News

New affordable-housing project proposed in Ventura

Palo Alto Housing hopes to bring 67 small apartments to an El Camino Real site

Treasure Island Stamps And Coins and Nouvelle Bridal Boutique, located at 3703 and 3705 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, could be replaced by a 67-unit housing complex proposed by Palo Alto Housing. Photo by Veronica Weber.

After meeting community opposition in its most recent bid to build an affordable-housing complex in its home town, the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing is hoping for a better reception -- and outcome -- for its new proposal: a 67-unit development on El Camino Real, in the Ventura neighborhood.

Known as Wilton Court, the development planned for the 3700 block of El Camino Real would replace two one-story buildings currently occupied by Euromart, the Fashion Cuts salon, Nouvelle Bridal Boutique and Treasure Island, a stamp-and-coin shop. The small structures would be replaced by a five-story building with retail on the ground floor and about four stories of housing.

The residential component of the project would consist mostly of small studios, according to plans that Palo Alto Housing submitted to the city last month. The plans show 63 studios, each with 410 square feet of floor area, along with three two-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment.

Altogether, the average unit would have an area of 428 square feet, according to the plans.

The new project by the Palo Alto Housing is in many ways a response to the City Council's recent push to encourage more affordable housing, with a special emphasis on small units for service workers. Earlier this year, the council signaled tentative support for a proposal by Windy Hill Property Ventures to construct a development with 60 small units (average size 540 square feet) on the prominent corner of El Camino and Page Mill Road.

The project from Palo Alto Housing goes even further, both in small size and unit affordability. Candice Gonzalez, president of Palo Alto Housing, told the Weekly that the units will be dedicated to residents making no more than 60 percent of area median income.

At the same time, the nonprofit also faces significant challenges. For one, it would require a zone change. The existing zone, "neighborhood commercial," would allow for between 11 and 13 residential units, Gonzalez said, making construction cost-prohibitive. In addition, the site's proximity to Ventura's residential neighborhoods means that the project would normally have a height limit of 35 feet. The suggested height for the Palo Alto Housing proposal would be about 50 feet under the tentative plans.

In the past, Palo Alto Housing (formerly known as Palo Alto Housing Corporation) and other developers of affordable housing dealt with these limitations by requesting (and usually getting) changes to "planned community" zoning, which allow builders to exceed zoning requirements for projects that offer public benefits. Most of the city's major senior- and affordable-housing facilities -- including Lytton Gardens and Channing House -- were built under this process.

That was also the approach Palo Alto Housing took with its 2013 bid to construct 60 housing units for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes on a former orchard site on Maybell Avenue. But after that project fizzled in the face of a citizen referendum in the November 2013 election, the council moved to freeze the "planned community" process and reform it.

Given that "planned community" zones are no longer allowed, the Palo Alto Housing is effectively asking for a zoning designation that does not exist in exchange for a commodity that council members say the city desperately needs: affordable housing.

The council's recent discussions should give Palo Alto Housing some reasons for optimism. Earlier this year, the council set "housing" as one of its top priorities for 2017. Since then, Mayor Greg Scharff had set a goal of approving at least two housing projects this year.

The council has also agreed to ease restrictions on construction of accessory-dwelling units and to add a new planning scenario -- with more housing units -- for evaluation as part of its update to the city's Comprehensive Plan. During a March discussion of the plan, Vice Mayor Liz Kniss noted that during her re-election campaign the prior year, the biggest issue that came up was "housing, housing and more housing."

Candice Gonzalez said the project is still in its very earliest phases and subject to revisions based on feedback from residents, the City Council and Palo Alto's various board and commissions. Given the heavy pushback it experienced with the Maybell project, Palo Alto Housing is planning to hold a design charette with the surrounding neighborhood in the coming months to solicit feedback.

