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Measure D sides spar over impact of project

Original post made on Sep 28, 2013

Opponents and proponents of Measure D all say they are in favor of more senior housing in Palo Alto. What they clashed on during Saturday's afternoon's debate was whether senior housing is really what the measure on November's ballot is really about.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, September 28, 2013, 3:00 PM

Comments (163)

Posted by Vote-NO!-on-Measure-D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm

> "This is about this project," Scharff said. "That's what you're
> voting on. Do you want this particular project?

Kind of reminds you of that scene in the Wizzrd of Oz, when Alice finally gets to OZ and finds a little man behind a curtain, manipulating some equipment, bellowing: "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

Of course this vote is about sending a message to the City Council about their willingness to carve up, and sell off, Palo Alto to the Developers. Greg Scharff is a land use lawyer, who has bellowed in his own time: "The building is the benefit" .. when people started asking about the generous variances that have been given Developers, and gotten little back but a lot of new traffic and parking problems in the neighborhoods.

People who want Palo Alto to have a hope of not disappearing in dozens of projects like this one need to Vote NO!


Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

The problem with this is the city is insisting it can bend the rules because it knows best. If you or I try to bend the rules, what do you think would happen?

The neighbors have no problem with senior housing, but they do with willy-nilly changing the zoning. We are told that by changing the zoning we will actually get a much better project and less density. Huh? Sorry, but that is hard to believe unless the city tries to punish the neighborhood with some other bad project should Measure D be defeated.

This is about protecting R-1 zoning.


Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

"This is about protecting R-1 zoning."
EXACTLY! We do not want affordable housing in the neighborhood unless it's unaffordable!


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I think it's really important for voters to realize that Measure D itself is about whether the property is rezoned to high-density from low-density or not. That's all.

It's not about whether the property can have affordable housing on it or not, because affordable housing could be built on it now as zoned, and just as much could be built there if they came forward with a plan that didn't involve selling off more than half to a market-rate builder and shoehorning the affordable apartments onto less than half of it in a high rise.

The City Attorney has not been impartial in all of this, and the analysis and ballot question are heavily biased to get people to think the senior housing is enabled by the vote. It's not, because the senior apartments could be built without the high-density rezoning.

"McCown said the economics for such a project wouldn't work. The greater density and the single-family homes are needed to finance the subsidized housing for the seniors in the lowest-income category."

The way the federal funding grants work, the economics would work better if they had chosen a location nearer to amenities seniors need. The density would also be more acceptable if they hadn't chosen a residential neighborhood. If they needed the density, they should have looked for a location where density is more appropriate, since many have been on the market in recent years especially on El Camino.

And, the neighborhood would not be fighting now if PAHC had proposed 60 units of JUST senior apartments, had done the appropriate traffic safety analysis -- and hadn't made it so that more than half the property is going to a market-rate for-profit as this proposal does. If they built just the 60 units over the whole property, they wouldn't have to make a 50-foot building in a residential neighborhood.

For the Mayor to claim the lots are compatible is emblematic of how the council have twisted the facts at every possible chance to steamroll this rezoning. Talking about the width of the lots is only half the story. The lots will be 3,000 square feet or less, when the R-1 neighborhood is 6,000 square foot minimum. Frankly, if it wasn't for the incentive City Council has to upzone those parcels to get extra in lieu fees from having a dozen or more market-rate homes, if the existing perfectly-good ranch houses were sold off individually, those houses would more likely be renovated, rather than torn down and replaced with two tall skinny houses for every ranch house there now.

The houses on Clemo will be on similar undersized small lots and 3-stories high, very much like Alma Plaza. This is becoming the new norm for home construction in Palo Alto, and voters should reject that, too! There are no 3-story homes allowed under the existing zoning in the surrounding R-1 neighborhood. The main building for low-income apartments will be 50-feet high, when the existing zoning allows only 30 feet. (There are only 36 parking spots for residents, 6 for visitors, and 5 for employees, when existing zoning calls for 104 -- where are these cars going to go for a 60-unit apartment building? This is not an assisted living facility, it's just apartments. There is no capacity to absorb the extra cars there, and significant safety issues with substandard Maybell.)

Palo Alto is a wealthy community that has been able to build affordable housing without resorting to this new financing mechanism that involves selling off as much of the property as possible for market-rate development. If voters approve Measure D, the zoning rules anywhere in town will be meaningless whenever a large property opens up, in any residential neighborhood, especially in Old Palo Alto which has 1/2 to 1 acre properties. Since the need for affordable housing is limitless even if we covered every square inch of Palo Alto in high-rises, this new scheme is a serious threat to neighborhood zoning. City Council has promised to do more of it if allowed at Maybell, and has justified it by saying other communities are doing it.

We don't need such a financing scheme to put in affordable housing in Palo Alto. The development at 801 Alma just went in without needing to sell off more than half the property for a market-rate high rise. If they can do it downtown without increasing the density by four-fold and selling half to a market-rate developer where the land and building are more expensive, they can put in affordable housing in our neighborhood without resorting to such a scheme, too. If the density is a requirement of such developments, they should be choosing properties that are on corridors more appropriate for such density, of which many have gone on the market in recent years along El Camino and other corridors.

The City staff's own reports didn't even say the density made the difference between building affordable housing or not, it just says it's to reduce the cost. The City gets a discount, basically, at the cost of residential character of the neighborhoods all over Palo Alto. It reduces the costs by essentially making neighborhoods bear the burden through densification, inadequate parking, etc.:

Web Link
Under the staff report "Goals of the Proposed Project" [emphasis added]
"IN ORDER TO REDUCE THE DEVELOPMENT COSTS of the senior housing project, the PAHC is proposing to develop market-rate single-family homes adjacent to the residential building for seniors. PAHC plans to sell the land identified for the single family homes and the entitlements (if approved) to a housing developer ... this is a creative way to help finance affordable housing. It will require less City financial assistance and since PAHC is providing a greater amount of equity, the development will be more competitive in securing other sources of public financing."

It's also not the only way to fund, and we've never had to do it before in Palo Alto, making such major giveaways to market-rate for-profit developers and violating existing residential zoning like this. I hope voters see through the steamroller and vote against this.

Lastly, it sounds pretty attractive to do something that would make PAHC more competitive, but who is PAHC competing with? Much less affluent communities who are providing far more housing, for far less money, to people who really would be homeless without it. Are we really this selfish, that we need to reduce our own costs by taking money away from communities that don't otherwise have the means to provide the low-income housing?

Lastly, if voters vote against Measure D and prevail, there is a group ready to step in with an initiative to turn the land into a community orchard that will be accessible for all kids, both the disabled children in the 3 programs for disabled kids in the school across the street, and the mainstream elementary kids (and to provide funding for it). It will preserve the last patch of heritage agriculture land in Palo Alto - other communities around us have done this, it would be a great community asset. PAHC and the City will then be free to work for affordable housing without the greenlight to repeat this funding scheme that so seriously violates residential zoning (or maybe learn a lesson and look for parcels on major transit corridors instead).

If Measure D passes, neighbors are only going to continue escalating battles in court: the CEQA suit, holding the subdivision to the general plan through the subdivision map act (not the cherry-picked version of the council, but the actual plan via a judge), pursuing any cause of action related to corruption and conflicts of interest, etc. It's not a given that it will be built by any means, and encouraging them to pursue it will only mean PAHC continues to spend money fighting rather than working to provide affordable housing at more appropriate locations (even just steps away in the same neighborhood).



Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

"It's not about whether the property can have affordable housing on it or not, because affordable housing could be built on it now as zoned,"
This is where your protest fails. You COULD build an affordable house on a 1 acre block if you were prepared to lose several million dollars to do it. It's a fallacy to think you can put affordable housing on standard lots and sell it at below market rate. It just isn't going to happen.
Your argument is just back door NIMBYism. You know you've lost the core argument so are trying to finesse the issue.


Posted by irrelevant arguments against D, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

"I think it's really important for voters to realize that Measure D itself is about whether the property is rezoned to high-density from low-density or not. That's all."

Really? Then why are the arguments against measure D all over the place? I just got my voter guide and the arguments against measure D contain the usual Palo Alto overexaggerations:
gridlocked traffic, office canyons etc

In addition the anti-D folks use ALma Plaza and Arbor Real as examples of what is wrong with Palo Alto--they conveniently forget how these two developments are a result of self-inflicted wounds. A perfect example of be careful of what you wish for.

I also wonder why Bob Moss's name is nowhere to be found in these arguments against D. He is the architect of this opposition ( and in fact he has opposed almost any and all new development in Palo Alto).
Plus he repesented the anti-D crowd at the debate today. Why his omission from the voter guide.
Conclusions--not impressed with the arguments against D.
Am voting Yes.



Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@ nice one!
Please read the rest of my post, because you seem not to understand the financing mechanism the City is pioneering at Maybell, and which they have promised to do again and again in Palo Alto if allowed.

"This is where your protest fails. You COULD build an affordable house on a 1 acre block if you were prepared to lose several million dollars to do it. It's a fallacy to think you can put affordable housing on standard lots and sell it at below market rate. It just isn't going to happen."

I'm not sure I understand your point. An affordable housing developer just put a larger affordable housing development at 801 Alma, in a more expensive downtown location, without having to sell off half the property to a market-rate developer to put in a high-rise at four times the density, and then put in the affordable component at four times the density on the rest in order to make it cost less.

Palo Alto has never had to resort to such a scheme to put in affordable housing, even now.

And you don't seem to understand what's going on here. If voters approve this financing scheme for building affordable housing, where existing residential zoning could be violated by four, five, or more times - whatever is necessary to make the affordable development work - anytime a 1 acre lot goes on sale anywhere in Palo Alto, 60% of it could be developed for market-rate housing to vastly exceed existing zoning, and help fund a dense development on the remaining half acre.

If zoning in residential areas is completely indefensible if a small portion of the development will be "affordable", then you could make such developments work ANYWHERE in Palo Alto, even in Crescent Park. ESPECIALLY in Crescent Park, which hasn't taken its share of affordable housing and has such nice large lot sizes, as well as being adjacent to some major streets. If I'm a developer and I see this, I'd be happy to buy up a property I could fill 70% with upzoned market-rate homes -- and profit handsomely by the location in the surrounding neighborhood -- if putting a high-rise apartment building behind it on 30% of the property would give me the ability.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

@ irrelevant,
I didn't write the ballot arguments, so I don't want to be in a position of arguing them. The City of Palo Alto only allows 1 ballot argument from each side, even though those against Measure D don't represent just one group, they represent a broad grassroots effort. Those who signed the referendum get priority. (Was he not asked to sign it? I'd be surprised. Are you sure?)

Bob Moss was not the architect of this referendum. Bob Moss was asked to help by ordinary neighbors along the way, because he has been a long-time citizen voice in Palo Alto, and was willing to be a public figure. He wasn't even involved from the beginning, nor did he "spearhead" it by any stretch.

Here's a profile of him in a local paper from long ago -- it's useful to read to realize just how many things that would have hurt our quality of life in this town that he has spared us from through his efforts Web Link

Alma Plaza is an example of what's wrong with PC zoning. It and Arbor Real were much worse before citizens got involved. The things that remain wrong with them are not the result of citizens getting what they wished for, all of the bad things are the result of the City and developers nevertheless getting their way over neighborhood protests. In this case, though, the neighbors are going to fight that much harder because the safety problems at this location are serious.

It's not an exaggeration to say the proposed building is 50-feet when the existing zoning allows only 30 feet. That the development plans for only 36 residence parking spots for 60-units when existing zoning calls for more than twice that. You're only mischaracterizing those whose opinions you do not like. (I know I'm going to be deleted for saying that, I only hope the Weekly will exercise some objectivity by deleting the accusation the required my response as well, if so.) Please deal with the facts instead.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I think it's interesting that two younger land use lawyers were there arguing for the rezoning, and the only ordinary citizens who are also senior citizens were the ones arguing against Measure D.


Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

"An affordable housing developer just put a larger affordable housing development at 801 Alma"

You're now petitioning for 801 Alma density in Maybell? Yeah, go for it! There are 50 apartments at 801 Alma! On that tiny site! How many do you think they could pack into Maybell at that density? If that's your counter offer, I'm sure PAHC could work with that. "Hey, PAHC, 60 apartments isn't enough - we want 200 apartments on Maybell! See, 801 Alma is the way to go!"
You see, again you fail. You don't want 801 Alma density on Maybell.
You can't get away from the fact that you've lost the core argument [portion removed.]


Posted by irrelevant arguments against D, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

"Here's a profile of him in a local paper from long ago -- it's useful to read to realize just how many things that would have hurt our quality of life in this town that he has spared us from through his efforts "
Not sure I would listen to a person who is described in your article as "a perennial denizen of city council chambers"
Plus he was defeated 4 times for council. Could be some twisted revenge motive that drives him to block all new developments

"Alma Plaza is an example of what's wrong with PC zoning. It and Arbor Real were much worse before citizens got involved. "
Alma Plaza was a dedicated shopping center. The plan was it for to remain a dedicated shopping center. then the neighbors got involved.
Hyatt wanted to build a new hotel and housing. then the neighbors got involved and we have homes built out to the street.

" You're only mischaracterizing those whose opinions you do not like."
I am not mischaratcerizing anyone--I just repeated their comments in the arguments--just to demonstrate that they are all over the map--as opposed to your comment on what D is all about.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm

"You're now petitioning for 801 Alma density in Maybell?"

Nope. That would actually be you twisting around what I said into utter nonsense.

I'm saying imagine if 801 Alma had been financed the same way as Maybell in order to reduce the cost: if they had divided the property 60:40, and sold 60% of it to a market-rate developer to put up an 8-story high rise with four times the density as is there now, then put the affordable housing development on the remaining 40% of the property, again, also a high-rise with inadequate parking at almost twice the existing zoning allowance and densified in order to make it all work financially.

You're the one who is utterly failing here.

My point is that if they can put in a development at 801 Alma without requiring such a financing scheme, where they sell off more than half the property to high-density market rate development and shoehorn the low-income property on less than half -- in the case of 801 Alma, that means, imagine a building there TWICE the height of what is there now at FOUR TIMES the density, which is essentially what is being done at Maybell -- then we can build affordable housing at Maybell and the rest of Palo Alto without resorting to such a scheme.

