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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Letter to Council on Land Use and Transportation Element

Uploaded: Jan 29, 2017
thank you for the opportunity for residents to hear and participate in the discussion of council priorities for 2017

I heard two discussions that have high level implications for the two Comp Plan elements you are giving direction on tomorrow.

One is the new priority about fiscal health. Land use choices have fiscal implications along with many other impacts so I hope the counil's land use choices take fiscal impacts into account.

We are a city with high service levels, service levels that like trees and other amenities affect our "brand" and attractiveness for residents and businesses. We also have large infrastructure priorities and like most cities the challenge of funding retirement benefits.

This makes the fiscal implications of land use choices very important to achieve our service goals. This is especially clear with regard to hotel space, which brings in tax revenue and visitors who spend in the city.

The second take away I spoke about yesterday and that is the great opportunities posed by a collaborative and engaged relationship with Stanford with regard to their properties on city land. These are properties that Stanford will want to remain vital and competitive but which also offer opportunities for housing and TDM programs.

I hope the land use element choices position the city to take advantage of these opportunities to achieve many Comp Plan goals.

As a planning concept looking to 2030 I favor flexibility and minimum restrictive land use policies.

With regard to housing sites i support the five choices presented in the staff memo.

With regard to building heights for housing, I support option 4 and note that a majority of the CAC supported some flexibility in the height limit.

If the council decides to leave height limits out of the Comp Plan, I hope the council indicates that this is a preference to look at the ordinance separately and not an indication that housing designs over 50 feet are not welcome.

I support the inclusion of child care option 1 to welcome these uses

With regard to performance standards and community indicators, indicators are best practice now as an information source for residents and i am confident that staff and council can find a way to achieve this goal that is not onerous or contentious. I think performance standards require separate consideration if at all.

With regard to caps they are not consistent with a flexible approach and as written would prohibit uses asked for in other parts of the Comp Plan, such as small office space (which is best provided in large buildings sometimes). start ups, non profit uses--all of which exist in office space.

The document and public discussion does not adequately distinguish between large single occupancy buildings and the myriad of other uses of office space.

Staff has just presented a summary of business registry data. For businesses in Palo Alto

1737 have fewer than 25 employees

263 have 26-100

73 have 101-500

9 have 501-1000

10 have 1000-5000

1 has more than 5000

Our largest efforts should focus on reducing the congestion and parking impacts of existing workers as i said yesterday. It is the high impact goal.

Your discussion yesterday included many programs that address this high priority goal.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stephen, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm


Thanks for a concise review of the Plan in front of us. I took particular notice of, "We also have large infrastructure priorities and like most cities the challenge of funding retirement benefits". In terms of planning, why are there still demands to provide subsidized housing using PAHC, which takes those valuable properties off of our tax rolls? This doesn't make any sense to me.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jim, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Feb 5, 2017 at 7:23 am

Speaking of land use, will this council choose neighborhoods over influence and put a stop to the ridiculous proposal by Castilleja to urbanize Old Palo Alto and solidify gridlock on Embarcadero? 6 years of construction and the reduction of Embarcadero to one lane? PNQLnow.org #stopcastilleja

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