News

Editorial: Hold firm on office cap

Beware of last-minute attempts to loosen office-development restrictions

Palo Altans should take careful note of what City Council members say and how they vote Monday night as they decide once again how much future office development should be allowed each year in three major commercial areas of the city.

With a City Council election approaching in November, Monday's vote will take on additional significance, especially for the three council members eligible for re-election to a second term: Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach.

Last September, when the same issue came before the council, a 50,000-square-foot annual cap on commercial office development in downtown Palo Alto, California Avenue and along El Camino Real — originally adopted as a temporary measure in 2015 — was extended through this June while city staff prepared a permanent ordinance.

But on a pair of 5-4 votes, the council also narrowly approved two changes: the addition of a rollover provision that added to the next year any unused allotment from the previous year and the replacement of a competitive review process for selecting from among development proposals with a first-come, first-approved approach.

These votes allowed every council member to take credit for voting for continuing the 50,000-square-feet per year office cap, even as five (Wolbach, Tanaka, Scharff, Kniss and Fine) were voting to dilute the effectiveness of the ordinance. By their vote, the five undid provisions that a previous council had approved and that had not yet even been tested in practice.

The issue now returns to the council as a permanent ordinance containing the two weakening provisions.

Based on recent experience with how some members of the council have chosen to operate, there is no telling what new surprise efforts may be made Monday night to weaken or modify the cap. Significant and sometimes half-baked proposals or amendments have increasingly been offered by council members after public comments have been completed, leaving residents with no opportunity to express their views on them.

It's a legislative tactic that can appear manipulative and lead to sloppy and unexpected outcomes and that more often than not are inherently divisive. We hope council members with significant proposed amendments to staff recommendations start announcing them in advance so at least the public has an opportunity to comment.

Given that the switch of a single vote would change the outcome on the office cap, we also hope that the council revisits the two changes it made last fall. The arguments for those changes are as weak today as they were back then.

There is no constituency other than commercial development interests supporting new office development in Palo Alto, and every square foot of new office development approved in the city makes our housing shortage and road congestion worse.

With the city's current focus on expanding the number of housing units for low-income individuals, families and seniors, there is no rationale for loosening the 50,000-square-foot office cap, rolling over unused allocations to the next year or eliminating the competitive review process.

Since it took effect in 2016, applications for office development projects in the three commercial areas haven't once exceeded the aggregate 50,000-square-foot cap, so the competitive review concept has never even been given a chance.

As conceived, the competitive process was to occur in March and evaluate all submitted proposals based on factors including sustainable design, mitigation of traffic impacts and the inclusion of public benefits such as affordable housing. It was an untested concept that was intended to create an incentive for a developer to propose a high-quality project.

Wolbach and then-Vice Mayor Liz Kniss argued last fall that evaluating and ranking proposals would be nearly impossible since everyone's taste in design is different, to which Councilmen DuBois and Filseth responded that there are many qualities besides design that would cause a proposed building to be scored higher than another.

No one in the community is clamoring for more new office buildings. The city is not suffering in any way from having established the 50,000-square-foot annual cap and not a single developer has come before the council to argue it is having adverse impacts on the market.

The current office cap is working just as intended in the affected three commercial districts and should be approved by the City Council Monday night as a permanent ordinance.

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Comments

87 people like this
Posted by Let's Make It Better
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2018 at 5:00 am

Palantir, Hewlett-Packard, the Chamber of Commerce, and others opposed the office cap. Their political allies on the Planning Commission still attack the cap. They told us it would "destroy" Palo Alto's "vibrancy." Of course the opposite is true - it's wonderful for our community. Let's extend it to the rest of the city and get rid of all the loopholes.


83 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 27, 2018 at 9:51 am

Great editorial! thank you weekly staff.

Please please go to city hall Monday and demand that the elected officials listen to the will of the people who elected them and not special interest groups seeking finical gain.


80 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2018 at 10:20 am

Novelera is a registered user.

Wow! What a terrific editorial! We need common sense from our City Council members. I'd like to believe in their motives, but the last election's shady looking financial support from developers (that caused investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission due to not having been revealed until after the votes were cast) makes me skeptical of who the 5-4 majority really represent.

