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Special election set for November on Maybell development

Original post made on Aug 8, 2013

Palo Alto's bitter debate over an approved housing development on Maybell Avenue will be settled in the voting booth this November, when the city holds its first referendum in a decade.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 8, 2013, 9:23 PM

Comments (109)

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm

If PAHC was so concerned about low-income seniors who need housing now, why did they allow 20 out of 24 senior BMR units at Moldaw to go unfilled for 3 years? And only now renegotiate to fill them, now that the heat is on? Why have been claiming that the need is because 20% of seniors live below the poverty line, but their proposed development has at it's lowest income level an income that is considerably higher than anyone living below the poverty line could pay so no one below the poverty line will live there?

Dear Friends in Palo Alto: You will hear a lot of convincing lies coming from PAHC and the City in the coming months. We do not want a 50-foot building in the middle of our neighborhood across from our park, with only 47 parking spots for 60 units, employees, and visitors, when the existing zoning only allowed a 30-foot building. The City keeps making threats about what would go there, they have been proven false and ridiculous. Those nearest here are almost unanimously against the rezone.

I hope no one else has to go through a process where the City Council treats your neighborhood and the safety of your kids like they're some kind of weird pre-text for NIMBYism, especially if you have as much affordable housing development in your neighborhood as we do already in ours. I am so disillusioned with the City Council and PAHC. Please support us. We are just neighbors. They will outspend us many times over, and if history is any guide, City staff will act as bald-faced advocates for the project, and all of them will play fast and loose with the truth.




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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm

They keep saying it WILL be developed and it's NOT going to be a community orchard.

Why is no one stepping forward to save this last remnant of orchard in Palo Alto, across from an existing park, facing the hills, with 100 established, beautiful trees on it? City Council will never listen to the neighbors, but money talks.

Isn't there anyone who will step forward and save the trees?


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm

The Compadres site was vacant forever, it seems. There are properties up and down El Camino they could have purchased instead that would be more appropriate for density, and cheaper. Why do they have to destroy the character of our neighborhood with this overwhelming project?




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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Time to take the city back from developers. Opponents shouldn't fear the Nov 5th date, just stay mobilized and you can win.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm

"Given the divisiveness and vitriol that existed over the last few months, it's clear to me that an extra year of delay would be so much more costly to the fabric of our community."

If you are so concerned with the fabric of our community, you could have spared us all the vitriol and rescinded the rezone.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Thank you, Mr. Recycle, we will need help from our friends and neighbors on the north side of town. If anything this has awakened us to the complaints about parking downtown, and how the City just approves development willy nilly without considering the infrastructure.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Candidates for City Council: I will vote for anyone but these guys. Please step forward.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

The city council has just transferred the decision for Maybell and other future PC rezoning spots in other Palo Alto neighborhoods to the voters instead of taking the responsible position of reversing the rezone.

The voter will now have to do what the CC did not have the strength to do themselves.


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Posted by voters, you know what to do
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Yes, at the cost of $600,000, back the people we voted for and show support for low-income housing [portion removed.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm

How about backing the citizens who submitted over 7,000 petition signatures for the referendum?

Or the neighbors who are getting attacked for being NIMBYs for fighting the overdevelopment of their neighborhood, when they already have more affordable housing development than any residential neighborhoods in Palo Alto, including next door to the proposed development?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm

So, let me get this straight. City Council's answer to the problem that the PC zoning doesn't require for the property to remain low-income seniors has to do with PAHC's funding rules?

Don't their funding rules say they had to have the rezone by July 3 (City Staff report says the property wouldn't have been rezoned until July 28 or so.) And now with the referendum, they won't have the zoning at least until November if at all. So much for respecting the rules.

If the City wants to reassure us that the property will remain low-income senior housing in perpetuity, they should have put the condition in the PC zone. If they are so confident it will, why wouldn't they?

Gunn community: City staff, in their advocacy for the rezone, have blamed the burdensome traffic in the area primarily on the new Gunn start time. Please note that they plan to put a 72-unit development where there is currently an orchard and 4 ranch houses, with no binding promise of any kind that it will remain seniors.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Klein said. "It's hard for me to understand why the neighborhood objects."

How about putting a 50-foot building in your residential neighborhood near your house, with 60 units and employees and visitors, but only 47 parking spots. You'll understand.


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Posted by no rezone
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm

As much as this is about the neighborhood and the everyday issues this really is about up-zoning property for the benefit and gain of the developers. This is happening all over Palo Alto and the City has a long list of future projects. This is not really about who lives on the property (seniors are welcome) but it is about the quality of their life and the sustainability of the neighborhood. We need a plan for Palo Alto as it grows with increased population at VMWare, Google, downtown, Stanford, the schools, etc. Right now the comprehensive plan and zoning needs to be followed. Palo Alto deserves a well thought out plan for the future. If the plan is not working then work needs to be done on changing it before these random acts of re-zoning continue.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Klein's comment reminds me of his comment years ago when the CC
was discussing FAR's in single-family zones he said two-story
houses are not a big deal because architects tell him it's no
problem when the landscaping comes in. Really?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm

The City is committing to the most expensive path here, when they know PAHC may not even qualify for this funding round because they were late with the rezoning, and they know there is a CEQA suit.

If they had rescinded the PC rezone tonight, they could have started again, either building the affordable housing under the existing zoning (respecting height, setback, parking, and other restrictions), or they could have applied for a less massive and intrusive rezone, AFTER doing the traffic safety analysis.

Instead, the City Council is doubling down on a plan they committed to when they loaned millions ($5.8? $7.3? million, which is it) to purchase the property for a proposal that required the rezone.

Citizens are exercising their democratic rights, but we are completely outgunned and grassroots. There will be a campaign fund, overseen by Tim Gray. We will need the support of our friends and neighbors around the City.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm

The overriding reason why the council voted to hold referendum in November 2013, is they don't want this as an issue when they run for election in 2014. They hope you all will forget about this, and that they blather on next year about how they are endorsed by State Senator John Doe, or Assemblyman Jane. It's as simple as that.

They are willing to spend $300,000 of the city's money so that this won't be an issue they have to talk about. Such fiscal stewards.

And how about all those documents saying the zoning needed to be approved by July 3 to get grant money? Was it all a big lie so that they could try to ram this down our throats, without having to do a proper traffic study?

You know who has to be voted out: Scharf, Shepard, Price. Klein is termed out.


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Posted by Henry
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:51 pm

@ no rezone

The problem is that the Comprehensive Plan Update is being done in private meetings between City Staff and lots of stakeholders. Do you know anyone who has read it? The draft includes many new clauses that will make it easier to develop high density. It removed the clauses that protect neighborhoods. These are the clauses that staff never includes in staff reports. We all need to pay attention to the proposed Comp Plan or we will have new zoning to support immense amounts of growth.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I'm told Mayor Scharff said he's open to a community orchard if someone wishes to buy the property.

So here's the information:

It's a 2 or 2.5 acre property across from Juana Briones Park, facing the hills. There are currently about 100 established fruit trees, (I think mostly blenheim apricots), and 12 of the grandest 100 year old oaks in the neighborhood, and 4 ranch houses, each over 2,000 square feet, along the western edge of the property. Renovated, 2,000 square foot houses in this neighborhood typically sell for over $2million.

In the loan documents, the City puts the value of the land itself at $6.7million, so I'm assuming that's the net someone would have to come up with for the orchard, but I don't see how it works out with the purchase price as the City and PAHC keep upping it.

It would make a perfect place for corporate housing. If someone were to buy up the whole property, and donate the orchard for the write-off, retaining the ranch houses (and renovating them) for corporate housing or auctioning them to recoup the bulk of the cost, neighborhood volunteers would raise the money for an educational building and small community center. It could be like Gamble Gardens on this side of town, for trees.

This eventuality would save a tremendous fight in our town, save 100 trees, and create an invaluable community asset for the whole of Palo Alto. Most importantly, it would be a low- traffic use of the land for a property that sits at a bottleneck to the neighborhood and is locked between two already overburdened safe routes to school, Maybell and Arastradero.

Money talks with this Council apparently. We have many well-heeled neighbors in this town, unfortunately not so many in this exact neighborhood. If you are interested at all in saving the apricot orchard and helping the neighborhood develop a community orchard, please send an email to info@paloaltoville.com, or contact the neighborhood through Tim Gray. (He doesn't know I just volunteered him!)


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Posted by after all is said and done
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Mark Berman: Please enough with the talk about "one community." Sheesh. Let's have some refinement in judgment. Do you ever drive with seniors? Are we good drivers as we age? Do we go blind, have strokes, yet keep our drivers licenses as long as possible? Putting seniors--well, any DRIVERS for that matter--next to erratic school kids biking to school is DANGEROUS. But let's not talk about anything but the "public benefit" of senior housing, and striving for "unity". Good Lord.

I hope the public comes forth and votes against this rezoning and against to this remarkably deaf city council, and lets them know that threatening the safety of kids on bikes will not create "unity."


