News

City looks to sweeten deal for home developers

Council considers zoning revisions to promote residential projects

After falling well short of their goal to build 300 housing units this year, Palo Alto leaders are preparing to pass on Monday night a series of revisions in the zoning code that they hope will make it easier for residential developers to get their projects approved.

The proposed zone changes would represent the City Council's most significant action on housing since members adopted it as one of their top priorities for the year. The changes would, among other things, create a "housing incentive program" that offers developers substantial density bonuses; reduces parking requirements for residential projects; eliminates the "site and design" review process that has long been in place for residential and mixed-use projects; and establishes a "minimum density" requirement for parcels zoned as high-density residential.

The zone changes are a response to both the council's increasing willingness to support housing developments and to new state laws — namely, Senate Bill 35 and the State Density Bonus Law — that offer developers streamlined approval processes (in the case of the former) and bonuses that allow denser construction (in the case of the latter).

The city's new housing incentive program, for example, would give its own density bonuses to developers who willingly forego the state's "streamlining" provisions and parking exemptions and instead submit to the city's architectural-review process.

In some cases, those bonuses would be substantial.

In the area around California Avenue, for example, the allowed floor-area-ratio (the ratio of the building's floor area to land size) would be ramped up from 0.6 to 2.0 for the residential portion of the project. In the downtown area, residential floor-area-ratio (FAR) would be increased from 1.0 to 3.0, while in commercial areas around El Camino Real, it would be raised from 0.5 and 0.6 (depending on the zone) to 1.5.

To sweeten the deal further, the city's program, unlike SB35, does not require a developer to designate half of the units as "affordable housing." The only affordable-housing requirement it would have to meet is the city's "inclusionary zoning" law, which requires 15 percent of all residential developments to be dedicated to affordable housing.

Jean Eisberg, the city's consultant who had been leading the code-revision effort, wrote that the local housing-incentive program would provide builders with a "real alternative" to state laws.

Another change would replace the existing RM-15 zone, which allows up to 15 housing units per acre, with a new RM-20 zone, which allows 20. With the city's new "minimum density" requirement, a developer would have to build at least 11 units per acre in such a zone (in RM-30 and RM-40 districts, they would have to build a minimum of 16 and 21 units per acre, respectively).

The proposed ordinance was crafted over a series of seven meetings in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission, which on Oct. 10 voted 5-1, with Doria Summa dissenting and William Riggs absent, to support the changes. Supporters of the code revisions framed it as a moral imperative at a time when so many people are facing the threat of displacement because of sky-high rents and insufficient housing supply.

Despite repeated talks about addressing the housing crisis, council members have only approved one significant housing development this year: a 57-unit development at 2755 El Camino Real that is branded as "workforce housing."

The council's only other significant action on housing this year was the creation in April of an "affordable housing" zone that grants some concessions on density and parking to developers of below-market-rate housing. The nonprofit developer Palo Alto Housing is looking to use the new zone in its pending application for a 59-unit affordable-housing project at 3705 El Camino Real, near Wilton Avenue.

Approval of the zone changes would represent a major a victory for the council's most fervent housing advocates: Adrian Fine, Cory Wolbach and Mayor Liz Kniss. A year ago, the three submitted a memo calling for the city to put together a work plan for revising the zoning code to address the housing crisis.

"While Palo Alto may never be a truly affordable place to live, the City Council has an obligation to current and future residents to explore policies that expand housing choices for people of different incomes, generations and needs," the memo stated.

The planning commission generally agreed that the city needs more housing, though its members had significant disagreements over how far the zoning changes should go. Vice Chair Susan Monk and Commissioner Michael Alcheck both pushed for the most aggressive approach. Monk argued on Oct. 11 that the city is "at risk of losing an entire generation of people if we don't take a more liberal approach to our housing-production needs."

Not all of the changes were embraced by planning commissioners. Summa, as the sole dissenter, took issue with the new parking standards. Currently, the city requires 1.25 parking spaces for each studio apartment, 1.5 spaces for a one-bedroom unit and two spaces for apartments with two or more units. The new standards require one parking space for a studio or a one-bedroom apartment and two spaces for units with two or more bedrooms.

Within half a mile of a Caltrain station, parking requirements would range from 0.5 spaces for a "microunit" to 1.6 spaces for apartments with two or more units. Housing developments for seniors, meanwhile, would be required to provide 0.75 spaces per unit, though they would see reductions of between 20 and 40 percent if they are designated for affordable housing.

Summa questioned the city's assumptions on the new parking requirements.

"My concern is that when we underpark affordable-housing complexes, we do two things: We hurt the people who live there who want to conduct their lives in pretty much the same manner as the rest of us, which unfortunately is very car-centric," Summa said at the Oct. 10 meeting. "And we also hurt the existing residences nearby, and this causes opposition to the projects."

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Comments

65 people like this
Posted by A Millennial View
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 7:05 pm

Best news of the day. While they probably won't be cheap, additional housing in Palo Alto will serve to accommodate the needs of both new and existing residents who can afford the price tag.

Reducing parking requirements for the new buildings will also allow more living space for people instead. Besides, cars are best left outside anyway as garages are a waste of practical space allocations.

About the only ones who may get bent out of shape are some of the oldtimers who like to sit and reminiece about the Palo Alto of old...when men still wore suits to ballgames and women always had a pair of white white gloves on. Add the old balding hippies with poneytails into the mix as well.

Well those old days are long gone and PA town has now become a mini-metropolis with all of the trappings...more traffic, more shoppers and more pedestrians. It comes with the territory and there's no turning back.

Kudos to the pro-development PACC members who envision a futuristic Palo Alto rather than a town lost in yesteryear.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2018 at 7:21 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

The main difference @AMV between we balding hippy Residentialists and you millennial Builders is that we took bong hits and you chomp Ecstasy. (Actually I identify with Nirvana more than Buffalo Springfield...)


71 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2018 at 8:56 pm

The town's fixing to get itself snookered again. The elements are right in place--a lame duck council acting during the holidays, indeed, acting right after a holiday when almost nobody's paying attention. The System in high gear.

Our self-entitled Millenarians expecting handouts will be sorely disappointed, like their Hippie forebears were back then. Old age and treachery outsmart youth and naive entitlement every time. Tune in Monday and catch the good words. Then stick around and watch the outcomes, live and in 3-D.

Like their more fortunate Hippie adumbrats, Millies with good trust funds will do well. The rest will grow pony tails.


97 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Always interesting to watch the lame duck council and PTC push through their aggressive pro-development, increased density, car-light moves as their last moves.

Are these lame ducks also going to appoint the most aggressively pro-development PTC commissioners as their last moves?

Same schtick, different election cycle.


102 people like this
Posted by Just More Developer Giveaways
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 5:06 am

The parking reductions are absurd. We have too little parking already, which is why cars from tenants and commuters pack street after street in many neighborhoods, night and day.

The planning commission asked for any evidence that reducing parking requirements would generate more hosing. They got none. All this does is save money for developers. If the City Council really wants to help housing, they should throw out this wretched law and instead stop office development until housing catches up.



119 people like this
Posted by Cash Cow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2018 at 7:36 am

Cash Cow is a registered user.

Was there a luncheon gathering for developers at which they were invited to write this proposal? The requirement to build only 15% affordable units in a project is the same percentage the city required decades ago. The increased density allowed, coupled with reduced parking spaces required, will bring big profits for developers while our town will be clogged with more traffic as a result and our schools will be on their heels, maxed out.

