News

Developer, 88, says Palo Alto stalling till he dies

Developer Harold Hohbach claims city is illegally stalling, calls for prompt approval of Page Mill Road project

A developer who wants to build 84 apartments and a research-and-development facility on Page Mill Road has filed a federal lawsuit against Palo Alto, claiming that city officials are illegally stifling the controversial project.

Harold Hohbach has been seeking the city's permission for the mixed-use project at 195 Page Mill Road, near Park Boulevard, since 2005. But his quest to get the city's approval has encountered a series of snags, including a lawsuit from a group of citizens and a prolonged dispute with Palo Alto over the city's density-bonus statute.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court, the 88-year-old developer claims the city is trying to kill the project by essentially waiting for him to die. Hohbach is calling for the city to quickly process his original application, to pay him $1.94 million in compensation and to promptly schedule a final hearing on the application before the city's Architectural Review Board.

Hohbach's lawsuit argues that Palo Alto lengthened the approval process for the project by needlessly re-circulating the environmental-review document and forced him to agree to more mitigation measures than are normally required. Palo Alto officials, the claim states, engaged in such conduct for the purpose of "unreasonably delaying final approval of the project" and "eventually destroying Hohbach's ability to complete the project in light of his advanced age."

The lawsuit also argues that the city is forcing Hohbach to build too many units of affordable housing and to comply with zoning requirements that did not exist when he initially applied for the project.

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Hohbach is suing Palo Alto despite the fact that the city had narrowly approved the dense project more than three years ago. The City Council voted 5-4 in favor of the project in November 2006, despite protests from city residents about the size and density of the 157,387-square-foot project. The development would include about 50,000 square feet of research-and-development space on the ground floor and 84 apartments on the two floors above it. These would include 17 below-market-rate units.

Council members had previously decided to back the project despite the fact that it is far denser than the city's zoning regulations allow. They supported the application after Hohbach agreed to build more affordable-housing units than are typically required.

But City Council watchdogs Bob Moss and Tom Jordan filed a lawsuit in January 2007, claiming that Palo Alto violated California's environmental laws in approving the project. The state Superior Court upheld most of Palo Alto's actions but faulted the city for not re-circulating the project's environmental-review document to incorporate a comment from the state's Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The court's decision effectively struck down Palo Alto's approval of Hohbach's project and forced him to start over.

Don Larkin, Palo Alto's assistant city attorney, said Hohbach had plenty of options to expedite the approval process, including submitting the project under a different zoning designation -- one that would require fewer variances and exceptions. He said Hohbach's age has nothing to do with any of the city's decisions.

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Larkin called Hohbach's lawsuit against the city strange given that it was the Superior Court and not Palo Alto that prevented the project from gaining the city's approval. The new suit is basically saying that the city should have fought harder against the court ruling, Larkin said.

"It's somewhat absurd to challenge the city over something the court did, but that's basically what his current lawsuit is doing," Larkin said.

Larkin also disputed Hohbach's argument that the city is demanding too many units of affordable housing. Hohbach had previously agreed to build the additional affordable-housing units in order to get the city's approval for his initial application, Larkin said.

He also noted that the city's zoning regulations had changed since the time of Hohbach's initial application. As a result, Hohbach can no longer obtain the design exceptions he had previously been banking on.

Hohbach had resubmitted the application in September 2008 and had asked the city for several concessions and variances, one of which would allow the project to ignore setback requirements.

Since then, the city and its environmental consultant published another environmental-review document and re-circulated it several times to incorporate concerns from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. According to the suit, a Board employee submitted comments suggesting that the land, once occupied by technology firm HP, could have underground contaminants.

The city's Architectural Review Board reviewed the proposal Dec. 3 but continued the hearing on the project because the environmental review has not yet been completed.

At the board meeting, Moss argued that the city's latest environmental review of the project isn't stringent enough. He argued that Palo Alto should require a full "environmental-impact report (EIR)" before it considers approving the project.

The city's planning staff has instead chosen to require a less rigorous "mitigated negative declaration."

Moss argued that requiring a less-than-comprehensive review for a project of this size would "completely violate" the most recent guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. He called the proposed limited review "unacceptable in terms of public health and safety."

Moss also said at the Dec. 3 hearing that if the city doesn't reverse course and demand an environmental-impact report, it would have another court battle on its hands.

"A full EIR shall be prepared or I will sue and take this to court and have the court require a full EIR," Moss told the board. "No ifs, ands or buts. We'll see you in court again."

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Developer, 88, says Palo Alto stalling till he dies

Developer Harold Hohbach claims city is illegally stalling, calls for prompt approval of Page Mill Road project

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 2, 2010, 4:51 pm

A developer who wants to build 84 apartments and a research-and-development facility on Page Mill Road has filed a federal lawsuit against Palo Alto, claiming that city officials are illegally stifling the controversial project.

Harold Hohbach has been seeking the city's permission for the mixed-use project at 195 Page Mill Road, near Park Boulevard, since 2005. But his quest to get the city's approval has encountered a series of snags, including a lawsuit from a group of citizens and a prolonged dispute with Palo Alto over the city's density-bonus statute.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court, the 88-year-old developer claims the city is trying to kill the project by essentially waiting for him to die. Hohbach is calling for the city to quickly process his original application, to pay him $1.94 million in compensation and to promptly schedule a final hearing on the application before the city's Architectural Review Board.

