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Regional housing projections called 'excessive'

Original post made on May 2, 2013

Palo Alto takes great pride in its ongoing, aggressive efforts to fight climate change and encourage transit use, but a regional plan to do the same is rubbing local officials the wrong way and prompting an outpouring of criticism from City Hall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 10:56 PM

Comments (56)

Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 2, 2013 at 7:06 am

Less People = Less Emissions. Pretty simple.


Posted by Jobs are the answer , a resident of College Terrace
on May 2, 2013 at 7:28 am

Less jobs = less emissions
More jobs + long car commutes = more pollution


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

Palo Alto does not have lots of space to build homes, just rabbit hutches. Do the high tech workers of Palo Alto want to live in rabbit hutches near Caltrain?

Who will buy any rabbit hutches built near Caltrain? Probably those who want to get their children into PA schools without actually living there themselves, or 3 generational families that squeeze as many people into a single home with grandparents being used as nannies while both parents work in other places who are here just for the schools, or....


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2013 at 8:07 am

I am that the commisioners realize that Palo Alto doesn't have the transit infrastructure in place to really allow people not to need a car. We also don't have the shopping and services available near transit hubs.


Posted by Even Better, a resident of Los Altos
on May 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

BART under El Camino Real!
Metropolitan Transportation Commission should fund BART from Millbrae to Santa Clara, underground of El Camino Real. Then high density house, business can be built around all stations on El Camino Real.


Posted by Cal Ave, a resident of Midtown
on May 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

The California Ave area has a transit hub (Caltrain station), shopping and services, and some amount of empty space south of the train station. Why is this area never considered as a major transit village?


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2013 at 8:38 am

As a resident in a part of town where the traffic in and out of the neighborhood is horrendous already, and PAHC and a deveoper are trying to rezone to high density right in the heart of our neighborhood - for seniors, who would have zero services that can be reached on foot, not even groceries - I support this questioning, but find it surreal, given how all reason and planning values have gone completely out the window in practice.

The only thing that seems to matter now to city planners is to stick density wherever they can get away with it, i.e., developers' rationalizations trump all reason, safety, and zoning rules. The smart pace to put a senior development - if one cared about such things as emissions and being green - would be to put the housing near Stanford, with medical, Avenidas, Trader Joe's and Sigona's, free enrichment at the university, classes at the adult school, etc nearby.

If we were being green and wanted to have services near where people live, the city should have seen that parcel, across the street from an existing park, as an opportunity to have a playing field on this side of town where it is badly needed and to which so many of our kids can walk and bike, rather than spending millions putting fields out at the Bayland where, let's face it, most children will have to be driven.

Putting too much density in one area causes congestion, as we are aware in the south side of town, which creates more emissions, not fewer. Perhaps if the city wanted to make it's point more effectively, it should have distributed the high density more evenly across town. If they had tried to rezone a $16 million parcel of Crescent park to put a high density high rise there like they are doing in the heart of my residential neighborhood, they'd have gotten some more powerful voices against ABAG.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

I will repeat what I have said before about playing fields at the Baylands.

The Baylands playing fields wil mainly be used for adult leagues which will leave more space in our local parks for younger children to play sports.

The crunch for field space is increased when adult leagues take over space in our local parks. If we can get those adult leagues to use the commuter fields then the local parks will have space for local kids. QED

We will also have to have more facilities put near the Baylands to add sales tax from these adult league players. (The burger bars run by volunteers do not generate tax dollars for Palo Alto).


Posted by S. Brown, a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

ABAG = Real Estate Developer Bailout plan. They are the only ones who benefit from this crazy plan.


Posted by Deadeye, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 9:38 am

Whatever happened to Palo Alto being a bedroom community? That is what it was zoned to be.


Posted by Mr. Map, a resident of Mountain View
on May 2, 2013 at 9:45 am

"Palo Alto takes great pride in its ongoing, aggressive efforts to fight climate change and encourage transit use" but when the rubber hits the road, it's just another part of the smug, mall-head, white middle class suburban sprawl.
Even dense development adjacent to the downtown area get squashed by the city government that seems to understand nothing about planning, density, and transportation.


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

@Resident,
Thank you for the clarification. That's a very good point about moving adult leagues to the Baylands, but it still doesn't address the fact that on this side of town, we don't have a real sports field, so whether kids have to be trucked to the Baylands or somewhere else across town, kids on THIS end of town will still spend a lot of time in cars going to games (especially because of our often stop-and-go traffic in and out of the neighborhood). Our problem is mostly not adult leagues crowding out kids on this side of town from all the playing fields, it's that we don't have a real playing field on this end of town!

