordable side), but spent space talking about electric car chargers. And of course the ballot question was highly leading.

Looking at our margin of 56-44, it's a decisive win. But in San Francisco, where they had 2 Measures which were conceptually identical, where referenda were brought by citizens to overturn City ordinances that allowed big developer giveaways and provided for an affordable housing portion as a sweetener -- they're even more politically liberal than Palo Alto, yet those Measures lost by 62 and 67 percent, respectively.

The difference is that in San Francisco, they have a "ballot simplification committee" that hashes out an impartial ballot in a public process, with volunteer/appointees from mostly the communications community, and both sides participating. They are also allowed to print more than one argument there, anyone can submit a ballot argument. (In PA, we're only allowed one argument per side.)

In my opinion, it's an indicator that the Palo Alto City Attorney's bias can swing an election 10-15 points at least, and I believe it's what cost citizens victory in the High Street referendum 10 years ago.

I think we should adopt code that gives us an impartial ballot committee as San Francisco has. They are a charter city, too, and I've looked at the code, it should be easy to adopt and adapt. Anyone interested? It would be a great project for high school students, to change city code to increase democratic participation (think of the confidence boost and boon to the college resume!) Send an email to info@paloaltoville.com

Now that the election is over, Bob Moss is going to bring forward an initiative to restrict PC zoning in residential areas. Big developer money will come in against that, it's why he didn't do it at the same time as Maybell. If people care about curbing PC zoning, your input and volunteer help will be greatly appreciated! If we neighbors learned nothing from this Maybell situation, it's that the new model of broad grassroots, in a town with such accomplished people and aided by social media, is powerful. Many connections across town were made because of what just happened, and the work is definitely not over.

I hope affordable housing advocates realize their neighbors are sincere and can drop the animus from the campaign in order to channel it for the ultimate goal -- maybe not for PAHC or that property, but the goal of affordable housing. (Continuing to interpret things as from the campaign may make them feel better, but it prevents them from seizing an opportunity for the benefit of affordable housing.)


Posted by Noname, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm

"We want the council to take the residents' concerns seriously and to listen to our concerns about traffic, density, ugly architecture and parking issues,"........Says it all very well. Is anybody besides the NSA listening in government?


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I don't know if we should have more population density or not, but IF we do, let's do it right at least! This has not been the case in this city in the last decade at least.

Doing it right would require all of the following woven together:

* Doing it in the right places, near transportation hubs, near stores (or with stores), near offices.

* Providing either practical, i.e. outstanding, European-style, high frequency, public transportation (let's face it, it will never happen here) or adequate parking space. If you build a large multi-dwelling residence, then maybe we should mandate underground parking with an adequate number of stalls. That's how it's done in Paris or Berlin these days, like it or not.

* Enough green space (not allow up to the sidewalk, blind, grey buildings everywhere as we have recently).

* Decent aesthetics. How has PA been capable of allowing Miki's, the JCC, Mitchell Park, etc.? I find it astounding. Can't we do simple, aesthetically pleasing developments such as the Crossings in Mountain View, for example?

Why do we have to bend the rules in return for next-to-nothing, and why try to build pretentious, "unique" buildings that turn into veritable eyesores? Wake up city hall?


Posted by MadamPresident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I am with Palo Alto Urbanist

@Miki - "Providing either practical, i.e. outstanding, European-style, high frequency, public transportation (let's face it, it will never happen here) or adequate parking space. If you build a large multi-dwelling residence, then maybe we should mandate underground parking with an adequate number of stalls" - why incurage driving? are we insane driving to california ave even??? we are not healthy, not in body, not morally


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm

We lived in North Crescent Park for 45 years, but are no longer able to live in such pleasant surroundings since having lost most of our money in the Financial Markets. We are two decent people, and have always kept our properties in tip-top shape! Where are the elderly people of Palo Alto going to live in the near future: out in the sticks? Now, you are allowing a greedy developer to build multiple deluxe homes causing MUCH more daily traffic than elder people would have done to clog our streets. Everyone will be trying to get to work whereas older people tend to drive FAR LESS, just to get shopping etc. and have far fewer cars.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

@ Madam President

Don't get me wrong. I actually hate driving. I am also actually from Europe and would love to have a decent European-style public transportation system here. The sad truth is I don't see it happening. People are too dead set against doing what it takes (and spending the money) to have such a system here.

FYI, for any mode of public transportation to be practical and actually used by enough people, it would have to have a frequency of every 10-15 minutes during the day. Trains and buses would have to run in such a fashion that each line has a train or bus coming by every 10-15 minutes at least. That's how it is in Europe.

I would love to have this here. I don't see the will to do it.


Posted by Linval/30 year PA resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Angry Millenial says "You need to accept density". Did he or she decide this for everyone? Don't we get to decide for ourselves whether we want more density or not?

I have a suggestion for you. Google "ZPG" or "Paul Ehrlich" and see what you come up with.


Posted by Angry Milennial, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm

@ OPar

It's not about being entitled, or wanting to in the exactly place I want to live. It's about making room for the tidal wave of people at every age and income level who are trying to find a decent affordable place to live in the Bay Area. I wouldn't care if it was only Palo Alto that was making it so difficult to accommodate new residential development. But that's not the case. Every time a developer tries to build a new apartment complex anywhere in the Bay Area, it seems like there's a group of reactionary "concerned citizens" with ultra parochial interests about their views, or the "small town charm" of their neighborhood. Even San Franciscans have trouble with embracing density and new development. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it, and I think a large part of the blame for the fact that the Bay Area is the least affordable place to live in the US should be placed at the feet of narrow minded neighborhood groups like Palo Altans for Neighborhood Zoning. That isn't to say that I think we should let developers get their way all of the time. Sometimes there are good reason for challenging development. But there's a spectrum, and I think parochial neighborhood groups are at one of its extreme ends.

My wife and I aren't poor, we'll probably be able to save up enough money to afford a down-payment on a house somewhere in the Bay Area. For a number of reasons it probably won't be Palo Alto. Even so, compared to everyone else we know who is our age we are very fortunate. I grew up in the Bay Area, and among all of the people I know who also grew up here, I'm the only one who even has the faintest chance of owning a home here one day, or even renting long term. As you even acknowledge, OPar, it's younger generations that are feeling the brunt of the housing crisis, younger generations and poorer communities. It's a conflict that divides people by generation and class. You call me entitled, but I would argue that it's you and your reluctance to accept change that are entitled.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

@ Angry Millennial

I would suspect that many of the older people posting here have children or grandchildren who are millennials. My children are. I have one who lives in SF in a shared flat and pays an arm and a leg for one bedroom in that uncomfortable, noisy, flat.

I don't know what the solution is. What I know is that the solution is not to make it unlivable for everybody, however. Our city government and staff are out of touch. Come and take a look at the mega developments built in PA in the last 10 years. They are hideous, misplanned affairs. What this No on D is, well it's mostly a wake-up-call to our city to wake up and start doing things intelligently.

Now, the other thing I must say is that I think we are in another bubble. A lot of the new tech companies, social networks and all, are just based on a lot of wind and nothing else. Who actually pays attention to ads on FB or Google? I know I don't even though I do use those sites. I am afraid everything will come crashing down sooner or later. When it does, you will definitely be in better shape to buy a house around here.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm

@ Angry Millenial

You're basically saying that infrastructure has infinite capacity. Let's say we go ahead an allow lots of high-density housing in Palo Alto. Then the developers want to build skyscrapers all around you. Would you be happy? The roads are already stretched to the limit at commute times. Why don't we allow millions of people to live here by building 6ft.x 6ft. cells all over the place? At what point is enough, enough already?

