News

Development at Shady Lane site faces citizen appeal

Neighbors argue modern building is incompatible with area's Victorian character

A proposal to build a four-story development at the present site of Shady Lane on University Avenue is facing a challenge from neighbors, who argue in an appeal that the modern structure will destroy the character of their largely Victorian neighborhood.

The appeal filed by Michael Harbour targets 429 University Ave., the latest development designed by architect Ken Hayes. The city's Architectural Review Board approved the project last month after two public hearings. On both occasions, residents who live near the site protested the size of the project and argued that its traffic impacts would overwhelm the narrow Kipling Street. The largely commercial development will also include four residential units and retail space on the ground floor.

Harbour, who owns property at 421 Kipling St., argued at the Feb. 19 meeting that the project would create a traffic hazard on Kipling Street, which is so narrow that it "effectively functions as a one-way street."

"I think many people in the community think this is a massive building," Harbour told the board. "Kipling is not the same as other streets out there."

In the appeal, Harbour notes that he has been hit twice on Kipling Street while in his car. In one case, he was sideswiped. In another, he had a side-view mirror torn off his car.

"If this building is built, the narrow road will be critically beyond its capacity and accidents will increase," he wrote in the appeal.

Parking is another issue that the appeal takes up. Though the new development would include an underground garage with 40 parking spots, this is far fewer than the 92 that the project would normally require under the zoning code.

This is because the two buildings that 429 University Ave. will be replacing had each paid parking "in-lieu" fees to the Downtown Parking Assessment District. In addition, the project is relying on the "transfer of development rights" program, which grants developers parking and density exemptions for rehabilitating historical structures at other sites in the city.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, Chair Randy Popp acknowledged that downtown parking is a problem but argued that it's not this particular building that's causing the problem. He also said he would be "very surprised if this building gets appealed on this basis," and said he believes that an appeal would have no standing if it focused on parking. The board then voted 4-0, with Catherine Ballantyne, absent, to approve the project.

Parking, however, is just one item in a menu of concerns laid out in the appeal. Opponents are also bemoaning the fact that the project will result in a loss of retail, a hot-button issue for the city at a time when small shops are struggling to pay rising rents. Few stores epitomize this better than Shady Lane, which is moving to Menlo Park for this very reason. Though the new building would have about 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, it is replacing two one-story buildings that between them have about 9,000 square feet, according to the appeal.

The appeal calls this a "devastating level of loss when the city is trying to preserve retail."

"Furthermore, retail loss reduces pedestrian interest and thus hurts other retail in that vicinity of University and Kipling as well," the appeal states.

Yet the bulk of concerns revolve around the size and design of the project – issues that were also central to two other recent appeals of Hayes projects. The project, the appeal argues, "is not compatible or harmonious with its surroundings."

"This is where the developer and the architects have failed," the appeal states. "It neglects its unique Victorian neighbors. It also neglects its neighboring historical storefronts. It will tower over all of them as if to deny their legitimacy and declare them inferior and obsolete. While doing so, it will create permanent problems including safety, traffic, potential loss of existing street parking, congestion, and a loss of retail space and tranquility."

The appeal maintains that during the review process, "very little attention was given to the historical significance an unique architecture of Kipling Street and how it relates to University Avenue."

"Kipling is enjoyed as an important pedestrian thoroughfare," the appeal states. "It is the most preferred walking route from Downtown North and Johnson Park to University Avenue due to its beauty, tranquility afforded by the narrow street, and nostalgic period feel. The proposed building with its disproportionate size, discordant design, and resultant traffic and parking will permanently destroy the character of the street and the pedestrian environment."

Harbour is not alone in challenging the project. His appeal is co-signed by nine nearby property owners, including various Kipling Street residents and businesses. AZIZA Beauty Salon, Vino Locale and Lidia's Skin Care are among them.

Much of the appeal centers on the building's modernist architecture, which appellants say is incompatible with the largely Victorian homes on Kipling Street.

