News

Palo Alto takes stand against Wiener's housing bill

City calls for more time to 'address and assess' bills from 2017

A state bill that would increase zoning densities, relax parking requirements and curb cities' abilities to limit building heights in transit-rich areas is proving to be a tough sell in Palo Alto, where city officials on Tuesday took a firm stance against the proposed legislation.

Authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Senate Bill 827 would provide zoning concessions and exemptions from local regulations for "transit-rich housing projects," which are defined in the bill as residential developments within a half-mile radius of a major transit stop or within a quarter-mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor. Qualifying projects would not be subject to limits on the maximum number of units, minimum parking requirements or maximum height limitations.


State Sen. Scott Wiener. Image courtesy office of Sen. Scott Wiener.
Wiener's new bill comes at a time when the Palo Alto City Council is trying to roughly triple its housing production, in part by revising the local zoning code to give developers incentives for building housing. But despite the Palo Alto's recent push on housing, officials are raising concerns that the Wiener bill would actually hinder the city's efforts.

On Tuesday, the city signaled its official opposition to the bill in a letter to Wiener's office. Signed by Mayor Liz Kniss, the letter alludes to the city's effort to amend its zoning regulations to encourage residential projects with higher densities near transit areas. That effort received a boost Monday night, when the council approved a Housing Work Plan that include a list of zoning revisions staff will be working on in the coming months.

"SB 827 in its current form could diminish local acceptance of residential development and undermine our local efforts," the letter states.

The letter also alludes to the package of 15 housing bills that the Legislature passed last year (including Wiener's Senate Bill 35, which created a streamlined approval process for qualifying housing developments). It remains to be seen, the letter states, whether the voters will approve the most significant of the funding measures passed last year -- a $4-billion bond that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"We ask that you give us all time to assess and adjust to changes from 2017," the city's letter states. "However, we must join with The League of California Cities and others to oppose SB 827."

City Manager James Keene declared the city's opposition to the bill at the Monday night meeting, shortly before members kicked off their discussion on best ways to encourage housing.

The council's opposition is not, however, unanimous. Councilman Adrian Fine, author of the memo spurred the creation of the Housing Work Plan, said that he disagrees with the dissent. He also said he is disappointed in the process that led to the drafting of the letter, with he said caught him by surprise (the council had not had any extensive discussions about the Wiener bill before the letter was drafted and sent out).

Fine said he supports SB 827 and intends to write letters to Wiener's office and to the League of California Cities, signaling his support. He told the Weekly that he sees housing as an "environmental, equity and economical" issue and that he supports the bill's goal of building housing near transit.

"If we aren't going (to) support housing here, then where?" Fine said.

It's clear, he said, that many cities -- including Palo Alto -- are not effectively using their zoning codes and regulations to achieve housing goals.

"We should be flexible and entertaining new ideas," Fine said.

Related content:

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Comments

122 people like this
Posted by Worse Than Article Claims
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

The article says the proposed bill would "relax parking requirements." Actually, the bill will remove ALL parking requirements for buildings deemed to be "near" transit. So you could put up an eight story building with hundreds of units and not provide a single parking space. Legally!

You can see how developers and wealthy tech moguls have completely taken over our state government!

Heck, if there's a stream nearby, they'll argue next buildings shouldn't have to provide tenants with water.

Our City Council should hold an emergency session on this bill and send a much more powerful letter opposing it. And they should demand Assemblyman Mark Berman come in to explain where he stands on it.


47 people like this
Posted by Haha
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Ooh, a powerful letter! Sorry guys, you're outnumbered here. You've had years and years to support smart growth and actually build some housing, but instead you ignored the housing crisis and let everyone else suffer because "neighborhood character". We've had enough. High density is coming so we can have a place to live, too, and for the next generation and so on. If you want to live in a sleepy suburb go live in the rust belt.


92 people like this
Posted by in good company
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:04 pm

The Palo Alto CC is in good company. Even the typically pro-growth, pro-development SF Planning Dept is taking a stand against Weiner's flawed SB 827.
Web Link


26 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:23 pm

"Actually, the bill will remove ALL parking requirements for buildings deemed to be "near" transit. So you could put up an eight story building with hundreds of units and not provide a single parking space. Legally!"

That bill is no surprise and overdue. Palo Alto had plenty of time to get it's act together and build additional housing. We could have built a ton of it, near transit AND with plenty of onsite parking. Now it will be done for us, not necessarily with enough parking, and outside the city's control. There is still time to approve dense and plentiful housing, but not much time, and certainly not if we continue to drag our feet and stick our heads in the sand.

Our way or Sacramento's? My vote is for our way.


44 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Many present day residents who bought their homes say 20 years ago were working for companies like HP and Sun Microsystems. This was probably a short commute, walking or biking distance or at least close by. Where are those companies now? Where do those residents work now?

Who is to say that anyone who wants to live in a Palo Alto stack and pack will still live close to work in 20 years, or even 5 years time.


60 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Remember how the PA City Council went well beyond the state ADU law even though PA is already more densely populated than most of the rest of the state at which the ADU law was aimed?

Watch very very carefully that our CC doesn't try to exceed the state law provisions here, too.


29 people like this
Posted by GG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm

The City of Palo Alto talks the talk about wanting more housing, but has been very, very slow to actually revise zoning ordinances in a meaningful way that would allow more housing and/or produce more housing. For example, the Work Force Housing zoning concept only applies to parcels zoned PF (Public Facilities). These PF-zoned parcels are all owned by either the City or CalTrain and virtually all of these PF parcels are spoken for (existing public parking lots, public buildings, etc.). When the City has actually changed zoning laws, the laws are still so restrictive (too few parcels affected, low densities, high fees, affordability restrictions, high parking requirements, etc.) that there is little to no incentive for the market to build housing. Additionally, the City process required to obtain housing entitlements for properties is spirit crushing (i.e. Who in their right mind would want to take a project through the ARB - Planning Commission - City Council process?). And so, the housing shortage continues. Perhaps Weiner's bill goes too far to incentivize housing development, however, the City's actions to date have not moved the housing needle and won't for a long, long time.


31 people like this
Posted by Peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:49 pm

Ooooh, soooo many newbies who think they're experts on housing.

Not long ago we had a GLUT of housing. Look:

Web Link

While I'm pro-development, those of you screaming about housing shortages have no grasp on history.


Posted by Haha
a resident of Crescent Park

on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:26 pm


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17 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:47 pm

"Not long ago we had a GLUT of housing. Look:"

The article at that link is nearly a decade out of date, and was written during a temporary downtown in the economy. We don't have a glut of of housing in the Bay Area anymore.

Web Link


43 people like this
Posted by Wiener includes various meats
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Do not let state legislators sell Palo Alto to their campaign contributors. Raise heck or get decked.


34 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2018 at 9:04 am

The issue is the job to housing imbalance. While not perfect, a better idea than just a generic ‘build housing near transit because it’s good’ approach for CA wide blanket ruling would be a rule that states if a city builds office space and generates the need for an office worker to be housed, that same city should be required to build a corresponding unit of housing for an office worker. While it might not be the exact same office worker living in that unit, over time it would prevent the imbalance from getting worse.

It would also prevent the current ‘tragedy of the commons’ among Bay Area cities where each wants to build office space for tax revenue but not pay for residential services (Palo Alto included along with Mountain View and Cupertino).


55 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 9:45 am

Palo Alto is about 50-50 renters versus home owners. The city has provided for plenty of higher density zoning areas in addition to R-1. Other than a few spots, it is completely built out. Notwithstanding this, do people really think it is now appropriate for a developer to be able to buy several properties in the middle of an R-1 district, tear down the houses, and build an 8-story apartment building, without any limitations, including no parking spaces, just because it is within a mile of a bus stop? If so, you have a point of view similar to what's shown here: Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by @Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 9:48 am

"Notwithstanding this, do people really think it is now appropriate for a developer to be able to buy several properties in the middle of an R-1 district, tear down the houses, and build an 8-story apartment building, without any limitations, including no parking spaces, just because it is within a mile of a bus stop?"

After years of you guys fighting any attempt to build high density housing, yes.


23 people like this
Posted by This city is changing!
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:07 am

Palo Alto has always been a place of change, yet previous city councils REFUSED to do anything about the housing crisis! *or traffic for that matter! I'm glad to see at least one council member has the brains to see what's going on and is willing to go against the business as usual crowd. Thank you CouncilMan Fine for supporting changes which will allow more housing in our city!


40 people like this
Posted by Hinrich
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:10 am

Hinrich is a registered user.

California’s success attracting innovative businesses is threatened by it’s failures to plan for necessary housing and transportation - not to mention crime, high taxes, etc., etc. Everyone knows it isn’t easy to live, work, or do business in California.

