In response to a telephone survey yesterday regarding my support or lack thereof for additional funding for infrastructure improvements in Palo Alto, I sent a letter to the city council to clarify my mostly negative responses. In fact, I do support some additional revenue for some improvements.
A company contacted me for a survey on my thoughts about new revenue for infrastructure improvements for Palo Alto. It was a poorly worded survey which meant I was more negative than I really am. The questions tied support for extra revenue for improvements without much detail about what kind of revenue and with improvements so broadly defined, that I said I couldn't support them when parts of it I really did support.
I support new revenue sources that are not regressive (i.e. parcel taxes and per parcel charges where I, a senior on a limited income, living alone, pay the same as a business and large families on much larger lots).
I strongly support building a new police station and would vote for a $70M bond to do so, as long as it is not a gold-plated building and is not tied to more ultra dense office buildings. I really don't think Palo Alto needs a facility twice the size of the current space nor one that includes a large firing range in the basement. Where do they get their practice today? I doubt the size of the police force has doubled since the last police station was built.
I'm willing to pay for a larger revenue bond if you build the police station without developer assistance. I can't think of one way that increased office space will improve the city of Palo Alto in any way other than to enrich developers. It worsens ABAG's evaluation of the need for more housing in Palo Alto. As I have said before, I believe any rezoning should only be for more housing until we have met ABAG's requirements. Any office building would need to include enough housing to improve the jobs/housing imbalance and enough parking to reduce parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. The only enhancement I could see for increased density, for housing, retail or office space, would be additional parking to make up for all the developments approved with inadequate parking. Senior developments need parking too. Look at the assisted living building near California Avenue approved with minimal parking. It turns out that people in assisted living sometimes drive and hire help who also require parking. The surveys submitted with that development vastly underestimated the parking needed.
I also think that the planning department should not include planners who think Palo Alto should become another SF nor consultants who work in SF and specialize in very urbanized settings. Let's find consultants like those who helped plan the SOFA development and think that it was a successful development (which it is, unlike more recent developments like Arbor Real and Alma Plaza), as opposed to consultants who think it is a waste of space to have street parking and buildings less than 8 stories high.
Please try to make decisions that enhance the quality of life in Palo Alto, instead of detract from it.
Homeowner and Palo Alto resident for 24 yearsAlma Street
Palo Alto, CA 94306