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Palo Alto hits the brakes on new housing vision

Original post made on May 21, 2013

Palo Alto's official housing vision, already years overdue, will undergo further revisions after residents around Maybell Avenue protested the inclusion of a controversial -- and yet unapproved -- senior-housing development in the document.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 20, 2013, 10:03 PM

Comments (30)

Posted by barron park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 12:41 am

The focus should be to fight ABAG mandates

Please fight this idea:"One of the objectives is to demonstrate to the state how the city is planning to accommodate a regional housing mandate of 2,860 units."

This is simple unreasonable and will lead to decreased quality of life for all neighborhoods, north to south!


Posted by Bag ABAG, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

The problem with ABAG is that they do not account for the increased traffic these developments will cause, nor do they allow for the fact that the narrow Palo Alto streets simply cannot handle this extra traffic, especially when there is absolutely no room for widening.

Their mandates are too shallow, too superficial, too lacking in any real knowledge.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

I actually think the problem with ABAG is that it is town focused, not truly regional. If it was regional, Portola Valley, Atherton, Woodside and Los Altos Hills would be part of the housing requirements.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2013 at 8:57 am

Yes, the truly big problem with additional housing is infrastructure of all kinds. Schools and traffic are obvious as we all know. Water is going to become the big one and it will also hit us all hard. These hidden infrastructures are forgotten about because yes, they are hidden.


Posted by stretch, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

I'm quite sure that all those seniors would overtax the roads with their cars (oops - most probably don't drive anymore) and the schools would suffer, too, with the influx of......seniors? jeez


Posted by maybell resident, a resident of Green Acres
on May 21, 2013 at 10:55 am

Stretch, seniors often have caregivers who do drive. We have many seniors in the neighborhood who DO drive (and cycle for that matter). Seniors don't have to be infirm and sickly. They have active lives, go to classes, exercise and keep busy coming and going. They also walk outside with walkers which might force school kids to go around them on the street since the planned sidewalks are only 4 ft across.

Kids ride on maybell with their helmets strung over their handlebars, earphones in their ears and often 2-3 abreast. This planned addition is an accident waiting to happen. This is one time where I'd really rather not have to say I told you so.


Posted by CEQA reform, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

Infill advocates such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group are working hard to exempt projects such as his one from "NIMBY" (Not In My Back Yard - thats US) from having a say in the approval process.
Please write to our senator Jerry Hill and Assemblyman Rich Gordon in opposition of the Senate Pro-Temp Steinberg's "CEQA Reform" bill that would exempt projects such as this one from California Environmental Quality Act review of Traffic and Aesthetics and replace public input with "standards" - among other "improvements" that would take our voice away.


Posted by retired PAUSD educator, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

Re. Posted by palo alto parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, 2 hours ago
I actually think the problem with ABAG is that it is town focused, not truly regional. If it was regional, Portola Valley, Atherton, Woodside and Los Altos Hills would be part of the housing requirements.

Please do your research as these communities ARE included in ABAG and have numbers that pose serious issues to the community (pitting affluent sections of town versus the less affluent). Cities and towns can band together to be a voice for more reasonable solutions across the board. The issues are valid but the numbers do not match projections made by other agencies.


Posted by Rod, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2013 at 11:24 am

Stephen Levy is a huge supporter of ABAG. Perhaps he should be asked if this project on Maybell should be supported. Stephen?


Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I still don't understand why they are expecting a built-out town to squeeze in so many new residences, damaging the quality of life of long time residents like myself.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

@Sylvia:

Do you have any other suggestions for housing a growing population?


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Retired Educator - ABAG requirements for local towns:

Palo Alto 2860 new units
Atherton 83
Woodside 41
Portola Valley 74
Los Altos Hills 81

The towns with all the open space and room for additional housing have minimal housing requirements.


Posted by Rod, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Local ABAG/PAHC promised housing designed for critical local workers. It was a bait and switch, it was just more importation of semi-poverty housing. Why is Palo Alto agreeing to downgrade its lifestyle, and increase its social services costs, in order to comply with the welfare bureaucracy?


Posted by Retired Gal, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Our neighborhood has been beset by huge new developments funneling huge numbers of cars into our jammed streets at rush hour: the Rickey's Hyatt development, the Elks property development, a new hotel under construction on El Camino, two huge new apartment complexes under construction on El Camino just south of us. That said, this seems like the wrong time and place to be making a stand. The proposed Maybell development is tiny compared to these others, will make a negligible impact, and will serve a public good.


Posted by Roger Overnaut, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm

"Do you have any other suggestions for housing a growing population?"

Population grows where they're building houses, not where houses ain't.


Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

We really need to push ABAG to come up with a more regional and sane formula..otherwise these battles will continue. As one can plainly see, the more affluent and influential areas like LAH, LA, Atherton, Portola Valley have pretty minimal requirements...they are very close by and should have similar densities. Focus on some kind of equitable DENSITY ..period. Otherwise its NOT REGIONAL.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm

@ Paly Parent.

That is because those towns are special, they want open space, to look out and see a tree. While most people have to sit in there cars and commute. Great if you own stock in a oil company.