Gonzalez said the big question that Palo Alto Housing hopes to answer as part of the outreach process is: Is there truly support for affordable housing? Since the Maybell referendum, Palo Alto Housing had shifted its focus to other communities, successfully developing affordable-housing complexes in Mountain View and Redwood City. The one proposed for Palo Alto would be similar to those.

"We thought it's time to come back to Palo Alto, because the crisis is everywhere, including here," Gonzalez said. "It sounds like there's been a shift in mentality and thinking, and more support for affordable housing.

"I think it'll be the first test-case scenario for 100 percent affordable housing that will serve no more than 60 percent of median income," Gonzalez said.

One big questions that Palo Alto Housing has yet to answer is: Who will be the tenants? The organization hasn't yet determined whether the units will be limited to seniors or whether they will be open to younger low-income employees. Gonzalez said the organization is also exploring reserving some units for adults with disabilities.

That questions, along with a myriad design details, will be hashed out over the course of the community-outreach process, with ample feedback from neighbors, Palo Alto Housing officials said. The council is also scheduled to give some early feedback on the project in late August or September.

Gonzalez said the organization has deferred decision on what population it wants to serve pending community feedback on the topic.

The organization did, however, draw up some preliminary plans as a starting point for the discussions. One option calls for the units to be constructed in two wings that are separated by a large, green central courtyard. The other would keep the units close together -- toward the El Camino side of the property -- and have the courtyard toward the back of the property.

Even though it's still early in the game, Palo Alto Housing has already made one significant revision. Its initial plans called for office space on the ground floor, which the organization was hoping to use for its headquarters. Given feedback from planning staff and the city's recent adoption of a retail-protection ordinance, which prohibits non-retail use on ground floors in commercial districts, that organization is now looking at retail options.

"I think with this, we're taking a very cautious approach and really wanting to get feedback and not feel like we've already designed it and made all the decisions," Gonzalez said.

One issue that is certain to attract significant attention from the council and the community is parking. The current plan calls for 55 spaces through a "split-level" design, said project manager Danny Ross. This would effectively mean going underground for half a level and having another level above that one. For an affordable-housing project, building an underground garage is generally cost-prohibitive, he said.

Whether or not the 55 spaces will suffice will depend on some measure on what type of population the new complex serves. Gonzalez noted, however, that Palo Alto Housing has plenty of data demonstrating that parking needs are lower for affordable-housing projects. Its Oak Court complex, for instance, has 20 parking spaces that are not being used and that the organization is leasing out to the Palo Alto History Museum.

Gonzalez said the organization was a bit hesitant at first about going forward with the project, given its experiences on Maybell. At the same time, the city's shifting conversation about housing have given it some hope.

"We thought, it's been a few years. Let's take a step back and really try to address this need," Gonzalez said.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

82 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

Putting a five story building in a one and two-story neighborhood is wrong, wrong, wrong.

And the Palo Alto Housing Corporation itself needs to share blame for the affordable housing shortage in our town. Recently, it argued AGAINST the higher fees the City wanted to collect to fund affordable housing, siding instead with developers who wanted lower fees. Guess what: on its board are developers! Shameful.

Had it instead lobbied for the higher fees, more funds would be available to purchase land where it could legally build five stories and better help people who need affordable housing instead of developers.


75 people like this
Posted by Keep it 35ft
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 9:49 am

No 50ft building! It's going to stick out like a sore thumb for miles in every direction. And do not say that it has to be five stories because otherwise it isn't "financially feasible." We just blew $40 million on a decrepit trailer park. PAHC's inability to make a four story building financially feasible is solely a reflection of their incompetence, lack of effort, and indifference towards neighboring communities.


64 people like this
Posted by R. Winslow
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 10:03 am

Sounds like a potential eyesore. Why is it that the City of Palo Alto has all these building code regulations for homeowners yet they can construct anything they want with a wave of a council vote or pen?

This is not your grandparent's Palo Alto anymore. It's becoming just another community gradually getting paved-over and overbuilt upon by developers and council members/city administrators who have no concept of controlled growth.


