News


Commissioners challenge colleagues on housing

Three members of Planning and Transportation Commission urge council to reject their commission's recommendation

In a highly unusual move, three members of Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission have authored a memo urging the City Council to reject the full commission's recommendation and approve a new zoning district to encourage affordable housing.

The memo, which commissioners Michael Alcheck, Vice Chair Sue Monk and William Riggs submitted to the council Thursday afternoon, makes a case for creating a new affordable-housing overlay district, a zoning tool that would grant concessions on height and parking requirements to developments with 100 percent affordable housing.

The council is scheduled to consider the new overlay district on April 9.

The proposed zoning district is one component of the city's Housing Work Plan, which lays out dozens of new policies that Palo Alto plans to consider in the next two years to meet the council's housing goals. Earlier this year, the council set at its target the creation of 300 housing units every year between now and 2030. That's roughly three times as many units as the city has produced in recent years.

This particular policy was sparked in part by a proposal by the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing top build a four-story development on El Camino Real, near Wilton Avenue. The project would include about 60 housing units for residents who make 60 percent of the area median income or less. Though the nonprofit has not yet submitted a formal application, officials have indicated that some waivers and concessions would be required to make the project economically feasible.

At its meetings on Feb. 14 and March 14, members of the planning commission generally agreed that they would like to see the project constructed. But they split sharply over whether to create the new zoning district and ultimately voted 4-3, not to issue a recommendation on the affordable housing overlay district. Instead, Chair Ed Lauing and commissioners Przemek Gardias, Doria Summa and Asher Waldfogel suggested that the council approve the Wilton project under a "planned community" zone and take more time to refine the new zoning district.

The new memo from the three dissenting commissioners urges the council to reject this recommendation from their colleagues and to approve the new zoning district.

"It is the most promising tool our body has considered to address the enormous shortage of affordable housing in our City," the memo states. "Such zoning overlay ordinances are 'simple' policies that do not obfuscate existing zoning, but rather provide yet another tool in the toolbox for non-for-profit developers to use when attempting to bring forward the rarely proposed 100 percent affordable housing project."

The three commissioners note that the zone would not automatically grant housing developers permission to build in the new overlay district. They would still have to take the plans to the planning commission and the City Council for approval.

The three commissioners also urge the council in the memo to make Stanford Research Park and the city's General Manufacturing districts eligible for the new overlay zone (under the current proposal, it could only be applied to commercial zones). They also recommend that the new ordinance grant the city the right to waive its "ground-floor retail" requirement for qualifying projects; to provide "flexibility" when considering a project's distance from transit corridors; and allow height and density increases where appropriate.

"While our hope is that Council will accept our minority recommendation, we recognize that it will not solve all of our city's housing supply issues," the memo states. "That said, we believe that we must begin taking actions to address housing now, and we believe this recommendation is an important first step."

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Comments

109 people like this
Posted by Stop Destroying Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2018 at 9:20 am

We need to stop underparked buildings in Palo Alto. The commission's 4-3 vote tried to do that, because their study found that affordable housing needed more parking than the zero to one-half space per unit that city planning staff was pushing.

Now, the three minority commissioners backed by pro-developer council members, are asking us to ignore that and allow such vastly underparked buildings. Of course their memo doesn't admit it, but that's what they are favoring.

This anti-resident, build-whatever-developers-want madness is destroying our city.


86 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 9:52 am

Having watched this meeting, I was impressed by the reasoning of the majority and by the report back of the PTC subcommittee who had been asked by the full Commission to research a number of subjects pertinent so the full Commission could be better informed before they voted at their meeting. The subcommittee actually contacted a range of local below market rate housing providers of large and small type developments to better understand how they managed to build and finance their projects, Including Palo Alto Housing whose Wilton BMR project is current up in town. The subcommittee researched parking and other issues - it was clear they put a lot of effort into their task and took it seriously. It was very interesting listening to what they had found.

The majority clearly supported the Wilton BMR project. It did not support the housing overlay. Majority Commissioners all stated their support for BMR housing and the Wilton project while specifically pointing out the problems of one-size-fits-all for BMR housing that the overlay brings with it. The majority voted for a newly written PC ordinance that would apply to any BMR projects, not to commercial projects. This is perfectly rational and reasonable - not the stuff for rebellion.

I was startled to see the showboating by the 3 Commissioner's who ended up being in the minority and now who have written this report. Monk, Alcheck and the new guy, Rogers are much more about emotion that rational reasoning. Monk interrupts and speaks out of turn, seemingly thinking this substitutes for her clearly knowing little about land use and planning. Alcheck is infamous for his antics, and unfortunately Rogers is following suit, actually having stood up, packed up his papers, donned his jacket, while threatening to walk out of what was otherwise a civil reasonable discussion by the majority, because the vote wasn't going his way. No other Commissioners or Council members in town behave this way. These 3 act out during meetings as they are doing here with this minority report. They have a right to submit it, but it is off base.


7 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2018 at 10:19 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

State law sets parking requirements at .5 per unit for projects aimed at residents at 60% or below of area median income as the Wilton project is designed and at .3 parking spaces per unit for special needs residents for whom many units will be designated.

My read of the staff report is that they recommend following state law with regard to parking requirements. Here is the staff recommendation for the ordinance:

0.5 per bedroom or unit, whichever is greater,
except as preempted by state law. The Director
may modify this standard based on findings
from a parking study that show fewer spaces are
needed for the project.
The required parking ratio for special needs
housing units, as defined in Section 51312 of the
Health and Safety Code shall not exceed 0.3
spaces per unit.


34 people like this
Posted by Bad Zoning Process
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 10:24 am

Using a single project to define a zone is, simply put, bad planning. That’s being done for the Wilton subsidized housing project being used to define a broader mix of projects.

And it was used at the VTA lot to apply to a so-called workforce housing project, and was 80% market rate housing at rates higher than comparable small rentals in Palo Alto.

