Palo Alto argues housing case to ABAG

Decision expected in mid-March, planning official Steve Emslie says

Palo Alto took its arguments about a fair housing allotment directly to an Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) subcommittee Wednesday.

City staff members objected to Palo Alto's assigned 2,860 new housing units to be built by 2014.

The subcommittee will submit a recommendation to the full ABAG board, which is expected to decide the city's appeal in mid-March, Director of Planning and Community Environment Steve Emslie said.

Emslie said the seven ABAG representatives on the subcommittee showed interest in the city's case and asked several questions about the assignments.

But ABAG staff members recommended rejecting the city's appeal, along with appeals of four other Bay Area communities: Mountain View, Belvedere, Berkeley and Emeryville.

In its formal appeal, Palo Alto asked ABAG to use its historic population-growth rate rather than a rate based on the last few years of high growth. The city also contested the assignment of half of the San Antonio train station to Palo Alto, because it is primarily used by Mountain View residents. ABAG aims to concentrate housing around public transportation hubs such as train stations.

Thousands of new residents would overstress the school district, Palo Alto's appeal states.

In addition, requiring the city to build more than 1,000 "affordable" units amounts to an unfunded mandate to spend millions of dollars, the city's appeal states.

If the ABAG board rejects the appeal, Palo Alto is legally required to plan for the housing, Emslie said.

Palo Alto will receive its final housing assignment in June.

(Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 8:15 am

ABAG housing policy will lead directly to the mismanagement of our water resources. The movement and endless recycling of water between the atmosphere, the land surface, and underground is called the hydrologic cycle. This movement, driven by the energy of the sun and the force of gravity, supplies the water needed to support life. Understanding the hydrologic cycle is basic to understanding all water and is a key to the proper management of water resources.

Maude Barlow is the author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water. She is a recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel.” She believes the following:

The hydrologic cycle has been dramatically and deeply affected by our abuse and displacement of water. We pave over what’s called water-retentive lands so we don’t have the hydrologic cycle able to fulfill its responsibility and bring water back, for example.

There are private corporate interests that have decided that water is going to be put on the open market for sale. It’s going to be commodified and treated as any other saleable good. The question of who owns and controls water is very important. Private ownership leads you to selling it to those who can buy it but not to those who need it.

We are putting all our water eggs in the basket of cleaning up dirty water, instead of conservation, instead of protecting water at its source. We are deciding to clean up water after it’s been polluted. And there’s huge amounts of money to be made. And the concern is, who’s going to control that? Who’s going to own the water itself?

We need to push here in the United States for a trust fund for infrastructure. The sewage disposal system in the United States is in a mess. We have to fight the desalination plants, particularly in California, because it’s a bad technology, it’s an admission of failure. We can do much more with conservation and caring for source water.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 9:49 am

San Jose is building a recycling plant in which they take water from their sewage plant, purify it and reuse it. The technology it there. 30 years from now, when we run out of fresh water, all jurisdictions will be doing the same thing.

Like this comment
Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2008 at 10:08 am

What happens if Palo Alto refuses to comply?

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2008 at 11:15 am

The state could try to withhold money from PA, like highway funds - or some group or league or fairhousing organziation could sue. Maybe it's time to take this issue all the way to the State Supreme Court. Palo Alto is a charter city, and it should lead the way to stop this ABAG facism and usurping of city rights. The state did not give ABAG punitive authority. It is advisory only. Other Bay Area cities have told ABAG 'where to go'.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm

"What happens if PA refuses to comply?" My guess is our Council and staff are too chicken to butt up against the State.

Like this comment
Posted by Quack Quack
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 28, 2008 at 10:24 pm

I suggest we should deal the same way we dealt the ENRON settlement. Be a chicken. Make the residents pay up !!!!!!!

Shame on our City Lawyer. After Frank it is this person who needs to fess up.

Like this comment
Posted by Cock-a-doodle-doo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 1:07 am

ABAG should make Palo Alto and all the other cities comply. NIMBYS are panicking because they don't know what to do now that the chickens are coming home to roost, instead of commuting to the 'burbs.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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