60 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

I have not heard any good reason why this project ought to exceed the height limit, fall short of the parking requirements, or otherwise be granted exemptions from the applicable zoning and other rules. There is plenty of under- and un-developed land along this stretch of El Camino. Let's fill in that space up to the current allowable limit before entertaining calls to go higher.


15 people like this
Posted by Future Fantasy Bookstore
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

While this is not a reason to retain the bridal store building, that building previously housed the Future Fantasy Bookstore, which was a pioneer in electronic commerce. Web Link That site deserves a memorial plaque.


46 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:27 am

Marie is a registered user.

Candace Gonzalez says "the big question that Palo Alto Housing hopes to answer as part of the outreach process is: Is there truly support for affordable housing?"

What a duplicitous statement. Palo Alto in general, and the Barron Park neighborhood in particular have been strongly in favor of affordable housing. The wide support and the political advocacy for the preservation of the Buena Vista mobile home park in the same neighborhood as Maybell, much of it from opponents to the poorly planned Maybell project, has been covered extensively by the Palo Alto Weekly. I am sorry they have published Ms. Gonzalez statement without disputing her contention.

Palo Alto residents have shown time and again that they do not support giveaways and upzoning to developers at the expense of overcrowding and increased traffic on narrow streets used as major routes to schools.

I hope that Palo Alto Housing does indeed have good data on the need for parking by low to moderate income families and seniors. The working poor, especially ones who work outside normal business hours, need cars just as much as the rest of us to get to work. I would love to see real data on car ownership by the residents of Palo Alto's low- to-moderate housing. The only one I know of, a nanny who after 5 years was able to get into moderate income housing had a car provided by her employers, as they needed her to drive their kids around.

My only caveat is that PA Housing be required to provide sufficient parking and be compatible with their immediate neighbors. I am very glad that they abandoned the idea of using this building for their offices, given that it is in a retail zone.

After Palo Alto Housing's very public defeat of a project that was the antithesis of working with neighbors, I hope that they have learned the importance of being a good neighbor. Ms. Gonzalez statement above, leaves that very much in doubt.


14 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:34 am

My goodness - let's wait and see what we can do there to make the best project that can work. Surely most agree we need to stop the awful displacement of residents from here. Buena Vista helped with that but more is needed especially for people who har not well paid techies. This housing, with priority for those who live or work in Palo Alto, would help. It's on El Camino and has apartment buildings behind it before going to houses. A market rate 50' apt building is likely going in a few blocks away. This isn't Maybell by a long shot.


14 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Like it or not, Palo Alto's rejection of 60 units of housing for low-income seniors by means of an unprecedented referendum is exhibit A for efforts in Sacramento to limit the ability of Bay Area cities to deny reasonable proposals for affordable housing at greater density. I'm glad Palo Alto Housing is starting the process to test whether in 2017 there is enough appreciation of the need for affordable housing that, following close consultation with residents of the neighborhood to be impacted, Palo Alto can build affordable housing without being forced to by the state.

Widespread community support for saving the Buena Vista mobile home park gives hope that the Maybell rejection was a one-off event, not a repudiation of Palo Alto's longstanding support for affordable housing.


26 people like this
Posted by Reminder
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Clarification and a reminder - denial of the 75 unit (later reduced to 72 units) project proposed by the City for Maybell wasn't because of the 60 units affordable senior housing but because of the extra 15 or 12 units of market rate housing to pay for the project. The 60 unit senior housing project would have been acceptable to the neighborhood without the extra market rate houses.


25 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:43 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

This is just an observation that using the term "non-profit" is a little misleading given that the developer who gets the contract does make a profit, even if Palo Alto Housing on the underlying land itself does not. Developers may not make as much profit as for-market homes do, but presumably they are not in the business not to make a profit. Having lived here for over 40 years my experience is that developers, and all those down the line who gain personally by new building, have a great deal of clout in city hall and on the council, and in recent years the Planning and Transport Commission as well.

