News

Palo Alto Forward joins opposition to office-space limits

Citizens group joins Stanford, high-tech giants in taking a stand against proposal

A citizens group that promotes more housing and transportation options in Palo Alto has joined some of the city's largest high-tech companies in taking a stand against a proposal by the City Council to limit new office space.

In a five-page letter to the City Council, the group Palo Alto Forward has come out in opposition to a plan to set an annual cap on new office and research-and-development space, a proposal that the council is scheduled to consider March 2. The group, which includes on its steering committee planning commissioners Eric Rosenblum and Kate Downing, is arguing that the proposal would make local rents even higher and force employers to cram even more workers into existing offices.

The office cap, the letter argues, will "also continue to make Palo Alto a less viable location for both retail and other small businesses, by raising rents while depriving these businesses of customers."

The proposal to limit office growth – by development or conversion of existing space – has been fueled by years of complaints by residents about downtown's parking and traffic problems, as well as the recent trend of offices displacing long-standing shops and restaurants that cannot keep up with the rapidly rising rents.

Mayor Karen Holman highlighted this trend in her State of the City speech last week, noting that since 2008 the city has added 537,155 square feet of office and research-and-development space while losing 70,514 square feet of retail space. She cited recently departed businesses Jungle Copy, Zibbibo, University Art, Bargain Box and Cho's.

"We've all seen retail spaces converted to office and local businesses leaving Palo Alto for Los Altos, Redwood City and Menlo Park," Holman said.

She attributed this to market forces and noted that these forces "work much faster than does the government."

An annual cap on new office space, she said, is one of the solutions that the council is pursuing to address this problem.

Several of her council colleagues agree that office growth should be capped. At the council's Feb. 9 discussion of the topic, Vice Mayor Greg Schmid and Councilman Eric Filseth proposed moving ahead with the limit, though the rest of the council was loath to vote on any proposal until the topic is discussed further. At that meeting, Filseth made an argument that the "first rule of holes is that when you're in one, stop digging.

"I think it's pretty clear that for a majority of Palo Alto residents, we're at a point in time where the incremental benefits of more office expansion are outweighed by the incremental costs," Filseth said.

Yet the proposal has also attracted criticism from business groups, realtors, developers and Stanford University, which owns the sprawling network of corporate campuses west of El Camino Real known as Stanford Research Park.

On Feb. 9, several Stanford officials warned of unintended consequences, should the policy be pursued. Tiffany Griego, managing director for Stanford Research Park, submitted a letter that argued that an annual growth limit could have "significant detrimental impacts on the vitality of Stanford Research Park" and that it would compromise "our mutual ability to attract companies that create long-term economic stability on our city."

Software firm SAP argued in a letter that a limit "would have detrimental effects by eliminating the predictability and certainty around how projects are handled in the Stanford Research Park."

"Until now, we have understood how to work within the existing zoning in our efforts to modernize our Palo Alto facilities when we have undertaken such efforts," wrote Dwain Christensen, SAP's head of facilities for Bay Area Region.

"Flexibility is critical if SAP and our fellow Research Park companies are to remain competitive and thriving here in Palo Alto," Christensen wrote.

Hewlett-Packard Co., which is also based in Stanford Research Park, made a similar argument in its own letter, which categorically opposed a growth cap. The company is preparing to split into two separate firms in November. Currently, the plan is to have both – Hewlett Packard Enterprises and HP Incorporated – headquartered in Palo Alto, though the growth cap could limit the company's options for achieving this goal.

"Part of our separation-management team's duties are to review options for creating optimized headquarters facilities for both companies," wrote Lorin Alusic, HP's director for corporate affairs in the Western Region. "At this time, one of those options would be eliminated by the proposed growth limit. ... A limit of this magnitude would effectively eliminate Palo Alto as a headquarters location should additional office or R&D space be a necessity.

"We understand some of the concerns this proposal is seeking to mitigate, but a cap of this severity is too blunt of an instrument," the HP letter states. "We respectfully request that when the time comes, we would have the opportunity to propose expansion plans and have them evaluated on their own merits," within the confines of the city's Comprehensive Plan.

For Palo Alto, a restriction on office development is not a new idea, though this would mark the first time the city would limit growth on an annual basis. In 1986, the city set a cap for overall non-residential development downtown at 350,000 square feet. In 2012, the city hit the 235,000-square-foot mark, triggering a study that is now in its second phase. Once completed, the study will offer recommendations on managing downtown's growth.

The limit that the city is now considering would apply to the entire city and cap development somewhere in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 square feet annually. The objective, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment, is to "moderate the rate of non-residential development so as to reduce the rate of employment growth, reduce related impacts and allow for mitigation of residual impacts." The cap could also ensure that new developments meet "stringent requirements" related to planning and design.

The regulation could be modeled after those in San Francisco and Walnut Creek, which restrict new development by square footage, or Santa Monica, which limits the amount of traffic generated by the new office space. Another proposal on the table is to not have any cap but rather increase the cost of development so it supports new transportation and parking programs.

Palo Alto Forward is advocating for the lattermost approach. In its letter, the group is recommending that the council require new developments to meet goals for limiting the number of employees who drive to work solo and require development fees to be spent on programs that reduce traffic. The group is also recommending that current office tenants contribute financially in the form of a "modest fee on commute trips or square footage for existing buildings," along with a requirement that tenants use these fees to fund programs that reduce solo driving.

These proposals, the letter from Palo Alto Forward states, "strengthen the existing mechanisms that the city is relying on to address traffic and parking problems in the downtown area – namely, the TMA (Transportation Management Association) and RPP (Residential Parking Permit) programs – by encouraging participation for tenants of both new and existing buildings and providing funding."

"Under these proposals, the city will verifiably limit trips from new construction while requiring tenants of both new and existing buildings to fund trip-reduction measures," the letter states. "Fees comparable to the costs imposed by an office cap would raise enough money to make Caltrain rides free for all employees and build an entire fleet of Google‐quality commuter buses, bootstrapping a transition among all workers and residents in Palo Alto to less car‐dependent modes of transportation."

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 10:08 am

"Eric Rosenblum and Kate Downing, is arguing that the proposal would make local rents even higher and force employers to cram even more workers into existing offices."

Actually this would not "force" employers to cram more workers into existing offices because if they need more office space then they could find a bigger office to accommodate their work force. There are plenty of large office buildings outside of Palo Alto. The fact that these companies feel they have to have a downtown Palo Alto address is the real driving force. You simply do not have to have a Palo Alto address to be a successful business.



31 people like this
Posted by Making issues clear
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2015 at 10:12 am

It is important to keep two issues separate.

No one likes retail space being converted into office space. Ground floor retail should be protected.

What is being proposed at City Council is not this protection. It is a limit on ALL buildings. This is bad for retail (it makes rents higher) and for offices (same-- will encourage them to cram more people).

I'm glad Palo Alto Forward is bringing data and logic to the debate.


9 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 10:40 am

The objection is not to an increase in office space, the objection is to an increase in the number of jobs. Unless opponents are willing to have an honest discussion about the merits and wisdom of capping the number of jobs allowed to exist in Palo Alto, this whole exercise is pointless.


33 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

Is there any evidence/polls that proves that so many Palo Alto residents are against more development, especially downtown? I believe there is a very vocal very small group (that is extremely vocal on this blog) that is pushing this argument. I suggest the city take a poll of residents from all over town and see what they think and stop allowing a very small group push the city council into making a terrible decision. If PA caps commercial development while neighboring communities in Redwood City and Mountain View continue to grow, our traffic will be get worse without any benefit.


66 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:02 am

Correct me if I'm wrong - but reading between the lines, the PAF position on this issue makes it abundantly clear what PAF really wants (despite what the majority of *residents* want):

PAF wants high-rise offices and apartments spaces in Palo Alto.

You can massage it any way you want - smart growth, smart this or smart that --- but the bottom line is that PAF wants to go up and up, dense and dense. That will be the physical result.

I'm very wary of this organization. IMHO, PAF is trying to circumvent Palo Alto residents and their call for limited growth (the city council vote, Measure D vote, etc.), keeping city buildings at 50-feet or less, a ban on upzoning and PC waivers.

I also find it a significant conflict of interest to have planning commissioners as members of PAF. Pick one or the other.


40 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:03 am

The question is if we want PA to become a museum of the past where nostalgic rich retired folks feel comfortable, or if we want this community to continue to lead, to draw dynamic young people from around the world. Having PA become too accessible is not the risk, rather we should strive to keep this place accessible enough to families and businesses, so PA remains the Florence of our times as long as possible.
Blunt anti-growth policies are foolish, and unbridled growth we know is politically unrealistic. But a trend to higher buildings, higher population density, and more office- research space are among the things that must happen to allow contiued competitive growth and leadership. We must accept this. RWC has accepted this with dramatic benefits. And yes, planners can steer this process to a much better outcome. Let's keep PA in the lead, and not just in the history books.


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:08 am

Show me one high-rise building in downtown Redwood City or downtown Mountain View...


41 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

Why take a poll on whether Palo Alto residents want high density when you just had an election that clearly shows most of us do not want more high density?

We're already grid-locked and the election results showed we're clearly tired of things getting worse.


28 people like this
Posted by resident99
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:13 am

Cheers to Dan's comments! We live in the epicenter of innovation and that will continue to attract people for a long time to come. Shutting any more development/people out will result horrible planning for what is sure to come. More density is inevitable...and a good thing! The 50' height limit only ensures more urban sprawl and commute miles, all to preserve our view? Wake up!


10 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

Online Name,
Barron Park was very organized in opposing the senior housing development there. Also, the Housing Corp got off to a terrible start by having the city agree to things behind closed doors. This gave the anti group a huge head start in rallying people against the "corrupt politicians..." How many people actually voted against the measure and how many did so because they were convinced by a very effective campaign? I'm just saying, an unbiased poll would answer this question quite easily and inexpensively. If you are so sure that the huge majority is anti all development, why are you afraid of a poll to prove it?


40 people like this
Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:19 am

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

Dan

You offer a false choice. A cap on building and jobs does not ban the younger people you refer to nor does it cause current residents or employees to hibernate for the remainder of lives and careers. Palo Alto and Stanford businesses will always be able to locate whatever types they want here limited by their own building space-leaders, thinkers, creators, doers, young, old and in between.

Many more jobs means ABAG dictates more housing. We already have examples of this dense housing in several spots along El Camino. We live in Palo Alto because it has neighborhoods we like to be in. Unbridled growth leads to new Hong Kongs- successful commercially but teeming and dense with population.


50 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

Aha, Palo Alto Forward is forced to show it's hand. A wolf in sheep's clothing.


17 people like this
Posted by Tara Nussbaum
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

For those of you who would like to read Palo Alto Forward's complete letter to City Council, we have posted it here: Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by alk
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:21 am

I believe a lot of the dtn community is not opposed to building just not anymore in downtown. The DTPA infrastructure can't handle all the new 4 story buildings that owners want to put up in place of a one story building. Put corporate where it use to be. In the business park areas and out on e/w bayshore. If you limit the corporate maybe the retail can afford to stay


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:23 am

So commission a poll like the other politicians do.

