News

Plan to curb office growth sparks debate

City Council narrowly votes to analyze proposal before placing it on ballot

A citizens' initiative to significantly scale down the amount of office growth sparked a debate among Palo Alto's elected leaders Monday night, with some calling it a "moderate" plan and other urging far more analysis before the issue is formally placed on the November ballot.

In a preview of the debate that is certain to escalate prior to November, council members sparred over whether the initiative is indeed a panacea for the city's traffic and housing woes -- as proponents maintain -- or a costly proposition that will hurt local business.

If approved, the measure would amend the city's recently adopted Comprehensive Plan to reduce by half the amount of office and research-and-development construction allowed between now and 2030. The plan, which was adopted last November after nearly a decade of discussions, revisions and negotiations, sets the citywide cap on office growth at 1.7 million. The initiative, which was spearheaded by former Vice Mayor Greg Schmid and the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, would reduce it to 850,000.

Because the initiative garnered more than 3,000 signatures, the council's options were limited to adopting the citizens' proposal as is or placing it on the ballot. The council also has the option of placing a competing measure on the November ballot.

Despite their limited options, council members quickly splintered into familiar political camps in a discussion that stretched well until 1 a.m. and that featured accusations of "grandstanding" and "disingenuous" conduct. The debate began shortly after Councilman Greg Scharff proposed a laundry list of items for the city's consultants to analyze before the council decides what to do about the initiative. These include an analysis on how the initiative would impact the city's General Fund, transportation, schools, open space, employment, ability to attract business and ability to construct below-market-rate housing.

"The most important thing on this is to get some data and understand the claims made on the initiative and make a fiscal analysis on this before deciding what we should do," Scharff said.

His proposal carried by a 5-4 vote, with Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, Councilman Tom DuBois, Councilwoman Karen Holman and Councilwoman Lydia Kou voting against moving ahead analysis. The four dissenters, who constitute the council's slow-growth wing, argued that the study is redundant because the city had already analyzed the fiscal impacts of various growth scenarios during its Comprehensive Plan update; the studies showed little difference between their respective impacts.

Kou blasted Scharff's proposal to further analyze the initiative and then return in late July or early August during the council's scheduled summer break to take action on it.

"The citizens have spoken. The residents have spoken. They have gone out and gathered signatures and yet we'll be spending money we don't have to do all this work and do a fiscal study. ..." Kou said.

DuBois, who helped gather signatures for the initiative, called it a "pretty moderate proposal." Placing it on the ballot, he noted, would send a signal that Palo Alto is interested in creating a better balance of land uses than it currently has.

"I think (the) council should just respect the democratic process, the will of the voters and we should just put this on the ballot," DuBois said.

In his comments to the council Monday night, Schmid emphasized growing frustrations about traffic and parking, as reflected in survey results, and the city's gaping imbalance of jobs to housing, which is estimated at 3-to-1. He also noted that a citywide cap on office development has a long history in Palo Alto, which adopted a cap of 3.25 million square feet in its 1998 Comprehensive Plan. The revised Comprehensive Plan sets the cap 1.7 million square feet -- the amount left over from the 1998 plan.

"This initiative, to place a stricter cap on allowed office construction citywide, is an opportunity to involve the residents directly in the future (of) their community," Schmid said. "It is open government in action."

Joe Hirsch, a leader of the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, concurred and stressed that the initiative is not a moratorium on office development, but merely an attempt to keep annual office growth close to the historic average.

But some business leaders and Stanford University officials argued that this is a poorly thought out proposal that could do more harm than good. Tiffany Griego, managing director of Stanford Research Park, said businesses in the Research Park contribute millions in revenues to the city and the Palo Alto Unified School District every year.

"We are concerned that without a better study, the initiative will undermine the long-term economic stability of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Unified School District," Griego said.

Jean McCown, associate vice president for the Office of Government and Community Relations at Stanford, pointed out that the limit set in the 1998 plan (which was determined by a 1989 study) has "never been breached" and also urged caution about moving ahead with the proposal without more analysis.

"The consequences of this radical downzoning and the economic impact of that to the city and school district need to be understood and presented to the voters," McCown said.