In fact, if Maybell/Clemo, which is now an old orchard, would remain open space as a sports field, your point would help allay the concerns of people who are concerned about adult leagues using a neighborhood field, as they (I'm sorry to say) tend to be a little harder on the neighborhood than kids.

That 2.5 acres plot, by the way, would fit a full regulation-sized soccer field and another field, and is across the street from an existing park (so younger siblings would have a place to play).

Actually, it is big enough to comfortably put Hostess House there (out of harm's way), and still have a regulation-sized soccer field, which kids could reach by foot or bike from numerous local school areas (schools that either don't have such fields themselves like Briones, Keys or Bowman, or as in the case of Gunn, don't have public access to them, or as in the case of Terman, just have insufficiently-sized school field space). In fact, if the city were to decide to put a field there and Hostess House, it would be a much-needed gathering space as it was of old, that we also don't have on this side of town. (Putting Hostess House at the Baylands is an upkeep nightmare with the air/damp/salt.)

The advantage of a field over here is that so many kids could walk or bike here. The ability of kids to be independent then, and to get the activity we want them to have, is priceless. The conversion costs to make that already open space a field are minimal. The neighborhood would be in support. It would not add to the traffic at the most critical times, because the kids who would use it would be in school, nor at other times, as they could walk. It could be a tremendous resource in the event of emergencies on this side of town, as it is situated across from a fire station, too.

I could continue on for pages, but there's no point, as things like open space, kids independence and having services near where they live so they can walk, emergency access to the neighborhood, emergency "quakeville" space, quality of life, cutting emissions from people in the neighborhood in daily stop and go traffic, honoring zoning laws and principles, etc etc -- none of those things matter. All that matters in the process, the most important thing, the ONLY thing that planners seem to care about, is that we are adding density.

It's Miki's Market all over again. In fact the City loaned $3million for a project that can only be built if it rezones to high density PC zoning - with NO restrictions on setback or height! -- right in the middle of an R-1 region. Do you know what they proposed when neighbors complained of 16 tall, skinny 3-story homes being planned on tiny lots with almost no setback on Clemo/Maybell (where currently 4 sit), which is effectively a one-lane street much of the day? They proposed to turn the houses around so that they face away from the street!

Nothing matters but density. Nothing has changed since the MIki's Market debacle. In another time, that orchard going on the market would have been seen as the opportunity it is to provide a field across from an existing park (that doesn't have full-sized flat space for a real sports field, though it gets used for peewee games). Once it's gone, it's gone.


Posted by out of control , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 9:57 am

The City's position is completely untenable and irreconcilable as
exemplified by Curtis Williams' response that "there seems to be a drive from a business and economics standpoint to shoot for the greatest amount of growth". This is exactly what the City of Palo Alto is allowing by its out of control, pro-growth anti-planning polices. We represent and are the driver of exactly what Curtis Willims is criticing about ABAG's growth projections. But we don't have room for the ABAG housing mandate the City says, to go with the jobs. We are in the "twilight zone" folks. Our City has no long-range
planning, over-rides zoning and the result is what you see.


Posted by LaLa, a resident of University South
on May 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

Density doesn't cause congestion, driving and an over-abundance of available parking cause congesstion. The whole point of Priority Development Areas is to build housing for people who wnt to live near where they work and/or shop. Housing that is (surprise) much in demand and short in supply.
If there is less parking built, housing units become more affordable, and with more people living in a the 'downtown' area, there are more people to patronize the locally-owned businesses that give each town it's unique personality, and more 'eyes on the street', which reduces crime, and less need for ugly parking structures.
Furthermore, there is a big difference between "affordable" housing, which is priced for working people earning 50-80% of the area median income, which in Palo Alto is still a sizable sum. Wouldn't it be great if your kids' teachers could afford to live nearby, instead of driving in from Dublin or Livermore? Or local police or firefighters.
ABAG and MTC have created a plan that, in my opinion, isn't nearly aggressive enough in its goals of meeting GHG abd PM-reduction targets, but it's a step in the right direction.
When towns around the bay are being inundated by tides and storms, I hope they remember Palo Alto's "agressive efforts to fight climate change," which translates to "build everything somewhere else so we can continue to live like it's 1959."


Posted by Fiscally-Responsible, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

> BART under El Camino Real!