Palo Alto rightly rejects control by Sacramento but it’s also short sighted in thinking a few hundred more housing units will solve anything. The best option is a moratorium on new business space and new residential. Silicon Valley must decentralize. Technology provides the means to link and distributed work in far more efficient ways than adding another two thousand to Facebook and two more lanes to 101 so that those workers can live far away in San Francisco or Santa Cruz. Decentralizing worked for many of the larger companies in the past, HP, Intel to name two and of course, Microsoft wisely moved most of its footprint North and prospered. Not pumping up the bubble to bursting while working with local commerce and the community to enhace the quality of life - and the solvency of the city - may be the better path. Meanwhile, the city could meet some of the existing state mandates by smart, long term redevelopment to increase some density but cap totals at existing levels. The constant promise that more building producing more revenue will heal the current budget woes, or ease congestion, or enable traffic fixes, etc. never seems to pan out.

De-centralizing isn’t easy and would require serious planning as well but seems the best option. Not everyone needs to be here - that, might just be a good place to start fixing things. Palo Alto will always remain attractive and shouldn’t worry about putting firm constraints on growth.


61 people like this
Posted by Wanna Be Fine
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

@Norm Beamer is correct, the consolidation of parcels have far reaching consequences. With each parcel consolidation, it provides context for the next consolidation.

Scott Weiner wants to eliminate R-1 zoning because his developer friends can't use the R-1 parcels to what they consider as their "highest and best" use. Developers' highest and best use is the highest $$$$$ they can make.

For many who owns R-1 parcels, their highest and best use does not have dollar amounts attached to it. It is a home, it is a place for family gatherings, it is a safe place for the children, it is where you see what you planted blossom from a seedling to a plant, it is sanctuary. There is no $$$$ amount that can be put to each of those experiences.

Adrian Fine, as Council Member has made it into Scott Weiner's inner circle and of course will be continuing to try to hand over the keys to Palo Alto to the developers.

so, when Adrian Fine says "We should be flexible and entertaining new ideas," He means you should be open to letting the developers dictate what they want to build, how they want to build and how much they want to build.


29 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

Annette is a registered user.

I am glad that the city is pushing back against SB827 b/c it is too far reaching. But there's irony in the mayor's message to Weiner: WE can reach too far, but YOU must not. How about this: ALL levels of government stop reaching too far?

HAHA makes a good point about housing: we should have been smarter about housing, starting at least a decade ago. Instead, *we* let commercial development gobble up development space, not only creating a greater demand for housing but eliminating opportunities for housing development. Now we are stuck trying to solve the problems created by that over-development. And in addition to creating problems, the growth juggernaut has created a divided community. How those who promoted this can consider themselves leaders is beyond me. They led us straight into a quagmire.


57 people like this
Posted by Jthomas
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:08 am

As a long-time Palo Alto resident I moved to SF and had the dubious pleasure of having Scott represent my neighborhood on the city council before he moved on to the state senate. However the housing crisis gets solved it should not involve Mr. Weiner. He appeared tone deaf on more issues in the City than I can count. This latest effort would literally allow any developer in SF to build anything they want on any street in SF with no review or appeal.

Now he's a bad legislator proposing very bad legislation at the state level.


9 people like this
Posted by Long-Term Renter
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Nimby Kniss just lost my vote!

Local control of land use is a privilege, not a right. If cities can't bring themselves to do what's best for the greater good, control should go back to the State.


32 people like this
Posted by Which Adrian Fine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Is this the same Adrian Fine when running for Council said.
“4. High-density housing: What are your thoughts on “high-density housing” in Palo Alto? How much should be built and for whom?
“High density is a loaded word. In San Francisco and Manhattan it may mean 30-50 story towers. In Palo Alto high density means 3 and 4 stories. I favor densities of this kind near services, transit, and shopping--areas that provide opportunities for walking, biking, and shopping locally. The prime areas to focus on are along El Camino, University Avenue, and California Avenue.” Web Link

The proposed legislation that Councilmember Fine supports would prevent cities from requiring housing to be shorter than 85 feet in certain areas near transit, and all without any parking.

Here's what the proposed legislation actually says:

"If the transit-rich housing project is within either a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor or within one block of a major transit stop, any maximum height limitation that is less than 85 feet, except in cases where a parcel facing a street that is less than 45 feet wide from curb to curb, in which case the maximum height shall not be less than 55 feet. If the project is exempted from the local maximum height limitation, the governing height limitation for a transit-rich housing project shall be 85 feet or 55 feet, as provided in this subparagraph." Web Link

That means all along El Camino Real, we can have 85 foot tall buildings, even when next to single-family residential buildings in Barron Park.


13 people like this
Posted by Which Adrian Fine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Is this the same Adrian Fine when running for Council said.
“4. High-density housing: What are your thoughts on “high-density housing” in Palo Alto? How much should be built and for whom?
“High density is a loaded word. In San Francisco and Manhattan it may mean 30-50 story towers. In Palo Alto high density means 3 and 4 stories. I favor densities of this kind near services, transit, and shopping--areas that provide opportunities for walking, biking, and shopping locally. The prime areas to focus on are along El Camino, University Avenue, and California Avenue.” Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Which Adrian Fine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:31 pm

The proposed legislation that Councilmember Fine supports would prevent cities from requiring housing to be shorter than 85 feet in certain areas near transit, and all without any parking.

Here's what the proposed legislation actually says:

"If the transit-rich housing project is within either a one-quarter mile radius of a high-quality transit corridor or within one block of a major transit stop, any maximum height limitation that is less than 85 feet, except in cases where a parcel facing a street that is less than 45 feet wide from curb to curb, in which case the maximum height shall not be less than 55 feet. If the project is exempted from the local maximum height limitation, the governing height limitation for a transit-rich housing project shall be 85 feet or 55 feet, as provided in this subparagraph." Web Link

That means all along El Camino Real, we can have 85 foot tall buildings, even when next to single-family residential buildings in Barron Park.


46 people like this
Posted by HMMM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:35 pm

In Adrian Fine's campaign statement he pledged "I will support housing policies that respect existing neighborhoods". How is this consistent with his actions on Council and his vocal support for this bill? Are multi-story, under parked buildings respectful of existing neighborhoods? If you are a supporter/member of YIMBY Action, you clearly want existing neighborhoods dismantled.


12 people like this
Posted by @HMMM
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:44 pm

"If you are a supporter/member of YIMBY Action, you clearly want existing neighborhoods dismantled."

I want places for people to live, Millennial and onward. You've had years to support smart growth and help mitigate the housing crisis, and as a city you've collectively dropped the ball and made it impossible to build housing while externalizing the costs onto the rest of us. No more. The housing bills past last year, this bill, and upcoming bills are going to finally move the needle and produce high density housing so we're not paying $1,500 a month to rent a bedroom in a single-family home crammed full of housemates in every nook and cranny.


13 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

The letter is very appropriate. In our US Constitution, 'States Rights' are addressed and provisions included to protect them. Now, similarly, there should be 'Cities Rights' to protect cities from Sacramento dictating and directing how individual cities should operate/(behave..lol!), govern, and deal with their own local issues. So, good for us, and thanks mayor Kniss for sticking up for our city.

Oh, but wait...abuses of power can even happen down at our local/city level. CC often made decisions and passed ordinances that were not in the best interests of our community and residents, and took away the quality of life that many of us enjoyed for years. Too much commercial/business/office space development projects were permitted (actually encouraged and promoted due to cozy relationships with the business community and developers) without due consideration of housing, transit/traffic, parking, and infrastructure. Now 'the chickens have come home to roost' and everyone's in a tizzy and lather about the problems and how to solve them. Some small strides have been made on the parking issue, minuscule on transit and traffic, a little, but not near enough on infrastructure, and close to nil on housing. Those are all my personal opinions, and I could be wrong. If I am, I know I can count on my online experts to correct me.

While we're proposing bagging Weiner's SB, let's toss in opposition to ABAG's housing requirements as well. We'll never meet them, and the new Housing Work Plan, as good as it is, just won't get the job done. But, any sitting CC member, or future candidate, might be committing political suicide by admitting that.

So much has been written (articles and online pro/con comments) on the new draft Housing Work Plan. Now, after the last CC meeting, it will work it's way back through staff updates, and then on for review/approval by committees, before it comes back to CC. I wouldn't expect one housing unit to be built in 2018 under any new ordinance, and rules and regulations that come with it, from an approved Housing Work Plan. So, how are we doing so far on building 300 units this year?

I know, goals can't always be met, but, often it's because the goals were unreasonable in the first place, just vote grabbers...just thinkin.


7 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

The letter is very appropriate. In our US Constitution, 'States Rights' are addressed and provisions included to protect them. Now, similarly, there should be 'Cities Rights' to protect cities from Sacramento dictating and directing how individual cities should operate/(behave..lol!), govern, and deal with their own local issues. So, good for us, and thanks mayor Kniss for sticking up for our city.

