News

El Camino plan offers hope to Palo Alto's housing advocates

City Council lauds development plan from Palo Alto Housing; considers rule changes to stimulate more housing

Palo Alto's elected leaders found plenty to like on Monday in a new proposal to bring 61 units of desperately needed affordable housing to a transit-friendly site in the Ventura neighborhood.

There's just one serious problem: it would violate the zoning code in more ways than they can count.

The struggle to reconcile the virtues and vices of the development proposed by the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing dominated the City Council's discussion, with members repeatedly saying they support the goal of expanding the city's housing stock while raising concerns about the project's failure to comply with law.

The council didn't take any votes Monday on the four-story development proposed for 3703-3709 El Camino Real, which remains in an early planning stage. Council members did, however, send a signal -- albeit a mixed one -- about their desire to see the housing get built, one way or another. The one question they debated was: Which way, exactly?

If approved, the project would replace two small buildings that currently house three businesses: Treasure Island (a stamp and coin shop), Nouvelle Bridal and Euro Mart. In their stead would stand a four-story development with retail on the ground floor and 61 small apartments targeted toward low-income residents and adults with disabilities.

To proceed, the project would inevitably require a zone change. The "neighborhood commercial" zone in which it's located allows a maximum height of 35 feet and about a dozen dwelling units. Palo Alto Housing proposed project be 48 feet in height (which includes a 6-foot parapet on the roof) and would have roughly five times the number of allowed units. And even though the city has recently passed a law that prohibits the conversion of ground-floor retail to other uses, Palo Alto Housing has asked the council for an option to have another nonprofit take over a portion of the retail space.

The El Camino proposal is Palo Alto Housing's first local project since 2013, when voters rejected in a referendum its bid to build 60 units of housing for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes at an orchard site on Maybell Avenue. The ill-fated project had far-reaching consequences, prompting the City Council to freeze its "planned community" zoning process (which allowed developers to barter with the city over zoning exemptions) and shaking up the City Council in favor of those favoring slow-growth policies.

The 2013 referendum also prompted Palo Alto Housing Corporation to change its brand by cutting out the last word in its original name and to shift focus away from its hometown to nearby communities Mountain View and Redwood City. Since the Maybell misadventure, Palo Alto Housing has successfully developed 67-unit projects in both cities.

Now, the nonprofit is looking to return to its roots. Candace Gonzalez, CEO of Palo Alto Housing, told the council Monday that the region is going through a housing crisis that requires immediate attention.

"We have thousands of applicants on our combined waitlist, with the average turnover (in apartments) of seven to eight years," said Gonzalez, whose company administers Palo Alto's below-market-rate program. "Our workforce and seniors are getting forced out of town."

The council found the nonprofit's proposal to be reasonable, if somewhat problematic. Councilman Eric Filseth said he likes the fact that the project would create affordable housing. He was less thrilled about the fact that it would do so at a density that is roughly four times greater than what the city's residential zones would normally allow. He called the proposal "a head-scratcher" and, echoing an earlier comment from Mayor Greg Scharff, observed that the project "breaks basically every code we have."

To solve the zoning problem, the council considered three different avenues. One option is to create a local density-bonus law that would allow a higher density for projects that are 100 percent affordable housing, feature ground-floor retail and are located in transit-served areas.

Another option is creating an "affordable housing combining district" in certain sections of the city, a designation that would function like an zoning overlay. Under this alternative, the overlay would be combined with the underlying district to create more flexible development standards for affordable-housing projects.

The third -- and perhaps most controversial option -- is to revive the "planned community" (PC) zone. Scharff favored this approach, noting that it would allow the city to tailor the zoning standards to the particular project without setting any precedents for the rest of the community. Concurrently, the city could launch a community conversation about potentially relaxing some zoning standards to encourage more housing.

