Palo Alto takes fresh look at downtown growth Palo Alto Issues, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jan 9, 2013 at 10:54 am
With commercial developments blooming and parking spots in short supply, Palo Alto officials will start laying the groundwork tonight for a major new study that will consider how much growth, if any, downtown can accommodate.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 9:51 AM
Posted by KEN AGAIN, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm
What the RFP does not include is a reference to existing adopted Comprehensive Plan Themes, Goals and policies that very specifically say protect neighborhoods from the impacts of adjacent commercial intrusion - specifically parking with its associated traffic and pollution. Come look at my neighborhood - does it feel like a great place to live or a Costco Parking lot?
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm
longtimeresident - thanks for the common sense! Unfortunately, too many people in positions of power in Palo Alto seem to believe that if you don't provide enough parking, people will take public transportation or bikes, when what really happens is they just park in residential areas.
Ken Again - actually, Professorville looks like a cross between a construction site and a downtown commercial area, certainly NOT a residential neighborhood. In addition to parking, its dangerous to drive down many of the streets since the trucks in particular block views.
Posted by Nick Baldo, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jan 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm
One can only hope that the city council lets downtown Palo Alto become a more interesting destination and a more inclusive market for those looking to rent or buy a place to live. Larger buildings are an opportunity that comes part in parcel with a strong economy, not some unmitigated evil. If you must worry about parking then just meter it as a previous commenter has suggested. As it is tons of people who live within a mile or so drive and cruise around for parking when it would be super easy to walk or bike. Not to mention those giant free garages that already exist...
Posted by Neilson Buchanan, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm
The staff report is on the city's website. Go to agendas and then to Planning Commission's agenda for Jan 9. Eventually you will find the staff report, click on it. It is a very large document and a bit confusing. The document may open in the middle, so page up to the beginning.
Posted by Renovate, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm
Downtown study "financed by contributions from either the developers of Lytton Gateway or from other developers looking to build downtown."
LOL the Downtown study financed by the developers.
I would give this report zero credibility.
Developers are holding out to build parking, in exchange for increases in building height or other zoning concessions. Developers and City Council won't stop these reports or studies until they tear upwards. Residents will be left with a blanket of cars and traffic downtown, trying to get into all those new parking spaces.
Not to mention the traffic cutting through the neighborhoods.
These reports should not be funded by developers, and they should consider all the surrounding neighborhoods.
As far as I'm concerned, downtown has reached the cap for new building or any new square footage.
Posted by Visitor, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jan 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm
We recently tried to visit a patient in his last days at the Palo Alto Nursing Center and were unable to find a parking place anywhere nearby. How sad - downtown employees saturating the neighborhood. Downtown businesses must be required to provide adequate parking for all employees and customers.
Posted by Kathleen, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jan 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm
Am I missing something? How can a Down Town study "financed by either the developers of Lytton Gateway or other developers looking to build downtown" be free of developer's bias?
Most residents of Palo Alto are not beholden to developers and neither should the members of the Palo Alto City Council or their staff's be. A STUDY OF THIS NATURE SHOULD BE FINANCED BY THE CITY AND BE ENTIRELY INDEPENDENT AND FREE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST. The City needs to consider all the ramifications of going beyond current building size and height limits including increased traffic and parking problems, increased air pollution, and ABOVE ALL the danger of changing the ambience of our beautiful Palo Alto in a way that would be impossible to undo.
My husband and I believe that any and all future buildings allowed to be built in Palo Alto should be made to adhere strictly to the City's 50 ft. height limit ordinance voted in place by City residents some years ago and which never needed more than now. Any change to the 50ft limit and square footage limits should definitely be put before the voters of our town before any new construction deviating from the ordinance is allowed.
Our city is small scale and charming. Let's keep it that way!
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Look, the study is being done because of several developments and it is being funded in part by those who have the $ to pay for the study. Without their money, their would be no study at all. That doesn't mean it's biased. Data is data. How would a developer skew the data being gathered by an independent consultant. Maybe I am naive, but it seems awfully paranoid to think that the study has no merit because the funding was provided as part of the condition of this project?
Posted by Renovate, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:33 am
"How would a developer skew the data being gathered by an independent consultant."
The report is not going to simply present data. It will likely have an agenda. And wouldn't straightforward data be readily available anyway? In this era of the internets, you would think the City of Palo Alto would not need someone to produce data.Unless you are regulated, you can use data to say anything.
Preview: The report will give data under estimating the problems with building growth. Data not beneficial to developers will not be seen, and the data that benefit the developers will be overemphasized.
Posted by Bob, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 15, 2013 at 9:03 am
No straightforward data is not availalble already. Traffic flow, parking vacancies, etc all have to be gathered. That data gathering is where you need unbiased individuals. If the data is gathered with bias then the conclusions will be biased as well.
You seem to be saying that you don't trust the folks at city hall to be unbiased based on who is paying for the study. If that's the case, you have several choices.
a.) Run for city council and try to change the agenda from the inside. (Although some will see you as a biased individual no matter ow much you say you are an independent thinker.)
b.) Pay for the study yourself ( or crowdfund the study ) although this will be just as biased a study
So you see, there is no easy answer. Let's do the study, analze the findings and work together with city hall to make sure the results of the study are as reliable as any independent study can be--by the way, that's one reason why consultants are hired to do these studies...so that any of the stakeholders can;t skew the results.
Posted by Renovate, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 16, 2013 at 7:12 am
The best data is the data that should already be readily available, and actually public. Failure to gather this data would definitely mean the City and Council are not doing their job.
1. Annual permits for office buildings. Stanford, Stanford Park, and non-Stanford. What was that number last year? two years ago, ten years ago. What is the annual rate of growth? Are these numbers in a box somewhere?
2. Number of employees for the companies operating in Palo Alto, with more than 50 employees. Growth estimates. Ask them for this data, they will not charge the city for this.
3. Retail growth, the City doesn't keep track?
4. Parking permits issued by the CIty, annual growth.
5. For much less than $100,000 you can get people to study traffic patterns. Technology to do this anyone? Invest in something that will give you data on an ongoing basis.
It's actually shocking that the City needs to pay for data they should be responsible for gathering. Isn't that why we already pay dozens of people salaried well over 100,000 each every year?
"Public transit in Atlanta. Earlier this year, we wrote about the handful of large metros in the U.S. that were still not opening up their GTFS files of public transit data to anyone other than Google. Atlanta was one of the notable holdouts. In October, however, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority finally published this feed, making it possible for developers anywhere – and not just Google Maps – to produce apps, maps, trip planners or other tools with the city’s real-time transit data.