Hohbach's lawsuit argues that Palo Alto lengthened the approval process for the project by needlessly re-circulating the environmental-review document and forced him to agree to more mitigation measures than are normally required. Palo Alto officials, the claim states, engaged in such conduct for the purpose of "unreasonably delaying final approval of the project" and "eventually destroying Hohbach's ability to complete the project in light of his advanced age."

The lawsuit also argues that the city is forcing Hohbach to build too many units of affordable housing and to comply with zoning requirements that did not exist when he initially applied for the project.

Hohbach is suing Palo Alto despite the fact that the city had narrowly approved the dense project more than three years ago. The City Council voted 5-4 in favor of the project in November 2006, despite protests from city residents about the size and density of the 157,387-square-foot project. The development would include about 50,000 square feet of research-and-development space on the ground floor and 84 apartments on the two floors above it. These would include 17 below-market-rate units.

Council members had previously decided to back the project despite the fact that it is far denser than the city's zoning regulations allow. They supported the application after Hohbach agreed to build more affordable-housing units than are typically required.

But City Council watchdogs Bob Moss and Tom Jordan filed a lawsuit in January 2007, claiming that Palo Alto violated California's environmental laws in approving the project. The state Superior Court upheld most of Palo Alto's actions but faulted the city for not re-circulating the project's environmental-review document to incorporate a comment from the state's Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The court's decision effectively struck down Palo Alto's approval of Hohbach's project and forced him to start over.

Don Larkin, Palo Alto's assistant city attorney, said Hohbach had plenty of options to expedite the approval process, including submitting the project under a different zoning designation -- one that would require fewer variances and exceptions. He said Hohbach's age has nothing to do with any of the city's decisions.

Larkin called Hohbach's lawsuit against the city strange given that it was the Superior Court and not Palo Alto that prevented the project from gaining the city's approval. The new suit is basically saying that the city should have fought harder against the court ruling, Larkin said.

"It's somewhat absurd to challenge the city over something the court did, but that's basically what his current lawsuit is doing," Larkin said.

Larkin also disputed Hohbach's argument that the city is demanding too many units of affordable housing. Hohbach had previously agreed to build the additional affordable-housing units in order to get the city's approval for his initial application, Larkin said.

He also noted that the city's zoning regulations had changed since the time of Hohbach's initial application. As a result, Hohbach can no longer obtain the design exceptions he had previously been banking on.

Hohbach had resubmitted the application in September 2008 and had asked the city for several concessions and variances, one of which would allow the project to ignore setback requirements.

Since then, the city and its environmental consultant published another environmental-review document and re-circulated it several times to incorporate concerns from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. According to the suit, a Board employee submitted comments suggesting that the land, once occupied by technology firm HP, could have underground contaminants.

The city's Architectural Review Board reviewed the proposal Dec. 3 but continued the hearing on the project because the environmental review has not yet been completed.

At the board meeting, Moss argued that the city's latest environmental review of the project isn't stringent enough. He argued that Palo Alto should require a full "environmental-impact report (EIR)" before it considers approving the project.

The city's planning staff has instead chosen to require a less rigorous "mitigated negative declaration."

Moss argued that requiring a less-than-comprehensive review for a project of this size would "completely violate" the most recent guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. He called the proposed limited review "unacceptable in terms of public health and safety."

Moss also said at the Dec. 3 hearing that if the city doesn't reverse course and demand an environmental-impact report, it would have another court battle on its hands.

"A full EIR shall be prepared or I will sue and take this to court and have the court require a full EIR," Moss told the board. "No ifs, ands or buts. We'll see you in court again."

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Comments

Another Watcher
Green Acres
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm
Another Watcher, Green Acres
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thank you! Stay on it Mr. Moss !!


Millie Enron
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm
Millie Enron, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

No problem. They can just raise our utility bills again to cover the city's legal costs.


Franklin
Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm
Franklin, Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Palo Alto has one of the most lopsided housing to jobs ratio of any bay area city. We import our workers from the hinterlands and expect then to disappear at the end of the day. Meanwhile, most of the people who can afford to live in Palo Alto, actually work elsewhere in the Silicon Valley, where the high paying tech jobs are located. The state is threatening to fine Palo Alto for not building enough housing. We have an arbitrary 50 foot height limit for new buildings. This is madness. The proposed location for the project is the perfect place for high density housing - Near Page Mill Road and the California Avenue shopping area and train station. The only thing wrong with this project is that it is not big enough. The higher the density, the greater the public benefit. Harold Hohbach deserves to be commended for enduring the Palo Alto process at his age.

Someday gas will cost $10 or $20 per gallon. The anti housing people should think of the future and consider where their own children and employees and the person who makes their coffee at Starbucks will live when transportation gets really expensive.


zanon
Esther Clark Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm
zanon, Esther Clark Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Palo Alto needs to tear down 60% of the buildings that are here, put up parks and make it livable for civilized human beings again.

If people want to build something they can do it anywhere other than Palo Alto.

And NO I am not a NIMBY!


Marcus
Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm
Marcus, Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I believe that Franklin was advocating high density development around transportation, amenities and jobs as a method of cutting traffic. Furthermore, building this type of housing will add to the diversity of our housing stock.