[Portion removed.] The existing neighborhood has several large affordable developments already, more than any other similar residential neighborhood where a 1400 sq ft old house costs almost $2million. [Portion removed.] This is about money for your side, plain and simple. If it were about low-income housing, 20 senior below-market-rate units wouldn't have gone empty at Moldaw for 3 years before the City got around to fixing the problems with the terms that prevented people who needed them from moving in. Those are plum assisted living spots, too, Maybell is just apartments.

Reject the scheme and reject Measure D.


Posted by modest mouse, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

The proponents of Measure D (for the high density re-zoning) forget some basic considerations:1) the high density is a Rube Goldberg scheme compared to the rest of the residential areas in the City, 2) this Rube Goldberg scheme is necessary because there are few services and amenities in the neighborhood for seniors, so the development would not get the desired tax credits, 3) the City can devote some of the money it got from Stanford to lower the density instead of making the neighborhood bear the cost, 4) the traffic study did not take into account pedestrians and bikes, and 5) the neighborhood has three schools already and a very bad traffic problem because of the Arastradero scheme (another Rube Goldberg).This endangers all our children, and now in the name of some false benefits, some misguided and unthoughtful "do-gooders" would further endanger the kids. MODEST MOUSE.


Posted by Just the facts, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

[Portion removed.] As has been pointed out many times, Barron Park has happily co-existed with many low income housing projects for a long time, and many neighbors are currently trying to help the trailer park people fight their eviction. Do you really think that is why for this one project, perhaps 3/4 of Barron Park residents were upset enough to want to rescind measure D? PAHC certainly has a lot of shills trying to play to people's emotions and fears rather than present and discuss facts. It might be the case that PAHC doesn't want to build this project any other way - I believe them when they say they can't. That doesn't mean it can't be done. For example, the folks against Measure D have talked to several realtors and local developers and have been told that if the lots are auctioned off individually, under current zoning, they will bring in approximately the same amount of money as selling them as a parcel to a developer for the rezoned dense housing. During a meeting the Mayor arranged earlier in the year between opponents and PAHC to discuss these issues, when PAHC was asked whether they had considered this alternative, their response was "Its too much trouble". Perhaps PAHC just isn't very good at its job, and another group, willing to go to some trouble, should take over.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm

In today's Daily Post, it says the Pro-Measure D have raise $103,000,
$50,000 is a cash donation for PAHC, and $44,000 in employee time. The remainder are from people affliated with developers.

The No on Measure D have raise around $7,000, a majority of which was spent on attorney fees fighting the language on the ballot statement.

I've had a pro-Measure D person ring my door bell, and that person had literature to hand out.

No one from the No on Measure D has been door knocking.

Several points:

- where does a non-profit like PAHC get $94,000 for campaigning, but they get a property tax exemption, so they don't contribute anything to our school district or city services?

- When we had off year elections for city council, successful candidates spend $20,000 - $30,000 for their campaign.

- If the No on Measure D is relying only on the above debate, and articles in the PA Weekly to reach voters, they will most likely be suprised come election day.


Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm

@VAMD,
[Portion removed.]
801 Alma worked BECAUSE it had higher density housing. Maybell will work at EVEN HIGHER densiity housing OR including market cost homes. That's your choices.
You claim you want to follow 801 Alma's approach. Call up PAHC and counter offer 200 apartments. We can save the cost of this election.
@JTF,
What do you call it when those against Maybell claim they are for affordable housing but at an unaffordable price? First they claim the financing is wrong, and then, when the alternative is pointed out, they say that's unacceptable.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm

So so sad this has completely divided our community. If only city had approached this project with the appropriate transparency and community review none of this would've happened. Going forward things will never be the same. And these people Who are supporting the rezoning better not be on the case for "saving" Buena vista trailer park.... Can't have it both ways.


Posted by Mass Recall Needed, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

It's clear that defeating Measure D is only the first step. We need to completely change out this council at the next two election cycles or via a mass recall which I think much of the town would support. They've sold their souls and their votes to development interests completely. Traffic is awful. Homeowners anywhere near downtown cannot park their cars. Ugly, out of place structures are going up everywhere. The council is preparing to bend over for Jay Paul and make the Page Mill traffic even worse. The disgusting thing is that if a kid gets run down in one of these "safe school corridors" the council will put on their sad faces and act like there was nothing that could have been done.

For an area with so many smart people, it's amazing how through neglect or apathy, we've ended up with such a low-capability city council.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

[Portion removed.]

The debate was dominated by Bob Moss, who put on a bravo performance...made everybody else look less. Among many other points he made, he said that there are already too many senior low cost units, for the number of seniors coming from PA. Long past time that this fact was mentioned.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Go for it--- collect signatures for a mass recall. Bet you won't get much support.
The complaints about traffic are greatly exaggerated-- you cannot have a vibrant downtown, a big shopping center, a world class university, business's and visitors without traffic. There is slow traffic on some streets at certain times, but it is not as bad as claims. Or do people expect to zoom across town without any traffic at all times?


Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Just the facts, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Actually, I think what people said was that building out to the density of the existing zoning, for senior housing, would be welcomed by most folks. This would allow for 40 or 45 units, I believe. Many feel that this could be done by a competent affordable housing group, if not by PAHC. But if it can't be done within the zoning, then opponents are saying the consequences of allowing that dense development will be bad enough that it should be opposed. There are lots of reasons why people are opposed to overly dense, hi rise development in the heart of a single family residential neighborhood, which requires a precedent setting PC zoning change that will be used again by developers to justify dense development in soon-to-be-formerly single family residential neighborhoods all over town. And that is really the issue on the table.

[Portion removed.] Its a city wide issue because it sets a new precident for pushing dense development into residential neighborhoods. This is why everyone should oppose it. Its not what I want for Palo Alto.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:55 pm

@nice one,
You wrote "801 Alma worked BECAUSE it had higher density housing. Maybell will work at EVEN HIGHER densiity housing OR including market cost homes. That's your choice"

No, you're wrong. One of the City councilmembers told neighbors that the housing at 801 Alma cost about 3 or 4 times per unit what the housing at Maybell cost, because of the financing scheme at Maybell, WHICH CITY STAFF ADMIT IN THE STAFF REPORTS UNDER "GOALS" is to reduce the cost. Not to enable the building, but to reduce the cost. Not to reduce the cost to where it's the difference between building or not building in this town, but to reduce the cost to many times less than what was paid elsewhere in town.

If the City was simply willing to either work with a different affordable housing developer, like at 801 Alma, or willing to pay what it actually costs instead of trying to get a discount at the neighborhood's expense, they could simply build the affordable housing at Maybell, too, and not engage in a scheme where they sell off more than half the property for the benefit of a market-rate developer and ignore all zoning rules. The rest of Palo Alto should be very afraid of greenlighting such a scheme because it will essentially make any part of Palo Alto available for such a scheme.

The housing at 801 Alma was clearly buildable without having to reduce the cost by upzoning, it is possible at Maybell, too. City Council just wants a discount and thinks it can steamroll over the Maybell neighbors. If the same money were committed PER UNIT at Maybell as at 801 Alma, they could afford to put just the affordable development there.

Greg Schmid even said in the meetings, when the developer paid the in lieu fee to avoid putting in the housing at Lytton Gateway, it should have been enough to pay for the actual cost to put it somewhere else, not expect the cost burdens to fall to the neighborhood.

Greg Scharff admitted this was the first time they are using this kind of financing mechanism, and they intend to do it again if voters allow it at Maybell. It will mean City Council can justify ignoring all zoning in any residential neighborhood using affordable housing on a small portion of any parcel as an excuse.

Everyone in Palo Alto should vote against this. Zoning laws should be respected, and City Council should get a message that Palo Altans expect them to be.


Posted by irrelevant arguments against D, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Vote against--you stated:
"Bob Moss was not the architect of this referendum. "

Yet the story clearly states:
'Moss, a land-use watchdog who helped lead the successful petition drive to put the referendum on November's ballot"

Sounds like we are playing fast and loose with the facts. But that brings us back to my previous question why isn't bob's name on either argument against D?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm

> Sounds like we are playing fast and loose with the facts. But that brings us back to my previous question why isn't bob's name on either argument against D?

Oh please. You're quoting the Palo Alto Weekly like it's a primary reference source. The Weekly has a well deserved reputation a poorly researched mouthpiece of the City. They rarely if ever make corrections to their "stories" even though basic factual errors are frequently pointed out.

The authors of the referendum are well known. Do you research before posting you own "facts".


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Once again I have to congratulate Gennady Sheyner on a very well written and thoughtful article. I noted that in keeping with the question posed at the debate regarding details of the project, his article only included the distorted drawing shown on the City website of the senior apartment building with the rest of the site empty. Using the actual floor plans of the 4-story apartment building and the 2- and 3- story private houses provided by PAHC, I constructed an accurately scaled model of the site in Google Earth. Several views of this can be seen on our website at Web Link.


Posted by No exaggeration , a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

@Not an issue

If you were actually aware -- by being a frequent pedestrian, bicyclist, or driver, -- OR a resident near Maybell, you would not be so dismissive. It is NOT an exaggeration. Plus, the increased traffic avoiding Maybell/Coulombe detours through Barron Park side streets is a larger issue to me, at least. See, we have no sidewalks and we have a lot of pedestrians walking dogs, strollers, and no speed bumps (except on Maybell because of -- you guessed it -- safety issues to protect all the commuter bicyclists). Please consider those who live here and have watched tragic patterns for many years to actually know what they are talking about.

It's very sad this has divided our community to this degree, we should be working together, not taking sides.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I oppose measure D for the reasons already mentioned above but if supporters think its NIMBYism, I also support it because, after Alma Plaza where the developer screwed us all royally with the City's help I have no trust in

The developers
The City Council.

They both lie without a conscience.

For this reason I will vote no on D and am likely to vote NO on any new development. Honesty and trust essential part of democracy and these have been violated beyond redemption.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Agreed with a previous poster. I think its time to do something more permanent than just defeating measure D to take democracy back. Throwin g out the city council would be a superb start


Posted by debate attendee, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

At today's debate Greg Scharff said multiple times, "This [project] will look like a single-family neighborhood."

He went on to say that he lives on Seale with a 50-foot frontage and the single-family homes on Maybell would have a 45 – 48 foot frontage, so there would be very little difference.

Since there is no illustration of the proposed project on the city website, the folks against D created a rendering -- based on the plans -- which can be viewed at Web Link

Compare this to a Google map of Mr. Scharff's neighborhood on Seale (between Webster and Bryant) and draw your own conclusions.


Posted by nice one!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm

[Portion removed.]
If there was a better option than PAHC and the current proposal, it would be on the table. You can go with 801 Alma density or continue to make stuff up now. You've got the best deal you're gonna get.


Posted by Vote NO, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm

The specifics of this project require a NO vote for all the reasons cited above. But on another level it is clear that a NO vote is
required. This City Council and staff have rigged this game for
so long that our City is being absolutely destroyed, steadily degrading in ambiance and quality of life, ratcheting down.
Because Palo Alto is at the center of market forces just when we needed strong and thoughtful and responsible government we got just the opposite. A huge overwhelming "NO" vote on D should be the
residents' response.


Posted by Developers want PC zoning, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm

The list of early contributors is full of lawyers and developers (who make money off of development).
There will be much more money and in-kind contributions from developers because the citizen objections to the Planned Community (PC)zone could turn down the spigot gushing millions and millions of dollars the developers make when the city lets them violate normal zoning and build monster buildings. Alma at Lytton is an example.
Developers will of course still make big bucks but not the added millions the PC zone provides.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:37 pm

[Portion removed.]

Trying not to put him in the hot seat - Greg Schmid told neighbors that the housing at 801 Alma cost about 3 or 4 times per unit what the housing at Maybell cost, because of the financing scheme at Maybell, WHICH CITY STAFF ADMIT IN THE STAFF REPORTS UNDER "GOALS" is to reduce the cost. Not to enable the building, but to reduce the cost so they could pay less than usual. It's right there in the staff report.

PAHC did not have the resources of the low-income operator that built 801 Alma. So they came up with this "creative" financing scheme (according to the staff report) that has been done in other places, so they want to bring it to Palo Alto. They saw this as an opportunity, and if they get away with it at Maybell, they and the City will continue doing it in Palo Alto in other neighborhoods. That was clear in the City meetings.

The fact is, Palo Alto has numerous affordable housing developments, and they have never had to use such a giveaway to for-profit market-rate developers, where more than half of the property goes to market-rate development like that.

The per unit cost of the units at Maybell is approximately a third of the per unit cost at 801 Alma. Imagine if 801 Alma was literally twice as tall, and 3-4 times as dense, with half of it sold to a market-rate developer for their own high-rise, in order to reduce that cost of the units on the minority of the property for affordable housing, and you would have exactly the scheme they are implementing at Maybell.

City Councilmembers (Gail Price, for one) have justified the scheme by saying other communities do it -- if the voters greenlight it at Maybell, they will be able to ignore zoning laws in any neighborhood in Palo Alto and do the same thing. I just looked at the realistic rendering of the development linked to above, it's very eye opening. Web Link


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

"Scharff stressed that the new single-family homes would have 48-foot-wide lots, very similar to what other homes in that neighborhood have."

The current minimum lot width is 60 ft, or 25% wider than these lots. In Barron Park, there are many lots that are "narrow", but that is 55-56 feet, again wider than these, but they are also much deeper, 112-130 feet is common.

On Scharff's comment that his own house has only a 50-ft front, it is 200 feet deep. And although his neighborhood started out as lots of 50-foot widths, most of the houses are combined lots (becoming 100ft widths, with some at 75).

Scharff's neighborhood (Google Satellite Map): Web Link


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Maybe we should make a rules that City Councilmembers have to convince their own neighbors to take an upzoned high-density development in the middle of their residential neighborhood before they can put it somewhere else.