Bob Fickett, president and CEO of Communications & Power Industries, a manufacturer of microwave equipment in Stanford Research Park, said his company is concerned about the "new anti-growth, anti-business initiative proposed by some residents." The measure, he wrote, bypasses the official, deliberate planning process that the city and its various commissions and citizen advisers have undertaken over the past decade.

"If the initiative passes, it will create a hostile business environment that will impact both current and prospective employers in Palo Alto," Fickett wrote. "New businesses will not move into the City, and current businesses will be forced to move out of Palo Alto in order to continue to grow.

"This will strip the City of revenue and prestige," Fickett's letter states. "This initiative is bad for business and it is bad for Palo Alto."

But the initiative also has plenty of supporters, about a dozen of whom stayed until the early Tuesday morning hours to address the council. Others submitted letters endorsing the measure. Rebecca Sanders and Sheri Furman, co-chairs of the umbrella group Palo Alto Neighborhoods, urged the council to move ahead with the citizens' measure (either by adopting it outright or by placing it on the November ballot) and to avoid drafting a city-sponsored measure to compete with the citizen petition. As traffic approaches saturation, they wrote, delay "increases exponentially."

"Under any scenario, more jobs add more traffic, as not all of the new employees will take transit, bicycle or carpool," they wrote. "Indeed, the current drive-alone rate for Palo Alto workers is over 2/3. We further note that Palo Alto housing prices and rents have increased dramatically in the last decade. Excessive growth in jobs will exacerbate both these trends."

Proponents of the imitative have framed the proposal as a way to prevent Palo Alto from doubling its office growth -- a characterization that critics dismissed. Councilman Adrian Fine noted that office construction contributes funds in the form of service-impact fees, library fees and park fees and called the idea of Palo Alto having "unfettered office growth" a "false narrative."

"When you wear buttons that say, 'Don't double office growth,' I think it's disingenuous," Fine said.

Councilman Cory Wolbach said the initiative "definitely should go to the voters" but also favored getting more data before moving ahead. He also rejected the idea that the council is "doubling office growth" (an assertion based on the position that the existing 1.7-million-square-foot cap could potentially allow a greater level of growth than Palo Alto has seen in recent years).

"We should keep having (an) ongoing debate over whether that's the right number or not and I might end up voting on this on the ballot as a voter, but I want to be accurate about how we describe it," Wolbach said.

While others couched their arguments in lofty philosophical principles, Filseth kept his comments characteristically brief.

"It's got the signatures. It probably should go to the ballot," Filseth said.

---

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:12 am

JCP is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


86 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:33 am

Novelera is a registered user.

Pro-growth cadre: "Get more data before moving forward." Translation into English: Wait them out, waste some more money on consultants, and maybe the whole thing will go away.


73 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought...
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:42 am

We need to encourage developers and larger companies Palantir to move to San Jose. It will be better for Silicon Valley's future growth. And San Jose needs the tax base those larger companies can provide to support the high density residential units that San Jose can support.

Web Link

A few miles south, officials in San Jose, the second largest city in the state with 1.1 million residents, are welcoming high tech development. Sam Liccardo, San Jose’s mayor, argues that his city is different than the smaller towns where Google and Facebook grew up. "The real problem with Silicon Valley’s growth has been that those large companies have gone to the suburbs and that has created the traffic mess. We don’t have those same concerns. We’re the world headquarters for Adobe, and Cisco and PayPal. And so, we welcome the growth. Big cities are where large employers should be." The transit hub will bring together commuter trains, Bay Area rapid transit, buses, a light rail system and high speed rail. In fact, some observers think workers could commute a hundred miles or more from the Central Valley, if the high speed rail system ever gets built. "We all would love to see another grocery store downtown. We know our hotels are maxed out, so we need more hotel space, we know that small towns aren’t going to welcome that, and that’s OK with us."


90 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:46 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@JCP, absolutely right. His cynical ploy about contracting Stanford to "study" this was totally outrageous and fiscally irresponsible.

This should have been a simple matter of putting the ballot initiative on the ballot as legally required. Instead, they put this LAST and tap-danced until 1AM!!! about doing yet another costly, irrelevant and biased study by Stanford which obviously has a vested interest in expanding its offices!

No wonder confidence in PA government and quality of life has fallen to the low 30% -- and that was before watching last night's latest outrage.