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm

@after all is said,
Neighbors have been roundly criticizing for suggesting that a senior development should go where there are walkable services. Like Stevenson House which is across the street from grocery, a library, community center, Betty Wright, and just up the street from Costco, etc. (


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:33 pm

@after all is said,

I meant to continue that point --

All of the funding applications give points when senior centers and affordable housing are near those things -- apparently the government thinks those things are important, too. Nevermind, PAHC and the City want what they want for their developer friends (and board members)....


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Posted by councilmember waste of time
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Does anyone understand what Nancy Shepherd said? She went on and on, saying that she believes in democracy and freedom and such. How did this woman get to be on a City Council? Who supported her election? Is it just that she's a sure vote for developers?


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:48 pm

People, People - it's never going to make sense for you. We are all beginning to understand that. We know you are bewildered and confused, led astray by ilk who have no idea what they are doing. Sounds like tonight was an indication of more of the same to come. Orchard - you have got to be kidding. No one will put up 20 million for some fruit trees in silicon valley. I say good for the city for supporting affordable housing.

And you can't understand Nancy Shepard most of the time - not the sharpest tool in the box.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:46 am

@Diana,
it's 20 million now, is it? The City documents say the land is worth $6.7 million, less than the City loaned PAHC. (The majority of the land value is in the house lots.)

On your side of town, you have the Bowling Green. The Art Center. Rinconada park which is really several parks in one. A swimming pool. Lucie Stern, with a theater, a children's theater, a rec center. A children's museum and zoo. Gamble Gardens. A children's library. A main library. A downtown library. How much money went into those and continue to go into those?

Even the new "community center" and library, when it comes online, isn't really on our side of town, either.

We already have more affordable housing developments than any other RESIDENTIAL neighborhood in Palo Alto. We have none of the amenities. Our infrastructure is overburdened and unsafe, and the Council won't even do the safety scrutiny their own policy demands. And apparently we aren't good enough by your estimation to deserve any public investment, or even the same consideration as a private company? (And yet we will continue to be called selfish NIMBYs for wanting the existing zoning to be respected. Sheesh!)

We may not have millionaires on this side of town, but we do have people who would raise the money and make the community orchard happen if we were given half the chance, even without the support of City Hall.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:49 am

@Diana,
That's just it, though. The CITY isn't really supporting the affordable housing. They made a short-term loan, but are foisting the real cost in perpetuity on the neighborhood.

If they were to pay as much per unit as they did downtown on Alma or even close to it, PAHC wouldn't have had to upzone for the benefit of a private market-rate developer's profit, and they wouldn't have had to build such a monstrosity outside the existing zoning.


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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:32 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Note that of the 25 posts on this page so far, 15 are by the anonymous "neighbor".

People would be well served to listen to the Council members' actual stated rational for their vote. I don't know if this special meeting was recorded by the Community Media Center, but if so, it will likely be posted online within a few days at Web Link . When that is up, you can listen to all the public comments or skip past them to the last hour or so to get the Council members' comments before their vote.

People should consider what they're likely to get if this referendum passes.

The currently approved project would have 60 affordable senior apartments and 12 single family homes. Under the previous (non-PC) zoning which the referendum seeks to restore, the site could be developed with 34 housing units, or up to 46 housing units if a certain percentage is BMR.

Keep in mind that not all housing units are created equal: the 60 senior units would be small (600 sq.ft) one-bedroom apartments (1 of the 60 is two-bedroom for the manager), with an average occupancy rate of 1.1 seniors per unit, or about 66 seniors. On the other hand, the 34-46 units under "existing" zoning would likely each have 3 to 4 bedrooms and be many times larger than the small senior units. These homes would likely have families with two adults and kids, or maybe co-housing with an adult in every bedroom. Conservatively let's call it two "middle-age" adults per home.

To see the difference between the referendum failing or passing, subtract the 12 single family homes from both alternatives to compare the 60 senior housing units to the 22 to 34 family housing units. So we've got ~66 seniors versus 44 to 68 "middle-age" adults. Which do you realistically think is likely to generate more traffic, especially during the morning school commute hour that everyone loves to complain about? Really, why would 66 mostly retired seniors be getting into cars and driving off at 8 am? Are you regretting signing or circulating that petition yet?

.

Then there is this whole farce about, "oh, Council approved a huge development here, so they can do it next to your home too." If you're not from this part of town, you might not realize that the 4-story senior housing apartment is nestled into the back north-east corner of the site, as far as possible from the sea of R1 single family zoning, with existing 2- and 3-story apartments to the north and a massive 8-story apartment to the east. Did the petition signature gatherer "forget" to mention that to you when they asked for your signature?

I hope people will look past all the hype and judge the facts more objectively before they vote next November.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:18 am

With Cedric's post we see the trifecta of special interests now in play: affordable housing advocates, real estate developers, and the environmental zealots.

Any neutral person would also mention the rigged traffic study which failed to count bikes & pedestrians (I'm guessing Cedric doesn't care about bikes in this case, although he has been an advocate when the city council discussed the bike bridge over 101), the conditions in the loan agreement where the city can repo the property, and what the city can do if it does repo the property, like downzoning the property.

Cedric doesn't mention that the proposed development is under parked, and with the project being far from amenities like grocery stores, that the project will use more parking, in the neighborhood.

He also fails to mention that to build between 34 - 46 units, what the size of each unit would be (tiny), because of set backs restrictions, set asides for access, etc. and that no developer would build such a contorted development because by building a few larger units, they could make more money.

Cedric also doesn't mention that the grant deadline was suppose to be July 3, and since they missed the grant deadline how's it all going to work?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:50 am

Scharf says he does care about quality of life issues and
neighborhood character. He says he is listening to the residents
and gets it. But everything he and the Council are doing and not doing is destroying our neighborhoods. Voting for the Maybell
rezoning is a lesser evil imposed on the neighborhood according to
the Council. Setting aside that claim which is a matter of dispute,
look where we are in Palo Alto- supporting projects which are lesser
evils on neighborhoods and the City as a whole which can't take
any more hits. Everything is in that context- the lesser evil.
Arrillaga's modified 27 University Ave will be cast the same way.
So our starting point is the greater evil which is a developer's outrageous proposal or the existing zoning which is too permissive
with excessive densities and floor area ratios to start with. Shepard thinks we are getting 4 bedroom houses - we are getting 6
bedrooms sometimes with basements.So the decline of the City and its neighborhoods is going to continue in a downward spiral and in the end the Council members will say it could have been worse. We need
redirection and strong action in Palo Alto and instead the game
continues.



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Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:51 am

I was asked to sign the petition and took the time to ask a few questions of the person soliciting my support. Question 1, "Don't we need affordable senior housing" was met with a response of "absolutely yes, we are in favor of building senior housing on this site, it will not bring in any more traffic since seniors limit their trips out." She went on to explain that the horrible problem with this project was the large amount of traffic that will be generated by the 12 affordable single family homes built as an aspect of the project. Really? I drive near this area in the morning and it would seem that changing the behavior of a handful of parents who needlessly drive their children to school would counterbalance all these terrible traffic problems generated by 12 single family homes. In sum, it did seem to smell of either NIMBYism and/or "we don't want these kinds of people in our neighborhood."


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Posted by voters, you know what to do
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 9, 2013 at 7:21 am

"She went on to explain that the horrible problem with this project was the large amount of traffic that will be generated by the 12 affordable single family homes built as an aspect of the project. "


12 single family homes are gong to bring in that much more traffic? There are 4 multi-family homes on the site at the moment. So we're talking about 4 more single houses? You're forcing the district $600,000 to stop building 4 more houses?


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Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:17 am

Each step of the way, the Council's words have been scripted with rationalizations for a pre-determined outcome.

There has been pretend listening to the community's needs, and very real safety concerns that needed to be addressed and mitigated in the environmental impact report.

How can we really listen to listen to the likes of Nancy Shepherd talk about democracy when the City Staff signs an essential zoning declaration two day prior to the Council voting on the zoning change and 32 days prior to the zoning being in place. OK, this may be a technicality that can be explained away, but it is emblematic of the "we know what is good for this town, ram it through" approach that has council members apprearing to have been "bought fair and square" long before the topics are ever introduced to the public.

I know that we can do better. One example is that if the Council committed as much per unit for affordable housing for Barron Park as they did to other previous projects, the senior housing could be build without the need to grant high density exceptions on the market rate property.

That is the insult: traffic issues and children's safe aside,the project calls for market rate development that breaks the density, setback, and height limits that have been essential protections we have all honored. For what reason? To make money on the private development part of the project. Our quality of life is not for sale. We can do better, and we will find a way to build the affordable and senior housing our town needs without the injurious effects of this configuration.

Let's reverse the rezoning, start fresh, and do it right.

Timothy Gray -- Father of three children that go to school through that school corridor. And Greg Scharff, please do not call the concerns I have for the safety of my children "frivilous", as you did in last night's meeting.


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Posted by yeah right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

If the referendum goes through, this means PA will need to build 60 or so more housing units (not necessarily for seniors) somewhere else in the city to satisfy their ABAG requirement. I think the BP folks can accommodate 12 market-rate townhouses without a major impact on traffic and safety.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

@yeah right,
When neighbors attended the meeting in which they asked the rezoning of Maybell to be removed from the housing element of the general plan, staff reported that they had extra units. To underscore the Mayor's claim that the "fix was not in" they claimed they didn't need Maybell to reach their goal. So, no, that's not a true supposition.