I have a right to have a reasonable expectation of a quality of life for which I paid through my nose after working my butt off for many years living in a shabby run down house. Now the developers want to come in and take away part of my natural light and increase my commute time even more? And they always promise some "public Benefit" in return. Go take a look at Alma Plaza and what benefits were actually provided. Its not like this area has a great public transit or bike paths either. Have you ever been to L.A.? Its an ugly mess of cars and freeways. If we're not vigilant the developers in conjunction with the city will turn Palo Alto into L.A.

As for the crazy housing prices, you can blame rich people from other countries who are willing to pay anything for a house that they lock up and keep so their kids can go to Gunn high later. THAT is the main reason for the recent insane price rise here and the developers want to take advantage of it and cram even more houses so they can take the profits and buy a house with a view in Los Altos or Atherton at our expense! I don't see why foreigners should get preference over citizens but that is what is happening in real-estate and that is what is happening in the job market because the average citizen has very little say but corporations are people and can legally bribe your legislator to pass the laws they want. You're barking up the wrong tree. Work on campaign finance reform instead.


Posted by Angry Milennial, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

@ Midtowner

You are probably correct about us being in a bubble at this moment. However I also don't think it's a coincidence that the time when housing prices fist started to skyrocket in the 70's was also the time when cities across the Bay Area started to embrace policies that constrained growth. Ever since then the supply of housing has not been able to keep up with the demand. I would say that our current situation is akin to that of the housing crisis that Bay Area experienced during the Second World War. Then we were inundated with workers with the hope of finding a job in the war industries that had sprung up here almost overnight, fleeing from the wreckage that had been wrought on their home towns by the depression. We solved that crisis after the war by building out: we went for the low hanging fruit. The problem is that now there's no political will to build either out or up. The insatiable demand to live here is forcing us to sacrifice something we love about our region, and it looks like that something is going to be affordability and economic diversity.


Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Case in point: The Sterling Gardens development at West Bayshore and Loma Verde. The developers had some crazy fractional car per family calculation that allowed them to be way under the two parking spaces per home. Now drive by there any night after 6PM or on a weekend and you will see easily 40-50+ extra cars parked on Loma Verde that were NOT there before this project was built. Promises, promises, it goes on and on. The people finally voted to stop being compromised just to further line some developer's pockets hiding under the cloak of "affordable senior housing".


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Measure D failed, time to move on to more productive things like dealing with traffic, up dated schools, infrastructure.

If 46 single family homes get built here, I am for it, we need to save farmland by building in the cities. This property is surrounding by city all 4 sides. We need to think about adding more homes in the Silicon Valley area not putting people out in the Central Valley.

Even if 46 homes get built so be it.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm

> accept density

I am always amazed when Palo Altans, presumably college/university graduates, speak in such vague, almost non-meaningful terms. Putting aside all of the ramifications that "density" implies (new taxes, over-crowding, crime, restrictions on personal freedom)—would it be too much for people promoting "density" to at least give us some idea of what they are talking about in terms of actual people per square mile?

The following is a list of 100 US cities, and some CDA (Census Designated Areas), which include the actual populations, municipal sizes and their densities.

Web Link

It would be really appreciated if those posting about being desirous of "more density" would share with us those cities with higher densities than we enjoy here in Palo Alto that they would rather live in (or would like to see Palo Alto increase in population so that we are burdened with similar densities).


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Water? Any of you folks adamantly promoting density given a thought to water? We do not have enough water in the Bay Area to support more and more and more humans. And Los Angeles is making a grab for our Northern California water. No more housing! We are not taking care of the people who already live here. And we do not have the resources to care for more.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

> flood of new people trying moving into the BayArea

How technology, particularly IT (Information Technology)will assist in reforming the workplace in the coming decades is a story that has not yet begun to unfold. Robotics, software, digital tools and the Internet will merge in ways that we have yet to really think about.

Take for instance the following article from a technolgy-oriented trade magazine the focuses on a CEO of a small company that was acquired by Walmart Labs, who was challenged to try working with a "virtual assistant", who was physically located in another state--

Web Link

This article didn't provide too many details about the week, but if Skype/VideoChat had been used, it's possible that the "distance" between the CEO and the VA (Virtual Assistant) would have been reduced even more than it was.

Unless those people claiming that there is a "tsunami" of people coming here give a lot of thought to how to put the millions of Americans currently not in the work force, the idea of importing tens of millions more so that they can sit in chairs in an traditional office setting doesn't make much sense.

We really need to rethink the future, or digital future, before we buy into all of this massive overdevelopment.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm

This measure was rejected primarily because the typical Palo Alto resident does not want to play host to additional "low income" housing. They do not want those less fortunate living nearby. It has less to do with density and traffic, and much more to do with fear of their property values being adversely effected or having their senses offended. That's the dirty secret that people prefer not to talk about. Sad but true,


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

@ Marrol. It's not a secret at all - but the way you write it and what you insinuate makes it sound "dirty".

Who wants their property values diminished? Do you? Didn't think so.

No matter the flavor of PC zoning, if it is going to affect residential values, then yes, people are going to be against it.

This is not news.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm

What should the staff and Council take away from the defeat of Measure D?
That this is a complete repudiation of what they are doing,and not doing,
across the board. This is "outreach" and "feedback" as blunt and clear as it gets. Don't minimize it or soft pedal it or try to rationalize it. Accept it and act on it decisively with a complete new direction and purpose.






Posted by kb, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I think that all of you who voted yes on D should now cough up some donations to help PAHC build their affordable senior housing on this property under the current zoning. 5000 yes votes donating $800 each results in $4m, which should probably just about cover it. Put your money where your mouth is.


Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Donya is a registered user.

@Marrol,

We already have a number of low income apartments in Barron Park. It doesn't affect our property values unless it is PC zoned, stack and packed, parking deficient and out of scale. That is what the neighbors object to.

The excuse for all of this was that high density brings money, i.e. tax credits, into Palo Alto. In other words CC approves whatever the developers propose as long as it gets the city money. They called it a "creative" way of financing the senior apartment building.

I was wondering why the CC stopped there. If the Council changed the zoning and put a casino or a gun range on Maybell that could have potentially brought in even more money.


Posted by Builder Bob, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm

"It's very instructive"

Karen Holman is so out of touch with what's happening in Palo Alto it's very disturbing. Has she has her head buried in the sand somewhere, or buried somewhere else these past few months?

She needs to go.


Posted by Stan Shore, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I voted NO on measure D. My NO vote had nothing to do with senior housing or Below Market Rate (BMR) housing. I am 100% for BMR. The issue is, and has always been, about increased housing density and where that increased housing density shall be.

During the four weeks that preceded the voting, I received at least four slick color mailings asking me to vote "YES" on measure D. I never received one mailing asking me to vote NO on measure D. I seen at least a dozen, probably more, of lawn signs saying vote YES on measure D. I have seen only two lawn signs saying vote NO on Measure D. It was obvious Measure D supporters were throwing gobbles of money to pass Measure D. With all that money being spent to support Measure D I was sure the turn out of people supporting Measure D would swamp the people who were against Measure D. Losing Measure D despite the enormous amount of money spent, indicates that a significant number of the silent majority who didn't voter were NOT motivated by the Measure D supporters hype.

Thus when evaluating the Measure D vote take into consideration that a significant number of the silent majority were probably also opposed to measure D.

The failure of Measure D has nothing to do with senior citizens. It's all about how Palo Alto's manages it's future growth.

Stan Shore
Palo Alto resident


Posted by Bart, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

What some of you seem to fail to understand is that it's not just the neighbors (whether they are selfish or not) who voted against the Maybell PC rezoning. It's a cross-section of Palo Alto residents who are fed up with the horrible, badly designed building projects that have popping up all over Palo Alto the last 10 years.

