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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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How Much More Growth Should Palo Alto Allow?

Uploaded: Jul 25, 2018
To grow more, or a lot more: That is the question that Palo Alto voters will face in November, when a ballot measure will ask us whether we should cap this city’s future growth to 850,000 square feet by 2030 rather than 1.7 million square feet the city’s new comprehensive plan calls for.

Palo Alto residents are again facing a very important decision on how much more office development and research space they want this city to allow -- the 850,000 number, which is the rate it has been growing the past 20 years – or twice that rate, 1.7 million square feet.

The ballot has qualified, and the city may try to amend it at its July 30 meeting. There’s a possibility we may have two similar growth issues before us in November, which would really confuse voters, I think.

I know this is only July but this will be a big issue, especially with a council election also on the fall ballot, so now’s a good time to start debating the proposal. Note:
The ballot proposal isn’t "no growth” but rather a slower growth measure. And both sides say they want the city to remain economically healthy.

City Council growth proponents – Mayor Liz Kniss, Greg Scharff, Cory Wolbach, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka want more office growth. Scharff convincingly argued at one recent council meeting that Palo Alto needs to keep its business community growing, especially high techs and startups, because they are this city’s future.

The city hired a consultant to see what kind of $$ loss Palo Alto will experience if it limits growth to 850,000 sq. ft. That report will come out the end of the month. But, in turn, I must ask what will be the $$ cost to our community if we have more offices and traffic in town?

Spearheading the lower growth measure are Joe Hirsch and former Vice Mayor Greg Schmid. That would result in an estimated 9,500 jobs, and 5,000 new residents, Hirsch said. That growth is not including any impact from Stanford’s new housing and expansion plan adding some 2.4 million square feet of buildings on campus.

Having 1.7 million square feet of new office space in town compounds the problems we already have – heavier traffic, lack of parking, need for more housing and affordable housing and construction everywhere. The town is changing from a pleasant suburb to an urban community. I don’t want to double our growth. I am tired of the traffic and problems due to higher density.

The ultimate question for me is why? Why do we want to grow faster than we’ve been allowing? What is compelling us to build, build, build when we can’t handle to current problems from growth? What’s in it for residents? Why do the five growth proponents on the city council continue to push for more?

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Comments

 +   17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Minus 10%.


 +   33 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Annette is a registered user.

It doesn't make a whit of sense to grow at a more aggressive pace than the current growth rate that is already causing us to buckle.

The Council Majority is failing to accept reality and ignoring the fact that the aggressive office/r&d growth that they so assiduously support is creating an ever-worsening housing shortage, including homelessness. I think they are acting irresponsibly and often wonder how they sleep at night. The soon to be out-of-housing residents of the President Hotel are the unfortunate "poster children" for mismanaged growth policy.

I am grateful for the initiative and hope it passes. We need to build less of what we do not need and more of what we do need.


 +   34 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 2:15 pm

We do not have the infrastructure for any more growth.

We do not have space for more offices or more pack and stack housing even if the people walk back and forth between the two.

We do not have space in our parks, in our parking lots, in our recreational facilities (what recreational facilities I might ask), in our dentists, in our schools, in our preschools, on our streets, on our Caltrains, in our grocery stores, or space on our roads to accommodate all the trucks that building these developments will produce.

Oh and our water, utilities, are infrastructure too and they can't cope either.


 +   36 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"The city hired a consultant to see what kind of $$ loss Palo Alto will experience if it limits growth to 850,000 sq. ft"

How much did the study cost? Also, how much did the ridiculously misleading push poll cost where the proponents of curbing office growth were blamed for everything from being against education, health, jobs, thinner thighs and world peace?

Not only do we not have the infrastructure but the city is aggressively making it harder and harder to get around town by spending tens of millions of dollars on road furniture and other obstacles that impede through traffic. An hour agp the bollard across from my driveway caused a 6 car backup when I was trying to get into my driveway until a nice driver backed up to let me in. Had that driver not been nice, you would have had cars backed up INTO the Embarcadero / Middlefield intersection.

And that's before school has even started.

It's absolutely ludicrous to contemplate doubling the amount of office space which in turn increases traffic, gridlock, parking problems and competition for the limited supply of housing when we've got RVs housing the homeless stretching from PA all the to Sunnyvale?


 +   12 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 6:38 pm

GM is a registered user.

"Oh and our water, utilities, are infrastructure too and they can't cope either."

This is so deeply misleading. Water use splits something like 90% agricultural and 5% industrial, and of the remaining part that is dedicated to residential use ~90% goes to watering lawns and the small fraction is actually used by people. Guess who uses more water -- single family detached houses with lawns or apartment buildings? If Palo Alto's single family detached homes were replaced with multi-family buildings with no lawns water use may well actually drop.

And, of course, if people were so worried about water use, they could replace their lawns with cactus gardens, but I don't see many here going in that direction.

"We do not have space in our parks, in our parking lots, in our recreational facilities (what recreational facilities I might ask), in our dentists, in our schools, in our preschools, on our streets, on our Caltrains, in our grocery stores, or space on our roads to accommodate all the trucks that building these developments will produce."