This is the third Hayes project to face a citizens appeal in the past year and a half. In each case, critics argued that the modern, glass-heavy designs clash with the surrounding neighborhood. Ultimately, the council agreed to uphold the Architectural Review Board's and staff's approval of both 636 Waverley and 240 Hamilton Ave.

Comments

38 people like this
Posted by Carla
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:30 am

Carla is a registered user.

Hoping that the Architectural Boards awakes to put a stop to this monstrosity.


38 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:59 am

I completely support Mr. Harbour's comments. Downtown PA is turning into a business park and corporate chain haven. Our original lovely stores are all gone...Shady Lane was a particularly tough loss. The greed of that landlord who owns that property is legend. She doesn't care about the community as a whole...but hey, what landlord around here does anymore? We used to have a lovely downtown that featured some wonderful, unique stores. I'm sorry to see it heading in such a generic direction.


36 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:09 am

I don't understand why Hayes Architects are getting so much business in PA. His buildings are an eyesore. We need to investigate the real reason Hayes is getting so much business. Somehow Hayes appears to be in bed with city hall. There is a corrupt connection. Is it kick backs, conflicts of interest, extortion? Someone needs to get to the bottom of this.


26 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

mauricio is a registered user.

According the a NASA scientist, there is one more year of water left in California, and we are possibly facing a mega draught of perhaps 15 years in duration. We must stop ALL development, everywhere. Anything that creates additional water demand and brings in additional people is suicidal.


13 people like this
Posted by I was there
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:20 am

I attended both the ARB meetings for this project.

Supporters outnumbered those against the project by 3:1. This was noted by all of the ARB members.

The ARB members were not happy with the building as it did not address the issues on Kipling. That said, there were substantial changes between the first presentation the architect made and the second.

Ken Hayes understands the Palo Alto "Process". That is why developers engage his firm to designs so many recent buildings in Palo Alto. With all due regards to "Resident", the architect has no standing in this, they design the building that the developer requests and that which conforms to the zoning requirements of the lot. That's the deal. Pure and simple. To say that Mr. Hayes or someone in the City is on the take is ridiculous.


29 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:21 am

This is exactly the kind of building that should not be built on University Ave. Oversized, ugly, completely out of character with the area, underparked, will compound traffic problems, especially on Kipling and has too little housing.


18 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

Randy Popp is correct because, using the planning regulations, this project can be approved by the ARB without declaring where employees and restaurant patrons will park.

Projects on Calif and Univ Ave are approved routinely without any Planning Dept statement of where physical parking spaces will be available when the developments are occupied by tenants.

One unfortunate answer is that residential neighborhood streets are the only safety outlets for commercial parking deficits. Therefore, the only response available to residents is to appeal every project until the City Council adheres to the Comprehensive Plan which clearly states that city policy encourages commerce but not at the expense of residential neighborhoods. Only the Council can intervene and direct staff to solve the daily intrusion of non-resident vehicles surging into the last few parking spaces in the downtown neighborhoods.

Laws of unintended consequences no longer apply to the Council decisions. Everyone knows that residential neighborhoods have been turned into the largest commercial parking lots in the entire city. At least 1400 non-resident vehicles park daily in the Univ Ave residential neighborhoods. Time to say "NO!" to neighborhood intrusion and time to say "YES!" to neighborhood quality.

Residents around the commercial core of California and University Avenues have been asking (begging) for the professional city planners to state the demand for commercial core parking spaces in the development pipeline. The we have requested for the past two years to compare the demand with the small amount of parking capacity remaining in the commercial cores.


31 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:27 am

I resent that the "city staff," a group
of employees that don't live in PA, don't know PA, and probably resent and dislike PA and it's residents are making most of the decisions on the direction the town is headed. It is well known within City Hall that the staff and employees hate the residents of our town. How dare they continue with the destruction of downtown. Planning Director Gittelman needs to be fired.