We needed to send City Hall a message that they can't continue like this. And we did. I am really happy we did.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

@Angry Millennial - heard of Prop 13? That product of the '70s is a large driver of distorted real estate values, since it discourages sale of existing houses and drives up the price of the limited supply. Put it on the list of things to blame your parents' generation for (climate change, no trust in government, AIDS, etc.) ;-)

Most people in the suburbs like it the way it is and don't want increased housing density and won't support it. The idea that they should so that you can enjoy lower housing costs seems a little fanciful, don't you think?

But don't worry, eventually people die or move away, housing gets sold and denser housing takes its place, and the new normal settles in. But I don't think it will come quick enough for your needs. I hope you find a way to be less angry about it though!


Posted by on the sidelines, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Now is not the time for finger pointing, recriminations or crowing.
Now is the time for everyone to come together, put their differences aside and get creative about working out the best possible land use for Maybell Ave. I cannot believe that in this community we cannot figure out a way to finance affordable housing as well as creating pleasant surroundings.
There is a ready made community at Buena Vista that is in danger of being broken up....couldn't we find a way of taking care of them on either of these sites? My back ground is not in finance but this could be the perfect opportunity to get things right where everyone is a winner. Not one element at the expense of another.

Could the city


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Speaking as someone who has been involved, I can say affirmatively that this controversy was not about affordable housing, there was no subtext, and residents genuinely wrestled over the right thing to do, because they do care about affordable housing -- but everything they said was at issue, such as safety at that location.

I do want to send a message to those who seem to want to continue the campaign here: keeping up the attacks from the NIMBY-card playbook didn't help in the campaign and it isn't helping now. The neighbors who defeated Measure D are genuinely concerned about affordable housing, are energized, and are not done fighting City Hall.

If you think venting your spleen is a higher good than doing something real for affordable housing, then by all means, continue. The campaign is over, though, and making such poisonous assumptions about people is how this ended up in such a fight anyway. I was part of neighborhood efforts to ask PAHC to work with neighbors and they flat out couldn't compromise because of the financing setup. It was all or nothing from the start, and they assumed they would just roll out the usual playbook. It was surreal in City meetings, having neighbors say, Look, put in just the affordable housing, don't put in the market-rate, let us put together a working group like at Terman that resulted in an even larger complex of affordable units a few blocks away in the same neighborhood AND saved the school site -- let's hash out a way to make this work for everyone -- only to be called NIMBYs in so many ways.

The majority of neighbors care about affordable housing, and as you have seen, are willing to be active to fight City Hall. This isn't the end of this for them, and if you want to see some of that energy directed to save affordable housing in the neighborhood, instead of venting your spleen, make an effort to accept for once that this was about what they said -- and that post-election there are opportunities to make win-wins, including for affordable housing. But only if those who lost stop fighting the campaign, which was wrong in the first place!


Posted by Lesson Learned, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

If I were a true housing advocate trying to forward my agenda, or an elected city official trying to further the interests of my campaign donors, or an employee of the PAHC, I would not take a "low income senior housing at any cost approach" while claiming moral superiority over those who disagree with me. I would not dismiss there concerns and label them as selfish, unenlightened, while refusing to listen and discuss these issues.
Low income senior housing is a winnable cause, until you try to ram it down peoples throats.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Resident

"What should the staff and Council take away from the defeat of Measure D?
That this is a complete repudiation of what they are doing,and not doing,
across the board. This is "outreach" and "feedback" as blunt and clear as it gets. Don't minimize it or soft pedal it or try to rationalize it. Accept it and act on it decisively with a complete new direction and purpose. "

I would add that staff and Council should consider that with all the heartstrings that one could think of pulling for a land deal - old people, poor old people, diversity, saving grandma, this one had it all, but nothing excuses bad process and zoning overreach, not even grandma.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

@ Fred and @ Millennial

Please, when talking about Prop. 13, make a distinction between commercial and residential real estate. The real scandal is commercial real estate, not residential resl estate.

Before Prop. 13, commercial real estate accounted for something like 2/3 of property tax revenues in California. Residential real estate was at 1/3 of that revenue. Now the ratios have been reversed. Commercial property has sunk to around 1/3 of property tax revenue while homes account for 2/3.

My ratios may not be completely exact, but that's more or less what's happened.

So, please, when talking about Prop. 13, let's not lump homes in with commercial properties. If reform is needed, let's take away Prop. 13 from Commercial real estate. Let's not kick grandma out of her house.


Posted by ture palo altan, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

A library in that location sounds right.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm

@Neighbor watch
Great comment. Yes, the tactics were classic with the "heartstrings" approach, even bringing in the "wizard of oz" symbolism. All designed by high priced professional political consultants but the "wizard of oz" display in the foyer at the MGM Grand on the Vegas strip didn't work there and they eventually removed it and it didn't work here in Palo Alto on
Measure D which had over-riding issues ignored in the fancy flyers.


Posted by Tired of being f**ed with, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I voted "No on D". Not because I am against seniors having affordable housing. Who would be against that?

I voted "No", first, because there has to be a precedent. We finally need to have a say in this deranged development in PA. Are we crazy? Who does not get what is going on? Housing in such area as PA is perhaps one of the most expensive in the nation. Of course, go ahead fill it up with "bird house" town-homes. More money into the pockets of developers and landlords. Who cares what happens to us stuck in the city filled with traffic, smog, and angry idiots on the roads who are stuck in traffic but do not want to realize that they are.

At last, something that looks like democracy is beginning to happen.

Second, I voted "No" because of how the City Council and the PAHC were tackling the issue. "If you do not vote for D which means only so many units for seniors who do not drive much, we sell the land to developers who will pack it up to here with as many units as they please and you will have even worse traffic".

I am not living here all these years and paying these rather high taxes to be f**ed with like that.

How about the third scenario? We dump this rezoning and then vote out the creeps that are in the council and replace them with responsible individuals who have the interests of the city maybe not as their first priority but at least as their second?

No vote for a single council member before they give us a clear and satisfactory view of what they are planning to do about the existing "birdhouse" shit that is already built and the massive jams we are already having. Next - their views on the future development.

We are not a third world country. Or, not yet ...


Posted by Tired of being f**ed with, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Yes, and on the bright side ... Although I am really angry with turning PA into another LA over last years, I am happy to see that PA has its dignity. Really proud of the citizens. Let us keep this up.
Is there any work-group that is taking on the issue? Any contacts?
Let us stick together, or they will roll over us like a steam-roller.


Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

To quote Marrol above - "This measure was rejected primarily because the typical Palo Alto resident does not want to play host to additional "low income" housing."

Marrol usually makes sensible comments, but how he/she knows the thoughts of "typical Palo Alto residents" is questionable at best. And to claim their rejection of D "...has less to do with density and traffic, and much more to do with fear of their property values being adversely effected...". Again was ESP used to plumb the minds of every resident to make such sweeping claims? Use verifiable facts, not opinions when writing.


Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Millenial,

Fred and Midtowner are right--Proposition 13 royally screwed up our property tax base and has been a huge gift to commercial real-estate landlords. It also royally screwed up California schools, except in places like Palo Alto, which have been willing to essentially self-fund our school districts.

Want cheaper housing in the Bay Area? It's there. Just move to a city with poor schools. In fact, East Palo Alto's still pretty affordable. There are many attractive cities in the East Bay that are relatively affordable, but with poor schools.

So, let's face it, the demand you're making isn't affordable housing in the Bay Area--it's for housing with perks like good schools, parks, a walkable downtown and a bit of culture (thanks Stanford). Well, the perks in Palo Alto didn't happen by accident. They happened because those older people you resent made it happen. The airy attractiveness of this city happened because people care enough to fight for it.