But others saw the PC zone as a political hot potato. Councilwoman Karen Holman was one of several members who supported creating an "overlay" district for affordable housing. This should be done through a transparent community discussion and ample resident feedback, she argued.

A development overlay would at least have some element of predictability, Holman said, for both the applicant and the community. A PC zone, conversely, is "really is a wildcard," she said.

"I think this community very much supports affordable housing, but people also have a right to expect projects and proposals that fit in with the context," Holman said.

Her colleagues largely agreed. Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who vehemently opposed the Maybell project in 2013, argued that the PC process has been "abused and manipulated" by developers. Historically, the process was used to build popular affordable-housing and senior-housing projects, including Lytton Gardens and Channing House. More recently, commercial developers relied on it to obtain height exceptions and density bonuses in exchange for "public benefits" that many in the community deemed as dubious and that in some cases failed to materialize at all.

Kou argued that the zoning tool ultimately did more harm than good because it divided the community and fostered distrust.

"I'd hope in this process that we do come together in an open and transparent way in moving (this) forward ... ," Kou said.

While council members Kou, Filseth and Tom DuBois all opposed the Maybell proposal in 2013, each of them lauded Palo Alto Housing on Monday for its work in reaching out to the community -- even if each had some reservations about the current plans.

The nonprofit has already had more than 20 meetings with neighbors, said project manager Danny Ross. Over the course of its discussions with neighbors, Palo Alto Housing had agreed to reduce the number of stories from five to four; lower the number of units from 67 to 61; scrap its proposal to move its office to the new development; and add two parking spots, for a total of 44.

DuBois lauded the organization for the early outreach work. But like Filseth, he was hesitant to commit support to a project that violates the zoning code.

"It is putting a pretty urban building in a low-intensity residential area," DuBois said.

Vice Mayor Liz Kniss had fewer hesitations. A staunch proponent of building more housing, Kniss emphasized the fact that the project does not exceed the citywide 50-foot height limit (even if it goes above the 35-foot limit in this specific zone). She noted that the city hadn't built any affordable-housing projects since 2012 and praised Palo Alto Housing for getting neighbors' feedback on its early plans.

"I think it's important that people know that you met with so many neighbors, that you thought about it very carefully and that you did come up with (a proposal) under the 50-foot height limit," Kniss said.

The Monday discussion suggested that -- much like in the Maybell debate -- the outcome of the El Camino project will have reverberations well beyond its immediate site. Filseth, Holman and Councilman Cory Wolbach all said they support creating a "framework" for evaluating future affordable-housing project and, if needed, providing them with more flexibility in development standards.

Planning staff will present options for achieving this broader goal in the coming months, as it concurrently processes the application from Palo Alto Housing.

So far, the response from the public to the new housing proposal has been largely positive, with more than a dozen residents, housing advocates and parents of children with disabilities attending the Monday meeting -- mostly to support the project.

Resident Ron Hall cited Palo Alto's history of creating housing to meet surging demand in the aftermath of World War II. He asked the council to move ahead with similar urgency.

"The need in the area and the need in Palo Alto is extreme," Hall said. "It's easy to do. All you have to do is commit to do it."

But Ventura resident Becky Sanders urged the council not to play "fast and loose with the building codes" in approving a large new building in an area already rife with new developments. Her neighborhood's parking shortage is a real problem, she said. So is the size and mass of the proposed building, she added, and the potential loss of retail space.

Rebecca Parker Mankey, who also lives in Ventura, saw things differently. Having a reduction of retail space at this site would not be a huge deal, she said.

"We'd just end up with another restaurant that I can't afford," Parker Mankey said. "I'd rather have more neighbors."

"We need housing more than we need restaurants. Let's face it, we can all find somewhere to eat."

Another voice of support came from just beyond the city's southern border.

"Where does Palo Alto Housing build housing? In Mountain View," said Mountain View Vice Mayor Lenny Siegel, in reference to the nonprofit's 67-unit development for veterans and low-income residents at 1701 El Camino Real (Palo Alto Housing broke ground on "Eagle Park Apartments" last month).