The insanity of public transportation advocates never ends. We are looking at a (possibly) $1B electrification project for the already irresponsibly-run CalTrain, maybe $100B in construction costs, and who knows how many tens/hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly operational losses, and this yoyo wants to spend tens of billions more running BART under El Camino Real!!!

It's astounding how little such people understand where money comes from, and how ineffectively government spend that money. California has billions upon billions of outstanding bond debt. This guy wants to make that hundreds of billions of dollars that will take generations to pay down—if repaying a debt of such magnitude is really ever possible!

NO! NO! NO!


Posted by Please use data, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2013 at 10:28 am

"Density doesn't cause congestion, driving and an over-abundance of available parking cause congesstion."

False. In large cities in Asia, there are far fewer parking places per person and per vehicle and per job and per residence, and yet totally jammed roads. Density causes congestion, not parking spots. (There are places in some of these cities where a single permanent parking spot costs more to rent than an apartment here.)

"The whole point of Priority Development Areas is to build housing for people who wnt to live near where they work and/or shop."

This may be the point, but it's a futile approach. People do not control where their work is. Nor do the <1% of the new residents who do work near their new homes move every time they change jobs. More density near jobs makes congestion, not people living near jobs. Those residents will commute to work!

Orwell.


Posted by observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

The two-headed monster in Palo Alto is the traffic fed by the over-development pro-growth policies and the City's response to the traffic and fear of more traffic with its sign clutter, paint, barriers, diversion of traffic, etc. It's too bad ABAG doesn't have a local mandate for attractive, livable cities. Palo Alto would have to write a letter opposing that.


Posted by FrankF, a resident of Ventura
on May 2, 2013 at 10:35 am

FrankF is a registered user.

Did anyone read the next story, "Bay Area drove state population growth in 2012"? People are coming - in droves. We will be better off if we build homes for them.

As for: "Do the high tech workers of Palo Alto want to live in rabbit hutches near Caltrain?" - they seem to be selling - I have not noticed a high vacancy rate even among the "Rabbit Hutches near Caltrain" have you?


Posted by LauraR, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

Why aren't local cities teaming up to fight ABAG's overdevelopment demands? See Web Link
Eight cities asked ABAG to be allowed to decrease overbuilding, and 5 were denied:
"City of Hayward: Support appeal for reduction of 116 units.
City of Lafayette: Support appeal for reduction of 27 units.
City of Mountain View: Deny appeal.
City of Oakley: Deny appeal.
City of Palo Alto: Deny appeal.
City of San Ramon: Deny appeal.
City of Saratoga: Deny appeal.
City of Sunnyvale: Support appeal for reduction of 531 units."

There's strength in numbers. Let's join forces in changing these rules.


Posted by Learn more and how to rech key decision-makers, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

Learn more and share your comments and concerns with the key decision-makers here Web Link

It is a waste of time to comment on Palo Alto Online. The key decison-makers don't read this. Write to key decison-makers DIRECTLY to effect a change in direction.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

@LaLa - Your density fantasy is exactly what is leading Palo Alto to ruin. You can never have enough density in a small town (under 100k) to realize any of the benefits you mention. It can work for SF because there is enough diversity of jobs, housing, income, and population. If you add more density to a small suburban town, you just get more people driving in and out of the city. If you get rid of parking you just force people to park out further in residential neighborhoods. You could double the office space and job in Palo Alto, and a majority of people will still end up working outside the city.


Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

Note the very first paragraph, the left is abandoning "Global Warming" for Climate Change and are still attacking CO2! "Global Warming" (MAN MADE CLIMATE CHANGE) is a CON! Climate change has been going on for 3.5 Billion years and will continue, despite the posturing of Leftists conning voters into supporting their specious claims of preventing an inevitable consequence of Earth's climate dynamics. Climate change will happen, is happenning and will continue! The ice caps are melting, that is a fact. "GLOBAL WARMING" is not the cause. Climate change is REAL!!
Real steps must be taken to combat the effects of climate change not useless "FEEL GOOD" panaceas that enrich the sychophants, politicians and the politically connected.


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

@LaLa,
And your points don't address the circumstances of my concern, because the particular location I am discussing is being proposed for high-density senior housing, even though there are no services for seniors within walking distance at all, not even grocery, and it's not a senior center. (There are plenty of seniors living in the neighborhood who would never qualify for the housing, and there is a high-density senior community just a few thousand feet away from that location across El Camino, so please remember the actual circumstances before beginning an ideological reply.) Changing the zoning will add 100-150 cars right there, and it's already packed at certain times of the day.

