Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto treads cautiously on housing policies

Original post made on Jun 6, 2014

Facing a state mandate to plan for more housing, Palo Alto officials adopted this week a strategy for meeting the requirement that favors caution over ambition.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 6, 2014, 10:51 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Just for reference, how much does Zane MacGregor pay for the add on this page?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

>Under state law, the city is required to plan for 1,988 units during the time period of 2015 to 2023.

That is the essential problem, state mandates. Palo Alto needs to be a leader, among other state cities, to overturn this mandate. I think the most direct way to achieve this goal is to threaten to put all the new housing in the elite PA neighborhoods...stop dumping it on the non-elite neighborhoods. Greg Scharff seems to think that he can get away with dumping housing away from him and his friends/neighbors. He is wrong. On the other hand, he could be an effective leader to lead a charge against the state mandate.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

College terrace, should therefore get more new housing. Some may say that CT is not " elite"-- however the facts say otherwise. Which neighborhood has their own library bench? Which neighborhood has a residential parking program? Which neighborhood has endless traffic calming measures( blocked off streets) ?which neighborhood used to have a grocery store that was protected from competition by the city council? Which other neighborhoods have any of those things? Which neighborhood,is elite? I propose more new housing in CT. Withnthempassage of prop 41, CT would be a perfect location for BMR housing and perhaps even a place for car campers


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

>Some may say that CT is not " elite"--

Count me among them. CT has been fighting a defensive battle for several decades (cut through traffic, saturation parking, car camping, welfare housing, etc.). However, in no way are we "elite". Time to get real, Rupert.

Any new housing should go into the truly elite neighborhoods, like Old
Palo Alto and Crescent Park. Who, on our CC, could disagree with this?


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

But, Craig, new housing is going into CT-- have you forgotten the mayfield agreement. There is no " welfare housing" in CT. Anyway with a 70% yes vote on prop 41 , you are clearly on the wrong side of the BMR argument ( and yes, Craig, this was a secret ballot). Plus prop,41 is about housing for military veterans, surely people that called for us to honor veterans on Memorial Day should not be against providing real,help for,our former service people and not just pay lip service on this forum.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

>But, Craig, new housing is going into CT-- have you forgotten the mayfield agreement. There is no " welfare housing" in CT

Rupert, try to do your homework. The Mayfield deal and the JJ&F deal is full of welfare housing. It shouldn't be, but it is. Instead of dumping even more welfare housing on CT or South PA, why not attempt to dump it in the elite neighborhoods in North PA? Are you trying to protect the elite neighborhoods, Rupert?


Posted by Read the Paper, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

There was an article in the DailyPost a couple of days ago about Karen Holman's conflicts of interest with a local developer AND with Zane MacGregor Real Estate.

Were this any other city, she would have been kicked off the city council and replaced. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

>There was an article in the DailyPost a couple of days ago about Karen Holman's conflicts of interest with a local developer AND with Zane MacGregor Real Estate.

Holman is a major supporter of [portion removed] housing in PA, especially if it can be dumped on South PA. When she comes forth to demand that such housing is imposed on the elite neighborhoods, she may gain some credibility...but not until then.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 7:59 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Posted previously in another thread, but it's relevant here.

The fewer incumbents run, the better chance PASZ (Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning) have to see more than one "property rights" advocate gain a seat on the city council.

Of the five seats to be filled, only Nancy Shepherd has so far announced her intention to run. Larry Price is termed out, Gail Price decided not to run. If Karen Holman, who up till now has been cited by "No on D" forces as someone who fights to restrain developers--despite her vote to approve the affordable housing project at Maybell--can be dissuaded from running it improves chances of getting a "true believer" onto the council.

I'm concerned that Palo Altans who favor mass transit, affordable housing, Open Space restrictions on development, and "green" policies generally may be complacent about what this election represents. They shouldn't be.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Correction to previous post:

Nancy Shepherd is the only incumbent so far to announce her candidacy. Karen Holman and Gregg Scharff haven't declared their intentions yet. Claude Ezran and Tom Dubois have filed, so up to now there are three candidates for five seats.




Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Well, election season is clearly here.

The exaggerated, near-libelous focus on Karen Holman's comments in a committee meeting is is a rather obvious political witch hunt against her and, as far as I can tell, is a complete non-story.

Karen was 100% upfront about any involvement several years ago with the property owner and recused herself from the vote, not because she legally had to but because it was the right thing to do. Karen's integrity is impeccable.

I was actually at the Regional Housing meeting where this was discussed. The property owner had submitted a request, attended the meeting and spoke on it. Karen asked a question on whether we could use zoning to specify affordable housing for people who worked nearby. There was a short discussion and it didn't go anywhere, no other members of the committee were interested. The property was never on the official proposed list of sites.