Paul
Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm
Paul, Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm

"Palo Alto has one of the most lopsided housing to jobs ratio of any bay area city."

So what? That ratio is at best more bureaucratic number shuffling. It has no real meaning, because the geographical units it uses - rural town boundaries from the 19th century - are irrelevant in our regional megapolis.

Then, to add meaninglessness to meanlinglessness, consider that more than half of Palo Alto's working population commutes to jobs outside of Palo Alto despite the alleged local job surplus. You cannot make people live where they work. Therefore what's the sense of adding housing if half the added residents are going to jam the streets commuting to jobs elsewhere?

Don't be so eager to swallow every developer's snake oil. What's offered here is yet another Hyatt human warren, or maybe a supersized 800 High "San Quentin South". Think: when's the last time you saw developers live in their own creations, or even in sight of them? Never, huh? They're not fools. You can't see these projects from the developers' homes in Woodside, Portola Valley, and Los Altos Hills, and neither can their grateful creators.


Franklin
Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:56 am
Franklin, Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:56 am

My vision of the ideal city would be a lot like the Stanford Campus, where people can walk or bike to work, study, or shop. San Jose has been revitalizing its downtown in part by allowing tall condo buildings with easy access to the Guadalupe freeway. I don't blame the jobs - housing imbalance in Palo Alto entirely on the NIMBY people - Part of the problem is a tax system which encourages retail - because cities want the sales tax revenue - and discourages housing because of Proposition 13 and other limits on the ability of cities to get property tax revenue. States which don't have a sales tax like Oregon have had better luck getting a good mix of housing and retail in the same area.

The next time Stanford wants to increase the size of the Stanford Shopping Center - why not require some housing units to be built for the workers on top of the retail buildings? It would reduce traffic - If this seems like a crazy idea, consider Santana Row which has at least a token amount of housing mixed with Retail. Every time we allow more retail, we should be asking, where will the workers live - and why not here?

If we could get rid of the arbitrary 50 foot height limit, Palo Alto would have some great places to put tall condominiums. The area where Harold Hobach wants to build his project - near California Avenue and Page Mill may be one of the best. A favorite of mine is at the bottom of San Antonio Road next to the parking lot facing the Baylands. It is not perfect, because it doesn't have good access to Cal Train or shopping within walking distance- but it is very close to a 101 Freeway Entrance. Currently this area is occupied by one story industrial buildings. Its a complete waste of space and a great view.




Gunslinger
another community
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:59 am
Gunslinger, another community
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:59 am

Remember, you're government was willing to flaunt all environmental laws as long as the developer built a bunch of low income housing. The government doesn't care about hurting the environment or changing the character of your town, they indeed wanted more. This developer wasn't willing to degrade it enough

Zanons got it


Zanon Caput
College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:56 am
Zanon Caput, College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:56 am

Zonons got it.

But Zanon's post was clipped. What did he say?


nothing
Greater Miranda
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:07 am
nothing, Greater Miranda
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

The clipped part of Zanon's post was irrelevant, and violated posted rules.

But putting high density housing next to jobs doesn't reduce commuting at all. It just ensures that there is parking, traffice, crime etc. all the time.

I just don't see the relevance of a university's community, purchasing habits, transportation, and work to that of a city. Anyway, how many Stanford employees buy stuff on campus? I think only faculty can live on campus.


T Tierney
Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:12 am
T Tierney, Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:12 am

We have these density requirements because these ordinances describe some of the elements that make the character of our city. If this developer, Harold Hobach, wanted to expidite development, he could have designed the project to obey the ordinances -- he could have built it already.

Sure, he lives in Atherton, not in Palo Alto, and does not care about adhering to the ideas of what we have decided we want in our city, but that's not the point.

He could have had it built by now if he had not wanted to subvert the ordinances.


pat
Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:17 am
pat, Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:17 am

Paul: You say that “…more than half of Palo Alto's working population commutes to jobs outside of Palo Alto …”

Do you have the data to back that up?

In any case, I absolutely agree with your point. All the “new urbanism” mumbo-jumbo about dense traffic-oriented housing is wishful thinking. Yes, I know it is being forced on us by the state, but it’s going to destroy the character of the city.

There’s no guarantee that people will live in the city where they work. And people change jobs more often than they change their home address.

What about married couples? Will both people always work in the same city?

The PA Daily News ran a series on transportation starting January 12, 2010. It said there are questions about whether “transit-oriented” developments really increase public transit ridership. Also, given the financial problems of VTA, Bart, CalTrain, there’s no incentive for people to take public transit as fares rise and service is cut.

So the odds are that the more we build, the more traffic will increase and the more crowded the schools will become.


michael james
Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:57 am
michael james, Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:57 am

hey dont change the "bob moss memorial junk yard " that occupies the site now

its so cool to see all that crap stored along park blvd.


Beth
Evergreen Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:37 am
Beth, Evergreen Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:37 am

Harold Hohbach is responsible for the rabbit-warren set of apartment buildings in the Mayfield neighborhood south of California Avenue near the train station where I live. He develops a rationale for massive density for each structure that sounds good to greenies and passes City scrutiny.

Taken as a whole, however, Harold has single-handedly turned our Mayfield neighborhood into a parking nightmare which I get to battle 24/7.