A better location, per your ideals, would be near Stanford (medical, Avenidas, low-cost classes, Trader Joe's, enrichment at Stanford, etc) A better use of the property in question, instead of adding 100-150 cars at the juncture between the only two routes in and out of that neighborhood -- which are "safe routes" to school and jammed with cars and thousands of bikes under the best of circumstances at times every day -- would be to turn it into something that local residents need that they would otherwise drive to, like a playing field, of which there are no full-sized ones available for after-school sports on this side of town.

Even though there are 4 schools on that corridor with thousands biking every day, and there are no routes out of that property except via a school route (one of them effectively a one-lane road), and thousands more children will be placed at those schools in the next few years, the city's traffic report didn't even take the bike traffic into account in its analysis. The only thing that matters, even in their arguments, is prioritizing putting density anywhere they can, even if it means putting seniors far away from services they need, and negatively impacting the safety of thousands of children.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Now that California Ave is having the number of lanes reduced, let's move more people there?

Every time traffic is pushed off of one road, others become worse. Same with parking, if there are more jobs and retail you need more parking not less otherwise residential neighborhoods become commuter parking lots.

The large development being proposed/started near the Palo Alto / Menlo Park border seems insane. There are no commute routes! Every street that goes for more than two blocks will be filled with commuters.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

LaLa - Your idea of people "living in a the 'downtown' area" to "patronize the locally-owned businesses" is a great one, but it doesn't apply to downtown Palo Alto. There are very few locally owned businesses downtown, even less of them are of a practical nature (think a full-service grocery store, shoe repair, toiletries, etc.) Downtown Palo Alto is primarily offices and businesses that service them, such as restaurants.

The current public transit in the Bay area is so disconnected that it is impractical to rely on for regular aka daily use. Try to get to an airport from a home in Palo Alto. Unlike many places, such as Chicago where you can take the train directly to the airport, here it takes buses, trains, then buses....


Posted by Dave J, a resident of Addison School
on May 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

The Bay Area has 4 of the fast growing counties in California, including SF, SM, and SCL counties. Time to build some places for our kids to live. And since the population seems intent on living longer all the time.... we're gonna have to put folks somewhere.


Posted by JerryL, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

We would get far more bang for the buck and make a huge impact
on traffic congestion if systems were developed for better matching people to job locations. When I'm stuck in traffic my mind wanders and I start wondering how many similar people are driving north to and from similar jobs as their clones are driving south to exactly the same kinds of jobs.

If we could identify those similarities efficiently and somehow facilitate job swapping it would have a huge effect on the traffic flow on our major arteries, I believe.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on May 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm

How do high-end communities Woodside, Atherton, Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills, and Monte Sereno deal with ABAG mandates? Blow them off?


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

@Dave J,
That's an interesting point you make. Seniors in our neighborhood tend to want to stay in their homes until they die. They don't want to move into senior housing (they wouldn't quality for the high density project PAHC wants to put in our neighborhood anyway, and have no interest in moving across El Camino the that senior development). I respect that, we all pay our dues living in cramped spaces when we are younger and often not so young. My mom comes from a nation where spacious housing is in short supply so there's a lot of pressure on the elderly to move out of residential homes to make room for families. I would not support that sort of thing, especially since having seniors in our community makes the community so much more diverse and vibrant. Seniors do a lot of the social heavy lifting (and are some of the most vocal opponents of the unwise attempt to rezone our neighborhood).

So Dave, does this mean you are offering in your neighborhood by Addison to take some of the high density development our neighborhood has been taking? Because we've been taking more than our share and I don't see North Palo Alto doing the same. (When you say we have to put them somewhere, please don't suggest more in my backyard and not in yours.)


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Rather than state that people will drive to work regardless, it is about time to completely rethink public transportation.

Google is running its own bus service between San Francisco and Googleland in Mountain View. Facebook also runs shuttles.

Public transportation is failing and the larger companies are doing their own mass transit. Employees get first class buses and are able to work while commuting.

Public transportation is often dirty and inadequate for the use of many who travel more than 5 miles to work. Large companies can do their own but smaller employers cannot.

We need a serious look at transportation in the Bay Area. We need to merge and improve what we already have, but we still need to rethink how to get people to where they want to go efficiently, in a clean, comfortable environment where they can work or use their time productively.

