News


Council approves 'workforce housing' project

Apartment complex at busy intersection receives green light

Few projects reflect Palo Alto's hopes and fears like the 57-apartment development that the City Council approved early Tuesday morning for the traffic-congested corner of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real.

Supporters used words like "workforce housing" and "car-light" to describe the Windy Hill Property Ventures project at 2755 El Camino Real, which secured a 7-2 vote, with Council members Karen Holman and Lydia Kou dissenting. With the building's central location and apartments averaging 526 square feet each, proponents see it as the perfect project to address the "missing middle" class -- employees and residents who make too much money to qualify for traditional below-market-rate housing but not enough to afford the city's sky-high market rates.

By giving each resident a suite of incentives to avoid driving -- including public transit passes, bike amenities and an on-site trip coordinator -- the project also represents a critical test case in Palo Alto's much-touted pivot toward "transit-oriented development."

Councilman Adrian Fine, who made the motion to approve the development, called the development "exactly what we've been asking for and exactly the kind of units we need in Palo Alto."

Critics, on the other hand, charge that the apartments -- for all their merits -- are hardly the kind of "affordable housing" that council members have often talked about. Twelve units will be earmarked for individuals who make between 140 and 150 percent of the area's median income, or $115,800 to $124,000 for an individual. The rest will be rented out at market rate, with preference given to those who work or live within 3 miles of the property. Holman observed during the council's long discussion that $3,000 rent for a studio apartment is hardly affordable.

She also questioned whether Windy Hill would really target the local workforce -- a concern shared by some of her colleagues. The city's agreement with Windy Hill requires the developer to give preference but city staff have yet to work out a regulatory agreement to make sure this provision is enforced.

Tod Spieker Jr. of Windy Hill tried to alleviate these concerns by noting that the project will submit annual reports to the city about the building's tenants to ensure compliance. It will also allow the city to conduct compliance audits.

"The goal of the whole project -- the location, the size of the units, the TDM (transportation-demand management) program -- is premised on getting people to live where they work," Spieker said. "That's the goal of the whole thing."

Holman suggested that the regulatory agreement return to the council for approval, but her proposal fell by a 4-5 vote, with Kou, Vice Mayor Eric Filseth and Councilman Tom DuBois joining her.

For the council majority -- as well as for most of the speakers who opined on the development -- the project represented a rare victory on the housing front. The council adopted a goal earlier this year of producing 300 housing units per year between now and 2030, consistent with the aim of the city's newly approved Comprehensive Plan. This is the first significant project approved this year.

Eric Rosenblum, a former planning commissioner who co-founded the citizens group Palo Alto Forward, was one of more than a dozen public speakers who urged the council to approve the development. Rosenblum noted that the council often talks about housing being a "top priority" but then criticizes actual projects for being too big or too small, or for being located in neighborhoods where the transitions are awkward.

"It's time for us to put our money where our mouth is," Rosenblum said.

For some council members and residents, zoning was the chief problem. The property is zoned as "public facility," which -- as the name suggests -- is earmarked for public buildings and municipal amenities. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority had used it as a parking lot before selling it to a private developer.

In approving the project, the council rezoned the site to create the new "workforce housing combining district," which allows higher building density and relaxed parking standards for projects within half a mile of railroad stations (in this case, the California Avenue Caltrain station).

Even some supporters of the project, including Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, expressed reservations about rezoning a "public-benefit" parcel for a different use. Resident Becky Sanders, who took it a step further, called the rezoning proposal "legalized theft of a public-benefit property." She suggested that given the zone change, the project should be required to provide 100 percent below-market-rate housing. If Windy Hill can't do that, the city should find another developer who would.

Kou shared this concern and called the proposal "a customized ordinance to benefit one property."

"We have a responsibility to the city," she said; but instead, "everything is being rushed through to make something happen that might not benefit the city."

She also took issue with the very idea of "workforce housing."

"Are you saying retired people will not live there? Will those people not be considered, if they can pay the rent? Are we discriminating now?" Kou asked.

