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Maybell opponents accuse city of 'fraud'

Original post made on Aug 9, 2013

When Palo Alto officials agreed Thursday to send a controversial housing development on Maybell Avenue to a November vote, they urged both sides to stick to the facts and to be respectful of one another. Judging by the comments made by project opponents at Thursday's meeting, that request may be a bit much to ask.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 9, 2013, 3:20 PM

Comments (60)

Posted by Irv, a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm

The persons who made these arguments at the council meeting only accomplished making themselves look ridiculous.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Get ready for more and more of these spurious charges as the campaign heats up? Clearly the pro- referendum folks will stop at nothing. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Juggler, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

The PC zoning ordinance on Maybell was not effective until July 29, 2013. See Section 10 of Ordinance No. 5200. Why did the City and PAHC represent to the CA Tax Allocation Committee that PC zoning was in place on June 26 before the City Council even voted to adopt the PC rezone ordinance? The facts speak for themselves.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Facts are inconvenient sometimes..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Juggler is right. Facts are facts. Looks like the city/pahc got caught this time. The downside of steamroller tactics is that you quickly make the situation adversarial and people might start looking closely at your conduct...


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Wow, according to the story Ms Gonzalez and PAHC did in fact submit a false declaration to the Tax Credit Allocation Committee on June 26th. The second reading wasn't until the June 28th and the PC zoning didn't become effective until July 29th. Maybe Ms Gonzalez, PAHC and our council can dance around the facts and say they aren't important, but the truth is that what the Maybell opponents were saying turned out to be 100% correct. If Ms Gonzalez believes that PAHC is "completely honest" it may be time for leadership changes at PAHC.




Posted by i will vote no, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Juggler, Facts and Bill--- just ignore the parts of the story that do not go along with your narrative;

" Senior Assistant City Attorney Cara Silver said the tax committee is "well aware that the zoning did not go into effect right away" and aware that there are two referenda now challenging the project. The city's planning department had been in contact with the tax committee throughout the process and had given the committee an update as recently as Thursday."

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

"I will vote no" - but what you cite is the post declaration narrative, not the facts. While Ms Gonzalez says that funding process is complex, it turns out that Ms Gonzalez is one that doesn't understand it. The Maybell opponents were 100% correct about the false declaration to the Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Ms Gonzalez doesn't think it matters. But the fact is, Ms Gonzalez admitted that she made a false declaration before Council on Thursday night.


Posted by i will vote no, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

"but what you cite is the post declaration narrative, not the facts"

And what you are citing are not facts either--just straws that you are clutching for in order to discredit PAHC, it's directors and supporters. As the story stated--this is much ado about nothing.
I am sure we will see much more of these kind of tactics as we get closer to the election date.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Jugular, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Vibhu Mittal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Vibhu Mittal is a registered user.

I am surprised and disappointed that the city council voted to put the referendum on the November ballot, thus electing to spend $600K of the city money when they could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars either by rescinding the motion or by putting it in 2014.

However the good thing about this is (i) we can now hopefully have a real traffic study done, and (ii) we now have a better chance to understand and vote on what kind of development we want to see in Palo Alto.

I'd love to see well thought out projects that add to the neighborhood without compromising on safety and hope this debate will result in better outcomes.


Posted by Resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Stop it! You just read that the tax credit board provides a 2-part process whereby an applicant may file an initial project application and a confirming document 30-days later. This is what PAHC did - nothing wrong. Yet many of you go on without missing a beat, continuing to accuse PAHC of wrong doing. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Frank, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm

This is silliness piled upon silliness. [Portion removed.]

The opponents of this project ignore the fact that, without this zoning change, the developer can already just fill this same property with a bunch of cookie cutter townhomes. With the zoning change, the property will have fewer townhomes and some low income senior housing.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Hmm....., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:21 am

In Attachment 14 of their application, Tim Wong of the City of Palo Alto wrote on June 26, two days before the final vote and 33 days before the zoning would have become valid at the earliest (according to City Staff's own report):

"The entire parcel upon which the above-described low-income project will be located is zoned PC which allows for residential development (multi-family) ... The project, as proposed IS ZONED FOR THE INTENDED USE. [they underlined], complies with the general plan, and conditional use requirements, if any."

It doesn't say, the zoning on the parcel will be valid on July 29, it says it IS ZONED for the intended use. In fact, it never was and still isn't, and it's August. It may not ever be true.

