News


East Palo Alto runs out of water, development on hold

City asks water agency for additional monthly allocations to meet needs

Hundreds of units of affordable housing and millions of square feet of commercial construction in East Palo Alto cannot be developed because the city doesn't have enough water, according to city leaders.

East Palo Alto has been allotted 1.96 million gallons per day by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which supplies water to local municipalities, but the city could use another 1.5 million gallons per day, city officials say.

East Palo Alto's water consumption per person is already the lowest of any of the utility's 26 wholesale water customers -- 57 gallons per day, according to a 2013-2014 survey by the Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA). The nearby affluent city of Hillsborough consumes five times that amount -- 302 gallons per capita per day.

To remedy the situation, East Palo Alto officials on Tuesday, June 14, asked the commission to allocate another 1.5 million gallons per day to the city's guaranteed water supply.

In addition, city leaders are asking the commission and BAWSCA, whose members are the utility's wholesale customers, to create ways and incentives for the cities that are not using their full water allotments to transfer some to East Palo Alto and other cities that are facing increased demands.

Without additional water, East Palo Alto must put off major projects that would create affordable housing and thousands of jobs, proponents for the increased allocation told commissioners Tuesday. The city's general plan calls for 2,519 additional residential units; 333,406 square feet of additional retail; 1.9 million square feet of additional office space; and 267,987 square feet of additional industrial space by 2035.

Current proposed projects on hold include 120 units of affordable housing on city-owned land at 965 Weeks St.; a new private school funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, for up to 500 students that includes health care and other services; a 200,000-square-foot office project at 2111 University Ave. that could create 650 new jobs; and a 1.4 million-square-foot office project at 2020 Bay Road, the former Romic chemical plant location, that could provide up to 4,500 new jobs, according to a city manager's report.

East Palo Alto has exceeded its Hetch Hetchy allotment four times in the last 14 years, most recently in 2012, according to a city staff report. And that doesn't even factor in the future water needs of three major projects already underway: Edenbridge Homes, with 166 new residential units; the 215,000-square-foot Sobrato office project; and the 4 Corners mixed-use project.

East Palo Alto's water woes were set in motion decades ago when little attention went into planning for future growth by San Mateo County agencies. The city incorporated in 1982, but it was served by the county-run water district, which included Belle Haven in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.

The water requests were handled by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors until that time, said Steven Ritchie, assistant general manager of the SFPUC Water Enterprise, which is responsible for overseeing water system operations and planning from Hetch Hetchy through the Regional Water System.

In 2001 East Palo Alto lost a share of its water to Menlo Park in when the East Palo Alto County Waterworks District dissolved. Today, in addition to the Hetch Hetchy allotment, several hundred East Palo Alto residents and small businesses get water from underground wells.

City Councilwoman Lisa Gauthier petitioned the commission to consider that East Palo Alto can play a major role in providing affordable housing for the region, but only if it gets more water.

About 40 percent of the city's current housing stock is affordable. The city is willing to take on more affordable housing, Gauthier said.

An increased water allocation factors heavily into economic equity issues, Gauthier said. She noted that at 0.23 jobs per resident, East Palo Alto has the lowest jobs-per-capita ratio in the county, an unemployment rate that is twice the county average. More water could enable more development of businesses, which would create more work for local residents.

Other speakers joined Gauthier in advocating for the city to receive more water.

"The City of East Palo Alto is in a tough position. ... Basic needs can't be provided," said Brian Perkins, district director for U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier's office. "The choice is often between paying high rents or paying for food or medical care. That's not acceptable. ... The most essential service is readily available (elsewhere in the Bay Area), but not in East Palo Alto, and that's water."

East Palo Alto also faces pressures with Facebook on its border. The social-media giant's workforce has exploded, and it is giving $10,000 bonuses to employees to live within 10 miles of its campus. East Palo Alto residents, whose annual median income is $52,000, can't compete with a Facebook bonus that is 20 percent of their salaries, Perkins said. The additional water would allow the city to create economic opportunity and diverse housing that can be spread broadly across the community, proponents said.

Maeve Johnston, community health planner for the San Mateo County Health System, said the lack of water is also a public health issue for East Palo Alto residents. The high price of housing forces many residents to live in basements, where they are exposed to pests and mold, or to double or triple up in cramped quarters, increasing stress and exposure to communicable diseases -- problems that cannot be solved without more housing and the water to support it.