We already get lots of calls saying things like "Would you pay $50 for X?" "Would you pay $100 for X?" "What's the most effective argument to get you to vote for X?"


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:27 am

I'd like to see a poll about how many would favor over-turning the ABAG housing mandates that are tied to local job creation.


15 people like this
Posted by Hammer vs. scalpel
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

If the objective is to "moderate the rate of non-residential development so as to reduce the rate of employment growth, reduce related impacts and allow for mitigation of residual impacts." I don't think we need to approve the first proposed solution to achieve this objective. This solution proposes one tool, a hammer. Are there other options that might work more like a scalpel?

It seems to me that the objective is important. I'm concerned about the ONLY tool that is being proposed for the work at hand. If a patient has lung cancer, we don't rip out his lungs. What options are available to preserve the vitality of the Palo Alto's businesses while managing growth better? What other tools are in our toolbox? Let's look for an innovative solution.

Here's an invitation to citizens to put on your creative problem-solving caps and suggest alternative solutions that address the problem without killing the patient. This is about finding balance...and doing what we do best in Silicon Valley...think out of the box.


Like this comment
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

I'm not a politician, just looking for facts. An unbiased poll would prove me right or wrong and I'm ok with either.


17 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>I'd like to see a poll about how many would favor over-turning the ABAG housing mandates that are tied to local job creation.

Me, too.

[Portion removed.]

I say: BAG ABAG!

Allow the free market to determine housing units, within local zoning.


22 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

So who is funding Palo Alto Forward.
Nobody should accept any opinions from them until they divulge just who is funding them.
I have my suspicions.


42 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:47 am

What PAF and it's followers fear the most: a city-wide vote to place a permanent limit on density & building heights.

Heaven forbid that the majority of taxpaying residents have the final say over a small group of developers (mostly from out of town), ARB members (very few who live in PA) and the PAF group (which includes non-residents BTW).


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:48 am

Sorry: What PAF and it's followers fear the most...

"it's" should be "its"


42 people like this
Posted by Look behind the curtain
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

Most of PAF leaders earn a living through development. For example Tara Nussbaum is
Senior Development Officer City of San José. An excerpt from her Linkedin profile "I serve as a bridge between project development and asset management, managing a wide variety of commercial real estate transactions"
and
"Through Nut Tree Capital Consulting, I assist investors, CDFIs, and developers in (1) the sourcing, credit review, closing, and financing of multifamily mortgage revenue bond and other high yield bond investments"
Others are architects, designers, business people for example Eric Rosenblum works as a Business Manager for Palantir.


42 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

What about the obvious conflict of interest here? 2 planning commissioners are on the small steering committee that wrote this position letter to influence land use policy that benefits big corporations. This is wrong - these 2 people are not doing the people's business. They are carrying water for big business.

At least PA Forward has finally revealed itself as what we assumed - being pro big development of all sorts to the detriment of residents.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:54 am

"Show me one high-rise building in downtown Redwood City or downtown Mountain View..."

I should amend this - Show me one high-rise building built in the last 10-years...

All of the RWC and MtVw commercial expansion efforts are happening along the 101 corridor and most notably on the bayside of the 101; not in their downtown districts (which are also difficult to reach from 101 or 280).


14 people like this
Posted by Follow the Money Trail
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:54 am

'Nuff said.


14 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

@Crescent Park Dad

You mean other than the Kaiser hospital expansion in Redwood city or the 900 Middlefield office building, or any of the commercial projects in Mountain View along El Camino? Perhaps you should do just a tiny bit of research before making sweeping claims?


Like this comment
Posted by SCB94303
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm

SCB94303 is a registered user.

Why is this article not counting my vote when I click on the plus sign? And then while I was typing my comment, this page completely wiped out my comment before I got a chance to post it.


23 people like this
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Or the 2000 housing units being built in Redwood City.

For people who are concerned about traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, why would you encourage development to happen in office parks and by the bay? It is much easier to reduce driving in locations near a train station - the tech companies near the train in Palo Alto reported that less than 40% of their employees drive to work, which is much lower than at Stanford Research Park and other locations further from the train.


53 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

We just had a city election. The residents spoke. The residents want slower growth. This small, vocal group that wants more growth is spearheaded by developers. Developers only care about their bank accounts They don't care about the livability of PA. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

If anywhere offices should be near the bay because even 40% employees driving to work is too much. All the reasonable surface streets from 101 and 280 are clogged commute hours. We don't wish to double deck University, Embarcadero and Page Mill. Or Sand Hill or Alpine.


9 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

@ commonsense

The city attorney wrote the measure D description for voters that was supposed to be neutral but was deceptively biased toward the proposed development. With council support and the measure D information voters received from the city the odds were stacked against measure D passing. And f you are wondering, I did not vote for measure D.


12 people like this
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Cities have opportunity to reduce traffic and parking in downtowns with transit access - it's a lot easier to get further driving/traffic/parking reductions downtown than out by the Bay. The larger companies already offer transit discounts and other programs - the city can help make those programs available to smaller companies.


13 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

Like so many thoughtful contributors I see many separate issues here.

------I find it corrosive that 2 planning commissioners engage in lobbying by joining a lobby group, “Palo Alto Backwards.” [Portion removed.] Which makes it even more galling since Kate Downing was made commissioner in the great commission stacking by the defeated lame-duck old “offices-ueber-alles” City Council in November. A scandal in itself. When will that be rectified?


-----Then there is the conversion of retail into office space which was only allowed in 2008 by the city council changing ordinances. Super-smart economy 101ers had to have their own stimulus program – without time limits naturally, like the great parking caper in 1984 which 30 years later was still in force.

At least the retail ordinance change was attempted to be rolled back earlier than 30 years, but in a clear case of the better is the enemy of the good it was deferred by the office lobby.

To wit, a year ago I wrote to Greg Scharff:

“I read that you, correctly, bemoaned closing of Rudy's Pub as a loss for University Avenue vibrancy, and if replicated, setting a bad example.” [Well, due to inaction by the old Council it was replicated. We will see if the new Council will do better, but hurry up!]

“Originally the property, 117 University Ave., was in the Ground Floor (GF) Combining District (115-119 University Avenue---APN 120-26-108) and as such would not have been able to be converted into Office space.”


And Greg Scharff answered, very concisely, as he usually does:
“It was changed in 2009 before I got on the council. I wrote a colleagues memo with several other council members to try and change it back. We got protections for Emerson Street and thus saved that street from becoming office, i.e. where TacoLicious is, but it was a 5-4 for broader retail protections in the downtown and then Yiaway changed his vote to agree as compromise that broader protections would be studied as part of the downtown cap study.”

I am curious: why did YiaWay change his vote?

And studied: it still is. Study and Delay, the Palo Alto Way. We are lost. Even Mr. Cho moved to Los Altos. Maybe I will move, too.

Some of my twenty something friends, members of the Stanford educated innovative class, are moving away, because the only places they liked to hang out was Rudy’s Pub and Antonio’s Nut House, which will also close soon they expect.


-----And then the big one, where the money is: the general cap on office space.

I am speechless about the non-sensical and contradictory arguments in PAF letter. Some of the posters very clearly point those contradictions out.

How dumb do PAF members think that those Palo Alto citizens, who are not dependent on builders and building for their livelihood, are? TMS fixes it all? Really? Delay, delay, the Palo Alto way, except when building offices, removing parking requirements, and protecting retail.

And then Stanford just stops their TSM mandated Marguerite to California Avenue train station if they feel like it.

One solution could be to allow as much development in the Stanford Research Park as Stanford, HP, et al., wants – until they suffocate. De-annex the park, so they can incorporate, make their own decisions and we are not held responsible by ABAG for the ten-thousands of residential units forced on us: 0.75 residences per job!

Just like the San Antonio Center in Mountain View is on the way to self-suffocation.




6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Regarding ABAG, I urge you all to search Google News for the recent news that's led to the state controller announce an audit.


21 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm

@adina - if you care about traffic and greenhouse emissions, you should freeze all development in suburban communities like Palo Alto, and push for increased density in urban centers like San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Every Time you add office space you will add at least some additional drivers on the road, because you will never get 100% local employment. You'd be be lucky to get 10%. Every time you add residential space, you are adding additional drivers on the road, because not 100% of those resident will work locally. It is impossible for development not to makes things worse.


23 people like this
Posted by Suspicious Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I'm finding the number of people who "like" certain comments suspicious. Considering the outcome of the Measure D election, it would appear that Palo Alto residents oppose more development. But the comments here seem to be favored by a large number of "likes" when they are opposed to the cap on office buildings. I think some of the Palo Alto Forward crowd are trying to stack the deck. It reminds me of when Palantir showed up at a City Council meeting with half their staff signing up to speak at the open comments from the public portion of the meeting.


14 people like this
Posted by hi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Mr.Recycle, development doesn't have to make things worse. When we add development near the Caltrain, we've seen single occupancy vehicle driving there make up 40% of the mode share. Places away from the Caltrain are obviously much much higher. Development is going to happen somewhere. Whether here or elsewhere. And we actually CAN make things better by developing close to the train rather than further away because developing by the train means 40% SOV and developing not near the train is a lot closer to 100% SOV. Obviously, one option creates way less traffic and parking problems than the other. You seem to think that if we don't add jobs here then they just don't get added at all and that's obviously not true.


33 people like this
Posted by NoMore
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm

After just experiencing cars blocking multiple crosswalks because of gridlock, an ambulance not being able to get through the crowded streets of downtown for an emergency, a bicyclist being pushed off the road because of 2 illegally parked cars, and myself so close to getting hit by a car turning the corner on a red light, Palo Alto Forward is crazy to think that we need more people in this town!!!


20 people like this
Posted by hi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm

NoMore - you're right that we have problems. But the office cap isn't going to solve it. Empirically, you're already experiencing a problem and capping office space isn't going to undo your problem.

We need programs to get people out of their cars - whether in new buildings or old - free transit passes, parking fees, more shuttles, residential parking permits, more zip cars (for those that generally bike or walk but may need a car sometimes). We need more public transportation. We need to have better and safer bike routes and pedestrian spaces. We need better signalization. We need more traffic calming measures throughout town. Why isn't our money going towards these projects? Why are we spending so much money studying a measure that's going to affect 1% of the building in our city instead of on measures that will affect ALL the buildings in our city?

Your problem isn't caused by people. Your problem was caused by cars. So why aren't we dealing directly with the cars?


20 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I am a member of the Palo Alto Forward Steering Committee. I live and work downtown and have walked the streets of downtown since 1963. Nancy and I raised a family in Palo Alto.

For those interested in the Palo Alto Forward Steering Committee, the list is on our website [Web Link Steering Committee].

As you can see two members, Tara Nussbaum and Mila Zelkha, work on affordable housing and programs to reduce homelessness. Sandra Slater is northern California director of the Cool Cities Challenge. Elaine Uang is an architect with a focus on residential and street design. Two members, Eric Rosenblum and Mehdi Alhassani, work for Palantir and have an active record of public service in Palo Alto. Kate Downing is an intellectual property rights attorney. I work primarily for public agency clients in many cases defending the economics of their policies as for the Air Resources Board against private companies and their consultants.

