Maybell opponents accuse city of 'fraud'
Original post made
on Aug 9, 2013
When Palo Alto officials agreed Thursday to send a controversial housing development on Maybell Avenue to a November vote, they urged both sides to stick to the facts and to be respectful of one another. Judging by the comments made by project opponents at Thursday's meeting, that request may be a bit much to ask.
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posted Friday, August 9, 2013, 3:20 PM
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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm
PAcitizens is a registered user.
I never claimed the 12 houses were the only thing wrong with the rezoning. You did, I didn't. If PAHC built just the senior units, and under the existing zoning, they would get almost as many units, while minimizing the impact on the neighborhood by respecting height, setback, density, parking, and other rules. It provides the senior housing without essentially foisting the cost burden on the neighborhood. Everyone wins. Oh, except the for-profit market rate developer. They won't make the millions they were counting on from PAHC getting them rezoning for houses they could never otherwise build there.
Other reasons to reject the rezoning that have been brought up by neighbors:
1. A 50 foot building in the middle of a residential neighborhood, where the current zoning allows only 30 feet tall buildings max.
Only 47 parking spots for a 60-unit complex, for residents, employees, and visitors, at a location with no nearby services or even walkable grocery for seniors. Even transit isn't as accessible as I'm sure PAHC portrayed it in their application.
2.The lack of a traffic safety study when the development sits between two safe routes to school traveled by thousands of school children every school day, even though city policy promises "heightened scrutiny" for developments on school commute routes.
Already overburdened roads already, Maybell of seriously substandard width with no room for a full bike path or sidewalk on either side of the road. No way out of those developments except via those roads.
3. Two and 3-story stovepipe houses, two houses in the place of one ranch house there now, when no one in the neighborhood could build such housing under the neighborhood zoning. Worse, they're going up practically across the street from our longtime school for the most disabled students in town, the OH, a wall of completely inaccessible homes the children could never live in or probably even visit, reminding them the city doesn't really think about the disabled in its major anti discrimination goal in the housing element.
4. Dishonest tactics affecting health and safety, such as the city and PAHC's claims that the fire department had done an independent review of traffic and emergency response times, when all they did was look at the deveopment itself (the fire station is across the street) and relied completely on the traffic department to tell them if there were other problems. (city staff have been blindly advocating for the rezoning, another major complaint of the neighborhood)
5. The City loaning PAHC $7.3 million to buy the property, then upzoning it for a market rate developer's benefit. The City voting on the rezoning with such conflicts of interest. The City not telling the public the actual amount they had loaned. The city ignoring the many provisions in the general plan with which the rezoning conflicts, and inserting a provision in there specifically making the rezoning a provision in the general plan so they could get away with it.
6. The City blaming all the traffic problems on Arastradero and Maybell on the Gunn start time, when one reason given at the time was to improve traffic [portion removed.]
7. The PC zoning has no binding promise that the property will ever be affordable or senior housing, PAHC could sell it the next day, or rent to market rate renters. This is a serious concern, as PAHC has in the past had to convert affordable units because they misjudged their clientele and spots went unfilled. Especially since their main claim of the need is that 20% of seniors live below the poverty line, and not a single person in that income range would be served by the proposed income range they need to support the project. And that if they build it and they got it wrong? Oops, they rent to those who don't really need affordable housing, or younger people with kids (adding potentially hundreds of students). They've done similar in the past when they misjudged. After all, they didn't initially propose the development as a senior complex. (Plus, they had 20 out of 24 senior BMR units go vacant for three years at Moldaw and didn't fill them until thscontroversy forced them to work at it.). There is absolutely no way for the neighborhood to ensure the development will remain affordable or for seniors, and the City staff report ominously spells that out.
8. They keep making more and more exaggerated claims about what could be built there if PAHC sells. If PAHC sells, the City has the right to buy the property before anyone else, and could place deed restrictions to avoid any scenarios they deem unsafe as they obviously do, before reselling. Problem solved. Whereas if PAHC builds such a massive development, claiming seniors have lower impact, but changes because of the many reasons (such as lack of any adjacency to senior needs), the residents have no recourse.
9. Studies of affordable housing show that it works best for everyone when spread out across a city and integrated, rather than concentrated in one area. Real affordable housing advocates know this. Interestingly, PAHC used to state this as a goal, yet somehow I can no longer find it on their web site as of this rezoning.
10. I once respected PAHC as well, this experience has been very disillusioning. Luckily, there are other affordable housing operators in town that I can support, such as the people who run the Terman apartments.
Residents have been asking the City to build JUST the senior housing, under the existing zoning. If this was really about seniors for PAHC, there were many times they could have compromised. Yet they stonewalled and stonewalled, and the reason their own planner gave was because of the financing arrangements. [Portion removed.] They could build for the seniors under the existing zoning and get almost as many units. If those other few units were so needed, they could have worked to fill the unfilled senior BMR units at Moldaw that went empty for three years.