He thought he had pulled it off again with City approval of his super-dense 195 Page Mill development, but Bob Moss and Tom Jordan nailed him at the pass, and the battle continues.

Harold’s filing of a federal lawsuit against the City puzzles me. Make no mistake, Harold is a wily coyote who always proves to have ‘a method to his madness.’ Watching his legal strategy play out will be entertaining, if not instructional.


Resident X
Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:45 am
Resident X, Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

Re: the jobs housing imbalance
Ths project as described will provide workspace for about 200 employees (based on typical 250 square feet per employee - 50,000 sq ft / 250 sq ft per employee- the actual is probably higher due to high costs creating an incentive to cram people in) so unless some of the employees are roommates it creates over twice as many jobs as housing. Maybe there are roommates/spouses who also work in PA to get up to an extreme max of housing for about 168 (the BMR units are likely studios or 1BR) still resulting in a deficit. Why not make it all housing if the site is so valuable for housing, which in my opinion it is, and let it serve existing employees in the area. That is supposed to be a Transit and Pedestrian Oriented District, so housing and neighborhood serving retail/commercial should be the preferred uses.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:48 am
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:48 am

Maybe PA has a housing/jobs ratio that is a bit off. But at the same time there are communities in our area who are way off in the other direction: Menlo, Woodside, PV, Los Altos, etc.

It would be interesting to look at a more regional calculation of the housing/jobs ratio instead of focusing on just one city.

PA is a unique city due to it's high tech roots, the law & venture fund industries and, the proximity to Stanford - research, education, high tech (again). What other towns in the Bay Area can claim such a legacy and future contribution to the California economy?

Sarcasm alert....

A one-size fits all ratio for the entire Bay Area region applied on a city-by-city basis is unrealistic. Otherwise just as PA is criticized by some for not enough housing - where is the criticism for all of the other towns who don't provide enough local jobs for their residents? Those towns are forcing their residents to drive to other cities in order to work? Those towns are contributing to pollution!!! OMG!!!

Let's demand that Woodside place a high-tech office for 1500 people right in the middle of their village. Stop all of those people from driving to their MP and PA law and venture jobs! It's only fair!

Sarcasm alert off...

Do you see how silly this can become?


William
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:49 am
William, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:49 am

> You say that “…more than half of Palo Alto's working population
> commutes to jobs outside of Palo Alto …”

> Do you have the data to back that up?

Prior to instituting the so-called "impact fees", the City was required to commission an outside consultant to run what is called a "Nexis" study. A "Nexis" study examines, among other things, the jobs in a town, and the housing available for people to work and live in the same town. This "Nexis" study revealed that about 19% of those living in Palo Alto actually worked in Palo Alto. The number produced by other "Nexis" studies in other Bay Area towns falls between 14% and 20%--not too different than Palo Alto.

The concept of a "Jobs/Housing" imbalance is delusional. Unfortunately, we keep electing people to the city council that keep promoting this well-discredited notion.

--
Hope Hohback lives long enough to see victory in his battle against the Palo Alto bureacracy.


solon
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:55 am
solon, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

Does any one have hard data, surveys, employer, etc., or even good estimates, of any long term benefit to people who live in affordable housing, e.g., longitudinal studies, or follow up at least, that actual lives are made better by our "affordable housing?" Or os a net negative or neutral?

And can we compare those who were on the waiting list, but not selected, as to what their lives were like over twenty years?

ANd does more housing have any effect at all on commute distances? Isn't that more commuter preference, gas prices, shifting manufacturing patters, up and down venture funding, etc.?

I want to do the right thing, but measure it on facts if possible.


Paul
Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Paul, Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

"Paul: You say that “…more than half of Palo Alto's working population commutes to jobs outside of Palo Alto …” Do you have the data to back that up?"

Yes. Our former transportation chief, Joe Kott, turned up that factoid in his 2004 commute habits survey. I cannot remember where he published it; all I have is some notes I took at the time.

Those notes also mention that, during the Transit and Pedestrian Oriented District debate, a resident of the big condos near the CalAve CalTrain station surveyed the residents and found that only 5% commuted by train. I believe that was reported at a city council meeting. Maybe that's good - maybe the others might be working in PA.

The standard rationale for oversize developments, like Hobach's, near the tracks is that their residents can commute without cars. Their proponents have a keen talent for irony: let's build housing to relieve PA's "jobs-housing imbalance," then let's build it near the trains to make it easier for their residents to commute to jobs outside Palo Alto. Eyes roll.

"ANd does more housing have any effect at all on commute distances? Isn't that more commuter preference, gas prices, shifting manufacturing patters, up and down venture funding, etc.? I want to do the right thing, but measure it on facts if possible."

Good Luck. The necessary studies have somehow not been done, or not published.


William
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm
William, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm

> Does any one have hard data, surveys, employer, etc., or even
> good estimates, of any long term benefit to people who live in
> affordable housing, e.g., longitudinal studies, or follow up
> at least, that actual lives are made better by our "affordable
> housing?" Or os a net negative or neutral?

An excellent question. With the millions of "social scientists" on the Federal dole (on way or another), it would not be hard to believe that these sorts of studies have been done at some time in the past.