Oh, but wait...abuses of power can even happen down at our local/city level. CC often made decisions and passed ordinances that were not in the best interests of our community and residents, and took away the quality of life that many of us enjoyed for years. Too much commercial/business/office space development projects were permitted (actually encouraged and promoted due to cozy relationships with the business community and developers) without due consideration of housing, transit/traffic, parking, and infrastructure. Now 'the chickens have come home to roost' and everyone's in a tizzy and lather about the problems and how to solve them. Some small strides have been made on the parking issue, minuscule on transit and traffic, a little, but not near enough on infrastructure, and close to nil on housing. Those are all my personal opinions, and I could be wrong. If I am, I know I can count on my online experts to correct me.

While we're proposing bagging Wiener's SB, let's toss in opposition to ABAG's housing requirements as well. We'll never meet them, and the new Housing Work Plan, as good as it is, just won't get the job done. But, any sitting CC member, or future candidate, might be committing political suicide by admitting that.

So much has been written (articles and online pro/con comments) on the new draft Housing Work Plan. Now, after the last CC meeting, it will work it's way back through staff updates, and then on for review/approval by committees, before it comes back to CC. I wouldn't expect one housing unit to be built in 2018 under any new ordinance, and rules and regulations that come with it, from an approved Housing Work Plan. So, how are we doing so far on building 300 units this year?

I know, goals can't always be met, but, often it's because the goals were unreasonable in the first place, just vote grabbers...just thinkin.


34 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

“Fine said he supports SB 827 and intends to write letters to Wiener's office and to the League of California Cities, signaling his support. He told the Weekly that he sees housing as an "environmental, equity and economical" issue and that he supports the bill's goal of building housing near transit.”


Before Adrian Fine was appointed to the Planning Commission and later elected to the council, we had a conversation concerning his vision for Palo Alto’s future. He spoke about the regional need for densification to counteract urban sprawl.

In particular, he spoke about the need for Palo Alto to remove any height restrictions to allow increased density with high rise buildings. As I recall, he spoke quite strongly about Palo Alto residents, with restrictive zoning and height limits, refusing to take responsibility for providing their share of the region's housing. And by doing so, standing in the way of the region’s future as the center for tech, and of those who work in it.

In a remarkably short time council member Fine, with the help of mayor Kniss, has become an influential voice in shaping Palo Alto’s future direction. Especially with his new appointment as chair of the housing committee. While he was quite circumspect about his views during the election campaign and has been on the council, given the depth of feeling he spoke with earlier and his support for this bill, it seems unlikely he has changed his vision for Palo Alto’s future direction, or how he can best go about it.


41 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Fine represents Fine no other views allowed.


8 people like this
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of University South
on Feb 14, 2018 at 6:36 pm

I don’t believe in SB827, but I have a genuine question for the most outspoken residentialists here: what is your endgame for twenty years from now?

I know a lot of people in their thirties. They probably wouldn’t back SB827, but they are very upset with the price of housing and they place the blame on “NIMBYs”.

I also know a lot of people in their twenties. They are really, really upset about the rent and they all support high-rise apartments in downtown. I don’t mean 5-story buildings, I mean ten story buildings like the Marc. This isn’t just one or two - every single twenysomething I’ve spoken to shares this belief. In twenty years those twenty and thirty somethings will be middle aged and a majority of Palo Alto. They clearly are not going to forget the pain they are going through now. This is the defining issue for Millenials in the Bay Area.

So what’s the endgame? I say we add some housing now because if we don’t Palo Alto is going to look like Toronto in thirty years once these people get in power. If we do four-story housing now, we can look like Paris instead. That’s my endgame - what’s yours? What are you going to do with all these angry people before they age into a majority?


8 people like this
Posted by Wavy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 7:47 pm

If you don't like the bill but want the housing crisis fixed don't just tell your representatives to vote against this bill. You should be telling them to come up with a better solution if you don't like this bill. If they really cared about fixing the problem, instead of protecting their most likely astronomical property values, we could have better solutions with parking.

If you don't think there is a housing crisis then most likely nothing will change your mind. Just don't force the rest of us to suffer because you don't like buildings over three stories tall.


6 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 8:20 pm

We need to do our part to stop global warming, period! The bulk of people need to live near good public transit. We also need high speed electric rail between LA and SF, powered by solar panels. Why is Palo Alto so resistant to the social changes that will save our planet? Wiener is showing us the way...let's follow him!


24 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2018 at 8:26 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Homeowner

I love people in general, and I don't like to be hated by anyone. I am 81 years old with, sorry to say, no endgame plans. But just a little input, maybe advice...I would never claim it as wisdom. How many of those mad 20-30 year olds could afford $3,000-$3,500 a month rent for micro or studio apartments in this city they want to live in? And, assuming they could afford to live here now, when they marry and have kids, where will they be living 20-30 years from now? In those same micro or studio apartments? Of course not. I don't have an answer, nor do any of our local elected officials.

Just blaming and hating us current NIMBYs won't matter either. Today's NIMBY's will be gone. It will be up to whomever our future voting residents will be, to elect CC members who will, hopefully, satisfy all of their needs and demands. How many of the current irate twenty and thirty somethings will be around to vote is a matter of conjecture.


2 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:21 pm

Are we proud progressive liberals or not? We should be able to agree to give according to our ability and only take according to our needs. Do we share this planet or not? Selfishness and liberalism are not compatible. Increased urban density near public transit is the only way to go. We should be walking our talk!


33 people like this
Posted by Mvresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 14, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Mvresident2003 is a registered user.

Progressive liberals? Selfishness? Urban density? Quite a few “feel good” phrases there.

If you’re REALLY an environmentalist, someone concerned about sharing this planet, why aren’t you lobbying for HUGE changes in development here? Why aren’t you pushing for businesses to move to locations with greater access to natural resources? Other states for example?

I can absolutely guarantee, 100%, no one will answer this question adequately. Pro-growthers will argue that we MUST keep tech here, it cant possibly succeed anywhere else. And not one pro-growther will answer directly the issue of California being over-developed, over taxed (literally and resource-fully). Why not move? Because, damn it, I want to live here and by god I should be able to!

With the depth of intellect and education in this area I am astounded that y’all can’t see what’s happening. That tax $ and development $ are driving and making all YOUR decisions. Your CC members? They’re not representing you.

Follow the $


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Fine is not a surprise. He is in over his head and doesn’t understand the intricacies of this. He’s also not very interested in Palo Alto or Palo Altans, even though he’s from here. He is tight with PAF and the SF-based YIMBY movement, a clique of mostly well-heeled young people lobbying for the interests of well-heeled young people. Operators like Wiener tell them that all their discontent is not because life holds challenges for everybody, but because they are the special victims of a corrupt previous generation. They actually believe this, so when they’re told the answer to their malaise is to seize local government away from locals, which SB827 does, they rally. The obvious explanation is that Fine buys into this zealotry, in which individual cities are irrelevant, and their local voters, including those in Palo Alto, are simply part of a regional problem to be overcome. Hence SB827.


16 people like this
Posted by Clueless Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 12:43 am

@Kevin

"The bulk of people need to live near good public transit. We also need high speed electric rail between LA and SF, powered by solar panels."

Where is the good public transit?
You paying for the high speed electric rail and solar panels and the infrastructure?

It's obvious @Kevin doesn't take the good public transit he wants other people to take otherwise he would know there is NO good public transit.


26 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2018 at 10:21 am

Annette is a registered user.

I think the hostility some posters show towards residents is misplaced. There's plenty of blame for our housing problems, including success. But I submit that relentless approval of commercial development is the single biggest contributing factor to the problems that vex this city, its residents, commuters in and out, and those who would like to live here. That development has created the need for more housing and voila we all find ourselves at the mercy of the rules of supply and demand. This is not the fault of residents. Owning a home and wanting infrastructure to be aligned with the demands on it does not equate to being against housing. When one looks at the magnitude of the housing problem, I don't think it a stretch to say that it was irresponsible to approve all that was approved.

Those entrusted with leadership roles (both elected and employed)should SOLVE problems, not CREATE problems. Nor should they knowingly create problems in order to later *solve* those very problems by introducing legislation that *coincidentally* promotes their personal philosophies.

Best two rules I can think of when voting: be informed and never, ever vote for a zealot (of any stripe).


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2018 at 11:09 am

Posted by Homeowner, a resident of University South

>> I don’t believe in SB827, but I have a genuine question for the most outspoken residentialists here: what is your endgame for twenty years from now?

Good question. Let's keep talking about this issue.

>> I know a lot of people in their thirties. They probably wouldn’t back SB827, but they are very upset with the price of housing and they place the blame on “NIMBYs”.

