Town Square

Post a New Topic

2012: Palo Alto's wild growth spurt

Original post made on Dec 28, 2012

Earlier this month, as Palo Alto's planning commissioners delved into the irksome problem of downtown parking, Commissioner Michael Alcheck made a keen observation: As far as problems go, a wildly popular downtown isn't such a bad problem to have.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 28, 2012, 8:17 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Not impressed, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

Downtown Palo Alto gets plenty of city attention and tax dollars, but the rest of the city continues to be neglected. Alma and San Antonio are completely overrun by reckless drivers and are totally unsafe to anyone not in a car. The California Ave business district continues to be cut off from the rest of the city by an obsolete car tunnel and a way too tiny tunnel shared by both bicycles and pedestrians. There is a fancy new shopping center being built across San Antonio, but is there any way to get there from Palo Alto without a car?


Posted by Doublespeak, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 10:46 am

>In September, Burt was one of several council members to voice enthusiasm for Arrillaga's proposal, which includes a new theater for the award-winning company TheatreWorks and a host of circulation improvements around the downtown transit hub. But even as he supported breaking the 50-foot height barrier for this project, he called on his colleagues to reaffirm the city's general commitment to the height restriction --
As usual Pat Burt speaks out of both side of his mouth. nice words for residents then he votes for the developer. Very skillful double dealing, again.


Posted by bob, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

All you big shots sit arround patting each other on the back. Get out of your cozy city hall office and look around. look at the streets or the storm drains that over flow every year. and i understand Jim Keean got a 15,000 dollar raise but told everyone else "we need to tighten belts around here". then he and his pals went to china on our tax dollars. On and on and on ........


Posted by Nick Baldo, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Here's to more growth in 2013! Hope the city council doesn't let the reactionary parking enthusiasts dominate next year too, though the chances of this seem slim.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I have nothing against growth in Palo Alto, if we increase the infrastructure to accommodate it.

We need more schools, more affordable shopping, more hangout space and things for the youth to do, and most importantly we need to move our traffic efficiently around town.

We can't continue to slow down traffic at the same time as building more homes and office space. Traffic needs to get to 101, 280 and back from both residential and business areas in town without bottlenecks and stupid traffic calming such as the SandHill/ECR/Alma bottleneck which causes through traffic to U turn on ECR or use the T & C bottleneck.

We need to improve the shuttle so that it gets the kids to schools and we need to charge a fare to make it fair for all.

We need to increase the number of bike parking places and we need signs telling bikes where these places are. We need pay per hour machines in all city lots in downtown and Cal Ave areas to enable those who want to park all day to do so without having to go to city hall first.

We need to be able to get all residents into their neighborhood schools which should be walking distance without crossing major arteries at the elementary levels. This means that the schools have to be increased where the housing is increasing.

We need to be able to do grocery shopping for an average sized family in Palo Alto without the need to drive out of town and we need the decent sized stores to give us comprehensive choice rather than boutique mini marts. They need decent sized parking lots too so that a week's worth of groceries can be bought and carried home by car, not expecting it to be carried or by bicycle power.

We need better methods of getting commuters to and from the train stations. The buses and shuttles need to meet trains and wait for them to leave to enable passengers to use both. This is true for both inward bound and outward bound commuters.

Growth is good only when the infrastructure is in place to withstand the growth. Without the infrastructure, growth is only making facilities poorer for those who need to use them.


Posted by Ummm, did anybody discuss other parts of the city?, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Please note that not one single mention of anything in the southernmost part of town is reported in this article.

Moutain View is about to build a new, monstrous shopping center on our border with high density housing, a hotel and offices (Varying heights, probably 5-9 stories). The traffic from this development will affect south Palo Alto streets. I can hear the retail dollar sucking sounds already. I hope our city staff will PAY ATTENTION to this project as it develops, and I hope our City Council will direct them (and allocate resources) to work with MV to make sure the needs of south Palo Alto residents and southern research park road users are considered in the EIR process. The San Antonio Center project makes Arillaga's project look like a child's Lego project.