I'd like to thank the Weekly for putting their feet to the fire!


72 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2018 at 10:29 am

JCP is a registered user.

Excellent editorial. Thank you PA Weekly. I wish others could see how special interests are ruling the roost.


63 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2018 at 10:47 am

I can't wait to see how the 5 member majority are going to gut this office cap, so they can get more secret donations from developers.


40 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2018 at 12:07 pm

We should immediately halt all new office buildings in Palo Alto. So far Palo Alto has been ruined by all the new development. We now face a shortage of art spaces, locally owned art supply shops, small locally owned restaurants. We need to roll back all chain stores and restaurants.
It is now necessary to go out of Palo Alto or find a good place to dine (there is a big difference between eating something to stay alive and dining on a fine meal. The latter is what Palo Alto lacks. ). We also need good shops for local residents of all ages--bookstores, art supply stores, used book shops, stationery stores that carry things at a variety of prices, not just high priced cards.
You won't revive a good commercial district until there are shop windows along university and California avenues. Exercise machines in a store front do not attract interest by shoppers. These should be only on side streets.


44 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 27, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"The issue now returns to the council as a permanent ordinance containing the two weakening provisions."

The key word is here is PERMANENT.

Another unseemly rush to push this through something without discussion and without VOTER support. Given the timing I suspect the pro-development majority is afraid of all the support garnered by last week's announcement of a petition drive for a ballot initiative to curb -- not cut -- office growth.

Thank you, PA Weekly, and shame on the CC for their tacky sneaky attempt to ignore the will of the residents. This is item #12 on the CC agenda Monday @ 5:00. We need to tell them ENOUGH.


37 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Annette is a registered user.

At least the issue isn’t on the consent calendar!

I appreciate this editorial - thank you. If CC further dilutes or elimnates the cap we will know exactly where they stand on housing.


38 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 27, 2018 at 3:51 pm

"...makes me skeptical of who the 5-4 majority really represent."

It makes me certain of who they represent, and it isn't the residents of Palo Alto.

So let's be ready when Cory Wohbach dusts off his Residentialist mask for the upcoming election.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

To the broader audience, enjoy your life wherever you live.

I guess I shouldn't say too much because people would do a back check on what I said before and it would be an "I gotcha" moment. I previously saw the logic in the carryover. If CC signed up to a certain amount of added office space over a period of time, then what's the big deal about when it happens...some light years...some heavier years...of development...if it all adds up to the same total they agreed on? But, I am also aware of the effort and drive by our PTC and the majority CC members...pals, and many members of PAF, to dilute the ordinance. There's no reason to do that. No twiddling needed. The current ordinance seems to be effective, so why fiddle with something that's working?

To CC members: Thanks for putting in all the time and effort you do, but put us current residents in front of the line when making decisions about our future...our community and neighborhoods. Did you forget who votes in our town to get you elected to serve us on CC? Not developers directly...they live in Atherton, Woodside, or Portola Valley, but they tinker and pay for so many, too many, campaign contribution ads, from a distance, to get our CC members elected. Remember, all CC members, those other big issues on your agenda? Check your CC calendars if you've forgotten. You might have a meeting this coming Monday. Just curious...how many CC meetings are held every year? Maybe that's part of our problem. Too few for the problems we have. When will the soda tax come up? If more than 15 minutes is spent on that issue, I will be disappointed.

But, we chug on, as perfect or imperfect as we've ever been. Ole!


22 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 27, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Another reason for a firm and reduced office cap is the ever-increasing cost of construction, including for city projects for which we'll be footing the bill. Every article about any city project says we should expect costs to rise due to rising construction costs.

The least we can due is our part to rein in demand for more offices which increases the number if commuters clogging our jammed streets and pushing up housing costs.

How about some fiscal responsibility from our City Council?


13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The cap ordinance would be better and more meaningful if the two weakening measures were removed, particularly the roll-over provision.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 28, 2018 at 4:37 pm

"I previously saw the logic in the carryover. If CC signed up to a certain amount of added office space over a period of time, then what's the big deal about when it happens...some light years...some heavier years...of development...if it all adds up to the same total they agreed on?"

