Stanford housing proposal faces appeal
Original post made
on May 27, 2014
A proposal by Stanford University to build 180 housing units on California Avenue under a 2005 agreement with the city is now facing an appeal from a nearby resident who is arguing that the approved development violates Palo Alto's fire code.
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posted Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 9:54 AM
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on May 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Fred Balin is a registered user.
Thank you for all the supportive comments, and Greenacres, thank you for asking if there are ways people can help. Indeed there are.
Specifically, and as first step, if you can spare the time, come to the city council meeting for a short period of time this Monday evening, June 2 beginning at 7 pm and sit together with me, prominently and up front in the chambers, until I use my three minutes or less, probably during oral communications. After that, unless there is one or more other items on the agenda you are closely following, we can all leave.
Why leave then? Because no vote will be taken, no staff report has been released, and there will be no council discussion of the matter.
So why is the item on the agenda in the first place? Because the municipal code requires that an appeal appear on the consent calendar within 30 days and Monday is the last opportunity, but since staff needs more time, they will request that the item be delayed one week.
Now, on the other hand, this or any other resident who files an appeal, only has 14 days following the decision that is appealed in order to make the filing, and don't even think about asking for an extension. This 14-day period includes time waiting to receive postcard notification (if you are close enough to the project), requesting from the city and receiving the full record of the matter being appealed, and then not only filing out your appeal form, paying your money, and wandering through city hall departments to receive stamps on paper, but completing a coherent statement if you want it to appear in the main body of the staff report when that is finally released.
And that is why I will use the opportunity Monday to speak. Not about the appeal specifically, but about related process issues.
So why I do I ask you to come? To help inoculate this council from an impression that only a few people are interested in this matter as a justification to not even hear it.
Yes, friends, when this item comes to the consent calendar for real on June 9, three council member votes are required to take it off the consent calendar, else the appeal dies right there without a single council member word spoken.
And even though safety issues, especially violations of the fire code would seem to warrant a hearing, you never know.
Recent history points out the difficulty of resident appellants bringing forth appeals and then having a hearing.
Since the beginning of last year, the cost to file an appeal has more than tripled, from $136 to the current $409. In addition, the threshold to remove an appeal from the consent calendar has been increased by 50%, from two council members to three.
You might think that filing an appeal gives you some kind of due process rights to be given sufficient time to make your case and for council members to ask questions. But in Palo Alto, filing the appeal gives you no automatic right beyond anyone else speaking to an item on the consent calendar, where you are limited to a maximum of 3 minutes and council members are not allowed to discuss items. Only is the items is removed from consent does an appellant get a formal appeal hearing.
In addition, in the staff report for each of the eight appeals brought forth by residents and placed on the consent calendar since November 2012, staff has recommended to decline its removal from the consent calendar every time. In two cases, the threshold of three council votes was achieved to remove the items from the consent calendar and to a formal hearing.
The odds are against the appellant getting a hearing.
So help me create a sense that is an important matter and deserves a hearing by sitting with me on Monday, in the council chambers, up front, beginning at 7 pm and, if the council schedule runs on time, we can be out of there by 7:30, and I'll be happy to pick up the conversation in the lobby with anyone who wants to.