In addition, the former H-P/Mayfield Mall site on San Antonio Road in Palo Alto is about to be reoccupied after more than a decade of vacancy. This project will generate about 1,500-2,200 new car trips per day, slamming San Antonio/Middlefield and San Antonio/Charleston--already a parking lot during the peak hour.

The city and school district quibble about the future of Cubberley. It would be good to see some progress on that front. Status quo is clearly not an option.

Look south occasionally, Council. We vote too. It bothers me that there has been no mention at all of south Palo Alto reported in these conversations.

And, where is the transit that was supposed to alleviate the traffic impacts of all of the already built south PA development? In the south, our transit service (of all kinds) has only been reduced in recent years.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm

My grades on the City Council Members:

Gail Price - Grade F: epitomizes special interest representation; examples: voted against allowing the ballot measure to reform arbitration with the firefighters union; voted for granting zoning changes which increase high density development for Lytton Gateway, and other projects. No leadership on the infrastructure issues.

Nancy Shepard - Grade F: for the same reasons as stated for Council member Price.

Larry Klein - Grade D: Some work on city employee pension reform, but voted against allowing the ballot measure to reform arbitration with he firefighters union. voted for graning zoning changes which increased high density development.

Sid Espinosa - Grade C: has voted for the zoning changes to increase development density, but has been a proponent for protecting parkland. No leadership on fiscal management.

Greg Scharf - Grade C: His reasoning for voting for allowing the zoning change to increase the developent density for the Lytton Gateway: "The building itself is a public benefit", pretty much defines him as a tool of the developer special interests. Raises his grade for his work on fiscal management.

Pat Burt - Grade B-: Another council member who sides with the developers in granting zoning changes for higher density development. Provided leadership in fiscal management.

Yia Wei Yeh - Grade B: helped in fiscal management, and in trying to bring a focus on the city's infrastructure needs.

Greg Schmid - A: consistent voice for the interest of the residents, and in prudent fiscal management

Karen Holman - A: consistent voice for the interests of the residents, and in prudent fiscal management.


Posted by Too late, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Ummm, the project in MV is already under construction. The EIR has been done for a while. Too late for PA to have any say on this matter-- not that PA should have any say to begin with.
I look forward to having this place available to shop at. I already do most of my shopping outside of PA. There is very little in the way of decent shopping in town (as resident points out above).
For too long we have been held hostage by the "we need to protect jj&f/the free market is bad" crowd. Any time a project is proposed we hear the usual whinings about "too much traffic/we need to protect local merchants" etc.


Posted by Peter K. Mueller, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Good year end report on State of the City and thoughtful comments.
Getting to the new San Antonio shopping center other than my personal motor vehicle is a real worry brought out by one of the commentators above.
This is what's available now
West of Alma there is Park Blvd jogging to Wilkie way, a narrow winding bike & pedestrian bridge on to Miller Ave and jogging south San Antonio. There are a couple of traffic light controlled crossings.
From SW Palo Alto, west of El Camino there is a bike path around Terman Park ending at Los Altos Ave with a jog to Loucks Ave that ends at N. San Antonio Road. Crossing from there safely going a bit east to the shopping center is tricky.
From South Eastern Palo Alto it gets really hazardous. Making ones way south to San Antonio Ave there is a traffic light controlled crossing of Alma St and then some narrow path ways winding to Showers Drive. After one gets by the narrow residential area with car traffic oblivious to bikes Showers drive going west has a broad bike lane with access to the drives into the shopping center.
So definitely some infrastructure thoughts and development for enabling safer biking to and from Palo Alto are importantly needed.


Posted by Carol, a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Los Altos would love to have such problems.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

> Keene "and his pals went to china on our tax dollars."

Actually, they paid their own way.


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

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Scott’s Seafood Mountain View to close, reopen as new concept
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 4,004 views

Richard Linklater's Masterpiece "Boyhood"
By Anita Felicelli | 5 comments | 1,379 views

How Bad Policy Happens
By Douglas Moran | 21 comments | 1,363 views

The life of Zarf
By Sally Torbey | 8 comments | 1,019 views

When Grandparents Visit
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 699 views