That is true. However, there is merit in regulating the rate of growth as well as the net total growth. Intense construction spurts to "clear the backlog" can put heavy shock strains on the public infrastructure.


23 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 28, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Excellent editorial. Thank you Palo Alto Weekly.

Please remember that few Council members read Town Square. If you want them to hear your opinion, either attend the meeting and speak when they are taking public comments, or write to the Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org




18 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 28, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Gale Johnson wrote:

"I previously saw the logic in the carryover. If CC signed up to a certain amount of added office space over a period of time, then what's the big deal about when it happens...some light years...some heavier years...of development...if it all adds up to the same total they agreed on?"

----------

No, no, no! We have been over this before. It does *not* add up to the same total.

Let's say in one year, no offices are built.

If there is *no* rollover, the next year, developers could build no more than 50K, so the maximum total for the two year period would be 50K.

If there *is* a rollover, the next year, developers could build 50K + 50K, so the maximum total for the two year period would be 100K.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Another interesting vote to watch: Liz Kniss.
Her support for BMR housing (including housing for the well-off, 120% of Area Median Income is fine with her) which is in competition with office development.
It will be interesting to see how she votes, for office developers, or for potential housing.


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2018 at 10:07 pm

[Portion removed.] Scharff added an amendment to allow roll-over from year to year. He owns office buildings on Park Blvd. and 616 University Ave. His biography says

"Mr. Scharff has acted as in house counsel for several large real estate developers and has served on the National Board of Directors for the National Association of Office and Industrial Park developers and owners."


Also: the cap should cover the whole city, not just particular points. The office developers will simply build in our neighborhoods!


24 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2018 at 11:33 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Interesting. Then why doesn't Mr. Scharff have to recuse himself?


27 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2018 at 11:56 am

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

Thanks to the Weekly for clearly laying out the issues.
The "rollover" change clearly undermines the impact of the office cap. The council majority who supported both the rollover and elimination of the design competition had all previously voiced opposition to the cap in principle. These measures to erode the cap appeared to be the most that the majority could accomplish last year to undermine the cap without provoking a community backlash.
The community needs to distinguish between those who embrace unrestrained development in general and those who want to address the housing imbalance. Healthy tech job growth has brought many benefits to our region, but unrestrained job growth is what has been driving huge disruptions in our housing market locally and regionally. Over the past eight years our region has added more than five times as many jobs as housing units, so even doubling or tripling housing growth will not adequately address the problem unless demand is also moderated. In addition, high end tech jobs have the impact of creating four additional multiplier jobs, most of which are at lower wages than the tech jobs, severely exasperating the housing struggles for teachers, nurses, police, and other service workers. In addition, by taking actions to break the cycle of huge job growth that is driving housing demand, community support for new housing is likely to grow.
Supply and demand both need to be addressed to moderate the disruption in social and economic balance that threatens our long term regional, diversity, health and vitality.


27 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2018 at 1:19 pm

"It will be interesting to see how she votes, for office developers, or for potential housing."

Interesting, and predictable: Kniss will vote for whatever the developers whose campaign contributions she hid from us want her to vote for.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm

"why doesn't Mr. Scharff have to recuse himself?"

I don't know why. Maybe he has convinced the City Attorney that the law does not apply to him.
The property he owns on Park Blvd is
2211 Park Boulevard
Palo Alto, CA 94306-1533
Assessee: GREGORY H AND DORIT SCHARFF

He is a very convincing fellow. He convinced some neighborhood leaders to support him, and he got elected pretending to support neighborhoods.


8 people like this
Posted by Melissa
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:24 am

I strongly disagree with the idea that "No one in the community is clamoring for more new office buildings."

Like the housing crisis created by short-sighted, NIMBY thinking and reducing supply, there is an office space crisis as well, causing limited space to soar in costs.

I work for a small self-funded startup that would love to be in Palo Alto, be customers of the restaurants and small business community here, but thanks to these absurd policies, we cannot and will not be contributing to the economy, vibrancy and DIVERSITY of Palo Alto.

Does this city only want wealthy tenants and landlords? Does this city want to prevent startups and entrepreneurs from starting and growing their business in Palo Alto?

If so, then have foolish limits of space along with foolish restrictions on height.

This city is among many that should instead be declaring war on the past and addressing the crisis it has created, not making it worse.