I see no developers here and no one working for developers of office space in the region.

On the question of money, let's indeed "follow the money". There is NO outside money. In fact there is no money at all except volunteer money for lunches (called dutch treat) and for snacks at our events. There is, as is true for many organizations, an amazing amount of volunteer effort.

There IS a healthy debate in Palo Alto today (see the next post) about how to handle the legitimate traffic and parking concerns we all have.


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:10 pm

If you don't cap office space, then more workers get shoved into the same square mile and then ABAG requires more housing in the town in which the office is located.

We were told that none of the construction at Stanford and/or the hospital would add to construction. That sure wasn't true. So we were asked if we wanted more hospital beds and would that make us approve added density. When that didn't work, we were told to think of the CHILDREN at the Children's Hospital.

We're told that reducing lanes won't cause more congestion while traffic backs up into intersections.

Enough.


6 people like this
Posted by Look behind the curtain
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm

PAF website PRETENDS it is running this Joe Simitian event and is asking for RSVPs. REALLY dishonest.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is critical that YOU attend the Rally to Save Buena Vista! Monday, March 9th

It is critical that YOU attend the Rally to Save Buena Vista!
Monday, March 9th
Palo Alto City Hall Plaza
Hosted by Santa Clara County Supervisor, Joe Simitian
Now that Palo Alto City Manager Jim Keene has set aside $8 million for Buena Vista, it is vital that we thank the City for its action, and encourage City Council members to ratify the funds at their earliest opportunity.

5:30- Arrive at City Hall Plaza to enjoy pizza with County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
Free parking under city hall.
Bring your kids and bring your neighbors!
Bring a homemade sign if you want to state your support.

6:00- Show your support for preserving Buena Vista Mobile Home Park by attending the beginning of the City Council Meeting.

RSVPs not required, but if you know now you are attending, reply to this email.

* The County already set aside $8 million, so now with the city funds, there is a total of $16 million for Buena Vista.
* ~ Friends of Buena Vista ~


13 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Suspicious Midtowner,

I noticed the same thing with the disproportionate number of likes, but it didn't occur to me that it was manipulated. I agree with you. Especially as one person keeps calling for a "vote...". I guess we'll see if PAF tries to use these "likes" as some kind of "vote."


19 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I encourage everyone to read the Palo Alto Forward letter that Tara posted above.

Our message is right problem, wrong solution.

Let there be no disagreement that Palo Altans want to and need to address parking and traffic challenges.

But since the overwhelming percentage of recent growth comes from increased job density in existing buildings and the amazing growth of dining and other activities downtown (none of which is addressed by a cap), Palo Alto Forward advocates focusing on solutions that really "move the needle" on reducing single occupancy car usage.

At the Planning and Transportation Commission meeting last night, staff was clear that they have a huge list of tasks from council, including the Comp Plan and RPP as well as transportation efforts, together with recent staff reductions.

That suggests to me that questions related to the impacts of a cap versus alternative solutions to traffic and parking are best handled in the upcoming Comp Plan update process that all interested residents should participate in. This process will provide the data to answer the question of what the most effective (biggest bang for the buck) approaches are to handle traffic and parking challenges.


23 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm

@Hi - please, do the math for what you just said!!

"When we add development near the Caltrain, we've seen single occupancy vehicle driving there make up 40% of the mode share. "

So even in that best case, new development will add 40 new cars for every 100 people. So is traffic is NET WORSE 40 cars. If there was no development, you'd have 40 fewer cars.

You can't build your way out of the traffic and parking problems. Every new development adds incrementally more traffic, more cars, and more need for parking.


24 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm

@Mr.Recycle

You seem to be under some grand delusion that the choice is between growth and no growth, rather than how to manage the inevitable growth that will occur (in housing and commercial). What I find most interesting is how much opposition there is to anyone trying to bring facts and research into the discussion, rather than having it based in feelings and perception.


26 people like this
Posted by NoMore
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:25 pm

PAF should show us a plan on how to solve the current issues that we are faced with due to over development before they become proponents for more. Fix the gridlock and all of the problems associated with it first and then lobby for more. This is not the time for PAF do be effective. Too many people are feeling the pains of too much growth too quickly and this has closed peoples minds to what could have been a healthier vision of growth if it was done correctly from the beginning. The old city council has tainted the vision of growth for many of us and we are reacting by protecting what is left.


36 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:32 pm

What I find interesting is the assumption that growth is inevitable. It's not. Growth only occurs if we keep building. We can stop building AND encourage less single vehicle occupancy to reduce the traffic and congestion mess.

More offices = more ABAG housing. More housing means we need more schools and school buildings. More school buildings mean less play and park space. Look at what has already happened at many elementary schools - additional buildings that reduce field space. There is not enough field space for all of our kids and adults sports to play anymore - its a constant negotiation of who sacrifices which practices etc.

The land is full. Stop building more offices and high density housing.

The idea that Palo Alto will wither and die if we don't keep growing is ludicrous. The over-development is what will kill this city as a nice place to live.


37 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm

A number of years ago, Palo Alto had a vote on preserving our neighborhoods. The Non-Preservationist group hired professional consults to run their campaign. Their campaign was funded by developers. This is what is happening now with the Palo Alto Forward pro growth group. Don't be fooled. Palo Alto Forward is being funded by developers and others with a financial interest in pro growth. The developers use locals as their "front" people.


33 people like this
Posted by SallyAnnRudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:33 pm

PAF posted their letter on Facebook and asked people to come to PA Online and "Like" comments. As long as everyone realizes that happened, we're ok. This is not a poll.
As to more office, downtown can't handle any more, pure and simple. We're swamped in commuters and offices. There may be a case for a separate case for Stanford Research Park having a separate cap.


15 people like this
Posted by Finally!! some questions, though...
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for putting forward policy proposals, Palo Alto Forward! I do agree that the proposed "Development Cap" doesn't do anything to solve our problem: traffic and parking.

I read your paper (Web Link)

I have some questions:
1) doesn't this require that neighborhoods next to downtown areas have RPP programs in place so that businesses can't "cheat" and have more trips than they have been allocated?
2) Where does funding come from for the TMA? Is this a business tax? Parking fees? Something else? Would it be different between offices and retail?


6 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ NoMore

That is a fair question. go back up to Tara's post, read the letter and attached ideas re solutions.

I am very aware of the funding of PAF (there is no outside funding) so if any of you have any proof to back up your [portion removed] claims, bring it forward so other readers can see for themselves.


7 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:41 pm

@Suspicious #2

This is what I meant about a fact/researched based discussion. Too many people see some offices built, see traffic and parking problems, and think that one caused the other. Saying that "growth only occurs if we keep building" is like saying our population is increasing because so many houses are being built.


16 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:42 pm

@Robert - you are misinformed if you think there is no choice in controlling growth, particularly with regard to office space. If PA just stuck to forcing developers to include the already required parking, that would be a huge start.


18 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:42 pm

I'm disappointed people in Palo Alto are so anti-growth. I grew up here and currently live out of state. I would love to move back some day but I worry that if the residentialists have their way houses will be $5M+ and no normal people will be able to live here. I live in DC now and rents have been falling due to the large number of apartment buildings coming online.


19 people like this
Posted by downtown worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Finally!!! - the TMA currently structured as a voluntary association of companies with dues paid by members. Most TMAs work this way, although some receive revenue from assessments. The employers pay because it's a benefit for their employees and they have an interest in avoiding parking problems. In Mountain View, TMA membership is actually required for companies that build new buildings.

It's clear that the downtown tech companies have the money to fund shuttle programs that would give their workers a chance to get out of their cars. Google and Facebook do the same.

The bigger gap is how you'd pay for shuttles for the retail service workers. They are typically low-income, time-constrained, and seem to be the majority of the commuters who park in the neighborhoods. This might be a place where it would make sense for the city to step in with funding or require an assessment of businesses. Or perhaps there's an alternative to shuttles (carpooling?) that would work well for the small retailers.


14 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

@Robert - you have been debunked by your own side. HI has already said that even the most transit friendly developments bring 40% of their population by single occupant vehicles. Development necessarily means more traffic, more congestion, and more parking problems. Not to mention more crime, displaced retail, depressed sales tax revenue.


31 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:51 pm

I'd like to address the assertion that the residents have spoken in the recent election and the populace is whole-heartedly in favor of limiting growth. The validity of this claim has not been demonstrated. I'm in my mid-twenties and I can tell you I am essentially the only person I know in my age bracket that is even aware this debate is going on. When I tell peers about the "residentialist" movement, they think I'm kidding. Obviously, this is a problem and these younger residents should be more engaged, but the people I'm speaking about are no less residents of Palo Alto than any of you are. According to Palo Alto Online, only 20,500 residents voted in the last election out of 55,000 residents of voting age. The sample you're claiming represents overwhelming support only showcases 37% of the voting age population, and not even close to all of that 37% voted in favor of limiting growth. It would be much more reasonable to say that a firm 20% of the populace is in favor of limiting growth, given that 11,281 people voted for Karen Holman, the most popular residentialist candidate; that's 20.5% of the voting age population. The preferences of the 63% of residents who did not vote are uncertain, let's not pretend they don't exist.


30 people like this
Posted by Suspicious Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:51 pm

So, Stephen Levy, what do you have to say about Palo Alto Forward requesting people on Facebook to "like" comments they agree with? To me this stinks!


10 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:54 pm

@Robert - we agree on this, you can drive down rents and property values by overbuilding. The silly thing is to compare a small suburban city like Palo Alto to Washington DC. Feel free to urbanize San Jose, that might actually help traffic.


5 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm

@ Robert

Unfortunately the demand for houses and offices in Palo Alto is insatiable. So the highest bidder wins.


12 people like this
Posted by Finally!
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm

@downtown worker: Thanks!

with regard to the service workers, does anyone have good information on where they are concentrated (ie., where they live)? Is it possible to run more frequent shuttles to a small number of locations, or is it much more dispersed than that?


16 people like this
Posted by SallyAnnRudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm

@Ellen from Downtown North if you'd joined Nextdoor or made any attempt to connect with your neighbors in DTN, you'd be aware of it. You should also add the 5,000 votes for Tom DuBois and the 5,000 votes for Eric Filseth who campaigned with Holman and are also "residentialists". So out of 20,000 votes, 15,000 of them were for slow-growth or no growth candidates. Nuff said.


19 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

This is about individuals and companies wanting to have a Palo Alto address. I was waiting for PAF to come up with this drivel, and didn't disappoint. They want5 a high rise, high density, highly urban Palo Alto, nothing else.


8 people like this
Posted by Math is fundamental
a resident of Ohlone School
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

@ Sally

I don't think that you can add the votes. It is likely that most of Tom and Eric's voters also voted for Karen. If you add [Tom total]+ [Eric total] + [Karen total], then you would have to believe that each voter only chose ONE (and exactly one) residentialist candidate. That is silly.