Nicole Sandkulla, BAWSCA CEO and general manager, said the agency supports the additional 1.5-million-gallon-per-day allocation for East Palo Alto. She also urged the commission to speed up the process for East Palo Alto and not to wait until 2018 to approve additional allocation guarantees.

The commissioners are not scheduled to add allocations until 2018, which would include considering whether to make the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara permanent customers. Currently, both cities have temporary status and are not guaranteed minimum water allocations, but they are seeking permanent status and increased water allocations, which could be granted as early as 2018.

Ritchie said it would not be detrimental for cities to transfer some of the allocations to East Palo Alto. The commission's allotments to permanent wholesale members total 184 million gallons per day, but that level has not been reached and it is not expected to reach close to capacity until at least 2040, when demand is projected at 177.8 million gallons per day, including requests from San Jose and Santa Clara, Ritchie said.

Many cities are going to use less than their allotments due to successful conservation efforts, water reuse and other technologies. Palo Alto has a 17.08-million-gallons-per-day allocation, but the city actually only purchased 9.68 million gallons per day last year, including 0.11 million gallons to Stanford Hospital, according to commission's 2015 Urban Water Management Plan for the City and County of San Francisco. Mountain View has 13.46 million gallons per day, but it purchased only 7.61 million gallons supply assurance.

But Ritchie acknowledged that many cities might be anxious to give up water they might need for future development. Financial incentives might encourage sharing.

"If demands don't bounce back, they will still have to pay minimum purchase requirements," he said. East Palo Alto would take on that purchase cost if it takes on the additional allocations, he said.

The commission did not vote on the topic, but board Vice President Anson Moran said it would probably be an uphill battle to get cities to give up their water allotments, although contractually it would be the easiest way to obtain the needed water supply.

In the longer term, additional water supplies will have to be created for all of the customers. He suggested that staff create priority lists for how future goals can be met. That would include conservation and reclamation. In addition to East Palo Alto, Purissima Hills Water District, San Jose and Santa Clara are asking for greater allotments.

Other potential water supplies the commissioners might look at include additional water diversion from the Tuolumne River, regional desalination, desalination of brackish groundwater and the use of nonpotable groundwater for irrigation, he said.

East Palo Alto has two other potential groundwater sources, but they are not expected to be enough for its demand and are not reliable. The Gloria Bay Well, which is not in production, has high concentrations of manganese. The city is working with a consultant to design a treatment system to filter out the excessive manganese so the water can be used.

Another site on a triangle of property at East Bayshore Road and Clarke Avenue, known as Pad D, is another potential source, but the well there has not yet been dug. Both sources would help the city establish emergency water supplies, city officials have said.

Gauthier said she was encouraged by the commission's response and observed that commissioners seemed to understand that the city needs the water now. She reiterated that it comes down to an equity issue. With so much hanging in the balance for the city in terms of jobs, housing and educational opportunities, she said that she hopes the city can work with other water customers to develop a solution to East Palo Alto's dilemma.

"Everybody knows the urgency. It's not like we can wait a year or until 2018," she said.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

East Palo Alto is our neighbor and interested in the development. Why not transfer water and housing unit allocations to East Palo Alto? More housing could be built for the same money as in PA, and it's close enough to bike to most PA jobs.

I'd like to know how the excess of PA water described here ties in to the drought restrictions and my dead garden and fruit trees - when can I just water my garden again?


1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 10:48 am

Why not use well water? Or just transfer the projects to Palo Alto, and build additional developments in East Palo Alt once water supplies are secured.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 10:52 am

[Post removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by Victoria
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 19, 2016 at 10:59 am

Just one of many ways that poor communities are penalized for being poor. I do hope that EPA is given more water to continue these vital projects.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


17 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

[Portion removed.] Since we have the water in PA, there is no need for us to throw the problem over the fence. We need plenty of housing both in EPA and PA. Perhaps Palo Alto could annex EPA and we could all be one big, happy family. The EPA voters would bring some sorely needed rationality to PA.

[Portion removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Andrew Rich
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jun 19, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Funnily enough, the contracted EPA water agency keeps raising our rates and tacking on bogus fees. Almost like they're trying to increase profit without increasing supply.