Come to think of it, Scharff won't be mayor forever, but this new financing scheme will live on and allow developers to go after large properties in Mayor Scharf's neighborhood, too, and Scharff will have provided them all the ammunition to do it!


Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm

No on Measure D allows for low income senior housing while maintaining the zoning that is appropriate for a neighborhood. A no vote means no PC development that allows a 30' height limit to be increased to 50'. It keeps the market rate houses to two stories rather than allowing three stories houses. There is no reason to overbuild the property as we have seen all over town. Build the senior housing but do not make everyone live in higher density than historical zoning would allow.

A "No on Measure D" to stop the City's "random acts of rezoning" without a real overall plan for Palo Alto.

From a Weekly article February 15, 2013:

"Commissioners Wednesday night marveled at the lack of opposition to the project, given the proposed senior complex's height and proximity to single-family homes. Alcheck told the applicants that the lack of opposition "speaks a lot about your reaching-out process." Tanaka was more skeptical and surmised that people didn't show up to criticize the project because they didn't know about it.

"I think if the people in the (neighborhood's single-family houses) really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there," Tanaka said."

They knew it was wrong for the neighborhood back in February but they continued and pretended to listen to concerns of the community.


Posted by debate attendee, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Mayor Scharff also derided the opposition regarding traffic. He said the opponents' traffic claims are false and the only valid data comes from the city's "traffic experts."

Are these the same "traffic experts" who

* Declared the Arastradero road diet a success, in spite of the fact that it increased traffic on Maybell by 24%? "The traffic count at Maybell and Pena rose significantly from 2,700 vehicles to 3,348 daily since the trial changes, Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez admitted a speed survey had not been done along the cut-through routes." Web Link

* Blamed school start times for traffic on Maybell? Web Link

* Did not consider pedestrians or bicyclists in the Maybell traffic study?

* Told consultants doing the Cal Ave traffic study that "There are no pending projects or planned projects in the foreseeable future. Therefore, traffic volumes on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Park Boulevard will remain unchanged with the current land uses."? www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=25743

* Now says of the traffic model used in the Cal Ave study: "The old model didn't have a good analysis for the future. It didn't add in every project that was approved." Web Link

* Is planning to make Matadero a bike boulevard while admitting it has no data on how many bicyclists currently use the street?

Bob Moss pointed out that the city recently adopted a new traffic model: " the City Council approved a $290,000 addition to its work on the Comprehensive Plan to overhaul the existing traffic model and come up with one that does a better job looking at cumulative effects of various different projects." Web Link

So, who do you trust?


Posted by A neighbor, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I was wondering how much Mayor Scharff knew about some of the things he was defending. I chose one topic, the parking needs of Maybell, and asked him a question. (Note that only 40+ parking spots are allocated for 60 apartments with at least 100 people living in them.)

I asked Mr. Scharff if he thinks that Stevenson House and the Maybell Apartments are the same kind of facility and that is why he is comparing the number of parking spots at Maybell with the Stevenson House's parking spots. To make it short he didn't know that Stevenson House serves 2 meals/day and has a lot more amenities. He also didn't know that most of the Stevenson House units are 320 sq ft and occupied by one person. Maybell apartments are 600 sq ft each and almost certainly will have at least 2 people in each. Maybell serves no meals, no amenities. It is just a plain rental building. Scharff didn't remember either that Stevenson House sits across the street from a full size grocery store that the residents walk to. In spite of all that Stevenson House does have parking issues. They use a lot belonging to the Unitarian Church next door for their overflow parking.

The city staff suffers from the same lack of knowledge. I asked Tim Wong, who is the senior planner in charge of the project, the same question about why he compares Maybell and Stevenson. He had no idea at all what amenities Stevenson House offers. He just believes everything PAHC tells him.

The city council and staff don't seem to have time or interest to investigate what they are told. They just believe whatever PAHC asserts. I wonder how many other decisions are made this way. How can I have faith in anything the council tells us?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 12:03 am

@ neighbor,
As of last week, Tim Wong didn't even realize which "4 schools" in the neighborhood neighbors were referring to when they were voicing concerns about the thousands of children taking the school commute corridors on either side of the proposed development to school everyday (almost half on bike or by foot).

This did not stop them from belittling neighbors over the traffic concerns, or staging a fake attempt to address safety when they know full well that Cal Trans already spent six figures and worked with neighbors for six months to maximize the safety of Maybell within the last few years.

By the way, you are wrong about the parking. Only 36 parking spots are allocated for the 60 apartments. The remaining are 5 for employees, and 6 for visitors/disabled spots. I asked the people at PAHC months ago in an email what they were going to do to ensure that there was no overflow parking problem, since the worse impacts will be to Juana Briones Park across the street, and to the families of the disabled students at the "orthopedically handicapped" unit at Juana Briones Elementary, the preschool program for the disabled, and the county rehab program for disabled students, all on that side of the school. They did not answer me. Tim Wong in the city apparently didn't even know that school was Juana Briones Elementary.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 1:04 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On City Staff's awareness of traffic safety issues:

At the initial meeting (9/17) on the proposed Bike Boulevard for Maybell-Donald-Georgia, Transportation Chief Jaime Rodriguez was unaware of the significant work that had been done to improve the corridor, and what that recent extensive planning effort had revealed about what could and couldn't be done in any future work. He stated that he wanted to start with a blank slate. Several of the citizens who put in long hours on that effort attended the meeting and were rightfully indignant at being brushed off.

As others have noted above, this is a City Staff that routinely ignores substantial knowledge about problems and solutions. This is why those of us in the reality-based community find it so frustrating to deal with them.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 3:31 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Walking on the other side of Maybell and looking over the rooftops of the 4 single-story houses on the property I could not see the lower 4 stories of the Tan Apartments. With the 7 two-story homes (24' height) built on Maybell, not only the 4-story senior apartments but several more stories of the Tan Apts. will not be visible from that side.

Fifty foot wide lots are common on our side of Barron Park.

Like many people, Tim Wong may have been unaware of Bowman International School, which is located on Arastradero, next to Terman Middle School and the Terman Apartments.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2013 at 8:11 am

The developers work for their self-interest.The staff works for the
developers. The Council ratifies the whole thing and pushes it to new levels. Layered on top of this is the incompetence of the staff. The residents are road kill. A "yes" vote on D is preposterous.


Posted by Malthus, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

The bottom line is: whose neighborhood is it? Those are the people who should decide the future of their neighborhood, not some developer whose interests are monetary


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2013 at 9:26 am

Exactly, I'm willing to bet most of the developers who screw the residents of city after city go back to their leafy, shaded neighborhoods with a view and would never allow a high-rise near where they live. I'm just OUTRAGED with what happened with Alma Plaza and what is being proposed for Maybell. This calls for more than just defeating measure D but a more permanent change in the law to keep the city council represent the people instead of moneyed interests.


Posted by karma, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 29, 2013 at 9:29 am

Too bad you weren't outraged back in 2003 when residents opposed 800 high: Web Link

"In places like Barron Park or Greenmeadow, I don't know if people will feel strongly about this, unless the proponents make a case that it effects them, too."

I wonder why this time is different?


Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

I learned two things at the debate yesterday:

1. What Mayor Scharff does not know is that his own staff, led by Jaime Rodriquez, on September 17, 2013 told a group f people that eminent domain was not out of the question for all of us to consider as we gave our suggestion of how to make Maybell safer for school children. He said that it was costly but not out of the question. Community members did not dream this up.

2. The low income senior housing that will go on this site only has apartments, no services or meals or community areas. The whole apartment at this high density are to be about the size of Tim Gray's garage. I do not know what size garage Tim has but even a two car garage does not allow much space for two people to live in. Does Palo Alto really believe that this is better than reducing the density and giving seniors a bit more space?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 9:48 am

I see. So, if I want to build a Home Depot next to your house, Jerry, it should be okay because I couldn't see it from mine?

It's a 50 foot building, where the existing zoning limit s 30 feet. There will be only 36 parking spots for residents of a 60 unit building. The City avoided doing the traffic safety analysis of the bikes and pedestrians on the school commute corridors that run on either sde of the development.

PAHC was upset that the City gave 801 Alma to Eden, because it was felt that PAHC didn't have the experience. They clearly also didn't have whatever else it took to just build the affordable apartments like Eden dd, so they came up with the "creative" fnancing mechanism involving upzoning more than half the property for a for-profit developer, then selling that part for more money because of the density, plus getting the in lieu fees for the city because of the density, and shoehorning the affordable part onto the rest in a 50 foot building because they knew City Council would violate zoning as much as they wanted.

City Council's biggest interest in ths is to see if the financing mechanism flies, because it lets them put hgh density developments anywhere they want withour regard to zoning, and cheaper, using a smaller affordable component as cover.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 10:09 am

@karma,

800 High Street only narrowly lost. If you look at the ballot for that election, the City pulled the same kind of leading, biased language that the are doing in Measure D. Don't blame that one on fellow residents.

In both cases, the City Attorney (not impartial) got to write the "impartial" analysis and the ballot question. In both cases, that language then gets used for all the "impartial" ballot materls by Smart Voter, etc.

The ballot question was structured with the same leading bias in both cases: shall zoning be changed from X (a number with nothing described, in fact in the Maybell election, the City Attorney conveniently left off the words "low density" from the offiicial title in City code) to Y for 12 houses (doesnt say market rate or that it's more than half the property) and 60-units of senior affordable housing.

They've set up the question to ask people to say whether they want senior affordable housing. Who is going to say no to that, especially if they read the "impartial" analysis which was written by the City? They did the same trick at High Street. Shall it be rezoned from X (not spelled out), to Y for this really great thing we'll put there? Most voters who want to know more for a local election look in the voter guide, where the "impartial" analysis has been written by the City Attorney.

I think there is a group who wants to start an initative to give Palo Alto a ballot committee that takes input from both sides, publicly and with both at the table, and hashes out an impartial ballot. They've been doing that in San Francisco for decades.

Realize that the City will continue to control and manipulate referenda elections until we, the people of Palo Alto, take away their ability to control the elections by their writing biased and leading ballot materials and questions. Hope you will join us in solidarity because of your memory of how that hurt the High Street election. At the very least, dont give them the satisfaction of getting away with it again. Given how leading the High Street ballot was, which the CITY wrote, it's surprising the election was that close.


Posted by Karma, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

The quote was from the story:

"In places like Barron Park or Greenmeadow, I don't know if people will feel strongly about this, unless the proponents make a case that it effects them, too."

Only difference I see is Barron Park on the receiving end. Too bad you didn't vote to stop this last time. I wonder why?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

@karma,
Oh, and this case IS different in one important respect: if the financing mechanism is greenlighted by voters in this election, which us being rolled out at Maybell and lets the City get away with whatever high density zonng it wants in residential neighborhoods, it plans to continue doing so all over Palo Alto. That was clear from the meetings.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 10:17 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Against,

The question of what you can see from where is important for people who live in the Maybell area. In walking around it seems to me that the only people who will see it consistently live either in the 8 -story Tan Apartments or the 3-story Arastradero Park apartments, owned by PAHC.

You mentioned the CEQA suit. One of the claims is that the public would be deprived of views of the foothills.

I've noted while walking and biking up Maybell that the hills are always visible looking up Maybell. There'd be no change there.

Then there's about a 20-yard stretch before Baker where you can barely see the hills over Briones Park, followed by another brief view at the corner which may or may not be obscured by the planned houses.

Would this be the basis for the CEQA challenge? Are you aware of other views that would be obstructed?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@karma,
The quote you are using comes from a bloviator who represented the viewpoint of the City's establishment, which supported 800 High. There were many residents of Barron Park (and other south Palo Alto neighborhoods) active in the No-on-800-High campaign.

Additional: There was widespread speculation that Council applied the Charleston moratorium to Alma Plaza (north of Meadow) because it made no sense in isolation*. However, it did reduce the immediacy of development issue in the south.

800 High also illustrated the City's participation campaign. Residents disputed the elevation profiles being used by the City (supplied by the developer). Dave Bubenik used readily available software to develop a building outline from the measurements provided, and showed a significantly different outline. After 800 High was built, reporter Sara Wykes of the SJ Mercury News did a story on this, including having a photograph showing that Bubenik was right (and the City had substantially understated the building's visual size).

----
Moratorium detail: Extensive discussions by Staff and residents had agreed that Alma Plaza should not be included. At the end of a long Council meeting, two individuals spoke for inclusion and Council member Bern Beecham amended the proposal to include Alma Plaza. Many of us thought this strange because he was a solid representative of the local business community. Inclusion in that moratorium torpedoed a reasonable compromise on how to keep Alma Plaza as a neighborhood retail center.


Posted by Karma, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

"There were many residents of Barron Park (and other south Palo Alto neighborhoods) active in the No-on-800-High campaign."
Care to list them? Did they also fight against it's sister development at 801 Alma? What about development along Channing? Look at the previous posts supporting 801 Alma but against Maybell.
You had your chance and voted for 800 high. Yeah, karma's a bitch.


Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm

[Portion removed.]

This isn't about Karma -- it's about all palo altans feeling this is the last straw with the city playing fast and loose with zoning regulations.

It comes down to what vision do the citizens of Palo Alto have for the future of our city. Do we want our City Council to abide by zoning laws or change them behind closed doors? Do we want our City Council to abide by the Comprehensive Plan or ignore the parts they don't like?




Posted by Bad Staff members, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I think most people who have met or seen Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez get the impression that he doesn't listen and selectively uses data and analysis to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion. That's a bad, bad staff person, with very low credibility in the community. If he is an important source of information on the impact of Maybe, that is very negative fact in my view.

Does anyone have a supportive view of Mr. Rodriguez, in terms of balance, thoughtfulness, or ability to listen to others?


Posted by Just the facts, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Jerry,

For me, when I look from the park, if I couldn't see the apartments, it would because the immediate row of houses along Clemo would be too high and dense.

Karma,

I'm not sure I follow your logic - to choose an exaggerated example, if the referendum passes, and a child going to school is subsequently injured due to a car accident attributed to the increased traffic on Maybell, it would seem you are arguing that that's deserved Karma for residents not defeating the referendum, and the residents have no right to be upset or want to fix things. You are clearly bitter about the past Alma street excessive development, but it takes tremendous effort to defeat these, with the City and developers working hand in glove against it. Why not join in to help make Palo Alto a better place in the future [portion removed]?


