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Maybell neighbors launch campaign

Original post made by grassroots on Aug 28, 2013

Well, given how completely grassroots this is, I may as well announce this here as anywhere else!

The neighbors who live near the Maybell orchard have qualified a referendum for the ballot, Measure D, which will be voted on November 5. They are a completely volunteer group of parents, seniors, and concerned neighbors, who want to see developments in the residential neighborhood respect the zoning (or even just close to it), and for development to put the safety of kids first.

The other side, of course, is well-funded and has already hired a political campaign consultant to run their campaign. Neighbors have been passing the hat at informal meetings. But now, at least, they have a real campaign fund, overseen by Timothy Gray and complying with fair elections practices. Now they need some funds!

One of the most important and most urgent matters they are facing is the need to ensure an impartial ballot. When citizens want to fight City Hall, they have the democratic check and balance of bringing matters to the vote through referendum or initiative. Unfortunately, as they have discovered, even when the City is a party to the dispute - as they often are for any referendum - the City gets to write the ballot question and "impartial analysis".

How can that be? That Cities, as parties to these conflicts, get to control what goes to the voters as "impartial"? How can an election be fair when even the question voters are asked can be biased (as we believe it is here)?

Maybell neighbors want to ensure the impartiality of the ballot, but it turns out there is no explicit process short of hiring an elections firm and file in court to have a judge decide.

It also turns out that there is very little time to do this, just 10 days, and lacking any budget, a few neighbors spent much of that time trying to just express their concerns and work things out with the City themselves, to no avail. If they are going to file, they must do so by tomorrow or Friday, and the legal time is expensive.

Please consider contributing to the No Rezone Maybell campaign. If you wish to help neighbors ensure the fairness and impartiality of the ballot, please include a note to that effect and donate soon!

Web Link





Comments (20)

Posted by rat hole, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2013 at 12:05 am

What's the expected voter turnout? 12,000?


Posted by grassroots, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:08 am

@rat,
Perhaps you really aren't from Barron Park, or maybe you're from the other side of it, so you do not realize that there are more large affordable housing developments in that neighborhood already than in any other residential part of Palo Alto, including right next door to the Maybell orchard? So it's a little late to call neighbors NIMBY's, since they already have a great deal of integrated affordable housing in their midst.

Also, you perhaps also don't realize that HUD policy discourages the concentrating of affordable developments in one place, because of decades of research about what helps and hurts affordable housing -- and concentrating it in one place in an unprecedented way is what this development does.

Perhaps you are also not aware that the Maybell location is not nearby any services seniors need. The development will only have 47 parking spots for 60 units, employees, and visitors, on the promise that few residents will have cars. Perhaps you would like to drop your grandma off there every day for the next few months until the election and let her walk to all of her grocery, medical, and other needs. Make sure she brings her walker, she'll need it when she swings out into the middle of the street like other seniors who live in the neighborhood have been known to do to reach El Camino.

And perhaps you are also not aware that two large affordable developments in the same neighborhood are being lost - Terman apartments is converting to market-rate after being affordable only 25 years, and the trailer park (market-rate affordable, no rent control) residents are being evicted for expensive apartments the developer wants to put in at the same 60-units per acre as the Maybell rezoning, even though current zoning is RM-15. (If City Council didn't make it so easy for developers to do whatever they want...)

People up and down the Peninsula are tired of being helpless against City Councils that let anything go when it comes to massive development. Maybell neighbors are being called by others asking how to do the same thing.

The conflict will not be over even if the measure passes, because neighbors can see that a large development on that seriously substandard street is dangerous for the kids, and the City refused to the a traffic analysis that included bike and pedestrian safety. Instead of encouraging an ongoing conflict over overdevelopment in a bad location, how about helping everyone win -- reject the ordinance, and support using the money instead to buy the Terman Apartments so they can remain affordable housing. There are 92 units there, more than the 60 proposed at Maybell, and it's literally a few blocks away.



Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:38 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

I am a resident of Barron Park and I support Yes on D, to enable affordable senior housing and 12 market rate single-family homes. I know many people in this neighborhood who also support this project. Yes, there is a lot of people here who are bent out of shape about it, but this sentiment is not unanimous. Further, I hope that project opposition will diminish as people move past the hype and learn more facts. To that end, here's my take on some of this, but it is late so I won't spend a lot of time editing my comments from other threads.

1) Residents are concerned about the size of the development and its traffic impacts on Maybell. But if project opponents defeat measure D, then the development permitted under current zoning is likely to have a much larger traffic impact.

Here are the facts about the current zoning: The larger 1.84 acre portion of the Maybell/Clemo site is zoned RM-15, which means 15 "units" per acre of multifamily residential. Multifamily means apartments. So on that part of the site alone, 1.84 acres * 15 units/acre = 27 units (up to 37 if a certain percentage are low income). Applying the existing zoning to that site, with a bit of rudimentary geometry & math, shows that it is imminently doable to fit 27 appartments within the allowed area, setbacks, height, and daylight plane. Further, the allowable total floor area is 40,075 sq.ft., divided by 27 units gives 1,484 sq.ft. per apartment (including common areas), which is comparable to my house of 1,500 sq.ft. (including the garage) with 3.5 bedrooms.

So what do you think will generate more traffic: 60 tiny one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors, or 27 large three- or four-bedroom apartments for families?

(One can find the zoning details for RM 15 at Web Link and, more concisely and to the point, this table Web Link which applies to section 18-13-040. The dimensions of the lots in question can be found on the santa clara county assessors map, downloaded in pdf from Web Link. My calculations pertain to lot #109, which is listed to be 1.84 acres == 80,150.4 sq.ft.)

2) Not all "units" are created equal. Zoning refers to housing "units", not bedrooms, which are a more accurate barrometer of how many people might actually live in a home. So a tiny 600 sq.ft, 1-bedroom apartment is called a "unit", but so is a large, 1,400 sq.ft 4-bedroom apartment. The PAHC proposal permitted by Measure D will have 61 bedrooms in the senior unit, combined with 12 houses at ~3.5 bedrooms each give about 103 bedrooms in the PAHC proposal. Under existing zoning, the two sites can accomodate 34-45 units, so let's conservatively say 34 units at 3.5 bedrooms, that's 119 bedrooms, or 16% more bedrooms under current zoning, than what would be allowed by measure D.

3) Since anonymous posters complain of the density of 60 one-bedroom units on 1.1 acres, it is only fair to point out that, of the 1.84 acres currently zoned as RM-15, 40% is essentially down-zoned to R-2 and road under measure D. That's how Measure D gives us houses on Clemo instead of an apartment building.

4) The portion with four ranch homes along Maybell is currently zoned R-2, which permits two housing units on each lot, so even under current zoning it appears 8 homes would be permitted on those 4 lots. Measure D would have 7 houses on Maybell, with part of the higher RM-15 zone given over to the single-family Maybell lots.

5) Anonymous posters have misleadingly characterized the senior apartment building as being "in the middle of an R-1 neighborhood". It is in fact jammed into the corner of the large lot furthest from the R1, immediately next to an existing 8-story apartment building and a row of 3-story apartment buildings.

6) The so called "50-foot building" is actually a mostly 45-foot building with a tiny part, the top of the elevator shaft, if I recall correctly, at 50'. The wing closest to the R1 areas is actually less than 45', at only 1.5 & 3 stories. (Early plans with drawings [incl. the originally 15 houses which Council later limited to 12 in response to residents' concerns] can be seen in the PTC staff report, see for instance, page 5 of Web Link)

7) People concerned about government spending on social needs may appreciate this project's innovative funding mechanisms to use market forces to pay for affordable housing. The independent non-profit Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC), bought the property, and plans to sell a sizable chunk of that property to a private developer to build market-rate homes. This will pay for a big chunk of the cost of the project, and significantly eliminates the need of direct government funding to address this social need. While the city did loan PAHC money to purchase the property, keep in mind that this is a loan and will be paid back. Further, the project is designed to be financially self-sufficient, paying for the mortgage, maintenance and senior services through the rent paid by resident seniors. The low income units will subsidize the ultra-low income units. So, the only on-going government subsidy, if any, might be a reduced property tax collected from the senior portion of the site, assuming such a reduction is planned (Some say it is, I don't know if it is or not).