This housing is mostly market rate, meaning not affordable, so it doesn’t “solve” anyone’s notion of a housing problem for people who can’t afford it no matter what the development hungry supply-siders would have us think such as PAF.

But it does shovel a pile of profit to developers (how is Liz Kniss’s FPPC investigation of her delayed reporting till after her election of all those developer campaign donations?). PAF Wolbach and real estate attorney Scharff are lame ducks and should not vote on this. This lame duck, FPPC compromised council majority is reckless beyond belief if it votes to pass this.


99 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2018 at 8:10 am

Virtually every aspect of this proposal is rotten. I will be embarrassed for anyone who votes for this proposal. This has nothing to do with addressing housing needs, and everything to do with pure and simple, unadorned, greed.



92 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 23, 2018 at 9:00 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Everybody who voted for this atrocity has betrayed Palo Alto. The hyper development majority reminds me of the George W Bush years when oil companies lobbyists occupied Congress offices and wrote energy policy legislation, which the politicians dutifully rubber-stamped.


80 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 9:01 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: ...more traffic, more shoppers and more pedestrians. It comes with the territory and there's no turning back.

This is not a utopian landscape by any means nor a healthful living environment.

QUOTE: Kudos to the pro-development PACC members who envision a futuristic Palo Alto rather than a town lost in yesteryear.

To use the old Sierra Club adage, "Not opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress." An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be required prior to the approval of any new commercial/residential developments in Palo Alto...just saying.


89 people like this
Posted by W.T.
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 23, 2018 at 10:32 am

This is going too far.

Is there any chance for a referendum to just completely stop commercial development until we meet state ratio requirements?

There is enough developer funded power in the city council that it doesn’t do the right thing for the city.


59 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2018 at 11:01 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Once again Palo Alto process and "fate" are presenting a crucial policy issue in the midst of a holiday cycle. The housing ordinance has many merits but the deficiencies warrant council action when citizens are better informed and involved.

Here are just three problems in the staff report:
#1 The Housing Ordinance is in conflict with the ordinance regulating non-resident permits in over 8 residential neighborhoods. This conflict is not noted in the staff report to City Council. Residents who have been leading permit parking reforms were not aware of the technical conflicts until recently. Efforts to engage city staff have not been successful.
#2 The parking exception for "retail" is too generous and will create negative impact especially on neighborhoods closest to El Camino Real and the two downtowns. Impact is not described in the staff report.
#3 City council continuously states its goal for informed and involved citizens. The staff report has been publicly available during the ten days of the Thanksgiving holiday. The number of effective working days is clearly compromised;
the ordinance's first reading should be deferred until public opinion can be compiled and presented coherently.


64 people like this
Posted by Don't label me
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 11:16 am

Don't label me is a registered user.

You gotta love it when one individual claims to speak for a group as does " A Millennial View." Add in the clear stereotyping and bigotry of "others" in these comments and you have a recipe for social conflict with little progress.

How about discussing ideas based real-world data and a plan to do some concept testing before we jump into new territory. For example, we still lack a generally accepted standard to define affordable housing. And if we believe the Bay Area News Groups story of salary history, the only group that has seen wage increases in the past 20 years is the top 10%. Are struggling to make housing affordable for them... or for the service, retail and low-wage workers that we all depend on whose wages have decreased over this period?

The issues are not simple and to date our leaders have not demonstrated that they are up to the challenge. We need more thoughtful engagement from all of our community.




84 people like this
Posted by Don't encumber a fresh start
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2018 at 11:30 am

Don't encumber a fresh start is a registered user.

The biggest disappointment about this City Council majority is their consistent preference for policy action that breeds mistrust and intensifies division among residents by conveying highly lucrative, untested "incentives" to market rate developers, with little or no community benefit or protection from neighborhood impacts. There was some good stuff in the Housing Work plan, but they opted to focus on the bad stuff, forcing it through while they held a narrow majority.

They could have built community enthusiasm for the city's efforts, capitalizing on broad support for addressing our affordable housing needs, by increasing the below market rate housing requirement from 15% to 20%; adopting the "Palmer Fix" that would have extended those inclusionary minimums to new rental housing development (not just for sale); or requiring actual construction of required BMR units or parking, instead of letting developers buy their way out of those obligations.

Those changes were advertised as part of the Housing Work Plan, but have proven to be mere window dressing. If taken up first, their community and affordability benefits would have formed a strong scaffold, applied to everything going forward, to help balance out the developer incentives in this proposal.

Instead, they've de-coupled city policy from the community interest in greater affordability and managed impacts, increasing suspicion about their motives and diminishing public support for even modest changes. And potentially creating a new generation of "grandfathered" projects should that scaffolding ever come to fruition.

We don't yet know how Allison Cormack's promises of thoughtful, inclusive solutions and building public trust will play out, but voters certainly made clear that they don't want more of the same. This lame duck council should not rush to approve this controversial housing ordinance. Put it on the shelf and use the time instead to fully explain its likely impacts (on residents, not just developer bottom lines). Then let the new council decide if it strikes the right balance, (and if the scaffolding should come first.)


63 people like this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 23, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Becky Sanders is a registered user.

On November 6, we the people voted a slow growth slate and for a "freshman" for the incoming council which may explain why the old council is eager to vote on relaxing the building standards to increase size, massing and density while providing less parking.

Did you see Palo Alto Neighborhoods’ Code Enforcement Committee Chair Jeff Levinsky's analysis recently published in the November Palo Alto Matters Newsletter? He did a bang up job of unpacking the proposal for us.

Web Link

For me, we already have carmageddon on our streets, so does it make sense to relax the parking standards? Solve the existing parking and traffic crisis first and then talk to us about relaxing the standards, and do it based on data and not wishes. Alison Cormack in her stump speeches says she wants "data." Is this why the existing council needs to get the data-free stuff done before she takes office?

I for one welcome a facelift for South El Camino but do we really want under-parked projects there? It's wall to wall cars down the streets of Ventura already, so I'm particularly concerned for Ventura!

I recommend folks email Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org and attend the meeting.

Here's what Jeff Levinsky urges folks to do who agree with his analysis:

Ask that Council:

Not approve the proposed ordinance
Insist on meaningful housing reform, such as allowing future office construction only when sufficient new housing is built as well, or taking away commercial entitlements.
Offer incentives only for new housing, not to existing buildings
Require a proper Environmental Impact Study, including of parking and open space reductions
Acknowledge current parking shortages and not make them worse
Don’t create more loopholes and developer giveaways
Wait for the VTA project results to see if increasing density and reducing parking succeed in lowering housing costs

I think WAITING FOR THE VTA PROJECT corner of ECR and Page Mill/Oregon is a great idea. Then we'll have DATA. Come on folks, let's get this done in a way that makes sense.

Let's work together on this. This jobs housing discrepancy didn't have happen overnight. Let's not try to solve it overnight with slap dash changes to the building code.

Thanks everyone!


92 people like this
Posted by Be Sensible
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 23, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Be Sensible is a registered user.