The Wilton project should move forward on its merits. And the analysis for the zone should look at the whole list of locations Palo Alto Housing has identified.


34 people like this
Posted by Bad Zoning Process
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 10:30 am

Mr. Levy is advocating about parking for the specific Wilton project. The problem is that there is a broader affordable housing zone being created, for which the conditions are not going to be mostly special needs residents.

Whatever happened to the proposal to build special needs housing on the parking lots at California and Park by the train station? It died because that parking was necessary for the residents and couldn’t be replaced by more housing.


15 people like this
Posted by Bad Zoning Process
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 10:33 am

Just to be clear, there was a concept of building housing for special needs on the parking lot between the train tracks and the low income housing project on Park Blvd on the corner of California Avenue behind Mollie Stones. Replacing that parking with housing wouldn’t work because parking is used by the residents of that development.


34 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2018 at 11:11 am

"State law sets parking requirements at .5 per unit for projects aimed at residents at 60% or below of area median income as the Wilton project is designed and at .3 parking spaces per unit for special needs residents for whom many units will be designated."

Those are required minimums. How much parking will actually be needed? Simply relying on a state-mandated minimum doesn't sound like a good planning process to me. We need to get this right the first time and get the ball rolling.


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2018 at 11:30 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The parking requirements I cited are for and from the ordinance and so will apply to all projects not just Wilton. If there are projects with units for residents between 60% and 120% of AMI, the parking is per bedroom, not unit as the staff report says.

And the parking requirements are not minimums as stated above. Readers should look at the ordinance citation I provided.


55 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Steve Levy - You are mistaken. I have looked at the ordinance and they are minimums not maximums. No where does it say maximum. This is what frustrates most residents in town - we are not told facts, but alternative facts.

At Wilton, we hope there are some units that will house special needs adults. But its early days for Wilton and that target group isn't a lock, and it seems is only a percentage of total units planned. So its not as if there will be one parking formula that will even apply to that one project.


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@Really, the ordinance is quoted directly below and above.

Shall not exceed means shall not exceed. It is a maximum.

"The required parking ratio for special needs
housing units, as defined in Section 51312 of the
Health and Safety Code shall not exceed 0.3
spaces per unit."

That is the law. The city is allowed to LOWER the spaces required as stated below but not raise them.

"0.5 per bedroom or unit, whichever is greater,
except as preempted by state law. The Director
may modify this standard based on findings
from a parking study that show fewer spaces are
needed for the project."


71 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:21 pm

It is not complicated, under parked is underparked.


73 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm

How can anyone seriously advocate new development that doesn't provide enough parking? It's a lose / lose for new residents (who won't have a nearby place to park) and for old residents (who suddenly have all available parking taken at all hours of the day due to overflow). Taking up all available street parking for blocks is not sustainable and should not happen (and would not happen if developers followed zoning code).


12 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Huge thanks to the PTC commissioners who authored this memo. Palo Alto has consistently fallen short of our affordable housing goals, despite ostensibly committing to get more aggressive in our own Comprehensive Plan.

The disappointing thing part of the PTC process to date is that they are disregarding the evidence brought forward by staff and outside experts on affordable housing development and maintenance: lower income people, living close to transit, own fewer cars. Palo Alto already has several developments of this sort-- this no longer needs to be a theoretical discussion. Planning Commissioners that care about making the right decision in this matter could easily tour a facility or two and literally count cars in their parking garages (that they had to build at tremendous expense).

We are forcing developers of affordable housing to pay for parking that residents do not use. I get that the average resident may not have time and inclination to personally investigate parking and car ownership statistics by income level and by neighborhood, but the PTC has some responsibility to do better on this. (for those interested, TransFORM's GreenTRIPS has built an interactive tool using a large data set from projects throughout the Bay Area to estimate parking needs by location, income, etc). Web Link

Thanks to Monk, Alcheck and Riggs for listening to evidence and doing homework. And for working to fulfill the intent of our Comprehensive Plan.


52 people like this
Posted by Kiam
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 1, 2018 at 3:55 pm

False, 60-120% of AMI is not "lower income". False, "lower income" people typically do not own less than one car, especially in the Bay Area where the majority of riders on private corporate busses are not "lower income". False, nobody is forcing anyone to build unused parking, drive by any recent development in Mountain View and you will see parking overflowing onto the street due to insufficient parking.

You can build housing AND enough parking (and developers can still make billions). It's not a one-or-the-other choice.


8 people like this
Posted by Lisapk
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Thanks to Commissioners Monk, Alcheck and Riggs for putting forth the plan we need on affordable housing, meaning housing more affordable to people who are not wealthy. I am born and raised in Palo Alto. I have always valued the diversity here, national, cultural, racial and economic. We are losing the economic diversity, and adult children of residents, newer professionals, and much of the future life blood can't afford to live here anymore. That includes our teachers, nurses, first responders. Also those with special situations such as disabilities and seniors who have spent their whole lives here. We need a more mixed housing portfolio, and this proposal and the plan put forward by City Staff and these three Commissioners. On the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Comp Plan, all agreed we wanted and needed more "affordable" housing. Thanks!


72 people like this
Posted by Simple enough
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Thank you Eric for weighing in again with Palantir's interests.

Mary said it best: underparked is underparked.


35 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2018 at 6:41 pm

Gee, I remember when the PTC wasn't a nonstop food fight, and it wasn't that long ago.

Memo to city council: Only adults on the PTC, please.


7 people like this
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 1, 2018 at 8:29 pm

I applaud the three commissioners who took a stand on affordable housing. Bravo! We should absolutely consider height and density concessions for projects providing more than 20% affordable.


8 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2018 at 9:40 pm

Great job by the 3 commissioners. It’s especially interesting that they want to include Stanford Research Park.

It’s discouraging as always to see typical comments about parking here. Not everyone needs a car and the fewer cars people have the better. There are more options for mobility than ever. Move on from the 20th century.