Speaking as an individual (and not in his official capacity) Siegel asked the Palo Alto council to join his city and "return to the history of building affordable housing at a time when all our communities need it."

"Send a signal to the builders -- not just Palo Alto Housing but other nonprofit developers -- that Palo Alto is again open to affordable-housing development," Siegel said.

---

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Comments

78 people like this
Posted by Yet Another Underparked Project
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2017 at 3:52 am

The Palo Alto Housing Corporation presented not one tiny shred of evidence that the minuscule amount of parking they're proposing will suffice. Residents will come home and not be able to find parking onsite. So they'll have to drive around looking for places to park on streets that have no empty spaces.

And this project wants to reduce parking currently on El Camino as well.

The Housing Corporation also wasn't fully honest about why they don't want to retain the retail space, as required by law. It's because that would require preserving parking for the retail too. And many retail businesses are open on evenings and weekends, so you can't assume the residents, retail customers, and retail workers can share spaces.

The city has been dishonest about parking for years, which is why we have more and more neighborhoods with major parking problems, including Ventura. There's always some excuse. This time, it's that the residents will give up their cars because they'll be taking the 22 bus instead. Ridiculous. And even people who use the bus might still own cars and need to park them.

And what's the plan if (gosh) the building turns out not to have enough parking, as keeps happening all over town? Not one person speaking last night in favor of this project addressed that. Not one.


45 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:28 am

It's commendable that many support these 60+ units for disadvantaged.

Let's set aside petty things to argue about and give lifetime residences to those families.

It's great; let's get it approved and get it built.

Respectfully


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2017 at 8:43 am

What bus/shuttle routes will serve this new facility?

Unless it is well served by public transit, it will not be practical for those it aims to help.


7 people like this
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

Train Neighbor is a registered user.

The project is on El Camino and served by VTA bus 22.


Posted by Curious
a resident of College Terrace

on Aug 29, 2017 at 9:11 am


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34 people like this
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of University South
on Aug 29, 2017 at 9:14 am

This is a great opportunity for Palo Alto. Everyone knows about the housing crisis in Palo Alto, and the entire nation now knows that we aren't doing enough to take care of the people in our midst who are most vulnerable to displacement.

We have a shameful history with affordable housing these last few years. As this story notes, three members of our current City Council - a full third - got their start in politics opposing an affordable housing development.

Let's return to the more caring spirit of Palo Alto past. This project asks for no money from the city, only permission to house the needy. We should let them do it.


29 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2017 at 9:23 am

I've seen too many of my friends and neighbors lose their homes while waiting on the list for affordable housing. One of my friends grew up in Palo Alto. She and her husband had good jobs and a son in Palo Alto schools. But after the rent rose and rose on their one-bedroom apartment while they spent three years on the waiting list for affordable housing, they had to move to a different state.

Maybe if this city allowed people to build affordable housing instead of voting it down, my friend wouldn't have had to uproot her family.

Rather than focusing on exactly how tall buildings on our widest street can be or just how many parking spots are needed, or whether the downstairs restaurant is going to be good enough for Palo Alto, maybe we should just focus on helping our neighbors.


31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2017 at 10:51 am

Poor Nouvelle Bridal whose owner is one of the best tailors around. First they got bumped out of Town & Country in one of its recent upscale remodels and now this.

I understand the need for more housing but I'm so tired of seeing so many of the businesses that support residents forced out by big under-parked projects.

How about requiring that ALL of the many new hotels the city keeps rushing to approve be required to allot a significant percentage of their rooms/units to housing?


