Town Square

Hyatt Rickeys

Original post made by chris on Sep 9, 2006

New report from Silicon Valley Leadership Group lambastes Palo Alto City Council for approving only 181 units instead of 304 at Hyatt Rickeys site. "In essence, the opportunity to house 123 additional families on that site was lost."
Do you agree with Palo Alto City Council or Silicon Valley Leadership Group?


Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2006 at 3:07 pm

Please open discussions with correct information. The developer proposal was never for "304" housing units. The proposal was for a 320 room hotel AND 302 housing units on 15.84 acres. (Source: Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Hyatt Rickey's Hotel and Residential Project, March 2002). No compromise proposal was put on the table by the developer, despite many requests by residents, staff and Council Members to do so.

There were numerous excellent reasons not to approve a project of such extremely high density on the site. The project was withdrawn after 9/11 because the bottom fell out of the hotel market.

The current project is what was next proposed by the developer. Council can't approve a project that is not proposed.

Penny Ellson

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 9, 2006 at 7:08 pm

I just ask the question "Where would the children of an extra 123 families be schooled?" With the exception of two schools in the Barron Park area, our schools are overcrowded already. Any more development would accelerate the addition of more school places at all three levels and necessitate opening or re-opening elementary, middle and high schools.

Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Sep 9, 2006 at 11:33 pm

This was not my comment, but that of the Silicon
Valley Leadership Group. The residents of Palo Alto should
complain to its City Council if they object, because this statement
is contained in a highly-publicized publication by the self-proclaimed leaders of Silicon Valley. This report was released with
a lot of fanfare last Wednesday.

The housing and education issues facing the valley need to be addressed head-on, not swept under the rug. This publication leaves
the distinct impression that Palo Alo practices NIMBYism.

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 11, 2006 at 1:41 pm

I'm with Carol. Even with the reduced number of houses, where the hell are we going to teach all those kids?

Reports like this (alleged) one (I haven't seen it) give fuel to what I see as a blind City Council race to correct the housing-jobs imbalance--a race that will ultimately destroy the quality of life for all Palo Altans. Overflowed to another school? Thank the burgeoning school kid population. Can't find a parking place for the farmer's market? Thank the burgeoning overall population. Want to play sports but can't find a field? Thank the exploding sports-playing population. Can't get where you need to go on Palo Alto streets in the mid-morning? Thank the growing auto population.

In example after example, population goes up and quality of life declines. Even with property taxes, every resident is actually a net expense burden on our city--and especially on our schools, which do not have the funds to deal with the growth. Ultimately, everyone will lose if the population really does increase to 90,000, as was suggested in a meeting last year at Mitchell Park about the population growth.

Nice of Silicon Valley leaders to sneer, but those of us living with the prospect of traffic, parking, schools, fields, parks and city overcrowding have a different perspective--justifiably.

Posted by Paolo Rossi Altobelli, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2006 at 1:57 pm

Let's not be selfish here. Just because you live in Shalo Alto, it does not mean that the city belongs to the people like you.
When are you people going to be sharing?
Life is too short, try to enjoy it instead of being isolationists. If you want an empty classroom then move to Siberia. You complain about overcrowded schools, so only your kids are so special to be in Shalo Alto schools??
Kudos to the city council for doing such great job and for keeping the balance. If you are not happy with this city council, then Siberia is waiting to welcome you. As you know Polar bears are friendly if not provoked.

Paolo Rossi Altobelli

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 12, 2006 at 7:08 pm

Shame on you, Paolo. I think all children are special, even those living in Siberia. I believe all children should be able to go to school in a friendly, safe and caring environment. Our children do live here and they are the ones I worry about. Palo Alto is a city that closed elementary schools thirty years ago, sold the land for housing and is now in a position whereby the schools are overcrowding at an alarming rate. Yes, we could put portable classrooms over the playing fields, but where would the children play. At present there are many portables at schools, but each site can only accommodate so many safely. We need enough playing space so that the children do not overcrowd play structures and cause accidents to each other. We need enough space for the children to sit and eat lunch in the shade in summer and the dry in winter. We need enough space so that the parents can sit inside for concerts and promotion ceremonies. We need enough parking so that each teacher (who has to drive here because they can't afford to live here) can park their car without creating problems for neighbours. I am sure that in Siberia these are not worries for local residents, but they are here. If we could build another school as easily as we appear to be able to build more houses, then this would not be a problem. Unfortunately, we are not in this situation and we are stuck with the inherited problems from our predecessors and many of us are working to combat this. Please realise that this is not a selfish idea, just a realistic concern for the place we have chosen to live.

Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2006 at 11:42 am

Dear Mr. Jacoubowsky,

Thank you for being proactive about this safety matter! I hope the earlier writer will follow up with you.

Penny Ellson

Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2006 at 11:43 am

Dear Mr. Jacoubowsky,

Thank you for being proactive about this safety matter! I hope the earlier writer will follow up with you.

Penny Ellson

Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2006 at 12:01 pm

In fact, the City School Liaison Committee, which consists of representatives of City Council and the School Board as well as high level staff that serve the city and school district, has been having extensive discussions about exactly this issue. They are gathering data to understand more precisely how housing development is affecting the quality of education in Palo Alto.

It's seems to me that this is a very worthwhile discussion. It's not an "either/or" scenario. Building needed housing is important. It is also important to maintain excellent public school education for our community's children. I don't think we necessarily need to abandon one goal for the other. They are doing what's necessary to understand the issues so they can plan better for growth AND maintain excellent schools.

This is what city governments do. Before you criticize, please take time to study what is being done. Check publicly available meeting minutes for the City School Liaison Committee. Learn what your government is doing for you in this area...and don't just complain. Be part of the solution. Educate yourself and support efforts to address this important community issue. Ask yourself...How can I help?

Posted by Paolo Rossi Altobelli, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 13, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Dear Penny,
What you mentioned above is what I called reasonable and unbiased thinking. Carol should learn from you a bit. She said that all children should go to school but not to Palo Alto schools. The starting price for a 3 bedroom in Hyatt is about a million dollar or so but Carol sees that people who are paying a million dollars for a condo or a townhouse should not send their kids to PA schools because they will destroy the quality of education in Palo Alto. If this is not egoism I don't know what it is.
Remember they are still people who think that Mexicans are stealing jobs from Americans. Oh and those people say that they like Mexicans when they stay in Mexico. Carol thinks that children are special when they are not in Palo alto schools.
what's wrong with sharing these days?

I just cannot wait to vote for this city council again but one of them. I am already gathering support.

Paolo Rossi Altobelli

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 13, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Please do not get me wrong. I like children in Palo Alto, Mexico and Siberia. I think that all schools should be good, unfortunately I can't speak for schools in Mexico and Siberia because I don't live there. I think all cities should be able to look after their children, educate them and give them a safe comfortable environment to live. What you have said makes me sound like an arrogant fool, which I am not. I wouldn't mind new housing being built anywhere in Palo Alto, whether for Mexicans, Siberians, or anyone else whether they can afford a modest townhome or a foothills mansion. However, if we are going to continue to build these homes and expect families to move into our city, then we must also have the infrastructure to support them. If we build homes for 150 families with 2 school age children each, then that adds up to 300 children - slightly below the number of our smallest elementary school at present. Doing the maths, shows me that we can't continue to build homes without building schools (or re-opening schools). I am not a NIMBY and I am not an arrogant fool, but I am a concerned resident who is voicing a valid opinion.

PS I am also doing something, I am on the Attendance Area Advisory Group for the school district, and I have positive ideas which I have submitted to the Group. These are not discriminatory but hopefully a creative step in the right direction to help with this problem.

Posted by Danielle, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 13, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Paolo, Are you running? Or are you saying yuo're not going to vote for one of the City Council members? (if so, which one are you not voting for?)

Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 19, 2006 at 9:37 am

Let's stick to the issues and the FACTS. Personal attacks detract from civil dialogue, creating polarization that prevents us from getting to the consensus. Without consensus, democracy doesn't work very well.

Be part of the solution.

Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Sep 20, 2006 at 10:51 pm

I see that this issue has been reported in today's issue of the Palo Alto Weekly (9/20).