85 people like this
Posted by allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:04 am

"New businesses will not move into the City, and current businesses will be forced to move out of Palo Alto in order to continue to grow."

That would be great. How about no new building until there are only twice as many jobs as housing. How many jobs does a city really need after all?


82 people like this
Posted by sensible growth is not no growth
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:10 am

sensible growth is not no growth is a registered user.

All this initiative does is keep the rate of growth the same as it has been the past 15 years. The Comp plan used the term "cap" with a number that was 2x recent growth. Nice try guys. Anyone who calls the petition effort slow or no growth is using scare tactics.

Fine, Scharff and developer-backed CC members won't stop until Palo Alto is as crowded and urban as NYC.


84 people like this
Posted by sensible growth is not no growth
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:20 am

sensible growth is not no growth is a registered user.

Shame on Scharff for stalling into the wee hours and then wasting consultant fees while they figure out how to raise big $$ to defeat the will of the voters. Would like to know when Scharff and Fine are up for re-election.

Palo Alto has 3x jobs per housing unit. Don't let these guys scare you into voting to double office space. Think about that while you are sitting in traffic.


64 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:23 am

Of course there’ll be a study. But the real point is to delay the vote to put the measure on the ballot.

It’s procedural. The council majority can’t keep the citizen initiative from going to the ballot. But they can generate a second measure that would undo the first one, and send both to voters. Legally, the only time they can do that is when they vote to put the citizen initiative on the ballot. Scharff’s motion delays that vote until August, even though the council is on vacation then, allowing time while the study is done to draft the second measure. Just watch.


90 people like this
Posted by Profiles in Cowardice
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:24 am

Typical Wolbach. In non-election years he is unabashedly pro-developer, anti-resident, and cares more about his political future than our community. In election years, however, he adopts a resident-friendly persona, and provides vague statements whether he would support any measure residents support. How incredible would it be if our own council had political courage...


33 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:49 am

Gennady Sheyner wrote:

"In a preview of the debate that is certain to escalate prior to November, council members sparred over whether the initiative is indeed a panacea for the city's traffic and housing woes -- as proponents maintain -- or a costly proposition that will hurt local business."

----------

The word "panacea" is typically defined as a "cure-all". It is factually incorrect to claim that initiative proponents have positioned the measure as a panacea.

Advocates do not suggest a magic bullet or miracle cure. They merely argue that curbing the growth rate of office development will curb the growth rate of traffic congestion and housing costs.

In common parlance, the word "panacea" is often used derisively. Perhaps it was Mr. Sheyner's intent to ridicule, but his role is to report the news, not to editorialize it.


69 people like this
Posted by Can More Development Cure Overdevelopment?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:54 am

We can't afford the huge parking garages, road improvements, affordable housing, new train crossings, and school upgrades needed to handle our massive growth to date. So what do developers say? That the solution is to grow even more.

It's like drinking more alcohol to try to cure a hangover.

Neither work. Stanford and the other mega-developers in Palo Alto should be required to first fix all our current parking, traffic, housing, and school problems before we let them make things any worse.


61 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Those who wish to defeat the initiative seek to frame it as something it is not: an anti-business measure that cuts office development in half, as though it would affirmatively reduce office development. If only!

The single biggest contributor to the jobs: housing imbalance (and all the traffic congestion from commuters) is office development. More offices = more people = more demand for housing = a worsening of the jobs:housing imbalance and more traffic = Palo Alto near the top of a bad list = Palo Alto in the crosshairs of housing advocates. The initiative acknowledges this and proposes that instead of allowing 17k sf of new Office/R&D over the next 12 years we add *only* half that, an amount which is in fact what the average add has been for several years now anyway. So, not a takeaway at all; just not as big an add. That’s a good thing as it holds the potential of some relief from current pressures.

It’s no surprise that Kniss and Scharff are opposed to this; their alignment with developers and office space growth is clear as day. It is disturbing that they want to keep us near the top of a bad list. Go figure.

What is surprising is that housing advocates like Fine and Wolbach aren’t falling all over themselves in support of this initiative. That they are not draws me to the conclusion that the pro-housing positions they espouse are more for political gain than true housing advocacy.

And where’s PAF in all this? That we are not seeing their support for this initiative suggests to me that their version of *forward* means we embrace a future of a worsening jobs:housing imbalance and all that that entails including being near the top of a bad list.