But most of her colleagues agreed that while the issues surrounding the "public facility" zone merit further consideration, this particular project is laudable and merited support. Windy Hill has already gone through two years of public hearings and has modified the project repeatedly to address concerns. Revisions include lowering the number of proposed units from 60 to 57 (with 40 studios and 17 one-bedroom apartments), decreasing the project's floor-area ratio, increasing parking from 45 to 68 stalls and adding space for guest parking and for deliveries.

Mayor Liz Kniss lauded the project as "good housing." Fine, one of the council's leading housing advocates, called the redevelopment of the parking lot with much-needed housing "a win for the city."

"If we're not going to do this kind of housing, we should not do any housing," Fine said. "We should remove it from our priorities and stop talking about it."

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Comments

117 people like this
Posted by Developers Win Again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2018 at 11:23 am

This is one of the few properties in town zoned for public facilities. But instead of serving the public, it will now become high-end luxury housing with insufficient parking. Why? So developers can get the absolute maximum profit!

It instead could have been used for properly-parked below-market rate housing, helping the neediest members of our community.

If you ever need proof that Palo Alto's City Council majority cares only about helping developers make millions and not one whit about residents, look no further.


69 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2018 at 11:34 am

Not enough parking. Great. It's not like people from Stanford don't park on College terrace streets and bike to their work or school.

Is there enough facilities? What elementary schools will these children overflow to? Escondido is overflowing already and at full capacity.

We no longer have J&J markets.

There is a downtown core caltrain,, why is this high density housing being built on an extremely congested and busy traffic corner, in a neighborhood where people abuse car parking by parking on the neighborhood streets

Where elementary schools are back logged and there are now waiting lists... and children who live in the homes just down the street from this school are waitlisted. Why is the city building housing here with insufficient housing?

What are the checks that they won't get a car and park in the surrounding neighborhood and bike to their residence? It's happening in College Terrace already. If the city is going to put such a large housing complex with lack of parking space for it's residents.. then the city should not have a "vote by vote" with signatures required before a street in College terrace is turned into a "no parking" street. ... the city should turn all of College Terrace into a "no parking without permit" area.

Clearly someone who lives in Midtown is on the city council or planning division to have all those streets being modified to ensure slower driving and bike paths.. but College Terrace seems to fall off the radar. We have speeders go through Stanford like it's Page Mill, and there are no speed bumps or larger bike lanes. We have speeders go down College Terrace streets and it's insane how fast they go towards a dead end or blow past stop signs. My children have almost been run over a few times already. Then there are the SUVS and TRUCKS who go over the dead end concrete barriers as well.

What is going on with this city.


87 people like this
Posted by HM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2018 at 11:52 am

A lovely gift to the developer and tech companies. And, note Fine's comment, "if we are not going to do this, we shouldn't do any kind of housing". I would argue if we aren't going to prioritize low income housing we shouldn't do any kind of housing. We shouldn't be subsidizing Palantir and Mongo DB.


59 people like this
Posted by Measure D++
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 5, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Referendum?


27 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of University South
on Jun 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm

It's good to see Palo Alto approving some badly needed housing. The Bay Area needs a lot more housing to allow the younger generation to live here, and denser areas are the best place for the environment to build more housing.


22 people like this
Posted by Lucky people
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm

This is a good day for 57 lucky people who will be able to live somewhere convenient and (relatively) affordable in Palo Alto. The vast majority of people who spoke were in favor of the project. There has been huge community support in the form of letters and petitions to Council. Residents want for this to happen.

Council: PLEASE approve more projects like these so that we can have true affordability and transit-centric life in Palo Alto. Last night was a good start!


40 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Are the residents of this project going to hibernate inside their homes when they aren't walking to work?

Where will they buy affordable groceries, or affordable household and personal goods? Where will they find affordable restaurants? Where will they hold a cookout or birthday party? How will they get to Costco? Where will they see a movie? What will they do for recreation and leisure time? Where will they get their water, their power, or dispose of their trash?

It sounds to me that they will be expected to be almost invisible in the neighborhood. I certainly can't see that there is infrastructure for supporting these new residents.


10 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 5, 2018 at 2:23 pm

It's a short walk to McDonald's.


68 people like this
Posted by Developers win again
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2018 at 2:29 pm

>Holman observed during the council's long discussion that $3,000 rent for a studio apartment is hardly affordable.