In fact, the City told ABAG it could upzone residential neighborhoods to satisfy the requirement, yet here it s, setting a precedent by upzonng a residential neighborhood. If you are worried about ABAG, you should be supporting the referendum and the neighbors' attempts to maintain the character of their neighborhood.


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Posted by Maybe;ll resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

Hey, Palo Alto Online:
Why don't you publish residents photos so that voters in other parts of Palo Alto can see what Maybell looks like when school is in session and just how dangerous it can be?


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

@cheeseguy,
I don't know who you spoke with, but the proposed development is a 50-foot building in the middle of a residential area, when the current zoning only allowed 30 feet. The neighbirs not only do not object to seniors there, they prefer seniors. They are just asking for it to be built with some respect of the zoning, with height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other restrictions.

It's laughable to level the NIMBY charge at a neighborhood that already hosts so many affordable housing developments, including next to the proposed project, more than any residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. A neighborhood that has been trying to save a trailer park in its midst (that coexists with 2.5 million dollar homes).

In fact, PAHC used to make the point on their website that the goal was not to concentrate affordable housing in one place, but (as studies show is what works by far the best) to spread it out. But they seem to have pulled that off their site recently. They know that concentrating affordable housing in one area, which they would be doing here, is not recommended.

The neighbors would actually like a comprehensive traffic study done, one that includes current and not old data, and that looks at the impact to bikes and pedestrians, since theCity's own policy promises heightened scrutiny on school commute routes. That was never done, because the City loaned $7.3 million to PAHC (1.5 which they never told the public about) in advance of the rezone and didn't want to know the answers.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

@cheeseguy,
I don't know who you spoke with, but the proposed development is a 50-foot building in the middle of a residential area, when the current zoning only allowed 30 feet. The neighbirs not only do not object to seniors there, they prefer seniors. They are just asking for it to be built with some respect of the zoning, with height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other restrictions.

It's laughable to level the NIMBY charge at a neighborhood that already hosts so many affordable housing developments, including next to the proposed project, more than any residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. A neighborhood that has been trying to save a trailer park in its midst (that coexists with 2.5 million dollar homes).

In fact, PAHC used to make the point on their website that the goal was not to concentrate affordable housing in one place, but (as studies show is what works by far the best) to spread it out. But they seem to have pulled that off their site recently. They know that concentrating affordable housing in one area, which they would be doing here, is not recommended.

The neighbors would actually like a comprehensive traffic study done, one that includes current and not old data, and that looks at the impact to bikes and pedestrians, since theCity's own policy promises heightened scrutiny on school commute routes. That was never done, because the City loaned $7.3 million to PAHC (1.5 which they never told the public about) in advance of the rezone and didn't want to know the answers.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

@cheeseguy,
I don't know who you spoke with, but the proposed development is a 50-foot building in the middle of a residential area, when the current zoning only allowed 30 feet. The neighbirs not only do not object to seniors there, they prefer seniors. They are just asking for it to be built with some respect of the zoning, with height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other restrictions.

It's laughable to level the NIMBY charge at a neighborhood that already hosts so many affordable housing developments, including next to the proposed project, more than any residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. A neighborhood that has been trying to save a trailer park in its midst (that coexists with 2.5 million dollar homes).

In fact, PAHC used to make the point on their website that the goal was not to concentrate affordable housing in one place, but (as studies show is what works by far the best) to spread it out. But they seem to have pulled that off their site recently. They know that concentrating affordable housing in one area, which they would be doing here, is not recommended.

The neighbors would actually like a comprehensive traffic study done, one that includes current and not old data, and that looks at the impact to bikes and pedestrians, since theCity's own policy promises heightened scrutiny on school commute routes. That was never done, because the City loaned $7.3 million to PAHC (1.5 which they never told the public about) in advance of the rezone and didn't want to know the answers.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

@cheeseguy,
I don't know who you spoke with, but the proposed development is a 50-foot building in the middle of a residential area, when the current zoning only allowed 30 feet. The neighbirs not only do not object to seniors there, they prefer seniors. They are just asking for it to be built with some respect of the zoning, with height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other restrictions.

It's laughable to level the NIMBY charge at a neighborhood that already hosts so many affordable housing developments, including next to the proposed project, more than any residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. A neighborhood that has been trying to save a trailer park in its midst (that coexists with 2.5 million dollar homes).

In fact, PAHC used to make the point on their website that the goal was not to concentrate affordable housing in one place, but (as studies show is what works by far the best) to spread it out. But they seem to have pulled that off their site recently. They know that concentrating affordable housing in one area, which they would be doing here, is not recommended.

The neighbors would actually like a comprehensive traffic study done, one that includes current and not old data, and that looks at the impact to bikes and pedestrians, since theCity's own policy promises heightened scrutiny on school commute routes. That was never done, because the City loaned $7.3 million to PAHC (1.5 which they never told the public about) in advance of the rezone and didn't want to know the answers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

@cheeseguy,
I don't know who you spoke with, but the proposed development is a 50-foot building in the middle of a residential area, when the current zoning only allowed 30 feet. The neighbirs not only do not object to seniors there, they prefer seniors. They are just asking for it to be built with some respect of the zoning, with height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other restrictions.

It's laughable to level the NIMBY charge at a neighborhood that already hosts so many affordable housing developments, including next to the proposed project, more than any residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. A neighborhood that has been trying to save a trailer park in its midst (that coexists with 2.5 million dollar homes).

In fact, PAHC used to make the point on their website that the goal was not to concentrate affordable housing in one place, but (as studies show is what works by far the best) to spread it out. But they seem to have pulled that off their site recently. They know that concentrating affordable housing in one area, which they would be doing here, is not recommended.

The neighbors would actually like a comprehensive traffic study done, one that includes current and not old data, and that looks at the impact to bikes and pedestrians, since theCity's own policy promises heightened scrutiny on school commute routes. That was never done, because the City loaned $7.3 million to PAHC (1.5 which they never told the public about) in advance of the rezone and didn't want to know the answers.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

@yeah right,
Again, apologies for my portable device:


In fact, the City told ABAG it could NOT upzone residential neighborhoods to satisfy the requirement, yet here it is, setting a precedent by upzonng a residential neighborhood. If you are worried about ABAG, you should be supporting the referendum and the neighbors' attempts to maintain the character of their neighborhood.


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Posted by Think-For-Yourself
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

> Note that of the 25 posts on this page so far,
> 15 are by the anonymous "neighbor".

Issues like this one can be complicated. Not everyone has the time to dig into the details. As long as "neighbor" is speaking the truth, and not clearly spinning some crazy idea—then multiple posts can be educational for those without the time to fully research these matters.

> People would be well served to listen to the Council
> members' actual stated rational for their vote

Or .. Palo Altans would be well advised (by this poster) to "love, honor, and obey their City Council". Not!


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

@Cedric,
Note that the opposition to the neighbors didn't start until working hours the next day. PAHC is paying for their help, neighbors are just neighbors.

You would love if people would skip over the part where neighbors showed that City staff perjured itself for PAHC, wouldn't you? Nothing to see here, folks, right?


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

It saddens me to see people still getting fooled by PAHC's false dilemma--"Either we get everything we want or someone will build 45 houses there!" Even if you ignore the fact that 45 houses cannot fit in the area and follow the existing zoning laws (setbacks, access, etc.) there are still many options between giving PAHC carte blanche or stacking houses like cordwood.

I wonder if the people who claim that adding more traffic to Maybell will have no effect have ever tried to drive down it on rainy school days? If you'd like to see the bumper to bumper traffic going from Briones school to El Camino, we have photos and videos to share.

As far as we can tell, PAHC's plans for Maybell look exactly like what's gone into the Hyatt Ricky's development--take a look at Juniper Lane for an example. Do you think that looks even remotely in the character of the rest of Maybell or Barron Park? We sure don't.

PAHC is effectively asking permission to effectively break a good half-dozen laws, because they are going to provide some public benefit with the senior housing. Gee, can I be allowed to run red lights if I agree to plant a tree in Palo Alto?


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Posted by pavoter
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:49 am

I have heard that at one time the city planned to put the relay station where Briones Park now is. Neighbors protested and it was moved to where it now is, next to Walgreens on Maybell. Thank goodness, and we have a very nice park. That sure would have been ugly in that location between Arastradero and Maybell.

Also, the city had big plans for tearing down Terman School after it was closed and building apartments where the school is. Again neighbors protested, but were very willing to compromise. Much of the original Terman fields were converted to apartments (and I think support low income housing too), but also the school was saved. Thank goodness for that because we need that school very much now. And, it also shows how neighbors are willing to compromise with the city's wishes.

There are numerous apartment complexes which have low income housing already here very close to the proposed Maybell site. It is ridiculous to try to accuse the supporters of the referendum as NIMBY. Thank goodness neighbors have spoken up and protested flawed plans in the past.