18 people like this
Posted by Len Ely
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:20 am

This is exactly the sort of situation that I was talking about when I ran for City Council. Our Zoning process is completely out of step with the actually reality that it continually works against the best interest of our community as a whole. It hampers progress across the board from housing to commercial real estate. Long range plans are a good starting point but as the reality of the situation changes so must the plans. I subscribe to the adage that "Try something. If you find that it is not working, promptly admit it and try something else". As a 67 year resident of Palo Alto we just don't seem to learn from the past.


5 people like this
Posted by PADIVA
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:40 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:53 am

El Camino Real is a taxpayer-funded state road. Unfortunately, there is little possibility for non-Palo Alto users of SR-82 to officially have their say regarding the amount of traffic Palo Alto chooses to inject via high-density projects, or about the increasingly narrow and sun-blocked sight lines as multiple cities canyonize the street.


43 people like this
Posted by sneaky white lies
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2017 at 12:14 pm

>Kniss emphasized the fact that the project does not exceed the citywide 50-foot height limit

Kniss' eternal support for all development suggests she knows this is a lie. Height limit here is 35 ft.
She should have listed in its favor that it does not propose an oil rig or a garbage dump. That would also be true. Sneaky, untrustworthy, with a smile.


34 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Lets reduce the glut of companies our town cannot support -- with three times the number of people coming to work here every day, taxing roads, creating the traffic, noise, pollution, parking, and loss of retail problems, and squeezing out the startups -- by just enforcing rules like Pat Burt tried to do in regards to activities and employee densities of those companies. Downtown, there are retail spaces being used for R&D company activities and we all know about Palantir taking over downtown (and City government) and this should stop.

If those codes were enforced on companies crowding into Palo Alto when there isn't capacity, there would be better breathing room to allow for zoning exceptions for worthy projects, for which there is considerable support. On the other hand, absent any commitment to do the right thing in regards to the impact of laissez-faire policies toward companies that should be moving elsewhere to expand as Facebook did, I do not understand why we as a community cannot start supporting lower-impact affordable housing, as we did at Buena Vista.

This seems geared to start another war among residents rather than a sincere attempt to address affordable housing problems here. The article goes back to the old conflating of the Maybell referendum, which was just a zoning referendum, and the ability to build affordable housing (which was not at issue in the ordinance itself). San Francisco had a similar referendum at the time but because their election code requires honesty and fairness in the development of the ballot, even though the developer and City leaders tried to make the for-profit development about a smaller affordable housing component, the ballot had to state only exactly what the election was about, which was the zoning change, and the result was an even greater split than at Maybell (overturning the rezoning). This conflating of the two causes people to say Palo Alto is against affordable housing, when that's clearly not the case, and pits neighbors against neighbors.

We need to start seeing how the pressures of being laissez-faire about companies violating zoning and taking over civic assets is making it impossible to come together over a project like this. I think the best way forward is a working group. Even Mountain View, when faced with leveling its last historic orchard and putting in senior low-income housing, decided to keep the orchard. It did not stop them from building the housing without tearing up the trees.

The ~100 trees at Maybell are still there but environmentalist in Palo Alto were effectively neutered by the referendum and how the proponents of a project that was majority a private-for-profit-zoning-bustihg venture effectively co-opted the affordable housing contingent here against their neighbors.

If Maybell has any lessons here, it is that the City should put together a citizen working group, like they did at Terman when a development in principle pretty much like Maybell would have eliminated the school and a working group saved both the affordable housing and the school. Let residents come together and make the affordable housing happen and save both the retail and the quality of life. This is especially an appropriate place to do this, since there is no for-profit venture in the mix (is that correct?) The problem is that this side of Palo Alto is really not interested in setting huge zoning busting precedents because they are perceived (and rightly so) as Trojan Horses. Buena Vista demonstrated a broad support for the affordable housing. Will the City Council demonstrate the same if residents want to find a way to keep the affordable housing and some semblance of zoning/quality of life? A working group is the best way forward if they are sincere about the housing.