I know quite a few in their twenties. They don't seem to like talking about these issues very much:

>> I also know a lot of people in their twenties. They are really, really upset about the rent and they all support high-rise apartments in downtown. I don’t mean 5-story buildings, I mean ten story buildings like the Marc. This isn’t just one or two - every single twenysomething I’ve spoken to shares this belief. In twenty years those twenty and thirty somethings will be middle aged and a majority of Palo Alto. They clearly are not going to forget the pain they are going through now. This is the defining issue for Millenials in the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, people of all ages are misinformed about this. We probably need a discussion thread devoted exclusively to density. I will state flatly that high-rises are totally unnecessary to achieve density. For whatever reason, a lot of wealthy people like high-rises, but, high-rise construction is not more "affordable" -- typically > 2.5X 2-4 story wood-frame construction. The most affordable, *dense* housing is 3-story woodframe row houses. Here is a reference link:

Web Link

You can get 50,000 people per square mile-- greater than NYC, and greater than any borough of NYC except Manhattan.

Lots of wealthy people *like* high-rises, but, they cost more and are not necessary to achieve density.

>> So what’s the endgame? I say we add some housing now because if we don’t Palo Alto is going to look like Toronto in thirty years once these people get in power. If we do four-story housing now, we can look like Paris instead. That’s my endgame - what’s yours? What are you going to do with all these angry people before they age into a majority?

We are mostly in agreement. I think there can still be room for detached houses, but, I also like 3-4 story row houses with separate entrances, a configuration that has proven to discourage crime.

I think the Caltrain and El Camino Real transportation corridors have to be carefully planned and changes begun **first** though, before we start squeezing in lots of 3-story row houses, or the wrong configuration will get locked in.


38 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I have yet to meet a local pro growther who will admit that high tech can succeed anywhere else in the country or world beside SV. If it is not located within 20 miles of Stanford, preferably in Palo Alto, high tech is doomed. When you bring this up they all have prepared and perfectly reharsed dissertations(no one is better at it than Steve Levy) on how it's just impossible for high tech to survive anywhere else beside the Bay area. And of course, unless millennial tech workers are provided with housing, preferably in Palo Alto, the tech industry is doomed, and Palo Alto will regress to the dark ages. No one is better at this than PAF. It's density and urbanization or collapse, and damned be the areas all over the country that could be saved economically by some tech relocating there.


37 people like this
Posted by to mauricio
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2018 at 11:45 am

Peter Thiel is relocating to LA. I hope he takes Palantir and PAF (LAF?) with him.
Web Link


27 people like this
Posted by Not so Fine
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2018 at 11:52 am

Adrian Fine has lived in cozy College Terrace for many years, and still does.
It would be appropriate for him to move into a tall building, small apartment, with no parking. Let's see a little integrity, Mr. Fine.

But he is too wealthy for that inconvenience. His international employer, Nextdoor, depends on increased population to grow into an even bigger corporation.

Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2018 at 11:54 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Anon - I like your comment. I am opposed to SB827 but agree we must make progress on housing. Some in this forum have suggested converting some commercial to residential and I hope that gets some traction as it would have a positive impact on both sides of the equation. And your reference to Toronto is sadly appropriate. I know there are lovely parts of Toronto but the corridors of uninspired high rises create a bleak cityscape and I would never want to see that happen here. What you suggest (3 - 4 story row houses) strikes me as a thoughtful approach.

But people also need to manage their expectations. Wanting something does not equate to an entitlement. There are lots of places I'd like to live but cannot afford. I am not angry about that, it's just the way it is and I don't resent those who do live in those places. Somewhere along the way people came to believe that grown children deserve to live near their parents, that people deserve to live near where they work, that people deserve to live in their original hometown, that people deserve to live where they want. All those things are great, but not always achievable and cities cannot be expected to fully re-create themselves to accommodate all such desires. If Palo Alto changes in all the ways that SB827 would make possible the result will be a perverse shift from highly desirable to highly undesirable.


11 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Acronymology - who should use which one?

YIMBY - for the "yes in MY back yard" group
YIYBY - for the "yes in YOUR back yard" group
NIMBY - for the "not in MY back yard" group
NIABY - for the "not in ANY back yard" group

SB 827 is really more YIYBY than YIMBY and that is the rub.
SB 827 lacerates local control.


11 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Sea Seelam Reddy is a registered user.

We like the way Palo Alto has been for the last known 120 years. We like small and beautiful low tall buildings like town and country shopping center.

Keep our 55ft height limit.

No tall buildings along the highway corridor.

Plan the tall buildings in new cities.

Respectfully


23 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Homeowner wrote: "I have a genuine question for the most outspoken residentialists here: what is your endgame for twenty years from now?"

You might be asking the wrong group. It's rare that residentialists have had significant influence over development in Palo Alto. And they've usually supported housing during the thirty years I've lived here. For example, some medium- to high-density developments that were built in my part of town include Weatherly on Homer, 801 Alma/800 High, the Summerhill (I think) compact houses on the old Times Tribune site, and Oak Court on the old Palo Alto Medical Foundation site.

Developers, construction companies, and trade unions live by building, so it's natural that they support any narrative that lets them build more. My impression is that they're relatively agnostic about what they build; housing is simply the opportunity of the day, so they're strong behind-the-scenes supporters of legislation like SB827. (Zelda Bronstein writes comprehensively on this subject; for example, see Web Link)

The real influence lies with the employers, so they're the ones to whom you should direct your question. In the past, when it became obviously uneconomical to grow here, companies expanded elsewhere. More recently, many companies are doubling-down on expansion here regardless of cost -- for example, Google in Mountain View and San Jose, or Palantir in downtown Palo Alto. This phenomenon created the jobs/housing imbalance and income inequality that forced housing prices up and drove out large numbers of former residents. It also shifted increasing costs of many kinds onto the public.

Not every employer is following this strategy. From this morning's Mercury News: "“We deliberately moved away from the Bay Area,” Schoenholtz said. “We felt that it would be more affordable for our current and future employees to be located in a more diversely affordable location.” Rise of the Rest is completely focused on funding companies outside Silicon Valley.

The answer to your question is largely determined by which employer strategy eventually dominates. If it's unlimited local growth, then we're headed toward unlimited urban densification. If it's expansion in other areas, the changes will be comparatively smaller and more gradual, and there might be more opportunities to assert local control.

Another question you might want to ask is "What problems do you have to solve to get to this desired endgame?"

We live in an area in which population and industry were deliberately dispersed. (For a nice summary of the history, see Margaret O'Mara's book "Cities of Knowledge".) That low-density starting point means that some shared transit systems wouldn't be viable here for decades, if ever (see Web Link for some useful numbers). What happens when the road system is no longer adequate, but transit systems can't take up a large share of the load?

We live in an area that's close to sea level, and a good fraction of our population and infrastructure is close to the shoreline. What happens if sea level rises by a foot? See coast.noaa.gov for a simulation.

People need water, and all the West is short of it. For a fast, accessible introduction to the issues it's hard to beat Marc Reisner's "Cadillac Desert". For real insight into California, I recommend the original California Water Atlas ( you can get a PDF from ca.statewater.org ). And for a sense of how vicious water issues can be, the classic is William Kahrl's "Water and Power". What happens as urban demand increases, and underground aquifers are no longer able to meet the shortfall for agriculture?

There are plenty of other issues, but I hope those are enough to give you a sense of where my thinking is these days.

PS: I tried to include web links to sites with additional information, but Town Square refused to let me. (Too many links.) Sorry about that.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:38 pm

Sun Microsystems had a large office building. It employed a large number of people and I don't think the parking lot was ever full, I seem to remember seeing street hockey being played at lunch time. It was demolished and is now housing for seniors and a community center.

We were promised that these seniors and the community center would not produce parking problems. We were promised that there would be buses for residents to use. We were told that there would be facilities the residents could walk to. I don't believe there are any buses, and not even a coffee shop for residents in the neighborhood has been built. I see signs on all the local businesses that there is no parking for events at the community center. The community center has huge ugly posters advertising its facilities and strangely enough the people in the posters are not very diverse and do not look like seniors.

Is this a forerunner of what we are to expect?


4 people like this
Posted by Hal Plotkin
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:39 pm

I have a question for those more familiar with Weiner's SB827 as proposed. How does the legislation define the "housing" component of "transit-rich housing projects"? Here is why I ask: If the legislation removes current height, FARs and parking requirements in neighborhoods within one mile of the California Avenue CalTrain station, for example, that would include many single family homes in old Palo Alto just north of Oregon Expressway and Midtown just south of Oregon expressway. My guess is that many of these homeowners might simply expand their homes by adding second, third or even fourth stories rather than build apartments or sell to developers who build apartments. If that happens, no net new housing units. Just larger, even more expensive single-family homes. Is there anything in the legislation that would actually mandate the addition of net new housing units rather than allowing existing single family homes to become larger?


18 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 16, 2018 at 12:32 pm

How come no one is looking to set up 85 ft. Residential towers in Atherton, the Walled City?

We don’t have the infrastructure to support many more people. Build the roads and schools, then talk about cramming more rats in the cage.