There will be a _very_ few units for people with incomes way above the area median income. That's what they are calling affordable.

Development advocate Palo Alto Forward was there to cheer the project [portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Fact checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2018 at 2:53 pm

@decopers win again, where is your fact based research that the project is a luxury high-endl housing and inefficient parking? What study are you citing?


18 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

I love the comments suggesting this is "luxury housing". Everyone here needs to realize — EVERYTHING in Palo Alto is luxury housing. Your 3bd home in College Terrace, the 2bd apartment downtown and the studios they'll build in this complex. All of it is incredibly expensive and will be luxury, because we, as a city, have refused to build a meaningful amount of new housing since the 1970s.

It's time we get back on track, and make it possible for regular people to live in Palo Alto again. This is a great first step.


47 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

As I said last night, I voted for this project because I felt it was a good design that responded to community feedback as a market rate housing complex and represents probably the best project we are going to get on that land. It IS outside the nearby parking permit district so occupants will not be able to buy permits for street parking, and it provides 68 onsite parking spaces, so it is housing that benefits the area without minimal impacts.

However, as I and several other council members pointed out, this is purely a market rate housing development. 12 units will be "discounted" and available to those making 140% and 150% of average median income. Those units will be priced at $3290/mo for a studio apartment and $3530/for 1 bedroom unit plus an additional monthly fee for a parking space. $3530 a month!

Renters can find 1 bedroom apartments in the California ave area for less, so this project is the definition of market rate.

My concern is we are not encouraging housing for middle income folks - we have a huge gap from 80% AMI to 140% AMI where Council policies have not anything to encourage housing that would be more affordable. And we've potentially made it harder to do below market rate housing, because we included up to 120% AMI in our affordable housing overlay without increasing development impact fees to cover the broader income range.

While phrases like "AMI" may make your eyes glaze over, it's important for the community to understand which projects are affordable housing projects and which are market rate. People are playing loose with the meaning of words. Last night one of the council members actually said "Affordable housing is a concern. This project is affordable for some people whether we call them affluent or whatever". Quite astounding. A project that is affordable for affluent people is not affordable housing.



83 people like this
Posted by Developers Win Again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2018 at 3:21 pm

As Tom DuBois points out above, the very cheapest unit in this building -- one of the handful of studios reserved for people earning 140% or under of the AMI -- will go for $3,290 a month plus parking (if others haven't taken all the spots already). Right now, the Oak Creek Apartments on Sand Hill, which describes itself as a "luxury community," has studios for rent in the $2,735 to $3,205.

Let me make it very, very simple. The very cheapest unit in this building will rent for more than the most expensive comparable unit in a luxury complex in Palo Alto. I couldn't find a more expensive studio for rent anywhere in the city.

This project is an outrage!


66 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2018 at 3:34 pm

So this is basically a win-win for the developers. They don't need to build costly parking spots. This is also market rental housing. It's clear the city is doing random approvals of various development projects rather than having an overall comprehensive urban development going on. Where IS the infrastructure? NO places to park cars? They why the heck is this development not happening downtown? Why is it happening where it's not accessible to many things. Schools? Grocery stores?

How about we put this structure in Crescent park? Or how about Midtown? This size of development and number of residents who do not have parking spots.. who most definitely will be using street parking to park their personal cars, and driving about to grocery stores, and events.

Given College Terrace is now shouldering an increase in resident density without the appropriate infrastructure i place... I suggest the next high density development WITHOUT PARKING be in Midtown and Crescent Park.
Let's share this lovely idea around the entire area of Palo Alto.
And we should build it next to all the city councillor's and Mayor Kniss' homes. I think College Terrace Residents would like to SHARE. No need to be selfish and take all the residential development in College Terrace.


39 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Since Tom DuBois voted for this, without really thinking about the increased density impact on the current overly highly densified College Terrace neighborhood (including wait lists at Escondido).... let's build one right in Tom DuBois' neighborhood of midtown. That way.. all his midtown neighbors can thank him for his great idea.

And make sure there is not enough parking for the residents in the building. Wouldn't want the residents to park just inside their building... lets' have them spread their parking joy onto their neighborhood streets.

I vote next high density development to be min Midtown next to Tom's place. After all.. he thinks it's a grand idea and he voted for it.