44 people like this
Posted by pointless misery
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:50 am

I don't know exactly what they have in mind when they say Research Park, but sticking a bunch of people on the corner of Page Mill and Foothill and telling them they can't have cars seems cruel. Does a bus even run there on the weekends? General Manufacturing -- San Antonio Road, cut the open space requirement? Nearest public park can be a mile away and the bus doesn't run past Middlefield.

Regardless of where you put it, the overlay seems like a very poorly thought out proposal. The parking shortage, open space reduction, and dramatic density increase are standalone bad ideas for different reasons, but putting them all together just creates a development that is a very miserable place to live. It's unfortunate that providing low-income populations with housing has come to housing them in buildings like this. But hey we've gotta hit those housing numbers, right? Can we at least tick that box? Nope, we can't even do that, even with this disaster of a proposal, we're not even close.


9 people like this
Posted by Just because...
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

It's as if the nimbys just want us to go away. Ive lived here for just over five years so does that make me less entitled to participate in this discussion or voice my support than those who've lived here longer? Would you consider the suggestion that my opinion should matter more because I pay 10x what many "residentialists" pay in property tax? The answer is obviously no, but it demonstrates the ridiculousness of the subtle suggestions by those who oppose this effort to change that those who do support it are outsiders.

I live here. I pay taxes. I vote. And I want change. And I'm pretty sure it's coming one way or another. I just hope you realize that you will regret the effort to obstruct these affordable housing efforts over time.


67 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2018 at 8:51 am

An ongoing theme of the YIMBY/Palo Alto Forward movement is to try to quietly reclassify “affordable” housing to also cover professional-class market-rate housing. This would allow high-earning tech employees to acquire community concessions intended for low-income workers.

The Alcheck-Monk-Riggs memo is an example. It calls for the citywide Affordable Housing overlay to cover workers earning up to 120% of area median income, or nearly $120,000 per year. However, a $120,000 Palantir employee can already afford to pay Palo Alto’s $3,000 per month market rate for a fully-parked, fully height and FAR compliant 1 bedroom apartment, with on-premises workout room and spa. That high-earning employee does not need to take a designated low-income unit away from a true low-income worker. The staff proposal wisely cut the qualifying income threshold in half; the Alcheck-Monk-Riggs memo would restore it.

Trying to sell this to the community as a program for underprivileged and low-income service workers is breathtakingly cynical. There is no reason for the community to subsidize high earners, other than raw self interest and greed.


61 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:36 am

So can we assume that our mayor, Liz Kniss (Sue Monk was her campaign manager), and councilmembers Fine, Scharff, Wolbach, and Tanaka, will overturn the P&TC majority vote of 4 in favor of the 3 no votes?

If so, looks like Palantir is well represented on the council. The original PAF website in spring 2014 made no attempt to hide their original formation as a small group of Palantir employees, with the encouragement of the Palantir management. My goodness they were quick to erase all traces of this nucleus and its Palantir connections as soon as Cory Wolbach announced his candidacy. One day you could read it all. The next day the PAF website taken down and replaced with a redesigned website scrubbed clean of any reference to their prior history. Including the link to Eric Rosenblum's regular blog which had not been subtle about his opinion of Palo Alto and how it needed to change.

The next thing you know the outgoing council voted several Palantir and PAF connected people onto the P&TC, the culmination of an extremely well run and successful campaign to get PAF members elected and appointed to positions of influence.


41 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:48 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@mj, thanks for paying attention.

The same "editing" of the Imagine Menlo site happened once people caught on to Palantir's role in its founding to push for higher development once the MP voters rejected the Palantir's pro-development agenda. It's no coincidence that Palantir's Bob McGrew chairs Imagine Menlo as well as Palo Alto's Transportation Management Association.

For those paying attention to current Facebook / Cambridge Analytics scandal, remember that CA and Palantir operate in much the same technical and political space [portion removed.] Both the NYT and Wired covered Palantir's role which they described as "psych ops" used in political campaigns.

[Portion removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:59 am

The more you pay attention, the worse it gets.


35 people like this
Posted by Cn
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 2, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Ground floor retail should be nonnegotiable. The success of El Camino as a pedestrian node and commercial district depends on an unwavering commitment to providing retail at every opportunity. Retail cannot succeed in isolation and casually waiving the requirement for some sites can detrimentally affect the the future commercial viability of the corridor. There is another proposal out now for a mixed-use building on El Camino where the commercial requirement is 1,124 sqft but the proposal only has 275 sqft because they are trying to preserve an inconveniently located tree. First that site for one reason, now this site for a different reason, soon another reason somewhere else, El Camino as a walkable commercial district is destined for failure. Especially with this Wilton site, it's a half block long! Half block of dead space in CN zone is a nail in the coffin.


54 people like this
Posted by Stop Destroying Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Palo Alto Forward treasurer Steve Levy stated above that:

State law sets parking requirements at .5 per unit for
projects aimed at residents at 60% or below of area median
income as the Wilton project is designed and at .3 parking
spaces per unit for special needs residents for whom many
units will be designated.

That statement is incorrect. There are state laws that limit how much parking can be paid for by tax credits for affordable housing, but tax credits are just one of many funding sources. For example, the City of Palo Alto collects fees from projects that choose not to provide affordable housing and those dollars can pay for additional parking that tax credits don't cover. In fact, that seems a very appropriate use for such funds.

The state does specify parking limits for projects using density bonus rules, but our proposed affordable housing overlay is specifically for projects that don't use density bonuses.

So there is actually no relevant state law that sets parking requirements for affordable housing. We can insist on adequate parking and should. In fact, many affordable housing projects in Palo Alto and nearby do provide much more parking than the proposed ordinance requires.

I hope Steve Levy will agree that his statement above was incorrect.


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 2, 2018 at 4:50 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ stop destroying

I copied the ordinance language from the staff report as cited by them.
If you want to argue with our staff's reading of the law be my guest.