Like this comment
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Increased density is a no brainer. We need to do whatever is necessary to save the planet. This means no more carbon dioxide emissions! Not only must we ban fossil fuel and natural gas usage, and go all electric, but we must also achieve an egalitarian society free of white privilege and racism and sexism. Go vegan. End the wealth gap through confiscatory taxation of the rich! Give according to our ability and only take according to our needs. Our future must be socialism, with the elimination of capitalism! What are we, proud liberals, waiting for?


20 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Noted in a recent interview that Gavin Newsom indicated that cities that are not meeting regional housing mandates should face stiff financial penalties. Guess he and Weiner will be tight, so better consider before voting for GN in the Governor's race, he lost my vote on that.

Cities should help sponsor a recall on Weiner if they want to maintain control over themselves.


8 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2018 at 9:27 pm

@Kevin,
Increasing density under these circumstances, with emissions increasing, productivity and families hurt by the disregard for their time and ability to get around the area, the cutting down of trees and ignoring urban green needs, and the need to bring in more and more resources from further away, is environmentally damaging.

This is not like Europe where it is normal to pay attention to views for everyone, quality of life, urban sunshine green and garden spaces, walkability including enjoyability not just a path someone might grit their way through. Densifying has huge environmental costs including noise and pollution. Yes, I do hope Peter a Thiel is taking a Palantir to LA. There are more defense firms there and they could use the urban renewal and are already densely built in many places. Near USC?


2 people like this
Posted by @Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 21, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Good luck with that. You're outnumbered here. Turns out when you make home ownership an impossible thing for all but a handful of people, eventually those people become the majority. The next generation needs housing too, not just you.


18 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:06 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Very misleading comments by Adrian Fine in another paper earlier this week saying he just wants 3-4 story buildings near transit. That is already supported by zoning. What he is really arguing for it 85 foot buildings (over 100 ft by right w state density bonus) anywhere near transit which includes most of Palo Alto including our family neighborhoods.

People REALLY need to wake up to what this guy is pushing.


6 people like this
Posted by @Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:55 am

"People REALLY need to wake up to what this guy is pushing."

You mean more housing for the rest of us? Good.


10 people like this
Posted by Not so Fine
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:58 am

A man who can lie with such intensity and fake sincerity is not to be trusted.

The housing he wants suits the local rich newbies, not people of modest means. He is focused on San Francisco, where he works.


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

Posted by to mauricio, a resident of Fairmeadow

>> Peter Thiel is relocating to LA. I hope he takes Palantir and PAF (LAF?) with him.

"to mauricio" and others recommending places for growing businesses, and with a libertarian management team. Enterprises that have grown too big for the Bay Area, and are looking to relocate. LA real estate is very expensive, too. I would suggest a look at Huntsville, AL. It has underutilized industrial parks, an active regional airport, and is close to Auburn, AL, home of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Housing in Huntsville is extremely affordable compared to any city in California.


6 people like this
Posted by Not your neighborhood or driveway
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:27 am

SB 827 would bring high-rise apts and condos with no onsite parking near you. So? You need to re-think what is "yours." You don't own the neighborhood or even a secure right to use your driveway. So what if your driveway is blocked by parked cars? So what if traffic backs up the streets? So what if high-rise residents can see you in your bavkyard?
Don't go in your backyard. That is all controlled by government - government that can be purchased by special interests. Too bad. Palo Alto is powerless against such big political players as the corporate CEOs and developers behind SB 827.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Amidst some of the rancor, I see a couple of glaring misconceptions.

First, (I'll skip the arithmetic this time- I've posted it many times), you don't need HIGH RISES to get density. 30 units per acre gets you to higher density than NYC, and, every borough of NYC except Manhattan. To get 30 units/acre with townhouses, you easily fit in 3-4 stories 50' limits. Some people LIKE high-rises, but, they are not necessary to get density.

Second, high-rises are not cheap: high-rises are much more expensive per square foot than 3-4 story light construction. (Wood or light metal frame). That is why, despite packing more people onto a given land area, high-rise apartments are usually much more expensive than 3-4 story apartments/condos. Reference also posted many times.

And, high-rises with lots of surrounding lawn space (generally a failure as far as pedestrian-friendly urban spaces are concerned), are no more dense than 3-4 row houses.

So, please stop equating high-rises with density. High-rises are an architectural PREFERENCE for some people, but, are not necessary, and, are generally not considered desirable in high-density walkable urban environments. They are also not considered to be desirable sitting next to/above low-rise construction, so, not necessarily appropriate in many locations.

So, please stop assuming high-rises are affordable, or, necessary for high-density.


4 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 31, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Anon: Your analysis is insightful, and thanks for previously posting so many useful references.

You may well be right about architectural preference driving the proposals for high-rises, but there are other possibilities. For example, if you assume that we need to bring the jobs/housing imbalance back into line only by building housing, and that the housing has to be within a short-walk radius of the two major transit centers, then that probably requires high-rise construction.

The last time I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation on this scenario, I estimated it would require about 20 blocks of 10-story curb-to-curb buildings. (I'm not advocating this, I'm just trying to clarify what would be needed.)


4 people like this
Posted by Not your neighborhood or driveway
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2018 at 6:04 am

@Anon. Under SB 827, who decides whether to build high-rise apts and condos in the neighborhood? Not "Anon." Not City Councils.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:04 pm

CC - Thank you. The bill is typical SF Progressive overreach. SF the city is falling apart - why doesn't he focus on fixing the problems in that city which are called out every day in the SFC. We have an onslaught of progressives who are dictating "our values" with no vote from us. Sorry - CA is a very diverse state and no one politician can call out "values" which serve his own purpose. Or in this case the developer's purpose. He can put a sticky on his forehead that says bought and paid for.

As to our LA resident politicians they seem to be calling the shots - who is directing traffic down there. I would hate to think that the cartels have infiltrated our political decision making and vote getting - aren't we in a mess right now on that topic? The state cannot have it both ways - interference with voting. One rule for everyone. We all cannot make up whatever we want.


11 people like this
Posted by Not your neighborhood or driveway
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2018 at 3:20 am

My "mane" and pount, of course, is WAKE UP PALO ALTO before it is too late. The CEOs behind SB 827 have it written so that no residential highrises are built near their houses in fully built flatland neighborhoods and in the hills. The bill would authorize highrises near mass transit such as the bus lines on El Camino Real. The CEOs will just need to avoid streets such as El Camino. But look folks. The reaction in Palo Alto and other cities and counties in the line of fire has not been nearly loud enough to stop the profiteers and sleazy politicians pushing SB 827. It appears that cities and counties are preocvupied and politically disorganized and most residents just keep quiet.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 2, 2018 at 6:16 pm

My feelings on ABAG and SB827 are that the state cannot control the break down in the main cities are trying to force housing down to less compact suburban areas and in hopes of diluting the predicament they are already in. Our city politicians need to push back to get the major cities to clean up their act and replace dilapidated buildings with livable buildings. I blame Sacramento for the breakdown in the state housing.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 2, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I would agree that our CC members SHOULD push back on ABAG. that won't happen since our CC is so pro-development and since our former mayor and cc member will soon go off to head ABAG. So there's no real difference.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

ABAG is another one of those "swamp" projects. The head of ABAG, presumably now gone - used ABAG money to purchase private homes for himself. In another report some ABAG people who were retiring were happy to go off to a non-ABAG section of the state - Ft. Bragg to retire in peace and quiet. So run amuck in a heavily populated area then take the money and run. I view AB 827 as another "swamp" project which was devised by developers and if approved by Mr. Brown another one of his "swamp" projects. Mr. Weiner started off so well and has now been contaminated by his experience in Sacramento. Let's make this into a Marxist state. What is going on in Sacramento?


11 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2018 at 5:36 am

SB 827 is a disaster in progress. Politicians - especially those planning to seek higher office - want a cut of all that money at stake. Campaign money. Not a bribe, of course.


3 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 15, 2018 at 7:15 am

SB827/Forced densification laws set the stage for the economic and demographic decline of the great state of California--and the dramatic accelerated rise of rival states such as Texas, Washington, Colorado and Arizona.

I can even imagine throngs of various (Texas business interest-financed) promoters/boosters doing canvassing door-to-door in much of impacted affluent California suburbia selling the CALIFORNIA EXIT option in the face of pending legislation like SB827! (In particular Texans will view this event as a "gift from God" and fully exploit the coming backlash!)

Just as Sao Paulo eclipsed Rio De Janeiro as the business capital of Brazil, and Toronto succeeded Montreal as the business capital of Toronto, or the rising sunbelt sapped wealth, investment and population from the rust belt--the Bay Area and California will be replaced as the great economic and innovation engine of America.

Regardless of highly visible "Silicon Valley" support for SB827 and similar state-level efforts and laws to force densification on California single family zones--such laws may begin the GREAT EXODUS of major corporations, private-family business, wealthy and middle class households out of the state. Any economic decline in California will negatively impact support for and progress on green space development and ambitious environmental goals in both California and the nation as a whole!