Gennady, how come you didn't call the tax committee to verify and follow up on Ms. Gonzalez claim? You've reported what she's said like fact, and what the neighbors have said like they're wild claims, when the neighbors put actual documents on the public record, and all Ms. Gonzalez has done is make unsupported claims.

I for one would like to understand the discrepancy between the CTCAC regulations and the casual attitude toward the truth expressed here. (Because the zoning verification isn't the only thing a fact-checker could take issue with on their application.)


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:28 am

Mr Sheyner's article doesn't seem to be having the desired effect of making the Maybell opponents look bad, although the PAHC supports would like to believe this story is a public relations victory.

It does not matter if the tax application process happens in 2 parts. One cannot certify a document as accurate as PAHC did and submit it with known errors as Ms Gonzalez stated before council. You don't need a law degree to see the conflict. Full stop. End of story.

A bigger problem for PAHC will be Mr Wong's $7.3 million funding letter from the City. The fact that there doesn't seem to be a paper trail about the additional $1.5 million, which raised the question from the Maybell opponents in the first place, points out a major problem the City and PAHC are going to have in the CEQA lawsuit. Apparently, the City and PAHC felt comfortable enough that they didn't itemize funds in developing the Maybell project and include them in their correspondence. This will be "red meat" in any CEQA suit because it shows how tightly PAHC and City were working together.

The City's attorney's have to be cringing right now. If they're not, they ought to be.


Posted by Hmm....., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:30 am

@desperation,

PAHC is applying for millions of dollars in a competitive situation. The regulations governing their applications say the zoning must be in place as of the date of the application. Maybe the state and federal government are as used to back door deals where the rules don't mean anything and "penalty of perjury" is just as meaningless as to the City Council, but I doubt it.


Posted by Hmm....., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:37 am

"She attributed the perceived discrepancy over the city's financial contributions to the project to the different funding sources. The city approved a $5.8 million loan to the Housing Corporation for the purchase of the orchard site. But the approval also requires the private developer who would be building the 12 homes to contribute an "in lieu fee" to the city for affordable housing. That fee was added to the sum, even though it would come from the developer

"The $1.5 million that is dedicated to the project – that was part of the condition of approval," Gonzalez said."

The $5.8 million came mostly from in lieu fees. But it's still $5.8 million from the City. How much the developer adds to the in lieu fee pot is irrelevant to what the City should have reported to the public as their total loan, which was $7.3 million.

The more alarming thing that deserved some explanation here is what is the relationship between the City and the market-rate developer here, and on which "approval" was this payment contingent? The rezoning?


Posted by Hmm....., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:43 am

I heard that PAHC had until August 9 to correct any "errors" on their application. Did they?

Will the above [portion removed] please refrain from [portion removed] attacks on Bob Moss, who has done more for this city than any of you combined. He's the watchdog willing to put him name on things on behalf of many others who don't have his courage. Thank you, Bob, for all you do that BENEFITS our City. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Hmmm...., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:59 am

@Frank,
You wrote:
"The opponents of this project ignore the fact that, without this zoning change, the developer can already just fill this same property with a bunch of cookie cutter townhomes. With the zoning change, the property will have fewer townhomes and some low income senior housing."

The previous zoning has height, setback, daylight plane, parking and other restrictions the PC zoning does not. The proposed main development is 50-feet tall, where the existing zoning only allows 30 feet.

If PAHC had just proposed a senior development under the existing zoning, they would have gotten nearly as many units, would have honored the limitations of the existing zoning and reduced the burden on the neighborhood, and we wouldn't be having this argument now. This would have been possible if the City had merely paid anywhere near for these units as it did for the units at Alma, instead of essentially foisting the cost onto the neighborhood.

With the zoning change, PAHC will put 12 homes, some of them 3-stories (there are no 3-story homes in BP and GA now), and a 60-unit complex. There is no legal requirement or guarantee in the zoning that the property must remain low-income or senior housing, and City staff report spells this lack of requirement out. PAHC could over build the property and sell to a developer the next day, and the neighborhood couldn't do anything about it.