11 people like this
Posted by Ugly downtown made pretty
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:43 am

The important take home message is that support for this project outnumbers those against. Proving once again that comments on this thread are not really representative of the public.
So what if the majority of the street is 'victorian". What is so special about victorian--ugly IMHO. Which also means there are non-victorian structures on that street--so no prescedent is being set\

Now let's address resident's comments:
"I resent that the "city staff," a group
of employees that don't live in PA, don't know PA, and probably resent and dislike PA and it's residents are making most of the decisions on the direction the town is headed."
That is how a city staff works. Unless you mandate that city staff live in the city, you will have employees that live elsewhere. But let's get to the more outrageous claim--that they resent and dislike PA and it's residents.
Care to provide some proof of this--names of which staff hate us????

' It is well known within City Hall that the staff and employees hate the residents of our town."
Well known to who. Please provide the names of the staff you are concerned about and exactly who "knows" all this.

"How dare they continue with the destruction of downtown. "
If what you call happening is the "destruction: of downtown,m then it needs to continue. DT has been ugly for years. The recent buildings are like a breath of fresh air. Too much ugly victorian and spanish colonial crap on our streets

'Planning Director Gittelman needs to be fired. "
contact the council with your complaints


17 people like this
Posted by Citizen pa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

Count me as another one who lost a mirror on Kipling from a sideswipe (high deductible insurance policy).

People need to stop complaining and start creating a process that allows concrete evaluation of projects within the bigger picture -- like the limitations of resources like water and other infrastructure, and the very real issues of traffic CIRCULATION and safety. We need to have tools that allow evaluation under those parameters as well.

For example, we have a policy of heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute routes. What does that mean when you can't even get the City to evaluate how the safety of kids on bikes and walking will be affected using a traffic study? We need to have policies around safety and other requirements of the comp plan, and those policies need to be mandatory with clear administrative and judicial remedies if not followed.

I hope after Maybell citizens appreciate that in order to fix things, they are going to have to do more than appeal individual projects. Reminder to my fellow residents: We also have an initiative process in Palo Alto....



28 people like this
Posted by Planners for Hayes
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:53 am

"How dare they continue with the destruction of downtown. Planning Director Gittelman needs to be fired."
I would add planner Amy French. She is often the staff defender of Hayes projects.
Gittelman is following in the footsteps of her predecessor Steve Emslie of 27 university fame. But of course, their boss is the City Manager.


26 people like this
Posted by Oh Dear
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

So while we put on a bunch of show to maintain the historic exterior of the Varsity, we are tearing down historic buildings across the street and putting up a four story glass office building. Stupid!

Victorian architecture is beautiful, hence it's place in history and popularity. These Ken Hayes buildings belong in San Jose, not Downtown Palo Alto. I wish people who liked these things would move to San Jose and stop trying to ruin Palo Alto!

Of course, the ARB decision cannot be appealed based on parking - that is not part of the ARB's purview. Why do PA Weekly writers publish misleading comments?

There is no evidence that there is more support for the new, proposed building than there is against. Or was this put to a City-wide vote and I missed it? Counting only who shows up to a City meeting is bogus - most people don't even know about it and it takes a lot of time and a grass roots citizen effort to get it published widely enough to get people to go downtown on a weekday night, sit for hours, and then speak against one of these projects. The developer, on the other hand, brings a cadre of supporters because he "knows the Palo Alto process."

I will show up at the next meeting and declare my opposition!


20 people like this
Posted by jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Am I to understand that the ARB is a referee for the popularity of a development? Because more supporters were at the meeting than detractors? So who were the supporters who showed up? Did they spontaneously show up because they like the building and had nothing to do with anyone who will benefit financially either directly or indirectly? Can anyone shed any light on this?


18 people like this
Posted by savewater
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I agree with mauricio, all of these developments use so much water to be built, not to mention the future tenants. Palo Alto is definitely hypocritical in saying we're a "green" city, yet all of the natural resources that are being used for these developments. And if we stop making more parking, then people will have to ride their bikes or use the train, there's an incentive. Stop making space for everyone to come and destroy our what was once a beautiful city. Yes, there is definitely corruption going on. I've heard of it. And yes this is an ugly eye sore.


9 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

"I don't understand why Hayes Architects are getting so much business in PA. His buildings are an eyesore."