Well, of course there are no "recreational facilities" -- it makes no sense to have recreational facilities when you do not have the density to utilize them. Which also has devastating social effects because kids grow up in social isolation without other kids to play with in an unstructured environment, which is why each subsequent generation is more and more mentally unstable and sociopathic than the previous one.

It also makes little sense to have accessible grocery stores without the corresponding density -- in the suburban dystopia all that can exist is far away strip malls, and when land is valuable as in this area, there will not be that many of them.

Also, to complain about lack of space in parking lots is the definition of insanity. And that is coming from the residents of a city that is as a whole deeply worried about things such as climate change, yet it is also 100% committed to living the most obscenely unsustainable lifestyle possible. And even if there was no climate change problem, oil is finite and we are quite some time past the peak of conventional oil production. So suburbia will die one way or another in the coming decades, the question is who will be caught completely unprepared and who will have moved away from that model when that was still a possibility.

The solution to the lack of space in parking lots is to make parking lots obsolete. It is most definitely not to force hundreds of thousands of long-distance commute trips every day plus the building of more parking lots, strip malls, and single-family detached buildings somewhere else far away.

There are cities in the world with all the recreational facilities and grocery shops one needs within a 5, at most 10-minute walk (walk, not drive) from where anyone lives. Often people will actually have grocery shops on the first floor of their apartment building. Because the density is there to support it. But in those cities university professors and wealthy businessmen live on the same streets as regular middle and working class people, and that's an obscene thought here in Palo Alto.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 25, 2018 at 8:20 pm

I think an reasonable answer to this question might be gotten at by looking at what the growth does for our local economy? What is the payoff curve? Has anyone done any research or calculated and drawn a graph of what growth has done for this area? Who benefits from it? It is just someone who can afford to purchase a $100 million dollar home or does it pay off in local jobs and quality of life, because honestly, I am not seeing much benefit in the quality of life in Palo Alto, and to do that, fix schools, traffic, and pay money that we don't know goes where to outside contractors to do our work instead of local people ... where is the payoff?

In other words are we just milking the people who have to work here of money that goes elsewhere, or are we building a virtuous cycle of economic growth - because I am seeing our book stores closing, the restaurants having to skimp on service, and quality, our people getting ruder and nastier, and things shutting down.

There is a lot of good people in Palo Alto, but their options for contributing to the community in an economically profitable way have largely evaporated. Also, at some point there is going to be a bursting in the social media model and the cold-blooded blatant manipulation and exploitation of people's privacy and data as in Europe and we had better have a fallback position because a lot fo this can go poof. at this point. There is no reason why to concentrate Silicon Valley here any more other than it is already here.


 +   26 people like this
Posted by Freeze office growth until housing imbalance is gone, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 9:55 am

Freeze office growth until housing imbalance is gone is a registered user.

We don't actually need any more office space and I suspect that a lot more start-ups would come to Palo Alto if Palantir didn't commander so much of the downtown office space. We need housing and more importantly - useful public transportation from the East Bay and South Bay


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Carlene, a resident of another community,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

I don't live in Palo Alto. I can't afford it. I live in a neighboring community where high-density homes are going up like crazy and consequently as other posters have mentioned, the infrastructure is overwhelmed. Not just the roads but the line at the pharmacy, the school, preschools, after-school care, everything. I think if anything Palo Alto should building more high-density housing to share the load. Not more offices with nowhere for employees to live, and certainly not affordable. Please stop passing the buck to neighboring communities, Palo Alto.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Carlene, a resident of another community,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

I don't live in Palo Alto. I can't afford it. I live in a neighboring community where high-density homes are going up like crazy and consequently as other posters have mentioned, the infrastructure is overwhelmed. Not just the roads but the line at the pharmacy, the school, preschools, after-school care, everything. I think if anything Palo Alto should building more high-density housing to share the load. Not more offices with nowhere for employees to live, and certainly not affordable. Please stop passing the buck to neighboring communities, Palo Alto.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Just An Idea, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

Just tie the allowable office growth each year to the number of dwelling units produced the previous year. So for example in 2018 if 100 dwelling units are added then the equivalent number of jobs (commercial square footage) is permitted. Or if we want to improve the jobs to housing imbalance then permit slightly less office square footage as the new housing units can support.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by GM - I love you!, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 1:09 pm

I don't know who you are but geez I love you. It's so hard to read these articles and the comments that follow them. They are all too often misguided and misleading and no one, none of us YIMBY's has the stamina to respond. But you did! Thank you.

Like the grand jury said, density is our destiny. I literally can't wait for our destiny to be realized.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bill Bucy, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 8:18 pm

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

Well said.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 26, 2018 at 11:01 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Sigh. I see two ways for ANY growth: EAST OR WEST. there already is too much office space compared to housing/residential space. That problem must addressed first. How about using Eminent Domain to get more city owned land to build a block of flats for the disappearing low income workers the rich get served by? Hawaii is ocean-locked, Palo Alto is not. There is plenty of land Stanford owns, much in open space. As one Realtor said" Buy land, God isn't making any more ". Hawaii has made " Shipping Container Communities " for the people who serve the rich, Maybe Palo Alto should do the same thing. Just shut down PAO; the SFBA has too many airports already and use the runway and FBO areas to build these " Shipping Container Communities ". That would be the area to grow EAST. North and south is landlocked by other cities. UP OR DOWN would be another choice.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 6:05 am

mauricio is a registered user.