Someone needs to think about luxury buses running along the commute highways stopping at 5 mile intervals where there is adequate parking/bike rentals/shuttles and similar type of transit for the first mile/last mile part of the commute. Google and Mountain View are talking about people moving pods from transit to business parks.

New ways of transit have to be invoked to enable all these people to get where they are going efficiently. The system in place will break down eventually. We can't continue to increase lanes on the highways.

Something will be done eventually, why not start making moves now.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Resident - I love the idea of improving our transportation system, especially luxury buses.

Curmudgeon - I believe the ABAG housing allocations are based on the jobs in the particular city. I personally think they should be much more regional. Places like Atherton have little or no businesses so their jobs to housing ratio is fine.

Long Time Palo Alton - there is high density housing near Addison for example - Channing House, The Weatherly, Hamilton House, Lytton Gardens, the new complex by Eden housing on Alma, apartment complexes downtown, etc.


Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

It doesn't get any better than the lead to this story:

"Palo Alto takes great pride in its ongoing, aggressive efforts to fight climate change and encourage transit use, but a regional plan to do the same is rubbing local officials the wrong way and prompting an outpouring of criticism from City Hall."

That's exactly it. Palo Alto loves to be green and forward-thinking in THEORY. But as soon as it means any inconvenience whatsoever, whether it be denser housing, more school students or construction for high-speed rail, residents go screaming to the hills. And that, folks, is why both I and my parents have left Palo Alto, the place we spent most of the last 30 years.

People want to live in the Bay Area, and they want to live in Palo Alto specifically. We should support denser housing, especially near transit, to make that dream possible. Just as Palo Alto's residents of yester-year saw their vast multi-acre lots be subdivided, and those before them let their apple orchards be replaced with streets and housing, Palo Alto should support progress and open up the Palo Alto dream to others.


Posted by j99, a resident of Barron Park
on May 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Too many people equals too much congestion.

The idea of closing two lanes of El Camino and making them bus lanes is luncay. Its alreay a parking lot from 3PM on every day.

If we need more apartments and affordable housing, build it in East Palo Alto, an easy bus ride from downtown and more affordable than Palo Alto. We are sick of the city council forcing affordable housing people down our throats in Barron Park while they live in North Palo alto that does not participate in the food stamp trade.

We need a new city council that is in tourch with the people that actually live in Palo Alto.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Evan - Crescent Park is a beautiful part of town with large lots and an easy walk to the train. Are you volunteering to put high on your lot?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Evan - sorry, don't agree at all. IMHO the reasons people want to live in PA today are the schools and the variety of single family homes.

Both assets will cease to be very appealing if we over-crowd our schools (question for you: where do you put new schools to take on the extra families?) and all those beautiful single family homes become high-rise apartment buildings.

Not the Palo Alto dream. More like the Palo Alto nightmare.


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@ palo alto parent,
Are you serious? Channing House was built in 1963 at the site of the old palo alto high school. No one rezoned a block of "low-density residential" to build that there, especially not lately. Lytton gardens is on the corner of University and Middlefield, downtown, and the Weatherly and Hamilton House are luxury condos/apartments in a downtown area, too, with bigger dwellings than most of the $1.8million homes on our side of town. But that does bring up a good point - since Channing House is there, are you okay with rezoning anything within eye shot currently at low-density for high-density, just because Channing house is there? That's what's essentially going on in my neighborhood with a grandfathered-in structure.

How many high-density low-income projects are in the middle of, say, Crescent Park? How about your neighborhood? What about Old Palo Alto, Community Center, and Professorville? How many times have the residents had to endure having the city come in and try to rezone any low-density zoning to high-density right along congested safe routes to school? How about rezoning that lovely bowling green for high density low-income housing? We all have to do our share, right? -- that's what everyone else is telling us.

I live in Greenacres. Until a few years ago, it was downright pastoral. We have two grandfathered-in apartment buildings, too, we're not talking about those. We've been taking huge amounts of dense new development on our side of town, I don't see it happening anywhere else in Palo Alto, except maybe downtown, but we are NOT downtown, we are not zoned like downtown, and we do not have walkable amenities like downtown either. I'm still waiting for you to mention the high-density low-income development going in at Crescent Park.