17 people like this
Posted by mistaken commenters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2017 at 12:50 pm

The owner of the coin shop, and the bridal shop tenant is retiring. The other retail business, The EuroMart is a good shop and deli with delicious food that's been there for years. I would hope it could remain if it wanted to. There will be off street parking provided for retail.

Developmentally disabled adults or seniors have less cars - the former is currently the target population being talked about for part of the project - a group sorely needing housing. So fewer parking spaces will be needed. Palo Alto Housing has a proven track record of parking their many BMR projects well and not creating a mess for the neighbors. They will do so again. The architect is an extremely experienced designer of affordable housing with decades of experience and has built here in town before, creating beautiful housing inside and out with no parking problems.

The project is served on 2 bus routes and the free Stanford Margarite that goes to Cal Ave.

The priority will for people living or working in Palo Alto (in contrast with Stanford's new 70 apts. of Below Market Rate Housing, Mayfield near Cal Ave that are for anyone, not necessarily with any ties to our town.

Below market rate housing is what we need. When people talk of "affordable housing" it means nothing - there is no definition for it, and it can often really refer to market rate housing in sheeps clothing which by definition is not affordable except those who have a lot of money and therefore options that those who qualify for BMR housing do not have.


52 people like this
Posted by Old PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Why don't they just build something that fits within the zoning? If we enforce the zoning, the underlying property prices adjust to what can be built. If developers, including of affordable housing, assume they can get spot zoning, the prices of the land reflects that expectation.

Stick with the zoning. If you want to change the zoning, go ahead, using the process for doing so. PC, overlays, variances, simply give the developers the tools they need to subvert all planning.


31 people like this
Posted by Gaming the System
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2017 at 1:35 pm

> The priority will [be] for people living or working in Palo Alto

So if a friend living in Palo Alto hires you for a time, you get priority?

Or can you just register a company name, rent a local PO Box, and say you are "working" in Palo Alto?

Who checks that the applications are honest?

And who then checks that the winners of the lottery that get these valuable housing units aren't just buddies of the Palo Alto Housing Corporation? A lot of people didn't think PAHC was very honest during the Maybell project, so I hope there's some independent oversight.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2017 at 1:52 pm

15 more feet on El Camino. Who cares? Enough housing will not be built until the height limits are axed


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2017 at 2:31 pm

44 parking spaces for 61 units plus retail - this is a joke. Seriously who in the planning department thinks this is a good idea?


21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Even more traffic and gridlock on Charleston and Arastradero.

What about the school enrollments?

More parking in local neighborhood streets.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2017 at 4:11 pm

"Who cares? Enough housing will not be built until the height limits are axed"

Including in Community Center? Lots of inefficiently utilized land there. Tempting...


22 people like this
Posted by BMR requirement?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Does PAHC check the BMR requirement for its long time applicants? I know some these BMR families used to "qualify" when their kids were still young. Years past, their kids are all left the nest. Now, these 3-Bedroom BMR units are just occupied by a person (mostly the mother). What a waste!!! Not sure they still even quality for BMR?? If so, they should move to a smaller BMR unit and let other BMR families to move in. What I see from this is that PAHC needs a better management besides asking for more and more!


26 people like this
Posted by Why here
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2017 at 7:46 pm

No more zoning changes.
Do not exceed the 35 foot height limit.
Preserve retail for residents.
Make sure it is fully parked for every unit and all retail.
Lastly - why to we have to house people who can't afford to be here. If the housing corp. bought land in say Fresno they could house 4 times more people there at a lower cost. Isn't it ridiculous to pay a small fortune to house poor people in the most expensive area in the US. Makes no sense. Since when do the poor that win the "lottery" for subsidized housing get to live in the best place. What about all the others who need a home. Isn't a home somewhere less expensive better than no home? Perhaps the people who run the Palo Alto housing Corp. just want to live here so they make there work place here rather than caring for more low income people by moving them to lower cost places to live? Has anyone done a study to see how many non- working people on disability and such could be served if the housing was built in lower cost areas?