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Oops. Numbers correction needed: make that 1.7 million (not 17k). I must have been thinking wishfully.

The comp plan allows for 1.7 MILLION sf of new Office/R&D over the life of the plan (end 2030). The initiative proposes half that amount.


11 people like this
Posted by Moderate Growth
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Moderate Growth is a registered user.

"All this initiative does is keep the rate of growth the same as it has been the past 15 years. "

Hardly the "panacea" Mr. Sheyner mischaracterizes as the intent of the initiative's preparers.

If residents decide that the existing rate of growth has not been fast enough, then this initiative will be voted down.


31 people like this
Posted by Comprehensive Plan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Comprehensive Plan is a registered user.

Mr. Scharf, with a broad sweep, tried to impugne this initiative as an attempt to waste all the time and money spent preparing the new Comprehensive Plan.

What about the rest of the Comprehensive Plan? Is he dismissing all the time and effort that went into the rest of the plan as unimportant?



30 people like this
Posted by Traffic Relief?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Traffic Relief? is a registered user.

This initiative allows development at the same rate as previous years. Traffic and parking problems will continue to increase at the same pace as in recent years. As will the pressure on housing.

What the initiative does do is not make the situation worse by allowing an acceleration of growth beyond what we are currently experiencing.


36 people like this
Posted by Why dig the hole deeper
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Why dig the hole deeper is a registered user.

Unless, that is, you are a proponent of furthering the jobs housing imbalance and the pressure that puts on existing residents who rent.


48 people like this
Posted by Office Densification
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Office Densification is a registered user.

Without one extra square foot of new development traffic, parking, and the pressure on housing, will continue to be a growing problem.


49 people like this
Posted by Liar, Liar, pants on Fire
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Wolbach is running thus he's OK with having the initiative go to the voters. Fine is not, so we says proponents like me are "disingenuous".


38 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2018 at 3:22 pm

"What about the rest of the Comprehensive Plan? Is he [Scharff] dismissing all the time and effort that went into the rest of the plan as unimportant?"

No, Scharff has as little respect for the Comprehensive Plan as Kniss or other agents for developers do. In his mind it is mainly a nuisance to be ignored, but he'll use it as a rhetorical smokescreen whenever that serves his employers' interests.


21 people like this
Posted by
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm

is a registered user.

Although Cory obviously did not want to name names from the council dais, I suspect from the way he spoke he knew to whom he was referring to. Perhaps his source was accurate. Perhaps this was also an attempt to discredit the organizers of the initiative. However, to take up time during a council meeting to draw attention to this personal matter demonstrates a lack of judgement and disrespect for council's valuable time.


56 people like this
Posted by developers rejoice
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Liz Kniss is seriously deficient as a chairperson.
She allowed Cory to ramble on, and on, and on, for 15 minutes even though it was past midnight.
Of course, he is her protege so she is stuck with him, but he repays her by consistently voting for developers with the gang of 5. She will undoubtedly support him when he runs again.

Cory is quite an experience. He gets to speak again and again, and he rambles aimlessly, mostly moaning about how hard it is to decide, then voting with the money people. Standard operating procedure.

But it's not all bad. He talks fast and inaudibly so you can tune out.


60 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Shame on Kniss for putting this as the final agenda item and letting the meeting run past 1AM and for letting Cory go on and on annd for letting Scharff get up and dictate the language to city official.

With a 30% approval rating for PA's direction, why should Cory be so surprised that some of that negativity should be directed at him?

Also, where was Mr. "bottom line" Tanaka last night and why didn't he object to his colleagues pushing another costly and irrelevant "study" as a distraction and stall tactic? Did he forget the city's still asking for tax hikes while not making much of a dent in its unfunded pension liabilities?

How dare Scharff dismiss this ballot initiative as a "Populist" uprising when a) present and former council members were on board with it and b) when it's clear the city satisfaction ratings are pathetically low and dropping daily?


33 people like this
Posted by vision
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2018 at 6:48 pm

vision is a registered user.

"Bob Fickett, president and CEO of Communications & Power Industries, a manufacturer of microwave equipment in Stanford Research Park, said his company is concerned about the "new anti-growth, anti-business initiative proposed by some residents." .......