We must NOT reduce the parking requirements for any new residential projects. Because the cost of living is so high for both owners and renters, MORE people are cramming into both rental and owner-occupied homes and condos. My 55-unit condo building (16 2-bdr units, 39 1-bdr units and 1 studio) has seen an enormous shift in demographics. In the 25 years I've lived here, the number of residents in a 1-bedroom unit has increased dramatically. We have families of three and four crammed into 1-bedroom condos, including adults with teenage children. Head of households are technocrats, attorneys and other professionals. Their need for parking isn't going to decrease and we will never be able to build enough new housing to stop or even slow down this trend. Yes, we need meaningful housing reform, but it needs to include more, not less, parking per unit! And we don't want tenements in Palo Alto -- we need sufficient setback and green space for any new housing.


53 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@Cash Cow

"Was there a luncheon gathering for developers at which they were invited to write this proposal?"

Staff had at least 16 private meetings consulting primarily potential developers and architects to come up with these zoning changes. Don't know if the city staff served the developers lunch though.

Readers can check out a detailed analysis of the loopholes and impacts in the most recent edition of the online newsletter, Palo Alto Matters,

Web Link


31 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2018 at 3:35 pm

I really don't understand why the f*ck people are scrabbling to live in this town. Schools are way over subscribed. Public transit is practically non-existent, there is no parking, dining is limited and overpriced. Entertainment is limited to mega-movies. So you find an affordable place to rent. What then?


62 people like this
Posted by Evergreen Park Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Once again, we have a 'policy' written in consultation with developers and not with residents. Most developers do not live in Palo Alto -- they live in Los Altos or Woodside (along with the president of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce), and do not plan to live with the results of their development in Palo Alto.

To create this new ordnance, the City staff held 16 meetings with 22 individuals, primarily architects and developers. It held a single meeting with 'the community at large'. This single meeting consisted of a presentation and the opportunity for attendees to comment on 'idea boards.' In other, words, no real discussion. Since no consensus was reached at the end of such a ridiculous meeting, the staff proceeded to work with architects and developers. This is the height of nonsense.

We need housing. The argument is not whether to build housing. It is what kind of housing and what we can do to not create more problems and lower the quality of life in Palo Alto while we do it. Dear Millenial . . . even I don't remember the time of men wearing suits to ball games. You, too, will one day want quality of life for your children.

Traffic and the overruning of neighborhoods by commercial development are real concerns. We need to face them, and make wise decisions that advance affordable, below market housing. The commercial sector will always build high end housing. It is the City's job to provide the help and support for affordable housing, not to enrich developers even further.

Good grief, Palo Alto, get creative and stop catering to developers just because they give money to election campaigns. The last election should demonstrate that Palo Altans are not deceived by slick campaign brochures.


28 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Irresponsible! That must have been good quality stuff they were smoking when they approved the 300 new housing units per year, including this year. They didn't offer a clue as to how they planned to achieve it. Now they are trying to do it at an unknown cost to quality of life, infrastructure, parking impacts, traffic, school enrollments, etc. But to save face the "housing at any cost" majority is rushing to pass this because of losing two lame ducks from this year's CC. And for some reason those proponents always seem to want to do one better than state law requires. I know, I know, we are special and more caring than other communities, (and more than we need to be), and that's why we do more to prove that, and that's what makes us so special.

"A Millennial View" views were mean spirited, attacking all of us who have lived here a long time and love our town (less so now than we used to) and have contributed to it's success...volunteering and donating our time to worthy causes. I would like for the proponents to take a deep breath, step back, and take a break from discussion about housing for those who can afford it, and spend a little more time talking about the homeless in our community. Where do they fit in on your priority list? Take your time to answer...waiting...waiting...waiting...sorry times up. You took too long, and I didn't hear any answers. I know, I often pose tough questions like that one...and sadly...with the same results.

The overworked word...'affordable'. In PA every single family home, condo, town house (owned or rented), and apartments, are affordable...for those who can afford them (duh!), and the last time I checked the occupancy rate was still very high. So the proposal really only supports more housing for those who can afford it and not for our faithful service workers on the bottom end of the pay scale...the minimum wage earners. The housing is tailor maid for the tech workers at Palintar and all other places supported by PAF, our CoC, and of course, not to be left out, the developers just salivating over the idea.

And now to the 'workforce housing' VTA site project: Approved but no construction started. Time's running out...so that carryover means 600 units next year or spread over following years. Tough starting out in the hole like this, but our elected officials must know what they're doing, right? I watched and studied this project with great interest, from articles about it and watching CC meeting discussions about it online or on TV. I had concerns and I voiced them in comments early on, and have repeated them many times since. I won't repeat them here. I finally concluded that this should be approved as a test case, a pilot project, but with the caveat that it serve as a data gathering project to see how it works out. Tom Dubois, a very clear headed and analytical member of our CC approved it also with the same proviso.

That's the kind of thinking I'd like to see from our new CC. Don't just blindly approve projects that might negatively impact our neighborhoods, quality of life, and entire resident population...bike boulevards, ADU's, housing just for the few, and things like soda taxes, idling ordinances, etc., without getting residents input first and then following up with data gathering after approving a project that was in uncharted waters.

I'm anxious to see and hear how our new recently elected CC member (and largest vote getter), Alison Cormack, comes down on these issues.

And the beat goes on. PA hasn't burned to the ground, and now a couple of our CC members move on to other pursuits in politics, non-profit organizations, or elsewhere, private or company employment. I wish them well and thank them for their tireless service on CC while they served.


53 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:12 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

This reeks of a Liz Kniss-Greg Scharff end around maneuver.

Quote: But it does shovel a pile of profit to developers (how is Liz Kniss’s FPPC investigation of her delayed reporting till after her election of all those developer campaign donations?)

That investigation could have been completed in a matter of days. The Mueller investigation hasn't lasted this long. The record of the FPPC indicates that when it finds damming evidence it either sits on it or issues a light slap on the wrist. The fact we don't here anything about the Kniss investigation indicates the former. When are the residents of Palo Alto going to finally face reality and attach the word corrupt to Liz Kniss?


51 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Why is this plan so wrong? Here's how zoning similar to this is working out in Berkeley, from a personal perspective.

After college in the East our kids were on board with the high density urbanist philosophy. But did they move into an apartment? No, though they mananged to buy a single family home in Berkeley in a "pedestrian friendly neighborhood" walkable to restaurants and Whole Foods. It didn't bother them that nearby there are plans for gigantic housing blocks with inadequate parking requirements. They hoped they wouldn't really need a car, but they still owned 2. They parked on the street and thought about it this way: "at least the cars were not snowbound." Now that they have a child their priorities have changed. They don't really like the pickup with junk in it parked tandem almost across the sidewalk for days on end, they don't like the dumpster that took up the parking they might have used, and they don't really want to call the cops on the man talking to himself who is living in his car right in front of their house, and they are not happy to search for parking or avoiding that guy when toting strollers, baby in carseat, groceries, and themselves getting home from work. Now that they are in another phase of life, and responsible for safety of the most vulnerable, they wish they had a two car garage or at least dedicated parking.

What changed? They had to take responsibility for their child's safety and were not so young and able-bodied any more. The idea that parking is not required is only plausible if you have never been injured, never been pregnant, are not a parent, or are too young or too able-bodied to know better. Adequate parking needs to be required, and its importance should not be zoned away. The lame duck council is wrong to try to insinuate this plan without public support.


24 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Evergreen Park Resident

You said it all, about real or lack of real community participation in these decisions. We might have to share some of the blame, but certainly our elected officials, who are supposed to represent us and be on top of it, must have some sense of how we feel about the issue even though we don't show up at CC meetings every Monday night to voice them.