Also, as much as I wish current Palo Alto residents who are being displaced could be first in line, my understanding is that it is illegal to give any one group preferential treatment. As long as prospective occupants are on the waiting list where they currently reside cannot be taken into consideration.


43 people like this
Posted by Is duplicity ok for Housing Corp?
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Marie said it clearly:
Candace Gonzalez says "the big question that Palo Alto Housing hopes to answer as part of the outreach process is: Is there truly support for affordable housing?"

What a duplicitous statement. Palo Alto in general, and the Barron Park neighborhood in particular have been strongly in favor of affordable housing.

Her appeal to our heartstrings is developer-talk, nothing else. Stick to the rules, PAHC!!!


36 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Very disappointed in PAHC. Their board needs to rein in their Director, Ms. Gonzalez. She is giving the organization a bad name and pitting against a community that wants to support their efforts. Very disappointing.


17 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:59 pm

@ Reminder. I don't agree. I voted against Maybell because the developer under-parked the facility, wanted to exceed neighborhood height limits and wanted to exceed the neighborhood density limits. The market rate units made it even worse. If the developer had proposed a building that fell within all of the zoning rules, Maybell would have been built without opposition.


50 people like this
Posted by Pahc
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

If I recall correctly, when it was time to sell the maybell property, which the city helped pay for, pahc sold the property to a company partly owned by or employing Candice Gonzalez's husband.

They also rented out one of the maybell properties to miss Gonzalez, but did not disclose the rent that was collected.

They also had no compunction about painting any opposition to maybell as being anti senior and anti affordable housing.

This organization reeks of self-serving corruption and dirty politics. The city should stop granting them favors in any form until they at the very minimum start acting like good stewards of the public funds they receive.

One possibility in this scenario, is that PAhc is proposing something extremely awful, to give themselves air cover to say they compromised and put something slightly less awful on the table. Then they would Lobby their developer controlled city council members to rubber-stamp the project.


29 people like this
Posted by Putting a 5 story building on El Camino is very appropriate
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm

I drove down El Camino from San Carlos to Palo Alto today. There are multiple new 4 and 5 story housing complexes under construction. El Camino is an appropriate place for taller, dense housing. I would however, like to see proof of low income housing needing less parking.


12 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm

@Crescent Park Dad

"If the developer had proposed a building that fell within all of the zoning rules, Maybell would have been built without opposition."

Yes, we all know there is never any opposition to proposals that fit entirely within zoning rules...


15 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Palo Alto definitely needs housing, though what about the required parking for the people living there. Shared self-driving cars are not in use for consumers yet. Plus El Camino is noisy. There may be an eventual transition to all electric cars one day, but that does not eliminate the noise created from friction on the the road. Even an electric car/bus/truck will still make noise. This means decrease in quality of life, sleep, rest, etc. Quantity does not mean quality.


38 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 10:08 pm

"The plans show 63 studios, each with 410 square feet of floor area, along with three two-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment. The new project by the Palo Alto Housing is in many ways a response to the City Council's recent push to encourage more affordable housing, with a special emphasis on small units for service workers."

How can the city council get away with disingenuous statements, that studio apartments will go to service workers???? What service worker at $15/hour will be able to afford the rent in Palo Alto??? How will they prevent families with 1 or 2 kids form renting them? How do you limit the number of adults willing to share a studio apt? How do you limit the number of cars per unit? How can you enforce any of these unicorn situations? Until these controls and enforcement are in place, these units will just go to the high tech workers and double income families, not service workers.


11 people like this
Posted by Maybell is oportunity
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2017 at 6:35 am

Stop the current underdeveloped Maybell luxury home plans. Put this proposed 5 story housing on that property where it belongs AND develop the El Camino site for additional low income and senior housing.


8 people like this
Posted by Maybell is oportunity
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2017 at 6:46 am

Maybell is 2.5 acres of RM-15 zoned land.
Put it there.