I was also in the room when PAH staff looked at the relevant law.

Finally, take at look at AB 744 with the requirement for the city to offer concessions and specifies parking maximums.

Nice try on the PAF rant. I am also Treasurer of the Palo Alto League of Women voters and my HOA, on the kitchen cabinet of SV@Hone, on the Santa Clara County League of Women Voters housing committee and chair the PA league housing and transportation committee.

Nice selective cheery picking there.


51 people like this
Posted by Stop Destroying Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Levy continues to ignore both the actual proposed ordinance and state law. Nowhere does the ordinance or our city staff claim that state law limits parking for the proposed affordable housing buildings.

He is also wrong to infer that AB 744 is applicable. AB 744 is a separate density bonus law, which is mirrored in our Municipal Code as well. The City's proposed ordinance at 18.30(J).020(b) says:

*** a project applicant may utilize the affordable
*** housing combining district and the provisions of this
*** Chapter as an alternative to use of the state density
*** bonus law implemented through Chapter 18.15
*** (Density Bonus) of this Title, but may not
*** utilize both the affordable housing combining
*** district and density bonuses

That's pretty clear. AB 744 is completely irrelevant and mentioning it only distracts from the core issue.

Once again, Levy needs to look at the actual proposed ordinance and then agree that he has misstated what it says.


44 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:09 pm

From the PAF newsletter today,

"As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the Planning and Transportation Committee voted to not support the affordable housing overlay to help get an affordable housing project off the ground. "

"NOT SUPPORT" the affordable housing overlay? What the P&TC majority voted was that essentially staff’s Draft Report was fine as far as it went. But the document needed further work to improve and refine it if the outcome was to result in the successful completion of new housing developments over the long term.

Unfortunately, not too many people watch Planning and Transport Commission meetings. Leading, perhaps for political ends, to statements like this to whip up opposition for any further scrutiny of this important document. The excuse is that there is a development waiting in the wings. But this zoning will be with us for many years and with different circumstances, so shouldn’t we take the time to get it right even if it takes a few more weeks? So what’s really going on?

Every one of the commissioners is on record as supporting the goal of below market rate and low income housing projects. So the question is, during two meetings why did three members of the commission appear to torpedo any real P&TC scrutiny to improve the Draft Staff Report?

Could it be, despite the rhetoric, there is a concern that further improvement of the document might lead to more emphasis on ”below market rate” and "low income housing" and less emphasis on ”affordable housing” for those wanting to move here who earn $120K and ability to pay a more profitable $3,000+ pm? Or if studied more closely might loopholes be spotted and removed? Or because interests are more regional and national in nature, plus an unfamiliarity with Palo Alto? Or, as one commissioner said, “it isn’t fair on my personal time” to spend any more time on this agenda item.


49 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:55 pm

The drive for low income housing has devolved to the point of absurdity. So long as the tech giants keep bringing more and more very well paid employees into this area competing for less and less very expensive housing, and doing ZERO to offset the severely lopsided jobs/housing balance, there will be no way any meaningful gains in low income housing can be achieved. Instead of wrecking this and other towns by turning them into housing projects, why are the tech leaders not a part of this dialog and pressed to help fix this problem they created and are making worse every day? They are worth billions, they claim to be so smart, they claim to be able to change the world, but for some reason, they can't be bothered to help house their employees. Why don't they open new offices in other areas? Why are they not held accountable for actions that have made them exceptionally wealthy, at a steep cost to many others less fortunate?


35 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2018 at 12:53 am

"That said, we believe that we must begin taking actions to address housing now, and we believe this recommendation is an important first step.

And from the PAF newsletter today:
.
“The high housing costs have made it increasingly difficult for people with lower incomes to remain in Palo Alto.”

It is interesting that last fall, under the leadership of Mayor Kniss, council members Fine, Scharff, Tanaka, and Wolbach, voted NOT to have a council discussion to explore what tools, if any, the city might have or develop to help existing residents facing unsustainable rent hikes.

This vote was in response to a request by council members Dubois, Kuo, and Holman to vote to place this subject on a future council agenda, although making it clear this was not and would not be about rent control.

Council member Fine was particularly outspoken in his opposition of any council discussion, and the importance of rental turnover if Palo Alto is to remain vital. As one of the public speakers addressing council said, Palo Alto will “stagnate” if existing tenants don’t move on. Stagnate, a word that appeared to particularly resonate with and bolster Fine and some of his colleague’s arguments as to why rental turnover is so important. Council member Fine pointed out, without a trace of irony, that his rent had increased by about a third the previous year, which was okay because he had simply found another Palo Alto rental to move into.

Council member Wolbach’s “no” vote was a surprise. But then again, since this wasn’t on the agenda that evening, just a yes or no vote for a future discussion, few rental advocates were in attendance. Instead a large number or landlord representatives were there, from San Francisco to San Jose, who spoke and presented persuasive arguments against any future council discussion of this subject.


Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 3, 2018 at 10:43 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ stop

From AB 744, which talks directly about parking. Do read the whole bill please.

This bill would, notwithstanding the above-described provisions, additionally prohibit, at the request of the developer, a city, county, or city and county from imposing a vehicular parking ratio, inclusive of handicapped and guest parking, in excess of 0.5 spaces per bedroom on a development that includes the maximum percentage of low- or very low income units, as specified, and is located within1/2 mile of a major transit stop, as defined, and there is unobstructed access to the transit stop from the development. The bill would also prohibit, at the request of the developer, a city, county, or city and county from imposing a vehicular parking ratio, inclusive of handicapped and guest parking, in excess of specified amounts per unit on a development that consists solely of units with an affordable housing cost to lower income households, as specified, if the development is within1/2 mile of a major transit stop and there is unobstructed access to the transit stop from the development,

As the ordinance states, parking ratios will be consistent with state law and anyone interested can read the bill for themselves.