Unfortunately, this idea of "affordable" housing is also linked with various ideas from the "civil rights" era, when various "intellectuals" were spending a lot of their time trying to figure out how to "integrate" America. One of those ideas was "inclusion housing" (or a term similar in nature). Success to the people promoting these ideas as placing "economically disadvantaged" people next door to "economically advantaged" people. The long term success of the individuals involved does not seem to be "above the fold" news in our newspapers.



The Answer
another community
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm
The Answer, another community
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

William,

A little "Palo Alto 101" by way of answer to your question about whther or not there were "longitudinal studies ... etc.".

When you get three Palo Altans together they can cite four studies having five different, contradictory consulsions.

Next question?


rem
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm
rem, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I wonder what he is going to do when the Federal Court throws the suit out as "frivolous suit"..

**Over the last year (2009) I have had a half dozens of my posting removed by Palo Alto Online staff. I felt then and now that it was arbitrary and capricious. They had to do with the article plus they were no derogatory comments, repeat, THERE WERE NO DEROGATORY COMMENTS….****


Prof Dill
College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm
Prof Dill, College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm

You have to get permission from Stanford Univ; they own Palo Alto...


Frank
Ventura
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm
Frank, Ventura
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Perhaps Mr. Hohbach should be suing Mr. Moss. They both seem to like going to court.


Too Much Traffic
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm
Too Much Traffic, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

rem you state:

"**Over the last year (2009) I have had a half dozens of my posting removed by Palo Alto Online staff. I felt then and now that it was arbitrary and capricious. They had to do with the article plus they were no derogatory comments, repeat, THERE WERE NO DEROGATORY COMMENTS….****"

It is not arbitrary and capricious--on every thread dealing with building and/or land use, you post the same comment--railing about money and the city etc. You do not add anything significant to the discussion and it appears that you are trolling for threads to post the same comment over and over. Maybe that is why it was rightfully deleted.

just my opinion.


Paul
Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm
Paul, Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

"Unfortunately, this idea of "affordable" housing is also linked with various ideas from the "civil rights" era, when various "intellectuals" were spending a lot of their time trying to figure out how to "integrate" America. Success to the people promoting these ideas as placing "economically disadvantaged" people next door to "economically advantaged" people. "

Conservatives used to speak these things in code. Their language has been getting steadily plainer since Obama got in. That really scares them: it means no place is safe anymore.

After he signed his civil rights act, Lyndon Johnson remarked that the Democrats had lost the South for a generation. We now know that he understated both the geography and the duration.

However, today's young people don't get it. They mix freely in economically, ethnically, and racially varied groups, demonstrating again that although you cannot reform dinosaurs, you don't have to - you only have to outlive them.


Franklin
Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm
Franklin, Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Hobach's project is near public transportation (Cal Train) as well as near the entrance to the Oregon Expressway which could easily handle the traffic from a few more people who must compute by car. It is also walking distance from the Molly Stone market. - It would be hard to find a better place in Palo Alto for high density housing. -And regarding parking - There are at least 4 city parking lots plus a multi-story City parking garage within one block of California Avenue. Hobach also owns a multi level parking garage on Sheridan Avenue which is rarely full. - The only time that it is difficult to find a parking space near California Avenue is lunch time.

The first question that should be asked should be: Would Palo Alto be better off if more of the people who commute to Palo Alto, actually lived here? - (I have heard that as many as 40,000 people commute into Palo Alto every day.)

The second question that should be asked is where are these people commuting from?

The third question that should be asked is what would it take for these people to be able to live here?

I don't particularly favor regulations that require developers to build below market housing because it creates another layer of government bureaucracy, to pass it out to a favored few. The best way to have more affordable housing is to build more housing.


get it straight
Greenmeadow
on Feb 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm
get it straight, Greenmeadow
on Feb 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm

It's not, "Would Palo Alto be better off if more of the people who commute to Palo Alto, actually lived here?"

It's "Would Palo Alto be better off if more people lived here?" Because you cannot ensure that new residents work in Palo Alto. Most people who do live in Palo Alto do not work here. There is no basis for assuming that new residents would.


pat
Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm
pat, Midtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Hobach's project “… is near .. the entrance to the Oregon Expressway which could easily handle the traffic from a few more people who must compute by car.”

A few more people? We're talking 84 apartments!

Have you tried to get on Oregon Expressway from the Park Blvd. ramp during rush hours? Loooooong line around the corner. Good luck! And Oregon Expressway is jammed from about 3:30 pm. Check out how many blocks cars are backed up at Middlefield Road and at the 101 on ramp.

“And regarding parking - There are at least 4 city parking lots plus a multi-story City parking garage within one block of California Avenue.”

Parking around California Ave. is a nightmare. In a way, that’s good news because it means businesses are thriving. But it’s almost impossible to find a parking space during lunch and dinner hours.


Controversy
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:51 am
Controversy, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:51 am

More controvery in Palo Alto. When will it end?


Kumbaya
Midtown
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:02 am
Kumbaya, Midtown
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:02 am

Let us have an end once and for all to all lawsuits, controversies, and scandals in fair Palo Alto.

I have a dream that one day Pat, Marvin, Fireman, and all other Palo Altans will link arms and join hands all the way from the raging torrents of San Francisquito Creek to the roar of the traffic on mighty San Antonio Road and sing "kumbaya"!