But this steam rolling and upzoning and changing the Comprehensive Plans bodes very high density developments all over Palo Alto, not just at Maybell.

They will try to divide the neighborhoods, especially by calling it NIMBY but I hope most Palo Altans can see through that.


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Posted by yes
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

I'm voting yes. Hopefully the property taxes on this development will offset the cost of this special NIMBY election.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

@Timothy Gray,
You made some very good points - I'm wishing more and more you had been elected every time I read your comments - but the false verification of zoning by City staff for the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee's funding application for PAHC more than a month before they could conceivably have had the zoning in place is not a "technicality".

Having zoning in place, that meets the comprehensive plan, is a basic application requirement with a separate form just for the verification. Applicants make these representations under penalty of perjury. According to the form, City staff knowingly and deliberately represented PAHC as having the zoning in place 2 days before the City Council's final vote and 31 days before the ordinance was legally valid at the earliest. If citizen's referended, it wouldn't be valid even then, and given the "historic" opposition, they could have expected it.

The funding situation is competitive and representations made under penalty of perjury. Did the City commit perjury so PAHC could take money away from other affordable housing projects that played by the rules, most in less affluent parts of the country with much smaller City coffers? This is not a technicality. There are millions of dollars at stake.

(As near as I can tell, there is a big pool of money and it goes to the winners in order until it's gone. Given PAHC's giant request, they may be taking the whole pot, where the rest of the applicants asked for smaller amounts, meaning they could share. But I'm still trying to understand it.)


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

@yes "from Fairmeadow",

If you are interested in taxes, wouldn't you want the City to allow its supposed nightmare scenario where someone puts 45 (or a million, I forget which it is now) houses there, they'd all be paying property taxes. The 50-foot building won't be paying any taxes at all.

To everyone: Be very wary of comments made charging NIMBYism in this election, since this neighborhood already has more affordable housing development than any other residential neighborhood in Palo Alto. PAHC will have paid help who have and will continue to try to hammer us with those charges, and try to stir up divisions. You should be especially wary of continued charges of NIMBYism when neighbors have already pointed out how much affordable housing development we already have in the neighborhood, including next door to the proposed development.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

But "yes from Fairmeadow" makes a good point.

NIMBY charges are like kryptonite in this town. PAHC and the City know how to wield them to get what they want no matter how much it compromises safety for our children or how unreasonable given the limits of the infrastructure or how it destroys neighborhood character.

Our neighborhood, unusually for Palo Alto, already hosts several large affordable housing developments, one right next door to the proposed development. But most neighborhoods don't. If you allow this to go through, you will have no defense at all against unwise and overly dense development attempts in your neighborhood.

We have seen what an uphill battle it is to get the City to deal with the specifics, all they have to do is scream NIMBY no matter how nonsensical the charge. To those neighborhoods with very large lots and no affordable housing now, beware. If you want to have some say in things being done sanely, please help us do that now.

If PAHC can put in 45 units under existing zoning as they say, that's only 15 less than the 60, but it means they have to honor existing height, setback, daylight plane, and parking restrictions under the zoning to lessen the impact to the neighborhood. But they won't do this, because the City doesn't want to pay the actual cost, they want to essentially foist the burden on the neighborhood. (If they fill the 20 out of 24 senior BMR units at Moldaw that went unfilled for 3 years prior to the controversy, and which they seem to be filling now because of it, they have more than made up for the difference.)


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Posted by Think-For-Yourself
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

> Hopefully the property taxes on this development will
> offset the cost of this special NIMBY election.

The PAHC senior housing will generate no property taxes, since they will very likely apply for tax exemption for this property.

Under Prop.13, the taxes on any single-family homes will be 1% of the sale price. So, suppose there are 15 $1M homes built/sold. The aggregate assessed value for these 15 homes would be $15M. These homes would then generate about 150K a year in assessed property tax. The PAUSD would receive about 46% of this $150K (~$70K) and the City would receive about 9% (~$14K) per year.

The City claims that it is spending in the range of $2,500 for each resident, in public services. Assuming 45 new residents for the homes, and what 70-100 new senior residents, then the cost of services (per the City's model) would be somewhere in the $300K/year. It's difficult to see how the new tax revenue from this project will ever come close to paying for the actual cost-of-services for the new residents, much less for the cost of the referendum.


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Posted by Another Homeowner
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:50 am

Yes, you can call me NIMBY or actually NAMIMBY (Not any more in my back yard.)

Yes on both referendums not only for our area but to start reversing the PC upzoning trend that will be coming to other neighborhoods.


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Posted by unfortunate
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

It does not paint a very flattering picture of Palo Alto that we have banned the homeless, are willing to waste $600K to hold a referendum to block affordable housing, and have multiple civil rights complaints and investigations against our schools filed by minorities and disabled students.

Welcome to Greenwich west. Please leave any scruples and moral values at the gate. You won't be needing them,


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

So the City files a false zoning verification in the funding
application and only Schmid even brings it up. Nobody else on
the Council or staff even blinks. This is where we are in Palo
Alto. It's all a rigged game and sometimes it does get a little
messy.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

@ unfortunate,
The referendum isn't to block affordable housing. The referendum is because the City is favoring a developer at the expense of a neighborhood, and using affordable housing as the front man.

This neighborhood not only already has several large affordable housing developments, we are at the same time trying to save a large trailer park in our neighborhood from being demolished and the residents evicted from Palo Alto.

The existing affordable housing development right next to the proposed one, if people are being honest and not feeling coerced by PAHC employees, is also against the rezoning.

But you are right, it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of Palo Alto that City staff was apparently willing to falsely verify the zoning under penalty of perjury for PAHC to apply for millions of dollars in tax credits that would otherwise go in a competitive situation to other affordable housing operators playing by the rules.


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Posted by AR
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:40 am

I'd like to see a live debate on this so that voters can go to the polls informed by what they hear themselves rather than what is written by someone else. It would be helpful for plans + drawings of the proposed project + traffic studies + sketches of what the alternative development might look like should the referendum fail on display at the debate venue.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

@ AR,
Unfortunately, the traffic analysis with current data and assessing safety for bikes and pedestrians was never done, that's one of the big sore points for the neighborhood. They've been calling for it all along. In the Mayors so-called "summit", he even took that off the table and wouldn't discuss it.

But if you want to see a live discussion, watch the City Council meetings. (Search on "palo alto city council streaming video" and you'll find the link.)

Be prepared, though, that this is a battle between complete grass roots regular neighborhood folk and a well-funded professional group with strong ties to developers. The latter has shown a willingness to attack individuals, so you may not get the kind of debate you wish, as there is no formal leadership of the neighborhood. But if you want to hear their side, watch the City Council meetings. Many, many neighbors have spoken, and of course, many PAHC people and their allies.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:55 am

It is easier to drive through Times Square in NYC during the evening than it is to drive through the intersection of Amaranta and Maybell in the morning when school is in session. The day I tried it, I saw mostly young children so I assume the congestion verging on total gridlock is not due to the change in start time for Gunn.
That the City decided to hold the election this November instead of at least waiting to add it to another election clearly demonstrates that the City has no problem spending money. Since this is the case, obviously they will not need a yes vote on any tax increases, including parcel taxes and we can all refuse that.
At one time, the residents of Barron Park and probably others who wanted Bol Park bought the land from the Bol family. It took a bit of time but we all pitched in to purchase our park. Would it be at all possible to purchase the Maybell property, not necessarily the part that already has 4 homes on it, but the part that is the orchard and not owned separately? I think we might find donations for this purpose. I would certainly contribute. It could then be incorporated into Juana Briones Park as dedicated park land.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:55 am

The main argument for the upzoning of the neighborhood seems to be that the City just needs to convince the neighborhood of the nightmare they would get with lower-density zoning, and that we're just too stupid to know what's good for us.

Well, we're not too stupid to know the difference between a 50-foot building, as proposed, and a 30-foot building, which is the limit under the existing zoning.

Build the affordable housing under the existing zoning. Let the ranch houses be sold and renovated instead of demolished and two houses put in place of every one of the ranch houses. Please reject the overbuilding of a residential neighborhood for the benefit of developers. Send the City a message that Palo Alto is not for sale.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@Sunshine,
Yes, it would be possible to purchase the property, and the Mayor has indicated they would be amenable to the sale if a buyer came forward.

Unfortunately, they won't actually pull the property out of this overdevelopment track to allow the neighborhood to do it, they want us to raise money for a hypothetical possibility of getting the property, which means no foundations or philanthropic groups could get involved.

And of course at the prospect of it, they keep upping the sale price. However, the City's own estimate of the value of the orchard property is $6.7 million (presumably, total after sale of the ranch houses).