56 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2018 at 4:16 pm

"My concern is we are not encouraging housing for middle income folks - we have a huge gap from 80% AMI to 140% AMI where Council policies have not anything to encourage housing that would be more affordable."

Tom DuBois makes an excellent case for why he should have voted *against* this project. Developers will not build low cost housing if they know city hall will dutifully approve every market rate project they propose.

Stand up like a man for what you believe Mr. Dubois, like Holman and Kuo do. Don't just talk about the need for somebody to take a stand. You too, Filseth.


12 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2018 at 5:55 pm

It should have been twice as big, not like the usual malcontents would end up any less upset...


34 people like this
Posted by Why use public facility for market-rate housing?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 5, 2018 at 7:21 pm

Why use public facility for market-rate housing? is a registered user.

Tom, I'm puzzled -- why are we using a property donated for a public facility for market-rate housing? We all agree that land is at a premium here. Why re-zone this to general-purpose housing? Why does this market-rate housing "represent probably the best project we are going to get on that land"?

Also, what teeth, if any, does the designation "workforce housing" have?

I appreciate any information, thank you.


21 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 5, 2018 at 7:45 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ why

VTA had surplus property and offered it for sale. No public agency bid for the property. It was sold not donated to a private developer and VTA received market value.

The proposal approved last night has many public benefits. first it adds to our housing stock which is the city's highest priority.

Second the project will contribute funds to our BMR housing fund.

Third the project will deed restrict 12 units (20%) to be managed by our non profit housing organization Palo Alto Housing.

Fourth the project will pilot a) small units and b) a very robust TDM program.

Readers should note that our city's and county's leading non profit housing organizations both supported the new ordinance and the project.

The city council a while back denied an office proposal and asked for housing on the site. No non profit housing developer voiced interest which is understandable given the high cost of the land. The proposed project and developer were complimented by most on the council even those who wished BMR housing could have been built.


69 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2018 at 9:50 pm

Democrats on the Palo Alto City Council pay back their campaign contributors in the real-estate industry. These corporate tools are just as beholden to industry as any Republican.

Disgusting how they try to dress up these corporate handouts as "worker housing".


6 people like this
Posted by @Curmudgeon
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2018 at 10:46 am

What is low cost housing? How much does it cost, and why does it cost that much? I'm asking because people are willing to pay $1000 a month for a bunk bed spot, so unless an apartment complex is intentionally renting at below market rate, I'm not sure what you mean by low cost housing besides taxpayer subsidized housing.


2 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 11:02 am

Can someone please clarify if these units will be sold or rented? I read both in the article and in the comments.


13 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2018 at 11:36 am

To paraphrase the old Italian proverb, "Prefect is the enemy of good". There are no "perfect" projects, but this is a good project. We are in a housing crisis, yet anti-development people will complain that any project is never good enough. 57 new units won't solve the housing crisis, and conversely, won't destroy Palo Alto as we know it. Call this project what it really is... a good start.


13 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

They are rental units. Rents on the 12 deed restricted units will be set and administered by Palo Alto Housing and according to the rules for BMR units. Rents on the market rate units will be set over time according to the market demand.

In response to the bevy of giveaway comments, the original return to Windy Hill is very low by market standards and the city's economic analysis. they expect to make a return over time as the market rate rents rise. And the project directly responds to the city's priority for all types of housing.


35 people like this
Posted by MJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2018 at 11:58 am

During Monday evening's council meeting we learned that Palo Alto had the first right of refusal to purchase this property zoned Public Facility from the VTA but had declined to to do so. Thus the justification for rezoning this property from Public Facility to allow a private for-profit entity develop this land.

When the question of how come a private entity had been able to purchase land owned by VTA and zoned for a Public Facility, Liz Kniss told us she had been on the VTA board at the time. According to her, this property was offered for sale to Palo Alto, and was turned it down. Thus allowing its sale to a for-profit developer. Karen Holman now in her eighth year on the council and who previously served eight years on the Planning and Transport Commission, stated she had no recollection that this property was ever offered for sale to Palo Alto.