8 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

EPA is not alone with High rates and fees.

The charge for 8 units of PA water now exceeds our charge for Both Gas and Electric, combined (neither are in the low usage range compared to our neighbors in that consumption ranking Mailer).

16 Units (highest Summer usage) in 1985 was $20...
$20 barely pays the Meter fee (we do not have a large meter required by houses with Fire Sprinklers) today

EPA is at a 'Well' disadvantage: Baylands salt.

Time to share if we have excess. If they build, that takes some of the load off US. seems fair to me.



2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:36 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


17 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Palo Alto doesn't have enough water to support even the most modest drives to overpopulate this town, either, but it won't stop the endless development and overpopulating of Palo Alto.


25 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm

So while Palo Alto pumps fresh water from McMansion basements to the sewer, our neighbor runs out of water. I hope the regional/state/national/international press never hears of this. We've had our quota of embarrassment for this decade.


20 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm

I am surprised we Palo Atan's are not out of water also, the way the building and development is out of control.
In some areas the well water cannot be used because it is toxic.
Yet buildings and high rises are starting to clog our skyline,
Abag says "Keep Building", .. Sarah Winchester hears those voices too...


7 people like this
Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm

@Kazu & @Curmudgeon
Your comments about "transferring development projects from EPA to PA," "moving to EPA," and "annexing EPA" are pretty troubling to me. The two cities are in different counties and always have been. You speak as though the 2 communuties are one in the same, as if East Palo Alto is just an extension of Palo Alto, but that couldn't be further from reality. In stead of proposing your own solutions, I'd urge you to learn a little more about East Palo Alto and think about what people over here might have to say about these issues.

If you're serious about being a part of the solution, you can start by encouraging your elected officials in Palo Alto to transfer a portion of the city's unused water allotments to East Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 7:17 pm

[Portion removed.] I was merely saying that Palo Alto should not be trying to throw its problems over the fence to adjacent communities. Transferring water allotments to EPA is fine, but should be done to allow housing and business development in EPA, not to avoid doin the same in Palo Alto.

OK, instead of Palo Alto annexing EPA, how about EPA annexing Palo Alto? I think the EPA influence would be a good thing. Palo Alto is starting to get pretty weird and goofy, and does not seem to know how to effectively utilize its considerable resources. Transferring some of those resources to EPA, not just water allotments, might be beneficial for both sides of the freeway. That would be easier to facilitate if the two communities were joined. It's a Better Together kind of thing.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 7:33 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by carrying capacity
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 19, 2016 at 9:03 pm

The San Francisco Bay Area is already well above its carrying capacity, as shown by how much water is already imported. Perhaps a robust gray water system would allow more growth, or at least get the region living closer to within its means, as its unlikely that the population will de-centralize in the near future. That said, water and other resources that we're already pulling in should be distributed equitably.


11 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 11:16 am

How sad that Facebook gets the water it wants every time it expands, but the little school its founder wants to build can't get built because we don't have the water.

Also, as all too often, many commenters here are making this about PA. It's not. A thoughtful, serious discussion about our lack of water, and how we've been screwed over by a neighboring city and those in power at the time would be useful. Please stop making this about PA when it's about East Palo Alto during a regional housing crisis and historic inequity that has interrupted our crucial economic development. Why the constant knee-jerk reaction to make news like this about PA?

All cities updating their general plans encounter controversy and values conflicts over growth and change. But how many face such a lack of water? What jobs does Hillsboro provide? What affordable housing does Hillsboro provide the county? What sort of serious water conversation plan does Hillsboro have in the wings for when the current drought worsens?


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2016 at 12:07 pm

"@Kazu & @Curmudgeon
Your comments about "transferring development projects from EPA to PA," "moving to EPA," and "annexing EPA" are pretty troubling to me."

Those comments are especially troubling to me, because I never made them. Please (re)read what I did say.


8 people like this
Posted by Anne-Lise
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:24 pm

I don't think development should be made near the bay anymore due to sea level rise. These areas should be left to development that can be moved like go cart parks or businesses like Lyngso (which has moved).