Given that PAHC did not initially plan to put a senior development there, that they only changed it when it became clear the seniors would be easier politically, the neighborhood has much more to fear if PAHC overbuilds that property under the PC zoning. The fact that they advertised the need because 20% of seniors live below the poverty - yet their stated income range for the project wouldn't include a single senior with income below the poverty line - further highlights the risk for the neighborhood if they allow the upzoning and overbuilding.

After all, if PAHC decides not to build and sells the property, in this case, the City has the right to take over the property, in fact, has the right to prevent the sale of the property to a developer who would overdevelop it under the existing zoning. Given that Council has expressed their belief that such a scenario would be even less safe, and their obligation to put safety first (particularly on school commute routes), they not only should take over the property in this scenario, they should do the traffic safety analysis they SHOULD have done in the first place, and place deed restrictions on the development to prevent any unsafe building.

That cannot happen if PAHC builds that high-density project under the PC zoning. In fact, if the project is converted to a younger demographic, the location could end up with as many as 400 residents, not be serving seniors, and add a traffic nightmare to the area. Once it's there, there's nothing the neighborhood can do about it, the PC zoning offers no protections.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 6:11 am

SteveU is a registered user.

If the developer HAD proposed to build under the 'then' existing Zoning restrictions, I would not have complained.
I might be unhappy with the manufactured-cookie look, but that is just a grumble and not legal action. I lkind of ike the wacky variety of BP houses. If I want to see the same, I head up 280 to Daly City to see the ticky-tacky houses in a row (OK, so they are being 'personalized' now)

Now, City hall (and I repeat: City-hall) chose to not correct a poorly chosen path and because of that: City Hall is NOW causing this expensive election process.


Posted by waste of money, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

" City Hall is NOW causing this expensive election process."

That would be true if there was any chance of this vote passing. Signatures are all that are required and aren't difficult to get. The firefighters managed to get enough signatures and this vote is destined for the same result.


Posted by crazy town, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

I feel terrible for Candace Gonzales, who is a hard-working public servant, working to provide affordable housing within a rich increasingly conservative community that would like all homeless and poor people to vanish from out rarefied midst. PAHC is an important organization in the community. If there were mistakes in the application they were mistakes and rushing to the conclusion (and accusation) of "fraud" just sounds extreme and crazy.

This development would have 60 units for seniors together with 12 affordable single family homes. That would be a great thing in a community that (look at BV) desperately needs affordable housing. The idea that these 60 old people are going to somehow screw up traffic compared with the 2000 cars headed to Gunn/Terman is laughable.

[Portion removed.]

It is very angering to read these kinds of accusations against PAHC. OK, city staff wasn't particularly competent. That's nothing new. But is senior housing and low income housing needed in PA? Yes. Is this a pretty good location for it? Yes. Are you going to lose this election? I sure hope so. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:06 am

[Portion removed.]

> PAHC is an important organization in the community

You're free to your own opinion, but the PAHC is a private organization, that has consumed fairly large sums of public money, with questionable effect on the community. PAHC certainly does not seem to have much in the way of respect of the tax-paying property owners that pay the government's bills, which includes the subsidies for the PAHC projects. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Parent, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

This article misses some context:

PAHC argues that it needs the more expensive special election ASAP to make its tax credit deadline.

The neighbors argument was that the tax credit deadline is irrelevant, because PAHC and the city made material misrepresentations to the State Tax Credit Allocation Committee, and as such the application is in peril anyway.

The neighbors did not force the city to lie to the state, in writing, about the status of the site zoning. The city did that on its own and deserves what is coming to it. The fact that the application process has a 30 day window to notify the state of changes in status does not have grant the city a free pass to submit false information. The vote on the zoning had not happened yet at the time the coty attested that it was in place. This raises severe ethics, transparency, and Brown Act questions. I'm glad the neighbors caught the city red handed.

The Council ignored this point and went back to doing what it does best: wasting taxpayer money and granting favors to its developer friends.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

And don't feel too bad for Ms. Gonzales. My understanding is that PAHC (or its manager affiliate) pays her around $140,000 per year, with another 20-30 or so in benefit costs. I will look for the IRS nonprofit filing later if nobody finds it first.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by crazy town, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

So you think $140K per year is a lot of money? Palo Alto has the third highest median family income in the US, which in 2012 was $163,661. The ED of PAHC makes only 85% of PA median family income.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:38 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

Here is the clause in the CTCAC application:

"I declare under penalty of perjury that the information contained in the application, exhibits, attachments, and any further or supplemental documentation is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief."