As for high-density developments on the busy roads, I'd say we probably have a lot more than you could point to anywhere on the North side of town, just on El Camino. But rezoning for high density into the neighborhood proper, trying to get a zoning with no setbacks or height restrictions on a patch surrounded by an R-1 region? Putting a high density development right at the bottleneck of the only two routes in and out of the neighborhood, that are also safe routes to school where thousands of children bike everyday, where currently an orchard (generating NO traffic) sits? You name one development in residential neighborhoods in the North where the city is trying to do that now.


Posted by Fiscal-Responsibility, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Please remember that Channing House, Lytton Garden, as well as virtually all of the so-called senior housing projects, or affordable housing projects--like Webster Wood--do not pay property taxes. With all of these projects, and no doubt hunders (perhaps thousands) of new affordable units that developers, and government types, are salivating over--all of the costs of municipal services are paid by the R1 property owners, and commercial properties.

With the City claiming to spend over $2,500/resident in municipal services--these folks in "affordable/senior housing" don't much such good neighbors--since they have sluffed the costs of their services off on their younger neighbors.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on May 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

>Palo Alto takes great pride in its ongoing, aggressive efforts to fight climate change

It is no longer climate warming, apparently. Climate change is always occurring. Why would Palo Alto be prideful in fighting the inevitable? We may all be facing a warming period, overall, or a cooling period (new ice age?).

There are a number of ways to decrease CO2 emissions, including solar, wind, efficiencies, NG, nuclear. However, there is not very much evidence that CO2 precedes global warming. The ice core data demonstrates the opposite...the temperature increases first, then the CO2 increases, out of the oceans. Other proxy data is full of contradictions. The IFR radiation back into space is a very complex level of understanding, especially at the tropical troposphere.

Why would Palo Alto base any major policy on such questionable concepts? Except that it is a convenient political power play by the zero waste crowd.

I think Palo Alto city council should take a step back, and take a rational look. There is no rational reason to accept the ABAG extortion. Just say no!


Posted by Bag ABAG, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm

The City staff's vision of Palo Alto is an office canyon with lots of free parking around it. ABAG's vision is we're Tokyo.

We need to:

- disengage from ABAG. They're just not competent.
- elect a council in 2014 that puts residents ahead of other groups.
- eliminate PC exemptions


Posted by Concur, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Bag ABAG has it right. But I'm not sure there even is a staff vision-they don't think in those terms. It's just an accumulation of ad hoc decisions serving special interests without any long-term perspective. The staff is not a counterweight to the Council which on balance does the same thing despite all the rhetoric and self-congratulations. So the unique qualities of Palo Alto which need to be understood and protected are completely sacrificed. This is an immense loss. The balance on the Council needs to be replaced although so much damage has been done already,only some of which can be reversed.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Technically, I am a senior. I belong to the AARP- lower age limit 50, and I get freebie discounts at McDonalds and other places. I intend to live in my home until i'm carried out feet first. I'll mortgage it if necessary. But I know friends who are now very unhappy in small rooms in senior complexes. When the time comes I'll get deliveries of milk and also groceries delivered from Safeway. But I do NOT want to live in a tiny apartment without a garden. Who's dreaming all this up? What young staff 'whippersnappers' with a degree in "Sociology" are designing Palo Alto's future? Did anyone survey the seniors here? The city is big on surveys....but no one asked. No, don't spend $300K on a silly survey. Anyone with any brains can make this one up - even at City Hall. And tell the real estate agents to back off!!


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

Bag ABAG,
Here, here!!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

ABAG has underestimated growth, not overestimated it. All of the towns along the Peninsula are feeling it. The infrastructure and regional systems are strained. The surge is already WAY underway. The housing market has gone crazy.

Did you read about this in today's NY Times? Web Link

The article makes many critical points -- but NOTE THIS quote: "We are becoming a community where our teachers, our police, our firefighters, our nurses, they can't live with us. They have to come in from other places. Healthy communities have all these people living together."

Palo Alto and other communities, including mine, cannot stop growth but can plan for it. You will have to accommodate change.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

The senior demographic in our area is much different than the other parts of the Bay Area or in a national perspective.

Much more active to begin with. Definitely more independent. And as "Kate" put it, love their homes so much that they'll be carried out feet-first.

There's some city planner who pushed high-rise senior housing on Alma, ECR and also by Cal Ave. This guy has no clue and no connection to the citizens around here.

Most folks around here have been smart with their retirement funds, have invested in long-term medical insurance, etc. --- all so that they can stay in their current homes. Who in their right mind would want to give up a beautiful home with a yard and a garage for a high-rise apartment that is less than half the space, no yard, no storage and no garage?