We can do this, Palo Alto!!


Put lawbreakers in jail
The Greenhouse
on Feb 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm
Put lawbreakers in jail, The Greenhouse
on Feb 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Controversy asks "More controvery in Palo Alto. When will it end?"
It will end when the citizens join the council and give the developers free reign. When we let them build what they want, as ugly and overwhelming the street as they want, and make even more millions of dollars. We need to agree, to heck with quality of life here. Let the boys do what they want!
As long as there are community-minded people who care about the quality of life in the city, or who care about obeying the law, there will be conflict. Alternatively, put the law breakers in jail.


Hohbachwatcher
Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm
Hohbachwatcher, Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm

This is the 2nd time Mr. Hohbach, an attorney, has sued the City. I believe he filed suit over 25 years ago with regard to his building on the block across the street from this site - "Court House Plaza". He uses threats of lawsuits and lawsuits to move his projects along.


Wha?
another community
on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm
Wha?, another community
on Feb 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Palo Alto has the second largest growth in population during the day (read workers who commute in) in the United States (read no housing for the common worker).

Web Link

God forbid you build affordable housing near public transportation. It could wreck your utopia!


jb
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm
jb, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Lived here going on thirty-five years. There was a land rush even back then. We lost houses to people coming in waving fistfuls of money more than we had. $80,000 house gone to the guy with $95,000. About 15% over asking!!! We moved here because a job was here, and we could afford a house here. Ha! Our realtor finally told us that we wouldn't be able to afford Menlo Park (where we rented) and we'd be wise to "buy down" to Palo Alto.

About 55,000 souls slept here back then with about 159,000 in town working, shopping, lunching, going to the doctor during the day. Those figures used to be published yearly. In the '70s and '80s the child population was falling from a high in the '60s of 25 schools and about 24,000 pupils, to a low of about 10,000 pupils and the current number of schools.

Very quickly, though we began to hear about people moving to Palo Alto for the schools and for the ambience—a real downtown, sidewalks, and tree-lined streets. They were fleeing from the 'burbs and strip malls of a great part of America. Defense was still a big employer. People still move here for the same reason—trees, downtown, good schools. And a few of them work here too. With high-density housing a whole lot more people could enjoy the ambience and educate their children and work elsewhere.


Anon
Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm
Anon, Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

jb,

I wouldn't object to significant population/density growth if we could figure out how to do it without cars. The problem with a lot more high-density housing is where to park the cars and what to do about all the traffic. As it is now, on rainy mornings, traffic is backed up all the way down Arastradero from Foothill to El Camino.


Anon
Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm
Anon, Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Forgot to mention -- this lawsuit is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't things. Either way, somebody is suing and even if the city wins, it still costs us taxpayers. There should be some kind of safe harbor for the city that would force the protagonists to sue each other and leave the taxpayers out of it.


Anon
Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm
Anon, Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

And another thing -- I agree with the many posters that the housing/jobs imbalance thing is a canard. I'm one of the few people I know who cares that I live near where I work. The majority of people seem to just accept a long commute-- that is, they aren't going to deny themselves a better job just because it is a long commute away, and, they aren't going to move just to be near the job (who knows how long the job will last anyway, nowadays). So, the wish for local housing to shrink commutes is just that -- a wish.

If only the people buying into the development would promise in blood to ride bikes everywhere in town and ride the train when they want to leave, I would be more favorable. As it is, a lot of this traffic is going to end up going right past our doors on the way to school, etc. etc.


Green?
College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 3:14 am
Green?, College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 3:14 am

What continues to astound is how all the anti-Holback people complain about parking and traffic and blah blah blah, but I'll bet not ONE of them - including Mr. Moss - has made a serious effort to create far better intra- and inter-urban transportation. Why? because it's "fun" for some of these so-called watchdogs to "play politics". That's the Palo Alto Way. Let's consider what Moss has cost Palo Alto, and the future citizens who will live on that plot of land. He has cost California Ave. $$$$ of revenue that would have been spent by the residents and commercial tenants of that space; he has cost the future tenants and buyers of units in that space $$$$ because they are going to have to pay the higher costs borne by Mr. Holbach due to construction inflation when they finally get build; he probably cost us Google's taking residence in the the building across the street (I have it on good evidence that Google did not want to be across the street from a never-ending construction site, fraught with delays) - so we most likely lost the Google presence; he has cost the City enormous staff diligence and legal $$$$, and if the City loses this case, he will cost us even more $$$$. Defending this case will cost the city $$$$. Instead, we have the same old crowd whining like a clutter of cats. "We don't want no steenking (sic) housing", they say.
And yet - here comes the REAL irony. Most of these people pride themselves on their "green" credentials. Most of them are smart enough and informed enough to know that suburban sprawl is THE leading cause of environmental degradation and carbon waste spewed into our environment. Yet, they continue to argue for *themselves*; they refuse to consider *sharing the wealth*; they continue to live by the myth that *there's no more room", when innovative housing and transportation solutions, if there was a local will to make them happen - would create a LOT of room. So, what I see are a lot of people who purport to be smart; who are not ignorant of the environmental facts in the matter of housing density near transport corridors, and innovative public transit. I see so many of them charging down to City Hall to scream "the sky is falling!" every time something like this comes up. Then, the final irony: City Council members hear these people complain - many of them week after week, weighing in on every issue under the sun, as they wear their "City Watchdog" badges on their sleeves - and actually *legislate* based on what they hear, creating a *further* irony by putting the lie to all the fancy-schmancy political blather about the green platforms that so many of them ride on. I guess local comfort trumps green; that's a fact. So, Bob Moss thinks he's "won", but the losers are his neighbors; his fellow citizens; City staffers that have to deal with this nonsensical delay (whose salaries we pay, and who Mr. Moss is always complaining about making too much money). Seriously, the fiasco about housing continues unabated in Palo Alto, as carbon levels continue to build, and Mr. Moss and his supporters and so many City Council members tout their "green" credentials, as they all blithely watch all those cars come in and out of Palo Alto every day, knowing they can go home to their protected havens, not even noticing that the air is getting bad. Yup, it's starting to stink in Palo Alto; it's the scent of "green", rotting.