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Just the facts,

Right. What we would see from the outside of the property would be 5 single family homes, with large setbacks from the street and the top portions screened from view by the heritage trees. I think that would be better than looking at condos, which could well happen if Measure D fails.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm

@Jerry,
If Measure D fails, these same citizens who accomplished it will ensure the property is turned into a heritage orchard, accessible to the children with disabilities in the school programs for the disabled across the street, and the 4 ranch homes auctioned as is. They'll do it by initiative if need be. It has become very clear to many neighbors that they can't just be against a bad plan, they have to be proactive about what they would like there if they succeed in rejecting the overdevelopment of the neighborhood. They definitely can't rely on City councilmembers who have expressed outright disdain for our side of town and complete ignorance about how properties like the schools are used. Neighbors can't really come out with the plans while the property is still in the middle of this controversy.

Many of us who put safety first feel that location, given all the development that council has approved in the immediate area prior, and the limitations of the infrastructure at Maybell, as well as the designated Safe Routes to School on either side of it, is safest as a low-traffic use.

As for what you claim you see and don't see when riding your bike around -- the ordinance itself described the many ways the proposed PC zoning has to violate even RM-40 high-density zoning, and one of those ways is daylight plane.

I'm not sure why you think people will take your word that no one will notice a 50-foot building going up in a residential neighborhood, at the maximum height allowed for a building in town, when the existing zoning limit is 30 feet. You seem to be saying 30 feet, 50 feet, what's the difference? And that the 94% of residents in Greenacres who are against the rezoning somehow just don't realize like you do that a 50-foot building and a bunch of 3-story market rate homes on tiny lots will somehow be invisible.

But I'm sure the kids in wheelchairs from the OH across the street will be unable to see the building for the 3-story houses they could never live in or from above all the overflow parking from the development which provides only 36 parking spots for 60-units (up to 120 residents).


Posted by Clie, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:42 am

I would like to discuss what quality of life would be in the senior apartment building. Recently my 80 year old mother in law--who has a low income--looked at a building being built on El Camino that has similar characteristics to the one proposed for Maybell, and she said "I would not live in a place like that if it was my last dollar."

Why would she say that? Well, she has always lived where she could walk outside. No long hallway and an elevator to get past a desk and through an industrial door to go outside to be in a space that is shared with others and surrounded by a parking lot. She values privacy and nature. Small is ok with her, but institutional is repugnant. She is independent and drives to classes, loves culture and books. And she would never want to live the last years of her life in a place that does not allow her to open a door to walk outside to breathe fresh air.

Why is it possible for planners, developers, architects, housing organizations to forget what human beings need to feel alive? Is there an underlying age-ism or worse, class bias that says low income people do not deserve to live in dwellings that offer what most of us need to regulate our bodies and be at peace? This is why the present zoning should be protected. Those who came before us recognized that certain specific conditions support a better quality of life and they made zoning rules supporting that knowledge and commitment to community.

The rules in this case (RM15) require that every dwelling have at least 200 square feet of private outside space, and adequate parking. Peace of mind is supported by these two requirements. Imagine you are a senior and have to look around for your car every time you want to go somewhere. I, too, "would not want to live in a place like that if it was my last dollar."







Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:17 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Against,

No one should take my word on this if it seems questionable to them. They should go take a look from all sides and try to imagine what the street level view will be. As passers-by, we would see the fronts of the homes, not their back yards and the internal roads and driveways. Nor would we see very much of the apartment complex from most lines of sight.

We've talked about the orchard before. And I've promised to pay$100/yr. towards maintaining the orchard should it be retained. What is your plan? Where would you come up with the $16M to purchase the land should the rezoning fail at the ballot box? And the additional funds to renovate the orchard, build a visitors center and maintain the property and program?

You can't anonymously advance this plan. You are asking people to vote down affordable senior housing so unspecified individuals or entities will be able to carry out a plan for saving the orchard. If you know how it can be done, tell us now so we can judge its feasibility before voting on Measure D.

Otherwise that land will be fully developed, whether by PAHC or a commercial developer.


Posted by AG, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

Key unanswered questions that I see for proponents arising from the ballot pamphlet Argument Against:
- Why is less than half of the area planned for Senior housing?
- Why the 5 of 12 3-story houses not in keeping with community standards?
- Is there any remaining open space provision in the planned community?

Without good answers for these, I plan to vote No.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:40 am

A similar issue seems to have arisen in Mountain View. Looks like the city opted to buy the orchard and keep it open space rather than cave in to those clamoring to turn the site into senior housing.

Web Link


Posted by Whatever Stanford wants, a resident of Stanford
on Sep 30, 2013 at 11:08 am

As you can see in the Sample Ballot, the League is a primary supporter of this project. They also supported the developer of 800 High St.
Jean McCown, Stanford Assistant Vice President, was the attorney for the developer of 800 High.


Posted by Current Zoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

The current zoning for the portion along Maybell is R-2. See Section 18.10 of the Municipal Code for R-2 zoning rules. They are Web Link on file pages 34 and following. See file page 37 for the table of standards that apply.

The current zoning for the orchard portion is RM-15. See Section 18.13. In the above file, it starts on file page 80.

Do the proposed homes on Maybell follow the R-2 zoning standards? Do the proposed homes on Clemo follow the RM-15 zoning standards?

While it makes sense for the senior housing to exceed the zoning standards, it does not make sense for the "single family" housing to exceed the zoning rules.

Also the value of the "single family" housing has gone up at least $250K/unit since PAHC did their financing calculations, so they should be able to finance the project with fewer "single family" housing units than PAHC originally proposed.

Assuming the current rough configuration of senior housing, how many "single family" market rate housing units would conform to current zoning?


Posted by Greenacres Resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2013 at 11:39 am

My family oppose Measure D because it is the inappropriate project for this neighborhood for all the reasons stated by the citizens who oppose this development plan. Furthermore, this proposed low income senior housing project is adjacent to a 250 unit low income housing project that has been in this neighborhood spanning Maybell and Arastradero for many decades. The housing prices of Palo Alto is so high, how would 60 units of tiny apartment be of help to the thousands of Palo alto senior citizens? What about those thousands seniors who are 'low income' by this area's standards but not qualify for the low-income status as defined by the county? The traffic on Maybell and Arastradero is so bad and precarious that this plot of land should not be built as dense housing projects at all. Single family homes and/or a community pool/garden or similar project is the community enhancing use for the precious little land we still have.


Posted by David (not Goliath), a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

This is ALL about sending a message to the city council about development in our city. The arrogance of steamrolling projects like this AND the selling of "public benefits" to ignore zoning has got to stop. It is very tough for ordinary citizens to band together and stop the Goliath of professional real estate developers, but if we want a livable city, it has got to happen.

If Measure D is defeated, it will send a very strong message to developers and to the city council. My hope is their will be a moratorium on PC applications to change zoning, and we can start to discuss the several massive proposed projects as part of a comprehensive whole.


Posted by b. parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm

@David,
You can start to discuss several massive projects as part of a comprehensive whole and still go forward with this development.
You're making the same mistake as the poster above you. To paraphrase: "We can't do it all so we should do nothing". That argument is unsound and not a rebuttal to this project.


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm

There will be additional affordable senior housing coming to Palo Alto. It can be done under current zoning.

While saying No to Measure D may seem like a move backward, the Defeat of Measure D will help the cause of affordable senior housing.

We can find the resources, collaboration, and unified forward motion to create more opportunities as a unified community. Forcing a devisive project on the community may get a few more units in place, but this project will give affordable senior housing a black eye, as it is simply being used as a carrot to push through completely inappropriate private market rate substandard lots.

It is classic "Pork Barrell" rezoning -- i.e. abusive upzoning being put through on the good will and coat-tails of a worthy senior housing need.

We can do better. Let's take a quarter step back and defeat Measure D and then take three steps forward with a unified community within the Comprensive Plan that has served us so well -- we really do have a great community that can address the needs of seniors. We can get there through leadership, not coercion.

... and it will deliver a higher quality of life for the seniors and the neighborhoods. Let's defeat Measure D and return to return to creating great communities that have room for all.

Best regards,

Tim Gray

p.s. I think the Park Blvd. site near California Avenue would make a great senior housing project. Great access to services, truely a walkable community, and the City already has the land to do it. Let's correct our course and expedite a positive solution that will unify the community.


Posted by b. parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

@Tim,
We can do better. We can approve Measure D, get immediate senior housing under way and take a full step forward with none back. Sounds like a win-win to me if you really want affordable senior housing that is.


Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Tim,

If Measure D fails that will be the end of affordable housing construction in Palo Alto for the foreseeable future. I think everyone understands that -- that's why so many affordable housing advocates have endorsed Measure D. Because if the project is rejected, it will be clear that NIMBY politics will have defeated it. The message will be that Barron Park wants no more affordable housing unless and until the north side of town builds its "share." The entire subject of affordable housing in Barron Park will be radioactive unless all of Palo Alto decisively approves D. If D is rejected there will be no PAHC development for Buena Vista. There will be no more mixed-income development. There will be no more use of Planned Community zoning to make affordable housing possible.

Tim you are doing something very destructive to the future of affordable housing in Palo Alto. Given that you have no history of advocacy for affordable housing but are a registered Republican (a group not exactly known for its advocacy for the poor) it seems likely that you are trying to use this issue to build support for your council candidacy. That's smart and it's not a bad or wrong thing to do. But please, let's all be honest. Measure D is about the future of affordable housing in Palo Alto. If it is defeated this will be the last such proposal for a long time.

That is why I and many others support it despite the fact that the process was not optimal. The project itself is good, and necessary, and if it loses we all lose.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

>If Measure D fails that will be the end of affordable housing construction in Palo Alto for the foreseeable future. I think everyone understands that -- that's why so many affordable housing advocates have endorsed Measure D. Because if the project is rejected, it will be clear that NIMBY politics will have defeated it

As a proud NIMBY, I hope so. What neighborhood really wants welfare housing/increased density in their 'hood?

It is far past time to shut down the PAHC.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

At every opportunity, Craig Laughton, calls affordable housing welfare housing. His nasty comments are uncalled for, but not surprising given the source.
Of course, Craig has no problem with welfare when he is the recipient-- on a personal level and as a college terrace resident who benefits form Stanford's support of RPPP.


Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Aside from all the valid arguments against measure D, I think it is all too obvious that certain people on the city council are corrupt and in the pocket of developers. Even if this development were not as bad as it is, I could not vote to go along with this corruption.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

A--- okay. You made the claim. Now backlit up with names.which council members are corrupt. Please provide names and proof for your claims.
I do not like our council, I think they are self centered and out of touch, but leveling criminal complaints against them is out of line.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm

>At every opportunity, Craig Laughton, calls affordable housing welfare housing.

Because it is. Very simple.

Every neighborhood should be allowed to vote on whether or not to allow welfare housing in their own neighborhood.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

We should put NIMBY thing to bed here once and for all. This is not a NIMBY issue. It is a NIMWFTAM issue -- "Not In My Whole Fair Town Any More!"

Because carving up Palo Alto and selling it off piece by piece to developers, in exchange for trinket here, a trinket there, has become so pervasive that it's now a whole-city issue. It's not just in Maybell's back yard, it's in everybody's back yard -- and their front yard, their side yard, and down the street and around the corner.

There's a great chart on the Maybell web site, that shows the current pipeline for rezonings, and it's an eye-popper.

Web Link

As for @irrelevant, vote however you want. But your neighborhood is not going to escape this stuff either.


Posted by Michelle Jhanda, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm

It is important for me to ensure that I vote on what I believe is correct and I can support. I sat through the entire informative & eye-opening debate. The pro-Measure D folks came prepared,they were informative, concise & clear. The opponents, unfortunately, weren't even sure who should make the opening & closing statements and appeared to mumble & stumble through facts & zones and acronyms that appeared to 'lose' most of the people sitting around me. I'm glad I took the time to attend the debate...I came away with one clear, simple message: THE ALTERNATIVE, WITH EXISTING ZONING, IS MUCH WORSE! Definitely 'Yes' on D!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Does existing zoning really allow 3-story houses?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm

>We should put NIMBY thing to bed here once and for all. This is not a NIMBY issue. It is a NIMWFTAM issue -- "Not In My Whole Fair Town Any More!"

Distinction without a difference.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Jhanda - false. Because the neighborhood is not backed by big money and professional salesman scammers, doesn't mean this project should go through. If you haven't been scammed and burned enough by the city decision makers in the past several years (Alma Plaza, Miki's, Arastradero debacle, Ricki's, and more everywhere you look, then heaven help you - no one else will. The city needs to stop with the shoving every last dense development down our throats.

Keep development out of the neighborhoods!

There are unlimited number of alternatives to this project - no other alternatives are even on the table - just the invented ones that the pro-measure D scammers cooked up to scare you. So how can you say the alternative is much worse. What alternative is that, exactly?


Posted by The South resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm

@ Vote AGAINST Measure D


If zoning in residential areas is completely indefensible if a small portion of the development will be "affordable", then you could make such developments work ANYWHERE in Palo Alto, even in Crescent Park. ESPECIALLY in Crescent Park, which hasn't taken its share of affordable housing and has such nice large lot sizes, as well as being adjacent to some major streets. If I'm a developer and I see this, I'd be happy to buy up a property I could fill 70% with upzoned market-rate homes -- and profit handsomely by the location in the surrounding neighborhood -- if putting a high-rise apartment building behind it on 30% of the property would give me the ability.

Agree with you. North of Palo Alto should also share the high-density housing, and yes, Crescent Park should share the burden too. The South of Palo Alto has too many high density housing now. The City of Palo Alto should be more fair to treat the RICH and poor.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

@current zoning,

You wrote, "Also the value of the "single family" housing has gone up at least $250K/unit since PAHC did their financing calculations, so they should be able to finance the project with fewer "single family" housing units than PAHC originally proposed."