40 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

Yet another project seeking zoning change, exceptions to height and parking requirements. The Palo Alto city codes are in place for a reason. We residents have to abide by them, so shouldn't they? Unless there is a way to guarantee priority for school and city employees, this will not solve any housing problems.


42 people like this
Posted by Parking
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:25 am

I think Gonzalez's example about having extra parking at the Oak Court complex is a poor excuse to under park this building. The Oak Court complex is on Ramona Street, 3 blocks from University Avenue. But this site is nowhere near downtown, it's a mile away from California Avenue, the surrounding retail is rather useless (which is probably why they were going to use the ground floor for office space). It's basically in the middle of an amenity desert. Parking data for their Los Robles complex would provide a more useful example.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ventura

on Jul 22, 2017 at 10:26 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


37 people like this
Posted by N
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 22, 2017 at 12:13 pm

N is a registered user.

Wow. What a terrible proposal mismatched to the neighborhood. As someone else wrote, we have few amenities or retail in Ventura. We also have a glut of vacant office space. So this project has no benefit and only severe costs to the neighborhood community.

This proposal:
* Exceeds the height limit and zoning massively.
* Mismatches a neighborhood of mostly one story homes.
* Is under parked both for the proposed housing and office space! Where will the 30 office workers park? Where will the 67-120 residents park? El Camino has little parking on this block due to driveways etc. As proposed, this will spillover for blocks in all directions.
* Compadres development a half block away seems to be following the zoning rules, including *retail*, and about 1/4 of the units.

In short, this proposal is so bad I wonder if it's either a joke, or an attempt to get approved for only 3x what code allows by starting negotiations at an absurd 4x what code allows.


16 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2017 at 5:05 pm

How will they prevent families with 1 or 2 kids form renting them? How do you limit the number of adults willing to share a studio apt? How do you limit the number of cars per unit?

All things I want the city managing. NOT


50 people like this
Posted by PAHC Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2017 at 10:02 pm

PAHC is not a good neighbor. I live next door to one of their apartment buildings and when there has been a noise problem they are unresponsive. PAHC admin. refers you to the site manager and I've been told by the site manager not to call them but to call the police and then I was hung up on.


22 people like this
Posted by Santa Clara Housing authority limits number of residents
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

The santa clara housing authority puts limits on the number of residents allowed in a unit, PAHC could do the same thing. For example, a studio can have no more than 2 residents, Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

"In addition, the site's proximity to Ventura's residential neighborhoods means that the project would normally have a height limit of 35 feet. The suggested height for the Palo Alto Housing proposal would be about 50 feet under the tentative plans." Is the Ventura neighborhood backing right up to this site zoned R1?

If the Ventura neighborhood immediately butting up to this site is zoned R-1, the following quote in Friday's Palo Alto Weekly from a letter written by the City's Code Enforcement Department defending the quality of life in the wealthy R-1 North California Avenue neighborhood should also apply to defending the quality of life in the less wealthy Ventura R-1 neighborhood:

"the resulting intensity of the church's use is not compatible with the surround R-1 neighborhood, which is '...intended to create, preserve and enhance areas suitable for detached dwellings with a strong presence of nature and with open area affording maximum privacy."


10 people like this
Posted by R
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:17 am

Wow, what a unison comments section: put it "where it could legally build" - but maybe not in Palo Alto. Preferably not in my little nice neighborhood. And definitely, definitely not in my backyard.

It's very obvious that the power of defining legal limits where to build in the cities must be eliminated from the residents of those cities. Otherwise, the residents going to sabotage any development. Which is bad for the economy on all levels: city, regional, state.

Put it differently, the legal requirement to pay taxes _must_ be enforced on properties with market value assessment, so residents' greed and unwillingness to deal with the organic growth of cities can be balanced out.