Green?
College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 3:19 am
Green?, College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 3:19 am

Anon: "There should be some kind of safe harbor for the city that would force the protagonists to sue each other and leave the taxpayers out of it."

I'm with you, 150%!!!! Let the people who cause these delays; the people who bring these outrageous lawsuits be the financial course of last resort when the lawyers start billing. City Council?


Funny
Evergreen Park
on Feb 5, 2010 at 4:53 am
Funny, Evergreen Park
on Feb 5, 2010 at 4:53 am

the guy wants to leave this world with a punch !! Or maybe make sure he leaves something for all those trust kids left behind!!


pat
Midtown
on Feb 5, 2010 at 9:20 am
pat, Midtown
on Feb 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

> “I wouldn't object to significant population/density growth if we could figure out how to do it without cars.”

How about all the additional kids in the schools? Who do you think pays for that? There’s another school parcel tax coming up this year.


Green?
College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 10:00 am
Green?, College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

Pat: "How about all the additional kids in the schools? Who do you think pays for that? "

Who do you think *profits* from that? Answer: *Palo Alto*. With increased diversity; enthusiastic new neighbors, etc. etc. It's not "us and them"; it's our NEIGHBORS. What's striking about every one of the most outrageous anti-housing arguments (and this falls in that category) is that those who are here, now, didn't give any thought to the "burden" on others that they were going to create by moving here, and raising kids here. What about the tremendous advantages that new neighbors bring to our community - the new volunteers, the new thinking, purchasing power, commitment to making Palo Alto a safe place because of the investment that new residents make, and so on? etc. etc.

That said, there are reasons to make more housing the right way, esthetically designed to enhance community and properly and safely house new residents; that goes without saying, but the outright heavy-handed Pavolvian anti-housing response around here that we too-often see, driven by only a small number of Palo Altans, has hurt our City already, far more than it has helped.

We live smack dab in the middle of an URBAN region. Palo Alto is a very nice place. Let's see if we've got a will to live up to all of our philosophical posturing about "green" and "helping the world", and then face the INCONVENIENT TRUTH about making compromises that didn't occur to us as we grew helter skelter in a way that is largely contributing to messing up the air in our region.

Our City Council also needs to get on the stick and take a LEADERSHIP position in the region to force cooperation around transport. All the whining about how "lower income residents,, and/or new residents don't live here, so there's no reason for Palo Alto to buy the ABAG argument" falls on deaf ears when not ONE serious effort has ever been made to create the necessary incentives and disincentives via mass transport (intra- and inter-) to get people out of their cars. Walk the talk!


Hecoter
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Hecoter, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Palo Alto should be named "Shallow Alto"


pat
Midtown
on Feb 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm
pat, Midtown
on Feb 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

> “not ONE serious effort has ever been made to create the necessary incentives and disincentives via mass transport (intra- and inter-) to get people out of their cars.”

What do you suggest will get people out of their cars? Public transit is in serious financial trouble with prices going up and service going down. As I mentioned in a previous post, the PA Daily News ran an excellent series on transportation starting January 12, 2010.

“New Urbanism” was proposed during preparation of the 1998-2010 Comprehensive Plan. Whether or not the majority of residents like it or not is seemingly irrelevant. Whether it will truly cut down on car trips is unproven.

Meanwhile, New Urbanists are leading us down a precipitous path that will change the character of the city with developments like Arbor Real. Palo Alto is more suburban than urban, and many of us would prefer to keep it that way.

I urge everyone to read the Fiscal Background Report on the Comprehensive Plan Amendment dated July 29,2009 at
Web Link

And, if you care about the future of the city, get involved in the Comp Plan Amendment!


Jennifer Pomi
another community
on Feb 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm
Jennifer Pomi, another community
on Feb 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Mr Hohbach is an exceptionally kind and giving person. He has done much for the Palo Alto community and been a philanthropic contributor to educational facilities around the country. He has done an excellent job of building and developing the area around California Street where there is still a feeling of a small town. The University Ave area down town that feels like any other college town in the country and holds no uniqueness or history. It is unfortunately some politically or personally motivated members Palo Alto have waged a war against his development. I look forward to the project being built and complete and plan to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony! In a down turned economy someone wants to continue to built in this community, shame on others for trying to prevent him.


To Mike
College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm
To Mike, College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

"...smart enough and informed enough to know that suburban sprawl is THE leading cause of environmental degradation and carbon waste spewed into our environment."