The ordinance does not allow for fewer single family homes, because the financing setup depends on the "in lieu" fees collected from the for profit developer as a result of there being large numbers of market-rate homes. The financing scheme is too rigid to allow significant reduction of the market-rate home density, PAHC has admitted it. So you see, the violation of the zoning on the market-rate portion is an integral part of the plan, not just for the value of the upzoned properties to a developer, but also for the in lieu fees generated for the City. Zoning for sale, basically. PAHC never had the discretion to significantly reduce the number of market-rate homes because of the way the financing scheme is set up to work.

If the City had chosen a nonprofit developer with the means and experience to just pay for the development, rather than resorting to this new financing scheme, then the low-income complex could have been built within existing zoning or close to it and we wouldn't be going through this.

@musical,
Thanks so much for the link about Mountain View choosing to save a similar patch of orchard. The Maybell Orchard fruit trees are fully established without irrigation at this point, it's really a shame to tear out 100 trees (including 2 100-year-old heritage oaks which conveniently became unsalvagable at just the right time and place for the Maybell development). All the other communities around us have preserved at least one patch of agricultural heritage. There are grants to be had to do this, by the way.

If Palo Altans do vote down Measure D, there will be an initiative to preserve the heritage orchard, since City Council will clearly not do it of their own accord. The City's own appraisal of the orchard in the loan docs is $6.7 million, and if the ranch houses have gone up in value, that may mean the orchard itself is effectively even less in terms of cost.

@ Michelle,
I live in this neighborhood, please don't vote Yes for Measure D believing you are somehow protecting us from something worse. First of all, many neighbors are prepared to continue to fight this battle on many fronts even if Yes prevails (as it may because of the City Attorney writing such biased ballot materials), so if you want to protect the neighbors, then protect us all from the ongoing battles by voting No.

The safety problems of that location are real and serious, because of the limits of the infrastructure — and neighbors know it because they spent 6 months working hard with Cal Trans on a safety improvement of Maybell within the last few years — if you are serious about wanting to protect us, protect the thousands of school children who take the school transit corridors to school on either side of that property, and vote AGAINST measure D.

That property is just catty corner to 3 long-time school programs for seriously disabled children from all over Palo Alto and the county. If you are serious about wanting to protect us, then protect them from having to deal with the overflow parking from a development that has only 36 parking spots for 60 residential units (that are twice the size of other senior units and will likely have 2 residents per unit in many). Disabled children use the park open space daily -- protect them from having to stare up at a dense row of brand new housing they could never live in, symbolic of how the City doesn't consider the disabled when it claims in its comprehensive plan to have diversity as a goal. Protect them by giving the neighbors a chance to save the orchard as a fully-accessible, green, heritage orchard open space designed with them in mind.

The Tan apartments have been used as an excuse to upzone the orchard, even though the RM-15 to R-2 low-density zoning IS the transition zone from the apartments on Arastradero to the R-1 neighborhood. Given how City council nevertheless tried to mischaracterize the dominant land use of the R-1 surrounding neighborhood by those exceptions, if they are allowed to "spot zone" that whole block for high density into the neighborhood, then we will have no defense against other high-density developments in this neighborhood. If you want to protect us, Vote Against Measure D and protect us from that, because we feel the high-density is a huge hit to our quality of life.

That's why a long survey of Greenacres II residents found 94% are against the rezoning, against Measure D.

The market-rate houses still have to pass a hurdle of being subdivided, and that's an evidentiary process not a political one. The fact that the rezoning isn't really consistent with the general plan (by anyone in the real world who isn't cherry picking through it like City staff did) will allow neighbors to fight it with good standing through that process.

If you want to protect someone, protect PAHC from throwing good money after bad by voting Against Measure D and moving them on to more positive projects where they have hopefully learned a lesson to start by working with the community. (And PAHC doesn't keep damaging their reputation by continuing to fight this battle over that particular property which isn't that suitable for seniors anyway. Recall they didn't originally propose to build there for seniors, this was really about them wanting to stay on top in Palo Alto after Eden got 801 Alma.)

You should also realize that because the City loaned so much money for the purchase of the property, it gave itself lots of protections. So if Measure D fails, the City has the right to the property, it does not have to be sold to a private developer. And again, neighbors will be ready with an initiative to save the heritage orchard and the 100 trees.



Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Affordable housing and senior housing is not welfare housing. Craig Laughton can repeat that over and over again but it does not make it true. And why even bother with your usual, " let's bring it to a vote" whine, when that is not realistic either.
Of course when Craig, personally and his neighborhood benefit from welfare it is okay.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Gennady,
Thank you for the great coverage of this issue.

Could you please ensure the Weekly doesn't keep using the inaccurate drawing of the proposed development that you have posted for this story? Even Karen Holman directed them to fix that. It makes it look like there's a large green lawn where the high-density market-rate portion is.

Someone from the neighborhood used the actual dimensions, and produced a more accurate drawing. Web Link


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Against

The image at your link has been withdrawn and replaced (by the No on D campaign after complaints came in) because it shows driveways onto Maybell from the 2-story houses where none will exist.

Kind of weakens the argument that the Weekly should abandon an accurate though a little difficult to understand representation of the project in favor of your unofficial view of what it would look like.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Against

You and the rest of the 94% of Green Acres residents who want to take the gamble of rejecting the rezoning don't have the kind of skin in the game that those of us who live within notification range of the project do. Maybell is drive-through territory for all but a handful of Green Acres households.

That said, there is a lot of opposition to Measure D in Barron Park. Could you please use Barron Park data, or even better, Maybell neighborhood data, instead of constantly telling us how ready Green Acres is for Maybell to send a signal to the city about rezoning regardless of the possible consequences for us. Thanks.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm

[Portion removed.] Other than the RPPP, in which CT led forth the effort for the entire city,(and we have paid for much of it through permits), I fail to see where we get special expenditures from the city. For example, I rarely see a police car in our neighborhood. If you are talking about the CT Library, then I might agree with you...but that disseminated library model applies to other neighborhoods, too (I personally think libraries are outdated, but I am not nave enough to think that they are going away in PA).

Many PA folks think that CT costs them a lot of money, but there is no evidence for that. It is just that CT, for historical reasons, will stand up to protect the neighborhood. CT is a shining example of how the rest of the PA neighborhoods should demand respect, and defend themselves. It looks like Barron Park and Downtown are starting to take a stance. I hope it spreads around town.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I am voting NO on D. Because I agree with need to stop unbridled rezoning throughout Palo Alto. Many thanks to the folks who have led this effort. This is not simply a Barron Park issue.

I work for the city and am a resident, and I often see among my colleagues (city employees) a serious disregard, if not out-right contempt, for Palo Alto residents. They are not working for us. Their "just doing their job" and don't care one bit about long term quality of life issues for Palo Alto.

No on Measure D.


Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

For those of you who agree with the "Against Measure D" campaigners please pass on your support to your neighbors and coworkers. The small underfunded campaign is going up against the PAHC which has spent over $100K on a campaign with large donors. It will be hard to get the true message out since there is not the manpower to go door to door explaining the basic facts. This is a rezoning project that will allow three story houses where it should be two stories and a large structure that should be 30' and will be allowed to be 50'. Just too big for any neighborhood to absorb. There is a reason for zoning and it would be nice to see it respected in all parts of Palo Alto.
For Q & A Against Measure D see: Web Link


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm

@Not an issue,
You chided A for suggesting that members of the Council were corrupt or dishonest. D isn't necessarily for 'Dishonest', but D is for 'Deceptive' and 'Disingenuous' and 'Done Deal'. Were you aware that the law firm of Thoits, Love, Hershberger and Mclean represented the SELLER of the Maybell property? And that a member of Council is a Senior Counsel of that firm? I don't recall him recusing himself from discussions or votes on loaning $7.3 million to PAHC to purchase the property or approve the project? Even if there was no ACTUAL conflict of interest, the APPEARANCE of it recalls the quote from Hamlet - "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."


Posted by Carlos, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

It seems like many of the supporters of this housing project don't even live in the neighborhood, but have this self-rightous attitude as to what we, the neighbors being affected, should do and accept under these circumstances. This is probably what the city council and the developers thought when they pushed for this project despite wide neighborhood opposition. Neither the out-of-touch politicians who live in a different part of town (their better neighborhoods never have to deal with these issues) nor the city workers who don't even live in Palo Alto bothered to take into account what the neighborhood wanted.

It's a David vs. Goliath fight given the resources the city and the developers are throwingn to push their agendas. As residents of this city and members of a democracy, we should all make sure we reject this measure on election day. If the politicians and developers don't dare do this to their own neighborhoods, it's up to us to prevent them from doing this to us.


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Looking at the Google map of Mayor Scharff's home on the 10,000 sq ft lot with the swimming pool in the backyard, I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that the similar size property next door to him is EMPTY. I wonder how many affordable senior residences PAHC could build on that property?


Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

2 more votes against measure D. The city needs to follow the existing zoning laws rather than piecemeal breaking the rules for every possible reason. I'd like to see PC zoning exceptions phased out... too many abuses.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 30, 2013 at 11:27 pm

@Carlos,
I agree. The truly ridiculous thing about this situation is that if the City and County took the same amount of money they are loaning PAHC, $7.3 million and over $8 million respectively, and instead used it to help save the Buena Vista mobile home park IN THE SAME NEIGHBORHOOD, added to the $14 million the residents have to offer, they could easily save that 4 acre parcel and maybe even put a senior building there in time. It would save FAR MORE low-income residents and would be supported by neighbors.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

@Jerry,
Now you are trying to claim the people in Greenacres II who are putting so much energy into opposing this because of how they and their families are affected by the upzoning of the neighborhood, aren't really affected? When it suits your purposes, they should be scared of what you say will otherwise go there because they will be affected, or conversely, they shouldn't care what will go there under this rezoning because they aren't affected and it isn't really in their backyard, but, when it suits your purposes, they're NIMBY's because it is in their backyard? Huh?

You seem willing even to try to twist around the fact that there is nearly unanimous sentiment AGAINST Measure D among people who are closest to it and most affected by it. Greenacres II residents are most affected, which is why 94% are against. Barron Park is majority against, but it's a much larger neighborhood with more people who aren't affected.

Greenacres II AND the eastern end of Barron Park are immediately adjacent to the property, it's even unclear which neighborhood the parcel officially rests in. GAII is smaller and most people are closer geographically than people on the other end of Barron Park. Also, Greenacres II people DO drive by the parcel daily because it's the only way in and out of the neighborhood to get to the rest of Palo Alto, either on Maybell or Arastradero. (Many people in Barron Park never even go by there unless they go out of their way, including, by the way, Gail Price.. But those in the neighborhood who are affected from Barron Park are VERY affected)

That's one of the reasons people are against it -- they see, daily, that the infrastructure is at its limit and that location is an extremely unwise place to put a high-density development because it is at a traffic bottleneck. It's an extremely unsafe place to put any kind of high-density development because AS IT IS it is already dangerous for the thousands of kids who take those Safe Routes to School, and has already been optimized for safety.

Neighbors AGAINST Measure D have put up a map with all the rezoning projects around Palo Alto. Very eye opening. The Maybell development is one of the few that isn't at least on a major street. (Wait for all the pins to load, it's a LOT of rezoning
Web Link )

Actually, the letter from the elections law firm analyzing the bias in the City Attorney's "impartial" analysis and ballot question is a good description of why residents in Greenacres II are so unanimously Against Measure D: Web Link


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2013 at 1:12 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Against

No, I'm not saying they're not affected. Just that what happens on that property is closer to home for people in the immediate area. I agree that most people in Barron Park have far less interaction with Maybell than Green Acres II residents do, especially when Arastradero is jammed and folks from Green Acres come down Maybell instead of using their outlets to Arastradero.

We're the ones, though, who will end up looking at condos or townhouses there forever, wishing we could be looking at single family homes. And we'll all deal with the greater traffic that'll come if the affordable housing for seniors plan falls through.

Unless, of course, you can come up with the money to buy the land for orchard renovation. To do that, though, you'll have to fend off those who say they want to build affordable housing there using current zoning.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 1, 2013 at 2:09 am

@Jerry,
I wish you luck getting PAHC to build under the existing zoning -- if you could do that, it would head off all the damage they're going to continue doing to their own reputation in the community in the coming months.

In case you hadn't noticed, you don't speak for almost anyone else who lives right next to you, because almost unanimously the adjacent neighborhood is AGAINST Measure D. Nice try, though.

You also don't live on Maybell, either, and frankly, I and a lot of Greenacres II live closer than you do. You don't have to ever see or pass by Maybell, they do. Since you are clearly not very familiar with life for people in Greenacres II, many people take Maybell because there are these 3 schools, Terman, Bowman, and Gunn, on Arastradero, and Arastradero was narrowed even though the City Council had passed all kinds of developments increasing traffic on that corridor. The only ways out of the neighborhood for Greenacres II is Maybell and Arastradero, both affected by the proposed high-density development at that critical juncture.

You keep trying to flog this idea that there will be greater traffic from a hypothetical low-density development under the existing low-density zoning than under the high-density rezoning that puts 3 times the density on the market-rate portion (more than half the property) and 4 times the density in the 50-foot highrise on the low-income rental apartment portion. Or that living with the height, parking, density, daylight plane, and setback restrictions will somehow be worse than violating them all by many times. By the way, the wider neighborhood will be affected when the overflow parking ends up taking all the street parking by the park, the school, the rehab program for the disabled, and our homes. Making all of your neighbors have to stare at a big parking lot of cars from a plan that has only 36 parking spots for the residents of a 60 unit development isn't very nice, either. Especially since all the parking on Maybell will be forbidden under this plan during the day so the low-income residents of Arastradero Park Apartments have to move their overflow cars into the neighborhood, too.

You just spent a lot of time trying to convince everyone that no one in the neighborhood would even see a 50-foot high-density building, now you want me to believe it's going to be so much worse if a low-density development at half the height, and with all the appropriate setbacks, density, parking, and other restrictions of existing zoning went in? Well, you don't have to worry about it for a number of reasons anyway.

If people vote AGAINST Measure D, and they prevail, there will be an initiative to turn the orchard into a heritage park, accessible to all children, including the disabled children in the 3 programs across the street.