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:27 pm

East Palo Alto is in San Mateo County. The SM county should be working the allocation of water within the county since there is planned growth coming up in Menlo Park on El Camino, and Redwood City - new SU campus. There is also a new condo development on the SM Baylands. The question on the table is if SM County has all of the new growth planned why isn't it allocating the water to the cities within the county in a equal manner. When a city goes through the process of approving new construction there has to be an evaluation and impact study to see if there are adequate support services for the new construction.
So why is this a Palo Alto problem? PA is in Santa Clara which is controlled by the SC County Water District.
Any impacts to any city within a county need to be resolved by the agencies within that county since the taxes are allocated by the county agencies.


20 people like this
Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm

So let me get this straight. East Palo Alto needs more water so that other people (by other people I mean no one from the current EPA community) can build more monstrosities like the Sabrato building, and the million dollar Edenbridge homes? Are you kidding me? None of these projects are going to create jobs for EPA residents. Waht company is going to actively hire EPA residents from the sabrato building. Does EPA need yet another alternative school? How about fixing the schools that are already there. What NATIVE EPA resident can afford to buy or rent in EPA now? Not many. How about making sure that there is adequate water supply for the people who already live in EPA and have for generations. Why would anyone care about that when everything is becoming about Facebook. Facebook is giving $10K bonuses to live within 10 miles is sad. That is why East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto are no longer affordable. I am disgusted.


29 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

EPA Resident - it is extremely short sighted to want to halt development. I have to drive from EPA to Palo Alto if I want to get my oil changed, go out for dinner, get a car wash, go to the bank, or go to a bookstore. The idea that these kind of developments would not create local jobs is ludicrous - the entire peninsula is staffed by people who live in EPA and work elsewhere.

Furthermore, the increase home prices you complain about also pay the property taxes which pay for schools, sidewalks, roads, police officers, and pretty much everything government related. Most of the city's revenue comes from property taxes, and increased revenue can only benefit the community.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Resident 1 - why do you think it's a PA problem? That's not my takeaway from this article. But then, I don't think everything is about my city or how it relates to my city. Why do you think it's a county issue that SM County should be handling when it's not under their authority? It's an issue by jurisdiction overseen by a PUC. Maybe you need a better understanding of the complexities of water rights and what communities with water inequities can do about it?


11 people like this
Posted by Let them drink beer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm

So let's get this straight. The kneejerk reaction of most Palo Alto residents is to check the map and say "not our county, not our problem." Fascinating to see how little provocation is required to elicit the elitist me-first attitude that lurks just behind the facade of smug social liberalism and protestations of concern for those less affluent.

That said, this project has been in the works for years. I'm stunned no one even looked at the water situation before. If Sobrato didn't get that message, are the rest of the big developers even aware of our drought conditions and how they may impact development?


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:37 pm

I did not say it is a PA problem - it is a San Mateo County / East PA Water District problem. You pay your property taxes to the County you live in and your utility bills to the city you live in.

Individual property owners do not have the authority to oversee the allocation on how the water they receive is allocated. That is the job of the county water district who is funded by the taxpayers for that county. It is a governmental issue at the city, county, and state level.

It is unfortunate that construction was approved and went through an approval process that was suppose to evaluate the requirements for the construction effort and now they have come up short.
That puts to question the how and why this happened. The assumptions were incorrect.

It serves as an advisory to other cities who are in construction mode to insure that all services required by any new construction can be met within the existing resources available to the city and county.


8 people like this
Posted by Julius
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jun 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm

I just sent this email:

Dear BAWSCA,

Here is a water project to consider:

* Large desalination plant filling the South Bay area bordered by the Dumbarton Bridge on the north and salt farms on the east, west, and south.

* Cover the top with solar panels. Their black onyx color will look nice bordered by colorful salt ponds. They will defray energy costs.

* The plant can be entirely below Bay water level, quiet and invisible.

Thanks for considering,
...


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Resident 1 - It is NOT a county or water district problem. That's why the council is having to address the other agencies and consider other options. But you're correct in that it's a county issue because of the impact on affordable housing. We've been the default low income housing option for this region, and the county has some responsibility in that. If they want more housing - especially more affordable housing for all segments of society - built here, they need to do their part to support it all the way, including greater advocacy for water.

Let them drink beer - we've had a construction moratorium for years, and it was re enacted in recent years due to lack of water. I don't recall exactly why/how Sobrato was grandfathered in, but I believe the current projects by them and others were grandfathered in or already approved when the moratorium hit, so there were a few exceptions.

