By Steve Levy
Continuation of Office Cap DiscussionUploaded: Mar 22, 2015
On Monday night the city council will consider direction to staff with regard to an office cap proposal for Palo Alto. I think this is a bad idea as I have written previously. The best reason not to go forward is that council now understands that a cap will at absolute best leave nearly all concerns about traffic and parking unresolved and lead to even more resentment. There will also as council has been told be the likelihood of unintended and negative economic consequences.
And finally resident anger is not a good basis for determining the short and long term growth planning for our city that will not only affect the people who are angry but countless others as well.
But council may decide to explore a cap. Readers should be clear that no one can adopt a cap tomorrow or any time quickly. Tomorrow is about setting direction for study.
If council goes ahead I favor the cautious and careful exploration recommended by council member Burt combined with some questions for staff.
1) An exploration of an office cap would take place in the context of Comp Plan study where the fiscal, economic and other impacts can be studied. That need not mean that a cap if desired would wait until the final Comp Plan is adopted,. That issue can be faced when more information is available.
2) Staff would be directed to bring council some alternatives.
--With regard to different cap limits
--with regard to whether the cap applied only to downtown or the research park or Welch Road or the who;e city
--how projects in the pipeline would be treated and how many there are as well as how applications received during the study period would be treated.
--how and when the cap would end
3) Legal staff would be asked about
--legal limitations on council scope for action
--what are the precise steps and timing for adopting a cap in terms of public meetings, staff time, etc.
4) Planning staff would be asked
--how this work interferes or not with Comp Plan activities and how it might be included in post summit citizen workshops
--what information resources about cap implications can be developed and when with regard to the economy, traffic and parking.
I look forward to the council discussion tomorrow night.