That is, of course, unless PAHC decides to get some sense and propose a more reasonable development at that site, and build just the affordable senior apartments within the existing zoning, which they very well may if the City is forced to give up on this high-density scheme. In which case neighbors would probably defer to it unless they've gotten really far with the heritage orchard plan initiative by then. This has happened in Palo Alto, where neighbors got fed up and kept a parcel from being overdeveloped by initiative to parkland.

If that somehow fails, there is little thing called the comprehensive plan. If Measure D fails and you aren't working so hard to ignore all the many ways the overdevelopment of that parcel is incompatible with the comprehensive plan, you will realize that there is recourse to prevent an inconsistent development under the Subdivision Map Act. In order to put the high-density portion of that development there, as well as to put anything market-rate there under a hypothetical market development situation for the whole property, it has to be subdivided. Any subdivision has to comply with the Subdivision Map Act, even charter cities'.

Since this is not about rejecting affordable housing, but rejecting the overdevelopment of that parcel, don't worry, the many thousands who signed both of those referendum petitions (it wasn't an identical list for both, by the way) will continue to be active to ensure that parcel is not abusively developed. Remember, there is 6 months to collect signatures for initiatives, not just 30 days, as neighbors accomplished for the 2 referenda (actually, one of them was like 10 days, wasn't it?)


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2013 at 9:06 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Against

You've made a factual claim that is false.

I live one street over and a half block down from the property. I received the community notices that were sent out to all residents within a 600 foot radius of the proposed project. Maybell Avenue has been my main outlet to go about my daily business for 38 years.

Your statement that I don't ever have to see or pass by Maybell discredits your credibility for other factual claims that you make.

Against, you are officially anonymous so I can't comment on where you live other than noting that under all your posting identities you are consistent in claiming to be from the Green Acres neighborhood.

So I'll just suggest that if in February you did not receive the city's notice of the Planning and Transportation Commission's meeting to consider the revisions made by PAHC in light of community feedback you live farther away than I do. Perhaps quite a bit farther.


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2013 at 9:50 am

This is simple folks, you want big ugly development, vote for it. It will be the new way to shoe horn huge market rate houses on every square inch of land left in PA. The council said it themselves, this is the new prototype for development. Every developer in town will be looking for land to fill up with huge ugly buildings. No park or residential neighborhood will be safe. It is time to stop this insanity.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm

@Jerry,
"Maybell Avenue has been my main outlet to go about my daily business for 38 years."

Unlike most of the residents of Greenacres II you have been dismissing, who have Maybell and Arastradero as their only outlets from the neighborhood, and would be going out of their way to head up Los Robles, you could leave the neighborhood via Amaranta and Los Robles instead of Maybell.

[Portion removed.]

But you bring up a good point. PAHC did such a poor job reaching out to neighbors affected by the rezoning, because they drew a line and only notified people within a certain radius, which mainly includes their own existing affordable housing development, a park, and Tan Apartments on Arastradero. They seem to think that "spot zoning" doesn't affect anyone beyond a little area. But that's not the limit of who is affected, because of that property being across from the park, being at the heart of the neighborhood, and being at that traffic bottleneck which affects thousands of families with children in the nearby schools. And because such high-density spot zoning has such significant impacts to the character of the whole neighborhood (which is why spot zoning is illegal for most cities).

[Portion removed.]

@ Midtown,
Thank you so much for condensing the issue -- you hit it right on the nose. Please share with your friends. This really is a grassroots effort, and neighbors are massively outgunned. We just got the ballot today -- and unfortunately, most Palo Altans are going to get their idea of what this is about from the City Attorney's biased and leading "impartial" analysis and ballot question.

Here is a link to the analysis of the City Attorney's bias by an elections law firm for the neighborhood: Web Link


Posted by No, VOTE FOR Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Against Measure D for a reason, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm

In reviewing articles about Maybell I am beginning to understand why the City Council has views that do not take into consideration the whole picture regarding Maybell, read from the Weekly article from July 19, 2013:

"When asked about the omissions in the recent staff reports, City Manager James Keene emphasized the limitations of these reports, which he said neither attempt nor intend to represent all views and tensions inherent in a project. The city assumes, even without explicitly mentioning these policies, "that so much has happened in public discussion and public process that it's really clear what those (tensions) are," he told the Weekly. The findings in the staff reports tend to support the particular staff recommendation rather than represent all views, he said."

Unfortunately this project did not reach out to the neighborhood early enough and once neighbors found out the City was not willing to take a deep breath and seriously listen to the neighbors because they felt it was too late.

To quote from another Weekly article from Feb 13:
"Commissioners Wednesday night marveled at the lack of opposition to the project, given the proposed senior complex's height and proximity to single-family homes. Alcheck told the applicants that the lack of opposition "speaks a lot about your reaching-out process." Tanaka was more skeptical and surmised that people didn't show up to criticize the project because they didn't know about it."I think if the people in the (neighborhood's single-family houses) really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there," Tanaka said.

At the debate the mayor chided the opposition for mentioning eminent domain, "where did you get that idea?". The idea came from his city staff in a presentation to the neighbors just the week before, Jaime Rodriquez announced that eminent domain was not out of the possibilities in order to make Maybell a more safe route to school.

If the planning department thinks the neighbors would "give more of an outcry"
If the staff is only supposed to give data that supports a project
If Council does not know what the staff is saying in meetings about their projects
If Council lends money to the project 9 months before the rezoning
How is an unbiased decision supposed to take place?

When you hear people say that it was a done deal before the vote to rezone it is now making more sense to me than ever.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

>it is now making more sense to me than ever.

It is good to see some people waking up to how the game is played in PA. I have watched it for decades.

Neighborhoods stand no chance against the elites and social planners that run this city, unless we fight back.


Posted by The time has come!, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm

It is time to fight and take back our city! The City Council, ARB, Planning Commission, and developers, etc, do not seem to realize that the city belongs to the residents, and not to them or any other single entity.

Time to wise up, fools!


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

And, Craig, you are taking the comments on this forum as a sign of how the people of palo alto feel? I thought you were smarter than that


Posted by debate attendee, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2013 at 10:21 pm

> The pro-Measure D folks came prepared, they were informative, concise & clear.

Too bad they weren't well-informed and/or honest. See above posts about Mayor Scharff
* Insisting that the project will look like his single-family neighborhood.
* Claiming that eminent domain was not on the table
* Asking us to trust data from the city's " transportation experts"

> I received the community notices that were sent out to all residents within a 600 foot radius of the proposed project.

That law would make sense if only a single-family home was planned. But with a huge project like this, it impacts far more people than just those within 600 feet.


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm

@Jerry Underdal
At 6:47 PM yesterday you remarked to Against that "The image at your link has been withdrawn and replaced (by the No on D campaign after complaints came in) because it shows driveways onto Maybell from the 2-story houses where none will exist." You failed to note that you had advised us of the discrepancy at 9:11 AM that morning and by 1:44 PM that afternoon it had been corrected.
Compare that to the length of time during which PAHC and the City displayed the grossly distorted drawing of the original site with the 3-story Arastradero Apartments towering over the 4-story senior building and the 2-story houses on the north side of Maybell looming larger than the proposed 3-story houses on the south side. The drawing is still available on the City website page 6 of the document at Web Link.
Then the City displayed a modified version of the drawing, with the private market-rate houses removed, which clearly demonstrated that more than half of the property would go to the private homes. The City recently removed that image from its website stating "As part of its vote, the Council approved a number of conditions and design changes to better ensure the single family homes built along Maybell and Clemo Avenue have the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood. As a result, there are no new project images available at this time." (The image is still availsble at Web Link.)
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 3:31 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Zayda, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood

Thank you for making that correction. I noticed earlier your statement that you had crafted unofficial renderings for people who didn't understand that the official one showing lot lines was not a claim that parkland would surround the apartments.

I didn't get a good look at the large image of Maybell that was displayed at the debate on Saturday and caused quite a stir. I gather it showed driveways on Maybell and the error was pointed out. Yet the driveways were still on your website Monday morning.

You've done a helpful job of suggesting what the project would look like. You have an advantage because no one is going to hold you to the standards that we expect of the planning department. The City doesn't have the luxury, in this charged environment, of posting anything that isn't accurate in all details.

I like to see views from the air, but I experience places at street level. Unless you're in the Tan Apartments or a helicopter you won't see the entire site in one view. "Against, a resident of Green Acres" objects to my observation that the 45' (plus 5' at one point) apartment building will be largely hidden from sight by single family homes on Maybell and Clemo. You understand mapping and perspective very well. Can you help us here?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 4:13 am

@Jerry,
Can you explain to me again how a 50 foot, high density building that is the equivalent of RM-60 plus a high-density market-rate development at 3 times the existing is invisible according to you, but you can barely stand the thought of having anything built under the existing low-density zoning, with the 30 foot height limit, and other restrictions that provide for adequate parking, setbacks, daylight plane, etc?

By the way, neighbors who you call NIMBYs have only not argued over the issue of what the RM-15 zoning really allows, because they wouldn't argue over it being built to the limit if it were affordable senior housing. But to be consistent with the general plan, the RM-15 zoning is described as a transition zone, with 8-15 units per acre. The general plan says that where RM-15 is adjacent to R-1, the number of units should be on the LOWER end of the range, i.e., 8 units per acre. The neighbors actually have cause to fight development so inconsistent with the general plan. (That's not the only way, it's just the City doesn't know it because they just ignored all the many ways the development they wanted wasn't consistent with the general plan.)

So, at 8 units per acre, that would work out to about the same number of homes there under a market rate development as former planner Joe Hirsch has been pointing out would really go there if it were developed: about 16. Since Jerry will never accept reality on that score, I invite readers to Google 595 Maybell and look at the satellite photo of the 4 ranch houses and the orchard adjacent to it. It will fit about 16 homes with lanes.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 7:05 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@ Against

Please, the 50' (45'+5' at one place), would not be invisible, but hidden from view. Must I explain that?

Sounds as if you have a divide in the No on D camp. In the voter information pamphlet, it says: "Current zoning allows 41 affordable units ..." And (underlined, all caps) WE SUPPORT BUILDING AFFORDABLE SENIOR HOUSING ON THE MAYBELL PARCEL WITHIN CURRENT ZONING."

You, however, are strongly against building affordable housing where the orchard is, regardless of the number of units. If anything is built there, the orchard is lost.

To openly fight for the orchard is something I would applaud if not support. It would be consistent and unassailable in regards to impact on the neighborhood. But prolonging the uncertainty and piling up the carrying costs for PAHC while pretending that the goal is to do affordable housing the right way is wrong.


Posted by debate attendee, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2013 at 9:33 am

> You have an advantage because no one is going to hold you to the standards that we expect of the planning department. The City doesn't have the luxury, in this charged environment, of posting anything that isn't accurate in all details.

Then why did the city post the original image that showed the new buildings on the site MUCH smaller than the surrounding existing homes? Two different scales were used. They only took it off the city website after 2 months of complaints.

What kind of standard is that?

Remember this quote from Web Link

In city that loves to plan, Palo Alto's creates cynicism

"In an interview for today's cover story, Keene made the startling admission 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.

"That helps explain why, in the case of the staff report on the recently approved Maybell senior housing project, only policies that supported the project were cited, something that helped to fuel neighborhood belief that the outcome was predetermined by staff and council."

These are the guys we're supposed to trust?


Posted by Against Measure D for a reason, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

PAHC and/or the City have not posted an actual model of what can be built by their change in zoning, therefore someone had to show the voters what they are voting on. Sorry that it is rough (but it is to scale). It is the best that a community member could do on their own.
Check this email out and note that to date no accurate drawing has been posted even with a council members August 11th request:

From: Karen Holman [mailto:kcholman@sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2013 10:16 PM
To: Pamela Antil; Aaron Aknin
Cc: Pat Marriott; Sheila Tucker; James Keene
Subject: Re: architectural rendering of Maybell project: out of scale

Hello.

Can staff please put the descriptive and accurate drawing on the City's site.
Thank you.
Karen (Holman)

SO NOW: Check the information out for yourself for the "VoteAgainstD" campaign:

Web Link


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Hello Palo Alto neighbors,

I am a resident of Mountain View and have been closely following the machinations surrounding the Maybell development proposal with much interest. Mountain View is also in the throes of massive re-development, and some would say massive OVER-development. Anyway, to date the city has been anything but responsive to very valid concerns of the residents regarding numerous developments and proposed developments that have come before city planning and city council. At this point there is a group of residents who are actively seeking to consult with (and quite possibly retain) a land use attorney/firm to represent the interests of the residents, which evidently city council no longer represents. I was wondering if anyone here could recommend a land use attorney/firm that might be a good fit for this type of representation?

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.


Posted by Steven - against Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Jerry,

The folks against measure D are all individuals, not a corporate entity like PAHC, so of course they do not have all the same opinions as to what would be best on the site, or "ideal". Its unfair to complain that one individual's most desired outcome matches up with every other person's who is also against measure D. Nor do these need to line up, in order to have good reasons to oppose measure D. I do think, though, from my own conversations with folks, that people would be happy with senior housing built within the current zoning. If an orchard were possible, perhaps folks would prefer that instead.

BTW, although we don't agree, I do appreciate the fact that you try and deal in facts and logical arguments to make your points, unlike so many of the commenters.


Posted by Definitely voting NO, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

The corrupt and dismissive manner in which the city council conducted the Maybell process merits a NO vote on Measure D from anyone who cares about responsible, open, trustworthy government.

The arguments against Measure D are compelling beyond that, but for me they are not necessary -- the decision becomes an east NO the instant the city rigs an outcome to favor its own favored special interests(PAHC, the development community in general).


Posted by jerry underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm

jerry underdal is a registered user.

Steven,

Thanks for the comment about facts and arguments. I try to keep it to that but sometimes rhetoric takes hold, often to my regret.

I take your point that there's no requirement that all No on Measure D supporters have the same idea for what's best on that site. Nor should we expect it.

But the leaders, both publicly identified and anonymous, should be clear and in agreement in communicating to voters what the final outcome should be beyond just blocking this project and sending a message to the city council about lax oversight of zoning concessions.