Sorry to say it, but Ellen's point (and math) holds.


11 people like this
Posted by not so fast
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

SallyAnnRudd - people could vote for up to 5 candidates. So you can't add all those votes up. One person could vote for all three and many people did just that - they voted for the slate.

Additionally, Tom DuBois and Karen Holman took great pains to say that they weren't "no growth." They both made much more nuanced statements than that and especially with regard to housing, and affordable housing. Voting for them didn't necessarily mean voting for a moratorium on all change until the end of time.


5 people like this
Posted by another neighbor
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Maybe any new commercial/office and multi-dwelling/housing construction can pay a percentage toward funding the needed construction of elevated platforms for train crossings.


8 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

@Ellen - it is a silly argument. President Obama only got ~29% of the eligible vote in the 2012 election. Would you say that is claim that americans wanted him to be president is not supported? Statistically, and practically, who actually cares enough to vote is what matters.


30 people like this
Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

PAF and other proponents of higher growth, high density and more housing-there are others more deserving of yor help. San Jose has wished for a long time for what you also want. And since (unfortunately) there is relatively little charm and character there, and the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to downtown are mostly thrashed it makes a perfect partner for your programs.

Transit is there big time. Caltrain, buses and freeways. And they love tall buildings. The airport is close by. Several big hotels. A huge convention center.

They have struggled for years to kickstart their downtown. Help them out instead and do both San Jose and Palo Alto a favor.


5 people like this
Posted by Sally-Ann Rudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Sally-Ann Rudd is a registered user.

@ Math is fundamental
I think Ellen got her stats from Steve Levy's blog which is here:
Web Link
Ellen says "only 20,500 residents voted" but I believe the 20,500 figure actually refers to votes not people, at least in Steve Levy's blog that number is votes cast not people who showed up to vote. So 75% of votes cast were for slow-growth/ no growth candidates.
So you're right in that a lot of people probably voted for all 3 candidates. But in a democracy its the people who show up and vote who get their way, and of the people who bothered to show up, overwhelmingly they voted for an agenda that included a cap on commercial development.
Thank you for making me clarify this.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm

@Mike-Crescent Park

You either have your head in the sand or are being dishonest if you don't think the same NIMBY arguments get played out everywhere, even in downtown San Jose. There are folks fighting against high rises/density in downtown San Francisco.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I am not against more office space, I just feel that downtown is not the place for it.

We can build either side of highway 101 and highway 280 in conventional office parks. We can improve shuttle services from Caltrain stations to these office parks. We can encourage support service businesses near these office parks, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

Also, we know that offices will continue the latest trend in packing more workers into less space. The age of the cubicle seems to have gone and many workers now work side by side on large table style desks. If we limit office space, we are going to encourage more workers into less space. Getting these workers to their jobs will continue to be a problem unless we put more offices near the freeways and Foothill Express. Improving shuttles from Caltrain to these office spaces will help. We can't put more offices near Caltrain, so improve the shuttles to where we can build large offices.


11 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm

@SallyAnnRudd,
Sorry, I don't have the time or inclination to use NextDoor or walk around "getting to know my neighbors." Honestly, when my voice is going to be responded to so incredulously, why would I choose to spend my time that way? I have respect for your opinions. I'm going to respond with data in a method that entails that respect. The fact that I'm not on NextDoor doesn't make my views any less valid. I'm still a part of this neighborhood. That kind of response is exactly why my peer group is disillusioned with local politics. We're real citizens of Palo Alto, even if we don't do the things you do.

@Mr Recycle, "Would you say that is claim [sic] that americans wanted him to be president is not supported?" That is not an analogue to point I made. If you look at my post, you'll see, "I'd like to address the assertion that the residents have spoken in the recent election and the populace is whole-heartedly in favor of limiting growth. The validity of this claim has not been demonstrated." Notice I did not say, "The claim that Palo Alto residents wanted to limit growth is not supported." The key words in my message were "the populace is whole-heartedly in favor of limiting growth." Would I ever claim that the American populace is whole-heartedly in favor of having Barack Obama as president? No. You are distorting my point to make it easier to challenge. This is the definition of a straw man argument.

And to the point that we should add up all the votes received by all the residentialist candidates, fellow posters have already responded to this point. Those voters likely voted for candidates with similar views. Maybe bump it up to 20-25% of the populace, if that makes a difference to you, but the larger point still stands.


14 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:09 pm

OK. PAF: Here is your chance to be as transparent as you can...

Yes or No: Will PAF agree that Palo Alto should continue to limit buildings to 50 feet (where allowed).

Yes or No: Will PAF agree that PA should not alter current zoning that limits height and/or density throughout the city?

Lastly, of the total PAF membership, how many are residents of Palo Alto and how many are non-residents?


18 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:16 pm

@ Robert:

>> Saying that "growth only occurs if we keep building" is like saying our population is increasing because so many houses are being built.

Lol - well, not exactly. The growth in Palo Alto is not due to visits from the stork, it is due to grown up people moving here because they want a Palo Alto address. I'm pretty sure the existing population size would be fairly well sustained by the existing volume of housing.

Thank you for admitting though, that you want property values to go down so you can afford to move back here. I bet when you're back, you'll suddenly want your "old" Palo Alto back and you won't want over-growth to lower your property values.


2 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:23 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ sally ann

The 20,500 is the number of independent voters, not votes. If I remember the highest individual vote count was Karen Holman around 12,000, which is still a smallish percentage of nearly 38,000 registered voters.

I think the election results also had a mixed pattern.

Cory Wolbach won over Lydia Kou despite being outspent two to one.

And the council size reduction passed despite being opposed by the PASZ endorsed candidates.

I also think it takes away from the good campaign run by Karen Holman, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth (who by the way did not say they were against all growth) to imply that their victories imply a set position on issues and have nothing to do with their personal experience or active campaigning.


Like this comment
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Apologies, @SallyAnnRudd, I didn't see your second comment. My bad on that one.

"I think Ellen got her stats from Steve Levy's blog which is here:
Web Link
Ellen says "only 20,500 residents voted" but I believe the 20,500 figure actually refers to votes not people, at least in Steve Levy's blog that number is votes cast not people who showed up to vote."

You're right, that is where I got my numbers, but your interpretation is mathematically impossible. If you just add up the votes for Holman, Scharff, and DuBois, you get 31,522 votes. That's only the top three council vote getters and it already exceeds 20,500. I imagine the "20,500 votes in the November city election" line in the original article is a typo given this numerical inconsistency.


19 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Hi Sally,

How about you try to get to know me and my roommates? All four of us grew up in Palo Alto and went to Gunn, and we live here now, rising rents and all. We are very civically engaged and attentive youth; you should be very proud of us. We *all* voted against the residentialists, but as Ellen says, the thought of engaging further with people who so obviously have a "raise up the drawbridge" mentality against this town's own children is dispiriting, to say the least. I offer you this sentiment into the minds of some of your neighbors with nothing but daughterly affection.


7 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:30 pm

@Ellen - it isn't a straw man, it is an analogy to clarify that you are saying you can never discern the public will based on elections because you never get a large majority of eligible voters for anything. I think that's an odd position to hold, but more importantly it is at odds with the reality of how things work - it is the opinion of actual voters that matters. Even if there is some silent majority in PA that wants more offices, more traffic, and more density, if they don't care enough to vote, then they might as well not exist.


10 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Way to go Ellen!/Shame on you SallyAnnRudd!

Regarding the 50' height limit - even if it were raised it would not necessarily increase density. However, it would allow architects to design more interesting buildings instead of having to cram everything into 3-4 floors. 50' is bad for Palo Alto!


17 people like this
Posted by Suspicious Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:51 pm

What? We have Robert weighing in from DC about density for those of us who actually live here?


7 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:01 pm

@MrRecycle
"it isn't a straw man, it is an analogy to clarify that you are saying you can never discern the public will based on elections because you never get a large majority of eligible voters for anything."
I'm sorry, but did you read in my comment that I said one can never discern the public will based on elections? I never said that. I made one very specific point. It was, "I'd like to address the assertion that the residents have spoken in the recent election and the populace is whole-heartedly in favor of limiting growth. The validity of this claim has not been demonstrated." You are, again, exaggerating my point. If you'd like to ask for a clarification, that's fine, but please don't just restate my claim for me in a distorted fashion. Right now, we're missing the forest for the trees in this discussion. I was responding to the sentiment that the matter is entirely settled by the last election and no more public input is needed, and I said that claim had not been adequately proven. I did not say whether the claim was true or false, simply that we need to suspend judgment as yet. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's an interesting point to bring up that people who don't vote "might as well not exist." I was honestly expecting that to be the premiere objection to my claim. I would like to believe that the purpose of a civil society is to serve the interests of all citizens, even the ones that are not tuned in to local politics. I believe in the public good, not just for the few, but for all. We should keep in mind that there are more people in Palo Alto than the ones who even know that this board exists. Reaching out to get new people excited about this stuff is tough. I know because I've tried, but it doesn't help when even extremely conservative and numerically based claims are met immediately with personal attacks. We're all in this together. We all want the same things ultimately. Let's try and focus on our similarities instead of our differences for once, and unite instead of exclude.


14 people like this
Posted by @ Crecent Park Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:04 pm

I don't speak for Palo Alto forward, but I'll try to answer your questions (I've been to several of their events).

Where are their members from: They have over 1000 people following them on Facebook, but it's hard to say where they're all from (Web Link). All of my "friends" that are members live in Palo Alto. At events I've been to, everyone seems to be from Palo Alto (with maybe 1-2 people from Menlo Park?).

Height limits/ density standards: I think that there is a push to put density close to transit hubs. I have never heard anyone from Palo Alto Forward advocate to change zoning, height limits, or density standards. However, much of the area that is already zoned for 4 story buildings (downtown) is currently 1 story buildings. There is a call to support putting density there, and not elsewhere. That sounds good to me.

Parking seems to be a different matter. Palo Alto Forward is advocating that more money get put into TDM measures versus building more parking lots.

so, as to your questions, I believe that the answers are:
1) Yes
2) Yes
3) almost everyone, as far as I can tell


6 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:07 pm

If Obama was elected in secret and most Americans didn't know the election was talking place then yes, I would agree we don't have a fair representation of whether Americans want him for President.


15 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Ellen:

>> I would like to believe that the purpose of a civil society is to serve the interests of all citizens, even the ones that are not tuned in to local politics.

So, you (or maybe just your friends) don't want to talk to your neighbors, read the news, or understand what is going on, but somehow the rest of the world is supposed to look out for your (unknown) views? Good luck with that.

>> We should keep in mind that there are more people in Palo Alto than the ones who even know that this board exists.

Now who is exaggerating a point? You don't have to participate in this online forum to know and care about what is going on in Palo Alto. All young people are taught about government and most are anxious to vote when they turn 18. You can pick up one of several free newspapers to stay on top of what is going on. If people don't care enough to be informed and understand the issues, what value do they bring to the discussion? Oh wait, they don't want to be part of the discussion, they just want someone else to ensure their version of the "public good" is attended to.