It would be interesting to know the history of this. Who represented Palo Alto when this property was offered for sale to the city at a good, possibly discounted price given the zoning? Who in the city decided to turn this opportunity down? The city staff attending the council meeting didn't have any answers. But given this decision allowed this rare property zoned for a Public Facility to pass into the hands of a for-profit developer instead needs to be transparent.


























g


37 people like this
Posted by Judy
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jun 6, 2018 at 12:37 pm

At $3000 a month this place doesn't come anywhere close to affordable housing. I work in Palo Alto and live on the West side of EPA. I pay about 1/3 the amount in rent of this "affordable" housing project. If I wanted to move into the "affordable" nicer apartments, I'd have no choice but to use public transportation or foot power to get to work...mostly because I wouldn't be able to afford gas. Heck, after I paid rent I wouldn't be able to afford anything. I'd have about $90 left after using an entire months pay to cover rent. Yeah, good job Palo Alto, that sounds affordable to me. You guys are a big joke of a city! And that's no lie or any kind of a put down...just the plain, ugly, honest truth.


61 people like this
Posted by PAForward supports developers
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 12:52 pm

>12 deed restricted units out of 57. What a scam.
Joke is on you, poor folks, this is market rate housing
thanks to Stephen Levy, Liz Kniss, Scharff, Wolbach, and Fine and
and their PAForward cronies whose leaders profit from construction
directly or through their employers [portion removed.]

They were spoke with one voice: Give the developer more profit.


8 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Excuse me, but why is making a profit a bad thing? Any developer trying to build in Palo Alto is taking huge risk, and in our economy, risk is rewarded with profit. I don't expect to get a car for free. I expect the supermarket where I buy food to make a profit. Why is it that housing built by a for-profit developer is suddenly deemed inappropriate? VTA sold the property at market value, so whoever develops the site did not get a break on the land cost. That is simple economics. Land cost + construction cost + cost of entitlements + fair profit equals project cost. If you want truly affordable housing, then public subsidizes need to be injected into the model.

Can I get a show of hands for any existing Palo Alto homeowners who plan to sell their home for the same price they purchased the home 5 years ago? ten years ago? I didn't think so.


17 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Looks like 60 of the parking stalls will be CityLift triple puzzle stackers.
Down in the basement.
Good thing we never have electrical power failures in Palo Alto.
Or is a back-up power system planned?

Certainly will add more "vibrancy" to the ECR/Page Mill intersection.
And plenty more construction underway in the immediate vicinity.
Fire Station 2 responders get creative on calls during rush hour.


56 people like this
Posted by Menlogal
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

This is outrageous. I am ashamed that I come from Palo Alto, at this point. As Developers Win Again points out, the cheapest unit is this so called " Workforce Housing" project ( which is a terrible name, by the way) will be more expensive than the studios at Oak Creek. Oak Creek offers : Parking!, huge pools, nearby bike trails to Stanford, community rooms, a gym, free classes, tennis, etc. And what kind of "workforce" family is going to be able to live in a studio, if that is all they can afford? Who is this project really benefitting? Certainly not anyone who has the misfortune to make less than the enormous salaries required to live around here now. I thought this kind of project was supposed to help those who make LESS than $100, 000 a year. Surely this city has enough money to do better than this. Like my dad always said, " Never do anything you would not want splashed over the front page of the New York Times." Is this the kind of story PA wants to be known for? Shame on the City Council for not providing truly affordable housing.


20 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2018 at 5:28 pm

"Any developer trying to build in Palo Alto is taking huge risk..."

Ho, ho, hee, hee, ha, ha ...


"Can I get a show of hands for any existing Palo Alto homeowners who plan to sell their home for the same price they purchased the home 5 years ago? ten years ago?"

One sells to the most favorable bidder. It's called the free market. On the other side, have you tried to unionize buyers to restrict offers to the same price the owner purchased the home 5 years ago? ten years ago? I didn't think so.


36 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2018 at 5:35 pm

"... this so called " Workforce Housing" project ( which is a terrible name, by the way)..."

It's a proven PR puffery. Our city council gobbles it down every time. But don't feel left out--Menlo's counterpart is every bit as gullible.


27 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2018 at 11:33 pm

Nothing like a zoning change to distort the free market.
Innocent bystanders are left holding the bag.