The answer is simple. Architects with talent charge substantial fees for their work. Hayes is cheap.


18 people like this
Posted by The plan go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm

The ARB has missed it once again. This is absolutely the wrong plan for this location, a waste of natural and manufactured resources. Buildings of this size should have to win public approval as the board continues to allow exemptions that are not In our city's long term best interest. Maybe the ARB must go too.


13 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

"Because more supporters were at the meeting than detractors? So who were the supporters who showed up? Did they spontaneously show up because they like the building and had nothing to do with anyone who will benefit financially either directly or indirectly? Can anyone shed any light on this?"

Yes. The ARB meets when most people have to be at their jobs. Developers can assign their employees to attend the meeting on the company clock, and maybe even provide transportation. The rest of us have to take time off on vacation, if we can, to attend.

But no worry. The ARB routinely approves every atrocity that comes its way, suggesting tweaks as needed to cure any residual aesthetic touches. They are architects, after all. In contemporary architecture, the ability to appreciate ugly is the mark of a true sophisticate. As for the rest of us, [This portion would be removed].


16 people like this
Posted by Corruption
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Corruption in Palo Alto? Oh no! Or?

Are Corruption and Lobbying connected? Read “Transparency International’s” thoughts about it Web Link if you find an obvious connection Palo Alto. I do!

The Palo Alto City Government is so beholden to special interests that it is not clear to me where acceptable lobbying ends and where corruption starts; see e.g. the City Council Special Meeting minutes from November 16, 2009 Web Link, the discussion of item 17 by people who make money from the decision, without having to state it to the public.

We read in the local papers from time to time the accounting of the revolving door employment of architects on the ARB. There is the problem that too many architects are on the ARB. None would be the right number. Or only architects who for 3 years before or after being on ARB cannot have any (any!) connection with firms or works in Palo Alto.

The latest session of the Planning and Transportation Commission Web Link is another example. Listening to the “discussion” is revolting. The Developers, with systematic stacking of members over many years, have managed, by removing Keller and Fineberg, to change the Commission from a respected independent group to a mouth piece of the development interests Web Link . Alchek lobbies for his family’s real estate interests, two others are founders of a development lobbying group, Palo Alto Forward, who hides behind being for affordable housing (who isn’t) and better traffic (who isn’t either?) without showing any hard facts or models.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:54 pm

The building as designed follows all of the rules set forth by city council. What more do you expect her to do? Never should a very small minority tell us what is and is not attractive. I like Victorian and I like contemporary. Get over it!


8 people like this
Posted by Corruption Addendum
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

So where is the Palo Alto Wing of the City Council? I thought we voted one in in November? Have they been co-opted into the story that the Staff has so much work to do with furthering the interests of the developers and builders, they have no time to defend the interest of the population.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm

[Post removed due to potential defamation.]


5 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

I think the Victorians destroyed the character of the neighborhood before the founding of Palo Alto.

Great - does this mean we're going to have to put faux-bay windows on all Palo Alto structures like all the drab ugly architecture near Victorian neighborhoods in San Francisco? Talk about a buzz kill....


22 people like this
Posted by Yes it is corruption
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm

" Alchek lobbies for his family's real estate interests, two others are founders of a development lobbying group, Palo Alto Forward, who hides behind being for affordable housing (who isn't) and better traffic (who isn't either?) without showing any hard facts or models."

Well put.
Rosenblum on the PTC was recently hired as a business manager by Palantir, and Commissioner Downing's husband works for them too. They are founders of PAForward.
Palantir is a relatively new, big money company, it can organize its employees to lobby the city council and also behind the scenes.(oops, already done that)
Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It's quite possible that by next summer California will run out of water. We are in an existential emergency. All developments should be frozen, not just this particular tacky, oversized and ugly one.