Despite the desire of the Yes-on-D crowd to smear the No-on-D voters, the situation isn't simple--I, for example, did vote for the High Street complex years ago, though with very mixed feelings. But the downtown *did* strike me as a place suited to high-density development--close to transit, walkable to the stores, etc. I also spoke up in favor of the Edgewood development (which is near me) and favor building a new bridge at Newell.

In other words, I look at each case--and as I said above--the D proponents failed to make their case. Thanks to Proposition 13, the seniors in this city who own their homes aren't paying much in property taxes and most of them have paid off their mortgages. It just hasn't been shown to me that the end (BMR housing for seniors) justified the means in this case.

And with all the wailing on this thread, I still don't see a solid case being made. We've got an anonymous senior in Crescent Park saying that he or she is hard up because of "the financial markets". Hard up in Crescent Park means hard-up in a $2 million house.

I might add that BMR housing for seniors does nothing to alleviate traffic problems or provide housing for people who work here. Again, I'd rather find a way to keep Buena Vista open. It truly does offer affordable housing. However, there's no developer getting rich from it, so *that* affordable housing doesn't seem to count.


Posted by southbayresident, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:55 am

@Bart,

I like your suggestion about putting a homeless shelter at Maybell.

That's a great idea but an even cheaper alternative in the short term (before a proper shelter is built) is to transform the orchard into a homeless camp. Let people set up tents, dig holes for fire pits and latrines, camp in their cars and so on!

It will be a stunning sight! Like something right out of dustbowl times!


Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:31 am

The problem we have in Palo Alto is the PAHC and City Council makeup is too heavily tilted to real estate interests. These people personally profit on the short term, either directly or indirectly, from ramming as much 'growth' down the community throat as possible. The reasons that Palo Alto is a desirable community is primarily based on two things, the quality of the schools (obvious) and the trees (not so obvious). Manipulating the zoning process to allow 'pack and stack' housing or commercial building will overload the schools and create more of these horrible barren architectural monstrosities we have seen go up in the last few years.
The 'housing for seniors to live near their families' marketing was clearly just a scam rationale for the project. It makes no sense on the face of it, except perhaps for those seniors who transfer their Palo Alto house and other assets to their children so they can claim to be indigent and pick up subsidized housing for a song.


Posted by Ruth Lowy, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:51 am

With all the comments about the Maybell project... remember a major concern was our children's safety. They bike and walk to FOUR schools on Maybell, 'supposedly' a 'Safe route'. Our children are precious. PAHC conducted an insufficient traffic study, used out of date data and DID NOT account for pedestrians and bicyclists!! ABSURD. Still, that person stood up in meetings at Arastradero Apts. and City Council declaring the study to be good, accurate and that there would be minimal impact to Maybell traffic. Measure D opponents hired two experienced credible consultants to review PAHC's traffic study. They found it to be 'lacking'. Still City Council was willing to go along with PAHC's misleading representations. REMEMBER THE CHILDREN.

I am a concerned Barron Park resident and Palo Alto senior citizen. I am very proud of the grass roots efforts of our neighbors coming together from all over the city to help keep it safe and livable.


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2013 at 2:33 am

There were a lot of things unearthed by the controversy that need to see the light of day. There are real scandals here the public hasn't even yet heard about.

One of the serious problems some of us became of aware of is how a corrupt and political planning process is affecting our public safety, and the public doesn't realize it. Many neighbors expressed concern about access of emergency vehicles because of limited street access to the elementary school and roads that are often already clogged from normal traffic daily. PAHC claimed in City meetings - more than once - that the fire department had reviewed the traffic and found no problem, as if it were an independent review. It turns out, the fire department did no such thing. They only look at the site itself, not the traffic, and not the response times in the neighborhood from a new development and its traffic. Instead, they rely on what Planning and Transportation tell them, and if they have decided for political reasons that a project will have no impact, or they failed to do proper review because they didn't want to know, there is no independent safety review because fire and police don't know there's a problem. The fire department would only review a problem if they were given that info from transportation, and that determination is subject to the political process - a corrupt political process, as we learned.

Our safety divisions should have more autonomy and authority when citizens have safety concerns like this!!!


Posted by What to do next, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 4:11 am

PAHC should go back to the drawing board and develop a project for senior housing as follows.

Subdivide the land into two parts, the market rate part, and the below market rate senior housing part.

The market rate part should entirely satisfy the R-2 and RM-15 zoning rules that apply to the land used.

The below market rate senior housing part should have livable senior housing, including private open space (which is required by for multi-family housing by our zoning ordinance but omitted from this project), adequate parking, and shuttle bus services. It should be built according to the zoning rules for RM-15 plus the available concessions in state law for senior affordable housing. Given the legally allowed limits for square footage, height, etc., they can build as many housing units as fit, even if more than zoning ordinarily allows, provided they park it.

No PC needed


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 5:31 am

The city council, PAHC, etc. keep saying that with no zoning change, 46 units could be built on the property.

In PAHC prior plan, they wanted a variance in zoning for 55% of the property to build 12 non-conforming houses (ie. 3000-4000 square foot lots, some houses being 3 stories). If the entire property were built out in the same way, with the same variance, then it would still total 24 houses.

And if the property were developed with no variances, then the total number of houses would be much less than 24 (as comparaed to the "46 units" that was being touted.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:15 am

Great Victory for opponents of Measure D.
What gives the council members the right to select the winners in a $250,000 gift to the homeless. It will go to 20 +/- people and accomplish nothing. What gives the city the right to demand $$ from the owner of BV trailer park to the residents that have old broken down trailers that are code deficient in many areas. What gives the council the right to decide how to pick winners and losers in life. The council should put an abrupt halt to any projects that have not received final city approval for issuance of a building permit. Wipe the slate clean and start all over again. This would include a new city council.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:16 am

There is no real low income senior problem in Palo Alto. Seniors in Palo Alto sit on million plus dollar houses. If they sold their houses, they would have plenty to enable them to live out their lives in comfort and financial security. Present residents and future generations should not pay the price, in the form of overdevelopment and lose of the town's beauty and character, because some seniors would rather leave their house to their children instead of using their astronomical increase in value to support themselves.


Posted by Oops, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:20 am

Who are those of you who without any information inventing financing schemes and restricted zoning for the Maybell site trying to convince (and unfortunately the Weekly was in that group)? PAHC and the Bay Area housing market have already told you what is going to happen:
1. The Maybell site will be sold to a private developer.
2. The maximum number of housing units will be put on the site, as that's the way to maximize profit to the developer. That's going to be the biggest number possible, probably 46.
Long after the buzz of sending a message is gone, the neighborhood will be looking at "stack and pack" housing (whatever that means), lots of driveways, and lots of traffic.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 7:09 am

SteveU is a registered user.

All this talk on how Proposition 13 screwed things.
It only screwed up the ability of politicians to waste every dime of the added tax revenue.

Just think about rural California towns where there has not been triple percentage digit property value increases (with the resultant Property Taxes). How does the rest of America deal with paltry revenue? They stick to the basics that cities were originally founded to provide, health and safety.

Nowhere except Government, do I see the mass of perks supplied to elected officials.
Time to throw out the self serving bums and spend the money on fixing up the infrastructure to where it was in the 60's: New schools, maintained streets and walkways.


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2013 at 7:33 am

"Nowhere except Government, do I see the mass of perks supplied to elected officials." Really? Have checked lately the compensations packages of corporate executives?


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

The talk of not wanting to lose the character of the town, or we want to maintain it's unique charm, and we hate the look of the architecture, is all convenient and make myself feel better chatter for not wanting low-income people moving into your neighborhood. Say what you will to justify your guilt, but that's the bottom line.