36 people like this
Posted by Wrong use for this land
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

Everyone seems to have forgotten that this parcel, at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino is a VTA lot that is zoned PUBLIC FACILITY (PF). It is suppose to be used for something to help the "PUBLIC", not given away to a developer to be turned into housing to make them richer and continue the destruction of our quality of life with more traffic and overcrowding.

This PF land needs to be a public park, public child care, public medical use,city used parcel or some other use that benefits all residents of Palo Alto, not just rich techies that want to live here.

Why are are zoning codes always ignored to make developers richer and residents poorer?


42 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

Mama is a registered user.

Hope residents are all paying attention to this. It’s time to vote out the City Council members who want to turn our town into an industrial and low income park with NO parking and frequent worsening traffic jams. Oh, sorry, they already have. The pro big business/pro housing members on our commissions can then be removed.


31 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 3, 2018 at 1:07 pm

First, look to the numbers. There is no such thing as "affordable housing" possible in Palo Alto. Look at the Buena Vista boondoggle. A million dollars for a trailer worth 5k to haul off. The price of land is very high. Nothing "affordable" can be built. What money is to be had is best diverted to those people really in need not to a lucky very few who get a huge "affordable housing" subsidy. "Affordable housing" zoning would just make things more complicated in the state of California where some people like to indulge in ruinous compassion.
George Drysdale land economist


41 people like this
Posted by Stop Destroying Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

For the third time, let me try to explain to Steve Levy that AB 744 does not apply to the topic on this thread, namely the proposed city ordinance for an affordable housing zone. I already quoted above and gave the exact location in the proposed ordinance that makes this very clear. But maybe one more try will help. Here goes:

The City's proposed ordinance at 18.30(J).020(b) says:

*** a project applicant may utilize the affordable
*** housing combining district and the provisions of this
*** Chapter as an alternative to use of the state density
*** bonus law implemented through Chapter 18.15
*** (Density Bonus) of this Title, but may not
*** utilize both the affordable housing combining
*** district and density bonuses

Please read those words carefully. "May not utilize both" means a project can use one or the other. Not both. That means a project using the proposed affordable housing zoning cannot also use the density bonus. So the AB 744 density bonus rules, including those about parking, don't apply to the projects being discussed here, namely ones that would be enabled by the affordable housing zone.

If Steve Levy doesn't believe me, or the very words of the proposed ordinance itself, he might call our city staff and ask them to explain it to him. And then he should withdraw his original statement that state law sets parking requirements. It doesn't in this case at all. We get to decide what the parking needs are for the proposed affordable housing ordinance. And we should set them high enough so that cars don't spill into surrounding neighborhoods. Half a parking space for each one-bedroom unit is way too low.


40 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm

"Why are are zoning codes always ignored to make developers richer and residents poorer?"

Nothing like money, potentially a lot of it, to focus the mind. Developer's naturally support council members running for office who have aligned interests. The chamber of commerce has traditionally been active in recruiting potential candidates, with paid staff, an office, and presumably well organized. PAF was formed with one central goal in mind, more housing for tech employees (the "affordable housing"), with leadership and resources extraordinarily successful in leveraging influence, identifying ways to broaden PAF's appeal, energize and activate their members around particular goals. Although it is unclear how many of their supporters either live in or have a long term interest in the outcome for Palo Alto, or have a more transitory interest.

Meanwhile most residents are focused on other things unless it directly impacts them. During election campaigns most residents seem to trust what they are told or read, vote, and then forget about it until the next election. Council candidates for reelection with fewer scruples have no hesitation running deceptive and expensive campaigns misrepresenting themselves. Comfortable that most people are too busy to be aware of what their true track record has been. Glossy mailers every few days with constant ads in the local papers, telling people what they want to hear, a proven successful strategy. Candidates running for the first time by omission keep quiet about what their true objectives will be if elected to council. Not misinformation, but deceptive nonetheless. With some it is clear the council is a good jumping off point to a political career, but if so they are ultimately beholden to future deep pocket support, sometimes a fine line to walk, sometimes not so much.

Residents coalesce around a particular goal or issue that directly and immediately impacts them. Beyond that most people are simply too busy with their careers, family, school, running a home, etc. to stay focussed and involved, and get on with their lives.


42 people like this
Posted by Noe
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 3, 2018 at 2:05 pm

No changing height limits. We listened last night to the Council spend hours protecting the privacy of Eichler neighborhoods. Wolbach, who lives in an Eichler, explained to everyone that the backyard for Eichlers are very sacred spaces. Well guess what, my backyard is also a very sacred space. I have windows too. Two story building for an Eichler backyard is a very big deal, months of meetings by City staff are needed, but a 4 story building for my backyard is nothing? We bought property with the understanding that new things could be built along El Camino, we also had an understanding that the maximum height of those new things would be 35 ft.


45 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Ruse = intended to mislead or confuse. The ruse in this discussion is the word "Affordable".

Here, Affordable Housing is just that - housing for those who can afford it; those who are currently "housing inconvenienced" b/c they cannot live in their location of choice. It is NOT housing that is affordable to people with modest or low income, people with community-serving jobs, or seniors on fixed incomes.

It is time to get real about this, reorganize priorities, substitute *BMR* for *affordable* and focus on that.

Available and affordable housing for the currently housing inconvenienced is needed also, but not first. My observation is that affordable housing proponents are comfortably compensated, in their mid 20s - 40s, healthy and mobile. Walking and biking are options for them and they can afford a commute. For many of the people who need housing, those positives are not factors in their reality. I think housing proponents will find themselves with significantly more support from the community if the focus is on housing for those who truly need it in the fullest sense.


36 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 3, 2018 at 4:20 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

PAF was formed by a group of Palantir employees and that bond has never been severed, quite the opposite. They have always represented Palantir and other companies like it who insist on bringing in more and more employees with no housing into the Bay area while putting pressure on local residents and politicians to provide housing for them.