20 people like this
Posted by House mouse
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:05 pm

A residence for "Low Income Workers" ??? MORE LIKE A JAIL CELL....They build such crummy small rooms. How would you like to work your fanny off for exceptionally low pay, then go "home" to a smaller than small room to relax in. And to have your residence right on El Camino Real where you are exposed to so much pollution from all the cars and the noise.......great life. Then you can die from lung cancer..end of story.


13 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:47 pm

@ R: That's why it's called property rights. Further, those same residents pay taxes that support the city and it's schools. Unless ruled unconstitutional - this is how it works. What you state would end up in the courts so fast and lose so fast.


16 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 2:12 pm

It is wrong to put a multi story housing complex in the middle of a 1-2 floor residential (R1) neighborhood.
It does not matter that behind this development there is an apartment building. The proposed development directly faces a single family neighborhood
Enough overbuilding. Stop now
Multi family developments belong downtown near University Ave, not in a quiet neighborhood on a narrow street.


7 people like this
Posted by This is not in a R-1 neighborhood
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 26, 2017 at 10:02 am

This is not in a R-1 neighborhood is a registered user.

If you look at the City zoning map, the adjacent property is R-30, not R-1. This is not in "the middle of a single family residential neighborhood.

Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2017 at 11:54 am

To be clear, Palo Alto doesn't have an R-30 zoning designation. It does have RM-30. Chapter 18.13 of the Municipal Code defines RM-30 as:

The RM-30 medium density multiple-family residence district is intended to create, preserve and enhance neighborhoods for multiple-family housing with site development standards and visual characteristics intended to mitigate impacts on nearby lower density residential districts. Projects at this density are intended for larger parcels that will enable developments to provide their own parking spaces and to meet their open space needs in the form of garden apartments or cluster developments. Permitted densities in the RM-30 residence district range from sixteen to thirty dwelling units per acre, with no required minimum density."

PAH's proposed project is 67 living units along with commercial space on a 20,150 square foot lot (which is under half an acre). That's not even close to RM-30 density, even if the project itself wasn't in a CN (commercial neighborhood) zone. The proposed project is in a zone with a 40 foot height limit. The lots are only about 100 feet deep along most of El Camino. The site is simply too shallow to support that level of density.

PAH's project is completely out scale with the neighborhood and the area in general. The project sets a horrible precedent for zoning and development in the neighborhood. If PAH rams this project of this size through, it will be used as an excuse for other overly-dense and under-parked projects along El Camino in both Barron Park and Ventura.

PAH is going to have to make major changes to their proposal.


2 people like this
Posted by Hausable ADUs
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 16, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are a growing solution to our housing shortage in the Bay Area. With the new state requirements coming into effect, it is exciting to see more homeowners becoming aware of their rights to build backyard homes, garage units and basement apartments. To learn about your local requirements for ADUs in the Bay Area and get in involved in the movement, visit www.hausable.com and find your city page.


8 people like this
Posted by Ventura Resident
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm

How do we stay informed about this project? Where is the justification for fewer than 1 parking space per unit? Where are the plans? When is the next meeting. I live in the Ventura neighborhood and was unaware of the "community meetings."


5 people like this
Posted by Save the trees
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2017 at 8:58 am

Reminder. Maybell is not 2.5 acres RM-15. Maybell is part R-2, which is basically R-1 with n ADU allowed. The comp plan, at least last I read (not sure of changes) says RM zoning has a range of allowed densities, there is no right to build the max everywhere. RM15 means 8-15 units per acre, and is supposed to be on the LOWER end adjacent to R-1. While the principles of our comp plan may be difficult to enforce, these principles are enforceable at the state level if there is a subdivision (via the subdivision map act). There are also lot suze minimums. After all those warnings, in the end, the developer was only able to put 16 units there, and that only after getting an exception for two of the lots being smaller. This never was a situation where the developer could put the high density projects there without having to rezone.

Zoning princiiples exist because there are many ramifications to plopping jarringly different things next to each other.