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:18 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Sorry, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:29 am

@Thanks Weekly - I guess the truth hurts. I always had a good opinion of PAHC, but I've been appalled at how they conducted themselves in this situation. A large number of our neighbors seem to feel the same. Their mission is generally laudable; their methods, on this occasion, deplorable.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

@boscoli
Really? Have checked lately the compensations packages of corporate executives?

Yes I have and while I agree they are outrageous, I know that these guys work their hinies off, putting in 14 hr days and traveling all the time and eduring enormous stress. I am not one of these executives BTW. However, what I cannot tolerate is a BART escalator mechanic with a high-school degree and not even 2 years of beer pong at Chico State making a $75K base salary and $50K in overtime! (which BTW is generated by calling in sick once a week). I'm not kidding - go look up the salaries. And we pay taxes to fund these fatcats. Union employees are the real fatcats here. Also the number of executives is relatively small but there are a large number of union employees around us. And don't even start me on the pensions city gov't workers get.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:03 am

So Midtown, if government jobs were a fast track to wealth and prosperity, or living like a "fatcat" as you put it, why isn't everybody doing it? I don't think that many people equate being a BART mechanic to wealth and prosperity. I don't believe that anyone becomes a BART mechanic to get rich. Why do you disrespect their talent and contribution with sarcasm? They may not have a college degree, but not everyone can do what they do either. This is especially true for public safety employees. Most of us wouldn't do what they do for a million bucks, never mind what they actually make.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:08 am

We have a complete breakdown of government here. The outrageous abuses and actions of the Council and staff over many years have finally blown up in their faces with Measure D. That is what happened here - it's not about senior housing.

Drive by the monstrous Lytton Gateway. Remember the hyperbole surrounding this project as it was embraced by the Council and ARB, which had it with one more floor on top. The developers should offer an apology to the community and offer to tear it down or convert it to a public garage, which is what it looks like, with free public parking. It would still be a
terrible eyesore but the tradeoff might be worth it. It could still have
groundfloor retail and would be a mixed use project with an actual "public
benefit". This is a serious proposal.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

Congratulations to all Measure D opponents.
While we are at it - in addition to replacing the city council members - we should also replace the Planning Commission ARB and the city planning staff. We should replace them with more market oriented people who listen to the market rather than their political wishes. If this were the case, we wouldn't have gotten Miki's or a redeveloped Edgewood Plaza out of the 1950"s. How long will the market at Edgewood last? Probably no longer than Miki's.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:51 am

@Marrol

"So Midtown, if government jobs were a fast track to wealth and prosperity, or living like a "fatcat" as you put it, why isn't everybody doing it? I don't think that many people equate being a BART mechanic to wealth and prosperity. I don't believe that anyone becomes a BART mechanic to get rich. Why do you disrespect their talent and contribution with sarcasm? They may not have a college degree, but not everyone can do what they do either. This is especially true for public safety employees. Most of us wouldn't do what they do for a million bucks, never mind what they actually make."

I never claimed gov't jobs are fast tracks to riches. Just that these guys get paid way, way more than what they're worth because they can blackmail the whole bay area once every few years to keep their outrageous salaries. There are people in my high-tech company that do not have college degrees and I do not for a minute resent their salaries because they are paid according to their skills, supply and demand. As to your claim that no everyone can do what they can do, you must be kidding. You're telling me that being an escalator mechanic is a job very few people can do? OK let's do an experiment. Put out an Ad for the job stating a $125K salary and see how many qualified people respond. Heck I would do the job at that salary and benefits .

Anyway, Enough about Union salaries. I don't want to divert the thread from measure D.


Posted by NoDresident, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

After the defeat of Measure D, I hope that PAHC executive management and board learn some lessons on the the importance of listening and understanding community issues and concerns, and addressing them with humility. I do not want to see our community divided again on the issue of providing affordable housing in our city. Otherwise, it is time to have new leadership at PAHC.


Posted by No More Palotics!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

NoDresident: I completely agree, but the signs from PAHC thus far are not encouraging.

Unfortunately, at least publicly, PAHC's director Candice Gonzalez appears to be deflecting blame to other projects, voter confusion, media bias, and casting her organization in a victim role. This isn't a good start-- it appears PAHC is holding itself blameless and nothing has been learned. Gonzalez was quoted today publicly as saying the following:

"Sadly, the Maybell project became a referendum on citywide development in Palo Alto... The Measure D campaign snowballed into a dispute fueled by negative hyperbole, inaccurate media coverage and voter confusion. The city planning process worked very well here, producing a project with excellent public benefits. Unfortunately, our lower-income seniors were used as a scapegoat for other frustrations that this project should not have been compared to."


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 10:22 am

Here, here. Candice, you are exactly right, particularly about the "inaccurate media coverage" and the scapegoating of this project in order to send a message about development issues that were unrelated.


Posted by Sorry, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

@Thanks Weekly - all three local papers (PA Weekly, Daily Post, PA Daily) came out against Measure D. At some point PAHC needs to stop blaming the messenger and attend to the message.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

and thanks to Bob Moss and people like him, who are ever vigilant against this kind of abuse of Palo Alto by developers with help from the city.

Bob, What's the next step in shooting down other such ill-thought developments with "public benefits" that don't live up their promise. I suggest recall of the city councillors who voted for this and a city-wide campaign to make sure the candidates for the next city council come clean as to their connections with developers and represent the citizens instead of developers, so we don't fooled like we did this time.

Most important, we need a way to monitor city council meetings and provide instant feedback via the internet, perhaps even voting on projects like this directly.







Posted by Resident, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

Candice Gonzalez is exactly right. This was not about senior housing, as many of the No on D voters support senior housing.
This is about the PAHC using the senior housing cause as their financial loophoole, to the detriment of the city and it residents.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:52 am

Candice is wrong. No one is blaming low income seniors for anything.
We are blaming the PAHC, the Mayor, and the city council for this mess.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Ugly thread., a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:54 am

Wow. What an ugly thread. Palo Alto Online...Really, is this your notion of useful and civil public discourse?

What decent person will want to volunteer for public service on City Council when the local paper sets them for unbased, vitriolic target practice?

This is NOT a public service.


Posted by Thanks Weekly, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

Guess my view is not idiosyncratic. Is there at basis for some soul searching here Weekly? Was your role ultimately as constructive as you would have it? If not make changes for next time.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

@Ugly Thread

The Council works for Free?
No perks?
No (sweet) job offers after they retire from office?


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm

@Midtown residents-You are right. The corporate executives who nearly destroyed the US economy and got bailed out by the tax payers, including those public employees you despise so much, work very hard (the poor babies) and deserve to make hundreds of millions a year, but a public employee who could never afford to live in Palo Alto, the fire fighter or police officer who would save your life if needed, for example, is grossly overpaid.


Posted by John Brown, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Shallow Alto has taken another step in the balkanization of Silicon Valley. Rich people you live here; poor and elderly go somewhere else. Santa Clara County is 27% hispanic, whereas Palo Alto is only 6%. [Portion removed.] Wake up Palo Alto! Open yourself up to the broader community.


Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

This was not about senior housing or low-income housing.

The residents made that clear and also backed it up by offering the city their support for a smaller project. I believe that that the residents proposed limiting the market housing to 8 houses.

I asked the mayor why this offer was not accepted. He gave me a short lecture about housing values and told me each house would generate $1M of profit, and that the PAHC needed to have 12 houses in order to be able to afford to build the project.

This reveals two things:
1. The residents were entirely willing to have the senior center, their objection was to the extra houses that, after all, do not directly benefit the seniors or low-income people in any way.
2. This little conversation also crystalized my view that the city was exclusively focused on helping the PAHC to the exclusion of any other considerations. The number of houses should have been a question of what is reasonable to build for the neighborhood, not just how much money the PAHC was short.