>> Let's try and focus on our similarities instead of our differences for once, and unite instead of exclude.

No one is being excluded except those who choose to exclude themselves. This is all open discussion, it's the friends you refer to that seem to be uninterested.

I don't see any personal attacks on you, but certainly not everyone agrees with your views.


29 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Robert doesn't want to pay $5M for a place to live in Palo Alto and thinks PAF will help him find someplace affordable. OK.

Condos currently on the market are listed at $2,000,000+with multiple offers pushing the prices even higher. Does PA even have any homes priced under $1,000,000? Does San Francisco?

Given the reality of CA real estate, how is PAF going to deflate the market enough so Robert can afford to buy into one of the most expensive markets in the US?

It's been widely reported in the US media that foreign buyers are flooding the US market. It's so bad in New York City that the city is considering a "pied a terre" tax for absentee foreign owners investing in "safe" US real estate in desirable US locations, Palo Alto included.

Reportedly 40% of Palo Alto home buyers are from foreign countries, primarily China, who are using US real estate as a "savings account" and protection against instability in their countries, how is PAF going to help?

These buyers are paying all cash with no contingencies. They are also buying properties sight-unseen for their relatives.

Realistically how is PAF going to drive the price down to an "affordable" $1,000,000? How many "young" people have the down payment for a $1M+ home?

Can PA real estate ever fall far enough to be comparable to, say, Pittsburgh, PA? Austin, Texas?


20 people like this
Posted by Resident NIMBY
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 6:19 pm

"What? We have Robert weighing in from DC about density for those of us who actually live here?"

Of course. Robert's portfolio grows when Palo Alto grows. Robert gets the profits, us NIMBYs get the mess.


6 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 26, 2015 at 8:26 pm

@Suspicious #2

1. Yes, I do believe that government should keep in mind the benefits policies entail for all citizens of a given municipality. For what it's worth, I do know the majority of people in my apartment complex and enjoy the relationship I have with them. I'm not knocking on doors of single family homes that happen to be on my street, but I think that just makes me a little bit shy. I'd rather not bother people when they have lives to attend to. I'm sorry you think it's misguided to want to look out for everyone in Palo Alto. Perhaps, a random sample phone poll like the one discussed would be a good way to feel out the views of the populace as a whole.

2. "We should keep in mind that there are more people in Palo Alto than the ones who even know that this board exists." This is literally true. I brought up this conversation to someone who lives in Palo Alto today and they did not know this forum existed. I don't understand how this could be characterized as an exaggeration. I take issue with your claim that most young people are anxious to vote when they turn 18, but that's besides the point. I was perhaps painting with broad strokes when I mentioned "knowing that this board exists" as an indication of political involvement. I apologize if that led to any misinterpretation.

3. People don't know enough to be engaged. They don't even know this debate is going on, let alone understand the complexities of zoning laws and the like. The free Palo Alto papers aren't exactly hot commodities to most people. I'm sorry that's the cause, but it is nonetheless. Some people have very stressful lives and limited time. Claiming that not being informed about municipal politics makes you somehow less than people who are informed... it just feels sad to me. Accepting that as the status quo feels even worse. Abstaining certainly makes your voice unheard, and that is a terrible thing. But I would hope the reaction would be to reach out and try to engage more of populace, show them that good things can come out of active civic engagement, and attempt to end the disillusionment and apathy that's developed amongst a substantial portion of the electorate.

I'm surprised you would take such issue with the main point of "let's try to get along." I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me. I don't even want everyone to agree with me. We're all made better by respectful disagreement. The personal attack I referred to is "@Ellen from Downtown North if you'd joined Nextdoor or made any attempt to connect with your neighbors in DTN, you'd be aware of it." Bringing up my personal activities or lack thereof in response to a data driven point confuses the issue. The numbers I reference stand regardless of whether I am personally on NextDoor, and bringing that up is not exactly an encouraging welcome to civic discourse. And as I've said, I have made an effort to connect with several of my neighbors, so it's a gross misstatement.


19 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 8:52 pm

@Ellen - you haven't made a data driven point, you are using anecdotes. E.g., "I am essentially the only person I know in my age bracket that is even aware this debate is going on." "People don't know enough to be engaged." Are you sure? Are you representative of your age bracket? Your inference is that non-voters have different beliefs than voters, but you have no data to back that up.


7 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 9:00 pm

@Mr Recycle Would you like a data-driven approach as to whether jumping off of a roof without a parachute is a good idea or not? I am sure you are comfortable agreeing that it is a bad idea, despite my lack of numbers. Ellen's point stands. Residents who are new to an area are less likely to know anything about local politics; particularly young people, who grew up never having to even thinking about what a zoning law is. Nevertheless, all these people who you wish weren't trying to move in here are moving here, regardless of whether they vote or not, and defaulting to a slow/no-growth position isn't going to work.


20 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm

@Jane Huang - If the roof was 5 feet tall, then you could jump off without a parachute. Unless you have data, you can make the wrong decision about needing a parachute. Likewise, you have no data about what people want in Palo Alto beyond the voting record, so don't assume what new residents want.

My anecdotes are as good as yours, and mine is that most young people I have met in Palo Alto have sacrificed financially to live here. They have typically chosen Palo Alto to get access to the schools. They are frustrated with traffic. They want a safe environment for their families.


36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Is it a realistic idea for young people to expect to become property owners in the one of the most expensive areas in the country if not the world? Whatever happened to working one's way up?

In New York City, for example, poorer young people -- artists, students, etc. -- always settled in less desirable areas that they could afford and worked their way up. Retirees move to where it's more affordable.

What type of mind-set thinks "fixing zoning" will cause prices to drop enough for "young people" to be able to afford a $1,000,000+ home?

Being unrealistic? Entitlement? Impracticality? Failure to follow demographic and business trends?

Wishing and hoping won't stop the influx of foreign buyers ad won't create more land.

San Francisco has THE highest rents in the US and is busily evicting lower-income renters because of the Ellis Act and converting their rentals to $1,000,000+ condos which are being snapped up as fast as they can build them. And they're building lots of high-rise condos.

Web Link

They're not making new land in SF either. Demand will keep pushing up the price.


21 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Ellen,

You are not responding to the actual points in my post so it's unclear why you addressed your novel to me.

>> This is literally true.

Really? Literally?

I agree it's fun and popular these days to say "data-driven," (it makes people sound smart) but the term actually means using real, scientifically collected data, not just the opinions of one's immediate circle (of already admitted uninformed residents who are not even interested in being informed).


34 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Online Name:

Agreed completely. I was born in Palo Alto and grew up here, but in my adulthood I had to buy elsewhere and save until my family could afford to buy a home in Palo Alto. And that home was a crummy little 1200 square foot house that was 50 years old and had never been upgraded. We had to roll the dishwasher across the (tiny) kitchen and connect the hoses to the kitchen faucet.

Entitlement is exactly the word that comes to mind when I read some of the above posts. (With immature being a close second)

What some of the young people don't realize is that their earning potential is huge, they just need to work for it. There was a day I also thought I would never be able to afford to live in Palo Alto, but here I am.


23 people like this
Posted by j
a resident of University South
on Feb 27, 2015 at 2:08 am

For many years, I've lived downtown one block off University in a 275 square foot hole in the wall. Yes, thankfully, there are still a few of those left. There is 15.5 Amps max electricity for stuff or the fuse pops. Yes, still the original fuse box installed in the 1920's. No stove, no fridge (too many Amps and anyway, Whole Foods is a three minute walk), a steam radiator that is on for only a few hours during the day and evening. If I use my little ceramic heater, there is only enough juice for a modem, a laptop and a lamp. I can boil water but no real cooking. Oh, and there is a radio but no TV! All fine with me. It rocks! I pay a ridiculous amount of money per month to live here; still, the lowest end of the rental market for Palo Alto. It was fun living downtown until all the demolition and construction took over, I'd say especially in the last few years, accelerated. Within a block or half block, there is construction and demolition going on in every direction. Most of the cool stuff is gone. Now it's noisy, dusty and this black soot from all the construction exhaust seems to get all over everything. The air smells terrible. Traffic is way dense and sometimes bottleneck. People park their fancy cars in front of the fire hydrants. It used to not be this way. It was nice.


27 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2015 at 6:12 am

I don't know if "entitlement" is the right phrase, but I get the intent.

Our story is similar...out of college rented in Fremont, San Jose and then SF. Then we bought a condo in Foster City. Then we bought a rancher in Mountain View. Then we found a house in CP during one of the downturns...it was falling apart, termites, mold, etc....12 years after college. Could barely afford the payments and had to save to come up with money so I could DIY repairs to patch the roof, tear out termite infested walls, seal windows, etc.


19 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2015 at 6:15 am

Forgot to say, that I grew up here, as did my parents and my grandparents, etc. But when first out of college, I knew I couldn't afford to live in PA and that it was a long term goal to return.


39 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2015 at 6:23 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Even if we allowed a massive development of high rise buildings, housing prices will continue to race up. Palo Alto has become one of the most desirable real estate markets in the world, rivaling Manhattan, London and Tokyo. Foreign investors with very deep pockets will outbid anybody and gobble up any existing housing unit and any new one. The possibility of reducing housing prices has always been a pipe dream. The only option is to stop development and further densification in order to save what's left of the character and soul of what is essentially a small town, instead of turning it it into another Hong Kong. Not everyone should have a Palo Alto address. If you can afford to buy a house here, fine, if you can't, don't expect us to subsidize you or destroy our town so you can have a Palo Alto address.


25 people like this
Posted by NoMore
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

Stephen, I read Tara's post and the letter to city council from PAF. I could barely get through the first paragraph without completely disagreeing with their views about the reality of where we lie in this mess. So many things unaddressed, a complete one vision only and idealistic proposal, complete lack of what matters to ALL residents in Palo Alto, and most of all a solution that is in my opinion unrealistic and if ever considered do able would require more than you could imagine to accomplish.

Eric's view is that if the majority of residents in Palo Alto have liberal views, then we can use this liberal platform to sway the masses to fit our agenda. I would not be surprised if PAF has lost many liberal minded peoples support due to the current problems this city has endured in the past couple of years. The mess we have now is enough to change anyones political stance. Quality of life is not only politically driven. My liberal views have definitely taken a back seat due to this mess.

Implement the solution first and then try to change the cap to meet your agenda of more office growth.


35 people like this
Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2015 at 9:35 am

"The question is if we want PA to become a museum of the past where nostalgic rich retired folks feel comfortable, or if we want this community to continue to lead, to draw dynamic young people from around the world."

This is a false and insulting choice. Call the rest of us what you want, if you see Palo Alto that way, perhaps you should seek out a dynamic community like San Jose that WANTS the dense urbanization you seek.


22 people like this
Posted by anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 27, 2015 at 10:10 am

Balanced development is key to me as a long term citizen of Palo Alto.

Cars are part of our daily business lives, and most of us do use our cars to go to our jobs. Since most of downtown workers do not live in Palo Alto, cars and parking go hand-in-hand.