How much more growth is like saying how much more boiling water should be dump on a burn victim. Palo Alto is already overpopulated and overwhelmed by excessive growth. This is a small college town with narrow streets. Turning it into a major job and business center was absolutely crazy and hubristic, like forcing a 5'2", 120 pound man into an NFL field and forcing him to play football. Palo Alto needs to shrink by about 20 percent, not grow.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 11:02 am

I would like to see a moratorium on office growth but will settle for the office cap passing in November as a compromise. Palo Alto already has the highest jobs to residents ratio in the country. It's a mystery to me why so many people are willing to spend a fortune to be here because the quality of life has been compromised severely in recent years. Looking forward to a good recession. I'd really like to know why Liz Kniss's campaign finance violation case is still pending, and why she is still allowed to be mayor while under a legal cloud.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 11:09 am

All these people here complained no about the quality of life, yet other people are paying rapidly increasing prices to live here.

It's time for people to focus on this disconnect and work on compromises. There are too many against any change, which actually results in non-optimal change.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 1:57 pm

GM is a registered user.

"It's a mystery to me why so many people are willing to spend a fortune to be here because the quality of life has been compromised severely in recent years."

The people who can afford to pay a fortune either do not actually intend to live here or live in the parts of the city and the kind of lifestyles that are least affect by the "decrease in quality of life".

Most the rest do not come here for the quality of life. If all people cared about was "quality of life", they could have pretty much the same quality of life all along the California coast, but that is not where they go. The two best places in the world to be if you want to do cool science or participate in developing cutting edge technology are here and Boston. So people who value those things the most will sacrifice their "quality of life" to be here.

And rightfully so, those things are indeed much more important than "quality of life".

Which makes it particularly unfair and obscene to deny such people the opportunity to do the cool science and engineering they aspire to do by stubbornly blocking the construction of any new housing. Even more so when the wealth of the locals would not exist in the first place if it wasn't for those people. This is a college town, and always has been (as the streets and neighborhood names clearly point to).


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm

"Which makes it particularly unfair and obscene to deny such people the opportunity to do the cool science and engineering they aspire to do by stubbornly blocking the construction of any new housing."

What cool science and engineering? Ever since Silicon Valley followed the money trail and became West Madison Avenue during the nineties, its overhyped "science and engineering" has been all about optimizing old fashioned huckstering by accumulating demographic databases to maximally milk the customer. That is the entirety of what our biggest recent startups--Google and Facebook--do. Theranos, the startup offering the arguably greatest technical advance recently, was a classic snake oil fraud.

But, you know, "Housing for the Hucksters" does have a catchy Madison Avenue ring.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 4:20 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Silicon valley has not been about innovation and making peoples' life better for at least 20 years. It is about making obscene loads of money by developing add clicking applications or software that allows the government to spy on its citizens. GM is right, those aspiring to move to Palo Alto don't do it for the quality of life, they do it to get rich and to have a cool Palo Alto zip code. Obviously, long time Palo Alto residents are obligated to fascilitate that for them.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 4:47 pm

GM is a registered user.

There is a lot of basic science that is done at Stanford, and even at the big tech companies too. Not everybody is about making money even if the essence of Silicon Valley today is indeed to monetize spying on people.

All those Nobel prizes that have been given and will be given in the future were not handed out for research aimed at making money.

The blame for the pathologies deriving from the obsession with making money generally falls to a much greater extent on the kind of people who live in single-family mansions in the area, and who really really don't want any grad student/postdoc/young engineer riff raff around them than on those grad students, postdocs and young engineers who are scrambling to find housing.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

News flash, GM: Stanford was doing basic research long, long before The Valley of Hearts Delight got renamed Silicon Valley and then rerenamed SillyCon Valley. Also, strange to relate, the silicon technology was actually researched, developed, and first commercialized in Dallas, Texas. Lesson: Stanford is not the only possible center of the universe nor even the actual one.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 6:28 am

mauricio is a registered user.

There is a lot of basic and advanced science done and developed in many other universities around the world. Tech hubs can and should exist around many other universities, not be concentrated only around a university that happens to be located in the most expensive real estate market in the nation. This region, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is environmental, cannot absorb any more people.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Chip, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 9:38 am

I do wonder if the maximum growth advocates on the council have direct or indirect potential financial benefits, through family members & close friends, associated with development. Spouses, kids, in-laws, siblings? Construction company stocks? Specialized legal firms? Material suppliers? Real estate developers?

Palo Alto is not really the center of the world & life would be better for the residential community if lots some of these companies moved to other states or communities. I've watched the quality of life here deteriorate steadily, particularly over the last 10-15 years.

Please, stop the insane growth. Palo Alto will be just fine, actually better, without more office blocks/parks & high-density residential developments. Transit-based housing here is a joke, (or fraud) perpetrated by those who stand to profit from it.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 10:44 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Let's see-the husband of Liz Kniss is a real estate developer. Former Palo Alto CC member Mark Berman, an aggressive pro growth enthusiast when serving on the council received generous developer donations when he successfully ran for the California State Assembly. Cory Wolbach, who clearly has political ambitions beyond serving on the CC, is a developer darling. Need I go on?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm

GM is a registered user.