The affordable senior project can not pay for itself without the 12 market rate houses to defray the cost. If there were only 45 units not 60 (to fit within current zoning), there would not be enough low-income units to subsidize the ultra-low income units, the economies of scale would not exist, and the project would not be viable.

8) While in general it may be a good idea to mix income levels throughout a community, it makes sense to group affordable senior housing together in one building, so that resources like visiting nurses, shuttles to shopping/doctors, community rooms, a community of peers, and other services can be shared. Here there is the opportunity that seniors could get involved with the school nearby for great inter-generational activities.

I am a private citizen, a resident of this neighborhood, and I am neither paid nor coerced to support this great project which will have a less impact on the neighborhood than what is likely under current zoning. My support for this project stems from an ethic of helping those in need. My commitment to truth and accuracy drive me to speak up because of all the misinformation promulgated by anonymous posters. I post under my real name because I am proud to speak truthfully and politely.

I hope Palo Alto will join me in voting Yes on D.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2013 at 7:51 am

Sorry, I do not believe a single promise made by the developers. After what John McNellis did at Alma Plaza with the support of the city council and opposition from 90% of the residents, I realized how they operate -Just promise anything to get it done, once its passed, it cannnot be reverted. No Thanks. I will vote no on this and any other big development. These folks ruin our quality of life by building totally unsuitable developments then go live in Los Altos Hills. I bet you won't find any high-density housing near any of their houses. They would never allow it.


Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 8:24 am

I am a resident of Greenacres, where internal polls showed nearly unanimous sentiment AGAINST Measure D, and against the Ordinance, as the historic level of opposition has demonstrated. Barron Park has differences of opinion, but the majority are AGAINST - the closer they are to the location and understanding the serious impacts on the neighborhood and the safety of the schoolchildren, the more they are AGAINST Measure D.

Thank You, Midtown resident, you've hit the nail on the head. City Council has passed an ordinance for 4-story, 50-foot building of 60 units with only 47 parking spots for residents, employees (there will be at least 5), and visitors. They keep saying the seniors won't drive, but it's clear to neighbors how unwalkable that location is, nowhere near any services seniors need. On PAHC's application, the medical facility they listed as being less than a mile away is Planned Parenthood.

They justify the lack of parking by comparing other senior locations around town that have far more services on-site, like dining halls -- the Maybell property will be just senior rentals, it is not a senior center -- or, like Stevenson House, are next to all kinds of amenities, like steps away from a major grocery store, Betty Wright Swim Center, Cubberly Community Center and Mitchell Park library and community center, Mitchell Park, near Costco, etc etc. (Yet Stevenson House doesn't have enough parking and residents have an agreement to park their excess cars at the neighboring church during the week, and the school on the weekends.)

The Maybell neighborhood not only doesn't have any such capacity for extra cars, any the development does produce will take up the small number of spaces available at Juana Briones Park and the few street spaces available for families at Juana Briones Elementary, the OH, and the county rehabilitation unit (which already faces conflicts over parking with elementary parents because of the limited parking). This problem will be exacerbated by the City taking away the Maybell street parking on Maybell during the day, where the residents of the existing PAHC property, the Arastradero Apartments, park some of their overflow cars because they don't have enough parking on site.

What the ordinance doesn't state is what happens WHEN the parking proves to be inadequate. (It doesn't state what happens someday in the future WHEN the property ceases to be affordable and is converted to market rate, or ceases to be for seniors (because of its distance to anything seniors need) and families with multiple cars move in.)

There will be serious consequences to families with small and disabled kids. There will be serious consequences to the only community asset in the area, the park. The City will be reproducing for the neighbors nearby the untenable parking conditions faced by Downtown North. There is nowhere else for these cars to go, and the calls by neighbors for the City Council to be sensible about the parking issue have fallen on absolutely deaf ears. Like Midtown Resident says, they promise anything, no matter how unrealistic, just to get it done, and leave the neighborhood holding the bag.


Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

The measure is NOT about allowing senior affordable housing. Measure D isn't what allows the housing. Measure D is about who pays for it.

The senior low-income housing could be built under existing zoning, and would have been fine with the neighborhood if it had been PC zoned anything close to the previous zoning. They would get nearly as many units of senior affordable housing under existing zoning, and could have gotten as many with a better PC zoning plan if it had just been even somewhat close to the existing zoning.

What the ordinance/rezoning/measure does, plain and simple, is allow the City to pay less per unit and push the majority of the COSTS for the low-income apartments onto a small neighborhood through serious violations of the zoning, including dense for-profit/market-rate homes for the sake of getting in lieu fees for the City. According to Greg Schmid, the City is paying about a third to a quarter the cost for the units at Maybell as they did downtown at 801 Alma.

So, it's not like the City CAN'T build the senior housing if it had to pay the actual cost, they have shown a willingness and ability to do so at another location at the same time.

The financing scheme to pay less at Maybell -- where almost 60% of the property does NOT go for affordable housing but is instead upzoned for a market-rate developer to build dense houses no one could build under existing zoning or in the adjacent neighborhood -- is set in stone in the ordinance. The in lieu fees are in the ordinance. PAHC never had the ability to negotiate in good faith for anything even close to what would fit the neighborhood.

In other words, if PAHC sold off the market-rate parcels to single-family builders instead to put up a few homes more consistent with the surrounding R-1 neighborhood, even if they made just as much money, the City wouldn't get the in lieu fees it is getting by rezoning for densely packed market-rate homes. They are violating the comprehensive plan and the neighborhood for what amounts to a kickback enabled by the density.

That bears repeating. There is little to no opposition to the senior affordable housing in the neighborhood. Nearly all of the opposition flows from the land use that comes from the way the City is trying to reduce what they pay for the units by forcing the neighborhood to bear the cost burdens. If it wasn't for nearly 60% of the property going to densified market-rate/for-profit, the senior housing could be larger and lower, with adequate parking and more consistent with the neighborhood. And maybe the City might have done the traffic safety analysis for the four thousand school children traveling the two school commute routes the property sits between that the City refused to do.

Please vote AGAINST Measure D. During Council meetings, Councilmembers and PAHC indicated that this was the first time PAHC had tried this particular financing scheme, where they buy up a property, upzone part of it for the benefit of a for-profit developer -- and the City gets in lieu fees from the densely packed market-rate homes that it wouldn't get from residential-neighborhood-sized parcels -- they talked about it as PRACTICE for the next time.

If you do not want complete nullification of zoning rules coming to your neighborhood for the sake of making your neighborhood pay the costs of the affordable housing so the City doesn't have to, reject this precedent -- vote AGAINST Measure D.

And please help neighbors ensure the impartiality of the election materials! They have only two days, and they have no campaign war chest like their opposition.


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

I am an enthusiastic supporter of affordable senior housing. I initially thought that a little extra density should be supported to help with a good cause. That is until I looked at the details, and discovered a Trojan Horse, or a Wolf in Sheep's clothing.

Measure D is not about affordable housing for seniors. Affordable senior housing can be built under existing zoning.

Then why the rezoning? The proponents are trying to sneak in private market high density zoning on the coat tails of the worthy cause of affordable senior housing.

Fact: Affordable Senior housing can be built on the land without the rezoning.

Fact: Measure D is foisting the market rate rezoning on the false claim that it is needed to build affordable housing.

Fact: The Senior Housing accounts for less than half of the land being rezoned. Measure D is really about rezoning the nearly 60 percent of the land surrounding the senior apartments, to allow market rate high-density 3-story stack and pack homes on 3,000 square feet lots.

Reason? to make up extra profits not related to senior affordable housing.

The affordable Senior housing can be built under existing zoning and will produce really respectful spaces for seniors. Voting AGAINST Measure D assures is a vote for preservation of neighborhood zoning that has room for the needs of all citizens including seniors.