16 people like this
Posted by running out the string
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

This project and the all the others the City has been rubber-stamping
call for excavation, this one a two-level underground garage. This requires
approval for dewatering for the contingency that the water table is hit.
On this basis alone this project and all others which involve basement
construction should be denied in this critical and increasingly
dire drought situation. As Palo Alto seems intent to run out the string in its pro-development policies regardless of the consequences for residents,
quality of life, the environment,streetscapes,it is likely that cities like Palo Alto will soon be preempted in their ability to approve such projects.
If this project is allowed to go forward, at this late stage in the drought
conditions and on top of all the other cumulative impacts, then this city
truly will be the poster child of bad government. Game over.


3 people like this
Posted by dishonest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Claiming that we should stop development on the basis of a water shortage is an intellectually dishonest argument. Only 4% of our state's water is used for personal use. Web Link The vast majority - 93% is used by agriculture and then the rest is used for watering lawns and commercial use, etc.

We could very well double the population of California and have enough water for everyone if we cut down agricultural use by 4%. And that's actually really easy to do because many Central CA farmers don't even do the basics like having water meters, only watering at night, or installing drip irrigation. Taxpayers pay to get water out of the mountains and down into Central and Southern California- they fund major pipes and other facilities and the amount paid by farmers for that water is a small percentage of the total cost of all the infrastructure it takes to get them water. So they pay less than the fair price for that water, but then they mostly grow almonds which they ship directly to China's burgeoning middle class - and they definitely charge market prices for that. So we essentially export our water to China and the farmers are the ones who profit.

So, in conclusion, we don't really have a "water crisis." We have a "water allocation crisis" and we can choose to put more water towards the people instead of toward private corporations which profit off of it. It's a conscious choice we make.


9 people like this
Posted by Citizen pa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:22 pm

dishonest,

We also have, literally, an infrastructure limitation. You can only run so much through existing pipes. I haven't had any water pressure to speak of in recent years. Allocation is also not as simple as just saying X percent can be sent from farmers to cities. Our cities have dedicated water supplies. They are being strained beyond capacity. Building more is a huge and expensive endeavor. The existing residents have to pay for that development that they don't even want. Our nation is vast, and stronger if we don't concentrate all in one place. Some smaller towns are thriving because they put in lightning fast internet service and are attracting high tech businesses. Renewing smaller towns with picturesque central downtowns is probably better for our nation in the long run than trying to squeeze everyone into urban areas in arid regions that are only going to get dryer.


16 people like this
Posted by Corruption, part deleted
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Curiously in an earlier posting "@Corruption" the following facts were removed. let's see if on second second thought the censors have second thoughts:

Diana Diamond has publicly denounced what is going on with the City Council; On November 11, 2014 she wrote:
""Despite voters awarding three Palo Alto City Council seats to "residentialists" in the Nov. 4 election, outgoing incumbents Nancy Shepherd, Larry Klein and Gail Price prevailed in selecting "growth" people to the Planning and Transportation Commission.""

""To my dismay, Marc Berman and re-elected Greg Scharff joined them, although Scharff had proclaimed during the campaign that he wanted less growth. Guess the council prevailed once again over voter preferences.""

David Price publicly called the election of the new Planning Commissioners in November as “Stacking the Commission”. He proposed proposed a way to correct this, namely to increase the Planning Commission membership.

But this is not even necessary if the Council members elected with pretense to be residentialist do their job. The California Planning Commissioners Handbook, Part 1, Web Link says with great simplicity in the very first paragraph, that “Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Council”.

To wit:
"""1. What is the planning commission?
It is a permanent committee of 5 or more citizens who have been appointed by the city council (or the mayor in some cities) or county board of supervisors to review matters related to planning and development. A commission holds public hearings on a regular schedule (in some jurisdictions, as often as once a week) to consider land use matters. These include such things as the local general plan, specific plans, rezonings, use permits, and subdivisions. Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the council or supervisors, so commission membership changes in response to changes in those bodies."""

So residentialists, hop to it!


2 people like this
Posted by dishonest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm

From an environmental perspective, having more cities instead of densifying our exising ones is an ecological disaster. There is absolutely nothing green about that. Just think about all the extra roads you'd have to add, all the extra trucks that would be bringing things from ports to so many more cities. Think about the difference in a post man delivering mail to 80 apartments in an apartment complex v. 80 houses - and now multiply that out. Think about the extension of water mains, gas lines, and electric grids. What you're proposing is to literally take green open spaces that today are free of pollution and cars, places where animals still run free and we have abundant trees and wetlands that purify our air and water, and to essentially build sprawl on them. Sprawl we ourselves said we didn't want when we declared that 60% of this city would be dedicated to open space.