"Transit-based housing here is a joke, (or fraud) perpetrated by those who stand to profit from it."

You do not build housing around transit, you build transit around housing if housing support transit.

If it does not, as I explained clearly in my post above, you are doomed on a not very long-term scale because the type of living arrangements that do not support public transportation are unsustainable.

Public transportation works in Europe not because someone decided to build new cities around public transportation, that happened on a few occasions, but mostly the cities were already dense to begin with. Then they expanded together with public transportation, but still, density came first.

The cancer that are US suburbia, on the other hand, grew specifically by planning around the absence of public transportation.

Also, transit from home to work only works if people are working on 9-to-5 schedules. If they are not working 9-to-5, they have to live within walking distance of work. A lot of the jobs in this area are not the 9-to-5 type.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 12:51 pm

GM is a registered user.

"There is a lot of basic and advanced science done and developed in many other universities around the world."

That is correct, there is a lot of science being done around the world. What you don't seem to understand and what makes me think you have no STEM background at all, is that research is only at the same level at a handful of places around the world, and the same overall concentration of talent (which makes a huge difference when it comes to collaborative projects, exchange of ideas, etc.) can only be found at one other place.

Also, it is not like research is a commodity, i.e. we exchange this area for some place in Texas and it's all the same. People come to do very specific things with very specific people.

And they do in fact pick against this area because of the housing situation -- I have seen countless great candidates turn down offers to go somewhere else because they cannot afford to live here.

"Tech hubs can and should exist around many other universities, not be concentrated only around a university that happens to be located in the most expensive real estate market in the nation."

The real estate market here is the most expensive in the nation for two reasons:

1. The university here is the joint best in the world for STEM research.

2. The area is full of people strongly interested in protecting their ever rising property values (let's be real, the talk about quality of life is a smokescreen, economics is as usual the real motivation) with the kind of zoning regulations that follow from that fact.

If Stanford had never been located here, this would not be the most expensive real estate market in the nation.

"This region, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is environmental, cannot absorb any more people."

Precisely because of environmental reasons, the northwest coast of the US is one of the places where population in this country should be concentrated. For example, ever noticed how few buildings in this area even have air conditioning? Overpopulation is indeed a huge problem, but that is a global problem, not a local one. The world needs to reduce its population by an order of magnitude, but while that is happening the Bay Area could easily house 5 times as many people as it does now.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Vote them out, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Just wait until Palantir or Facebook or other tech company's decide to pull out of this area in search of cheaper housing for their employees. We'll be another Detroit with vast empty commercial buildings with no one to lease them. It's not good to put all your eggs in one basket. We don't have the infrastructure to sustain this type of wreckless growth. Our city council is destroying the livability of Palo Alto.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 1:55 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

No, the Bay area could not house any more people, it already way overpopulated. This is a unique area geographically. it has the Bay to the east, it has hills to the wast and they are very fragile environmentally. Many areas are land filled. A catastrophic earthquake(The Big One) is not a matte roof if, but when. Rising water due to climate change is a real possibility. Denser population is literally an existential threat o the Bay area. The Bay area MUST lose population in order to survive.

With today's technology, universities can easily collaborate on scientific research. Their physical location is almost insignificant, and the same goes for tech business. There is no reason for Stanford to seek endless expansion, bigger is not better. It does not need to become a mega university. If it still wants to expand, they are incredibly wealthy and can build campuses all over the nation and world. For my entire professional career I never worked within 20 miles of Palo Alto. I always had to commute, 20 t0 40 miles one way on the average, and never complained about it.

I don't remember one case in which someone demanded to live in Palo Alto because they worked nearby or were associated with Stanford, you live where you can afford to live and you don't make demands on a community that doesn't want live like sardines in a can.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 4:11 pm

"The world needs to reduce its population by an order of magnitude, but while that is happening the Bay Area could easily house 5 times as many people as it does now."

I call. You claim to judge STEM-ness. Very well, prove your competence to do that. Right here in front of everybody.

Start by justifying your claim that "the Bay Area could easily house 5 times as many people as it does now." Begin from first principles. Cite your sources and show your work.

We are waiting.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 4:14 pm

GM is a registered user.

"No, the Bay area could not house any more people, it already way overpopulated."

Once again, you have zero understanding of what "overpopulation" means. Go to any city in Spain, fairly similar climate, look how many people they house and in what area.

"This is a unique area geographically. it has the Bay to the east, it has hills to the wast and they are very fragile environmentally. Many areas are land filled. A catastrophic earthquake(The Big One) is not a matte roof if, but when."

Yes, which is why building codes with earthquakes in mind exist, and such buildings do not collapse when earthquakes happen in Chile, Japan, Taiwan, etc. If anything, it is the existing buildings in the Bay that were constructed before building codes were strengthened that will collapse when the big one hits.

"Rising water due to climate change is a real possibility. Denser population is literally an existential threat o the Bay area. The Bay area MUST lose population in order to survive."

The existential threat to the Bay Area is suburbs.

How many times does it have to be explained that suburbs can not exist without personal automobiles, but personal automobiles cannot exist without oil, and oil is not infinite?