In the past seven years, developers (most of whom do also not live in Palo Alto) have been able to create nearly unbridled office space downtown Palo Alto, because City Staff and Council did not include adequate parking as a key requirement of the office space development. If adequate parking had been included, office space development would have been much more balanced and slower.

Developers have been able to grow their very profitable office space efforts at the cost of surrounding neighborhoods and small retailers downtown. This is actually not the fault of developers, it is the fault of our City Staff and Council who have allowed this to happen.

I also do not fault the downtown workers who park in our neighborhoods, as the City Staff and Council have allowed this to happen as well. We do not have an issue of "parking intruders," we have an issue of "parking intrusion," which refers to a city process that has to be fixed.


27 people like this
Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

"but I worry that if the residentialists have their way houses will be $5M+ and no normal people will be able to live here."

This has always been a place where you have to work your way up if you are not rich. Building more will not make that go away. The choice will be whether we have a place that is livable or high-priced and dense/urban. There is no build-your-way-to affordability.

I hope people can see now that the "contained urbanization" really IS a slippery slope. The people neo-yuppies who move in want to take away what everyone else worked hard and long for, and force them to pay for the costs foisted on them in the form of infrastructure needs, new schools and services, etc.

Perhaps it's time we instituted an office space tax that escalates to pay the real costs associated. Those of us living here are not benefitting from the building, and you can't snow us with gobbledy gook about how it will shut out dynamic young people yada yada, because this place has been through booms and busts, and innovation incubated just fine without ugly high-rise buildings, in fact Stanford seems to be attractive precisely because of its beauty and charm.

This is a large, great nation, and if Palo Alto isn't to your liking, it is possible to find places that are. Places like Stockton and even San Jose would LOVE you. I just heard an NPR story about a town in North Carolina with municipal gigabit internet. Have at it.

(The only thing we should be voting on is whether the Weekly demonstrates a bias everytime they describe PAF as wanting housing "options", when they keep saying the Maybell referendum was about the senior housing development. If the reporters had bothered to listen and sit through the entire meetings or talk to people in the neighborhood instead of buying whatever Candace Gonzales was selling without question, they would have realized most of the neighbors were really for the senior housing and wanted to work something out in a working group which had already happened before in that neighborhood, and what they were against was the upzoning and the entire setup with a majority of the property an upzoned for-profit development. So, everytime they say residents rejected a senior housing development, they are promoting a biased and wrong view of what happened - voters rejected a REZONING. There was no law preventing a senior housing development from going in there, that's not what the ordinance was allowing or not allowing.

If the Weekly is going to insist on continuing with such bias, at least they could call a spade a spade with PAF. They are for urbanization and density, and the desires of the neoyuppies to make Palo Alto into what they want while ignoring the negative impacts to children and families and making everyone else pay for it.


8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

"force them to pay for the costs foisted on them in the form of infrastructure needs, new schools and services, etc."

This is almost comical due to the fact that so many people (particularly the NIMBY contingent) are only able to afford Palo Alto due to their Prop 13 tax rates, i.e. themselves not having to pay for infrastructure and other costs.


14 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2015 at 10:44 am

Interesting thing about Prop 13 is that business owners benefit from it to a much greater extent than homeowners.

So if a property owner takes a modest 1 story office building and develops it into a snazzy 4 story building with upscale rents to match . . . is it re-assessed at the new value? Or is the Prop 13 assessment the old value plus cost of construction?


19 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:03 am

Robert: I'm not sure if you understand prop 13, but its intent was to not have people, especially older people on a fixed income, priced out of their homes because market forces (foreign buyers, rich hi-tech transplants, etc). Do you think it would be more fair to you if seniors were tossed out of their homes so the town could be completely turned over by the influx of these foreign investors and rich techies? Do you think that would make it more affordable for you? What kind of diversity do you think the city would have then?

Prop 13 caps your property taxes based on the valuation of your home when you buy it, with small incremental increases that are not driven by market prices. As someone who paid almost $2 million for my home, I feel I'm paying my share for infrastructure (and it's a sacrifice to pay that much!), and I'm happy to pay more than the folks that have lived here before me. I would never want established people tossed out of their homes because a ton of rich people decided they should live here instead.

When residents complain of infrastructure costs, it doesn't matter how mych property tax they are paying - it's a fixed rate for all of us - but it does impact HOW our tax dollars are spent. There still is only one pie, so if more of that pie is eaten by an increasingly loaded infrastructure due to high density housing, that is less of the pie available to fund other needed, and wanted, services and facilities.

Understand?


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:19 am

"Understand?"

Yes, completely, which is why the "move where you can afford" meme is so insulting, especially to young people.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert 2
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:20 am

Hey I posted the comment about rents falling in DC. I'm a different person than the main "Robert" in this thread, so don't confuse us. I didn't realize the handle was already in use.

To all of those people calling me this "investor" in DC who doesn't have to live with the consequences of his actions: I grew up in Palo Alto. I attended Palo Alto public schools K-12. My parents still live in the house I grew up in and I frequently visit. I love Palo Alto and want to see it succeed.

I wish Palo Alto wasn't so car-dependent. Traffic is bad and people don't have many alternatives. Density near the Caltrain is a great way to give people an alternative to driving and reduce traffic.


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

Suspicious #2 makes some excellent points,

It's the business lobby and developers that have long opposed any type of business registry that would allow us to count accurately how many employees they have. But more important, THEY have INSISTED that Prop 13 apply wholly to them.

I don't hear PAF demanding that businesses and landlords be exempt from Prop 13 while they increase rates by a huge percentage each and every year.

I'm REAL tired about hearing about "the rich nostalgic retired" population. Not all of us are rich. Most of my single women friends have had to leave Palo Alto and environs when they hit middle age and couldn't find work here any more. (These were formerly well-paid professional women.)

Just recently we were trying to raise money to help an unemployed middle-aged single woman friend pay her $3,000 rent before she becomes officially homeless. She can't even get a roommate because her landlord he'd double her rent to $6,000 if he learns she's gotten a roommate.

I learned that 82% of single women over the age of 70 live in poverty.

And poor Robert thinks he deserves a multi-million dollar home


6 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:34 am

First off, I'm not part of Palo Alto Forward, but I think that commercial property should have absolutely no Prop 13 or property tax protection. Second...

"Just recently we were trying to raise money to help an unemployed middle-aged single woman friend pay her $3,000 rent before she becomes officially homeless."

There it goes again? Why is she "entitled" to live Palo Alto if she can't afford it? Why are you or others not suggesting she move to Stockton?


6 people like this
Posted by Name
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:44 am

I'm one of those "entitled youngins" and if you put an amendment to Prop 13 that made it only apply to primary residences, I'd vote for that.


10 people like this
Posted by just don't get it...
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Has the constant construction at Stanford eluded everyone?? Up to 6 double trailer rigs waiting at the Embarcadero/El Camino Real left turn land from North Embarcadero onto Galvez St??? And, Stanford wants to build huge buildings in Downtown Palo Alto and Menlo Park....but not use their own precious thousands of acres!! The gridlock on Sand Hill, Alpine and Page Mill is horrible from dawn to dusk!! And, then the hospital construction on top of this!! It is a nightmare!!!!


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Robert, re the woman who's about to become homeless, I never said she was "entitled" to live in Palo Alto. Just the opposite. She's desperately trying to find ANY PLACE -- north, south, east or west.

You're the one who said:
"Yes, completely, which is why the "move where you can afford" meme is so insulting, especially to young people."

Why is it so insulting? It's a fact of life,

The woman I mentioned doesn't consider having to move "insulting," just an unfortunate reality of her personal situation and a larger demographic trend.

There's a 15-year age gap between when women often become unemployed and when they can qualify for Social Security.


7 people like this
Posted by Paul Gowder
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Memo to those who seem to think that voting is an unbiased sample of the community, or that not voting (especially in local elections, off-year elections, etc.) represents some kind of moral culpability. There's lots of evidence that voting is affected by demographic factors in predictable ways.

Poorer citizens vote less, likely in part because when you work a lousy hourly job and are on the economic knife-edge you have a harder time getting off work, etc.

Older citizens vote more, and likely because they have an easier time getting access both to political information and the voting booth.

Churchmembers vote more, plausibly in part because they are encouraged to do so by those churches, churches are a good source of turnout, etc.

Homeowners vote more, likely in part because they have greater financial stakes in a given election.

There are huge amounts of data on all of these demographic factors and others, and lots of debate about the exact shape of the distribution and why, but even these few pretty small and mostly uncontroversial propositions should suggest that "well, anyone could find out about this election and the issues and then vote in it" is facile nonsense, and that Ellen's concerns about disregarding the interests of those who did not participate are quite legitimate.


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Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hey Online Name, she must not be looking very hard, there are plenty of cheap places in Stockton or Fresno, or what about Detroit? Has she looked there?


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Todd, yes she is, thanks.

That's what "She's desperately trying to find ANY PLACE -- north, south, east or west" means.

She's been looking really hard for someplace affordable. She just got through seeing her dad through his long final illness and her lease ends at the end of this month so she's open to any and all alternatives.

But this isn't just about her. There's going to be lots more people like her who end up unemployed at 50.

What's PAF doing for all the people like her?


13 people like this
Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

""force them to pay for the costs foisted on them in the form of infrastructure needs, new schools and services, etc."

This is almost comical due to the fact that so many people (particularly the NIMBY contingent) are only able to afford Palo Alto due to their Prop 13 tax rates, i.e. themselves not having to pay for infrastructure and other costs."

A)your comment skirts the point I just made that these neo-yuppies want everyone else to pay for the infrastructure burdens and costs resulting from their densification to avoid making the sacrifices to live in a desirable area that everyone else did.

B) exactly what point are you making? Those of use who worked our way up and mostly lived in ither communities are paying our share. Most of us recognize that in order to buy, you have to exceed your pain threshold for many years before the home you buy costs less than one to rent because of prop 13. Our current house we still couldn't rent it out for more than we pay, after 10 years. We bought precisely because of that stability.

We had to evict a drug dealer in a superfund (toxic cleanup) neighborhood (not Palo Alto) to start building equity. And no, life was not otherwise optimal. We spent far more time struggling than stable, so believe me, I appreciate how hard it is. But if you want to live here in a desirable place, same as if you want to own anything desirable in life and you aren't rich, you have to make choices. Maybe your choice is to try to create a false narrative about development that carries water for developers, but just realize it's never going to give you an easy way into the housing market here, but it will leave the rest of us you ask to pay for it holding the bag with all the urban problems. So expect both pushback and failure of your goal.

If history serves, the yuppies move on anyway. If you really want to live here, the secret is to buy. Buy anything. East Palo Alto, parts of Menlo, San Jose, Milpitas, many other communities reachable by public transit are still attainable. Interest rates are way more advantageous now than anytime during previous booms. Still, You'll have to sacrifice like the rest of us did. You'll probably have to become familiar with Home Depot. Give up going out and learn to cook from what you can find at Bargain Market and grow yourself. But if you really want to own here, there's no shortcut or secret. Build equity any way you can. Then think about how it feels when you finally get stable and some overentitled neoyuppie wants you to pay so developers have an excuse to ruin what you sacrificed for decades for.