Speaking from personal experience, my Mom is 80 and would rather be dead (direct quote) than to live in a senior "community" complex.

ABAG and certain city planners are trying to force a lifestyle on us. I'm all for smart investments in public infrastructure --- but these people can kiss my you know what if they think that they're going to force us to give up our neighborhoods (and schools) as they are today.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Your sample size of the demand for senior housing -- personal does not mean much. Your mother = a sample of 1, and the anecdotal "evidence" i.e., hearsay you/others always mention -- will not stop the pressures that are well underway.

The huge growth spurt is already happening. The price of prosperity is that you'd better plan for it so that you can continue to meet the needs of a healthy community --- that includes our parents, our kids (!), our nurses/teachers/cops/firefighters.

Those people are not the enemy. We/I need them IN the community. Our neighborhoods WILL change.


Posted by concur- Bag ABAG, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm


Re: BAG ABAG
The visual image of an "office canyon with lots of free parking around it", the staff's vision, and "we're Tokyo", ABAG's vision,
are just so descriptive. The character of Palo Alto, a unique place,
is completely lost under these scenarios. Those who are willing to
promote such growth regardless are ignoring other limits- like water!
Nobody is paying attention to the developing drought situation- except the trees which are already under stress.







Posted by Glen, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm

If people want to live in high density and have greater transportation options that's fine let the pay for it at market rates and appropriate bus and train fares. But do not force the rest of us to give up our property rights or force the rest us to subsidize their utopian desires. Housing projects have been built since the 40's and 50's most fail miserably turning into crime infested slums. Think Cabrini Green in Chicago Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn NY. Is that what you want for PA?


Posted by definely a loophole, a resident of Barron Park
on May 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I agree that ABAG should look at regional and not citywide boundaries. Why exempt Atherton, LAH, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Monte Sereno, etc from these mandates? Their residents all work nearby and live on huge huge lots. They make sure they have none/minimal office space. They are blatantly gaming the system and since frequently they are the elite that define and run government, they get away with it. Imagine a flat one acre lot in Atherton with ONE residence..when city is proposing hundreds on homes on 2.5 acres in Green Acres!!! Atherton is just a few miles away. The days of 0.25, 0.5, 1 acre minimum lot sizes in these cities should come to an end. They are taking advantage of cities like Palo Alto, MTV, S'vale, Santa Clara, etc. Maybell is truly is a dangerous road and a nightmare to navigate with all the traffic for 3 schools already.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

The number of housing units are high which I think won't be ever built. Time to think on building on open space inside the 9 counties.

We need to design and build new urban projects just outside the cities, connect projects with mass transit.

Sunol to Palo Alto/Menlo Park. Deal with infill while keeping in mind most of Palo Alto is single family homes. We are trying to solve the housing problem but changing 50 years of living in a short period of time.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

The number of housing units are high which I think won't be ever built. Time to think on building on open space inside the 9 counties.

We need to design and build new urban projects just outside the cities, connect projects with mass transit.

Sunol to Palo Alto/Menlo Park. Deal with infill while keeping in mind most of Palo Alto is single family homes. We are trying to solve the housing problem but changing 50 years of living in a short period of time.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

ABAG isn't the only source of the population pressure --- It's the economy! The market will also affect the East Bay -- but the DEMAND is here.

Folks like Supply and Demand when the effects coincide with their preferences. But, when the preferences of other folks drive the market and conflict with some personal desires..."not so much."

The Peninsula is changing. It will get more dense. Guiding the development instead of denying it would be better.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

@ neighbor

Yes I agree, ABAG doesn't control the economy or even why people come here, but I can tell you the population has gotten bigger. People mostly likely will have kids, those kids will get married and have kids.

We can't house everybody, but we keep knocking long time residents out from owning a home, last time I could afford a home was back in 1992. Prices were still low, back then they will still viewed as high but now. I can't see anyone expect tech people owning homes in the general area.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2013 at 7:56 pm

The free market -- esp. the real estate market -- can be cutthroat, but rational zoning can help.

Palo Alto neighborhoods will be changing. Find a way to accommodate senior citizens without segregating them in marginal areas, and there will be a place for you in your own neighborhood when you need it.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm

The 3/21/12 Daily Post ran this headline: "Report says Hispanics, Asians like living together"

The article says "Even John Goodwin, a spokesman for the MTC, said he wasn't quite sure where that assertion came from.