This was "windfall zoning" designed to further subsidize an organization that simply did not have the money to do this project without city loans and imposing an overly large project on the community because of the lack of funds for the PAHC.




Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

The SJM had a snarky opinion piece today about Measure D. Check it out - someone with sour rapes on staff - very poor on their part with a misrepresentation of the facts at hand.

I keep seeing an inflated number of people who work in PA versus live here. I wonder if they are including the Google people who work in Mountain View. The Google people want to live in SF - the Disneyland for young adults.

I think it is the high number of employees of Stanford as they are expanding their medical and educational facilities at a rapid pace. Stanford is private property - they have to step up to the plate to provide some low-income housing on their vast properties to house those workers.

A suggestion is to extend BART down the 280 / Foothill Expressway corridor to service Hillsborough, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Stanford/PA, Mountain View, Cupertino, to close the loop in San Jose. This would service the west side of the peninsula and reduce traffic. It isn't all about housing - it is about transportation to move people up and down the peninsula.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm

resident (Charleston Gardens)

I think I agree with everything you said. Rare for me.

I might add that the SJM is a dying newspaper. I have long thought that BART needs to complete the loop, using the 280 corridor.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Here's the breakdown for the elementary school near the proposed site-
Not that "Shallow" if you ask me.

Black or African American 1.9%
White 42.5
American IndianorAlaska Native0.2
Two or More Races7.9
Asian 31.7
Socioeconomically Disadvantaged13.2
Filipino0.2
English Learners29.6
Hispanic or Latino13
Students with Disabilities6


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm

@boscoli

"@Midtown residents-You are right. The corporate executives who nearly destroyed the US economy and got bailed out by the tax payers, including those public employees you despise so much, work very hard (the poor babies) and deserve to make hundreds of millions a year, but a public employee who could never afford to live in Palo Alto, the fire fighter or police officer who would save your life if needed, for example, is grossly overpaid."

I'm all for overhaul of corporate compensation but at least

1. its open competition. If you're that good, you can get that pay too. That is NOT the case with union employees. Their pay is maintained by blackmail. Do you even understand the concept. A mechanic in the private sector will never get paid that much. Why should a public employee paid from my taxes, get paid above what the market will bear?

2. Executives are not getting paid from the huge amount of taxes I pay. So I don't care. If I own a company stock and I feel the CEO is overpaid, I will complain but no one else has a right to complain about CEO salaries.

As for fire-fighters etc. they get paid as well or better than most high-tech workers plus pension and excellent benefits, early retirement etc. which is fine with me since they are doing a very risky job and do not strike to keep their pay. I have no issues with that. As for living in palo alto, sorry but no one has a "right" to live in any particular place. I would like to live in Atherton but I cannot and I do not the public to subsidize me. I will not be able to live in palo alto in retirement and will sell my house and move.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm


Marrol,

As far as I'm concerned I'm low income in Palo Alto. Compared to my neighbors, I am low income.

Yes a few area codes have gotten really expensive, but why do you have to harangue everyone about making this particular handful of area codes affordable? Affordable to whom? To people who do not even work here who must retire in Palo Alto sunshine in THE most expensive area code because the sunshine in other nearby zip codes is just not good enough?

With the same money you can feed an entire country!!

Affordable housing in Palo Alto does not exist for anyone, it's not personal. You need to get over it.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

@boscoli - Sorry I missed the part about the bailout. Agreed that was outrageous. We should've let the companies go bankrupt. No argument there. However, the reason that happened is because the US is no longer a democracy but run by corporate interests. Which is why developers can influence city hall more than residents can.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm



If any affordable housing programs are developed, I think they should be made for teachers, firemen, police, and people who work here,

It would cut down on commutes, etc. etc.


Posted by Cesar Chavez, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm

By "sour grapes" I assume you mean the Merc editors wish they could afford to live in Palo Alto. But isn't that the point of the editorial? Only the rich can buy a home in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is becoming a White/Chinese/Indian ghetto. No one else need try to cross the drawbridge.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The Mercury News editorial wasn't really "snarky," It made a number of important points. I suspect the job-housing imbalance has improved in recent years, but for decades, Palo Alto built industrial and offices complexes while avoiding any new housing by claiming we were "built-out." Of course that wasn't true, but it certainly helped increase the housing value for those of us who owned houses here.

from the editorial: "Palo Alto also had a test of character, but it flunked -- rejecting a plan for affordable senior housing. Its reputation as a progressive city is increasingly tattered...

"Palo Alto voters rejected Measure D, which would have allowed well-designed and badly needed affordable senior housing in the Maybell neighborhood. The message to the rest of Silicon Valley: We're pulling up the drawbridge.

"Palo Alto already has far more jobs than employed residents, which means other cities shoulder more of the costly burden of providing housing for [its] workers. It's one of the worst imbalances in Santa Clara County, but it's one reason the city stays rich while others struggle and cut services. The Association of Bay Area Governments says Palo Alto must build more than 2,000 homes over the next eight years to meet its regional obligations, yet it rejected this reasonable four-story, 60-unit complex -- adjacent to two other apartment buildings -- for low-income seniors, hundreds of whom are on waiting lists for an affordable home. Opponents invoked traffic concerns that were spurious."

Someone mentioned Alma Plaza. The reason we have the disaster there is because of the neighborhood opposition to the larger store with a few apartments and neighborhood retail that Lucky and then Albertsons wanted to build. I hope the same thing doesn't happen at Mayfield.


Posted by NoDResident, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Cesar Chavez,

And then just right next to Palo Alto is EPA which in my view is not exactly the most welcoming place.

It is practically the same, IT IS the same geographic space but all the focus is on a few zip codes.

Why?



Posted by Typical, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm

The Mercury News editorial sounds like it came from someone who read the ballot and didn't bother to look any deeper into the issue. That person failed where our local papers succeeded. For years my colleagues would also complain about Palo Alto. It only stopped after they moved here.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm




Time for PAHC, real estate lawyers, developers, and real estate broker love be taken to other zip codes.

Other places need the vibrancy.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Folks, PLease call the editors desk at Mercury news and ask them to actually investigate before reporting, I think the reporters have just got lazy and want to sit at their desk and profess their opinions to the world.


Posted by Wow, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Amazing thread. I haven't seen such nastiness, xenophobia and sheer delusion in a long time. Thanks to the Mercury News at least for pointing out the obvious, given that the Weekly threw in with the Post on this one.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

@Wow - Go ahead and live in whatever delusional world you want to live in. The mercury news did NOT address the concerns of the No on D, they just spout opinions which is not what a news article should have.

@Donya
"If every homeowner had to pay for the parcel tax then they would start asking more questions about PAHC and its waiting lists. PAHC would be forced to answer some of the many unanswered questions that we asked them"

Exactly what I have been saying. Put a tax on the ballot so the pain is spread equally over all residents. There is no reason why just the local neighbors should pay for low-income housing. This will achieve 2 things - it will really ask people to put their money where their mouth is - If they reject it, then we know palo alto doesnt want to subsidize senior housing and we will have to accept it. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Karen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Curious, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm

An earlier post stated that only the initial renter needed to be low income and a senior, in order to access one of the PAHC units. After that they could pass it on to family member when they pass, who does not need to be low income or a senior. Can anyone confirm that? Thats a bait and switch if true and should have housing advocates crying foul. It also invalidates many of the traffic and parking projections that are based on a senior renters.