12 people like this
Posted by Citizen 7
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Question for PAF...

If the company that most of you work for had built its headquarters in Beverly Hills, would you expect to be able to live in Beverly Hills? Would you be demanding that Beverly Hills build low cost stack-n-pack for you to live in?

The reason I ask is because the first job I had when I got out of college was in Beverly Hills. It didn't even cross my mind that somehow working in Beverly Hill, entitled me to live there.

I was happy to work in a nice area, live in a crappy area several miles away (near Western Avenue), and commute through LA traffic to work.

PAF millennials... stop drinking the corporate kool-aid. You are not "Middle Earth Warriors Battling Evil".

"We're Middle Earth Warriors Battling Evil"
Valleywag ~ June 10, 2013 Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 28, 2015 at 6:37 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I suppose it's very lucky for Woodside residents that the PAF millennials insist on having a Palo Alto, and not a Woodside address. I can envision the demand that Woodside urbanize, give up their selfish and antiquated country lifestyle, and build lower cost dense high rises to accommodate their wish to live only in Woodside.


5 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2015 at 9:43 am

Prop 13 benefits everyone, including those who recently bought. Here's the median price of a Palo Alto single family home over the past 5 years:

2010: $1,370,000
2011: $1,410,000
2012: $1,725,000
2013: $2,100,000
2014: $2,400,000

Many who bought recently stretch to buy a house, would not be able to afford the additional $5,000 to $12,000 in property taxes.

You also have to look at how the tax money gets spent.

About 45% goes to the school district, and is about 75% of the school district budget. The school district budget works out to about $14,000 per student; $10,000 of that comes from property taxes; of the $10,000, about $7,000 - $8500 gets spent on the student, the rest goes to overhead, special programs, etc.

About 8% of the property tax goes to the city; the city has many other sources of revenue (hotel tax, sales tax, utility transfers, etc). Plenty of infrastructure maintenance needs, but the city chooses to spend much of the budget growth on other things (remember how the California Ave beautification started out as a $1.5 million dollar project and is now a $7 million project with "glass shards" sidewalks?, or the $1 million dollar city hall lobby renovation that turned into a $4 million dollar glass conference room with big screen TVs?, the hiring of a Chief Marketing person, a Chief Sustainability person, etc, etc). Meanwhile, El Camino Park has been a dust bowl for over a year, Cubberley fields have more dirt and weed patches than grass; a lot of money got spent remodeling the libraries, but the hours they are open don't work for most working people.

So maybe commercial properties should have a higher rate for property tax, but it's sure doesn't seem like the School District or the City have their spending priorities in the right place. And a higher property tax rate sure doesn't help retail preservation efforts, and many commercial property owners have leases where the tenants pay the property taxes. So if Shady Lane, University Art, etc. moved because of higher rents, higher property taxes would have the same effect as higher rents.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

Common Sense is exactly right.

The City has a surplus and is determined to spend it.

The cost of Mitchell Park doubled, increasing by about $25,000,000. The cost of the Cal Ave redesign ballooned from $1,500,000 by another $6,000,000 to more than $7,000,000. We've got a $4,500,000 redesign of the first floor of City Hall, with another few hundred thousand in interactive art work that will be seen by how many?

We've budgeted a $3,000,000 traffic light/video surveillance project but still haven't synchronized the worst traffic lights that cause gridlock to be administered by our former Transportation Chief who's responsible for the Cal Ave mess.

Our Utility bills keep rising and rising and rising yet we have no way of suspending service for vacation and for when we don't use all 3 bins.

We're spending more than $1,000,000 on 5 cops and 1 supervisor to arrest shopping cart thieves and cigarette smokers. I had to laugh at the latest police blotter, 2 shopping car thefts and 2 arrests for "illegal possession of milk crates"!!

We're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on out-of-town pr consultants on stuff like "How Much Do You Love Palo Alto" and other pr campaigns.

Yet in spite of all of this, all the city employees got huge raises, bonuses and unspecified "extra pay" increases for their exemplary performance.

Because of the continued destruction of our downtown, out-of-control spending, lousy project management (Mitchell Park, Cal Ave) and lack of accountability, I doubt I will ever vote for another project or increased spending on anything.

Pretty soon all the above adds up to real money.


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Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Hey Common Sense,

Santa Clara County property tax, if you factor in the special assessments and the annual increase, will end up being like 1.5% to 2% of the value of the property for the years you mentioned. Also, if you go back a few years, things actually were higher in the 2005 range thank around 2009-10, before the financial crisis, so it's not a straight trajectory back to cheaper.

So, a home purchased for $2,400,000 would see annual property taxes in the $36,0000 per year range.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

> So, a home purchased for $2,400,000 would see annual property taxes in
> the $36,0000 per year range.

That's probably a wee bit high, as the add-ons vary from City to City. However, it's important to know when the property underwent its initial assessment.

It would take about fourteen years from the year of purchase of such a property for the base assessment to get to be $3.6M. In CA, it makes sense to include the number of years of ownership, and the year of initial assessment (which is tedious, yes) when discussing property taxes.


7 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2015 at 5:13 pm

> This is almost comical due to the fact that so many people (particularly the
> NIMBY contingent) are only able to afford Palo Alto due to their Prop 13
> tax rates, i.e. themselves not having to pay for infrastructure and other costs."

This premise is tossed about, year after year, with little evidence that the people making these claims understand how difficult the financial issues associated with Palo Alto/PAUSD are. The City, and the PAUSD, have never done a particularly good job of identifying their assets (property and buildings) in terms of cost-to-build, cost-to-replace, maintenance-backlogged, etc. The City has, on occasion (such as when City Manager Benest came on the scene) made a reasonable effort to identify the assets needing maintenance/refurbishment in the coming years. The first Infrastructure Backlog number was about $100M during the June Fleming years (1998). Benest pushed this number to about $550M (early 2000s), but didn’t provide a complete list of all city obligations (like the San Francisquito Creek refurb, or the airport acquisition). The latest effort which produced a “report” really was a dismal failure (in my opinion) in that it did not attempt to identify all of the City assets that needed repair/refurb—just the ones that were being promoted for a not-too-distant bond issue vote.

I would guess that the City has about $1+B in actual near/long-term obligations to its infrastructure (which probably doesn't includes the high priced infrastructure buried under the ground--currently managed by the PAU). When financing charges come into consideration—double that amount as a first estimate. And then there is the PAUSD—which has managed a $375M spending authority on top of the $110M (Measure B) spending authority—which also doubles when the financial costs are considered.

Let’s suppose that we called our current infrastructure needs to be $3-4B. Using 20,000 taxable parcels as a strawman for discussion, that means that every parcel needs to pony up $150,000—assuming that everyone who is a property owner has the same obligation to pay for City services/infrastructure. Spread over 30 years, this comes to a mere $5,000-$6,600 a parcel for CPA infrastructure per year. Add this to the almost $1,000 PAUSD parcel tax (which will sooner-or-later double), and this comes to possibly $6-$7K/parcel taxes over the base taxes each property owner might be responsible for in the future.

And, as large as these numbers are—they are presented as conservatively low--since future costs will doubtless see the yearly inflation factor do its damage, and those in charge will also doubtless find an incredible number of new “needs” that they will want to fold into the spending machine.

And let’s not forget that both the PAUSD and the CPA have not fully funded their pension programs, in the sense that both agencies are now being asked to increase their contributions to make up for money management shortfalls that have put CalPERS and CalSTRS in the red in coming years. It’s very likely that we will be seeing PAUSD parcel tax increases that push into the $2K/parcel zone within ten years. It’s an open question if the City will try to get the taxpayers to pay for their lavish pension gifts to union employees, but it’s hard to believe that they won’t.

Bottom line--my belief is that no one living in Palo Alto is actually paying property tax that actually covers their “fair share” of the costs of running the City as the City/PAUSD’s affairs have been/are being managed. Certainly with Stanford’s enjoying a $7.5B property tax exemption, those capable of paying are not helping to pay their “fair share”, either.

Looping this back to the possible growth of downtown, and the rest of Palo Alto, the infrastructure costs for new development will need to be borne by everyone—not the people who will be moving in. Even with impact fees, the cost of running this town has exceeded our ability to pay. While the idea that we might be adding 20,000-40,000 residents, and god-only-knows how many non-resident workers, in the coming years is unthinkable, the costs to all of us to provide infrastructure for these people probably will be unbearable to most of us—doubtless causing a goodly number to be forced out of their lifelong homes.

One can only hope that this Council listens to reason, rather than those pounding on a big drum, making a lot of noise.


3 people like this
Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2015 at 5:24 pm

I of course meant: So, a home purchased for $2,400,000 would see annual property taxes in the $36,000 per year range.

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis, Wayne Martin. Of course, the costs of new residents are not incremental but cumulative and abrupt. The cost of adding a new school because there is simply no more capacity is not an incremental cost, for example, especially since the PAF's are trying so hard to pave over everything.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Reading all of these comments:
1. Redwood City has a huge amount of building going on in the area next to the Caltrain tracks and in the city portion between Veteran Blvd. and El Camino. That is next to their Sequoia Station. Also the Kaiser hospital has been expanded. That is a fact.
2. The cities south of us have a lot of new building going on including residential and commercial properties.
3. The city of San Jose has gone through a large building boom but the problem now is financing the police force which was a major topic of the recent mayoral election. They traded up but ran into the real problems of increased growth.
4. The chief financial officer of ABAG stole 1.3 M. He is now in the legal dispute regarding that action. The agencies now that receive funding from propositions are being investigated by the Sec. of State to validate they have good audit records and the money is going where it is suppose to go. So the question on the table is the validity of ABAG as a defining set of rules.
5. If the high rise goes on Stanford Property then Stanford is required to provide the housing for those buildings. That is one of the joys of being private property. I vote that Stanford goes for the high rises and the dense / high rise housing.

As to the theory that we are on an island and all of these people are swimming to our shore is total nonsense. Anyone can drive down HWY 237 and see all of the building. Cut across to Montague Expressway and the place is filled with new housing. All of those people are swimming to Santa Clara so they can walk to the new stadiums - or Mountain View / Sunnyvale.

I think the problem here is that the growth in surrounding cities is so great that some people feel we will be irrelevant to the rest of the valley.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I don't know the answer to this question - the PAUSD parcel tax is applied against the specific property by the county. I am a property owner so know that.

What about high rises where school age children live. How is the PAUSD parcel tax applied in that case? If the property is owned by a corporation then how does that work?

If the housing location is labeled as low income housing then is there a parcel tax by family unit?

I think it is important to know if only single family houses get taxed.


4 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2015 at 1:04 pm

An example of how higher density, removing the 50 foot height restriction can end up:

Web Link

Are there any examples of cities where higher density, high rise buildings have ever ended up well?


2 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Mar 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Parcel taxes are assessed on property owners. So in our condo building there are 17 units--some filled with owners and some with renters. We own so the parcel tax appears on our property tax bill. For the rental units, the tax appears on the owners' tax bill.

The usual theory is that property taxes are passed on the renters but formally they are paid by owners.