The Rezoning is simply about money, and sets the precedent that no matter what zoning may be in place in your neighborhood, it can be changed overnight. Tell the Council it must keep its promises to the neighborhoods by voting AGAINST Measure D.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

See, here's the slew of anonymous poster(s) starting up their classic misinformation mill again, too ashamed of what they write to put their names behind their words.

Anonymous "A neighbor and parent" writes: "The financing scheme to pay less at Maybell -- where almost 60% of the property does NOT go for affordable housing but is instead upzoned for a market-rate developer to build dense houses no one could build under existing zoning..."

The key falseness there is "upzoned". 1.84 Acres of the site is currently zoned for APARTMENT BUILDING, which means the large site fronting Clemo could have a 35' 3-story apartment building, within 20' of Clemo (it could be further back on the site, but it would be up to the hypothetical developer). Under Measure D, how is converting 60% of the lot from APARTMENTS to HOUSES "upzoning"?

Under Measure D, the Clemo frontage will have first, a row of existing large mature trees, then a row of 3-story single-family HOUSES, then a parking area, and in the way back, the 1.5 & 3-story wing of the affordable senior apartment, then attached to that on the north/east the rest of the building is 4-stories, jammed as far back as it possibly could be from the terrified neighbors.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 9:34 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"Well, given how completely grassroots this is, I may as well announce this here as anywhere else!"

Doubly anonymous! Usually we get the benefit of a made-up name at least.

Who is asking for my money to make sure that the wording of the impartial analysis is done by the "No on D" campaign instead of the city attorney's office?


Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

"But if project opponents defeat measure D, then the development permitted under current zoning is likely to have a much larger traffic impact."

[Portion removed.]

There are so many reasons their claim is UNTRUE, but let's start with a few:

1) If PAHC decides to sell the property, by virtue of the $7.3 million loan contracts the City entered into to buy the property, it has first right of refusal and can pass through the property with whatever deed restrictions are necessary to ensure no burdensome or unsafe development takes place there.

Given the enormous disclosure already placed IN THE PROPERTY RECORD regarding safety, the City would be negligent not to do the traffic safety analysis for the schoolchildren that they refused to do in favor of pushing this rezoning through, and to place restrictions on any burdensome land use there. The City already faces a $17 million dollar lawsuit because of a claim that "a substantial factor that contributed to this incident is the City of Palo Alto's negligent design, construction, maintenance, signing, operation and control of the roadways,"

Even if the City doesn't think it owes the "heightened scrutiny" of developments on school commute routes their own policy promises, it at least owes the taxpayers some attention to reducing the serious liability they would incur by ignoring this duty.

2) Given neighborhood volunteers qualified TWO referenda for this, one in just 10 days, with 8,000 signatures between them and the first referendum to qualify in 10 years, managed to get two independent traffic analyses of the traffic report, unearthed the $7.3 million in loans (when the City had disclosed only $5.8million), the City verifying the zoning for PAHC more than a month before it would have been valid at a minimum, and conflicts of interest, some neighbors filing a CEQA suit -- believe me now when I say, the neighborhood not only has recourse, but will hold the City accountable for ensuring anything that goes there be safer and better, should the high-density land use be rejected.

3) Some neighbors concerned about the environment and quality of life in Palo Alto have launched an effort to preserve the historic orchard with 100 established trees at the property now. If PAHC chooses not to build there, or the City chooses not to commit the funds necessary to actually pay for the housing there (as opposed to foisting the costs onto the neighborhood through the rezoning/measure), that group already has an alternative plan for a community orchard/small community center/science and learning center for the kids. That neighborhood has none of the community assets of any other part of town. The only asset is Juana Briones Park, which would be an electrical substation if the City had its way and neighbors hadn't protested and gotten it moved nearer to El Camino.

4) Should the property be sold for development, even if the City is completely negligent about its responsibility to safety and neighbors somehow suddenly fall asleep after showing historic levels of participation, developers are going to maximize their profits, not maximize units at the expense of profits. More units in an expensive residential neigbhorhood like that means more materials costs, labor, environmental review from subdividing, turning over units to the BMR program or paying in lieu fees, etc. In this neighborhood, the price homes fetch isn't linearly related to square footage. Going from a 1500 sq ft home to a 2,000 or 2,500 sq ft home is a huge jump in resale/profit. Greenacres tends to have very little turnover anyway, but when those larger homes do sell, they tend to go for $2million - $3 million, sometimes more, especially new or remodeled ones.