Very high tax and regulatory burdens so far have not led to such an economic and social decline--but forced densification bills like SB827 will negatively impact venture capitalists, college professors, CEOs, business owners and countless others literally where they choose to live with their families.

Countless times I have been told by people -- both conservative and liberal -- that but for the love of their home, neighborhood and community they/their resources would leave the state due to its "challenges." Now, the prospect of block-busting state laws removes their ability to literally govern their own neighborhoods/communities. (Also, destroys incentives to maintain/improve single family housing stock in communities subject to forced densification.)

State-level central control forced densification laws like SB827 will sever/break this last binding attachment to long term residency in the State among an irreplaceable critical mass wealth and economic resources--first a trickle then mass exodus and economic decline from a "self-inflicted wound" imposed on the people by arrogant state leadership.

Once the negative consequences (or "BLESSINGS" from a Texan perspective as they will enjoy benefits) are realized and set in motion they will be very very hard to reverse.

Perhaps a voter-rebellion led anti-densification initiative(s) could save the state from the damage of these proposed laws! Otherwise with the exodus/decline the debate shifts to which states--including Texas, Washington, Oregon and Colorado--will benefit most from the Great State of California's stumble.

What high tax burdens and regulations failed to wreck and disassemble--overreach in the form of forced densification laws may ultimately set in motion (and the Texas business promoters cheer!). Social and economic decline and failure in California will undermine the national and global standing of the California economic, social and environmental model--we must prevent this!


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2018 at 10:28 am

@JJ,
If you want to prevent it, you must sue the state to pay for the costs of the law to localities, as I believe the constitution requires? Only then can the state be made to understand the problems caused by densification.


5 people like this
Posted by @JJ
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

The housing crisis is already costing the California economy.

Web Link

"The McKinsey Global Institute found that housing shortages cost the economy between $143 billion and $233 billion annually, not taking into account second-order costs to health, education and the environment. Much of that is due to households spending too much of their incomes on the rent or mortgage and not enough on consumer goods."

There's not going to be a "voter rebellion" against density. After decades of restricted housing growth, California has become a majority renter state. There are an entitled few who own housing that will petition the government believing that their preference for suburbia surrounding major job centers and transit should take the highest priority, and then there's the rest of the state tired of the entitled homeowners blocking off housing development for everyone else.


6 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2018 at 11:22 am

SB 827 would empower big developers to build highrise condos and apartments (without any parking for the occupants) within a distance (currently 1/4 mile) of a bus stop on a frequent bus line. Such a line can be established on any street. With lots of bus lines in San Francisco, 96% of that City would be subject to such construction. If the big money special interests pushing 827 get it passed and signed into law, a statewide REFERENDUM and CAMPAIGN would be needed to stop it. Is anyone in Palo Alto prepared for that battle? Or is the City Cpuncil's limp resolution all that Palo Alto can muster?


2 people like this
Posted by @Gary
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

The bus stop thing you've mentioned is not true.

Web Link

"The bill is amended to ensure that transit stops have consistent, high-quality transit during the week and on weekends, from early morning to late night. Specifically, on weekdays, qualifying bus stops must have average service intervals of 15 minutes during peak 3 hours between 6–10am and 3–7pm, and have 20 minute average service intervals between 6am-10pm. On weekends, qualifying bus stops must also have average service intervals of 30 minutes from 8am-10pm"


3 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

What I stated is exactly true. All a developer and CEOs would need to do to expand the reach of SB i27 to a street is to get the local bus agency (here, the VTA) to establish increased service. Bus agencies are entirely on board. They want to expand to (1) increase dependence of what they provide, and (2) increase income to the agencies. Moreover, once the State establishes its role in compelling stack and pack in local housing, the law may well be changed to eliminate the requirement of frequent bus service.


2 people like this
Posted by @Gary
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 1:46 pm

So 96% of San Francisco is within 1/4 miles of a bus line that matches the above description? Now you're lying and backpedaling.

You also seem to be taking an anti mass transit stance. I am continually surprised at how low entitled boomer homeowners will go to hold everyone else down. This is why you're going to lose your ability to block new housing.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Here is a good discussion of the issue of the state not being allowed to force unfunded mandates on local governments. Forcing us to densify without regards to the local costs (and who is benefiting from the densification/alternatives) should be something we can put to the state agency described here and then go after in court.
Web Link

Maybe other cities should join together. We would probably have to recall Kniss/Fine/Tanaka over misleading the public about their xpcampaign financers, in order to get representation, though.

I also want the City to write a letter to the state asking them to promise never to impose water restrictions on existing residents again for drought, because of the imposition of this densification order. Clearly, the state has no worries about water for millions more people.


Like this comment
Posted by @Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm

That's what property taxes and impact fees are for.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2018 at 7:07 pm

@@
Wrong. The state created an unfunded mandate that raises costs in virtually every civic arena. The state conatitution says they must pay for the costs they foist on us, it does not say we have to use the funds we are raising already to pay for existing duties. The link I provided lays out how we ask for the state to pay. They should be confronted with the real prospect of paying the real cost of foisting this on cities without the infrastructure to handle it.


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Posted by @Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 7:24 pm

Lol, you can't be serious. Sorry bud, you don't get to just build nothing but office complexes without housing and then complain when housing costs get so egregious that the state has to step in.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Before you accuse someone of "lying," you might want to search SB 827 96% San francisco online. You will find several articles that make the point.


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Posted by @Gary
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2018 at 12:19 am

I literally just posted the amendment to the bill that raised the requirements for which bus stops qualified. You're peddling out of date information.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2018 at 12:46 am

The bill was amended to require even more frequent bus service. So? That service can be purchased by developers and CEOs looking to profit from STACK AND PACK imposed on the flatlands where few CEOs ( or big developers) live. The bill may be amended again at any time. A bill is a proposed law. And if the bill becomes law, if can be changed by another bill that becomes law. Maybe Vladimir Putin will pay to house a few thousamd extra spies to re-elect Donald Trump. Money talks - even if the currency is foreign. The question is whether existing residents will sit by and allow their neighborhoods to be ruined by conmen and profiteers. I predict they will. Complacency is part of how the Russians got Trump in the White House.


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Posted by @Gary
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2018 at 12:54 am

The bill could be amended so that 500 story buildings are mandated to be built within 20 miles of every mailbox. That would mean 100% of San Francisco would have STACK AND PACK housing looking directly down into Palo Alto backyards!


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Posted by Other Options
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 11:41 am


Over the last 50 years in the USA when has a state, county or city ever benefited from a "war" on its own single family homeowners and communities?


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Gary: I think you've got it right; SB827 is a far-reaching tool for development that is nothing short of dangerous. It is being resisted for good reasons; including that it essentially eliminates local control over those developments that meet the easily-met parameters of the bill.

To be specific to Palo Alto, to all who are pushing densification and growth at all costs: what's the end plan? Our roadways are clogged NOW, the parking shortage is serious NOW, traffic is a huge issue NOW, circulation is minimal at various times every single day NOW, there are reports of crimes that were formerly rare NOW, mass transportation is inadequate NOW, we are short on public meeting space NOW . . . shall I go on? Growth needs to be sustainable and I think there's a very good argument to say that additional growth here is NOT. And that's without even looking at water demand.

When do we acknowledge that we already did most (if not all) the growing we can handle? When do we get credit for already growing to capacity? Why is it nimbyism to look at highly densified cities and conclude (rightly, I think) that that will not work here? Why is it bad to acknowledge our geography and plan for what is doable instead of what will only exacerbate existing shortfalls? Even if growther dreams came true and R1 zoning was eliminated going forward, the problems that exist NOW will not magically go away. One reason that good people are resisting densification is that it imposes increased demands on systems and resources that are currently at or near failing. It's really just that simple.


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Posted by @Annette
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Traffic is bad precisely because zoning has been kept so low that suburban sprawl was the only way to grow. The more suburban sprawl you have, the harder it is to build out and invest in mass transit to service that spread out populous, so people drive and commute and clog the roadways. Build more densely near jobs and mass transit, and fewer people will have to commute to get around. This is regional planning 101.

Local control has caused this housing shortage. You guys didn't use it responsibly and now it's going to be taken away. Not a moment too soon, either.


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Posted by @Other Options
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 5:45 pm

You guys could have been Atherton if you wanted to, not had any job growth, made it a small and highly secluded community. Instead Palo Alto has become a center for jobs to draw in tax dollars with a wall of residents surrounding those jobs and blocking off any increase in housing. That's unacceptable.


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Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Traffic is bad precisely because zoning has been kept so low that suburban sprawl was the only way to grow."

The suburban character of Silicon Valley exists for two main reasons: (1) The conscious decision after WWII to distribute industrial and R&D resources geographically, and (2) the recognition that large numbers of potential employees and their families found campus-like suburban environments more attractive than urban environments. These things (among many other insights) are well-documented in "Cities of Knowledge" by O'Mara.