How many times does it have to be explained that, entirely aside from the whole oil consumption issue, a single-family detached house uses an order of magnitude more resources than a 2-bedroom apartment?

And yet we have people defending suburbia while talking about the environment...

"With today's technology, universities can easily collaborate on scientific research. Their physical location is almost insignificant, and the same goes for tech business."

So clearly you have never been in STEM. The most important thing is being around people in person and talking to them. That is how novel ideas develop -- bouncing suggestions around in an informal setting. Often that happens around midnight, at the white board in the lab. Conference calls for one hour every other day and otherwise everyone sitting in their own isolated far away place is simply not the same thing.

"There is no reason for Stanford to seek endless expansion, bigger is not better. It does not need to become a mega university."

First, it already is a mega university.

Second, I actually agree about the expansion -- I don't really see the point either. But that does not change the fact that already at its current size housing in the area is insufficient. And it is hurting research -- I actually have a number of coworkers who I would very much like to see fact to face much more often but it does not happen because they are living a very long distance from here.

The obvious solution is for Stanford (and tech companies too) to build housing themselves on land they own. In the case of Stanford there is definitely an argument to be made that it is not doing what is should be doing. But it is also true that on numerous occasions when Stanford or tech companies have tried to do the right thing, the NIMBYs have blocked it. And we know it will happen again and again.

Who is to blame for that?

"If it still wants to expand, they are incredibly wealthy and can build campuses all over the nation and world."

They are doing that (there is a new campus being developed in Redwood), and I feel sorry for the people who will be incarcerated there. The center of things will still be on the main campus and those people will be isolated and at disadvantage.

"For my entire professional career I never worked within 20 miles of Palo Alto. I always had to commute, 20 t0 40 miles one way on the average, and never complained about it."

So you commuted 40 to 80 miles a day for decades and you have the nerve to talk about the environment...

Also, the fact that you see nothing wrong with that is telling -- it means that you probably were brainwashed to accept the insanity of it all from the day of your birth, which is why you think it's normal. Well, it isn't.

"I don't remember one case in which someone demanded to live in Palo Alto because they worked nearby or were associated with Stanford, you live where you can afford to live and you don't make demands on a community that doesn't want live like sardines in a can."

Take a Google Map look at a place like Barcelona. You will see row after row of 5-story buildings, many of those featuring stunning architecture, the streets are tree-lined, in between those buildings you can find all sorts of playgrounds, parks, other "recreational facilities", etc. On the first floors of those buildings there is often retail. And the place actually does have a "character" because of the architecture, the history, all the museums, theaters, etc., the liveliness of it all, and so on. Except perhaps for San Francisco, none of those things are to be found in the Bay Area. And people there haven't gone crazy from "living like sardines", quite the opposite.

Also, it is deeply disingenuous to claim density advocates are forcing you in particular to live like a "sardine". If you own a single-family detached house in the area, nobody can take that away from you, so you will not be living "like a sardine". But do you have the moral right to deny tens of thousands of people who would be perfectly happy living in an apartment building the right to do so by blocking the construction of any such buildings in the city? Do you have the moral right to force the poor and working class people who are catering to your privileged needs to commute all the way from Stockton and Modesto every day? Because that is what you are doing, and yet then you have the nerve to claim the moral high ground...


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm

@GM

Lots of words, but no response to my challenge. But it is very apparent that everything you "know" about STEM comes from the popular media.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 7:07 pm

> This is so deeply misleading. Water use splits something
> like 90% agricultural and 5% industrial, and of the
> remaining part that is dedicated to residential use ~90%
> goes to watering lawns and the small fraction is actually
> used by people

What in the world is this person talking about? California general
water use stats :

Water Use in California.
Web Link

Water in California is shared across three main sectors. Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban, although the percentage of water use by sector varies dramatically across regions and between wet and dry years. (Added--the 50% "environmental" use means that water to sustain fish populations is diverted from other uses. All of this 50% public water ends up in the Pacific Ocean.)

Water use in Palo Alto does not have a significant environmental, agricultural or industrial component. About 60% of Palo Alto's water use is residential. Some of Palo Alto government's water for watering its parks, and other public spaces, is recycled, reducing the draw on Hetch-Hetchy water somewhat.

As to the main point about not having enough water for “growth", the City has never made such a claim.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Population does matter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 8:58 pm

> Overpopulation is indeed a huge problem, but that is a global problem, not a local one. The world needs to reduce its population by an order of magnitude

I don't agree that overpopulation in 'not a local problem.' You just pass it off so casually. The media excitement about some famous woman being pregnant is obscene. We are expected to celebrate. And pictures of famous offspring are huge media hypes. Women are expected to want children whether they really do or not. Whole industries prosper off the increase in the birthrate.
Locally the schools attract both young child-filled households, and those planning to have children. The hype about producing children is a real problem.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Puzzled, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 28, 2018 at 10:43 pm

Puzzled is a registered user.

Diana Diamond asks "why?" The answer can be found by looking at who contributes campaign funds to certain City Council candidates. Developers and commercial landlords get rich from growth. Also look to the former city senior staff who consultants to developers and organizations and are lobbying for their new employers. What they are doing is not illegal but it shows that there is enough economic incentive to high-growth proponents to justify spending large amounts on consultants/lobbyists.