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:45 am

As Pat Burt pointed out above, the region produces five times as many jobs as housing units. Anybody who believes that getting rid of "NIMBY thinking" can produce a 5X housing increase shouldn't be running a startup.


25 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 30, 2018 at 8:42 am

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

It is correct that our University Ave downtown is no longer affordable or available for start-ups. However, the cause is not too few new office buildings which are charging rents of $12 per square foot per month, unaffordable to most start-ups and business service companies.
Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest all had their first offices within blocks of each other downtown in what was an ecosystem of business services and small start-ups. In recent years, two large companies have been allowed to violate our zoning rules and take over much of the downtown rather than locate in the Stanford Research Park, as our zoning long ago designed. We have recently lost much of that dynamic downtown ecosystem. Worse, those big companies have their own cafeterias and do not support downtown retail the way that smaller businesses do.
The current council majority and the Chamber of Commerce have embraced these changes under the shortsighted notion that the highest rents equate to a healthy economy.


6 people like this
Posted by Name calling allowed
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 30, 2018 at 8:53 am

Note that a derogatory comment targeting Scharff from 2 days ago had not been removed. [Portion removed.]
Why? Because his comment supports the stance that the weekly is pushing under orders from their masters.
The weeklyis like fox news- fair and balanced.


6 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:13 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:32 pm

"In recent years, two large companies have been allowed to violate our zoning rules and take over much of the downtown ... ."

Seems to me that one Pat Burt was a member of the city council, mayor even, in some of those recent years. One must wonder if he thinks all residents have faulty memories.

Either our city council is powerless to compel city staffers to enforce its laws, or our city council is complicit in this cavalier flouting of its laws, for reasons we can only guess at ;-]


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I agree with much of what Pat says above; Pat Burt, our former mayor. To riff on his last line: Perhaps there is an algorithm wherein as rents increase, the value of our vote decreases, and that this has probably been true since at least 2009 (for instance, concurrently with his terms as Council and PATC).
So, what to do?

For about 20 years the Comp Plan implied a moratorium on office space downtown- current leadership weakened this to a yearly extension of the problem. More evidence of the broader problem.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 30, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"As Pat Burt pointed out above, the region produces five times as many jobs as housing units. Anybody who believes that getting rid of "NIMBY thinking" can produce a 5X housing increase shouldn't be running a startup."

I'm still horrified that the City Council pro-development majority kept misquoting former Mayor Burt's statement that big companies were pushing out the small start-ups that couldn't compete with the rents the big companies were willing and able to pay. They repeated the former planning commissioner Kate Downing's mistaken claim ad nauseum in an extremely costly national pr campaign. They even passed a nonsensical "feel good" resolution saying PA welcomes tech companies.

They excel at name-calling and branding anyone who questions their pro-growth agenda Nimby's etc etc. instead of dealing with the real issues.

YIMBY campaign in San Francisco and elsewhere has become similarly contentious, pitching traditional environmental groups like the Sierra Club against the corporate-funded YIMBY pro-development campaign. Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 30, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

@Curmudgeon
You seem to be pretty attentive to city politics so it is surprising that you are unfamiliar with the following history.
Beginning in 2015, Council Member DuBois and I raised these concerns at public meetings and requested that staff evaluate the issues related to a few large tech companies transforming the downtown in violation of existing zoning. In 2016, after our city attorney and planning department pushed back on our concerns, Tom and I spoke out publicly about the need to revise our zoning to allow small tech firms downtown while needing to develop a plan to enforce our zoning better. This was covered extensively in the press.
In 2017, the new Council majority went out of their way publicly to oppose these changes and criticized me for having raised these concerns. They claimed that our proposed actions would be counter to fostering a vibrant innovation environment downtown while I argued the opposite, that a few big companies were harming that environment, jeopardizing the stability of downtown when one of them would eventually leave abruptly, and that they harmed the downtown retail environment. The Council majority also supported lifting the longtime cap on the total amount of office construction that was allowed downtown (different fro the citywide annual cap).


10 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 1:21 pm

If "Resident" is correct about the ownership of 2211 Park, I wonder what that would mean about Scharff's participation on Council votes where one may have assumed he should have recused himself?