Studies I've read suggest that you need a density of about 30 residents per acre for light rail to be financially viable, 45 for heavy rail. (For comparison, I estimate the University South neighborhood averages about 15.) Jobs have to be concentrated within 1/4 mile of stations. Housing has to be concentrated within 1/2 mile of stations. Just building more housing doesn't get you to the necessary conditions here; you would have to massively redistribute existing housing *and* jobs as well as put billions of dollars into the transit systems. Taking half-measures doesn't leave you with a viable situation.

Other transportation solutions are possible (and if you look at the history of places like NYC, you can see how they appeared and disappeared during the evolution of current systems). But again, just adding housing density doesn't get you there, and isn't even the necessary precondition.

I won't claim "you can't get there from here", but I will claim that it's so expensive you won't get enough political support to do it. In the meantime, adding more people will just add more traffic.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 8:41 pm

And that suburban character is why traffic is so bad. Turns out that restrictive zoning and pushing suburban sprawl was incredibly short-sighted and has caused massive problems years later, but then again short-sighted decisions seems to have been the trend for much of the past 40 years in this state from people that can't see past "what will benefit me personally right now" to do any coherent long-term planning that will be beneficial to the region as a whole. And now here we are, with a housing shortage, a neutered mass transit system that hasn't been properly invested in, and insane traffic.

Sounds like we need to start building densely around mass transit. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Just because you guys dropped the ball doesn't mean we can't pick it up.


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Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The suburban character was around for a long time without causing insane traffic. And "we guys" alive today who simply arrived here before you did have never had any more control over the development process than you have. Until you understand the cause and effect, I think you'll be disappointed when razing a few neighborhoods and building a few high-rises makes things worse rather than yielding the results you hoped for.

These observations (from an analysis of Melbourne) are always worth keeping in mind: "First, good public transport is not something that just materialises by magic if only the urban density is high enough: it has to be explicitly planned and funded by governments. Second, where public transport is of poor quality and unattractive, building up the urban density does not make it any more attractive – or any more financially self-supporting."


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

How about building job centers with adjacent housing? In this county, that means in San Jose and unincorporated county territory. There is plenty of room there - but not in Palo Alto or Mountain View. Of course, SB 827 is not about what makes sense. It is a matter of money in politics.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2018 at 10:10 pm

Thank you to Allen Akin for your informed comments.

SB 827 died in committee today; I think this is good.

Transit strength and variety must, I think, be a prerequisite to additional development of any sort. If we don't sequence things logically we will only make matters worse. Electrification of our rail system and self-driving cars should improve the transit situation and make other changes possible. Time will tell. In the meanwhile, we should at least make smart decisions.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm

"The suburban character was around for a long time without causing insane traffic"

Remember that whole thing about short-term planning? This is exactly that mentality.


And no, you guys have had plenty of control over development. The zoning laws didn't just come out of thin air. The city councils didn't just all decide to block dense housing projects. The CEQA lawsuits thrown at developments to kill them through attrition didn't just file themselves. It was the collective will of you guys for decades to prioritize low density, and here we are.

Wait, you mean that mass transit takes investment? Well gee golly, what a revelation! Good thing we've been investing in it over the past few decades so that we'd have a robust regional transit system ringing the Bay ready to absorb ridership from a growing regional population, right?


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Posted by @Gary
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Too late, Palo Alto and Mountain View are already the job centers. Your chance to be Atherton was not taken.


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Posted by @Annette
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 10:49 pm

That's too bad. There are still the bills passed last year that mandate automatic approval of housing projects in cities that are not meeting their housing goals so long as they meet zoning, so that will still put a dent into the housing crunch while more housing bills are passed. This problem will eventually get solved, time is on our side.


10 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2018 at 10:56 pm

Regardless of where the blame lies, we are where we are; we cannot pretend that existing problems do not exist. And we should not make policy that ignores reality.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Annette
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2018 at 11:08 pm

We're capable of multi-tasking and can build housing while improving transit. Weird that whenever it comes to actually building those pre-requisites to new housing, the same people then find reasons to not build those either.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Interesting comment, @Annette. What is your basis for claiming that "the same people then find reasons to not build those either"?

There's disagreement about HSR and decades ago we short-sightedly voted against extending BART down the peninsula. What other opposition is there to improving transit? I think there's overwhelming support of that, as evidenced by the passage of Measure B.


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Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Remember that whole thing about short-term planning? This is exactly that mentality."

Amusingly, suburban character here *was* the result of long-term planning. It sounds like you haven't read "Cities of Knowledge"; to understand why things in Silicon Valley are as they are, it's really worthwhile.

"And no, you guys have had plenty of control over development."

If that were true, there'd be a lot fewer offices around. Housing prices would be lower (due to lower demand), fewer people would have been displaced, and yes, there would be less traffic.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm

No it wasn't. Just because the orchards were paved over to build suburban housing doesn't mean that the long term plan was for everything to always remain so.

"Uhler said in the 1970s, homeowners began to demand — and get — more restrictions on development.

“Things like, only a certain number of units can be built in our city in a given year, or that zoning changes can only occur if the voters approve it,” Uhler said.

And at the state level, lawmakers passed the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA, in 1970. It aimed to measure the environmental impact of building projects — and hold developers accountable. But developers contend CEQA is being used to delay or stop projects from being built. Whether CEQA should be revised remains a constant source of debate."

Web Link


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Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The physical design of Silicon Valley was the result of a strategic (long-term) plan to distribute population, industry, and military. The fact that you would like a different long-term plan now doesn't make that any less true.

You might want to consider whether that original plan still has some merit, though. Concentrating a great deal more of the country's economy, population, and R&D talent in an area that's ludicrously expensive, water-poor, earthquake-prone, and subject to inundation from sea-level rise might not be a smart long-term plan. Not including its social costs both here and in the rest of the country.

(Great recent article on local earthquake risk for high-rise construction: Web Link )

As for zoning, I admit my ignorance. My impression is that zoning restrictions have become more popular virtually everywhere in the U.S. during my lifetime; I certainly remember them ramping up in my hometown (Atlanta) during the period you describe. Of course, if you really don't want zoning rules, you can always see how well that worked out in Houston.

I'm one of the few people around who've personally experienced the CEQA process for a residential construction project, so I do have strong opinions about it. I have no doubt it's abused. I also have no doubt it's protected us from some serious mistakes. Improving the speed, clarity, and conclusiveness of the process would be a good thing.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2018 at 7:16 pm

No one is suggesting to undo all zoning. But upping the height limits near mass transit is certainly a step forward here.

It sounds like you'll get a lot out of this report: Web Link

"Between 1980 and 2010, construction of new housing units in California’s coastal metros was low by national and historical standards. During this 30–year period, the number of housing units in the typical U.S. metro grew by 54 percent, compared with 32 percent for the state’s coastal metros. Home building was even slower in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the housing stock grew by only around 20 percent. As Figure 5 shows, this rate of housing growth along the state’s coast also is low by California historical standards. During an earlier 30–year period (1940 to 1970), the number of housing units in California’s coastal metros grew by 200 percent."

"Over two–thirds of cities and counties in California’s coastal metros have adopted policies (known as growth controls) explicitly aimed at limiting housing growth. Many policies directly limit growth—for example, by capping the number of new homes that may be built in a given year or limiting building heights and densities. Other policies indirectly limit growth—for example, by requiring a supermajority of local boards to approve housing projects. Research has found that these policies have been effective at limiting growth and consequently increasing housing costs. One study of growth controls enacted by California cities found that each additional growth control policy a community added was associated with a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in home prices."

"Cities and counties often require housing projects to go through multiple layers of review prior to approval. For example, a project may require independent review by a building department, health department, fire department, planning commission, and city council. Each layer of review can increase project approval time. Additional complexity in review processes also creates avenues for concerned residents to slow building or reduce its size and scope, as the story in the nearby box shows. One survey of city and county officials nationwide suggests that communities in California’s coastal metros take about two and a half months longer, on average, to issue a building permit than in a typical California inland community or the typical U.S. metro (seven months compared to four and a half months). Divergence from the rest of the country was more significant in some communities—for example, typical approval time was over a year in San Francisco and over eight months in the City of Los Angeles. If a project required a change in local zoning laws—as is common among large projects—approval time was much longer. The average time to approve a rezoning was just under a year in California’s coastal metros, about three months longer than in a typical California inland community or a typical U.S. metro. Researchers have linked additional review time to higher housing costs. A study of jurisdictions in the Bay Area found that each additional layer of independent review was associated with a 4 percent increase in a jurisdiction’s home prices."

"In California, cities and counties typically find that commercial developments—particularly major retail establishments, auto malls, restaurants, and hotels—yield the highest net fiscal benefits. This is because the increased sales and hotel tax revenue that a city (or, in the case of a development in an unincorporated area, the county) receives from these developments often more than offsets the local government’s costs to provide them public services. As a result, cities and counties often encourage these types of commercial developments to locate within their jurisdictions—for example by zoning large sections of land for these purposes and by offering subsidies or other benefits to the prospective business owners.