25 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2018 at 9:36 am

John:
> Excuse me, but why is making a profit a bad thing? Any developer trying to
> build in Palo Alto is taking huge risk, and in our economy, risk is rewarded
> with profit. I don't expect to get a car for free. I expect the supermarket
> where I buy food to make a profit.

So then why is profit OK for everyone but the average worker person and
their family. They are expected to live substandard, paying all their income
towards everyone else's profit, give up hopes of bettering their plight through
education they can no longer afford, hope they don't get sick, and if they
cannot are expect to move somewhere where there are more and better
jobs there they can afford housing ... in other words ... no protection or
respect for them.

It is not that all profit is bad, but profit off rigged institution that externalizes
costs onto populations and only takes care of its own, right up to protecting
their sons from rape charges, etc, leads to unfairness and inequality that
monotonically worsens.

Saying that the difference is the free market is establishment propaganda,
workers are supposed to compete with starving peasants in the third world,
but the corporate world gets to ensure profits by not paying taxes, regulating
themselves, lobbying - representation way past what the average citizen gets,
and papering it all over with nice terms like "workforce housing".


20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2018 at 10:06 am

Making a profit is not a bad thing - only please expalin to me how a developer is "taking a risk" building in Palo Alto - sounds like an oxymoron. Bulding in transit areas - duh, don't need/want/have cars. Does that mean one gets on the train, or slow bus provided they are going north or south to their jobs. What happens when they need to go east or west ....... or shopping with more than one bag of groceries...........or is (gets) a partner/spouse and has children with soccer practice and school ...well they move - but they are the people who need to live here. in decent affordable housing. This is not affordable, obviously it will be decent, it not 1st class and unaffordable.

So short sighed and not low/mid family income. units! I was told that the average salary at Facebook is over 200K, is that for the cafateria worker, janitor, clerical, etc worker. These are the low income people that need subsidised housing - many have families. How are they suppose to live here. We did well by Buena Vista and unfortunately, there are no more Buena Vista's to be built.

The city council is either so unrealistic or can't relate to people other than themselves - middle and low income is not at all being helped by this type of housing.


32 people like this
Posted by Julian G
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2018 at 10:21 am

Tom Dubois:
"the best project we are going to get on that land"

Your statement is just plain ridiculous. This parcel was zoned for public use - the best use for it is to KEEP it public use. That is input from this member of the public.

What's next - sell off the city parks for more "best projects" ?


44 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2018 at 10:22 am

JCP is a registered user.

Fine is really out of touch. No concept of what affordable housing means. His personal agenda has no place in a democracy.


10 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2018 at 11:05 am

Annette is a registered user.

Like it or not (and I don't) pro-development actions by this and past City Councils have backed us into a corner. This project, while not perfect or an answer to truly affordable housing, is reasonable in many ways given the circumstances we are in. Those of us who are concerned about upzoning and inadequate parking and developer giveaways have good reason to be concerned b/c misapplication of zoning tools and not requiring full mitigation of impacts has a deleterious and irreversible impact on this city. But as locations go this one works for the sort of project that is planned.

Now that it is approved, this is a perfect project for testing the car-light theory. Staff should track whether the concessions work as claimed. If they do, great. If they do not, we should not repeat what has proven to be a mistake.


30 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 7, 2018 at 11:15 am

mauricio is a registered user.

@John-any developer developing in Palo Alto is taking a ZERO risk. His/her risk is even smaller than the one Vladimir Putin is taking when he runs for re election.


19 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 7, 2018 at 11:23 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Now that it is approved, this is a perfect project for testing the car-light theory. Staff should track whether the concessions work as claimed. If they do, great. If they do not, we should not repeat what has proven to be a mistake."

Of course they should but if they do it, will they do it objectively? Or will they hope we forget about the problems and go away?

We've seen lots of petitions and dissatisfaction against the costly and poorly implemented "traffic calming" yet we're about to spend another $10,000,000 and another phase of traffic diets when we're still adding more commuters each day.

They've repeatedly conducted traffic and parking surveys at the times designed to give them the results they want. We're still waiting for the report from the consultants Mr. Mello hired back in March in response to all the complaints about Ross Rd. where the "consultant" will decide whether it's "appropriate and feasible" to fix the problems that more than 1,000 residents cared enough about to sign that petition.