People have been asking for the opportunity to turn the orchard into a park. But neighbors are pretty overwhelmed just trying to keep it from being turned into a 50-foot building with Miki's Market-like 2 houses for every ranch house there now. If others would be willing to spearhead an effort to save the 100 trees and turn it into parkland, neighbors would support it.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Since the city is so intent on having more low income senior and other housing in Palo Alto why don't they use the site that now has the Buena Vista trailer park? It is in a far better location, closer to services than the Clemo site.
Before you vote in November, there are some questions that the City needs to answer:
1. Will places be reserved for all of the seniors displaced from Buena Vista trailer park?
2. Will there be spaces reserved for the other residents of buena Vista trailer park, those who have children in Palo Alto schools?
3. Will Palo Alto residents have first pick of the senior units? Or will the whole area, including the low income senior building be open to the entire Santa Clara County? This means that many who do not now live in Palo Alto will have equal access to the units and Palo Alto seniors who are low income may be shut out. Note that Santa Clara county is over 1000 square miles, and includes from Palo Alto to Morgan Hill and over to the east bay.
These questions are important. The city should answer them before the vote. The city response should become part of the law for the site.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

>Klein said. "It's hard for me to understand why the neighborhood objects. But there it is, and we'll respect the process."

Move the project to Klein's neighborhood, then see if he feels the same way.


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Posted by Wasteful City
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm

If the City pays out big bucks simply to put this issue on the ballot this year, I will say "NO" to the Infrastructure bond measure next year.
Think of the money that could be saved and put to good use re-paving our streets and repairing our sidewalks.

All these separate elections - what a waste of money!!!


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Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

Facts: 161 adult and children POSSIBLE BEDROOMS (250 to 400 people or more )UNDER THE ZONING before the PC designation; 61 seniors and plus 12 houses with let's say 4 bedroom 96 people plus 61-70 seniors who are low income and mostly non car drivers.

No change is needed for the landlord to proceed under the zoning that has been in place since 1978.

The higher building for seniors is between an 8 story building and 3 story buildings and will be surrounded by single family houses.

THE RESIDENTS OF MAYBELL AREA ARE BETTER OFF WITH THE PAHC PROPOSAL THAN THE STATUS QUO.

Misinformation has been the hallmark of this campaign. I believe that anger at Rickey's, Lucky and High Street developments and the treat of Arrillaga is what is behind these referenda and suggest this will be recognized as a mistake by many of those who signed the referenda petitions, not realizing that this will cost $600k or more and will not gain them anything.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Alice,
You should not be decrying misinformation while spreading so much of it. And you are not on the side of Greenacres directly affected, why don't you let those who are affected decide what we are better off with? Like a legitimate traffic study that would answer some of the safety questions? Or a 30-foot building under the existing zoning versus a 50-foot building as proposed?

The City has a choice not to spend the $600k. It could simply ask PAHC to build the senior housing under the existing zoning, respecting height, setback, daylight plane, and parking limitations, among others. Problem goes away.

They could choose to have the election next year, and it will give everyone time. PAHC did not meet their basic application deadlines anyway and there are serious problems with the City having submitted a false zoning verification. There is a CEQA suit.

The existing zoning is only not R-1 because of the Tan building, which is a historic sore point. It should not be used as an excuse now to NOT honor the transition zoning. The existing zoning IS the transition zone, so upzoning it is a violation of the comprehensive plan and creates a giant spot zone of density in the middle of a residential R-1 neighborhood, with no gentle transition.

The 3-story buildings you speak of are part of the upzoning.

THE CURRENT HEIGHT LIMIT UNDER THE EXISTING ZONING IS 30 FEET. We would like that respected. Anyone in a residential neighborhood would.

The fact is, the City could put the 61 seniors in that location, under the existing zoning, if it let go of the money-making scheme with the private market-rate developer and simply paid as much for the units as it did for the units at Alma downtown, instead of essentially foisting the burden onto the neighborhood. Then they could make the senior building comply with the 30-foot height limit of the existing zoning.

THE RESIDENTS OF MAYBELL ARE BETTER OFF WITH THE EXISTING ZONING. Whether PAHC builds there or someone else does.

But if you want to know whether Alice is misinforming you or I am, take a look at the satellite photo of 567-595 Maybell for yourself. That's the address of the 4 perfectly good ranch houses there now. Now look at the site next to it. Do you think you could put 45 houses there, while respecting setback, height, density, parking, and daylight plane restrictions of the existing zoning? A developer is going to maximize their profits, not put as many sticks in there as possible that would never sell.

Former Planning Commissioner Joe Hirsch has said it's at most 15-18 houses under the existing zoning.

Stop trying to force this monstrosity on us while telling us we should like it because we'll get worse if we don't, and that you know better than the people who live here. We'll take our chances.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Staff report has admitted there are no guarantees in the PC zone that the property will remain affordable or senior housing. Why didn't they put a guarantee in there?

This is a giveaway to developers.


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Posted by Voter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

It was comical last night watching the city avoid answering the questions raised about the missing $1.5M in taxpayer money. (For those of you now wathching as closely, the city council approved a 5.8M dollar loan to the PAHC, but proceeded to lend them $7.3M without any public debate or disclosure). This issue was raised by several members of the public and completely ignored. I am interested in seeing if accountability will be applied.

The same can be said for the misrepresentations that the City and PAHC made under penalty of perjury to the state tax credit allocation committee. Councilman Schmid did ask the city attorney what happened, and she looked like she was going to choke, and eventually offered up some gibberish about talking to the committee on the phone. No answer was given about why the false claims were made and if they were retracted (which they apparently weren't).

It looks like the city's $200K+ new chief PR hack will be busy spinning this one for a while.


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Posted by Midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

"Former Planning Commissioner Joe Hirsch has said it's at most 15-18 houses under the existing zoning."

Former commissioner joe has been spreading this misinformation on other threads and neighbor is parroting his comments. Former commssioner joe also stated, on another thread(Web Link), that it was the PAHC that was stating this--they are not.

This is from the city of palo alto website:
Web Link
"Under the existing zoning (R‐2 and RM‐15) approximately 34 to‐46 homes could be built. "

I do not care for the methods of the leader behind this referendum (Bob Moss). I think he is basically against any or all change in Palo Alto. He will now cost the city $600K+ for a special election. His acolytes are now busy tarnishing the PAHC and anyone that dares to disagree with them.
I will vote no on these referendum

oh and Craig:
"Move the project to Klein's neighborhood, then see if he feels the same way."
Why don't we move it to College Terrace--same old same old comments from you.
CT must feel left out. they used to be the #1 whining neighborhood in Palo Alto and now Barron PArk has passed them.


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Posted by Vote the Bums Out
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The city council doesn't listen to its constituents. The council pretends to listen to the citizen. Then, at the end of the city council meeting, they "read" their already prepared talk on why they will be voting the way they are. The council does this over and over again. I hope the Maybell referendum group makes up lawn signs. I want one.


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Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I support Barron Park residents in their fight against our City officials and staff who have been way too lenient, to say the least, with developers, for too many years now. The result has been the construction of monsters in this city, think Alma Plaza, JCC, or Hyatt Rickey for instance: oversize, and overwhelming, not to mention ugly.

It's time to rise up and stop this. The November vote will be a perfect opportunity to do so. I will vote with Barron Park residents on this.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Im actually glad the election is sooner rather than latter, the city council needs to be put on notice immediately to KNOCK IT OFF on this development crap. They're ruining our city with this massive development binge, and we are over it. If they put the election off a whole year or more, god only knows what more damage they'll inflict in the meantime. Now, when this election goes through, they'll get the message loud and clear. = and the people will have proved they have the power they need to make it stop. NOT JUST ABOUT MAYBELL


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

>CT must feel left out. they used to be the #1 whining neighborhood in Palo Alto and now Barron PArk has passed them.

Nope, BP has woken up, and they are now defending their own neighborhood. I fully support them on this issue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DGN
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote the Bums Out
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, 2 hours ago

>Klein said. "It's hard for me to understand why the neighborhood objects. But there it is, and we'll respect the process."




Move the project to Klein's neighborhood, then see if he feels the same way

Yes, you have a point here.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

People keep waving around the nightmare scenarios if PAHC doesn't build. But let's look at what happens if PAHC builds and sells the property or doesn't continue to operate it as a low-income property for seniors.

The City's own staff report says there is no legal promise that the property will remain low-income or for seniors.

If PAHC decides it can no longer operate it, or federal tax credits dry up, or they don't have enough seniors within the 30%-60% of median income who want to pay that much to live in a 600 sq ft unit without many services or any nearby amenities, they can sell the property to a market-rate rental operator. Or they can convert it to low-income non-seniors, and pay nothing to support local services.

Now instead of 15 residential homes, there are 12 stovepipe homes and a 60-unit, 50-foot complex full of people sending their kids to Gunn High School. And adding to the nightmare traffic the City never bothered to do due diligence on.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Thank you, parent in Charleston Gardens. We're going to need help from people like you in Palo Alto, because we are seriously outgunned. The Maybell neighbors have been true grassroots, and have borne many of the expenses so far by literally passing the hat. We have no traditional leadership, and no prospects for hiring professional campaign people the way PAHC will.

Thank you for your support.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Thank you, Vote the Bums Out and Midtowner!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Allen Edwards
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Quit changing the zoning on an exception by exception basis. Oh, to get the old zoning back on Alma Plaza...