Posted by Steven - against Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

OOPS,

You ask "Who are those of you who without any information inventing financing schemes and restricted zoning for the Maybell site trying to convince (and unfortunately the Weekly was in that group)? PAHC and the Bay Area housing market have already told you what is going to happen:
1. The Maybell site will be sold to a private developer.
2. The maximum number of housing units will be put on the site, as that's the way to maximize profit to the developer. That's going to be the biggest number possible, probably 46."

I'll tell you who I am. I carefully reviewed the zoning ordinances to understand what they would allow. I talked to two developers, including one who bid on the property but lost, and asked what they would build and what would maximize their return on investment. I also talked to a few real estate agents who are very successful about what the market would pay the most for at that location. NO ONE came back and said that building it out to the maximum would be what would happen. And if you look at the requirements of the zoning code for internal street widths, setbacks, car parking, etc. there is no room to build out to 46 houses. Of course, a developer could always ask for variances, much like PAHC did. Now, who are you? What was your research to back up your claim that 46 houses will be built there?


Posted by resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

To Curious-

The post about passing on the unit to a family member who doesn't need to have a low income is false. There is an annual income verification process. Also, a current renter cannot pass a unit on to anyone. Everyone has to go through a rigid approval process, including proof of income, etc.


Posted by Darcy, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Resident,

What about someone who owned a BMR unit and passed away. Is that unit, now inhabited by the former owner's adult children allowed to remain in their family?


Posted by resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I only know the details for rental units. I don't know the facts about the BMR units. My hair dresser lives in a BMR unit though and next time I see her, I'll ask.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm

The Mercury News editorial was whiny and frankly pretty embarrassing. Partly it's SJM editors just don't understand, and in fact really don't like, the city of Palo Alto. But more has to do with their whole orientation.

David Brooks gave one definition of "extremism" as always having the same prescription for any problem, no matter what the context. The SJM has never met a high-density development it didn't like, or a social program it didn't like, no matter what its cost. One BMR unit in exchange for 40 acres of parking lot plus an oil refinery? Yep, the Merc would endorse that. The idea that Manhattanization might not be the right thing for Palo Alto is something the SJM would never even consider. That's an extreme position.

As for Scott Herhold, I think he was just slumming. He read some flyer and typed up something without the trouble of engaging his brain. Scott ought to buy Gennady Sheyner a cup of coffee, and ask him for a few tips on how to do journalism.

SJM stands out as the only paper to endorse Measure D. Even the Daily News, which is OWNED by the Merc, recommended a no vote. And aren't the Weekly and the Daily Post both thicker than the Merc these days ... ?



Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

@Steven,
Thank you for your comment. I don't know why some people are still engaged in the campaign, it's done, they lost.

The scare scenario isn't going to happen because no one is going to be an idiot enough to try it with this neighborhood, not with the fat book of disclosure now attached to that property! We are now connected with each other in ways we never were before, and we are on the watch! Any development would have to be subdivided -- and there it has to be consistent with the comprehensive plan, and neighbor can enforce it in court.

Let's face it, if any of those politicians want to even remotely entertain the idea of being re-elected, they had better do a fast about face and listen! If they even think about being vindictive at this point, or allowing PAHC to be vindictive when the City has so much control over what can happen with that property because of the loan situation - and we know it better than they realize - they'd better be planning retirement from political life.



Posted by Barron Park oldtimer, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm

If you don't like economic diversity, you're not going to like the San Jose Mercury. That is obvious from reading this Internet board, which reads like a Tea Party convention.
As for the PA Weekly, I talked to many of my neighbors before the vote and many of them said that they were reassured by the PA Weekly's editorial that said that voting against Prop D would just be a way to make it better. I think that was pretty silly now that we see what will actually happen.
It seems that Prop D was actually about what it was about, that is affordable housing. The Mayor was right. What this board shows is that there were a lot of people behind the Prop who don't want low income housing, and who are now feeling OK about saying it.
About the fact that the Daily Post endorsed it, I would only use that for rotten fish, not even fresh.


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm

@midtown resident,
Rather than starting with a tax, first we should assess the needs. There is a limitless need for affordable housing, but what are the needs here in Palo Alto, especially in regards to seniors who are a unique population, and how do we want to best meet them? Not everyone is going to want to stay in Palo Alto, and those who do are not representative of probably even the regional typical senior.

Going about providing for the need in such an expensive, intrusive, and ad hoc way isn't helping anyone, it's not even helping the cause of affordable housing as it just creates resentment.


Posted by Greenacres, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm

@Barron Park oldtimer,
I happen to know people in the group who are already trying to figure out how to reach out over trying to join together to present a united front to City Council to save BV, but people like you are still so caustic about it, you seem like you'd rather nurse a grudge and cling to the WRONG things you concluded about your neighbors because of the controversy.

Which do you care more about, venting your spleen, or affordable housing? If your spleen takes priority, you will have only yourself to blame when people who want something good to come out of this through a working group focus on the things they CAN do/get tired of being bludgeoned with an expired political agenda.

Can you get it through your head that the people Against D were rejecting what they saw as a bad plan and a raw deal for the neighborhood (and Palo Alto via financing affordable housing that way), and this was not about rejecting affordable housing in the neighborhood? That was negative PR PAHC rolled out as part of their playbook. It was never true. I've been a part of this from the start, and it is simply a smear of good people. It probably made it easier to belittle people over the very real safety concerns at that location, but now the campaign is over. Can we move on to getting a win-win, or are you determined to shoot that down (man, you must love your spleen)?


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Barron Park oldtimer,

"What this board shows is that there were a lot of people behind the Prop who don't want low income housing, and who are now feeling OK about saying it."

What is with the low income housing badge of honor, must be signed in blood?

I guess signing in blood to low income housing is relevant because it would mean I would do ANYTHING to pay for it, but in my case I can tell you that my ONLY issue with low income housing is that I do not want to pay for it BECAUSE IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE IN PALO ALTO.

As far as I'm concerned low income housing (IN PALO ALTO) is a LUXURY item for RICH people to be obsessed with.

What other CIty in the world coerces residents to pay for low income housing like this?



Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

@Barron Park oldtimer.

You must be able to read my mind, you seem to know what's going on there.

Some people probably opposed measure D because they didnt want low-income housing here. Well everyone has a right to their opinion and the right to vote as they please. That's the way democracy works. What is NOT OK though is for developers to have undue influence in city hall, which is what has been happening the last few years judging by the projects springing up all over.

I did not oppose measure D because I didn't want low-income housing. Based on my past experience with Alma Plaza, I DO NOT trust the city council and definitely not the developers. Simple. They lost my trust. So I do not believe them when they say the rezoning is for the purpose of financing low-income housing. Nor do I want rezoning for any reason that is not spelt out in blood. I will oppose all rezoning in the future and will work to turn back the PC zoning clause. Its is clear that the housing is not guaranteed to go to palo alto seniors. Did u read any of the arguments against the measure?
I believe that the the high hosing prices in palo alto are attracting greedy developers who will turn palo alto into L.A., ruin our quality of life,laugh all the way their bank then to their single-story, single family homes in Atherton and los altos hills. You won't find any of these guys living near Alma Plaza, I can tell you.


Posted by Neighbor watch, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm



midtown resident,

I'm not sure what the difference is between not wanting Palo Alto to become LA and not wanting anything or anyone in your back yard, low income or rich old people with no income or whatever.

It makes a difference who will pay for what is being asked. I agree that paying into a process that cannot be trusted, but at some point can't people understand how expensive each unit of affordable housing in Palo Alto is?

Why do you think they had to resort to zapping a neighborhood's zoning? And why do you think DENSITY matters?

Back when people said this is not about the money. It is only about the money, and that means the COST. The cost of affordable housing in the most unaffordable place on earth.

This being said, if someone established a certain amount of tax for assuring this obsession with affordable housing to house non-Palo Altans, let's VOTE on it. Guilty rich people would probably make it pass, but at least we would put a number and reason to the obsession.