You'll need to see what was put in the actual application, exhibits, attachments to know if perjury was committed.

Until then it's hearsay & speculation.


Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:45 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Parent, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:45 am

Here is the PAHC Management and Services IRS Form 990 from 2011 (the most recent one available)

Web Link

Ms. Gonzales reportable compensation was $159,792 with an additional $7,990 line item for other compensation.


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Really Crazy, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:10 am

[Portion removed.] Ms Gonzalez's compensation does not sound much and not enough to live in this snobby town. I don't know her but I've been to almost every public hearing on this. I remember seeing her very pregnant in late January at ARB and then not pregnant a few weeks later at Planning Commission ...unless she makes Yahoo CEO salary, her salary does not justify missing maternity leave. Sounds to me like she should get a raise with having to deal with all of this craziness with a small nonprofit salary. I am a working mom with kids and I would not have spent a day of any of my maternity leaves dealing with this kind of craziness (and certainly not at the salary range of Ms Gonzalez).

I thought I was conservative but I have listened to the facts here instead of selective hearing like the opposition since this is my neighborhood. Over and over we have heard that 34-46 or 47 housing units can fit under existing zoning ...this could mean 47 3-5 bedroom APARTMENTS or condos and not necessarily houses, without the open space of the proposed project which has only small 1-bedroom apartments for seniors. It would be very EASY to fit 34-47 APARTMENTS on the site, black and white. More bedrooms equal more people equal more traffic and impact to schools. Very clear. As the Mayor said on Monday night, you all don't know what you want because if you wanted existing zoning this is what you would get ...a way more impactful project. So stop hiding behind traffic impacts as the issue here.

As for picking on the application ...June 17th was the approval date. If they had until August 9th to let the tax credit people know of any appeals (and they have done this according to city attorney and pahc), how is this fraud? [Portion removed.] Karen Holman said to proceed respectfully instead OF all this vitriol. Now suddenly you are also all experts in affordable housing financing. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Really Crazy, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:22 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:22 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

[Portion removed.]

All Palo Altans should be concerned that the city upzoned this parcel without vetting it and did so behind closed doors. In addition, taking four homes on Maybell that conform to R-1 zoning and changing that to putting seven homes, which is nearly double what exists there now, so that the developer can make money and PAHC can build a bigger housing project should concern all of us. (note: the four homes currently there on Maybell do conform to R-1 zoning but are zoned R-2 because it was considered a transition area. R-2 is still low density.)

The argument NIMBY makes no sense because there are many apartment buildings and low income housing nearby. And, a senior housing project can be built there with no opposition from the neighbors if it conforms to existing zoning.

This is about the city upzoning and changing R-1 homes to higher density. If the city can do this here, it can do it in all other neighborhoods too.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:31 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:43 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Really Crazy, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Think-For-Yourself, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Parent, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:53 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Parent, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:28 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

This is a land use issue. Discuss the issues. Stop ALL personal attacks. This issue is turning into Lord of the Flies. We must each be better than sinking to attack people - destructive snd irrelevant.


Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Bob Moss is a registered user.