But it's interesting that anyone would bring up Maybell again. It's a chance to remind people who care about affordable housing that their concern for the environment has effectively been surgically removed by development interests here. With Hurricane Harvey and much of the flooding impacts to humans relating directly to developers having taken priority over any concern for environmental principles, that is something to contemplate. Even Mountain View, with all its high density construction, when faced with a proposal much like the one at Maybell, including some senior affordable housing (theirs may even have been all senior affordable housing, unlike Maybell where the majority of the rezoning would have been for for-profit), decided to keep the historic orchard.

This City talks all the time about saving the canopy, but ignores that almost 100 established trees must still be bulldozed at Maybell, trees with such deep roots the trees were green and thriving through the long drought. This despite a hawk nesting in the orchard, and other wildlife using it as an important part of a shrinking patchwork of urban wildland between the hills and the bay. Because of environmentalists cowardice and gross hypocrisy at Maybell, developers know they have triumphed against environmentalism in Palo Alto, and know how to surgically remove anything that crops up again. They have the environmentalists number, if such creatures even exist here anymore.

The environmentalists need to go witness the trees being bulldozed, because they have to acknowledge their active part in the trees demise. The City had the right to purchase the property then, and could have then sold parcels to make back all its outlay and then some, while keeping a portion of the orchard alive and protected, in a part of town that has fewer and fewer public/natural urban spaces and at some point needs to wake up and understand that this is part of caring for our youth as well. City Council chose not to, knowing environmentalists had been completely cowed and would never speak for the trees there again.

Maybell is in private hands now, because the City would not consider keeping the property to even just allow neighbors a period of time to raise the money as they did at Bol Park and save the trees, and even though they coukd have saved many of the trees at not cost ultimately. So, because it is in private hands now - all the City Council's doing (with the permission of forever silenced environmentalists) - there is no putting anything else there as some above call for. And the ~100 trees (including some of the ancient oaks or not?) will be bulldozed because developers figured out how to permanently silence environmentalists in Palo Alto. I wonder if any of the hypocrites also go to the Project Safety Net meetings and tear their hair out about what is happening to our youth, and why all these efforts haven't worked, even while selling out all opportunities to make life better for our youth or provide "adjacent" opportunities for them.

Perhaps Acterra should have a meeting at Maybell during the bulldozing so its members can tear up their Sierra Club and other empty membership cards to elebrate the end of environmentalism in Palo Alto, while they watch the orchard with its old established trees being ripped up by the roots.


3 people like this
Posted by Save the trees
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2017 at 9:04 am

But it's interesting that anyone would bring up Maybell again. It's a chance to remind people who care about affordable housing that their concern for the environment has effectively been surgically removed by development interests here. With Hurricane Harvey and much of the flooding impacts to humans relating directly to developers having taken priority over any concern for environmental and SAFETY principles, that is something to contemplate.


2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 10, 2017 at 2:18 am

Hello! I am contemplating a possible move to a future 5 story low income apartment in South Palo Alto!! The new apartments will be right on a corner of Wilton and El Camino....that is and was called the KINGS HIWAY...a State of California's hiway....which was the main throughfare from about San Francisco to San Jose but sometime ago most of the traffic was rerouted to State Hiway 101 (or BLOODY BAYSHORE as the locals called it...) Noise is a factor in many low income projects that have been built in Palo Alto... the contractors (etc)like to cut corners...you actually can hear your neighbors conversations through the paper thin walls..and can also know when your neighbor flushes their toilet, among other things one does in a bathroom. No privacy. The old term of ~you get what you pay for~ holds true.....(who is pocketing the money???) As I get older and a little more hard of hearing, I would like to know that these apartments being built are going to be built with a little more consideration...


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

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 40 comments | 1,482 views

Global Warming Diet
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,245 views

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,095 views

Preparing for kindergarten
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 600 views

 

Pre-registration ends tomorrow!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More