Look skeptically at any candidate who says she/is is a residentialist and supports low growth. Find out who contributes to that candidate's campaign. History shows when such candidates are elected they suddenly find pro-growth "religion." After all "it's the future." It's time to elect candidates who really care about the overall health of the city taking into account all the costs of growth. It's time to NOT elect candidates who promote unlimited growth and ignore ALL the costs such growth imposes on Palo Alto's citizens.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 6:22 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I have lived in Barcelona for a year, an I don't need GM to lecture me about that city. It is a large metropolis, Palo Alto is suburbia, a small town. Barcelona has wide boulevards, P.A. narrow streets. Barcelona has fantastic modern public transportation, P.A. does not.

Have you ever seen 101 between 7-10AM and 4-7PM? Complete gridlock, a huge parking lot. You want to add to that?

Are you saying that employees should insist on being hired only by companies located next to their homes so they don't have to commute? Do you actually think employees have that option and that kind of power? Seriously?

Your other points are so ridiculous as well that I'm beginning to suspect you are pulling our legs on this board, what the British refer to as "taking the piss", so I will not even bother to address them.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 6:31 am

GM is a registered user.

"Have you ever seen 101 between 7-10AM and 4-7PM? Complete gridlock, a huge parking lot. You want to add to that?"

Sigh...

Yes, of course it will be complete gridlock. That is what happens when people drive everywhere.

The idea is to not have to drive at all...

And right now that is being made impossible by the very people who are complaining about traffic.

How insane is that?


 +   9 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 6:40 am

mauricio is a registered user.

"So clearly you have never been in STEM. The most important thing is being around people in person and talking to them. That is how novel ideas develop -- bouncing suggestions around in an informal setting. Often that happens around midnight, at the white board in the lab. Conference calls for one hour every other day and otherwise everyone sitting in their own isolated far away place is simply not the same thing. "

Hogwash. It's done all the time. Many great ideas and new technologies are developed through cooperation across the globe using modern communication technologies. Stephen Hawking who couldn't even speak, collaborated daily with theoretical physicists across the glob, including physicists based in, and this is only a partial :Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Stockholm, New Delhi, Berkeley, Boston, NYC.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Taxi strike in Barcelona, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 7:30 am

Taxi strike in Barcelona is a registered user.

GM

"Yes, of course it will be complete gridlock. That is what happens when people drive everywhere.

The idea is to not have to drive at all..."

GM you remind me of the rising of Ocazio Cortes who has laudable ideas, I could listen forever. Free College for all.

First question, what college? How realistic is it that the UC system could be free of charge for everyone when the kids of families who have been paying taxes forever in CA can't get in now. Or even Community College, do you see that operating free of charge? Should poeple who can pay for college not have to pay a penny? Does it become a voucher system? But maybe that would be unfair.

I also know Barcelona by the way and Palo Alto is not Barcelona.

If you are in the newer areas like Diagonal Mar, and need to get to the center of town it's 30 minutes by CAR, those are the distances 30 minutes here 30 minutes there by car.

Sure, if you are a tourist, you can walk everywhere near your hotel.

Barcelona has that Ronda Litoral which facilitates driving and that gets gridlock.

Check out the photo of all the Taxis in Barcelona for all the people who don't use cars.

Several cities together may be like Barcelona but fat chance that several cites together would create say a Ronda to facilitate traffic.

Oh forgot we already have 101.

Ask Barcelona if they could see taking a tiny part of their City and making it an island with no cars and make it so that the resident's jobs are also in that enclave.How?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Taxi strike in Barcelona, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 7:35 am

Taxi strike in Barcelona is a registered user.



the photo of the taxis here, but you can Google more and see the amount of cars in BCN

Web Link


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Doesn’t live in Bolinas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 10:15 am

GM" nice responses to Mauricio. Of interest, if you look at other Mauricio postings on this forum. You will notice that anytime someone mentions a foreign city as an example, Mauricio will have lived there.
And by the way someone should explain to Mauricio what the term “ gridlock “ means. Traffic moves slow on 101, in stretches during those hours, but barring an accident it is not gridlock. And what would Mauricio like? 30% unemployment so he can drive 90 MPH on 101 to his home in Monterey?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Creighton Beryl, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 29, 2018 at 7:47 pm

@Curmudgeon:

With GM apparently being unable or unwilling to respond to your challenge, allow me.

To house a population of 5 times current population in the Bay Rea, it is merely needed to pass and enforce a law requiring the addition of 4 floors of living space to each existing dwelling structure for each existing floor. Each added floor is to have a living area at least equal to its original floor. Justification of this solution is a matter of simple arithmetic: 1+4=5.

I am sure you will find this proposal much more directly implementable than any alternative which might come along.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 30, 2018 at 6:52 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Traffic does not just move slow on 101 at certain hours, it does not move at all for long stretches of time. The roads and freeways just can't contain the volume of vehicles, because the Bay area is overpopulated.