"Against" (under many screen names) is an important opinion leader on this issue and has been since the start.

If this pioneer of the Maybell movement doesn't believe in the stated goals and arguments of the No on D campaign but has another agenda, posted anonymously in Town Square forums but not officially part of the campaign, voters should be aware of that fact before they vote.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm

"The arguments against Measure D are compelling beyond that"
Actually, I haven't found any arguments against measure D compelling. Most are based around FUD rather than anything substantive. Continues cries of "your neighborhood is next" and "no park or residential neighborhood will be safe" are really weak. That argument can be applied to anything. Nothing in the debate so far has shown it to be remotely true for Maybell.
If we move away from the FUD cries, we get into the actual arguments against the Maybell development. Unfortunately, here, those against Measure D are even weaker. Their claim to being reasonable is to accept development at existing zoning. However, they they have no option but to accept development if it is within existing zoning so they aren't giving anything away. It's the equivalent to the GOP's current claims to being reasonable and willing to compromise.
Really there no arguments against measure D. Everything has already been dealt with in the impartial analysis.
Not wanting development is not an argument.


Posted by Defnitely Voting NO, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

"Really there no arguments against measure D."

Really? What an amazingly loose use of the word "really," as I can think of a few, and I don't even live in the neighborhood and am probably missing half of them.

Upzoning on a school transit corridor, and commissioning an "impartial" traffic analysis that ignores children, pedestrians, and bicycles?

City Government committing millions of tax dollars to a project dependent on a zoning favor that has undergone no vetting or public input?

Exceeding height limits in residential neighborhood?

Insufficient parking?

Setting the new precedent in which for profit market rate development is piggybacked onto affordable housing?

Rewarding developer misconduct?

Rewarding conflicts of interest in city government.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm

We have such a low performing council, it boggles the mind. Maybe if they didn't hire so many six figure bureaucrats like the new 175,000 per year PR director, they wouldn't try this sort of thing. As is, they want to feel good about adding affordable housing, but can't pay for it under current zoning because they're so wasteful . Instead, they want the neighborhood to pay via upzoned market rate houses rammed down their throats. (And if a kid gets run over, so be it -- in fact don't even try to assess that risk with a proper traffic study because that might turn up something that makes them look foolish).

All faith in city govt and PAHC flushed down the toilet. Definitely voting against. Thank you neighbors for getting this on the ballot.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

"Upzoning on a school transit corridor, and commissioning an "impartial" traffic analysis that ignores children, pedestrians, and bicycles?"
- Dealt with in the impartial analysis. Traffic and safety study included.

"City Government committing millions of tax dollars to a project dependent on a zoning favor that has undergone no vetting or public input?"
- FUD

"Exceeding height limits in residential neighborhood?"
- Hence the re-zone.

"Insufficient parking?"
- Dealt with in the impartial analysis.

"Setting the new precedent in which for profit market rate development is piggybacked onto affordable housing?"
- FUD.

"Rewarding developer misconduct?"
"Rewarding conflicts of interest in city government."
Neither of these are even coherent arguments.

So, yes, really there no arguments against measure D.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm

The only FUD I've seen is from the PAHC and their supporters, who have faithfully repeated the lie that the project as upzoned will have less impact than the project that could be built under current zoning.

The poster above's FUD argument is as wrong as it is simplistic.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

If people are still arguing about sight-lines and visual impact, rather than traffic and general principles, we should ask for an installation of "story poles" sometime before election day. Are story poles only required for projects on county land? Does anyone in town even know what they are? Or would three and four stories of orange ribbon be an unfair demonstration of the proposed construction?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

@barricades,

The "impartial analysis" and the ballot question were written by the CITY ATTORNEY who has not exactly been an impartial party in all of this. If you haven't seen the letter about the bias in the ballot question and "impartial" analysis, you can read it here

LINK TO MEASURE D BALLOT BIAS LETTER
Web Link

For example, the City Attorney wrote the "impartial" analysis that "The City conducted an environmental analysis, including a traffic study. The analysis concluded that if the project incorporated certain mitigation measures, it would not cause any significant environmental impacts."

The City Attorney has just said in the most persuasive way possible, that the City was satisfied with and only submitted a mitigated negative declaration for a project they had predetermined to go forward and did not do a full environmental impact report.

Neighbors hired two traffic engineers to review the City traffic study, and their review pointed out that the City never did a SAFETY analysis, especially nothing regarding the impact to the many hundreds of bikes and pedestrians, and that they used old traffic data mostly prior to the Arastradero restriping. This is one of the major aspects of the CEQA lawsuit as I understand it.

A real "impartial" analysis would not have just propagandized what the City Council wants everyone to believe, but would have included both sides, especially since there is a pending CEQA lawsuit challenging the sufficiency of the City's environmental analysis at Maybell.

Definitely Voting No above has summarized the situation exactly right.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

An IMPARTIAL analysis clearly states: "The analysis concluded that if the project incorporated certain mitigation measures, it would not cause any significant environmental impacts"

You pay your consultant to find in your favor and use that as a counter to an IMPARTIAL analysis. The IMPARTIAL analysis isn't the propaganda in this thread.
Really, there are still no arguments against Measure D.


Posted by cynic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I am voting for Prop D because it allows the city to add 60 more units of BMR housing, helping to satisfy ABAG without seriously impacting PAUSD. If this PAHC project isn't built on Mayfield, those 60 BMR housing unit will need to be built in some other neighborhood and, potentially as family housing, which would have a more serious impact on PAUSD. Prop D isn't ideal, but it's better than the alternative.


Posted by No logic, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm

"You pay your consultant to find in your favor and use that as a counter to an IMPARTIAL analysis."

So the PAHC-funded study that chose to ignore bicycle traffic was "IMPARTIAL" but the neighbor funded one that did include bicycle traffic was not?

Try thinking for yourself and not believing everything the city government tells you to. The city government saying they are impartial when everything they've done up to this point, including spending my tax money before examining any evidence, indicates extreme PARTIALITY on the part of the city.

I'm voting no. Easy call. If "to the barricades" wants to take the city government's word that everything is fine, that's his or her right, but all evidence points to a hugely flawed process at every turn. You don't get 3000+ signatures in 2 weeks on a referendum when everything is above water.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

@cynic,
The trouble with that perspective is that the City and PAHC have rolled out a new financing mechanism at Maybell, which they've justified by saying "other cities" (haven't named them) do this.

That financing mechanism involves substantial giveaways to market-rate developers. At Maybell, more than half the development will go to market-rate for-profit development, which is being upzoned for the benefit of the market-rate developer, to the detriment of the neighborhood. It essentially makes any residential parcel attainable for them to put an affordable development on, because they can use as much of the property as they want for high-density market-rate development, and they get to violate zoning as much as they want on either using the affordable housing as the justification.

If voters greenlight this funding mechanism, THAT's what will enable the City to be able to satisfy its ABAG requirements in residential neighborhoods anywhere it can get its hands on a piece of property in the future. They basically are using a small component of affordable housing as an excuse to set aside all zoning rules in residential neighborhoods.

If you are worried about such a thing happening to you, you should vote AGAINST Measure D, because if the City and PAHC realize they can get away with it, suddenly all of Palo Alto residential areas are open to them to put whatever they need to satisfy ABAG anywhere they want in the future, instead of restricting high-density developments to transit corridors where it's more appropriate.

PAHC didn't decide to build those units there because of a specific need that they will then be satisfied if they get Maybell. PAHC wasn't happy that Eden got the development at 801 Alma because they were felt not to have the experience, for one, and entered into an affordable housing arms race to become the top dog in Palo Alto again.

Palo Alto used to run its affordable housing program in a way to integrate affordable housing in the community, not create concentrations of affordable housing, which comes with a whole host of ills -- which is why it's against HUD policy. (They would be concentrating affordable housing at Maybell by placing a new high-density development next to an existing affordable development at the Arastradero apartments).

So, you have got it exactly wrong -- approving the development at Maybell isn't going to let you dodge a bullet for your own neighborhood, so to speak, it will give the City Council all the ammunition they need to go after your neighborhood and others without worry of being stopped.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Sigh....the IMPARTIAL analysis validated the traffic analysis. In addition PAHC had no influence over the outcome.
Compare that to the opponents paid for report.
So, again, no argument against measure D.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

@ cynic,
Oh, and by the way, at Maybell, even if Measure D passes, the neighbors have other recourse and will continue to fight, the battles will only get uglier. Neighbors are willing to fight that battle over that particular piece of property because of the serious traffic safety and infrastructure limitation issues for the kids.

I know what is being planned by some of the parties, and I'll tell you now, it's very unlikely anyone is going to be able to build that high-density development there even if Measure D passes. But if it passes, it will embolden the City Council to use that funding mechanism to do more of the same all over Palo Alto, even while they fight the neighbors at Maybell.

If you don't want overdevelopment like that in a residential neighborhood, don't encourage the Council to do it by letting them know they can get away with it! Because even if the Maybell neighbors manage to stop that development, if the Council realizes they can get away with it with a less active neighborhood, they may very well go right after yours. Do you want to spend all of your time trying to organize your neighbors and fight City hall in order to ensure your neighborhood's zoning laws are respected? Because that's what you'll have to do if you tell the City Council they can get away with it.

I never in a million years dreamed the City would try to upzone so dramatically in the middle of a residential neighborhood like this. If you okay Measure D, that will become the new norm. For-profit developers will be ALL OVER this, and you will have no defense.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm

More FUD.
Measure D has nothing to do with preventing any future funding mechanism. There is nothing to tie them together.
This just shows you the weakness of the opponents arguments.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm

>If you okay Measure D, that will become the new norm.

Yes it will. It sets a precedent. I am probably more pro-development than most opponents of Measure D, but this turkey, like HSR, needs to be crushed...as does PAHC, btw.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

@barricades,

Measure D is all about the funding mechanism. The staff report on the rezoning begins with talking about this "creative" new funding mechanism. In the City meetings, the Mayor even pointed out that this is the first time they have tried that funding scheme in Palo Alto, and that they won't make so many missteps doing it next time.

The ordinance itself enables the zoning that in turn enables the funding mechanism. For example, PAHC was never able to reduce the number of market rate homes to six homes of a size that meets existing zoning in the neighborhood because of the funding mechanism. I've seen a letter from PAHC that said exactly that, neighbors asked, and they said they couldn't reduce the number of homes to six even if they got as much money for them, because of the financing. Having 12 to 15 high-density market-rate homes like at Miki's market in the middle of a residential neighborhood means the private developer has to provide a certain amount of "in lieu" fees -- which Palo Alto dedicated to the loan. THE IN LIEU FEES THAT COME FROM THE UPZONING OF THE MARKET RATE PORTION ARE WRITTEN INTO THE ORDINANCE.

It's zoning for sale in our residential neighborhoods, and our City Council and PAHC have said they are bringing this scheme to Palo Alto at Maybell for the first time, and if given the opportunity by voters greenlighting it at Maybell, they will do it more efficiently to everyone else's neighborhood in the future. It's basically setting aside the zoning protections in residential neighborhoods.



Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Just to cover some of the various points and issues that this debate generated: I wsn't a formal signer of the arguments against D because it was well known that I oppose the development, and we wanted to get others from all over town to show their concern over the project.

If D fails it will certainly not end BMR housing in Palo Alto. As has been said many times before, this project is unprecedented and violates not only the Comprehensive Plan that states that PC zoning should comply with the Plan (It violates Policies L3, L4, L5 and L6 among others) it violates formal Council policy not to intensify development or density in low density residential zones - like R-2.

The "Impartial" analysis is pure GARBAGE. It ignored bike and pedestrian traffic, it used the VTA 2008 model that was out of date and understates traffic impacts from senior housing by 60%, it ignored any other developments, such as the 2 hotels going up on El Camino not far away, the mixed use building going up on the El Camino Island, and the senior housing going up on El Camino Way, let alone developments in Mountain View near San Antonio that are adding many hundreds of housing units. Also ignored was that Maybell is a Safe Routes to School street and soon will be a bike boulevard, but it is only 29' wide by Clemo and carries 3350 cars/day.

I looked at traffic generation from senior and regular housing sites and calculated the increase in traffic from the PC proposal and from existing R-2 and RM-15 zoning if the existing zoning was built to the max including a 35% density bonus for at least 20% BMR units. The PC with 60 apartments and 12 homes would generate MORE traffic than current zoning, most likely about75 more trips/day and perhaphs as many as 120 more.Eisting zoning built to the max would generate 325 to 344 trips/day. The PC would generate 420 to 458 trips/day.

We hired a professional traffic and civil engineer to review the "Impartial" analysis and he found about a dozen errors and omissions, two of which were using the 2008 VTA model instead of the 2012 VTA model, and ignoring other developments proposed or potential in Palo Alto and nearby cities. The week after the Council approved the Maybell project they appropriated $290,000 to modify the Comprehensive Plan starting with the traffic analysis, replacing the 2008 VTA model with the 2012 VTA model, and taking into account any and all developments in the rest of Palo Alto and in Menlo Park, Mountain View and Los Altos - as our consultant said were needed badly but missing. There has been no effort to reconsider the Maybell traffic analysis using these new requirements.

Finally, perhaphs as a reward to PAHC for pushing Yes on Measure D, next week the Council will award PAHC $175,000 for administrative and overhead expenses.That will more than cover the $50,000 in cash and $44,000 in labor PAHC already has expended for Yes on Measure D. Doesn't it make us all proud to know our taxpayer money is being used so wisely.

Bottom line, Vote Against Measure D. The neighborhood you save may be your own - next year.


Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Vote, you can approve measure D and still fight funding mechanisms. They are definitely not tied together. You only try to tie them together because you have no argument against measure D.

Bob, "you save may be your own - next year.". More FUD. You follow up with the same arguments and simply trash mouth an independent impartial analysis. You may prefer your paid consultants results as did the cigarette companies. Your paid for results are worth as much.
Now instead of FUD and paid for results what about putting forward some real arguments on why anyone should vote against measure D.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Last week the new $185 million Central Library opened in Downtown
San Diego, many years in the planning. The architect is Rob Quigley,
based in San Diego,who also did 801 Alma. The Library is being
well received for its design. So what happened in Palo Alto??
Did the staff and review process contaminate this project from the beginning and as it proceeded, cause changes in it, and then simply rubber-stamp it in final approval? Is this all on the back of the architect? It tells you that you cannot trust anything here to
get a good outcome. Is there a relationship to Mitchell Park
Library?