But if all the guilty consciences cannot save Buena Vista Park, where we actually have long standing neighbors being kicked out of town, I think this whole affordable housing story is what PAHC is about - about land deals, real estate lawyers, brokers and POLITICS.

All you complainers about affordable housing GO SAVE BUENA VISTA, and that includes City Council.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Marie is a registered user.

SENIOR IN FAVOR OF MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN PA _ VOTED NO ON D
I am a Palo Alto Senior very much in favor of more affordable housing in Palo Alto - who voted NO on D. PAHC and the city of Palo Alto now have an opportunity to design a workable project for that site. As a moderate income senior living in Palo Alto, I would never want to live in 600 sq. ft. with no guaranteed parking. I would move out of Palo Alto first.

Palo Alto has money set aside for affordable housing. How about converting the loan to PAHC to a grant so we could build a much better project? How about one that provides housing for low income as well as moderate income seniors and some market rate to make up the difference. How about adding extra parking spots to cover the overflow parking from the other PAHC project next door. This would be a win-win. How about including some units of family housing reserved for those displaced from BV?

Or take the profits from selling the site and the Stanford money and use it to buy the BV site. You could build affordable apartments there, grandfather in the current residents to the new apartments and provide housing to long time citizens of Palo Alto who otherwise will have to move, most likely out of Palo Alto.

The main problem was trying to pay for the project by upzoning half of the site for the benefit of private developers and then not having enough room for adequate parking and space for reasonable apartments. Let's bite the bullet, and explicitly pay for the project and throw in some benefits for the existing neighbors. How about a sidewalk?

As for office space - maybe it should be built closer to where new housing is being built in the Bay Area - like in Oakley, Brentwood or even Los Banos, as opposed to Palo Alto which is completely built out. We don't need more office space. Why should anyone get a zoning variance that would increase the number of people working in Palo Alto when we have such an imbalance today? NO MORE OFFICE BUILDINGS UNTIL ABAG CERTIFIES WE ARE IN BALANCE AND DON't NEED TO ADD MORE HOUSING!!!


Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2013 at 7:38 am

I agreI agree Marie with no new office buildings

I think growth should be slowed until housing and transit can be planned, managed and solved. San Francisco doesn't want techies, Google shuttles and.NIMBYism. is strong. Marin, Sonoma, Napa and San Mateo. Counties don't want growth. Contra.Costa, Alameda and.Santa Clara could handle mor and growthe but like the previous counties, growth limits, NIMBYism and keeping ones character.

I have nothing agains character or the likes but everytime we send housing out of area. We change the character of another town, drive up rents, home prices, displace farms and drive away older.industry to make space.for.Silicon Valley workers.


Posted by Disagree, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

I disagree with Garrrett in that many towns thrive as bedroom communities and suburbs.
People flock there to leave behind their employers and urban hassles to retire after work to their spacious, quite residential towns. They choose to make that commute whether via transit or auto. NOt for everyone, but works for some. I don't see anything wrong with it.


Posted by NO MORE, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:09 am

I agree with Marie about office space. Let's stop Palo Alto's growth! Look at Atherton, they aren't full of office buildings and affordable housing! Let's not turn Palo Alto into Redwood City or Mountain View or East Palo Alto. At some point there is a tipping point.
For the site, let's go back to the heritage orchard idea! Now that we have faced down the city council, they should take the loan money and just buy the land and we can have an orchard there, but maybe with swing sets and little signs that say what the trees are!
Also, I am tired of being smeared for being a NIMBY. Who else is going to care about my backyard? Let's keep Palo Alto safe from office buildings AND "low-income" housing.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:15 am

>I am tired of being smeared for being a NIMBY. Who else is going to care about my backyard?

Exactly!

There is absolutely no pejorative meaning to 'NIMBY'. Stand up and be proud to be one. I do, and I am.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

Many people choose to live in Palo Alto who do not work here so there is no reason to expect that those who work here want to live here as well.

Many people, particularly those in high tech, change jobs every couple of years. Is there an expectation that they should move house every time as well?

Many people have moved here for jobs or schools, and choose to remain here when they start working in Sunnyvale, or elsewhere. There are lots of reasons to stay in the same place when jobs change, including the fact that they just plain like their home in the neighborhood they have been living. There is nothing wrong with that.

Likewise, many teachers, police, firefighters, etc. don't actually want to live in the town they work. They prefer living more anonymously outside their work area. They don't like being recognized every time they go grocery shopping or to support their own family's sport or arts events.

I don't have any objection to Palo Alto low income seniors wanting to stay here. I don't have any objection to low income housing being supported in town. I do have problems with places of charm being lost to pack and stack.

In Mountain View, Middlefield Road just beside the Toyota dealership, a retail area which had been derelict for many years has now been turned into pack and stack housing. I never used the retail but often drive by this area. The houses are much too close to the road and there will be problems of lots of parking on this part of Middlefield which was never there before. These houses are overfilling the site. If there had been less houses built with more setback and more parking for those living there, it would be a much more pleasant development.

Is this the sort of housing we are going to be seeing all over Palo Alto?


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:27 am

Daily News reports that PAHC will sell to a developer who will build between 34-46 homes on the site.

Wait, you mean they aren't going to make it an orchard or an affordable housing development built to Bob Moss's personal specifications? You mean that all the amateur city planning that has gone on here in TS will just be disregarded and PAHC can just sell the building to a developer who can put driveways on Maybell? You mean the Weekly was wrong that voting down D was the path to fixing the project and getting affordable housing built? What happened to all those fantasies, fueled by the Weekly's misleading editorial that suggested that if you just voted against D you could have your cake and eat it too?

Some of the anti-D people seem genuinely shocked, which is really rich:

"Hirsch, meanwhile, wasn't the only resident who called for the two sides to hammer out a mutually agreeable project.

"I think it would be the biggest mistake in the world if you were to sell any part of that property, because from the facts that you have laid out and that the PAHC has laid out, and I see no reason to disbelieve you, this is the last piece of property in town that can be built on," Stephanie Munoz told the city council."

Oh, "reality"? You mean back in "reality" we don't actually have control over this? We didn't actually get our way?

[Portion removed.]

Web Link


Posted by Thanks Weekly!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

In another absolutely delicious example of the FUD that the Anti-D's continue to sow, Joe Hirsch was quoted in 2 different papers (being quite the man-about-town now). In the Merc, he said that he wanted PAHC to work with his group to develop senior housing. He doesn't "want to see the Housing Corporation abandon the idea of building affordable senior housing on the site" and "encouraged the nonprofit organization to pitch a less dense" senior project."

But to the Chronicle, Hirsch was more candid: "'It's an inappropriate site for senior housing,' Hirsch said."
Web Link

[Portion removed.]


Posted by BabyBoomerGuru, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

BabyBoomerGuru is a registered user.

Just before the election, a letter to the editor ran in the Daily Post, written by one of the No on D supportes, which pointed out that there were vacant senior apartments in the retirement community that shares a campus with the JCC, on Charleston and San Antonio, and used that fact to build the case that more senior apts were not needed. Just to set the record straight: those apts are part of the PAHC Below Market Rate (BMR) program which is not a low-income, subsidized, Section 8-type housing program. To qualify for one of those apartments an applicant would need to have between 500K and 1mil in assets, and an income between 52K and 84K. The existence of those vacancies should have had no bearing on whether or not the Maybell project was needed or not. Unfortunately someone got their facts wrong and may have unduly influenced the debate.
Regarding the low voter turnout - you have to assume those who felt they would be impacted the most turned out to vote. It's not their fault that their view may be a minorty view city-wide. But on this issue, they were the majority.


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