Maybe a few facts will help the discussion; 1) PAHC claimed that almost 20% of Palo Alto seniors are below the poverty line. Fact is per the Census Bureau in 2010 7.2% or 816 seniors were below the poverty line. In 2000 it was 3.9%, and with the improved economy since 2019 the percentage is under 7%, well under 800. The claim that 46 "homes" cvan be built on the site is fale. A "home is a separate buildingin a separate lot. Parcel size is 107,392 sq. ft. of which 93,639 is RM-15 and 13,753 sq. ft. is R-2. There are 4 homes on the R-2 area now and the most that can be ther under R-2 zone is 4 plus 4 cottages up t 450 sq. ft.If "homes" are built on the RM-15 portion lots must be 6000 sq. ft. giving 15 homes, and ignoring land for an entry street.
An architect laid out the site with all "homes" on 6000 sq. ft. minimal lots and fit in 15 "homes". If the R-2 area is retained for homes then apartments or condos can take up 46,819 sq. ft. of the rest of the lot. If gross size of each apartment unit is 1450 sq. ft. there can be 32 units. The 1450 includes 100 sq. ft. of required open space plus halls and lobby so net is about 1200 sq. ft./unit.
In contrast the 60 unit PAHC project will be 56,192 sq. ft., 20% bigger. That doesn't count the area of the 8 added homes which will be at least 18,000 sq. ft. more, total of 74,000 sq. ft.of added housing onthe site.
The housing isn't for low income people which is income under $15,000/year. Required income will be 30% to 60% of county average or $24,000 to $52,000/year. That is not poverty levelwhich is under $15,000/year so they won't be housed at the site. Rents will be $1181/month and will go up over time. There is no enforcement by the city that the units will continue to be occupied only by those with 30-60% of county average income over time.
The project violates a number of Comprehesive Plan policies stating that current neighborhood character should be maintained, and transitions between low density and higher density uses must be gradual and compatible, among others. Since it is a bit over 1/4 mile from El Camino it is beyood the distance that ABAG wants to see upzoned frm current R-1 homes to high density housing, making it hard for Palo Alto to sucessfully resist ABAG insistance that dense developments be built to absorb more housing in the next 10 years that was built in the lst 40 years.
Housing costs more to service than it returns in taxes, and multifamily housing is more of a drag than single family. Each aparment will cost at least $2200/year more in services than paid in taxes, and for a PAHC project it is much worse since as a non-profit PAHC pays far less tax, and seniors are much more likely to need medic services than the general public, so net cost is likely to be over $3200/year/apartment. Conservative estimate of the net cost to city budget for 60 senior units is $195,000/year.
As for how we don't want low income people in our area, we're many of the same people that have been trying to save Buena Vista trailer park, and had no major objections to the BMR housing recently built at 488 Charleston - which added yet another low income housing project to a part of the city that has more than our share of BMR housing units. Our objection is to the way the city ignores established and important policies to preserve and protect neighborhoods and give in to developers.
November 5 be sure to vote NOT to uphold the city approval of the project. Otherwise it's only a matter of time before a project like this drops into your neighborhood.


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 10, 2013 at 10:24 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

Bob, you claim that this is not about opposing low income housing, but then in the next breath you say that Barron Park has "more than our share of BMR housing units" I think your resentment about having more low income housing relative to north Palo Alto is evident. I'm not saying that you are wrong about that -- north Palo Alto has many more and better parks, amenities, schools and so forth. The City Council and School Board are both dominated by North Palo Alto residents and they clearly care more about their side of town.

But the reality is that noone is ever going to build low income anything next door to Charlie Munger. And this city still needs low income housing. That's just a fact. [Portion removed.]

The vote will probably fail, in fact, because 20% of the city's voters live in Barron Park area, and 80% live somewhere else and don't want this project located in their own neighborhoods and don't see what all the fuss is about putting it next to other similar properties where it will be an improvement over what's there now anyway.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 11, 2013 at 10:31 am

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

The city is becoming increasingly conservative. There are now protests and even expensive referenda to keep affordable housing out of south Palo Alto. There is an ordinance against eating or sleeping in vehicles [portion removed] intended to chase the poor from our midst. Our schools are rife with civil rights violations of needy and handicapped students. This forum is filled with vitriol against anyone and everyone who supports the rights of the BV families, the homeless, vehicle dwellers, panhandlers, kids who have mental or emotional issues, and everyone who wants to do anything about these issues to the extent that they might affect the property values/perceived college prospects/etc of any particular subset of residents.

The qualities of mercy, compassion, and welcoming and caring for one's neighbor are being lost and abandoned at an alarming rate.

Maybell Avenue is a harbinger of things to come -- and not good things. When you put it into the context of a set of issues that are coming to define PA, the outlook is even more grim.

Advocates [portion removed] claim to believe that BMR housing is a good thing and that they support it, but then in the next sentence say that Barron Park has too much of this good thing -- "more than our share." Most people who get more than their share of something they like are happy about it. [Portion removed.]


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]







Posted by Pacitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Pacitizens is a registered user.

@JLS mom,
The reason Bob brings up the facts that this neighborhod already has more affordable housing developments than any other part of Palo Alto is not out of resentment, but because PAHC keeps trotting out the boilerplate NIMBY attacks. Anytime one of the neighbors forgets to bring it up, there they are again, accusing the neighbors of the same old ugly stereotypical stuff that doesn't apply, as if we don't already have more affordable housing than any other residential neighborhood.