Palantir, using PAF's imaginary concern for housing for low income families, has infiltrated the city council and TPC in order to push their real agenda, which is to provide housing for highly paid young tech workers. PAF cares not at all for the job to housing imbalance. Actually, they work very hard to increase it by their unwavering support for incessant commercial development. They have done less to push for housing for low paid workers who would normally have no chance to buy or rent in Palo Alto.

The memo by the three commissioners has everything to do with providing housing for well compensated young professionals, and nothing to do with affordable(for whom?) housings.


16 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Annette

Why do I always seem to agree with you? It's because you make so much sense! I've made the same critical comments, maybe not as eloquently, or articulating them as well, but still trying to make the point and distinction that a developer's, or a CC member's housing definition of 'affordable' is a lot different than what most people think it means. The VTA site proposal is a prime example. And for the PTC rebels to challenge the majority vote is a slap in the face to their fellow commissioners. CC should slap them back, but they won't, because they are their buddies. How CC handles this will be telling, and might cause me to change my thinking and support for this November's slate of CC candidates. I haven't voted yet! And I'm still free to vote for whomever I feel has the best interests of our community, and it's citizens, in mind.

A scenario, not real yet, and it probably will never happen:

Me, talking with, or interviewing any CC candidate, take your pick..."How will you improve, or at least not diminish, my quality of life, specifically addressing the housing issues, ADU's, new proposed zoning rules, etc?" Candidate's fake answer response, "We will implement programs to reduce, maybe even eliminate the traffic congestion, parking, transit, including the grade separation issue, and all those other problems you can think of...oh...and we'll also take care of our infrastructure needs as well...and all that without raising taxes!" Me, asking a follow up question: "I don't want to sound rude, but are you serious or are you just trying to get my vote?" Candidate's response: "I am serious, but with a small caveat/disclaimer...it's about your quality of life issue question...sorry we can't accommodate that with all the other stuff we have on our plates and having to deal with...solving all those problems you mentioned. And you, being a good and long time citizen, should be happy to give up a little of your quality of life so that others could live here and enjoy what little is left of it"!. Me: "Thank you very much for your time and the interview, but, as I recall, I was only addressing the housing issue. Thanks for bringing all those others to my attention, however! You've helped me out immensely, in making up my mind on whom to vote for, or not.


43 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

"The price of land is very high. Nothing "affordable" can be built."

Amen. But, as I have indicated in prior posts, this orchestrated panic has little to do with actually providing "affordable" housing. It is a cleverly crafted PR campaign to loosen building mass and density controls to allow much larger, more profitable, commercial buildings for developers who purport to include a few token units of "affordable" housing. Whether or not that alleged housing materializes will be at the whimsy of city hall's strangely none too diligent enforcement process.


27 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 3, 2018 at 9:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Funny how just this year the PAF-backed CC members defeated the proposal by their 3 residentialist cc members to DISCUSS any type of rent moderation -- not rent control -- that could have ADUs and other rentals more affordable at a time when people are seeing unexpected rent increases of 43%.

They could have at least pretended to care about "affordability" by having a few meetings re the proposal by Kuo, Holman and Dubois. But right bow their campaign for "affordable housing" rings a bit hollow.


35 people like this
Posted by PAF and Palantir
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 3, 2018 at 10:48 pm

PAForward may have tried to erase their Palantir origins, but the truth is back in plain sight.

PAF's President, Eric Rosenblum, is a Palantir "Executive." That is his title, "Executive."

Mehdi Alhassani, Palantir employee, PAF Board Member.

Other Board members: Steve Levy, Sandra Slater,(designer, builder), Amy Sung (realtor), Diane Morin, Elaine Uang (architect).


19 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:17 am

Annette is a registered user.

As described above, I take it that PAF is essentially a housing lobby. I doubt that's a good thing. When lobbies get involved with social issues, progress and compromise are impeded. For a good example of this, consider what the NRA has done for gun control. Lobbyists generally have one position and they hold to it no matter what. For PAF, the position is, apparently, BUILD HOUSING. Do impact and sustainability simply not matter?
Is smart growth off the table?


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:32 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Wow the PAF Palantir BS atempt to smear keeps flying.

For the record Eric Rosenbum was not a Palantir employee when appointed to the PTC, not a Palantir employee when he co-founded PAF and is now managing a venture capital firm in Los Altos.

All PAF board members are also members of the League of Women Voters and other organizations.

Anyone interested can come to one of our events. We are having one tomorrow night on the intricacies of housing for low-income residents. Check the website for info on time and location.

PAF is a 501c3 non profit organization that promotes expanded options for transportation and housing.

So if you want to call that lobbying, which has a legal meaning Annette, please stand up and write that SV@Hone, the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, the local and county League of Women Voters and other organizations are housing lobbyists.

We are all advocating for expanded housing choices, especially for low income residents.

Bill Johnson, since this seems to be a strong thread on the online that you tolerate, why not send a reporter to do a story on Palo Alto Forward as you did 3 1/2 years ago.



30 people like this
Posted by Kya
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

-- "Stop Destroying Palo Alto": thank you for giving us facts to counter all of S Levy's evidence that justifies State mandates for parking, and density of new buildings. In actuality these changes are destroying/destroyed Palo Alto. People actually lived/live in Palo Alto for some of its charm and quality of life. As the City pushes to densify and underpark on every inch of land they (CC, developers, PAHC) can get their hands on, residents have been leaving! As the annual City Survey shows, a majority of people nearing or at retirement age are DISSATISFIED and are leaving and selling their homes to move to towns/areas/states with Better Quality of Life. The Bottom Line is ----unbridled growth along with the noise,traffic,air pollution that goes along with growth is not making our City a better place to live. I wonder if Kniss, Scharff, Tanaka, Fine and Wohlbach will retire here or move on to other NICER towns and states than Palo Alto?