"If the initiative passes, it will create a hostile business environment that will impact both current and prospective employers in Palo Alto," Fickett wrote. "New businesses will not move into the City, and current businesses will be forced to move out of Palo Alto in order to continue to grow.

"This will strip the City of revenue and prestige," Fickett's letter states. "This initiative is bad for business and it is bad for Palo Alto."

Does Palo Alto's prestige come from business office space?

The desirability of Palo Alto is from not being an office park (yet). High value placed on schools, safety, and as a place to walk or bike. It is expensive like many neighboring towns, but that is what makes it desirable for businesses. Businesses will always want to be close to a place that is desirable.

After all the studies and costs or benefits are tallied, the question that will still need to be answered is what is the vision for Palo Alto. That should be answered by the voters - not a majority block council. I don't think Palo Alto needs an "open for business" sign to be decent, and and am very relieved that there is a ballot measure to grow office space at Palo Alto's historical rate which makes sense.


52 people like this
Posted by Wolbach
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Wolbach is indeed a piece of work. I hope when it comes time to make endorsements the PAOnline editorial board does the following:

1. Recalls Wolbach ran as a "moderate" on a platform of "civility." He has used his term instead to aggressively and unashamedly back every every large development, with so little "civility" that this paper sought fit to reprimand his petty tactics in an editorial earlier.

2. Asks itself how what percentage of Wolbach's ample time spent on the mic is spent genuinely moving the debate forward, vs. simply angling for what he perceives to be his own personal political gain (IE trying to make himself look good). I've seen in Wolbach a rather toxic combination: a lack of substance and depth of understanding coupled with a high degree of self importance -- a man who talks and talks and says little.

3. Look hard into what if any Wolbach's self-styled selling points (youth, Palo Alto upbringing) have actually delivered. A fresh face can be endorsed once, but needs to deliver to merit another.

One need only look at Greg Tanaka to draw a contrast. While Tanaka often falls in line with Kniss/Wolbach/Fine and the high development crowd, he also brings a fiscal expertise that has been honed by experience in industry, that is a valuable addition to the council skillset.


15 people like this
Posted by Part of the game
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Looks like after the meeting an email blast was sentto the pasz followers to post negative comments about scharff, kniss and wolbach, knowing that these comments would not be edited by the weekly. This occurs all the time and itis quite obvious that these posting are orchestrated since they come from the same people each time and make the same bogus claims.


58 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 12, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Part of the game, if PASZ sent an email blast to its followers, I'd dearly love to see it -- and I was one of those independent unpaid people gathering signatures for the petition so you;'d expect I'd get an email blast if there was one.

I doubt independent thinkers need to be told to react with horror to the way last night's meeting was conducted. In fact, one of the speakers at tonight's bike lane meeting said he'd lived in PA for 30 years and this was the first time he was going to vote for CC members because somehow before things just worked well. Not any more.


26 people like this
Posted by Bogus Claims?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Bogus Claims? is a registered user.

What "claims" you are referring to? I watched the council meeting last night and can form my own opinions of what was said by council members.


58 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2018 at 9:07 pm

A better headline for this article would have been:

"Plan to curb office growth sparks disinformation campaign"


56 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2018 at 5:32 am

Annette is a registered user.

Talk about a deterioration of process!

First, two major issues are put on the tail end of a long agenda and then they swap the order. They have the latitude to do that, but one has to ask why the CM and Mayor repeatedly tee things up as they do.

Second, all the CC had to do on Monday was approve sending the initiative to the ballot. That could have been accomplished in minutes. Because they have no choice. The circuitous discussion into the wee hours and the decision to spend money on consultants were - are - both unnecessary. I fail to see how that is good governance. And it is baffling that the mayor, who often comments on the lateness of the hour, would go along with Scharff’s obvious manipulation of the discussion and decisions. This begs the question as to whether this was planned.

Third, do Fine and Scharff not follow national politics? Romney’s 48% comment and Clinton’s basket of deplorables comment incensed the electorate and things didn’t turn out well for either of them. Now Palo Altans who have used a legitimate tool, the initiative process, to open a larger discussion about growth are described as populists and disingenuous. Who out there thinks this is acceptable?