According to a recent Berkeley study "The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50 percent below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average." Web Link

Your vision is one that would only add to global climate change and would send Palo Alto under water even faster as our sea levels rise.

I'll also add that from an environmental perspective, CA is one of the best places in the country to experience population growth because we require so little heating or air conditioning. Even if we had to ship our water in from further away or desalinate, you'd still be using way less energy as a Palo Altan than as a Minnesotan or Arizonan because you don't have to raise or lower your air temperature by 40 degrees or more on a regular basis. Our weather also allows us to bike and walk more than any nearly any other place in the country.


3 people like this
Posted by Honest Intellectual Argument
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:59 pm

"Claiming that we should stop development on the basis of a water shortage is an intellectually dishonest argument. Only 4% of our state's water is used for personal use. The vast majority - 93% is used by agriculture... ."

That's right! Shut that agricukture down (why don't farmers buy their food at Trader Joe's like everyone else anyway?) and there's more than lots of water for everybody. How come we tolerated this situation in the first place?


14 people like this
Posted by Counterclockwise
a resident of University South
on Mar 16, 2015 at 8:04 pm

"The largely commercial development will also include four residential units and retail space on the ground floor."

Translated: four luxury executive office suites with really big wet bars, and a Starbucks.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm

@Honest Intellectual Argument

I'm pretty sure you're just playing dumb, but the point wasn't to shut down agriculture, just have them pay the same market rates for water as everyone else. Or do you think that we should continue to subsidize them heavily, because if we didn't we wouldn't have any food to eat? Because that wouldn't really be much of an "honest intellectual argument"


12 people like this
Posted by 6th generations deep
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 9:57 pm

To start with: this building is hideous. It's also too large for the lot and Kipling is one of the narrowest streets downtown, it cannot handle a high density building with traffic going in and out of its underground lot.

Furthermore, the design of this monstrosity is out of step with the surrounding buildings and is in direct conflict with the stated goals of the Architectural Review Board.

Keep the original building ya greedy greedsters! It's a beauty!


3 people like this
Posted by citizen pa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:20 pm

dishonest is right. You know very well I was speaking of rejuvenating small towns and not suburban sprawl.

There are only so many resources in one place. If you concentrate people, you have to bring more resources from further away, where having healthy small towns, where food and resources can mostly be local, is far more ecologically friendly. The towns are already there, so we aren't talking more roads. We are talking more sustainability.


Like this comment
Posted by Oh Dear
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm

@dishonest:

Please provide CREDIBLE sources to support your many ideas. Alternet is not a scientifically recognized sours. Even the government doesn't recognize their "ideas."

I hope everyone reading this thread is smart enough to understand the difference between credible sources and random internet sites. Just because someone posts it, doesn't make it true...


Like this comment
Posted by Oh Dear
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Sorry:

>> Alternet is not a scientifically recognized sours.

should be:

Alternet is not a scientifically recognized source.


Like this comment
Posted by Honest Intellectual Argument
a resident of University South
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:05 pm

@Robert

Let's see. Was I playing dumb, or was I doing a reductio ab adsurdum on your argument, possibly sans the reductio? As time goes by the distinction gets hazier and hazier. So, sorry.

But whatever, if the farmers "pay the same market rate (for water) as everyone else", then we all pay for it in higher prices if we buy their products. Unless, of course, the farmers just buy their food at Trader Joes like the rest of us. You see the essential logical conundrum, right?

So why did you bring this up?


4 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Well, it looks good to me. When's it going to be finished?


2 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2015 at 12:43 am

@dishonest - so you oppose this building right? "From an environmental perspective, having more cities instead of densifying our exising ones is an ecological disaster" That means we need to stop all development in the suburbs (aka Palo Alto), and get this building moved to San Jose, Oakland, or San Francisco.