Re Barcelona:despite having world class public transportation, traffic and gridlock are major problems. The air is polluted as well. The denser Barcelona became, the more they gentrified, the more expensive housings became. They literally developed the city into unaffordability. The more housing was created, the more expensive the city became. The middle class is being priced out. There are banners and graffiti all over Barcelona now proclaiming:Refugees in, tourists and foreign buyers out. Thousands of people who work in Barcelona and can't afford to live in it are commuting in from as far away as Tarragona and beyond. They have to leave home around 5:00 or earlier in order to get to Barcelona by 8:00 and the E-15 is gridlocked during rush hours. Sound familiar?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Monitors real traffic, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 30, 2018 at 10:37 am

"Traffic does not just move slow on 101 at certain hours, it does not move at all for long stretches of time. "

Nice exaggeration, Maurucio, but not true. Fits well with your "narrative" but we do not get to make up the facts as we go along (like when you used to complain about what a cesspool downtown was, despite the fact that on weekends especially it is full of people)
You can easily monitor traffic by using many of the mapping features online. One can see that traffic moves slower at certain times


 +   4 people like this
Posted by NativetotheBay, a resident of Mayfield,
on Jul 30, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Keep up the good work GM. You have hit on so many good points about greed v. the common good. Most people here are greedy. Just because they act like they care by having an opinion, recycle, leave thier Prius or Tesla at home, walk, ride a bike, and attend a city council meeting does not make them share their infinite wealth of ownership to others with less. The overconsumption of owning and living in a large single family, detached dwelling is proof enough of a overtaxed and extremely strained carbon footprint. “What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too" is large and well established in these parts. Would any one of those that do own a house have it in thier hearts to extend thier fortune and rent out an extra room or thier garage to a needy family or individual so we could all simply live.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by NativetotheBay, a resident of Mayfield,
on Jul 30, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Keep up the good work GM. You have hit on so many good points about greed v. the common good. Most people here are greedy. Just because they act like they care by having an opinion, recycle, leave thier Prius or Tesla at home, walk, ride a bike, and attend a city council meeting does not make them share their infinite wealth of ownership to others with less. The overconsumption of owning and living in a large single family, detached dwelling is proof enough of a overtaxed and extremely strained carbon footprint. “What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too" is large and well established in these parts. Would any one of those that do own a house have it in thier hearts to extend thier fortune and rent out an extra room or thier garage to a needy family or individual so we could all simply live.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Brainwash or Education, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 3:39 am

GM is proof that Stanford University is continually churning out brainwashed urban planners, environmentalists, public policists, politicians, social sciences, philantipissts, and whatever else there are that spits out doctrines and propaganda that is all contrary to truly for reduction of green house gases and environmental protection.

Stanford University itself is another Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and uses "spin" and worse, teaching "spin" to make money. Stanford University is ego and greed.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Noah T., a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 2:45 pm

@GM

Your suggestions are correct in that they are technically feasible, but I do not believe the Palo Alto community shares your vision of the future. One great thing about small government (Towns and Cities) is that each decide what we want our future to be. To decide what kind of city we want to be. And by this right, not every city up and down the Peninsula has to look and feel the same, and I think this is a good thing. Redwood City has embraced a pro-growth and transit-centric dense housing path. That is great. The people who really like this should seriously considering living there. Woodside residence aim for a rural character and they have done a great job at preserving it. It is what makes it special. We should not forget that Palo Alto citizens should have a say in what kind of city we want Palo Alto to be.

Many of these decisions regarding housing and commercial real estate stock forever change the character of a place and Palo Alto should not rush through this decision process. I also don't think the city has made a good faith effort to broker such a discussion with its citizens -- in regard to what the future form the Council is pursuing.

If a limited and slow growth future is not your ideal, fine, but Council, please give us the chance to voice our piece. If people aren't happy with the conclusions, there are a lot of other nearby cities on the Peninsula which will likely be a great fit.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

GM is a registered user.

@ Noah T.

That is not how it can work in practice. Mass transit in a large urban area cannot be effectively implemented if it has to work around the preferences of 200 different small cities. The Bay is in fact one of the best examples for why that does not work.

What happens if Atherton decides they no longer want any Caltrain passing through their territory (and we do in fact have strong reasons to suspect that their preference is for their to be no Caltrain at all).

And then there is the fact that all sorts of things cannot move and are not going to ever move to the cities that will embrace density. The tech companies have a bit more flexibility, but universities cannot just pack up and move. The only thing that makes a meaningful difference in that case is if the cities immediately surrounding them (and not even the cities as a whole, but the parts of the cities immediately bordering campus specifically) become more dense, and that means Menlo Park and Palo Alto. What Redwood City thinks is not going to make that much of a difference as a 45-minute door-to-door commute is already hurting research pretty much as badly as an 60- or and 80-minute door-to-door commute.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 3:25 pm

GM is a registered user.

"GM is proof that Stanford University is continually churning out brainwashed urban planners, environmentalists, public policists, politicians, social sciences, philantipissts, and whatever else there are that spits out doctrines and propaganda that is all contrary to truly for reduction of green house gases and environmental protection."

This is a baffling statement.

Did I spend several comments talking about how cars and suburbia are unsustainable because of climate change, peak oil, and overuse of a long list of other resources? I did.

Did I mention how the world as a whole needs to reduce its population by an order of magnitude if it is to have any hope to achieve sustainability? I did.