"To create this new ordinance, the city staff held 16 meetings with 22 individuals, primarily architects and developers. It held a single meeting with 'the community at large'. This single meeting consisted of a presentation and the opportunity for attendees to comment on 'idea boards.' In other, words, no real discussion. Since no consensus was reached at the end of such a ridiculous meeting, the staff proceeded to work with architects and developers. This is the height of nonsense."

Thanks for that input on the meetings and the single meeting that led up to this. I guess 'nonsense' has reached new heights. Our new norm??


22 people like this
Posted by A Millennial View
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Doesn't anyone here accept the electoral process? The PACC members were elected by the majority of voters in Palo Alto and they are carrying out their duties as elected officials.

Because you happen to disagree with their decisions is your prerogative. Next time proactively support and vote for those who best represent your self-serving interests. That's politics.

In the meantime, whining is futile. Increased residential development is necessary in Palo Alto to meet the demands of a growing population. To deny this scenario is like clinging to the concept that the world is flat.

Some older people just can't see to see past the horizon.


Like this comment
Posted by A Millennial View
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:37 pm

> seem to see


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Relax 'mauricio', she'll be gone in two years. On a 'pass/fail scale' I give her a 'pass'. She has served us well, at many levels of government for many years, faithfully, and without ever suffering a defeat, so that means something, actually a lot, and speaks for itself. Let the FPPC investigation go on forever. I don't care. What happened happened. Get over it!


10 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Thank you "A Millennial View" for explaining what you think politics is all about.

But shame on you for continuing to blame us old folks for not seeing the horizon. We've been lucky to see the horizon and beautiful sunsets in PA for many years. Believe it or not, my small high school in Montana, back in the 50's, offered a class in Civics. It was an eye opener and I remember Russ Raymond, our teacher. We learned about our nation's history, the Constitution, how our government works at state and federal levels, and we learned the names of our elected officials and Supreme Court justices. I tuned in...radio... to national conventions and got to hear great oratory from speakers. Try that on today's PA high school students. Sorry, that would pull them away from their cell phones. Yes, I am old. I remember days before TV. It was just radio broadcasts back then.


3 people like this
Posted by Vicious attacks
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Maurucio-- you have viciously attacked kniss, scharff, wolbach. Fine and Tanaka on this forum without ever providing proof for your claims ( why your posts are not deleted is obvious). Add gale stated, relax. I will go further and say put up or shut up.


57 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 23, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The car-light fairy tales are just that -- magical thinking to serve the developers while making PA less livable. Real numbers were presented at a CC meeting not too long ago showing car ownership and usage for residents of all ages hasn't budged in the last 10 years.


30 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Posted by A Millennial View, a resident of Evergreen Park

>> Reducing parking requirements for the new buildings will also allow more living space for people instead. Besides, cars are best left outside anyway as garages are a waste of practical space allocations.

The issue is not whether cars have a roof over their heads. The issue is how much space they take up and where that space will come from. The street? Do the arithmetic.

>> About the only ones who may get bent out of shape are some of the oldtimers who like to sit and reminiece about the Palo Alto of old...when men still wore suits to ballgames and women always had a pair of white white gloves on. Add the old balding hippies with poneytails into the mix as well.

You seem to have a lot of hostility towards anyone over 55. Odd. You may be "A" millennial view, but not "The" millennial view. I know plenty of millennials without that hostility.

>> Well those old days are long gone and PA town has now become a mini-metropolis with all of the trappings...more traffic, more shoppers and more pedestrians. It comes with the territory and there's no turning back.

Resistance is futile. That is what they always say.

>> Kudos to the pro-development PACC members who envision a futuristic Palo Alto rather than a town lost in yesteryear.

What "futuristic"? What does that mean? -Your- future, destroying Palo Alto as it has existed until recently, OR, a more in tune with the historical flow of Palo Alto? Why do you hate Palo Alto so much?


45 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 23, 2018 at 7:54 pm

What I don't get is this - the biggest part of any development is the land cost. Land cost is driven by the zoning - the land value comes from what you can build there.

If the developers say, "I can't make a profit on this piece of land with those zoning rules" (parking, BMR, whatever), then what they are really saying is, "I overpaid for the land." If they had paid the right amount, the project would work. Oops, they made a bad investment.

The solution to that problem isn't to change the rules to prop them up; it is for them to take a loss (or lower profit) on their investment. They can sell land at a loss to the next guy, or just eat the loss themselves. It's ok - that's the way business works.

But we don't need to make *their* short-ter problem (overpaying) into *our* permanent problem (under-parked projects, in this case). That's just being a sucker, essentially a government bail-out. Stick to sensible zoning, let the market do its job. No bailouts for developers!


30 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

If Michael Goldman's analysis ( Web Link ) is correct, for apartments in SF, construction cost (36%) is double the land cost (17%). Parking cost is only 2%! But it's one of the easiest things to cut. Since profit is about 20%, cutting that 2% of cost increases profit by 10%.

This is important because financing is driven by the amount of profit. Projects that are even a little more profitable get financed, and are built; other projects are just passed over. So developers have a lot of incentive to squeeze out even small costs like parking. Unfortunately, those costs don't disappear; they're just transferred somewhere else (often to the public).


36 people like this
Posted by Don't encumber a fresh start
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2018 at 9:22 pm

Don't encumber a fresh start is a registered user.

@resident of Ventura

The great tragedy here is that many, if not most of us, might have been ok with what you call "bailouts" for developers committed to building meaningful amounts (WELL above the current 15%) of housing targeted to the residents we most want to help (renters earning up to 80% or even maybe 100% of area median income). They forego some profit, we endure some parking, density and/or height impacts. Needed housing gets built, we all feel good about doing it in partnership, and maybe we get comfortable with offering even greater incentives in the future.

Instead, we're being asked to bailout market rate projects (and commercial buildings that can then buy up their 'surplus' parking) with big, across the board impacts, but no evidence that we'll get any more of what our city actually needs in exchange for the sacrifice.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 23, 2018 at 9:55 pm

@Allen Akin, that's interesting. I suppose it depends on how many units you put on a parcel, which has a lot to do with building height. Looking at Goldman's analysis, he's assuming a 5-6 story building with 100 units - I believe that would be very tall for Palo Alto. He doesn't say how much land is assumed, so it's hard to say how Palo Alto land costs ($10M/acre?) fits in his model.

That said, I think my statement still holds - if you can't make a profit, you over paid for the land, and the solution is to take a loss, not bail out the developer.


10 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 23, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Resident: Yes, there are some interesting tradeoffs. Taller buildings are more expensive because construction costs are higher *per unit*, not just in total ( Web Link ). The sweet spot for cost is row houses four stories or fewer, rather than mid- or high-rises. That tells us something about how to build housing that's more affordable.


12 people like this
Posted by Development Good In Some Sections of PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2018 at 9:36 am

Without pinpointing to any specific PA neighborhoods, wouldn't it be safe to say that further and/or increased development in certain areas would actually improve their overall appearances?

No one is clamoring to destroy or redevelop the 'vintage' and more affluent sections of PA...just the ones that could use a bit of a face-lift. I've noticed that where many of these newer developments have been erected, the previous sites/buildings weren't that much to speak of in the first place.


11 people like this
Posted by Rebuilding good same density
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 24, 2018 at 11:28 am

The city does not currently have sufficient (or sufficiently effective) infrastructure for its current daytime population.