As helpful and detailed as this article it, it doesn't give an overview about why/how these few projects were approved. Kudos to Sue Dremman for this article. I also think more/additional info in another article would be helpful for readers. It's clear that many locals are unaware that this has been an issue here for a long time, but is now a crisis because we need some increased revenue for the city and the recent E Bayshore water discovery isn't going to solve all our problems.

Mark Dinan - I appreciate your thoughtful input. For very long term residents, change and growth are not just difficult to accept, but from the cost if living aspect, it can be terrifying. We are not a hermetically sealed city, do change is inevitable. Informed opinions from residents engaged in the process of updating the General Plan, as well as being watchdogs over development, are important for the city's future to change while not losing its roots. We have a great opportunity for engagement, and I hope that fear and stress don't cause residents to shut down and not participate.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2016 at 9:21 pm

There has to be an agency that has the necessary clout to negotiate the requirements for the cities that make up the tax base for a county. San Mateo County has huge resources in taxable base which includes SFO. So who is the agency that is suppose to do that for San Mateo county? The county is not lacking tax base and has a lot of new construction in process. Letting one city go lacking does not make sense. And putting any one city at risk for future development while the other cities are in development does not make sense.
Possibly one of the problems is that the congressional lines divide San Mateo county. We have a similar issue in Santa Clara County in which a major city - San Jose - is in a different congressional district than Palo Alto.
If each county is a distinct congressional district then maybe the splitting of resources could be corrected.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Resident1- perhaps you should reread the article so that you can better understand which agencies are involved.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2016 at 10:22 pm

FYI: Google,Apple,Facebook,and Sobrato Group, just to name a few, have purchased big tracts of land in E.P.A.

The$e companies will get their water. One way or another.


3 people like this
Posted by EPA kidss
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2016 at 11:04 pm

How about EPA get all the land back that was stolen from EPA, maybe we will get some water then? How about Menlo Park take Willow Oaks Elementary and Bell Haven to be part of there school district since they have all this money from Facebook taxes? We had to pass a bond to fix our Ravenswood School District Schools. Why? Why didn't we go after Menlo Park who is making all that money from the taxes. This is 2016 and Menlo Park still does not won't the schools because? Maybe soon as the Belle Haven area changes. Segregation is still alive. Crazy


4 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2016 at 11:22 pm

My take here is that EPA is in the wrong congressional district that most of San Mateo County is in so it is not getting the same resources that the rest of the county is getting. You are paying your taxes to the county to provide those services and are not getting those services,

We have a similar problem in Santa Clara county - we vote for transportation taxes but the majority of those funds get spent in the San Jose area - a different congressional district. The splitting of congressional districts is contrary to the taxes voted on by the county and how those services are provided. And the voting base is critical to negotiating how the resources are provided.


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Uhila
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:22 am

East Palo Alto incorporated in June 1983 not 1982


4 people like this
Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

@Mark Dinan - I am not sure how long you have been a resident of EPA but I can guarantee it is not generations like me and my family. The reason I know this is because you can get your oil changed on the corner of Pulgas and East Bayshore and across the street from that get your car washed and detailed. On a good day, you can also get a bbq dinner on either side of this corner. There is a credit union on the Mi Pueblo plaza as well. I will concede that you will have to travel to a bookstore, as they are few and far between since most people use kindles or buy there books from amazon. Being that I am short sighted, you tell me in the large development that is Home Depot, Nordstrom Rack, Mi Pueblo, oh and let's not forget the PGA Golf Store - how many EPA residents work in those places?
The increase in property values make it impossible for the people who have ALWAYS lived there to be able to afford to continue to live there. And just so you know, I am well aware of what property taxes are SUPPOSED to pay for but we just had to vote on a bond measure to help get much needed repairs to the aging schools, like Brentwood Academy, that has the exact same cafeteria/gym that it had when my sons grandmother went there. You clearly choose carefully what road you go done because daily I am on roads with NO sidewalks and giant potholes. Sometimes it's better to think before you speak.


Like this comment
Posted by kathy
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:19 am

Interesting there seems to be enough water for nearby Facebook campus (I know Menlo but east side), and how is Four Seasons, an EPA business, weathering this water crisis?