It came from the One Bay Area plan at Web Link

" by 2040 the Bay Area population will become substantially more racially and ethnically diverse. Latinos will emerge as the largest ethnic group, increasing from 23 percent to 35 percent of the total population. The number of Asians also will increase, growing from 21 percent to about 24 percent of the population.

"Both population groups have demonstrated an historic preference for multifamily housing, and they form multigenerational households at a higher rate than the general population. This is expected to drive higher demand for multifamily housing, in contrast to the historic development pattern of building primarily single-family homes. Likewise, many Latinos and Asians rely more on public transit than non-Hispanic whites."

How many things can you find wrong with this conclusion, e.g., how much of this historic preference is based on the fact that many Hispanics don't earn enough to purchase a single-family home and often have to live in crowded housing with multigenerational families? And have to ride the bus because they can't afford a car, let alone two?

And why are so many Asians buying single-family homes in Palo Alto and Cupertino? Could it be the schools?

If this is any indication of the kind of "research" and "conclusions" we can expect from One Bay Area/ABAG, we are indeed in serious trouble.

A March 2013 survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says, "Race and ethnicity also impacted home size preferences, with minority buyers desiring more space than White, non-Hispanic buyers. White, non-Hispanic buyers report wanting about 2,197 square feet, while Asian buyers desire 2,280 square feet, Hispanic buyers want 2,347 square feet, and African-American buyers prefer 2,664 square feet." Web Link


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm

@neighbor,
You wrote "The free market -- esp. the real estate market -- can be cutthroat, but rational zoning can help..... and "Find a way to accommodate senior citizens without segregating them in marginal areas, and there will be a place for you in your own neighborhood when you need it."

This is the same kind of glib detachment from the facts that threatens to overwhelm important examinations of safety and traffic issues with the Maybell site. First of all, what's free market about the Maybell project? The city loaned PAHC millions to buy the property -- which, in a free market, would have stayed on the market longer, price dropping -- on the promise that they be paid back when the (tall, skinny, no setback) market-rate housing sells, and the developer will only do that deal if the city rezones the property to high-density first. There's a word for that where I come from and it ain't "free market".

Secondly, there are many seniors in this neighborhood, and has been stated above, they prefer to a one to go out feet first. No one moves to apartments. In fact, I'd say seniors represent the majority of neighbors. And there won't be a space for me in apartments here, because I own a home, and if I sold it, I wouldn't quality for the housing like most people who own homes already. I fully expect I'll have to make the decision whether to move away for financial reasons when I am older if I can't stay in my home, that's just life in the Valley.

Lastly, why do you think no one is accommodating seniors? At the Maybell site at least, neighbors would welcome PAHC to build for seniors under existing zoning, but they're not interested.

Moldaw has 20 senior units in the BMR program that have gone unfilled for years.

At Maybell at least, it isn't about senior housing,affordable housing, it's about that exact location having only two routes in and out of the neighborhood, routes that are already horribly congested at certain times of the day, are the ONLY routes in and out of that and other neighborhoods in the area, and are also safe routes to school traveled every day by over a thousand school children on bicycles (soon to be hundreds more). Maybell is effectively a one-lane road where the rezoning would put tiny tall houses with little setback on a street with R-1 zoning to either side (can you say "Miki's Market/Alma Plaza"?)

The traffic study didn't even take the bicycles into account.

Lastly, the whole goal of ABAG is to reduce congestion by putting homes near where people do business. So why put seniors right where they have zero services, not even grocery, nearby? They have to drive for everything or have someone drive for them. This is clearly about sticking high density anywhere possible because of ABAG's mandate, no matter how much it CAUSES congestion and emission!

If you think this is about seniors, let me ask you an important -- and serious -- question, not rhetorical. If you think this project is such a great idea, why don't you help find a safer location that PAHC can put this project, that would be better situated nearer to Stanford (medical, Avenidas, adult school classes, enrichment at Stanford, restaurants, Trader Joe's and Sigonas, etc etc)? How about Professorville? Last I checked, they hadn't taken nearly the affordable housing stock our small neighborhood has. Anyone else?

Perhaps this could be like Ohlone taking the Mandarin immersion program, where instead of people criticizing the schools that don't have space for another program, someone steps up to make space where space can be made. How about your Palo Alto neighborhood? Instead of criticizing, how about stepping up and finding a place to rezone a low-density residential space for high-density PC with no limitations on height or setback? I"m sure with $16million, you could find something.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Longtime Palo Altan, a resident of Green Acres
on May 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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