Fourth, if we are going to stoop to charges of disingenuousness, let's include the claim that the initiative undermines all the work done on the Comp Plan. Office/R&D growth is but one aspect of the plan. And let’s not forget that the composition of the CAC tilted heavily pro-growth. Public outcry remedied that - a little - but a balanced growth plan was obviously not the priority. So now 3000 of us are saying WAIT and suggesting that we take another look at that and amend the plan so that we *only* grow at the pace that we’ve been growing since 1989.

Look around: if we double down as the Council majority wants, today’s problems will only worsen. As in double.


20 people like this
Posted by vision
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm

vision is a registered user.



Populism

That is what a majority does to pass votes (as a majority)...populism then is when the majority makes stuff "sound" good by pointing to a crowd which shares the majority position, and says see....everyone likes it.

This ballot measure is the opposite - it's ground up, citizen driven to ask more citizens to vote directly to the issue.




42 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 13, 2018 at 6:07 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Annette, re your 3d point above, you forgot Mr. Fine's comment re "scare-mongering" by "a few people who didn't get exactly what they want" and who are "completely disrespecting good governance and the community process."

Break that out. Mr. Fine dismisses 3,000+ registered voters as a petulant minority who can't recognize the good governance he thinks he offers.

Mr. Fine might review recent polls giving the city a pathetic 30% satisfaction level re the traffic and congestion the initiative seeks to mitigate.


34 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Online name - good point. The single good thing about long and late meetings is that inevitably the public gets a good look at the real character and personality of the Council members. Cory W easily won the blue ribbon for absurdity on Monday. Hard to say if second place goes to Fine or Scharff as both made untenable statements.

@ Can More Development Cure Overdevelopment? You wrote: "It's like drinking more alcohol to try to cure a hangover." Excellent point. Hair of the Dog simply is not a good development model. So why do we use it?


39 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

"...one has to ask why the CM and Mayor repeatedly tee things up as they do."

Mainly to wear down and pare down the audience on issues of large public interest. Citizens get tired. Citizens have kids at home. Citizens need to be at work the next morning. They go home before the issue comes up. Voila, less inconvenient opposition.

Plus, staff knows that tired councilmembers are more pliant and, as a bonus, more apt to drop their guard and provide some amusement.

Finally, Stanford demanded that the health care issue be moved up for the convenience of its staff members in attendance. Citizens vs. Stanford staff--it was a foregone outcome.


30 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Annette is a registered user.

People sometimes say, upon meeting someone they've only known over the phone: "Oh, it is so nice to put a face to a name". Well, Palo Alto, you need only go to the President Hotel to meet the 75 new faces that exemplify the true cost of our growth policies. The roster of the "housing insecure" grew by 75 this week.

I am not questioning the rights of the hotel seller and buyer. I am, however, impugning the Council Majority. The relentless march to approve R&D/Office development in a city that cannot support it is destructive and irresponsible. I think and hope that this issue is coming to a boil. This community cannot afford to continue the approach promoted by the pro-growth crowd on City Council. It's one thing for people who do not live here but want to to not be able to find housing - that is what I will call being "housing inconvenienced". It is quite another thing for people who DO live here to lose their housing and not have local options. That is housing insecurity of the worst sort.

The President Hotel evictions should serve as a tipping point and prompt the Council to immediately reconsider their position vis-a-vis the initiative to curb Office/R&D growth and simply amend the Comp Plan as the initiative proposes. No consultants, no fees paid to consultants, no stalling, no elections costs, no games. Just do the right thing.


10 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2018 at 8:47 am

What will happen to those who have small businesses near the President Hotel? There are some of the best Palo Alto businesses in this area; shops that provide real services and sell items that attract foot traffic to downtown.
If you have been in Palo Alto since the early 70s surely you remember Byron Scher, our best mayor of all time. He took on the developers and PA was transformed into a city that had good restaurants, not fast food joints, and small businesses that sold items and services of true use to the residents, not just a few overpaid youngsters.


17 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 24, 2018 at 11:59 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

The article ends with:
"While others couched their arguments in lofty philosophical principles, Filseth kept his comments characteristically brief.
"It's got the signatures. It probably should go to the ballot," Filseth said.”

It was after 1 a.m. The council member and reduced office/R&D cap initiative signature gatherer was not on mark:
It's got the signatures. It will go to the ballot.


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