Sure, it makes sense to improve or rebuild its rundown areas, but without increasing density. We could try to somehow limit this property so that it could only be used by those wiith below county average household income, or some other measure of worthiness. It should follow our existing zoning requirements for setbacks, FAR, and parking.

Developers do not need to earn a fortune from rezoning. Just a profit on their work.


8 people like this
Posted by Look Sharp!
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 24, 2018 at 12:48 pm

>...wouldn't it be safe to say that further and/or increased development in certain areas would actually improve their overall appearances?

Yes BUT there are two potential & ongoing strikes...

(1) the anti-development movement; and (2) certain PA residents & businesses who have no issue with the dilapidated look of their homes/buildings.

It's like trying to get some folks to dress more appropriately at times. Some are just born slobs while others don't really care.


3 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 24, 2018 at 1:09 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

The expression, "In the eye of the beholder" comes to mind.


23 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Gale Johnson: thank you for your comments, particularly for noting the tone of A Millennial View's posts. The housing mess is understandably divisive but long term residents did not create the problem - with the exception of a few who have served on CC and blithely approved too much commercial development despite knowing that the influx of new workers would only exacerbate this city's jobs:housing imbalance.

@A Millennial View: if you want to be mad at a group of people, look no further than current and past City Council majorities that have ignored reality and used their vote/power/influence to get built more of what we don't need and not much of what we do need. Please, if you must hurl insults, aim in that direction rather than at older people who made the decision to live here several decades ago. I also suggest you closely read the posts by Allen Akin, Evergreen Park Resident, and Cheryl Lilienstein. These are not long term residents intent on keeping millennials out or blocking all development. These are thoughtful residents who are doing their level best to get CC to plan smartly and not enact short-sighted ordinances that will not only not do much for the intended purpose, but will make at least one already huge problem (parking) much worse.

I think it would be best if Scharff, Holman, and Wolbach didn't vote on anything for the rest of the year. I also think it would be great if we didn't rely on consultants with no skin in the game.

And to @Rick who doesn't understand why people are scrambling to live here, I sometimes wonder the same thing. I could write a long list about what is good about Palo Alto but there's an offsetting (and growing) list of newish characteristics that are not so good. It would be interesting to see what we would learn if we conducted "exit interviews" when residents decide to leave. We could start by asking the City Manager. I doubt I am alone in wondering why a person who has been entrusted to maintain and improve this city for 10 years is choosing to not retire here.


26 people like this
Posted by Millennial is a troll
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Definition of Troll by Merriam-Webster: a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content Internet trolls In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word "troll" to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities.

Whether he just hates his parents or is a real developer advocate, it doesn't matter. He just wants to spread confusion and hate.
Don't respond to him.


Like this comment
Posted by @Millenial is a troll
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Hey, guess what? You don't have a right to a suburban neighborhood character, and your aethestic preferences are not worth burying the millennial generation in housing debt and forcing them to cram into single family homes. Sorry if you find content like this inflammatory.


8 people like this
Posted by Look Sharp!
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 24, 2018 at 3:20 pm

> Whether he just hates his parents or is a real developer advocate, it doesn't matter. He just wants to spread confusion and hate.
^^^^^ > a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content...

So now we have trolls calling others trolls?

Back to topic. Yes...(1) Palo Alto got overdeveloped (although some areas could use some improvement). (2) Hard to go back to the old PA days and ways; (3) Big money is pushing for more development; (4) Millennials and low-income individuals/families still want to reside in PA but it is no longer affordable; (5) Some old-time PA residents prefer that Millennials and low-income people go seek housing elsewhere; (6) Some Millennials resent the older generation for their excesses and self-serving nature; (7) RVs becoming a alternative living arrangement in PA (a middle-finger gesture in its own right).

^^^^ Looks like 'confusion and hate' is being spread equally and no one has to be a troll...just someone with an varied opinion.


31 people like this
Posted by Suzanne Keehn
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 24, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Suzanne Keehn is a registered user.

I wrote the City Council about postponing this ordinance discussion till next year, and agree with what Annette and others said, give time to study, loopholes etc. A lame duck council should not be making all these decisions. I also said that these issues are 'below the radar' and taking place during the holiday season, making it harder for folks to be involve. Is there a reason for that?

If we put a moratorium on all office growth, maybe we could have lower income housing. Check out the PASZ website also for a good explanation.

PLEASE do come to the City Council Monday and make your views known. Be great if we filled the facility. Oh Yes, might as well write a letter also.


3 people like this
Posted by @Suzanne
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2018 at 4:46 pm

"If we put a moratorium on all office growth, maybe we could have lower income housing"

Or you could just build more housing.


31 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Dev elopement is Good said:

"Without pinpointing to any specific PA neighborhoods, wouldn't it be safe to say that further and/or increased development in certain areas would actually improve their overall appearances?"

I thought the ideal was to create affordable housing, not "improve" the appearance of certain areas. "Improving" the appearance of certain areas is usually called gentrification and it never results in lower real-estate prices. Gentrification does creates an environment where developers can make a lot of money displacing low income tenets and replacing their affordable housing with something much more expensive and profitable.

The most affordable housing we will ever have is the housing we already have. The only reason real-estate developers develop property is so they can sell the property for a higher price than the paid for it.

There is no way to develop your way to lower real-estate prices.


11 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 24, 2018 at 6:35 pm

"Sorry if you find content like this inflammatory."

Not at all. Your problem is easily resolved.

Evidently your employer has forgotten how indispensable you are to your company and the catastrophic consequences to it should you depart, and has neglected to adjust your compensation accordingly. Don't let that deplorable situation continue.

First thing Monday, politely and very firmly explain the circumstances to your employer at the highest levels. Remind how indispensable you are to your company and the catastrophic consequences to it should you depart, and explain that you will be forced to leave immediately unless the matter is resolved to your satisfaction on the spot. Let them know they are dealing with a hardboiled Millenarian and the onus for action is theirs. That will bring the issue to closure very quickly. Guaranteed.

Oh, yeah. In the future, do fill in any prospective prospective employer on your perspective at your job interview. Don't let this deplorable situation develop again.


28 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2018 at 7:02 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: The most affordable housing we will ever have is the housing we already have. The only reason real-estate developers develop property is so they can sell the property for a higher price than the paid for it.

Sounds logical to me. Besides, no new PA housing is going to cheap & increased tenant demands will always have a way of pushing the rents up.


30 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 24, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Or you could just build more housing."

Nothing's preventing that now -- except the fact that it's usually not profitable, so the financiers and developers aren't proposing projects. Some developers are even willing to say this in public:
Web Link

One of the goals of the zoning change is to shift costs away from developers and onto residents (both new and existing) to make housing development more profitable. Whether this would actually be enough incentive to create more housing is (as the Staff report says) completely unknown.


4 people like this
Posted by @Curmudgeon
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Oh that's funny. You should go tell that to all the millennials crammed into the house a few doors down from you. They'll all have a laugh.


25 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2018 at 11:15 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Once again Allen Akin provides clarity. Developers aren't proposing projects (no surprise there; developers do what they do to make money) so our CC turns to residents. Doesn't that beat all? The Council Majority creates a problem, nurtures it along to an untenable size, and then considers changes that will impose the burden of healing this self-inflicted wound on residents. At the very least there should be a short-term sunset clause on every proposed change to zoning so that we are not stuck long term with any incentive that either isn't working, is exacerbating an existing problem, or is creating a new problem. If something is working it can easily be continued.