What seems like a community benefit when the project is proposed might turn into a community nightmare when it is complete. Perhaps I should have said always turns instead of might turn. Will they ever learn?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

The hat was passed at the first meeting of the Maybell Action Group, and you've had no lack of lawyers putting together the various aspects of your program. The weekly reported that Joy Ogawa, who had experience fighting changes on California Avenue and who was at that first meeting, would be representing your spin-off "Coalition for Safe and Sensible Zoning."

Then there was the lawyer's fee for writing up the [portion removed] "conflict of interest" lawsuit regarding the City Council's loan to PAHC.

And the lawyer fees for the CEQA lawsuit. What they come to and who will pay the bills. Will the Political Action Committee that you've spun off be financially independent of the Maybell Action Group, or the other way around? You've built a multi-layered structure to work towards changing the composition of the city council and repealing planned community zoning through the initiative process. Wish you'd post your organization chart so we could keep it all straight.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

"Now instead of 15 residential homes, there are 12 stovepipe homes and a 60-unit, 50-foot complex full of people sending their kids to Gunn High School."

How can you, after these months of on-line discussion, make this kind of claim? How are these one-bedroom apartments for low-income senior citizens going to be full of people sending kids to Gunn? This is like when you claimed that Maybell was 15' wide (I measured it and I believe it was 26').


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

PAHC and the City keep claiming a worse and worse nightmare scenario for the property if somehow they don't get their way. Let's look at the nightmareoptions:

1) "nightmare" scenario #1, the one the City keeps peddling:
PAHC doesn't get its zoning and decides to sell the property. The City warns then that what we will get on that property will be far worse and less safe. Alice Smith above warns that HUNDREDS of people will live there! Since the City has a duty first and foremost to the safety of its citizens, luckily they have recourse to prevent any unsafe scenarios from occurring. In this case, the City has, under the loan contract and according to the staff's own report, the right to buy or repossess the property from PAHC, so they can do the traffic safety study they should have done in the first place, place deed restrictions on the property so it guarantees only a certain number of homes will be built there in a safe configuration, and resell it perhaps even at a profit. Or they could give the neighbors a chance to buy it for a community orchard (which is the only option that will mean any of us will ever vote for these bozos again - unless to recall them).

2) "nightmare" scenario #2, the one that could realistically happen:
The City staff report says there is no legally binding obligation for the property to remain for low-income seniors. PAHC violates all zoning rules and puts up a 50-foot building where currently the height is restricted to 30-feet, at a density equivalent to RM-60, with only 47 parking spots for a 60-unit development, including employees and visitor parking.

PAHC could turn around and sell it to a market-rate rental housing operator the day after they build it. They could sell it to someone in a few years. If PAHC decides it can no longer operate it, or federal tax credits dry up, or they don't have enough seniors within the 30%-60% of median income who want to pay that much to live in a 600 sq ft unit without many services or any nearby amenities, they can sell the property to a market-rate rental operator, there is no requirement that they hand it over to another affordable housing operator and keep it for seniors. Or they can convert it to low-income non-seniors, and pay nothing to support local services.

Now instead of 15 residential homes, there are 12 stovepipe homes and a 60-unit, 50-foot complex full of hundreds of people sending their kids to Gunn High School. And adding to the nightmare traffic the City never bothered to do due diligence on.

In nightmare scenario #2, unlike in #1, the City has absolutely NO SAY. Do no let them upzone this property in the middle of a residential area!


On the other hand, PAHC could do as the neighbors have been asking and build the affordable housing for seniors under the existing zoning. They get almost as many spots, while the height, setback, daylight plane, parking, and other limitations of the zoning are respected, and everyone is happy, except for the City Council which couldn't foist the actual costs on one neighborhood.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

@Jerry,
"Now instead of 15 residential homes, there are 12 stovepipe homes and a 60-unit, 50-foot complex full of people sending their kids to Gunn High School."

How can you, after these months of on-line discussion, make this kind of claim? How are these one-bedroom apartments for low-income senior citizens going to be full of people sending kids to Gunn? ."

BECAUSE ACCORDING TO THE CITY STAFF REPORT, THERE IS NO LEGAL GUARANTEE IN THE ZONING THAT THE PROPERTY HAS TO REMAIN FOR LOW-INCOME SENIORS, OR LOW-INCOME PEOPLE AT ALL.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

The neighborhood has absolutely no legal guarantee that PAHC, once it has its zoning, is going to retain those apartments. What if they don't get their funding? (As the don't seem to be too good at following the rules.) What if they aren't able to attract the right market segment for low-income renters? After all, 20 out of 24 senior BMR units in their control went unfilled for 3 years and are only now being filled because of the controversy and the City renegotiating them. They completely misjudged their clientele. They have been loudly proclaiming the need for these units because 20% of Palo Alto seniors live below the poverty line, but City staff say the income range will be 30-60% of median income, which means ZERO seniors below the poverty line.

After all, they decided to make the property for seniors only after they realized it would be easier to get the rezoning through politically. This project was not originally conceived by them to be for seniors. What's to keep them from converting it to a younger demographic after they build it? NOTHING. There are no legal requirements for them to keep it senior affordable housing. Then there could be 4-5 people per apartment - 250-300 people, most of them to send their kids to the local schools. Plus the 12 stovepipe homes (two homes for each ranch house there now, think Miki's market) with 4-7 people each, and that's potentially almost 500 people. WITH ONLY 47 PARKING SPOTS.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Is the term "stovepipe homes" the latest rhetoric being used to,show,us how evil PAHC and the city is? The pro crowd is already throwing around accusations of fraud. What will be next?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Whoops, silly me. That's potentially almost 400 people. With only 47 parking spots.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm

"The City staff report says there is no legally binding obligation for the property to remain for low-income seniors."

PC rezoning ordinances are always written this way. The developer's privileges are ironclad, but their obligations are unenforceable.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

@Not an issue,
Residents included documents from PAHC's application with the letter they read in to the record last night. These are not just accusations, they provided the evidence. PAHC's application is public record. So are the City documents. You may read them yourself.

The City staff signed a document for the application, under penalty of perjury, verifying that PAHC had their zoning, even though it was two days before the final vote and 33 days before the zoning, by their own public report, would have been valid. No one has used the "f" word -- is that what you are alleging? Certainly, the zoning verification is a basic requirement of the application, and it's a competitive situation, so PAHC could likelyl be taking away money from other affordable housing projects, almost certainly in much less wealthy cities.

"Stovepipe homes" "chimney homes" -- I've heard many names, but everyone is welcome to come to Maybell and look at the ranch houses there now, and imagine someone putting TWO houses there for every ONE there now. It was originally planned to be even denser. It's just an appropriate adjective, you're the one throwing around words like "evil"

Bottom line: there is no legal obligation in the rezoning for the property to remain for seniors or low-income. Interesting that the City Staff report spells that out explicitly. But once it's built on at that high density, there will be no way to change it. After all, all their rhetoric about needs aside, PAHC didn't originally propose this as a senior project, they only changed it to a senior project when they realized it would be easier politically.

I think the term for that is "bait and switch".


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Neighbor-- perhaps you should read this story:
Web Link
As you can see the pro crowd is throwing around the " fraud" accusation.

So why not just say " two homes instead of one"? Reminds me of how people in palo,alto,label homes they do not like as " taco bell homes" and mcmansions?
Just rhetoric intended to inflame the masses-- usually when the facts are lacking.


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Posted by no orchard
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm

BP/GM residents need to get it through their heads that this valuable property will not be left as an orchard–it WILL be developed. The only questions are when, by whom, and for what. It seems that studios for seniors are about as low-impact as they'll get. Yes, there will be 12 townhouses, too, but no one outside BP/GM actually thinks they will significantly negatively impact the quality-of-life for Maybell area residents.


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Posted by DGN
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

The way PAHC explains the change is that judging from feedback from the community that traffic impact was a major source of concern it would be wiser and less disruptive to shelve the family housing and go instead for low-income senior housing.

If that's what you mean by making it easier politically to get the project done, I agree completely.

Both kinds of housing are needed. PAHC's business, non-profit but still a business, is to produce and manage low- and moderate-income housing. Why would you see it as problematic that they chose a project with less impact on the community? Wouldn't it be worse if they had insisted that it had to be family housing?


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

"Or they could give the neighbors a chance to buy it for a community orchard"

Neighbor, I'd align myself with a remark made by the mayor last night that his favored outcome would be for the orchard to remain as evidence of our agricultural heritage, but that there's no way that's going to happen.

Doug Moran of the Barron Park Association has said that the concept of a heritage orchard came up several years ago but didn't get much support. A member of your group issued a call several weeks ago for people to attend a public meeting and show support for the orchard and very few came.

You've issued appeals on Town Square for people in the Barron Park/Green Acres area to step up and commit money, and then recently you broadened the appeal to people across the city.

Have the appeals been successful?

Remember when I said I'd donate $100/yr. to support the orchard if you came up with a realizable plan to save it? The offer stands.