42 people like this
Posted by PAF and Palantir
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:44 am

Rosenblum is shown as an Executive of Palantir on Palantir's website.

Maybe he is also involved in other money-making projects.

AND from the Palo Alto Forward web site today:
Board of Directors

Eric Rosenblum, President is a native of the small town of Steubenville, Ohio, but has been a resident of Palo Alto since 2007. He lives in the Downtown North neighborhood with his wife, Titi Liu, who works for Stanford, and his two kids (at Palo Alto High and Jordan Middle School). He has spent his career working in strategic management and product management (for Palantir, Drawbridge, Google and Boston Consulting Group, among others). He has just completed a term as a Commissioner on the Planning and Transportation Commission. Eric received his AB from Harvard University and his MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Eric can be reached at ericr@alum.mit.edu.

Steve Levy continues to create confusion and bias.


18 people like this
Posted by Kya
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:57 am

Has anybody noticed all the vacancies for rental housing in Palo Alto? There are lots of move-in specials, and rents seem to be dropping a bit. It seems market forces are actually working. So following this movement can we decide what % of apts/rentals is the right % of total housing for Palo Alto? I've also noticed some apts. being converted to Single Family Homes. Can we just say "NO" .


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

So since Mr. Rosebnblum's wife works at Stanford, he'll be forced to recuse himself on issues concerting Stanford like Tom DoBois was whose wife also wors at Stanford?


34 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

PAF is absolutely, undeniably, a lobbying group for unfettered commercial development, disguised, quite clumsily in my opinion as an affordable housing lobby. It is a corporate arm, no less, and has been funded in part by Palantir, real estate developers and other companies.

Steve Levy and his allies have destroyed not just the quality of life in this town, they also destroyed our way of life. Palo Alto residents live here because they don't want the option of urban density. Those who want dense city life have several options in the Bay area:S.F. Oakland, San Jose, Redwood City and Mountain View who can't seem to stop urbanizing and densifying, and endless choices outside the Bay area.

Steve Levy and his ilk, among whom Eric Rosenblum deserves a special dishonorable mention for his Palantir driven super aggressive push for densification/quality of life destruction, have caused residents like me to leave Palo Alto because of the sharp decline in quality of life. I particularly resents his misrepresentations of the PAF/Palantir symbiotic relationship on this thread.


1 person likes this
Posted by Read the website
a resident of University South
on Apr 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Palo Alto Forward has never taken money from Palantir because they have never taken money from any businesses. Their website says so: Web Link

@mauricio - do you think they are lying? If so, what's your evidence?

This misrepresentation has been made and corrected several times before. It's hard, at this point, to believe that it's being brought up in good faith.

On the other hand, I've been to a PAF event and spoken to several board members. They seem quite sincere in their belief in housing affordability.

This website draws conspiracy theories about Palo Alto Forward the way honey draws flies.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Imagine Menlo's web site used to say it was a "business-funded group" formed to promote high density. Mow it just says that one of their leaders works at Palantir; not coincidentally he (Bob McGrew) also chairs Palo Alto's TMA.

As we said above, both sites were edited /scrubbed We were talking above about the scrubbing of PAF and Imagine Menlo's web site to reflect the fact that people are catching on.

As for them "seem(ing) quite sincere in their belief in housing affordability," maybe you should ask them why they've rejected calls to even DISCUSS rent moderation -- not rent control -- that might help housing affordability and then you can test how far their "sincerity" goes.

At every turn they've reduced fees for big developers while increasing them for individual homeowners. They've rejected all calls for business licensing taxes and fees. They've even opposed accurate counts of the number of commuters pouring into PA, many of which they want to see housed here and yet they want us to fund commuters' commuting expenses. parking permits which disadvantage the personal service workers like dentists, etc etc.

(Not coincididentally, the petition below to allocate parking permits to dental offices has surpassed the Ross Rd petition at 938 with little or no publicity. People are starting to wake up.)

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Read the website
a resident of University South
on Apr 4, 2018 at 7:23 pm

@Online Name - so you are explicitly saying that Palo Alto Forward is lying about being funded by businesses? Do you have any evidence that their website (or this Menlo Park group's) was edited to remove incriminating information? It sounds... unlikely. Given everything else on this thread, I'd like to see something more than an unsubstantiated comment from an anonymous blogger before I believe this.

As for their positions, I've followed Palo Alto politics reasonably closely, but I haven't seen any evidence that Palo Alto Forward has taken those positions. They stick pretty closely to housing and transportation. I know I would remember if they weighed in on business fees. The claim that they are opposing accurate counts of commuters coming into PA is just bizarre. Do you have a link to a letter they sent to Council or something on their website? It's all public information.

I remember that rent control was turned down when Greg Scharff was Mayor - but he's been around a long time, a lot longer than Palo Alto Forward. And he never struck me as the kind of person who would support rent control anyway. (I don't think it's a good idea either, as it happens.)

At this point, your claim is simply that their public statements about their funding are lies, but you aren't bringing any evidence on your side. If you want to make unlikely claims, you should back them up by actual evidence.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Read, I'll let mj respond re the PAF website edits. As for Imagine Menlo, I was helping a friend deal with an MP landlord issues so we were researching her rights etc. and stumbled across the Imagine Menlo site.

I didn't save a copy pf the site but clearly remember its original language because it was so blatant about being "business-funded" and "formed in reaction to their election" rejecting high density.I shared it with several friends over the course of a few months; when I went to show another friend, the language had been edited out.

As for their refusal to discuss any type of rent modification, do a search on the coverage and comments re the various ADU meetings. If you're on Next Door, there's a thread right now about people complaining about their rent increases, the defeat of the rent modification proposal and how the only city-provided service is a free mediator for all sorts of disputes, including rent increases.

Re the business license/tax, a simple search here finds lots of citations from 2009 to the present on just the 1st 2 pages of results. Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:41 pm

"I remember that rent control was turned down"

Misrepresentation. Rent control was never proposed by anyone on council. What was proposed that the council have a discussion to explore if there were any other tools Palo Alto might have to help renters.