@commonsense - "The building as designed follows all of the rules set forth by city council." Uhm, except for the parking part - it is under parked by 52 spots.

BTW, protesting based on the modern style is a proven loser. Focus on the parking issue..


8 people like this
Posted by The beat goes on
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:31 am

These same arguments have been going on for decades. Big out of town, and increasingly, out of country, developers have moved in to make a killing out of destroying the character of our town. Not really a town anymore but a city crammed into a space much too small. This city and its elected representatives have often thought they OWE these outside developers a good return on their investment. I don't get it. We don't owe them anything. We have zoning and public opinion by people who actually live here and pay their mortgages here. I love this town. I'm starting to not recognize it.


6 people like this
Posted by K
a resident of University South
on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:19 am

I too, support Mr. Harbour's concern. Kipling Street was named for English author Rudyard Kipling. It was over a century ago that Palo Alto streets were named for distinguished literary authors of the humanities. This is part of the unique and fascinating story of the founding family of Stanford University and the legacy and lore of Palo Alto. I feel the design of that building completely dishonors that legacy in every way.


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2015 at 6:18 am

mauricio is a registered user.

According to a NASA scientist, based on satellite photos, California has water left for only one more year, based on current rain fall. Claiming we don't have a water crisis but only a water allocation issue is truly astounding. By the summer of 2016, we may very well turn on the faucet one morning and no water will come out of the pipes, regardless of agribusiness. Any development that increases water use and demand is suicidal. Since this particular development is completely unnecessary, ditching it should be a no brainer.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2015 at 9:56 am

There is hope. Last night the city council suddenly summarily junked the recommendations of its process and decreed a different design for the Adobe/Barron bridge. If we can likewise stampede them against the planning commission/ARB approval of this blockhouse...


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Posted by dishonest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Palo Alto IS a city and it should be densifying if we are true to sustainability and environmentalism. You don't get to call yourself a "suburb" anymore when your population doubles during the day because you have so many workers flooding in. That's a city. A suburb is a place where people go home to sleep at night and that hasn't been Palo Alto in a long time. The fact that we've artificially strangled housing here and made it someone else's problem doesn't make us any less of a city - just an extremely imbalanced one. We are not only a city, but we're part of the Bay Area and we're part of Silicon Valley. We have tons of jobs, universities, and in fact, more than one public transportation system. That's more than most anywhere in the country can say for themselves. It totally makes sense to densify where you already have lots of people working and where you have real functional public transportation. And also where the weather means lower energy use. So yes, I support building more here - more in all parts of the Bay Area that are or can be connected to Caltrain or BART, not just Palo Alto.

I believe in leaving ourselves open space. I believe in being able to leave the city and visiting pristine forests, lakes, valleys, etc. I want my own children to be able to see this land in its natural state and not a sea of parking lots that pave over paradise. I don't want more "small towns" (or bigger small towns) in places that should be left alone - where natural habitats shouldn't be destroyed and more species shouldn't go extinct because of our contact with them.

Further, this argument about "locally supplied" is just completely false. Everyone in this country consumes goods from all over the world. We are a net importer in general, and of of consumer goods in particular. Most of your produce comes from South America or further. Almost all of your electronics and furniture and everything else comes from China and various other parts of the world. Don't know if you haven't noticed this, but we don't really make anything anymore. It's a challenge to go find something bought in the last week that wasn't grown, processed, refined, deboned, cooked, packaged, or frozen outside the US. No town in Kansas is magically subsisting on "local" anything - they're shipping in all those cars, the oil, the produce, the seafood, the textiles, the electronics, and most anything else you can name. Any city relies on shipments from international ports and you're either right next to the port like we are or you're far away and we send you thousands of trucks a day with goods from those ports.

What you're talking IS sprawl, let's not mince words. Gilroy and Morgan Hill ARE sprawl. Having one street called "Main Street" and then a ton of single family homes with water-hogging lawns, 3 cars in the front yard, and two adults driving 40 minutes or more to work in Silicon Valley every day is the very definition of unsustainable. But that's what you're creating when you don't build enough housing here- people go and put in housing in previously untouched, beautiful open spaces, and of course they do it in the most unsustainable way possible- by building themselves McMansions.