Posted by John P, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm

No more housing, there is too much traffic congestion. And no more dumping affordable housing and illegal aliens into Barron Park. There is already more than enough crime and graffiti.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Careful you guys -- Palo Alto has much more open space in the hills, several square miles worth, than Portola Valley, Woodside, or Los Altos Hills. We can't expect those towns to add housing up there without us offering to pave Foothills Park. Equitable density must take into account the terrain and proximity to transit and office buildings. I'd hate to see 280 become another corridor like 101, but looks like that's where we are headed.


Posted by Concerned residents, a resident of Green Acres
on May 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Drive on Maybell during the school run and you will see how dangerous it is already. The city doesn't see people driving at breakneck speeds through the Walgreens drive-through to avoid the Maybell/El C intersection, cutting through apartment complex parking lots at high speeds to avoid the traffic or giving up and angrily executing K turns in any driveway once they give up on getting to Juana Briones. It was a mistake to engage in the traffic-calming exercise on Arastradero, it forced more traffic onto Maybell, a quiet residential street never built for the traffic it has now, let alone the additional traffic the rezoned 567 Maybell would bring. How would the city ever get a paramedic to one of those seniors in the contemplated senior community, when there is no place for drivers to pull over on Maybell and let an ambulance through during the school run? The rezoning is not just dangerous for children, its dangerous for drivers, and will be dangerous for the very people the city hopes to attract. 567 Maybell rezoning makes absolutely no sense.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Sylvia - they are requiring it because ABAG is nothing more than an arm of the real estate deveopment/construction industry/unions, who own, bought and paid in full, California politics. They force the housing growth in to Palo Alto because its the most valuable real estate to build out and turn over. The real answer is for all the Democrat voters on the Peninsula to WAKE UP before its too late.

Roger O is absolutely correct. The housing is DRIVING the growth, not the other way around.

The growth that ABAG is projecting - and forcing -in to certain target communities (those most lucrative for development), is nothing more and nothing less than self fulfulling prophecy. Build massive housing growth and magically massive headcount growth occurs. Its a big big world out there, and there are a lot of very nice places to live - there's not a single reason in the world why we have to pack millions upon millions on top of each other in the confined space of the Peninsula - other than the massive windfall it creates for the developers, builders, and unions.

I have never, not once, seen any explanation, or quantification, as to what the consequence would be to city of palo alto, for simply telling ABAG to shove it.




Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 10:59 pm

If you would like to see what the traffic situation on Maybell is really like, you can see it on YouTube at Web Link.


Posted by barron park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Thanks Zayda for posting You Tube link. City council take not, stay within the zoning laws to protect our quality of life. The zoning laws were created for a great reason!

No increase density at Maybell or Buena Vista..

redevelopment is fine with increase density!
senior housing is fine, just no increase density!


Posted by barron park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

correction- NO increase density

Thanks Zayda for posting You Tube link. City council take not, stay within the zoning laws to protect our quality of life. The zoning laws were created for a great reason!

No increase density at Maybell or Buena Vista..

redevelopment is fine, just NO increase density!

senior housing is fine, just no increase density!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2013 at 7:34 am

Thanks for the video link.

Interesting to see how the cyclists are mixed - teens and elementary students - and how the faster cyclists need to overtake younger/slower cyclists. Also interesting to see how the waves of cyclists overflow into the traffic lanes due to volume of bikes.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 8:22 am

I don't see ANY cyclists following the California law for bike riders...e.g. They are supposed to

-- Obey street signs just like any vehicle (no one stops at the intersection),
-- Stay in the bike lane or to the far right,
-- Ride SINCLE FILE in traffic
-- Stay off the sidewalk
-- Respect, and stop for, pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Their total disregard makes the a.m./p.m. traffic even more difficult to endure. Why are biking kids not following the law?


Posted by ABAGOrNotABAG, a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

The only way to solve the tension of the growing pension is to grow the population. It's official!


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

Saw the video, yes their is traffic, but what about the other times or this street like this for 24 hours. Don't like those big auto carriers, those darn things are a pain.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

Musical makes some very good points regarding open space. Many people posting here seem to have forgotten the long history of the housing and jobs imbalance in Palo Alto. Previous residents chose infill over the projected housing in the hills that was planned to balance the industrial build up that was allowed to occur first. In recent years we have done a better job of meeting the infill that was promised when we rezoned (correctly in my opinion) most of the hills to "open space" or preserves (Foothill Park, Arastradero Preserve).

The main source of the traffic along Maybell and Arastradero Rd are the schools and the Industrial Park, not the residents (even the relatively dense, high-rise housing at Tan Plaza apartments). Senior housing would not add to the need for more schools, and would tend to create only moderate non-rush hour traffic in the area, which is mainly crowded during the morning commute and when schools get out (my wife works at Terman and must deal with that traffic everyday). Seniors who do drive generally don't choose the rush hour and it doesn't appear that the complex would include assisted care, and thus would not require employee caregivers. So in many ways it sounds like a good mix for this crowded area.


Posted by Massive scam, a resident of Downtown North
on May 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm

There is a regional effort to concoct some pretty outrageous growth statistics and justify extensive development called Plan Bay Area.

It purports to be focused on conserving resources and preserving the environment. It's actually about redirecting wealth into a few deep pockets.

East Bay and Marin cities are way ahead of Palo Alto when it comes to standing up against this corruption. See, for example, Web Link If we don't fight it now, we will pay later.


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