38 people like this
Posted by hip
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2018 at 2:34 am

The city council is using SB35 as a boogeyman so they can change zoning rules in a needlessly overdramatic way purely to benefit their developer friends. I'm sure the council majority realize SB35's 50% affordable requirement is mostly unfeasible. The council majority are the ones constantly screaming about how we can't raise the affordable requirement above 15% because it would kill all housing production. If building with 50% affordable is basically impossible, why do we need the dramatic program to avoid SB35?

We do not need this Housing Incentive Program unless the city discovered for-profit developers are actually eager and excited to build 50% affordable buildings given a few concessions. In that case, our affordable housing inclusion requirement is far too low and should be raised to the 30-40% range. Apparently for-profit developers can bear a much larger affordable housing burden than we were told they could.


18 people like this
Posted by A Millenial View
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 25, 2018 at 8:52 am

Definition of Fat Cat by Merriam-Webster: 1(b) a wealthy and privileged person

All things considered, this term can probably be applied to a number of 'residentialists', the exceptions being those struggling to find affordable housing in Palo Alto (i.e. low-income individuals/families and some Millennials).

While I can understand those who do not want to see high-rise and potentially lower rent developments in their exclusive neighborhoods, as some others have stated there are some parts of Palo Alto where these types of dwellings would actually improve the overall landscape. Perhaps cordon further development to specific area and those who have traffic and parking issues can simply avoid passing through there.


23 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2018 at 9:30 am

Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville

>> "Or you could just build more housing."

>> Nothing's preventing that now -- except the fact that it's usually not profitable, so the financiers and developers aren't proposing projects. Some developers are even willing to say this in public: Web Link

Concise analysis. There are two roadblocks to "more housing" in Palo Alto currently. Construction cost, as above, and in particular, as the article points out, materials, and labor costs. And, a second particular component of that cost which is more dominant on the Peninsula, including especially, Palo Alto, and that is land cost.

The cost of development-capable land in Palo Alto is driven by a type of speculation-- no developer is going to build housing on a property that may be developed as the more profitable option of dense office space. As long as that office-development possibility exists, land costs will always be out of reach of affordable housing. The only way to cap that land value is to put a -permanent- cap on the amount of office space. Otherwise, affordable housing will always be out of reach.

>> One of the goals of the zoning change is to shift costs away from developers and onto residents (both new and existing) to make housing development more profitable. Whether this would actually be enough incentive to create more housing is (as the Staff report says) completely unknown.

You can make it more profitable for luxury housing and luxury apartments and/or condos, that can make use of land that could also be used for offices. You will never get affordable housing as long as the same land could possibly be used for new office developments. The numbers don't add up.

The real problem here is that the developers and CC think we can't do the arithmetic. (Or are too busy working to do the arithmetic.) The only possibility for more affordable housing is:

-No more office space.-


Like this comment
Posted by Logan
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

With apologies to Shakespeare, first... kill all the realtors...or should it be the developers...or the city council...or old folks (probably not worth the effort there since they will be leaving soon); well anyway, we're bound to start eliminating somebody unless the population starts locally decreasing. What really is the problem and is there a root cause? I wish I was smarter.


36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:30 am

Online Name is a registered user.

The issue isn't being smarter; the CC is plenty smart with this latest lane-duck maneuver that they are well aware goes against the will of the voters -- which is why Mr. Wollbach got defeated.

It's as insulting as Mayor Kniss's "listening" "study" session on our traffic "problems" or lack thereof while we have non-working systems that waste our time in reporting complaints and waste or tax dollars in the process.


32 people like this
Posted by Awakening
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:34 am

@Millenial View,
"Doesn't anyone here accept the electoral process? The PACC members were elected by the majority of voters in Palo Alto and they are carrying out their duties as elected officials. ...Increased residential development is necessary in Palo Alto to meet the demands of a growing population."

The current Council members most engaged in pushing overdevelopment got elected by basically misleading the public. They did NOT get elected on being honest about these kinds of policies and views. Greg Scharff, in particular, claimed that he had changed his views to be a residentialist because he was listening to people, and he aggressively advertised using a quote from a known community advocate as if that advocate had endorsed him, even though that advocate had not.

The others claimed vociferously that they were not for the very things they champion now, and that their opponents' claims to the contrary were smears (and then they used that to smear their opponents). Then all of them were found to have hidden a large share of their campaign money that came from developers. Liz Kniss said in the papers that this was because developers have a bad reputation, and the fair elections people said that Adrian Fine had "misled" the voters.

Increased development is causing all kinds of costs and problems for existing residents, and only serves the interest of those who are trying to turn Palo Alto into a giant office park for their own profit. These companies are not paying their share for the expenses they are foisting on the public they like to abuse to get their way. There was even an article in the paper about how they aren't even paying the full cost of their development applications, the public gets to subsidize them. Companies like Facebook moved when they needed to grow.

We really do not need to shake down the public to pay for the housing for entry-level tech workers so that all companies can crowd into Palo Alto no matter the consequences to the city and the tens of thousands of existing residents, many of whom make considerable sacrifices for schools.

Recent disasters in other parts of California should be a sobering reminder that things like water, infrastructure, traffic circulation, and urban open space are hard constraints and also essential for life and safety. Everything comes to a standstill for hours here already when a car breaks down, what happens if there is an earthquake and inevitable postdisaster fires, or some other reason for even very local evacuations?

There are many towns even around California that WANT the development money, and WANT the jobs/companies. Companies just want the public to pay for everything, and never want to pay back when they've become successful. Look at Amazon, who only decided to move after the damage was done.

We do not HAVE to overdevelop. We can insist that City Council do what they told the public they would do (rather than ignoring that they misled the public in their campaigns). We can insist that City Council put the residents of this town and the future of this town, including safety, first.

And yes, to a poster above, it is possible to referend anything the Council puts through now. But there are time limits for signature gathering, and they are cynically counting on citizens being unable to do so over the holidays. This kind of power play AGAINST citizens is the essence of corruption and should not be rewarded. It may be difficult to referend specific ordinances, but it is possible to recall Councilmembers after the election, and there is already plenty of reasons.

We should be considering how to balance the housing-worker imbalance by enacting head taxes like Mountain View has, and by strictly enforcing retail zoning for retail like Los Altos has, by prioritizing safety and legally due urban open space of which there is a large amount owed the citizens already, by enforcing zoning so that existing low- and medium-income residents like at the President Hotel aren't forced out using false arguments about affordability (we cannot build our way to affordability anymore than Hong Kong did, as hard as they tried), and we should look at how to rationally convert offices to housing.

Development is not inevitable, it is a choice. This is not land-limited Hong Kong, we live in a vast nation that cannot and should not house everyone here or even in arid California (becoming more arid). High prices in the face of global demand in a job center will not be mitigated by development -- new development only increases demand as more people move in and create more demand for other services. From here on out, density only begets density, and only INCREASES the cost of housing and displacement of existing residents, that simply ignores the limitations of the infrastructure, safety, as well as the costs that companies are NOT paying, their making the public they like to abuse pay. Densifying increases the incentives to developers to displace existing regular-income people, and as was pointed out above, DECREASES the willingness of the public to make concessions for those who need it.