So based on what am I being accused of being contrary to meaningful measures of solving the sustainability crisis? Yes, the mainstream environmentalist BS is exactly of that non-solution nature, and yes, Stanford does produce a lot of it, and even more so thanks to being wedded to the technoutopianism of Big Tech over the last few decades (Paul Ehrlich-type figures are not to be found anymore).

But how am I specifically an example of that?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by @GM, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Stanford has over three times as many jobs as employed residents. Why should Stanford add millions of square feet of jobs space and then require the surrounding cities to provide housing for its employees? Why is Stanford buying up housing in College Terrace, elsewhere in Palo Alto, and in Menlo Park and elsewhere in the area, and then leasing them to employees? That leased housing does not pay property tax, unlike the housing before. And that means the rest of us are paying to educate the students from this tax-free housing. How is that fair?

Why don't you get Stanford to follow what you preach? Why not have Stanford house all of the new employees it is adding? Why not require Stanford to house all students, undergraduate, graduate, and post-docs?

Why not put your tall buildings on top of the Faculty Ghetto, a suburban area with no services other than an Nixon Elementary School?

It's because the YIMBY people are not for Yes In My Backyard, but Yes in YOUR Backyard.

Where's the maximum sustainable build out study for Stanford that was required in the 2000 General Use Permit?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by @GM, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Stanford has over three times as many jobs as employed residents. Why should Stanford add millions of square feet of jobs space and then require the surrounding cities to provide housing for its employees? Why is Stanford buying up housing in College Terrace, elsewhere in Palo Alto, and in Menlo Park and elsewhere in the area, and then leasing them to employees? That leased housing does not pay property tax, unlike the housing before. And that means the rest of us are paying to educate the students from this tax-free housing. How is that fair?

Why don't you get Stanford to follow what you preach? Why not have Stanford house all of the new employees it is adding? Why not require Stanford to house all students, undergraduate, graduate, and post-docs?

Why not put your tall buildings on top of the Faculty Ghetto, a suburban area with no services other than an Nixon Elementary School?

It's because the YIMBY people are not for Yes In My Backyard, but Yes in YOUR Backyard.

Where's the maximum sustainable build out study for Stanford that was required in the 2000 General Use Permit?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by @GM, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Stanford has over three times as many jobs as employed residents. Why should Stanford add millions of square feet of jobs space and then require the surrounding cities to provide housing for its employees? Why is Stanford buying up housing in College Terrace, elsewhere in Palo Alto, and in Menlo Park and elsewhere in the area, and then leasing them to employees? That leased housing does not pay property tax, unlike the housing before. And that means the rest of us are paying to educate the students from this tax-free housing. How is that fair?

Why don't you get Stanford to follow what you preach? Why not have Stanford house all of the new employees it is adding? Why not require Stanford to house all students, undergraduate, graduate, and post-docs?

Why not put your tall buildings on top of the Faculty Ghetto, a suburban area with no services other than an Nixon Elementary School?

It's because the YIMBY people are not for Yes In My Backyard, but Yes in YOUR Backyard.

Where's the maximum sustainable build out study for Stanford that was required in the 2000 General Use Permit?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by GM, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 1, 2018 at 11:01 pm

GM is a registered user.

"Why don't you get Stanford to follow what you preach? Why not have Stanford house all of the new employees it is adding? Why not require Stanford to house all students, undergraduate, graduate, and post-docs?"

That is what the students and post-docs want, especially the postdocs, who are right now screwed the most and who will be added in largest numbers as a result of future expansions in research floor spacee, because as it is at the moment, there is no housing for them at all (a majority of grad students are in fact housed on campus) and they have to compete for housing with their measly $55K a year against Palantir employees making 3-4X that.

I clearly noted in one of my comments that there is a lot of blame to go Stanford's way.

However, Stanford is not allowed to just put up a bunch of 10-story buildings all over campus, that has to be reviewed with the city and the county. And you know what is going to happen if such a proposal is put on the table -- there will still be the usual talk about schools, traffic, views, etc.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by @GM, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 2, 2018 at 11:04 am

You said the following:

"How many times does it have to be explained that suburbs can not exist without personal automobiles, but personal automobiles cannot exist without oil, and oil is not infinite?

"How many times does it have to be explained that, entirely aside from the whole oil consumption issue, a single-family detached house uses an order of magnitude more resources than a 2-bedroom apartment?

"And yet we have people defending suburbia while talking about the environment..."

You are suggesting replacing the single family residences in Palo Alto with dense housing. I doubt that most Palo Alto voters would agree. Eat your own dog food, as they say. How about replacing the Faculty Ghetto on the Stanford campus, which is mostly single story, and the four story buildings you advocate? Then you wouldn't need 10 story buildings elsewhere on campus to provide the needed housing.

And Stanford can find land for another elementary school, so that can address the schools problem. There is a need for a new elementary school on the west side of campus, to satisfy the needs for the students living in new and existing Stanford housing. And by the way, Stanford University does not pay property tax on rental housing, so the taxpayers of Palo Alto would have to pay for these students.

Stanford wants to have it both ways. They argue that the Stanford Research Park is separate from Stanford University campus for the purposes of congestion, jobs-housing imbalance, etc., but they argue that the property tax from the Stanford Research Park somehow offsets the unfunded cost of students living in property-tax-free housing. Disingenuous.


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