It's really not about affordable housing,the same neighbors want to save the affordable housing at the trailer park just blocks away. The same neighbors keep asking the City to build just the senior complex and not the market rate housing, it would be almost as many units, but not nearly so burdensome and out of character.

PAHC and the City keep threatening that it will be worse of PAHC doesn't build - if they aren't allowed to overdevelop the property and get their way, they want to scare us that it will be worse.

But the PC zoning actually has no legal guarantee that the property will be for seniors or for affordable housing. PAHC could sell it the next day, rent more units to those who are less deserving, or rent to a younger demographic, and there is nothing anyone could do. There is no promise the development, if sold, will go to only another affordable housing operator or the City, the staff report rather ominously and specifically stated that the rezoning did not require the development to be or remain affordable or senior housing.

After all, PAHC did not even originally propose this as senior housing, they changed it after they realized it was politically easier to push through seniors. (If it were out of oncern for the ommunity as they claim, they could have done the traffic safety analysis for the thousands of kids who take thse routes to school that neighbors requested for months.)

So, instead of, depending on who you believe, 15-45 housing units, there will be 72 housing units, with only 47 parking spots for 60 of them. PAHC has had a poorly disclosed relationship with market developers on this, and has made many decisions for the market-rate developer's benefit despite protests from the neighborhood.

If PAHC rezone and builds, the neighborhood has no guarantees of all the promises on which their claims are predicated, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. But if the pre-existing zoning remains, and the city really thinks it's more dangerous, the contract allows the city to take over the property from PAHC. the City has the right to repossess or buy the property if PAHC sells. They could place deed restrictions or even new zoning before reselling and anyone else develops the property, to prevent any unsafe scenarios. They should do this as their duty to public safety, and to reduce liability.


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

Hi PAcitizen.

Here's the thing. If you think that affordable housing is a good thing, then you are happy that Barron Park has more of it than any other neighborhood. You can't have it both ways. Either affordable housing is a great thing -- part of what makes PA a great place to live, by bringing economic and other forms of diversity -- or its a burden that you think should be equally borne by all parts of the city. Both Bob's and your comments indicate that you see it as the latter. You write "this neighborhod already has more affordable housing developments than any other part of Palo Alto," and "as if we don't already have more affordable housing than any other residential neighborhood.." That is not consistent with being happy about having something good. That is consistent with complaining about being screwed.

You claim that you are thrilled as pie with the senior BMR apartments but you just don't want the 12 single family homes. So what you are saying is that you have forced the city to run a $600K referendum over 12 homes. Not credible.

But your comments are revealing when you recite the parade of horribles that evidently keeps you up at night: "PAHC could sell it the next day, rent more units to those who are less deserving, or rent to a younger demographic, and there is nothing anyone could do." Let's take as given the fact that PAHC is a highly regulated nonprofit operating a section 8 and other subsidized program so it is not at liberty to just rent to those who are "less deserving" financially. Let's drill down then into the meaning of "less deserving," particularly when coupled with the phrase "younger demographic."

I think now it is clear why I and others believe that the motives of those who oppose the affordable housing have to do with preserving a particular demographic in the neighborhood rather than with alleged procedural irregularities and other hoo-haw about the process. OK, the process was flawed because staff are not all that competent. But PAHC is a good organization doing good work to help the less fortunate.

[Portion removed.] Our poor and senior community members deserve nice housing too.


Posted by PAcitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

"JLS mom"

[Portion removed.]

I never claimed the 12 houses were the only thing wrong with the rezoning. You did, I didn't. If PAHC built just the senior units, and under the existing zoning, they would get almost as many units, while minimizing the impact on the neighborhood by respecting height, setback, density, parking, and other rules. It provides the senior housing without essentially foisting the cost burden on the neighborhood. Everyone wins. Oh, except the for-profit market rate developer. They won't make the millions they were counting on from PAHC getting them rezoning for houses they could never otherwise build there.

Other reasons to reject the rezoning that have been brought up by neighbors:

1. A 50 foot building in the middle of a residential neighborhood, where the current zoning allows only 30 feet tall buildings max.

Only 47 parking spots for a 60-unit complex, for residents, employees, and visitors, at a location with no nearby services or even walkable grocery for seniors. Even transit isn't as accessible as I'm sure PAHC portrayed it in their application.

2.The lack of a traffic safety study when the development sits between two safe routes to school traveled by thousands of school children every school day, even though city policy promises "heightened scrutiny" for developments on school commute routes.