In contrast, many California cities and counties find that housing developments lead to more local costs than offsetting tax revenues. This is because these properties do not produce sales or hotel tax revenues directly and the state’s cities and counties typically receive only a small portion of the revenue collected from the property tax. In addition, lower–density luxury housing often “pencils out” more favorably from a local government standpoint than higher–density moderate cost housing. This is because the luxury housing generates higher levels of property tax revenues per new resident.

Not surprisingly given these incentives, many cities and counties have oriented their land use planning and approval process disproportionately towards the development of commercial establishments and away from higher–density multifamily housing."


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Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2018 at 8:09 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Yes, I'm familiar with the LAO report.

"In California, cities and counties typically find that commercial developments—particularly major retail establishments, auto malls, restaurants, and hotels—yield the highest net fiscal benefits...In contrast, many California cities and counties find that housing developments lead to more local costs than offsetting tax revenues...Not surprisingly given these incentives, many cities and counties have oriented their land use planning and approval process disproportionately towards the development of commercial establishments and away from higher–density multifamily housing."

As I understand it, this is not what's happening in Silicon Valley. The demand for commercial space here is for offices, not retail. In Palo Alto, which doesn't have a business tax per se, office space doesn't generate a lot of revenue for the City, so that's not a significant motivation.

There's plenty of building going on here, in places where housing would make sense from a planning perspective and where CEQA, et al., clearly isn't stopping development. Why aren't more of these projects producing housing? Because with unlimited demand driving up prices, it's more profitable to build offices.

You're not fighting a conspiracy of the landed gentry. You're fighting simple economics. Until you rebalance the economic incentives, you're not going to make any meaningful progress. In the meantime, try not to make things worse.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Did you skip over everything just to focus on that? Zoning laws weren't made with motivation to keep out jobs. Residentialists aren't motivated to go out and stop a new office from getting built anywhere near as much as a large apartment complex. The real energy, even here on these boards, always comes out at stopping high density housing.

The economic incentives? Are you trying to suggest that builders simply aren't building homes because there's no incentive for it? That demand for housing isn't through the roof? Have you considered that perhaps there might be other factors at play causing housing to not be approved for those spots?


5 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Zoning laws weren't made with motivation to keep out jobs."

I take it you're not familiar with Atherton. :-) Some zoning laws *are* intended to keep out jobs -- by preventing them from being located in some places, or having too many in one place, and so on. And some zoning laws are intended to regulate housing in similar ways.

If you believe residentialists aren't motivated to oppose new offices, you apparently missed the objections to recent development projects downtown, or in San Francisco, or in any of a number of other places nearby. If you review communications from citizens to Council over the past ten years you'll see plenty of examples. And my impression is that even here on Town Square there's a whole lot more objection to office development than to housing.

If you believe residentialists are inalterably opposed to new housing, then how do you account for all the market-rate housing that was built downtown in the past few decades?

As for economics, so long as offices are a lot more profitable than housing, it shouldn't be surprising that most land will be used for offices. Outbidding will cause this to happen even if the demand for housing is very great. Tell me; is luxury housing still being built?

"Have you considered that perhaps there might be other factors at play causing housing to not be approved for those spots?"

Of course, and that includes working through some of the numbers. You should do the same.


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Posted by @Allen
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2018 at 9:56 pm

And quite clearly Atherton is a stand-out exception here. In general, zoning changes in California have primarily been to restrict housing growth.

You literally had a planning commissioner resign over this issue and how difficult it was to approve housing in the area, and you're going to proudly point to a trickle of development over tens of years?

More profitable for whom? Are you trying to say that developers are actively choosing to not build housing because it's not profitable? Because that's certainly not true, demand is through the roof, and the planning commission could zone housing instead of commercial if that were the case. Clarify what you're saying


2 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Build new housing - highrises if you like - near new job centers. In Santa Clara County, there is room either IN THE HILLS where CEOs live or in San Jose and south county. Forget the hills. The really rich people will not allow it. With housing next to work, employees could walk to work - not just take a bus from one bus stop to another and maybe never reach work. SB 827 does not yet have the support in Sacramento to become law. But proponents have something you don't: MONEY to buy support.


6 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 19, 2018 at 9:16 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

I'm just pointing out that the "conspiracy of residents" narrative isn't a good fit for the facts. If you want to succeed, you need to look beyond it. I think Occam's Razor favors the simple economic explanation.

Two downtown cases that are particularly interesting to me are the homes built on the old Times Tribune site, and the homes built on the old PAMF property. These are interesting because they were conversions from commercial use to residential, and both were in residential or mixed-use neighborhoods. Some people have suggested we should do more of this to get to better balance in Palo Alto.

This morning's Merc may have offered a good example of developer priorities: The Vallco project. ( Web Link )

This is a case where the developer (Sand Hill) is using SB35, so residents' objections are irrelevant and it can build anything that local zoning permits. What it chose to build is 1.8M sq ft of office space, 400K sq ft of retail space, and only 2400 housing units (only half of which are "affordable").

So, at about 100 sq ft of office space per employee, and 2.3 people per housing unit, the back-of-the-envelope calculation says this development has a jobs/housing ratio of about 3. It will be increasing the imbalance of jobs and housing, not reducing it.

This site is required to be mixed-use. I haven't checked the Cupertino zoning rules, but I would be surprised to learn that 2400 units is the maximum amount of housing that could be built on this site.

I took a quick look through articles from last year, and learned that Sand Hill's original proposal was for 2M sq ft of office space and only 800 housing units. So whether or not 2400 is the maximum number of units allowed, it appears that public reaction pushed the developer to provide more housing than it originally wanted to build.

So in answer to your question, this looks like evidence that developers are actively choosing to build office space rather than housing. Perhaps you have more time to do research than I have; if you can determine that 2400 housing units is the maximum that can be built on this site, I'll concede that it's a point in your favor.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2018 at 2:05 am

It appears online that on April 17 after the State Senate's 13-member "transportation and housing committee" declined (4-6 with 3 not voting) to advance SB 827 and proponents proclaimed to the press that the bill was "dead for the season," the committee proceeded to grant "reconsideration" unanimously and the bill is set for hearing in another committee on April 25. But don't tell the press. Let's just keep this our little secret.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 21, 2018 at 7:05 am

Back in the old days of PA when we had companies (HP, LMC) that had retirement plans and the goal of retaining valued employees we enjoyed the development of suburban neighborhoods and a valued school system. Transition to the current FANG economic picture that now dominates the approach in the bay area and these companies do not want to have entrenched employees with retirement plans because that costs profit at the bottom line. They do not want employees that own homes - they want young people who transition between companies with no savings plans, no retirement plans, and a bigger bottom line. And that serves the purpose of the "cheerleaders" being able to say we have the world's 6th biggest economy based on the bottom line of the companies on the stock exchange. And that serves the purpose of the developers who own the properties consisting of apartments and condos vs the homeowners who demand more transparency of the city, county, and state. And all of the people who keep focusing on DC are ignoring the state government which is not doing the job - other than asking for more money. So who on the current CC are pushing for more housing of the apartment/condo type that is for transitional occupants that do not demand answers from the local government. Wake up - demand transparency, a good school system, and an economy that has long-range impact for the residents vs the mouse in a maze economy of transitional people with relatively few children. The people pushing for the type housing projected are pushing a deck of cards around. The "transitional economies" need to locate in the valleys and set-up for more traditional business models and our local congressional reps needs to understand that their "transitional" lifestyle which is funded by a high paying government retirement plan does not equate to the world's 6th biggest economy.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 21, 2018 at 8:06 am

Note the change in "Business Models" is noted in James Patterson's book "The Store" and now David Baldacci's book "The Fallen" - now just released. They are fictionalizing the Amazon type economy of the fulfillment centers of huge warehouses which store and ship ordered goods using a huge robotic work force interspersed with humans that run all day filling orders for shipment. We - PA- are not there yet - we are the corporate centers which think this type of stuff up to farm out to less developed areas where we can fill the workplace with undocumented people who do not demand any accountability of their company but do want the state and federal government to cover that base for them. So CA - that is your business model being pushed in today's world. However, the people pushing for this have super government retirement plans. It was noted in the SFC that the state of Oregon now has a unsupported government retirement plan and a tax base that is not addressing their financial concerns. You can see how this affects their approach to how they vote. Panic in the government payroll.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Those who believe the press reports that SB 827 "died" in the State Senate's transportation and housing committee on April 17 should look up the bill online. Later on April 17, the committee voted 13-0 for "reconsideration" of the bill SB 827 is now set for hearing in another committee on April 25. Maybe the State Senators celebrate APRIL FOOL'S DAY all month.


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