24 people like this
Posted by N
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 29, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Resident of Ventura park here.

This proposal is absurd, and were it in any of the neighborhoods where council members live, they would shoot it down immediately. From the article:
* Nearly five times the number of units that zoning allows!
* Only 0.7 parking spaces per residential unit, with ZERO parking for the planned office space.
* Proposed height above what zoning allows, which is already taller than most buildings within several blocks in all directions. This would be MASSIVELY DISPROPORTIONATE with the neighborhood.

This same neighborhood (and my family) strongly supports affordable housing and supported keeping Buena Vista park open for the residents there.

We can be PRO affordable housing, without doing major damage to neighborhoods. The current two retail buildings can, for example, be turned into around 12 housing units (which is great!) along with retail, and parking for both. That is a WIN for the city, lower income residents, and the neighborhood.

For our neighbors in the city, please reconsider and differentiate between affordable housing (which is completely possible within the rules), and gross violations of the building code. There are *plenty* of run down buildings in the area that could be converted to low-rise, dense housing *within the rules*. These can also be done while making for a more walkable neighborhood by keeping retail (again, required by code), to service those new and existing residents.


10 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@Why here

Yes, let's just have everyone who needs affordable housing live in Fresno.

But seriously, these people are not problems to file away somewhere, they are members of our community, and have valuable things to offer all of us. And as much as I think that saving Palo Alto involves reducing traffic congestion or great schools, I think it has to do with maintaining a diversity of people and community - you can't have that if only the rich (or longtime homeowners) can live here.


21 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2017 at 7:58 am

Twenty meetings with neighbors? I live a block from this proposed project and the first I heard of it was in the media.


8 people like this
Posted by PR Flaks At It Again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

No one has commented on this, but doesn't the Palo Alto Housing Corporation's attempt to improve its damaged image by dropping "Corporation" from its name seem a bit silly? Remember when Exxon, after being badly shamed for the massive Alaska oil spill caused by the "Exxon Valdez," decided to rename the tanker ship? David Letterman joked they should redub it the "Shell Valdez."


Posted by mt
a resident of Midtown

on Aug 30, 2017 at 10:13 am


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4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 30, 2017 at 10:29 am

Annette is a registered user.

Housing advocates have good reason to be frustrated with Palo Alto (and, no doubt, other Peninsula cities). Thanks in large part to the "no holds barred" approach to approving massive amounts of commercial development the jobs:housing imbalance has steadily worsened instead of steadily improved. And now a project that is needed is facing opposition for several reasons, one of which is zoning. If history is a guide, the current CC majority will no doubt find a way around that. In this instance, the reasons are understandable, but there's no getting around the fact that it will add to our infrastructure deficits and quality of life here will go down another notch.

Does anyone else out there think the approach taken that has gotten us to this sorry place is irresponsible? I sure do.


14 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2017 at 10:56 am

People seem to forget or ignore 2000-2002 when there were massive layoffs in Silicon Valley and prices went down and there was massive number of apartments and homes available. Silicon Valley's day is also coming while people believe these silicon valley jobs will do nothing but increase and there are no other states capable of high tech work.
The residents of Palo Alto, not the city council, don't want any more hotels, homes, apartments or businesses in Palo Alto. Leave it alone.
We don't need any more drugs or crime in the city. Spend money on law enforcement and hell with any more building.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

I watched most of the CC meeting on TV and thought the CC members made good points and offered good ideas/suggestions to staff to help move the project forward. The fact was finally realized and acknowledged...that current zoning isn't the best zoning for the area involved. Liz might have had a senior moment when she made her comment about the 50 ft height limit. I'll give her a pass on that one. The parking?...If the residents will really be those for whom this project is intended, then I agree with it. I'm okay on relief on the FAR also. Affordable housing has been a hot topic for years and a campaign pledge from so many that I'm sure this will get approved. Tanaka's push for micro-units? Well that's just Tanaka being Tanaka. He's now taken up the banner from Cory's position on that and his place on the drum set!