4 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:47 am

Solution: Increase supply. We don't capture enough of the excess water we receive in wet years. Adding some more local reservoirs would help. Instead, many environmentalists are trying to tear down existing dams. Then we don't have enough water to build affordable housing. Something's got to give. You can't have no dams, adequate water, no controls on overpopulation, affordable housing, preservation of open space, quality of life, and an endless number of other items on the wish list.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm

There seems to be some confusion as to which agency is responsible for determining the allocations. From what I gather, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission who makes this determination. They supply wholesale water to 27 water districts in three counties so, if I understand this correctly, it is an issue for them to resolve, not the county.

This certainly isn't an EPA vs. PA issue by any means. They are neighboring cities and make a nice comparison with regard to relative water allocations, but they are only one of the 27 water districts (including SF) that could have their allocation reduced to meet EPA's relatively modest request. Given the examples of PA and MV as cities with surplus (13M between them), I have to imagine that it would be easy to fulfill EPA's request.

The did not need the additional water until now, and the city only made this request a week ago, so there are no issues of inequity (at least not in this regard), yet. If their request is denied we can have that discussion then.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:55 pm

To address some points that were made in the discussion section:

- As EPA citizens, we can't complain about needed improvements that are municipal responsibilities and also complain about development that will provide additional revenue to fund those improvements in the same breadth. We either build our tax base or accept the status quo. Responsible and well-planned development is a good (necessary) thing, IMHO.

- We also can't complain about whether or not these businesses provide jobs to our cities residents (provided they are not being discriminated against). I have met many EPA residents at Home Depot, IKEA, etc., so I disagree that those businesses haven't provided jobs, but if we want more jobs for our locals we have at least two options:

A. Develop our own businesses to meet this need.

B. Improve our education and training such that our residents qualify for jobs in the industries that want to operate here. That applies to both the education and training our city provides, and what we go out and achieve for ourselves.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 21, 2016 at 6:59 pm

In Santa Clara County we voted on a person to be the head of the Water District for the county. Many people have been to meetings at the Water District facilities. Each County has to have negotiating power to get what they need. We pay support in our County Property Taxes. We pay the city utilities to negotiate what we need. Your city needs to figure out who is responsible for negotiating with these agencies to get what you need. there has to be a county representative who is the point person for these actions.
The fact that you have construction in process and cannot complete it makes no sense.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:54 pm

resident 1 - Why do you assume that EPA doesn't know who is responsible for negotiating with the SFPUC? Seems to me that the origin of this article was precisely those negotiations. Just because Santa Clara County has a water board doesn't mean that San Mateo County has taken the same approach. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that there are various water boards throughout the county comprised of either individual or multiple municipalities.

I'm also not sure which construction project you are referring to that is currently in process and can't be completed.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 0
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2016 at 9:52 am

Can we change the name of the city to Ravenswood already?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2016 at 9:13 am

Thank you for the dense and eye-opening article. I want to make sure that I'm understanding the article correctly:

- City Councilwoman Lisa Gauthier, an elected official who represents the residents of East Palo Alto, is in favor of development

- BAWSCA is in favor of increasing East Palo Alto water allocations

- SFPUC is voting again in 2018 to reconsider permanent allocations

- In the meantime, any city served by SFPUC can give unused allocations to East Palo Alto

- If cities end up needing allocations that they gave away, East Palo Alto will pay for the water

Giving away unused water to provide housing, jobs, and a school as a temporary measure seems like a no-brainer. What am I missing?

Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2016 at 9:17 am

The article stated "About 40 percent of the city's current housing stock is affordable. The city is willing to take on more affordable housing, Gauthier said."

Ms. Gauthier does not speak for all EPA residents on this matter - and IMHO does not speak in the best interests of EPA or San Mateo County. A 40% affordable housing stock in EPA is already a much higher ratio than in other San Mateo County towns. Each town should equally bear the burden of addressing housing for the poor. Studies show that segregation of disadvantaged groups (racial, economic, etc.) hinders improvement. (Think Brown vs. Board of Education). Putting the majority of the county's poor in one city will hinder the ability to bring that group out of poverty into the mainstream American success story.

Obtaining more water for EPA and being allowed it to grow into a town that is prosperous, well-educated, with good schools, safe streets, high-tech employers, nice residential and shopping districts, and "some" low income housing, i.e., a demographics distribution matching surrounding communities, should not be tied to taking on a greater burden of housing the county's poor.