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 10, 2013 at 3:06 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@Jerry,
I don't know why you have such difficulty wrapping your brain around "grassroots", but you keep confusing me with other people and other circumstances, some I have no knowledge of. I'm just another of many. I didn't even collect signatures. I am interested in an orchard, and never heard about any meeting. I'm not a part of a formal group, so I'm not sure who you are referring to when you say "a member of your group issued a call several weeks ago" - was it on a neighborhood list? Some group list that you are a part of and I am not?

It's also really hard to engage with you when you never answer the question about what is your connection with PAHC? Why won't you disclose?

You know what I would really love? Imagine a long, low, L-shaped building across the back and right of the property, just the low-income seniors (auction the ranch houses to individual high-end developers, as some construction professionals suggested would net more money anyway, and it was never even considered - everyone is happy if they just get renovated) and most of the orchard remains intact in the front. What say you? Won't happen, but that's what I wish when I think of the best of all worlds.

Your $100 is most welcome. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 7:49 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Welcome back PAcitizens. I assume you are"neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood" who posted above in this thread. So we know you are registered with Town Square but use your registered name only when comments are closed except to registered members.

Why?


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Posted by Richard C. Placone
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Richard C. Placone is a registered user.

I am posting this comment on several blogs in order to get this message to Palo Alto residents. Richard C. Placone+
Fellow posters/concerned citizens,

I recently sent a copy of the OnLine Express to all council members in which the lead story was about council deliberations re possible new ways to increase revenue - taxes, bonds, etc. I did this because I have heard several times that council members do not read these blogs or the comments made by citizen responders, characterizing such posters as mostly "Nay Sayers". In my personal view, I think most posters are thoughtful, have good ideas, and are on point in their comments. As you will see from the response to me below, only one Council Member responded and does not agree with me. You should draw your own conclusions about the comments to me and my response back. However, I urge everyone who comments on this site to:

(1) Email your comments to citycouncil@cityofpaloalto.org and sign your name and address. This is apparently the only way we can be heard – and taken seriously. Such communications go into the council meeting packet.
(2) Phone one or more council members and set up an appointment to "enter into a dialogue with them directly" at a local coffee shop or restaurant. You could also go to council meetings and speak for 3 minutes, but we know that there is no "dialogue" from council members during those periods. The following information is from the city website if you wish to communicate directly with an individual council member:

Patrick Burt (650) 388-8639 Patrick.Burt@cityofpaloalto.org
Marc Berman (650) 329-2480 marc.berman@cityofpaloalto.org
Karen Holman (650) 444-4017 karen.holman@cityofpaloalto.org
Larry Klein (650) 323-0780 (h) (650) 330-4744 (o) lklein@thoits.com
Gail A. Price (650) 856-6260 gail.price@cityofpaloalto.org
Gregory Scharff (650) 868-9303 greg.scharff@cityofpaloalto.org
Greg Schmid (650) 444-6313 greg.schmid@cityofpaloalto.org
Nancy Shepherd (650) 326-6452 nancy.shepherd@cityofpaloalto.org
Liz Kniss (650) 888-8671 liz.kniss@cityofpaloalto.org

As far as newspaper reports "marginalizing" the issues, it's my opinion that the Weekly does the community a great service in providing analysis of the many issues facing the city.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is Council Member's reply to my e-mail to all the council:

Sent: Thursday, August 8, 2013 6:05 AM
Subject: RE: Express: Today's news, sports and hot picks

Dear Richard,

I do read them from time-to-time. They are difficult to take seriously for two reasons 1) typically the information used to base opinions comes from the news report which gives sketchy background for deliberations therefore the full robust issues are marginalized, and 2) only a few, if any, sign their name. Council members are accountable for their thinking, the blogs are not. It is especially difficult to see conclusions which skip over facts, and use inaccurate assumptions. It's best to receive responses from community members who can enter into a dialogue with council directly so that members can respond and explain their thinking if interested.

I read these blogs quickly last night and found the discussion omitting facts from the deep considerations only council is responsible for matching between the crumbling needs of our capital infrastructure with revenue streams based on deep research the city has from a few community studies. Thankfully the discussions don't villanize council members personally, which is never fun to read, but easy to write when posting anonymously. If I got to be selective with my facts, then I could make make everyone happy.

I know you don't trust our thinking, or staffs and I am sorry for that. Council members have a wide range of decisions to make,and we need to become knowledgeable on all levels of civic life unlike most other cities on the peninsula, and more like San Francisco and San Jose. Palo Alto is a thriving community when measured by a reliable ability for homeowners to experience escalating house values even with the crushing traffic and parking problems and in the middle of one of the worst financial crises in the history of our country. We are struggling with our success and being a global "it spot" of where everyone wants to be, and other city's want to replicate. While neighboring cities struggle with subprime mortgage disruption, we struggle with exponential business success.

I pick our "problems" any day! I know it's gotten too much for some in our community--it always does. I'm losing my best friend to Austin next month because she wants to try something new. So, they are renting their modest 3-bedroom house for $7,000 month to finance their new life in Texas. There are not many areas of the country where homeowners can do that...it might even be safe to say "only in Palo Alto". Opportunities here seem unlimited.

Take care,
**********************************************************************
Here is my reply:
Dear (Council Member),

I am disappointed in the elitist tone of your reply. You seem to think that Palo Alto is superior to Menlo Park or Atherton or Mountain View or any of our neighboring cities and towns.

You also seem to think that council members are smarter and wiser than ordinary citizens. Do you really think that all residents writing on the blogs reach "conclusions which skip over facts, and use inaccurate assumptions."? How about the city council pushing for High Speed Rail several years ago? What about Council's recent belated realization that new buildings are ugly and over sized and too close to the sidewalk? Aren't these the very same buildings you all approved?

What about the city manager's admission to the Weekly that "staff reports on proposed PC projects are not intended to identify conflicts between Comprehensive Plan policies, but are meant to provide the findings needed for the council to adopt the staff's recommendation."
Or is this one of those cases where the press got it wrong?

Do you really think that only council members are "knowledgeable on all levels of civic life"? We live in a city of highly-educated people, many of whom have jobs with extensive responsibility. And we have many engaged residents who study the issues carefully, even going so far as spending their own money for reports and studies when they don't trust staff's presentations.

You write, "It's best to receive responses from community members who can enter into a dialogue with council directly so that members can respond and explain their thinking if interested." Just how much dialogue do we get from Council when we come before you to speak for 3 minutes? How much dialogue does the average person get when sending emails? You are one of the few who ever responds.

It is frustrating for me and many other residents to be so readily dismissed – and disrespected. It is my opinion that Council does not like to hear criticism. You all live in a sealed environment where you feed each others' beliefs that you are all right all the time and anyone outside the circle is uninformed, cranky or (the favorite term lately used by one council member in particular) vitriolic.

It would be refreshing to have council members – and staff – occasionally step up and say, "We made a mistake. Thank you for bringing it to our attention."
Sincerely,
Richard C. Placone
Palo Alto (Barron Park)



















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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

pat is a registered user.

neighbor, please stop all the wishful thinking about a community orchard. No matter how we might all love to have an orchard in our backyards, land in PA is too expensive for any developer to buy the property and leave it to the apricots.

> "Why don't you publish residents photos so that voters in other parts of Palo Alto can see what Maybell looks like when school is in session and just how dangerous it can be?"

Video is at Web Link

> "If the City pays out big bucks simply to put this issue on the ballot this year, I will say "NO" to the Infrastructure bond measure next year."

You should vote NO on the infrastructure bond regardless of this referendum.
From Web Link , Palo Alto weighs tax increases for infrastructure fixes.
"Berman was more open to a bond and argued that the city should save regular tax revenues for looming expenses such as the escalating pension and health care costs. He advocated a bond for those items that resonated with the voters, including sidewalk and street repairs."

Public safety and basic infrastructure, such as streets and sidewalks, should be at the top of every city's priority list. Yet somehow Palo Alto has managed to spend public money on everything from The Color of Palo Alto to a bicycle bridge while ignoring the crumbling streets and buildings.

Now Council has the nerve to suggest that our taxes should be saved for outrageous and ever-escalating pensions and benefits –and then ask for MORE money to pay for basic needs.

> "How are these one-bedroom apartments for low-income senior citizens going to be full of people sending kids to Gunn?

Seniors can have others living with them. To qualify for senior housing, one has to be 62 or older. Sometimes kids live with their grandparents.

> "It looks like the city's $200K+ new chief PR hack will be busy spinning this one for a while."

The new chief communications officer earns $175,000/year base salary.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood,

"It's also really hard to engage with you when you never answer the question about what is your connection with PAHC? Why won't you disclose?"

PAcitizens,

At the risk of repeating myself (again), I'll repeat my post to you on this very point.
-----
Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2013 at 6:48 am
Jerry Underdal is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

My involvement with the Maybell Project has been with the interests of the Maybell neighborhood of Barron Park uppermost in mind, not those of PAHC or those who want to use our neighborhood to advance a goal of overturning the current development process and changing the composition of the city council. Those may be worthy goals, but they're not my focus.

My primary concern is that student bicycle and pedestrian traffic safety concerns be addressed.