21 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2018 at 11:51 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Online Name: good points; objectivity is key and recent "deafness" with regard to "traffic calming" suggests that the fox is guarding the hen house. Residents will need to pay close attention and take notes.


30 people like this
Posted by Nguyen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm

The damage is done. Still there are ways to mitigate the future damage.
Remember these names:
Kniss
Scharff
Filseth
Dubois
Fine
Tanaka
Wolbach

and the time comes ... VOTE ... THEM ... OUT.


11 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2018 at 12:59 pm

A few rebuttals:

"Developers in Palo Alto take no risk."

They've spent 5 years waiting through resident roadblocks and silly complaints with no guarantee they would ever get permission to build. That seems like there's some risk.

"This should remain a public benefit property."

And do what with it? Build a park on a busy street corner?

"It should be 100% affordable housing. We should force them to sell to a developer who will do that."

There isn't such a property developer. If there was, they wouldn't have the funding to buy the property from the current owner, because how could they?

"This area is underserved, putting car-less residents here won't work."

Maybe if this project had been approved 3 years ago, College Terrace Market would have had enough customers to survive. You can't complain there are no customers for services then complain there are no services for new residents.

"Where will people socialize?"

Not everyone needs personal tennis courts in their back yards to have fun. Come to Rinconada on the weekends and meet your neighbors.

I live over near the Edgewood plaza, and I'm bummed we didn't get more high density housing over here as part of that deal. I would happily accept that in my neighborhood.


14 people like this
Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 7, 2018 at 1:50 pm

"The rest will be rented out at market rate, with preference given to those who work or live within 3 miles of the property. "

What does it even mean to live within 3 miles of where you live?


26 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 7, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

And what happens if people change jobs and/or get raises? Do they get evicted?


39 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Another lively discussion about the giveaways to Developers couched as free enterprise.

I feel most residents are having problems with the possible City purchase of VTA lot not coming to the City Council for discussions and a decision (on whether to purchase or not. That was to be part of the process but that did not happen. Johnathan Lait mentioned it twice during the CC meeting.

Wonder why and who stopped that part of the process? Would be good to find out.

Instead it was purchased under PF zoning and up-zoned for Tod Speiker, Jr.

One can imagine the difference in property cost between PF and what it is now. And the extra benefit of not having to provide adequate parking when the City estimates their parking space construction in the Cal. Ave and down parking garages will be between $55-65,000. per space.

That is why people are objecting. Not to the honest right to make a profit but to the huge benefits the City gave over to this developer at the cost of residents. Please do not confuse the issues.

If this bothers you, please email me @ ritavrhel@sbcglobal.net NO TROLLS,please.

It is time to gather together and stop these giveaways. Also can't vote people out if you do not have acceptable replacement City Council candidates. Otherwise new faces; same game. WHO WANTS TO STEP UP?

I personally do not object to the development being discussed. More housing on all levels is needed. I would have preferred to see this development be low income to below market rate or with a greater number of units set aside for those individuals. This is where the Staff and the City Council could have flexed some muscle.

As indicated above,I object to the giveaways at resident's expense, the mislabeling of the project and the lumping of the Project with the creation of new zoning district. Both issues would have been better handled as separately. But "lump and confuse" seems to be Staff's current game; puts us all (except the most pro-growth) in a lose-lose situation.

So it is time to do more than post our complaints; please email me at ritavrhel@sbcglobal.net . Let's meet and talk.

Also please attend the 6/11 City Council meeting to lend your support to the voter's Initiative to return office /R&D growth to historical levels rather than the new almost 2x's level enacted in 2017. Who wants more traffic, more housing/jobs imbalance, etc?

Thank you.


9 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2018 at 6:29 pm

With the re-zoning, there should be a re-assessment based on a "Change in use"; given the sale of other properties around El Camino, the new assessed value of the land should be around $20 - 25 million; it's currently assessed at $4 million.

Once the building is complete, add another $30 - 40 million.

The permit fees will pay for a good portion of the building and planning department budget.

What will be interesting to see - will the Assessor determine the so - called BMR units are exempt from taxation.