[Portions removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Startup girl
a resident of University South
on Apr 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Hi everyone, I moved to this area 5 years ago. I work for a startup and we CANNOT exist in Palo Alto, even though this is the community we would love to be in. Whatever limited spaces that are available are so outrageously expensive, it's impossible and irresponsible for any startup to be in Palo Alto at these prices.

I agree there is both a housing crisis and office space crisis. While I don't understand how we got here, I strongly believe the solution includes more supply of both.

It's obvious that having startups and any small business in downtown will help the diversity of the economy, people and fabric, but if you believe in artificial constraints of the market with caps, what is YOUR solution to a startup wanting to locate here?

Someone PLEASE tell me where in Palo Alto a large office tower can be built. Is it downtown? Near Page Mill? Stanford? Where?

In other words, where is the opportunity to solve these issues instead of just saying no?

As time goes on, much of what some are trying to protect "the charm, character, etc" of the community is ironically vanishing by protecting it. By not allowing new business to start, just like not allowing new people to live here, it's backfiring on the future.

Again, WHERE can a startup today find affordable space in Palo Alto? And WHERE can a tower or tall building be built for efficient land use and to help solve the problem?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Start Up Girl.

Why do you want your startup to be located in Palo Alto? It is expensive for office space and also for housing.

Why not choose another location to start up. South San Jose, Milpitas, Livermore, Tracy, I am sure would love you to consider their locales. There is much more space there for both office and housing growth.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:01 pm

"what is YOUR solution to a startup wanting to locate here?"

Um, persuade your investors that paying a 3X+ premium to be in Palo Alto instead of San Jose or Campbell or Santa Clara is a wise use of their money?

Or else fund it yourself.


9 people like this
Posted by Infrastructure
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Infrastructure is a registered user.

@Startup Girl -- Palo Alto is a great place to be for startups and retail. Both have gotten squeezed out by Palantir, which has taken over much of downtown. This was a gross oversight by our City Council and Planning Commission.

Why not just build up? We do not have the infrastructure to support that. Our roads are already jammed beyond capacity, we have little effective transit, and our pension liability is so high that it strains us to afford to maintain what we already have. Palo Alto was not designed to be SF v2. Until we can address our problem with Palantir, please consider San Jose, which has much better infrastructure and where your employees will be better able to afford to live.

You will have many challenges with your startup. This should not be a meaningful one. View this constructively and proactively as a minor bump, and you are on your way to making it.


6 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Palo Alto and all other surrounding communities need both more housing and office space of all types.

Restricting the supply of either contributes to the problem.

By not allowing the next Facebook or Google to start and grow here, let alone live here, NIMBY's are going to destroy the community's character they are trying to protect.


6 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:16 pm

It's really sad (and shameful) to read some of these comments telling a startup to go elsewhere. This is why NIMBY's deserve the criticism they get.

Startups have high costs everywhere in the region. EVERY community should be increasing both housing and office supply. [Portion removed.]

Hope the elected officials are not this foolish and understand the long-term future of Palo Alto needs exactly people like the Startup girl and others.

[Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Bob the Builder
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:19 pm

@JFK: "Palo Alto and all other surrounding communities need both more housing and office space of all types."

That's not true.


22 people like this
Posted by Bob the Builder
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:25 pm

@Startup girl: "As time goes on, much of what some are trying to protect "the charm, character, etc" of the community is ironically vanishing by protecting it. By not allowing new business to start, just like not allowing new people to live here, it's backfiring on the future."

That's not true.
Reversing the horrible past trend of overbuilding, overcrowding, and agresively dismantling the obscene takeover of downtown PA by the startups and Plantir will clearly improve the health and well-being of the city


4 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:38 pm

I strongly favor a dozen 20+ story mixed-use buildings starting tomorrow. World won't come to an end and it will only make a dent in the crisis. However, if every community starts doing this, we will start to ease the problem.

To those blaming startups for having the audacity to start and grow a business or want to live here, have you considered moving to a place where there's no startups or any of those entrepreneurs changing the world?

What about somewhere just west of Santa Cruz?

There are likely no startups there. You might be happier and nobody is building offices or housing in the ocean (yet).