And yet, you support HSR, the key enabler to suburban sprawl in California.

It is clear that some people just wish Palo Alto were San Francisco or Berkeley. High density. Lots of variant behavior, including lots of crime. Lots of traffic. Less ability to handle small problems of everyday life, because the city has a bureaucracy to hide behind and police have more important things to deal with, like murders, etc.




C you around
Ventura
on Feb 5, 2010 at 11:47 pm
C you around, Ventura
on Feb 5, 2010 at 11:47 pm

As I remembered reading once upon a time on a thread here, Walter Wallace had an idea...put the out of work homeless people in tents. Out of sight. ( Out of mind, too, Walter?!) I think he had his mind on the area out by the San Antonio Baylands....
How many of you have actually gotten up and moved your rear ends walking a few miles or riding bikes a lot- instead of complaining (and then getting up and getting into your $40,000 automobiles to go shopping? Pollute much? Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm).
And all the building going on around Palo Alto...smacks of the ol Winchester days....
With all those trees gone and new stubs replaced, California Ave looks so 1950's baren. Might as well build on top of those buildings that are already there- maybe just a story or two to keep a low profile in the old Mayfield district and make it easy for some of the hired help to have easy access to working there.
IF and when more places are built (hummm), just am hoping they make them with enough room so you would be able to stretch your arms out and not touch the walls.


Green?
College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2010 at 3:08 am
Green?, College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2010 at 3:08 am

Someone said: "And yet, you support HSR, the key enabler to suburban sprawl in California."

Says who? It will help get people out of their cars, as long as it is a part of a *comprehensive* inter- and intra-urban transport plan. The problem with transportation planning in this region, in the State and nationally, is that there is ino *coordinated* effort or political will to make mass transport truly efficient, affordable, ,and accessible. The model is there: look at Europe. Don't tell me it can't be done. I do not support the current HSR plan, that would essentially gut neighborhoods. If you want to cry about that, blame Yoriko Kishimoto and a few other prominent locals who pushed hard on HSR before they knew the details. In fact, I voted against HSR at the last minute, after reading some warning briefs of how implementation might be planned. If only some of our City Council members at the time had done the same.


someone else said: "Public transit is in serious financial trouble with prices going up and service going down."

Financial trouble? What kind of financial trouble do you project when gas gets to $8 per gallon, or higher. How about the financial trouble caused by pollution-related health problems? The problem here is that nobody - especially our so-called policy makers - are computing the REAL fiscal and financial costs of environmental degradation. We are going to have to *sacrifice* to clean up the mess we have caused because we got lazy, and assumed everything was going to go our way; that's the INCONVENIENT TRUTH, literally. It isi *not* going to be easy to fix these problems. We are going to have to start to *adapt* to a new world, with new constraints - and we can make adaptation happen if we're willing to innovate, instead of just talking about innovation, or have lectures about innovation at IDEO. We're going to find out in short order just what we're made of; we're going to have to "look in the mirror" and make compromises that bring the greatest benefit to the most people, instead of hogging all the goodies for ourselves.

Like I said, something stinks with all this anti-housing blather, and the poor rationales used to support it. It's the smell of "Green", rotting.


Rodney King
another community
on Feb 7, 2010 at 8:07 am
Rodney King, another community
on Feb 7, 2010 at 8:07 am

Palo Alto, why can't everyone just get along?


Eryn
Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm
Eryn, Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Hi,

Can anyone tell me where I might be able to find the complaint filed in this lawsuit?

Many thanks!!!


fireman
another community
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm
fireman, another community
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Rodney, It's the water.. Oh that's right they control that also.. The price is their endless supply of green power.. The kind of green power you get with sucking up the citizens cash and not giving them power to say no.

If that sounds like Palo Alto to you? give yourself a carbon foot print star...

Like Franklin put it. The workers drive to work from far because the can not afford to live close by. Burn the gas and raise the cost. have to drill more and product more. More pollution from all the driving , producing and transporting that gas. etc and the city of palo alto wins another green award/

what's that the dumps are on fire? Grab the award and do not answer any questions, then run or retire before the big cuts..

The sell of green... oh thats BS... and they call me nuts?


Now people want more or less people in palo alto I just don't know who to believe.

The council is saying one thing and the citizens something else?


Not Green
College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Not Green, College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm

"Someone said: 'And yet, you support HSR, the key enabler to suburban sprawl in California.'

Says who?"

Says Diridon, who admits the main beneficiaries of the HSR will be like those who live in Fresno and would be able to commute to the Bay Area, and the analogs to the South. He claims that this new commute will be at a lower price than driving, and that such commuters will have extra time to work while riding HSR vs. those who drive.

Thus, the main advantage of HSR is to enable and ease longer commutes, which is exactly the way to promote suburban sprawl.

Far from putting the jobs together with the residences of those who work at them, according to Diridon, the main advantage of HSR will be to help the opposite occur.

This is different from the original intent for HSR, but against the backdrop of independent analysis of likely passengers and their fares, Diridon admits it's the main advantage of HSR. He acknowledges that tt's not going to help those in the Bay Area or the southern terminal much.

From this point of view, HSR is a bad thing even if it's underground and it breaks even or makes a profit for the state.


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