"The poor will always be among us" and it is everyone's and every town's obligation to contribute to this need.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2016 at 10:49 am

Regarding:

"Posted by Online Name
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2016 at 10:22 pm

FYI: Google,Apple,Facebook,and Sobrato Group, just to name a few, have purchased big tracts of land in E.P.A.

The$e companies will get their water. One way or another."

Would the poster of the above, please help the readers understanding by identifying the big tracts of EPA land in question that have been purchased by Google, Apple, Facebook,others and Sobrato (other than than the 2 known ones - University square/plaza project(s) at University and Donohoe and just West of Chevron on Donohoe).

Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by Mountain View resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2016 at 12:59 pm

No water for EPA? So is the Four Seasons EPA rooftop swimming pool empty? Web Link

Oh excuse me, it's not Four Seasons EPA, it's Four Seasons 'Silicon Valley'


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2016 at 6:51 am

I believe the Edenbridge Homes project at Bay and Pulgas is about 51 homes not 155 and the 4 Corners mixed-use project is merely a dream, not a project in progress or one that has a even a developer lined up.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2016 at 7:04 am

Regarding the swimming pool comment, FYI, the 4 Seasons Hotel of "Silicon Valley" has contracted with the Palo Alto water agency as a back up to the EPA water agency. It's deep pockets allow that. EPA should allow new development to proceed on that basis, i.e., private procurement of water rights. A recent article on the EPA Sabrato project said the recent SV economic boom largely passed EPA by. EPA should "make hay while the sun shines" before another down cycle. Instead, they are stifling interested developers and also adding further impedements by adding more onerous hoops to jump through relaing to "affordable housing". (recent council resolution to add something on Nov. ballot).


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2016 at 7:26 am

see quote from other article where EPA council women to her credit recognizes EPA can't bear all peninsula's uty to house the poor. Also note, EPA's economic is in part its own fault. They voted down Sun Microsystems buiding its campus there in the 1980's. That campus is now Faceboik HQ.



“As a council, we’ve stated — and the community has said — affordable housing is a key concern for us,” Gauthier said. “…But I do know that revenue is important as well. We can’t be the total affordable housing community and the community with all the schools and nonprofits. We also need to bring additional revenue in the community.”

"And change is already coming regardless of the city’s position on growth. In the late 1980s, Sun Microsystems tried to build a new campus in the city’s Ravenswood area. But the idea became a political football and it failed to gain enough support on the City Council. Sun ended up building about two miles away, in Menlo Park. Today, it’s the Facebook headquarters"


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2016 at 7:42 am

Again, quote from SV Bus Journal.


EPA's anti-development policies continues to be a major cause of uts high poverty, high crime status.

See, the new "anti-displacement" ordinance info. Will any developer rebuild if they must let same tenants return at same rent? Do any other Bay area rent control towns havesabrato this? EPA already saw the value of cleaning blighted area when they allowed University Circle, Ikea,Sabrato, and other areas redeveloped under the Redevelopment Agency. All involved displacement.

"City officials say they are taking the issue seriously. A draft update of the city’s general plan includes policyr language on preventing displacement. For instance, new projects on the city’s west side would have to pay relocation assistance to displaced tenants, and offer “right of return” at similar affordability levels. "


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm

James, I'm sorry that you display such a lack of concern for tenants and so little knowledge of city ordinances.


Like this comment
Posted by ?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2016 at 7:20 am

"Observers also say another problem is turnover at City Hall. In the last 18 months, the entire executive staff has left and been replaced, while the engineering division saw two-thirds turnover, according to a recent city report. The building division saw 80 percent turnover in seven months, and four chief building officials. Positions regularly sit unfilled. The result? Projects take longer simply because the churn destroys institutional knowledge.

“Since I’ve been doing this development, since 2009 I’ve been through five city attorneys and five city managers,” Lazzarini said."

Water Problems, city employee turnover problems (and unemployment problems?), revenue deficit problems, crimes problems, organized gang problems, flooding problems, infrastructure problems ($43M in improvements needed per 1 study), on and on . . .


Like this comment
Posted by ?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2016 at 7:21 am

source for last quote posted

Web Link


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

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