The way this non-story story has been trumped up by the Post makes me think this is an effort to make sure that Karen doesn't run. Don't fall for political witch hunts. We need people with Karen's knowledge, integrity and dedication on council.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Jun 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I was at the same meeting that Tom discusses above. I do not always agree with Karen's policies with regard to housing but Tom's report of the meeting with regard to the Arastradero proposal is completely accurate.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>Karen asked a question on whether we could use zoning to specify affordable housing for people who worked nearby.

Since there is no database available describing the jobs of those who live in local [portion removed] housing, how could she possibly specify such a zoning change? Or is she proposing that a database be developed?


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I was at the same meeting as Mr. Dubois and Mr. Levy said they were, about Karen Holman's curious comments, that the Post splashed on headlines and the Weekly buries in above.

I am glad the Palo Alto Weekly clarified Karen Holman's role in the discussions of the housing element and most specifically the proposal from realtors Steve Pierce and Adam Touni doing business as Zane McGregor to upzone the property they own across from Gunn High and next to Alta Mesa cemetery. At the meeting earlier in May, apropos of the staff report by Tim Wong of City of Palo Alto, which included a letter from Pierce about his desires -- which I paraphrased as "our greed is good for you"-- I was rather concerned by Karen Holman's statement about a "company-town" opportunity. Pierce and Touni claim that a nearby software company might want to build apartments for up to 88 of their workers, if only we the people would upzone from R-1 to R-30.

The term "company-town" to me sounds like something out of Matewan, West Virginia in the 1920s where the workers are paid in scrip, or maybe even Palo Alto in the 1960s when H-P did not build but tear out 100 homes to create an Expressway on Oregon Avenue, to save precious time, for their gain and not necessarily ours. Results, of course, triggering the Residentialist movement here.

It troubles me that Karen Holman, generally one of the view council members in recent years to be even partly residentialist, --that is, not an obvious shill for the real estate industry or always pro-corporate -- would not see a problem with this, "a company -town" proposal, in this era of inequality, dollarocracy, "Citizens United" and McCutcheon.

That she walks a tight-rope in collecting fees from applicants then being careful about recusing herself in matters of potential conflict, and within a time period, to follow the letter of the law, is problematic, but given her longtime service, as Planning Commissioner before Council, she knows what she is doing, even playing with fire.

If Karen Holman and or other incumbents want to be re-elected, they should take more obvious steps towards showing which side they are on, and step to the step.

Some of the other posters seem to want to frame the debate pretty narrowly, as in Growth vs. Slightly Less Growth and still call themselves "residentialist". Caveat emptor. Buyer beware!

I respect Karen and think she fought the good fight on many cases for the people but with due respect I think she should, in a super bon bon kind of way, step aside.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>Some of the other posters seem to want to frame the debate pretty narrowly, as in Growth vs. Slightly Less Growth and still call themselves "residentialist". Caveat emptor. Buyer beware!

I am for smart growth AND protections for neighborhoods (e.g. RPPPs, ending the dumping of welfare housing into non-elite neighborhoods, prohibition of car camping in PA, providing for local parks and playing fields, enforcement of parking regs, strong police and fire protections, effective public transportation, etc.) For example, I think public transit systems are very important, and should be accommodated, with public bus transfers to CalTrain/BART; corporate bus pickups direct to the job.

Karen Holman appears to be all over the map, especially with her current suggestion of "affordable housing" for those workers who might live nearby...again, how could she possibly know, without a database (that does not exist)...just take the word of her finder-fee friends?


Posted by paloaltonative, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

paloaltonative is a registered user.

"Facing a state mandate to PLAN for more housing..." The topic sentence should say it all. As I understand ABAG from previous posts, we have to plan for more housing (driven by a ratio of employees in town to available housing) but we do not have to actually build the homes, right?

If not correct, then the solution remains the same: cap commercial development in Palo Alto. Second, thanks Tom for running for office. Just a few more no-growth advocates and we can shut down and reserve this horrible overdevelopment of Palo Alto over the last three decades.

No more commercial developments, condos, or apartments. Cap user space for commercial open area use, too. Set asides for Art, Work Out, Music, Pet, Barbers, Hair Stylist, and other to be defined "quality of life services that other commercial properties are used for - including worthwhile non-profits. This all can be done. We Palo Alto homeowners and residents are finally empowered to take back our town.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to login

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Services, Dining and Shopping Downtown in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 16 comments | 2,167 views

Handmade truffle shop now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 1,878 views

It's the End of the World as We Know It: "Snowpiercer"
By Anita Felicelli | 1 comment | 1,446 views

What is the new couple's paradigm these days?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,109 views

Why is doing nothing so difficult?
By Sally Torbey | 7 comments | 946 views