Already overburdened roads already, Maybell of seriously substandard width with no room for a full bike path or sidewalk on either side of the road. No way out of those developments except via those roads.

3. Two and 3-story stovepipe houses, two houses in the place of one ranch house there now, when no one in the neighborhood could build such housing under the neighborhood zoning. Worse, they're going up practically across the street from our longtime school for the most disabled students in town, the OH, a wall of completely inaccessible homes the children could never live in or probably even visit, reminding them the city doesn't really think about the disabled in its major anti discrimination goal in the housing element.

4. Dishonest tactics affecting health and safety, such as the city and PAHC's claims that the fire department had done an independent review of traffic and emergency response times, when all they did was look at the deveopment itself (the fire station is across the street) and relied completely on the traffic department to tell them if there were other problems. (city staff have been blindly advocating for the rezoning, another major complaint of the neighborhood)

5. The City loaning PAHC $7.3 million to buy the property, then upzoning it for a market rate developer's benefit. The City voting on the rezoning with such conflicts of interest. The City not telling the public the actual amount they had loaned. The city ignoring the many provisions in the general plan with which the rezoning conflicts, and inserting a provision in there specifically making the rezoning a provision in the general plan so they could get away with it.

6. The City blaming all the traffic problems on Arastradero and Maybell on the Gunn start time, when one reason given at the time was to improve traffic [portion removed.]

7. The PC zoning has no binding promise that the property will ever be affordable or senior housing, PAHC could sell it the next day, or rent to market rate renters. This is a serious concern, as PAHC has in the past had to convert affordable units because they misjudged their clientele and spots went unfilled. Especially since their main claim of the need is that 20% of seniors live below the poverty line, and not a single person in that income range would be served by the proposed income range they need to support the project. And that if they build it and they got it wrong? Oops, they rent to those who don't really need affordable housing, or younger people with kids (adding potentially hundreds of students). They've done similar in the past when they misjudged. After all, they didn't initially propose the development as a senior complex. (Plus, they had 20 out of 24 senior BMR units go vacant for three years at Moldaw and didn't fill them until thscontroversy forced them to work at it.). There is absolutely no way for the neighborhood to ensure the development will remain affordable or for seniors, and the City staff report ominously spells that out.

8. They keep making more and more exaggerated claims about what could be built there if PAHC sells. If PAHC sells, the City has the right to buy the property before anyone else, and could place deed restrictions to avoid any scenarios they deem unsafe as they obviously do, before reselling. Problem solved. Whereas if PAHC builds such a massive development, claiming seniors have lower impact, but changes because of the many reasons (such as lack of any adjacency to senior needs), the residents have no recourse.

9. Studies of affordable housing show that it works best for everyone when spread out across a city and integrated, rather than concentrated in one area. Real affordable housing advocates know this. Interestingly, PAHC used to state this as a goal, yet somehow I can no longer find it on their web site as of this rezoning.

10. I once respected PAHC as well, this experience has been very disillusioning. Luckily, there are other affordable housing operators in town that I can support, such as the people who run the Terman apartments.
...

Residents have been asking the City to build JUST the senior housing, under the existing zoning. If this was really about seniors for PAHC, there were many times they could have compromised. Yet they stonewalled and stonewalled, and the reason their own planner gave was because of the financing arrangements. [Portion removed.] They could build for the seniors under the existing zoning and get almost as many units. If those other few units were so needed, they could have worked to fill the unfilled senior BMR units at Moldaw that went empty for three years.


Posted by PAcitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

And lest I forget, PAHC got the City staff to misrepresent the zoning, under penalty of perjury, for their funding application. If they didn't have to lie about it, if it was no big deal, why did they?


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 12, 2013 at 1:20 am

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

I'm completely unconnected to PAHC. I just happen to think they are a good organization doing something important and the overheated rhetoric [portion removed] of the Maybell opponents has offended me.

[Portion removed.] I don't think we are going to agree about this. But to answer your question I'm just a neighbor who supports affordable housing and doesn't like the way this nonprofit that does so much good is being kicked around.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2013 at 7:13 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by PAcitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 9:51 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by PAcitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 10:01 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by jls mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 12, 2013 at 10:26 am

jls mom of 2 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by PAcitizens, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 10:45 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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