6 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:47 pm

I don't work for Palantir, but since it seems they are the focus on the anger of NIMBY's, I do agree they are annoying in one way...every time I try to have lunch near Palantir, their employees make restaurants crowded. It's so frustrating to see all these techies being customers of the community. [Portion removed.]

So, here's an idea. If a permanent cap is passed and startups are being told to go elsehwere, then let's also make sure all startups and tech immediately stop being customers of any business in Palo Alto. I'm not saying BOYCOTT every business in Palo Alto...just don't be a customer :-)

[Portion removed.]

And, let's go further. Let's tell all Stanford students not to shop or do business in Palo Alto, either. We don't want those students to get the idea they should someday start a business or live here, so let's make the message clear.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Bob the Builder
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:50 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 4:11 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Bob the Builder
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2018 at 4:20 pm

[Post removed.]




2 people like this
Posted by JFK
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by JustSayYes
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 4:49 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


11 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 5:00 pm

"You seem to be pretty attentive to city politics so it is surprising that you are unfamiliar with the following history. Beginning in 2015, Council Member DuBois and I raised these concerns at public meetings and requested that staff evaluate the issues related to a few large tech companies transforming the downtown in violation of existing zoning. ... " - Pat Burt

Look, "evaluating the issues" is far short of enforcing the laws. It's not even a demand by our elected officials to enforce the laws. If a former mayor, twice over, does not understand that, then we have found our problem.

Either our council-adopted zoning ordinances are enforceable or they are not. If they are, city staff need to get out of their offices and do their jobs, or lose their jobs. Else, why bother with a pretense of representative government; just acknowledge that city staff rules and the city council is merely a feelgood kabuki.

We (think we) elect you guys to actively represent us, not to be sheep for the staff.


Like this comment
Posted by JustSayYes
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 5:03 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Go PAF!
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2018 at 5:22 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2018 at 5:28 pm

There is obviously a lot of bitterness from those who wish to start up a business in Palo Alto as well as to live here. Many comments have been removed, but I still have no idea what the draw is to Palo Alto.

This is a city close to Stanford that was initially a place where faculty, staff, and service workers to the university were able to afford to live. There were as many blue collar workers as there were professional people, as I have heard from those who lived here during that time. It was a place for families with lots of things for families to do, lots of schools, lots of open space and a vibrant downtown with affordable restaurants and other family friendly businesses.

We have lost a lot of this, so don't say that people want to remain in the 50s. Service workers are more than likely not living in Palo Alto. Blue collar workers are more than likely not living in Palo Alto. The number of schools has diminished while the student population has increased. The open space still exists but it is harder to get to due to traffic. The affordable restaurants are going in favor of places where table service is at a minimum and waiters on wheels pick up food to take to late night workers. The sit down restaurants are full, but for many of us who live on a budget they are not affordable for anything other than an occasional meal out. As for businesses designed for recreation and fun in the lives of our families, the bowling alley has gone and the only movie theaters are not showing those movies that the mega theaters out of town show. Our parks are full with sports teams of all types which means that a pick up frisbee game is almost out of the question on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

I don't consider myself a Nimby, but quality of life is something I value. I question the pack and stack housing folk because I honestly don't thing life is just about working and sleeping even if you can walk between the two places.

I think a community needs more space to breathe, to have fun, to hang out, to live our lives. If that makes me a Nimby, then my definition is different to yours. If my kids want to live in a single family home then I know that they will be living a long way away from me. They might want to live in a converted granny flat in my backyard for a year, but when they are parents with kids and a dog themselves, a granny flat will not suit their needs.

I know that my kids will more than likely live somewhere else when they have families of their own. Where they work may or may not be a long commute and hopefully they will be able to do that commute efficiently in a luxury bus or a comfortable train. I want more for them than a pack and stack beside a Caltrain station. Perhaps that also makes me a Nimby, but it was just what my parents wanted for me too.

Name calling isn't nice. Offending people isn't nice. If you want to live in pack and stack for a year or so, then that is fine with me. But, when it is time for you to start your family and have a couple of energetic kids with lots of energy, I can almost guarantee you will want a back yard for them to go out to while you cook dinner. That's me thinking of you and your future. Not me not wanting you as my neighbor.


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

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