4 people like this
Posted by Old versions of web pages
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Old versions of web pages is a registered user.

You can find old versions of web pages at Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Rent control discussion
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:48 pm

Rent control discussion is a registered user.

The Weekly's summary of the discussion is here: Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re PA defeating rent control / stabilization, here's the relevant article showing who proposed it and who opposed it:

Web Link

Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 2:39 am
Plan to boost renter protections fizzles
Palo Alto officials opt not to explore rent stabilization measures

..."After a marathon discussion that featured philosophical clashes, procedural disagreements, personal attacks and testimony from nearly 70 public speakers, the council voted 6-3 to reject a recommendation from council members Tom DuBois, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou to consider rent-protection measures such as limitations on rent increases and restrictions on no-cause eviction. The vote means that the proposals in the memo will not be studied. "

I urge you to read the whole article re who's opposing it and why.


2 people like this
Posted by Read the website
a resident of University South
on Apr 4, 2018 at 9:33 pm

@Online Name - I took your suggestion to use the Wayback Machine. The first version of ImagineMenlo's website looks pretty much the same as today: Web Link. It also says "We have not accepted money from any businesses or other groups." Their website today still says that.

To be charitable, you may have them confused with the Committee for a Vibrant Downtown, which was a group funded by a developer to defeat a referendum that had been called on their downtown mixed-use project. Or at least that's what I found in Googling old news articles about Measure M, the last development fight in Menlo Park. (Web Link) The voters passed that development 60-40, by the way, at about the same time Palo Alto rejected the affordable housing development at Maybell.

I read your article about rent control, and there's nothing that says that Palo Alto Forward opposed it. They aren't mentioned at all, so, at worst, they were silent. But there are lots of reasons to oppose rent control, and if you think building new housing will reduce costs, that's a pretty good reason why you might not want to resort to rent control. A lot of communities that turned to rent control have the problem of ugly, crumbling buildings 40 years later. That's pretty much what Eric Filseth said, too, if I'm reading the article right: rent control, he said, has a "strong tendency to help a few people right away and hurt a lot more in the long run." I don't always agree with what Councilmember Filseth says, but even the things I disagree with are well-thought-out.

Now that we've looked at the evidence, I hope we can drop the same old allegations until there's actually some evidence that supports them.


10 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:37 pm

I don't understand why Palo Alto Forward (PAF) qualifies as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

I have made donations to other organizations which were not tax-deductible because those organizations engaged in lobbying activities.

When PAF organizes groups of people to speak at City Council meetings or write letters to Council members, is that not lobbying?

Can someone who is not affiliated with PAF explain?


13 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2018 at 11:00 pm

"Rent control" was an inflammatory mischaracterization used by council member and speakers opposed to allowing the council to even discuss what, if any, renter protection tools the city might have short of rent control to help Palo Alto residents.

I was there and quite taken aback at how quickly the word "rent control" was suddenly thrown out as if this was what was being proposed!


12 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 5, 2018 at 11:08 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Just because . . . thinking about your comment re change. It's constant;
always will be. That’s a good thing and I bet most Palo Altans feel that way. I have lived here since the early 80s and a few years before that for college and there’s been plenty of change. City architecture, culture, the built environment, demographics have all changed and for the most part the community has responded well to the changes. Now it isn’t so much, but I don’t think change per se is the problem. Rather, it is resistance to unmanaged growth and the problems that attach to that. Just as we are in the throws of a nasty jobs:housing imbalance we are in the throws of a serious growth:sustainability imbalance.

For the last decade the pace of growth has surpassed our ability to provide for the impacts of that growth. We went fast forward, allowing much more commercial development than we can manage and as a result we have a host of problems and shortfalls that beg resolution. Sure, we CAN grow more (just as one can always eat more) but how smart is that when we clearly cannot even manage the current status quo? I think it would be smart to hit the pause button and make some progress on some fundamental infrastructure issues so that we are better situated for smart growth.

I’d start with public transportation and I’d be realistic about water supply. I’d also keep in mind that Palo Alto’s growth needs to account for the impact of Stanford’s inevitable growth and scale ours back because of that. That may not be *fair* but it is what it is. We cannot change our geography (read: roads and circulation options) but we can, hopefully, be smart about our planning.


10 people like this
Posted by History and facts
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm

“at about the same time Palo Alto rejected the affordable housing development at Ma”

That is both a mischaracterization and factually incorrect. Palo Alto did not reject an affordable housing development, they only rejected a rezoning to allow 4X density and 3-story homes across from 1-story homes, etc. At the same time as they rejected the overzoning, Palo Altans broadly supported spending $30 milllion to save the homes of over 400 low income Palo Altans at Buena Vista, in the same neighborhood, in fact, half of that money came from the sale of Maybell.

Residents asked again and again for the situation not to even go to vote, but to instead through a working group, find a way to achieve the affordable housing without such gross overdevelopment. The affordable portion of what was a majority for-profit development proposal was the sweetener to run roughshod over a residential neighborhood, and basically destroy it for profiteering. Calls by residents to let them work out just the affordable housing - as many of those same residents had actually done 20 years earlier - fell on deaf ears and were drowned out by nasty nimby namecalling. If the REZONING had not been rejected, there is no way BV could have been saved, as the big developer at BV never have pulled out (which they did right after the vote, since it was clear residents could prevent a much more dense development there, too.) Higher density accelerates displacement of low income people and raises costs, since the land becomes more valuable to big developer interests.

The Menlo Park situation is hardly equivalent, since it involves their main downtown area which is currently dilapidated empty auto dealer buildings, not busting zoning of reaidential neighborhoods and turning them into dense apartmentvilles where the streets are already inadequate.

This constant negative charicaturing of Palo Alto makes it hard for people to join together and work on what are mutual goals.


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

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