An old 1500 sq ft home on a flag lot at Maybell went for about $1.65million in 2013. That's about the limit for that square footage. But that homeowner can expand, anyone in tall skinny densely packed homes on the orchard property could not. There would be a limit to what a developer would make on smaller homes and the building costs would be higher (more bathrooms and kitchens). Building 2,000 sq ft homes or larger would net a jump in prices over $2million each. The maximum profit in that area is larger homes over 2,000 sq ft.

The single biggest influence on resale in that area is proximity to Gunn High School and the other schools. The demand is by families, and comfortable homes for families with some space go at a premium. Any builder would be going for that market because they would have the best profit and most guaranteed buyers. Large homes doesn't mean more bedrooms, it means a lot more money for the builder for the same sized family (and lesser traffic impacts).

5) The specifics of the rezoned development plan put much of the traffic onto Maybell, an overburdened street of substandard width that doesn't even have space for one full-width bike lane or sidewalk on either side of the street. The design was often dictated by their funding scheme and tax credit application scoring system. If the Maybell property had a community orchard on it, obviously, there would be fewer traffic impacts. If it had even two dozen houses on it (which is only a net of 12 over the 12 densely packed market-rate houses in the plan now), the traffic could all be routed onto Clemo and Arastradero, with a light placed there (and tied together with the light at Coulomb to minimize delays). It eliminates any traffic from the development at all being routed onto Maybell.

6) A market developer may not even demolish the existing, perfectly good 4 ranch houses -- it's cheaper to renovate, they are already over 2,000 sq ft each (if the record is correct), and the houses are actually bigger as is than they could be if under the current zoning if they were demolished.

[Portion removed.]



Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

[Post removed due to repetitiveness.]


Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

[Portion removed.]

The Maybell property is currently zoned for R-2 and RM-15, which are, according to the City zoning regulations 'LOW DENSITY RESIDENTIAL" and 'LOW DENSITY MULTIFAMILY RESIDENTIAL". Perhaps you missed the LOW DENSITY in both, as the City Attorney apparently did in describing the RM-15 on the ballot.

The proposed PC rezoning puts TWO houses for every ONE ranch house there now, on 3,000 square foot lots, plus 5 3-story houses that could not be built under existing zoning, also on 3,000 square foot lots. That is HIGH DENSITY.

The proposed PC rezoning puts a 50-foot building were the limit is 30 feet under the existing zoning, for a 60-unit building on 1.1 acres -- the equivalent of RM-60, which is HIGH DENSITY by anyone's measure.

The ordinance itself justified the PC rezoning by describing the many ways that even RM-40, which is HIGH DENSITY wasn't even enough.

The existing zoning would require a minimum of 104 parking spots, but the plan only has 47 spots for 60-units, residents, visitors, aides/nursing, employees, and family. It's too great a burden to place on a neighborhood that has NO excess parking, and will be made worse by the City forbidding parking on Maybell for the existing PAHC properties that don't have enough on-site parking.


Posted by A neighbor and parent, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:00 am

By the way, if the City actually honored the comprehensive plan, RM-15 means 8 units per acre, not 15.

The RM-15 zoning of that spot is the transition zoning called for in the comprehensive plan, between the Tan and Arastradero Apartments - the Tan in particular built under county rules before it was part of Palo Alto - and the R-1 residential single family area that SURROUNDS them. If not for those historic exceptions, if not for that SPOT of apartments in the middle of that large R-1 area, that parcel would also be R-1 today. The RM-15 zoning is the TRANSITION zone called for in the general plan from the apartments to the R-1 neighborhood surrounding them.

The Comprehensive Plan states, for all multiple family zones, "DENSITY SHOULD BE ON THE LOWER END OF THE SCALE NEXT TO SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL AREAS."