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Quick point -

Thank you, Bob for all you have done to maintain quality of life for Palo Alto over the years!

I just want to point out a confusion here:

Bob is talking about the TRAFFIC analysis. Which was inadequate. Neighbors never accused the traffic engineer of bias, only asked to the City over and over again to do the safety analysis which their own engineer admitted they did not do. The City's own policy is of "heightened scrutiny" on school commute routes, which was not followed at Maybell or Arastradero at those key places where thousands of kids commute to school, and Maybell is a seriously substandard street with no room for a full-width sidewalk or full-width bike lane on either side of the street.

I was talking about the City Attorney's "impartial analysis" of Measure D. San Francisco has a ballot committee that through an open and public process, takes input from different sides and writes the "impartial analysis" and ballot question that go into the sample ballot. The County doesn't do that, an impartial 3rd party doesn't do that. Even though the City has been a major party in this dispute and the City Attorney has been working to rezone that property, the City Attorney gets to summarize what's at stake for the voters. The City Attorney doesn't re-analyze the traffic study, for example, that's just silly.

In San Francisco, they established instead a ballot simplification committee: "The Ballot Simplification Committee works in public meetings to prepare a fair and impartial summary of each local ballot measure in simple language." Both sides are represented, the City doesn't just get to write their own interpretation in a final and very powerful chance to try to sway the electorate to their side, as they have done in the ballot for Measure D.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 3, 2013 at 1:37 am

@barricades,
"and simply trash mouth an independent impartial analysis. You may prefer your paid consultants results as did the cigarette companies"

WHAT are you talking about? What independent impartial analysis? You're saying the City Attorney has magically become an impartial party in this matter? (And what "analysis"? You're implying she re-analyzed the traffic study and magically found they did the safety analysis they never did. Even their own traffic engineer admitted they didn't look at bike and pedestrian safety. THAT'S an impartial statement.)

City Attorneys get to write the ballot "impartial" analysis and ballot question. There is no administrative remedy if citizens feel their write ups for the ballot are biased. And in this case, where the City staff have been forceful advocates for the rezoning, even submitting false zoning verifications to the state, the City Attorney's bias was a given.

If residents want to fight the bias, their only recourse is to hire an elections attorney to ask the City to follow the law, which is what that letter is. The County Supervisor's office told neighbors that was their only recourse under the law.

There are two sides in this dispute. The City has been heavily advocating for one side and as such has a conflict of interest in producing the ballot analysis and question. They are essentially writing their own election.

Palo Altans who care about fairness should look at both sides before making up their minds. If they want to see what neighbors would have submitted to a ballot impartiality committee (if we had one in Palo Alto like they do in San Francisco) in order to produce a more balanced ballot, they should take a look at what the elections law firm wrote to the City Attorney: Web Link





Posted by to the barricades, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Against Measure D for a reason, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

@ "Try to put together one solid argument against measure D."

AGAINST: Allowing three story homes instead of two and allowing 50' building instead of 30' which is completely out of character with the neighborhood.

A vote AGAINST Measure D will maintain the neighborhood zoning and will still allow low income senior housing. Please understand what the vote is really about. Senior housing is more than acceptable; the rezoning is what this vote is about.


Posted by it's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

"allowing 50' building instead of 30' which is completely out of character with the neighborhood."
How high is Tan Plaza Continental?


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:44 am

Actual issues aside for a moment. its also a question of trust in the city council and the developers. Just look at Alma Plaza. It was passed over strong objections of the residents with the promise of a "community center" and a park. Turns out the buildings are tall structures, packed tightly together like sardines, the "community center" is a small room above the grocery shop which is smack on Alma with no setback. The "park" is about the size of my carpet.

When I remodeled my house, the city imposed all kinds of setback and daylight plane rules, all of which I followed, since I know it helps me and my neighbors. However, it seems like the city gives a pass on rules when it comes to developers. Alma Plaza is not a senior housing development. Why were rules flaunted?

Sorry you lost my trust.

Thanks but No, thanks!

As it is, high-rises are sprouting everywhere around us - look at the development on San Antonio. Where is the traffic going to go? Alma is a nightmare at peak hours.

Letting measure D Pass is just another step towards destroying the character of Palo Alto by replacing ranch houses with high-rises.

No Rezoning.


Posted by kb, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

This is really simple:

PAHC couldn't afford to put senior housing on the property with existing zoning. For some reason, they didn't ask the city council for more money, and they didn't go out and do fundraising like a normal non-profit.

Instead, they and the city council came up with this scheme to change the zoning, thus shifting the costs onto the neighborhood, who has to deal with the increased density and traffic. Thanks, guys. Real neighborly of you all.

That's all it is. PAHC and the City Council didn't want to deal with the extra cost, and they thought they could shift it onto the neighborhood. After all, they know best, and we're just a bunch of lousy citizens.


Posted by Stephanie Enos, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I just hope that the City manager and council members occasionally check this site!


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

@"To the barricades"

"Not wanting development is not an argument".

No one here is opposing all development. Only those that violate the zoning laws. There is a reason why laws are passed.

I oppose all new high-density development because they

Cut natural light to surrounding housing
Increase traffic (do you ever travel during peak hours? Alma is basically full. no more capacity remaining)
Reduce neighbors's privacy.


Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm

To "its not fair"

"How high is Tan Plaza?"

Too high. No more eyesores like that. One mistake doesnt need to be repeated. That structure is totally out of character with the neighborhood. According to you, once we let developers sneak a few high-rises through, then the character has changed so they should be alowed to build some more?? Brilliant.


Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm

@it's not fair,

You wrote
"allowing 50' building instead of 30' which is completely out of character with the neighborhood."

How high is Tan Plaza Continental?

I'm really glad for a chance to address the presence of the Tan Plaza.

The Tan Plaza even the Arastradero Park apartments are historic exceptions that are surrounded by R-1 neighborhood. The EXISTING ZONING of the orchard is RM-15 to serve as a transition zone between the Tan Apartments and the surrounding R-1 neighborhood, because the comprehensive plan calls for gradual transitions between zoning.

The main building of the proposed development is FOUR TIMES as dense as the highest density allowed under the existing zoning. The general plan actually calls for density to be on the LOWER END adjacent to R-1 neighborhoods, so, 8 units per acre not 15. The main building is really closer to EIGHT TIMES the density it should be under the existing zoning laws. It's supposed to be a low-density transition zone from the Tan to the R-1 neighborhood.

The Tan Plaza and even Arastradero Park are also both on Arastradero Road, which is at least a residential arterial and important east-west traffic corridor. The orchard parcel is NOT on a major road, it is squarely in the residential neighborhood and across from a school and park, and Maybell is a substandard residential street with no continuous sidewalk and no room even for a full-width bike path on either side of the street.

Upzoning the orchard parcel to the equivalent of RM-60 makes a giant spot zone of high-density in the middle of a residential neighborhood -- which, if Palo Alto wasn't a charter city that could thumb its nose at the comprehensive plan, would normally be ILLEGAL.

Worse, given how the City Council, like you, have brought up the Tan Apartments as an excuse to densify the residential neighborhood, residents are well aware of the threat that such high-density development and violation of existing zoning laws presents to future land use all over the neighborhood and the future character of the neighborhood.

The Tan high-rise was built back in the last era of abusive development in the area. It caused a lot of controversy in its time, and should not be used as an excuse to do more of the same to the residential neighborhood now. When people purchase homes in the neighborhood, the zoning is a promise of what the future land use in the neighborhood will be like.

Measure D seriously violates that promise, and if allowed, would greenlight a mechanism for the City and PAHC to do so again and again all over Palo Alto.

Using the Tan as an excuse to densify the neighborhood is kind of like a criminal getting a pass to commit murder because he got away with it once before. The Tan is not the dominant land use in the area, the R-1 residential neighborhood that surrounds that island is, and the RM-15 to R-1 "low-density" existing zoning is the transition zone that acknowledges the presence of the Tan.




Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Excuse me, I meant to write:

The Tan is not the dominant land use in the area, the R-1 residential neighborhood that surrounds that island is, and the RM-15 to R-2 "low density" existing zoning is the transition zone that acknowledges the presence of the Tan.


Posted by It's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:11 am

Amongst all the rhetoric you neglected to mention Tan Plaza Continental is over 100 feet. A 50 foot buildingslight next to it Is not out of place in this neighborhood.


Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

@It's not fair -- A 50 foot tall, boxy building is not attractive. And, how attractive would it be for seniors to live where they don't have access to a grocery store, except for what Walgreen on the corner offers (not much). The amenities are not there on Maybell as they are at the Stevenson House (across from a shopping center on Charleston) which is a very good location for senior housing.

How long would these units remain solely for seniors -- that's not clear either. Nor do these units have to be reserved for Palo Altans.

Other questions remain -- why were there 20 units sitting for several years empty at the new JCC BMR housing? (Then as people asked about that they started to fill them up.) Also why allow BMR housing to covert back at the Terman Apartments after 20 years?

And, senior housing CAN BE put on Maybell with NO opposition (it's questionable how good this location is for that purpose since there are very few walkable stores/services that can be reached from this location), but do it at the current zoning.

This is about upzoning behind closed doors,ignoring the Comprehensive Plan, and using questionable methods used by city leaders to push this measure through. I will vote No on D.


Posted by midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:53 am

@ "its not fair" -

"Amongst all the rhetoric you neglected to mention Tan Plaza Continental is over 100 feet. A 50 foot buildingslight next to it Is not out of place in this neighborhood."

Did you read the earlier posts? A single building does not a neighborhood character make. That building is out of character with the neighborhood. We don't need more. One mistake should not be an excuse to spawn many others.


Posted by it's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

A building that was there when you bought your house is "out of character with the neighborhood".
Let's be honest. Undeveloped land next to a 100 foot building is a prime location for development. It should have been clear to you when you bought your house that this development was on the cards. It is perfectly in line with what is there today and not "out of character with the neigborhood".


Posted by Steven - against Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm

"it's not fair",

perhaps you should be honest, yourself. Those people who thought about it would certainly have thought development of the orchard site would be under the existing zoning. Any reading of the city's guidelines on that zoning would have also told them, as has been previously talked about, that as a transition to R1 zoning, development should be at the low end of the permitted level. That is what they and you should have expected to see proposed.

I think you are not clear on the concept of what "in character" means.
It means "typical of the apparent character of a person or thing". In reference to a neighborhood, it would refer to the typical types of buildings. In the case of an R1 or R2 neighborhood, a single 100 ft. tall building is not "in character", no matter how many years its been there.


Posted by it's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Steven, that isn't honest, it's naive. This is the ideal location for this development. If we want to have affordable senior housing there is no better location given the state of the location and everything around it., Even the "single family homes" on the site now such as 595 Maybell are multi-family homes!
Come, be honest, this development is totally in keeping with the neighborhood.


Posted by Steven - against Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm

"it's not fair", I am having trouble following your logic. You are right, it would be naive of me not to expect some developer to try and get the rules changed to benefit them, since they try and do this for every development now. That doesn't mean that they should get their way. Affordable senior housing is no different from any affordable housing in Palo Alto - it is hard to do, but it does get done. I believe 41 units of it could be built there within the current zoning - just because it seems beyond the competence of PAHC doesn't mean we should go along with the disaster PAHC is proposing. BTW, its an ideal site in terms of being a large undeveloped piece of land. Its not an ideal site for senior housing based on the criteria I have seen as important - not near any of the services and amenities they need, and no on-site services as they age. Based on the rents, it also won't help the poor elderly, either.


Posted by it's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Then, on the other side is Arastradero Park Apartments. There are very few single family homes adjacent to this development. To claim this development is "out of character with the neighborhood" is disingenuous at best.
There is nowhere better in the whole of Palo Alto for this development. A site prime for this development and yet you claim to have been blind-sided. Get real.


Posted by Steven - against Measure D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

"it's not fair", I'm sorry, but I still don't follow the thrust of your logic. You say "There is nowhere better in the whole of Palo Alto for this development." There have been lots of facts presented as to why this is not a good location for non-assisted living for senior housing, and why its not a good idea to do it at the scale proposed, with upzoning. Just repeating that you think its the best location doesn't advance your point. I already believe you strongly feel this way.

You also say "A site prime for this development and yet you claim to have been blind-sided. Get real." I'm not really sure what the point is here, except expressing schadenfreude. It doesn't relate in any way I can see as to the accuracy or importance of the objections expressed to the specific proposed development and the concerns about upzoning.


Posted by it's not fair, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

Steven, obviously you haven't read this thread. All objections have been dealt. The final discussion was on up-zoning and we find that there are already multi-family homes and tall buildings on all sides of this development and no reason not to up-zone.

Read the thread in its entirety. It shows each argument against measure D shot down. All that is left for those against measure D are cries of "it's not fair" and that doesn't cut it as an opposition argument.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm

@its_fair.

" It shows each argument against measure D shot down"

Apparently, these arguments have been shot down in your own mind.
Unfortunately that does not really help convince others.

Just in your last post, you're saying that since other surrounding parcels have been rezoned to allow high-density housing, this one should be too. Do you realize how ridiculous that is? What you're saying that the whole neighborhood should be rezoned. So the zoning has no meaning at all in that area? Why have any zoning at all?

Also you have given no argument to my contention that based on past history, developers and the city are not to be trusted. They have lied to us to push through unsuitable developments and cheated on the "public benefits" they promised. The city apparently does not take the trouble to hold them to their promises. Alma Plaza is a case in point. Just because neighbors (Actually one very peristent neighbor) opposed the project, does not make it ok for developers to lie and cheat. Why no setbacks for the JCC? Why setbacks only for my remodel project? see a pattern here? I'm not rich enough to influence the city council.

Sorry but no rezoning here or anywhere else. We're not going to allow palo alto to turn into L.A.


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