13 people like this
Posted by Neil Shea
a resident of University South
on Jun 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Neil Shea is a registered user.

Why was this project only 4 stories?

This key location, next to jobs, Caltrain, bus lines, job shuttles -- and next to two 10-story towers at PA Square should have been at least 6 stories. In Redwood City it would have been 8 stories.

Until we are willing to allow some height in key locations next to transit, offices and jobs we are not serious about slowing the growth of rents and doing our share for regional housing -- given that we will have 3x the number of jobs as residents.


9 people like this
Posted by @Neil
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2018 at 4:21 pm

"Why was this project only 4 stories?"

Because a suburban neighborhood character is worth pushing an entire generation into permanent rentership for some people.


7 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2018 at 4:47 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Too little, too late. M$M reports an exodus has already started for the SFBA. Housing prices have gone up in several desirable States and long-time owners are selling out for quieter, more private areas of the United States. Living in Palo Alto is a PRIVILEGE,not a RIGHT.


7 people like this
Posted by @the_punn
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2018 at 4:56 pm

"Living in Palo Alto is a PRIVILEGE,not a RIGHT."

It's neither of those things. The only reason you personally are able to live in Palo Alto right now is because of Prop 13. Without that you'd be struggling with housing costs just like the rest of us.


6 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2018 at 5:29 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

FYI: does anyone remember " dog city " in Mountain View? Does anyone want a Dog City type building in Palo Alto?

If you want " workers of the world " type housing, there are MANY examples in the Russian Bloc neighborhoods to look at. You can use sides to put up your campaign posters to re-elect your incumbent representatives.

Seriously, both Englewood and Boulder Colorado HAVE a 4 story cap on building construction. The Federal Government had to follow by limiting the new NIST building to 4 stories. The NCAR Building was designed by Pei and you have to look for it to be seen outside of Boulder. Boulder has a ( GASP! ) trailer park as far to the north as possible as they could make it.


1 person likes this
Posted by @the_dummisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2018 at 6:45 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2018 at 12:31 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

FYI: I wouldn't live in Boulder if you paid me. Boulder is simply Palo Alto East. Not East Palo Alto. I graduated MVH, Class of 73. I have worked all over this United States. When I needed the best medical care, I have used Stanford Hospital.I " made my bones " at AMD. I played in Palo Alto at night. Because I was in demand, I worked at many communities, some are more high tech than Palo Alto. I have discussed some other communities that I travel through or worked in but never moved to. Google Maps is your friend. Fixing robots and AGVs BEFORE Google cars kept me busy.I commuted from our 400+ acres to my Cray Research job. Most of my time has been spent in our $1.2 Million house in Mountain View. I give good examples of what has worked in other places. No, I have never visited Hawaii but I have discussed their use of shipping containers to solve their problems of NO wage slave housing. I know about the good and ugly sides of Palo Alto history. I have been a native resident than some pe0ple living in our town right now. Our family has speculated in Real Estate for many years. We own housing for buy low. sell high outside of our Mtn. View California, house.


3 people like this
Posted by @the_dummisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2018 at 11:08 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by @the_punnisher
a resident of another community

on Jun 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm


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6 people like this
Posted by the_spin-nisher
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm

> Living in Palo Alto is a PRIVILEGE,not a RIGHT.

An answer to a question unasked and a statement unstated ... such a typical irrelevant and provocative comment from the self-centered entitled right to spin luck as superiority.


37 people like this
Posted by honest description
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Why not simply describe the project honestly? It provides 57 mostly market-rate small apartments designed to appeal to 20- and 30-somethings, who have been clamoring for housing near the numerous tech jobs at Stanford Park, downtown Palo Alto and (via Caltrain) MV and MP. By contrast, much of our low=wage workforce appears to be housed in RVs along ECR and elsewhere in Palo Alto, EPA and other surrounding communities.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2018 at 9:55 am

So, the city wants to add more and more high density housing while making the streets more and more impassable (i.e., Ross Road Project). Maximizing city occupancy while pandering to anti-automobile extremists has made even short trips around town into dystopian nightmares. We badly need new leadership in Palo Alto. The current mayor and city council have a cynical disregard for the input from and preferences of the people who live here.


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