For an apartment building the parcel tax would go to the owner.


4 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 1, 2015 at 2:49 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

"Are there any examples of cities where higher density, high rise buildings have ever ended up well?"

No.


19 people like this
Posted by Young dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2015 at 4:13 pm

[The last time I posted something about this the moderator showed their bias toward Palo Alto Forward by deleting/editing parts of my post, resulting in a post that seemed to almost support Palo Alto Forward.]

Palo Alto Forward wants more density to accommodate young people that want the San Francisco experience in Palo Alto at lower cost. A previous article quoted supports as wanting to walk out the door to bars and restaurants, even complaining about living on the fringes of Palo Alto. Really? Use a bicycle. I bicycle from Barron Park. This is not even #firstworldproblem, but #InstantGratification.00001percenters.

We just elected a majority of the city council. Now Corey (who barely won) and his group want to force an agenda that opposes the residents and voters.

Work hard, save money and you may be able to live in downtown. I want this to live in downtown too and walk to restaurants, but I have realistic expectations that I hope to pass down to my two very young kids.


4 people like this
Posted by Counterclockwiser
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2015 at 5:09 pm

"Are there any examples of cities where higher density, high rise buildings have ever ended up well?"

Yes -- for the developers who build them. Miami comes to mind.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm

@Young dad

You're right, I'm sure if the influx of new residents and downtown workers would just be happy driving and parking downtown, there wouldn't be a single complaint.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2015 at 5:55 pm

And Young dad, I really hope those "expectations" you're passing along to your children don't involve ever moving out of the house or getting a job, that would require *gasp* new office and housing construction!


9 people like this
Posted by hmmmm
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 1, 2015 at 6:25 pm

The pro-growth proponents with the help of ABAG have been admonishing PA to correct the jobs-housing imbalance. So, the proposal to limit new office space makes sense in order to help correct that so called imbalance. But this article clearly shows that the PA Forward group really is all about Growth. Growth no matter what. What about the water needs of all these new residents?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 1, 2015 at 6:39 pm

If people want to walk out of their apartment and walk into a restaurant then they can go live in downtown San Jose. There are really nice new apartments down there. Especially by the university. Or they can go live near Cisco and Samsung in North San Jose.

I do not believe that there so many young people working in PA and so many high tech jobs as you would like us to believe in the downtown area.
If tech start-ups are non-profits and not paying any taxes then they are not covering their status as "high powered jobs".

I worked in the San Jose area and I can guarantee that there are so many new apartments and businesses going in it is unbelievable - all high tech. And that is because they have open space to put more buildings. I put in time at Second Harvest Foodbank so am seeing all of the new building on a continual basis.

Palo Alto Forward needs to get in their cars / lite rail / Caltrain and go look at what is out there.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2015 at 7:21 pm

So resident 1, those "nice new apartments" in downtown San Jose, I suppose you're fine with the wishes of existing residents who didn't want to see them built being ignored? Why do you think its acceptable for forcing new housing to be built to "accommodate" them, when plenty of housing already exists?


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 1, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Robert - the move to high rises in Downtown San Jose was the result of a move to revitalize the downtown. I think that was the previous Mayor's goal. It looks pretty good down there. The San Jose Mercury had previously moved out and now is back in the downtown area. You have the Tech Museum as well as SAP Center and the other new arenas in the vicinity. As to the area around north San Jose that was open land - there were no people there. Many of the older buildings in that area were put up fast and are no longer up to spec so new buildings are replacing them. They are also putting in a BART extension and there is the lite rail system, as well as the ACE and Amtrack trains. When you put up new buildings you have to put in the electrical and sewer systems if you were previously on open land.

Downtown San Jose was in a downturn with gangs so that is hopefully being corrected. Most people do not want to live is an area that is on a downward tilt. Also - San Jose is the government head of Santa Clara County so has many government buildings. You have to keep that area revitalized - it is a major city in the USA.

PA is not a big city and we don't have major gangs. We also do not have multiple forms of transportation. Our biggest buildings are in Stanford Research Park and I believe that is Stanford land.
You are comparing apples to oranges - no comparison.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Resident 1, you're saying that those homeowners downtown, protesting the new developments, should be ignored because San Jose is a major city? But when they bought the place San Jose was a small ag community?


5 people like this
Posted by Moderate
a resident of University South
on Mar 1, 2015 at 8:51 pm

It sounds like there are two extreme visions being laid out for Palo Alto: one that has skyscrapers up and down University, and another that sees the current city frozen in amber.

Neither are appealing to me.

What if we acknowledge the older residents' desires to have their city preserved and the younger ones' desires to see housing permitted as far as the market will build it? A good median could be just a few more tall buildings downtown, similar to the ones that are already there. At the same time, we could preserve the rest of the city for single-family homes and make sure that no large apartment complexes are built there.

What do you think? Is this a compromise that both sides could live with?


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Yes - I know that. There used to be a cattle processing place on 1ST street that is now covered by a office complex. On a hot day you do not want to be in that area - the people working there may not know why it smells so strange.

Robert - you are just playing now - most of the new development is on open land. So you are from "another community" - would that be San Jose? were you a displaced person? Was your family home torn down?

San Jose State occupies much of the downtown area so there is usually growth associated with major universities, especially if they are on public land. And if the city puts in a major airport then something is going to go.

They have torn up Moffett Park and are rebuilding it now. The buildings we were in were damaged by the earthquake and a lot of fix went in. Companies depreciate a building so when the depreciation cycle is complete it is usually time to tear down and replace with newer, better building materials which are up to spec. You cannot have people in buildings which are not up to spec - especially if a government facility.
You are still comparing apples to oranges. What building are you protecting?


14 people like this
Posted by no surprise
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

PAF is advocating for building more multiunit apartment/condo complexes to accommodate more workers. If more offices are built in Palo Alto, there will be more pressure from ABAG to build more units in Palo Alto, just what the PAF members want.


12 people like this
Posted by family
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Sorry, vibrant college town with a high quality of life is hardly frozen in amber. You can get the big city experience already in SJ and SF.


12 people like this
Posted by Citizen 7
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2015 at 11:41 pm

The Chinese government is mounting a massive crackdown on corruption. In early February the Chinese government executed two billionaire brothers for corruption and murder.

People with ill-gotten gains, are desperate to launder their money out of China by acquiring US real-estate. The buyers do not know the US well, so they use cut-outs to buy sight-unseen in high profile neighborhoods... Manhattan, Beverly Hills, La Jolla, Palo Alto.

Palo Alto developers are frantic to build, build, build, to capitalize on these relatively unsophisticated, cash-rich, desperate buyers. How much of Palo Alto's development is being fueled by this dirty money?

"China executes mining tycoon Liu Han"
The Guardian ~ February 9, 2015 Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2015 at 6:53 am

The SF Chronicle reports that many of the new buildings / condominiums going up in SF are bought out before they are finished by Chinese Firms. They plan on a big resale of the units. Is that what we would expect to see here?


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:54 am

Deleon Realty drives Chinese investors around Palo Alto and shows them available properties. Most people trying to purchase a house are often outbid with all cash offers from the investors. The house is then rented or it sits vacant. The rental rate is so high here.


14 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm

This has been one enlightening comments thread.

Never before did I see anyone manage to perceive the idea of living where you can afford to as "insulting" (given that it's a part of reality, and applies to everyone).

And, Ellen's [portion removed] characterization of fellow young adults ("I'm in my mid-twenties and I can tell you I am essentially the only person I know in my age bracket that is even aware this debate is going on") was jarring. When I was a young adult not so long ago, we couldn't WAIT to vote in our first election; we DID "have the time and inclination" to follow and engage with the local media of the day (including writing letters to newspapers -- we made time for it, no matter how busy), and sometimes debated the issues into the night. If we didn't inform ourselves and vote, what business could we ever have complaining about any outcomes we disliked???

Why do people like Jane Huang not understand that many "residentialists" defend the very things she and many others LIKE about Palo Alto; nor "Robert" recognize that the issue of rising prices (because people want to live there) is one he wants to add to??

We still await Steven Levy's answer to Suspicious Midtowner's very reasonable question: "what do you have to say about Palo Alto Forward requesting people on Facebook to 'like' comments they agree with?"


9 people like this
Posted by Citizen 7
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Resident 1,

"The SF Chronicle reports that many of the new buildings / condominiums going up in SF are bought out before they are finished by Chinese Firms. They plan on a big resale of the units. Is that what we would expect to see here?"

Bingo! The developers don't even need to build to get the illicit Chinese money rolling in, all they have to do is get the project approved, and make up some BS renderings.


7 people like this
Posted by Suspicious #2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm

And what do you think will happen when Palo Alto is completely over-built with condos and high density housing and then the Chinese decide to pull out and buy elsewhere?

All of us who have invested most of our retirement in our property (long term, property is the safest investment), will lose everything. There will be a glut of housing and no one who wants to buy it since the City will have been ruined.

The only way to keep Palo Alto a desirable place to live, and a safe investment at these astronomical prices, is to stop adding high-density housing and selling it to foreign investors. We are selling our souls to the devil.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 2, 2015 at 7:07 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Young dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 3, 2015 at 9:17 am

@Robert - Palo Alto Forward is pushing an agenda not supported by residents and a overwhelming majority of voters. New construction is fine if the area supports it, i.e. infrastructure and yes, residents. Considering the opposition by residents, I do not consider walking to work, bars and restaurants by younger high tech workers enough justification to change the look and feel of the city, especially when they complain about living in fringes of the city which are easily accessible by bicycle. I live on the fringes, and I ride my bicycle throughout the city and into neighboring cities. I will not be teaching my kids to expect an instant gratification mentality nor an entitlement attitude, but to expect hard work and sacrifices are many times required, but not guaranteed, to improve their standard of living.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 3, 2015 at 10:11 am

I am tired of hearing about Palo Alto Forward. It is like everyone is signing up to recognize a political entity that no one voted on in a formal ballot.

Anyone who takes a position on a topic that is in a position of employment from the city - or has a recognized volunteer position that has been authorized by the city had better put their name on what they are saying - it is called personal responsibility and ability to move forward in a political higher office.

That includes the PACC members and their staff. We want to know who is taking what positions - not politically gaming for future advancement.

It is interesting that the SJM follows the PA stories and the following day you can read an interpretation of events that is not consistent with what you see on Monday night. Sometimes Monday night is a political theatre event.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

There is a problem with people who post on this forum and say they are from another community - without identifying what community that is.

Every city in Santa Clara County is grappling with the problems of housing and urbanization. Many of those cities had their respective issues on the last ballot - many of those issues are relative to the size of the city, number of government offices in the city, and general financial fitness / welfare of the city.

Any point of view as to what we are doing here is specific to our issues and we cannot always address the grievances of people from other cities that need to be addressed by those cities.

Comments that have no perspective as to what city they are coming from are meaningless. Mountain View has a position, RWC and Menlo Park have positions, Sunnyvale and San Jose have positions. Each city is working their issues.

Posters - own up to where you are from so your comments have perspective as to the point you are trying to make.


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

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