I think it's just egregious that they would bring up Alma Village as an example. Take a realistic photo of those homes -- they are like tall chimneys that couldn't have been better designed to exclude the disabled and the elderly, they are the essence of stack and pack. They pushed out a lot of resident-serving retail.

Our City Council should remember its duties of serving residents. Watch the news for what just happened in California wildfires. The Weekly just did an article about how we are vulnerable. Do you want that to happen to a local high school near the Foothills, the Veteran's Hospital, to office parks that will subsequently become ghost towns? Do the rich people living in the Foothills want to be boxed in by fleeing office workers, especially with the City closing the fire station? What of families visiting our open space parks? Worse, what about downtown if there is an earthquake and subsequent fire? Just having the urban open space we are due, which is good for the soul and for the environment is also good for keeping a natural disaster from turning into a deadly one that irreparably destroys the future of our town and costs far more to recover from.

We need less office population to be grown ups about safety and the limitations of our infrastructure and to be holistic about all the needs of a City. Stanford's growth should be the priority since they were here first and cannot move. Residents should organize to protest and referend these steps, and if they don't because of the holidays, they can recall the Councilmembers they should have long recalled anyway. There is a point when things snap, and given what's been happening to quality of life especially in the South side of town, we are getting there.


31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:39 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Speaking of the electoral process, how's the award-winning continuing investigation into the mayor's campaign irregularities going?


16 people like this
Posted by Awakening
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:46 am

@Online Name,
I don't know, but people should not hang their hats on it, the FPPC is a toothless toy dog -- they do not really go after anyone, they do things like deem that someone "misled" the public, as they did with Adrian Fine, and let the voters do with it what they will. The voters already have enough reason to recall the very same Councilmembers, it's not like they need the FPPC to gum things for them first.


33 people like this
Posted by archives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2018 at 11:15 am

Here's an excerpt from the PAO article on the first Greg Scharff council campaign:

"Scharff also wrote in the PAN questionnaire that he strongly opposes high-density housing and "its negative impacts on our schools, parks, and services in Palo Alto." The city, he said, must resist state mandates to bring more dense housing to Palo Alto [...] Scharff said his goal, if elected, would be to protect neighborhood retail and support walkable neighborhoods. The city should be particularly wary, he said, of trading retail space for housing."

If we're getting what we voted for we should expect him to vote against this high-density housing plan and he should be particularly vocal in his opposition to anything that allows 100% housing where retail should be.

I can't even imagine what ideas they're going to try to sneak in last minute Monday night like they usually do. I bet Adrian Fine & Friends have a list of secret amendments they've been holding on to since February.


32 people like this
Posted by Attend Mon Meeting (PAF members will)
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2018 at 11:47 am

Are you outraged about this proposed giveaway to developers at the expense of Palo Alto residents? If so, attend Mon's CC meeting. PAF is rallying their troops and will be there in force to advocate for more high-density "workforce" housing.'Below is from their recent announcement to PAF members:

Palo Alto City Council is on the verge of kicking off an extensive Housing Workplan (recommended by city staff) that will help implement many of the best housing ideas in our Comprehensive Plan.
We ask for 2 things:
1) Take a minute and sign our letter. (It essentially supports the current Housing Workplan, with some additional common sense considerations for Council discussion.) That petition is HERE (link provided).
2) If you are able to, come in person on Monday night (Nov 26). Here is the agenda (link provided). To speak in support of the Housing Workplan, please do so: you can respond to this email and we can give more instructions on where to go, what time, etc., if you've never done anything like this before.


25 people like this
Posted by A Bad Menu...
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2018 at 12:01 pm

> The current Council members most engaged in pushing overdevelopment got elected by basically misleading the public. They did NOT get elected on being honest about these kinds of policies and views.

Politics and politicians as usual. The same old, same old...akin to a snake charmer thinking he'll never get bitten by the cobra.

Why do voters buy into such doublespeak? Can't we do any better when it comes to electing our PACC members? Or is it like being forced to choose off the menu at a less than stellar restaurant? At least the diner retains the option of walking out. Not so when it comes to city council elections.


38 people like this
Posted by Do you live in Palo Alto?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 25, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Do you live in Palo Alto? is a registered user.

Public speakers at council meetings should state whether they are a resident of Palo Alto or a non-resident.


27 people like this
Posted by never get bitten by the cobra
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 25, 2018 at 12:19 pm

never get bitten by the cobra is a registered user.

My hope is that council members who want to be reelected in two years will keep in mind what happened to Wolbach, despite having raised a huge amount of money to advertise. Likewise Greg Scharf's election loss for another office, receiving less than a third of the votes despite massively outspending his opponent and a professionally run election campaign.

Voters appear to be closely watching, and noticing, when council members do not represent them but represent the monied interests who contribute to their campaigns. Or perhaps in the case of Scharf, self-interest, because in all three of his campaigns he has funded himself to a major extent.


10 people like this
Posted by A Bad Menu...
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2018 at 1:37 pm

@ never get bitten by the cobra

A bit off topic...the wife and I actually saw a snake charmer get bit by a cobra while visiting Morocco years ago.

Most onlookers think the cobra is being charmed by the guy's flute but it is actually hovering about out of curiosity. When it gets ticked-off or tired of hearing the music, it will sometimes strike.

One cannot charm a PACC member...but they can strike back a any time.


5 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 25, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Land, labor and capital the factors of production. In California you are a troll if you teach economics: No minimum wage, no labor unions and certainly no rent control. Inclusinary zoning also stupid. Governor Newsome's serious problem for the production of housing will be with the dirty duo. The dirty duo was around right World War 2 when the duo wanted to retain price controls, the duo was defeated with economics being the hero. By the way with the defeat of prop 10 you have the correction, next comes the crash.
George Drysdale social studies teacher. Also doze Professoville, it is just one firetrap after another


18 people like this
Posted by Millennial is a troll
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:56 pm

News Flash for Housing Supporters!

The proposed zoning changes have NO increase,
NO change in the rules for Below Market Housing.


4 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 26, 2018 at 10:53 am

The devil is in the details. Who gets the BMV rentals. On the internet: The "affordable housing lottery." High income people can get such a handout for the sake of "diversity." Sound good on the surface but look what you get. Economics is the efficient use of scarce resources.

George Drysdale the benefactor


33 people like this
Posted by chen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm

I can't believe they are using that parking study to write city policy. They have sample size of three, the results aren't statistically significant. They did a parking per bedroom calculation where they included third bedrooms even though our code doesn't require additional parking for a third bedroom - we acknowledge third bedroom doesn't add cars. That deflates numbers.

Example: One complex they study has 9 one-bedroom apartments, 18 two-bed, 26 three-bed. It has parking demand of 78 spaces. By their calculations that 123 bedrooms and .63 parking space per bedroom. If you count the three-bed as two-bed (as our code does for parking) it's 97 rooms and has a demand of .8 spaces per bedroom, not .63.

It is a disaster to take per bedroom from large units and translate it to small units. Imagine a 10 unit building, all 3-bedroom, each unit has 2 cars. That's .6 car per bedroom. Developer comes along with 10 unit building all 1-bed units. By this logic we say "your 10 apartments need 6 parking spaces" No way. But that is what we are doing here. Same problem going from 2-bed to 1-bed. That's why the regression equations are so important, but those turn out to be a mess too.