PAcitizens, like you, my favored end-state at Maybell/Clemo would be a renovated orchard with the four houses even though it wouldn't be good for the city overall because it would be a lost opportunity to add to the housing stock.

Next would be the PAHC proposal in its final form. I won't list here the ways I think the neighborhood would come out well, I've done so elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I think the alternative ways to develop the property would be disadvantageous for the Maybell neighborhood.

From this point on, I'm more curious than involved. PAHC will gear up to present its case and won't need someone like me to raise questions about facts that haven't gotten a real hearing, voters will make their decision about the rezoning and about PC zoning, the government will respond in some form and within a couple of years the Maybell/Clemo property will be developed.

I hope someday in the near future a journalist or political scientist will do a thorough analysis of how the Maybell/Clemo controversy grew from insignificant to potentially transformative in the politics of Palo Alto. ---end
-----------------
Since that post I have moved from curious to involved. The stakes for our neighborhood are too high if that property is developed by a commercial developer. Traffic will be greater, the neighborhood will look worse, and we will have lost forever the opportunity to have low-income senior housing on that site. I believe your position is hurtful to our neighborhood.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@Jerry,
You do not need to worry about what will go there if the property stays within the existing "low-density residential" zoning. What could be built there is "low-density residential" and "low-density multifamily residential".

If somehow PAHC decides not to build, and wants to sell the property, in this case -- unlike other cases where private companies own the property -- the City has first right of refusal by virtue of the $7.3 million loan it made to PAHC. The contract gives the City the right to buy the property without any competition.

Since City Council has been making noises about how dangerous building under the existing zoning would be, they would have a duty to taxpayers to do the traffic safety analysis they should have done in the first place, and place deed restrictions on the property before reselling it. They might even make money on the resale, if they are to be believed about the value having gone up. Problem solved.

Do you think that with this "historic" level of involvement by neighbors, that the City will be able to get away with doing something that could be deemed retaliatory or negligent, especially by liability lawyers in the future? Do you think the citizens will allow the City, which has complete ability to prevent those scenarios, to just act out of spite or negligence if this deal falls through?

Secondly, City staff's own report on the rezoning states specifically, and rather ominously, that there are no restrictions requiring the property to be for seniors or low-income, or to remain that way (being sold to another operator or the City, rather than to a market-rate developer). You want to know what would be far worse than your fake scenario where someone builds 15-45 units (depending on who you believe) on that property? Where someone rezones it to PC zoning, and there is a 50-foot building with small apartments occupied by up to 300 people plus the up to 100 at the stovepipe houses on Maybell, all moving there to send their kids to Gunn High School and Terman.

There are no legal restrictions on that rezoned property to keep it as what we are being sold the rezone as. In the past, the City has even commissioned a consultant review of PAHC in which the consultant pointed out that there have been times when PAHC has sold its properties to non-low-income, including at the Redwoods and Abitaire (and that they have difficulty enforcing their rules).

Even recently, PAHC had 20 out of 24 senior BMR units go vacant at Moldaw for three years because they so misjudged the needs and wants of their clientele. They have advertised the need for seniors at Maybell by saying many times that they think 20% of Palo Alto seniors live below the poverty limit, but the proposed income range for their residents doesn't even come close to covering one single person who lives below the poverty limit. Things don't always just work out when they haven't thought things through, as the past demonstrates. If for any reason they decide to sell the property to make money, they have every right to do so, and no one can stop them. They could do it the next day.

The rule of thumb in low-income housing is that it's supposed to be spread out and integrated in a community, not concentrated in one place, as PAHC is doing there. What if they suddenly decide to follow that maxim again, and sell that property to make money to do other things more consistent with their mission? To place the senior housing more near things seniors need? They would make a killing selling a now high-density apartment complex, and the neighbors could do nothing about it.

The nightmare scenario is the rezoning. No matter how you dress it up, it's still a 50-foot building, when they would be limited to 30 feet under the existing zoning. The neighbors next to it are the most upset, I hope you can see why.

PAHC can get nearly as many senior units by building under the existing zoning.

If the property is not rezoned and not overdeveloped, then those who are interested in saving the 100 trees may be able to convert the property to a community orchard. You have claimed to be for a saving the trees/a community orchard - I'd love to see you walk the walk. It will be possible, but only if the property isn't rezoned.






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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 7:39 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

I'd like to add an important fact to this discussion. PAHC has not chosen the for-profit developer that would build the 12 houses along Maybell and Clemo. Not even close, according to Candice Gonzalez, Executive director of PAHC.

I wish I had had this information long before now. The terms of argument in various Maybell related threads have been along the lines that PAHC had chosen its favorite developer and was acting to protect its interests, etc. All wrong.


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 14, 2013 at 12:04 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

During the so-called "summit", it was revealed that PAHC only spoke with a few developers of dense row housing and never dealt with any high-end developers who would build anything except the typical stovepipe houses you see at Miki's, which is what's going in on Maybell. One developer or three -- makes no substantial difference.

There is lots going on with the for-profit developer. The financing agreement, involving for profit developers, has been the primary reason for PAHC's stonewalling, according to their own people when various neighbors have tried to ask for compromise, like a 3-story main building instead of a 4-story building.

The ordinance mentions the $1.5 million and in lieu fee to be paid by the developer. Now that's an interesting arrangement. PAHC upzones the neighborhood for the benefit of the market rate developer's profits, and gets them to pay $1.5million to avoid putting in affordable housing. Since the developer has to dedicate 15% of more than five housing units to the BMR program, there's your reason they wanted 15 houses and wouldn't go lower than 12 (putting two houses for each ranch house there now) -- because putting in 7 as the neighborhood wanted to make them more consistent would mean the developer would only need to throw in 1 BMR unit, and there goes PAHC's $1.5million in cash. Also explains why they didn't auction individual lots to high end developers, and why they only wanted to talk to builders who put in dense row housing.

Interesting that this arrangement is never mentioned in the funding application.


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 14, 2013 at 12:12 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

Yes, according to Candace Gonzalez, they didn't "pay" anyone to attend the City meetings to make up warm bodies for PAHC. After a long pause and choosing her words carefully for Karen Holman, I guess she decided "pay" and "coerce" aren't the same.

According to Candace Gonzalez, they also had the zoning in place and consistent with the general plan two days before the final vote and over a month before it would have been valid at a minimum, when the property has never yet been rezoned even for a day.

The neighborhood has been treated to a litany of abuse, including charges that we are NIMBYs, even though PAHC has a large development already next door. So you're not making a strong case with the neighborhood by bringing up anything according to Candace Gonzalez.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Just thought people in the neighborhood ought to know what the PAHC executive director has to say about not having already selected a developer.

They can decide whether it makes any difference or not, but at least they'll have that fact available.


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Posted by PACitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

PACitizens is a registered user.

The selecting of the exact developer is irrelevant. The City upzoned the market-rate portion, which is more than half the property, to not only get that money out of it, but also to get the in lieu fee, which comes from the increased density. Zoning for sale, in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

We have never had to finance affordable units this way in Palo Alto, and we don't need to now.

As for Candace Gonzales' urgency about housing seniors, first of all, this project didn't even begin as a quest to house seniors, it began as a project for a younger demographic, and a desire to have that property for PAHC to have a cheap way to compete with Eden Housing (which developed 801 Alma) to become top dog in the low-income housing arena in Palo Alto again.

If there was such an urgency to help seniors, there were 20 new, unfilled senior BMR units at Moldaw that sat empty for three years -- a fully assisted living situation in a real senior center (whereas Maybell will just be apartments with not even any amenities nearby in walking distance in the neighborhood). They have claimed it was because of the income range, but they have had a waiting list in that income range 600 deep at High Street -- which they heavily marketed in order to get -- if things were so urgent, you would think they could have filled 20 spots. Because of the Maybell controversy, the City finally got around to renegotiating the terms this spring and filled some of the spots. If they felt such an urgency to seniors, you would think they could have done that anytime in the three years prior.

Secondly, the Moldaw situation highlights the need to understand the senior low-income market in Palo Alto. PAHC has repeatedly said the need is because 20% of seniors in Palo Alto have incomes below the poverty limit. While that statistic has been disputed, what isn't is that the apartments will be limited to 30-60% of AMI, which means it won't be serving the segment living below the poverty limit. PAHC touts its waiting list, but the waiting list isn't restricted to people living in Palo Alto, or vetted for income qualifications, in fact the vast majority of residents in its properties come from outside of Palo Alto. This makes sense for younger workers, but most residents are weighing the costs of this project based on providing for Palo Alto seniors, when there is no guarantee of the need in that income range because no marketing study was done, or that those living there will even come from Palo Alto.

Lastly, if the need is so great that the city prioritizes this as an expenditure, they should pay the actual cost of the units and not try to save money at the neighborhoods expense through densification and inadequate parking, etc. They should pay the actual cost of the units - as the developer did at 801 Alma - and put just the senior housing there as the neighborhood as signaled a willingness to accept (so long as proper safety analysis is done for the development). If this was so urgent, they wouldn't be making this about forcing their financing scheme onto the neighborhood and Palo Alto, they would be building the units now.


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