RM-15 is 8-15 units per acres. The comprehensive plan says a lot of other things indicating that the density should be on the lower end, or 8 units per acre, which would fit better with the approximately 16 homes that would be built on the whole property in a realistic market-rate development scenario. If the property were developed, under existing zoning, for low-income seniors, they get a density bonus, and that's when more units could be built (with the neighborhood's blessing).

Just build the senior housing. Stop trying to make a single neighborhood pay for it.
Please Vote AGAINST Measure D.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@grassroots, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

I apologize for my "doubly anonymous" comment. When I clicked on the link to join the conversation there was no identifying header.

So the post is just anonymous, not doubly so.


Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm

To reply to some of Cedric's comments on the density on the site from PAHC proposalvs. existing zoning, he calculated the number of units allowed under RM15 a bit high. It actually is 27 uits, plus up to 10 density bonus if 20% are BMRs or 37 total. Gross area per unit is a bit over 1400 sq. ft. but that overlooks the building area required for entry, hallways, stairs, etc. That reduces the effective size of each unit by 75 to 100 sq. ft. In addition each unit is required to have 100 sq. ft. of usable open space that counts against total unit area, so the actual unit living space can't be more than 1200 to 1250 sq. ft. which is more likely to give 2 bedrooms than 3. Being generous the total bedrooms with RM-15 zone with a density bonus would be 85. The area zoned R-2 can't support a second house on any of the lots. Lot depths are 80 feet at most, and 595 is only 65 feet deep. At most four 4 bedroom houses can be built on those lots, or 16 total bedrooms. So original zoning allows 101 bedrooms.
The 12 homes proposed wound NOT fit in R-2 since the maximum lot would be 2350 to 3400 sq.ft.vs. 6000 sq. ft. min. in R-2 zone. Of more significance is that the senior housing would be at a density of 50 units/acrenext to single family zoning, sonething that violates several Comprehensive Plan policies and programs, and the Council resolution not to increase developmenmt density in single family zones.
If Measure D is approved every residential neighborhood in Palo Alto is at severe risk of having similar high density zoning jammed in under all sorts of wonderful sounding rationalizations. Vote Against Measure D. The neighborhood you save may be your own.


Posted by Steve Bennet, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

It would be nice if there was a global setting where any anonymous comments could be hidden. In a local community residents should feel comfortable voicing opinions publicly. My concern with the project stems from the City Council governance, the loan and subsequent zoning change. I am voting against Measure D primarily as a vote against an arrogant and tone deaf council. Had they truly been willing to listen and work towrd compromise and not offered up the kangaroo court, we might not need this expensive election.


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 30, 2013 at 7:29 am

Complaining about ballot language is a sign of weakness which those voting No on this housing surely must feel. Weakness in taking a stance that only hurts poor people. There is never more than a throw-away-comment by opponents that they "support" affordable housing before they gallop on to their tiresome litany of rationalizations for killing the project. Oh - I'm sorry, not "kill the project" but reform all development ills in town - that have nothing to do with Maybell. Opponents' assumptions are weak and irrational, so all that is left is to wring hands and whine.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

Attacking the City's impartial analysis is smart move by those against Measure D. If anything, the effort helps sharpen the opposition's arguments against the PAHC's Maybell Project and sends a message about how serious the opposition is about being heard. Filing a legal motion is much more than simply complaining, it's serious challenge to the City's position on Maybell and Palo Alto development policy in general. Maybell supporters can complain about anonymous online posts, but they neglect to mention that the Maybell opponents are willing to go before a judge and make their case in court. Honestly, I believe those against Measure D seem to understand the California Elections Code better than our City Attorney.

Ellie, it's very clear at this point that those against Measure D and residents living in the Barron Park/Green Acres neighborhoods aren't against affordable housing. With Jerry's "It's the best we can do" and Cedric's "It's not really 50 feet, it's more like 45 feet tall" arguments, Maybell supporters aren't going to change many minds.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

I wish there were a way to find out what the other bidders on this property intended to do with their $16.75M purchase.

Does the Maybell Action Group dispute that the property would have gone to a commercial developer if PAHC had not bought it?


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