They have equation: Peak Parking Demand = 1.33(X1) + 1.52(X2)
X1 = Number of one-bedroom units
X2 = Number of two(or more) bedroom units
But their recommendation says "1.0 parking space per 1-bedroom unit." If peak demand is 1.33 why is recommendation only 1.0? Because you can't get accurate results with a sample size of three.

Equation for transit: Peak Parking Demand = 0.67(X) + 27.88(Y)
X = Total number of units
Y = Walking distance to closest train station in miles
So 10 apartments two miles from train station need 62 parking spaces? The 27.88 affects the .67, both numbers are useless. If we can't get consistent, accurate numbers how can we be using this data at all.


45 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Consultants always deliver the results the clients want. PA's been known for its inaccurate traffic counts for a long time which is why citizens funded their own.

And of course we have no traffic problems and even if we did, we wouldn't know it because the complaint reporting systems don't work,


23 people like this
Posted by CC Mtf TONIGHT @ 8:15
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2018 at 4:27 pm

The developer giveaway ordinance will be discussed tonight (Mon, Nov 26) from 8:15-10:30 pm at the City Council meeting. Come and be heard.
Web Link
Public comment may also be addressed to the full City Council via email:
City.Council@cityofpaloalto.org


7 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Do You Live in Palo Alto? I agree with you, sort of. When one has only 60 seconds to make a point and the names of speakers are projected on the wall, I suspect people are choosing to state only what is absolutely critical to the point being made.


22 people like this
Posted by Stand Up For Your Beliefs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2018 at 6:35 pm

> When one has only 60 seconds to make a point and the names of speakers are projected on the wall, I suspect people are choosing to state only what is absolutely critical to the point being made.

Then filibuster. What are they going to do? Take away the microphone from you? Have you arrested? Just keep pressing your point and if the audience happens to agree with you, they will clap and cheer...maybe even yell out a few noteworthy comments of their own.

Keep the dialogue going and don't relent. Patrick Henry didn't give up the podium and he became a famous patriot. Be a Palo Alto patriot and preserve residential freedom from development if that is what you stand for. By backing down, you are acquiescing to your opponents and allowing them to have the final word.

Take back your city from the developers who want to control your lands and send them back to wherever they came from. It's 1776 in Palo Alto.

Be a proud Palo Altan.


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:12 am

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> I thought the ideal was to create affordable housing, not "improve" the appearance of certain areas.

I guess it depends on whether we are talking about developers, or, ordinary people. ;-)

>> The most affordable housing we will ever have is the housing we already have. The only reason real-estate developers develop property is so they can sell the property for a higher price than the paid for it.

>> There is no way to develop your way to lower real-estate prices.

We do have San Francisco showing us the way in this regard. Here is an example: a nice little 240 square foot apartment in an area that used to be rather out of the way, near the SF Caltrain station, now gentrifying:

Web Link

$2247/mo a couple of years ago, for, 240 square feet. More conventionally-sized newish apartments near that neighborhood are $4K-$5K according to Zillow, while old, worn places can be had for as low as $2500.

New=pricey, even at 240 square feet.

IOW, Palo Alto is now wedged between a rock and a hard place, thanks to the developers. But, some "millenials" seemed to have been conned into thinking that expensive housing is the fault of old-timers like me.



15 people like this
Posted by Beautify PA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm

> Without pinpointing to any specific PA neighborhoods, wouldn't it be safe to say that further and/or increased development in certain areas would actually improve their overall appearances?

Palo Alto could use some redevelopment in the formerly unincorporated neighborhoods.
El Camino Real in Barron Park is a hideous stretch of Palo Alto.


22 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 4:20 pm

@Beautify PA,

It may be "hideous" to you but it is someones affordable home or business location.

By "hideous" I think you mean it is real-estate that could be easily purchased, developed, and resold at a much higher price, and for a huge profit. Especially if state and local government were to provide relaxed zoning requirements and taxpayer funded redevelopment handouts to your industry.


16 people like this
Posted by Troll alert
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 27, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Troll alert is a registered user.

FWIW, @Beautify is a troll, in that he/she wrote similarly provocative comments on about ten articles over the last hour or so. I'm not sure what the agenda is, but imo it's fairly safe to just ignore these. Would be nice if the Weekly could flag them somehow.


2 people like this
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:48 pm

"$2247/mo a couple of years ago, for, 240 square feet. More conventionally-sized newish apartments near that neighborhood are $4K-$5K according to Zillow, while old, worn places can be had for as low as $2500.

New=pricey, even at 240 square feet.

IOW, Palo Alto is now wedged between a rock and a hard place, thanks to the developers. But, some "millenials" seemed to have been conned into thinking that expensive housing is the fault of old-timers like me."

Because it is. You guys consistently show up to city council meetings to block housing projects, pretend that supply and demand isn't a thing, and now apparently point to newer housing being more expensive than older housing as some sort of reasoning that housing prices are high because "developers"? New housing is always going to be more expensive, there's more demand for it. The way you get cheaper older housing is by building new housing, and in 20 years you've got older cheaper starter housing. If you don't build any new housing and keep supply set as demand keeps rising, guess what, the old housing is going to be expensive and the new housing is going to be insanely expensive.


8 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Posted by @Anon, a resident of another community

>> You guys consistently show up to city council meetings to block housing projects,

Oh, you mean like the completely debunked project on Mayfield?

>> pretend that supply and demand isn't a thing,

"Back at you, bro!"

If -you- want to increase the supply of land that will be developed for housing, cap office development. Watch the price of land that can be developed decrease, when owners realize that they can't put offices on it. Over time, land that developers wanted to build offices on will gradually start being developed as multifamily housing.

As long as developers can build offices, housing will continue to fall further behind. Let supply and demand work for housing.

>> The way you get cheaper older housing is by building new housing, and in 20 years you've got older cheaper starter housing. If you don't build any new housing and keep supply set as demand keeps rising, guess what, the old housing is going to be expensive and the new housing is going to be insanely expensive.

We are almost agreed. But, the mistake you are making is thinking that developers will forego the profits to be made on building office space in order to build housing because you need it. They won't. As long as they -can- make more money building new office space, they -will-.

-No more office space.-


4 people like this
Posted by Coordinate Your Efforts & Viewpoints
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm

>> When one has only 60 seconds to make a point and the names of speakers are projected on the wall, I suspect people are choosing to state only what is absolutely critical to the point being made.

That's not a very good use of available time. People should coordinate their efforts as a group so that each sentence/statement contributes a pertinent point.

No wonder the PACC has turned a deaf ear. There's too much redundancy on the part of the complainers and it gets monotonous.


3 people like this
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2018 at 5:08 pm

"But, the mistake you are making is thinking that developers will forego the profits to be made on building office space in order to build housing because you need it."

Nice strawman you've built there.

It's not a matter of asking developers to build housing instead of commercial. The city is capable of zoning lots for residential construction and other lots for commercial construction.


11 people like this
Posted by Nope
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 28, 2018 at 5:46 pm

The city has proven that it is not capable of zoning lots for residential construction and other lots for commercial construction.

Or to be more precise, it can zone but can’t abide by its zoning.

It changes its zoning in an hoc fashion based on who knows what.


18 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2018 at 6:18 pm

The city does whatever the developers tell them to do. The developers tell the city to zone or re-zone in a way that affords developers the maximum return on their investment. This all changes over time. Net result... developers walk away with a pile of cash and resident get stuck with a hot mess.


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