Small towns are also not particularly attractive if you're at the point in your life where you're still building a career. People change jobs today something like every 3-7 years; working for one employer your whole life doesn't really happen today. You can't be in a town with 3 major employers and do that and still keep your home and community intact. And that's even harder if you're married and you both have careers and you both need to find good employer fits and be able to switch jobs regularly. People gain the most in terms of wages when they switch jobs, not from promotions. They also benefit from having lots of employers competing for their talent and being able to switch to a different sector of the economy when one comes crashing down. There's a reason that today's young people mostly move to urban centers and it's not just for the lifestyle, it's because it's economically strategic to be in a place where there are lots of jobs and you have lots choices.


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Palo Alto is not a city. It doesn't have the infrastructure or the space to create an infrastructure that can support what a city requires-wide roads and plenty of them to accommodate heavy traffic and efficient public transportation. It does not have the land to support the massive housing that a city requires. It's a small town that is artificially being forced to become a city. The process started when Stanford was using the Palo Alto streets to bring in the employees of its various research park companies. Palo Alto has a unique geography which will never allow it to become a real city. Anything artificial that is forced on an environment that's not suited and is incapable of sustaining it will fail and end up destroying it. All we are doing by allowing greedy developers and misguided people who support them and feel like they absolutely must have a Palo Alto address to be hip, is allowing them to destroy a wonderful town, tradition and way of life.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

@mauricio, please... what is this "Unique Geography" you're referring to? I know you're of the opinion that you don't want any growth, but I have yet to hear what these physical limitations are that don't exist in any other place.


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Let me enlighten you. We have the bay to the east, and foothills to the west. Can't spread to the north or south either, Menlo Park and Mountain View are in the way. Palo Alto has large swats of land that are not buildable. Sunnyvale or San Jose don't have the same limitations and geography, but the pro development crowd makes no distinctions between San jose, Sunnyvale or even San Francisco in their desire to create an urban metropolis here. Don't have the wide streets, roads and avenues those cities have. We are a small town, period.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Oakland also has bay to the west and hills to the east, and funny you should mention San Francisco, last time I checked it was surrounded on three sides by water. So I don't think you quite understand what a "physical limitation" is, though its also pretty clear you've made up your mind about how you feel, facts be damned...


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm

I believe Mauricio's point is that SF, SJ and OAK all have existing infrastructure to support a high-rise environment. PA does not and there are physical limitations that prevent such an implementation.

SF:
- BART
- Caltrain
- Muni buses
- Muni street cars
- Cable cars
- Subway
- Ferries
- Taxis (everywhere)
- Major freeway access, right next to city center.
- Wide, multi-lane roads -- for example, 3rd St. is 5 lanes wide and one way into the City. It has a bus/taxi lane.

Both San Jose and Oakland have similar set ups. Their city centers are easily accessed by many modes of transportation.

PA:
- Caltrain
- VTA buses? (joking)
- Only real freeway access is Page Mill/Oregon - and yet you're nowhere near downtown. University is a 2-lane road and can't be widened. Embarcadero is a 4-lane road that is bordered by homes, schools, parks - it can't be converted into an expressway. Sand Hill will never go through as the PA-North would sue over environmental impact from cut-through traffic.
- ECR? Another joke.

That's what he means by physical limitations. No place to build and no place to provide the required ingress/egress.


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Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 6:42 pm


Mauricio states:

"Palo Alto is not a city."
He may want to check out this website:
Web Link


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Crescent Park Dad made my point for m,e since you seem confused. Unlike San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, which seem to be the model you wish PA to follow, we don't have the infrastructure to support a real city, nor can we create one, because of the geographical limitations I mentioned. The existing infrastructure is that of a small town and can't be significantly enlarged, even if we thought it was a good idea(it isn't). I hope you are less confused now. Artificially trying to create a metropolis in a small town is a recipe for disaster.


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