Cory has matured and grown a lot in speaking out on his position on issues and from his position on CC. There has been movement from the exuberant newbie CC member, offering all the idealist ideas to save the world and our community. It ain't as easy as he thought it would be. All the negativism against him has died off, thankfully, and I think he's positioned himself to run for office again next year. He's got my support. Our CC is doing a great job and Greg is fun to watch, running the meetings. He makes it look like he's having fun doing it. I used to have fun staying up late, but that was in bars, night clubs...drinking and dancing...not at CC meetings. lol!

@DTN Paul...you said it best. We shouldn't be in the business of ostracizing our citizens and sending them off to foreign places when they can't afford to live here anymore, and after they've contributed so much to our community.

Boo!! To all those who think that shipping them off to more affordable communities is a good idea. Just think about it. What if someone told you you had to leave town, the town you lived in, raised your family in, contributed to, and loved for 50-60 years, because we don't need you or want you anymore and we don't want to help pay for keeping you here? Remember?? Hitler proposed the same idea for other reasons and groups but the same idea could be applied to our elderly, poor, and disabled people in PA. THINK ABOUT IT!!! Don't repeat bad history!


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Posted by The Core
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Can someone in authority state how many of the new units would go to CURRENT Palo Alto residents?


9 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Gale Johnson said:

"Hitler proposed the same idea for other reasons and groups but the same idea could be applied to our elderly, poor, and disabled people in PA."

Mr. Johnson, please consider the truly insensitive and offensive nature of your words. Hitler exported millions of Jewish people and others to killing factories with the express purpose of exterminating those he believed to be inferior.

While I support policies to help the elderly, poor, and disabled, I do not equate those who disagree with Hitler.

With Charlottesville so fresh in mind, I am appalled at your sentiment.


2 people like this
Posted by Gnar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm

THIS is exactly the kind of development we need in Palo Alto. Not another greedy, overly-dense hotel. HOUSING.

I completely support this project. And while we're at it, let's put HOUSING in at Su Hong. The developer will still make bank, and we won't end up with an obnoxious 5-story eyesore hotel that adds nothing to the community.

(@ BMR requirement: Yes, they check at time of purchase or rental to ensure that you still meet criteria.)


3 people like this
Posted by Time for the truth
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Thanks to Arbitarian for calling out Gale Johnson's offensive analogy. Gale says many silly, selfserving things, but since he keeps reminding us that he is old, people politely let it pass.
But it is time to call out his bias in favor of development interests, especially his constant PR for his young "friend" who just voted against the Animal Shelter plan.
Gale excuses development advocate Kniss' misrepresentation of the height limit, and he finds the development advocate Mayor "fun to watch."

Odd that these 3 council members are big development advocates.
Stop the pretense, Gale. Tell the truth about what you really support.


7 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 1, 2017 at 10:52 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Jery99 is absolutely right. Palo Alto does not need one more resident, one more housing development, one more commercial building or one more hotel on top of what already exists. It has reached the saturation point years ago. All the energy should now go toward improving the quality of life for existing residents. Less traffic, much less noise, much less air pollution, less crime, more trees and more pen space.

To the poster who claimed that Wolbach has no opposition anymore and that he has matured and changed his ways, well, Denial is not just a river in Africa..


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Posted by hope this helps
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2017 at 4:16 pm

"Can someone in authority state how many of the new units would go to CURRENT Palo Alto residents?"

I am not in authority, however, during the meetings with PAHC at the time of the Maybell debate it was stated by PAHC that low income housing would not be limited to Palo Alto residents. I believe they said that they could not limit applications. The discussion was around the possibility of moving some of the trailer park residents into this housing and we were told that was not possible to guarantee who would be able to move in resident or nonresidents were allowed to apply.


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