News

Palo Alto scraps downtown office cap

Despite vocal opposition, City Council removes limit on non-residential development

Palo Alto's bitter debate over how much commercial growth the city should accommodate heated up Monday night, when a divided City Council eliminated a 1986 law that limited non-residential development in the downtown area.

By a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Eric Filseth, Councilman Tom DuBois and Councilwoman Lydia Kou dissenting, the council repealed a law that set a limit of 350,000 square feet on new non-residential space in the downtown area, with 1986 as the baseline. The city had already approved more than 331,000 square feet since that time, leaving a capacity of about 18,000 square feet.

Even with the repeal, commercial development in the downtown area remains tightly regulated. Palo Alto still has an annual office cap of 50,000 square feet for downtown, California Avenue and El Camino Real. It also has a citywide cap of 850,000 square feet on non-residential development by 2030.

The downtown cap, however, offered an additional layer of reassurance to residents and council members who have long complained about the impacts of downtown's new office developments. Dozens submitted emails or attended the Monday meeting to urge the council to retain the cap.

Greg Welch, a resident of Crescent Park, argued that downtown streets are already overwhelmed with traffic during rush hour, as commuters cut through residential neighborhoods that "never intended to handle this volume or type of traffic."

"Permitting more office development will only increase these impacts and should not be undertaken until the City has deployed a proven-effective plan to improve traffic flow on our arterials and reduce cut-through traffic in neighborhoods," Welch wrote.

Palo Alto Neighborhoods, an umbrella group with members from various neighborhood associations, also weighed in in favor of retaining the cap. At a meeting last Thursday, the group's members voted unanimously to support keeping the cap in place, group co-chairs Sheri Furman and Rebecca Sanders wrote in a jointly signed letter from the group. The cap, they argued, is an important protection for downtown residents in buildings that might otherwise be converted to commercial space.

"Removing it would worsen Downtown's traffic and parking problems, intensify the city's job/housing imbalance, and take away much-needed opportunities to build housing."

The question of whether or not to retain the downtown cap was among the most divisive issues during the council's 2017 update of the city's Comprehensive Plan, a broad land-use document that sets the foundation for local zoning policies. In January 2017, the council split 5-4 on the topic, with the five members who favor more growth voting to remove the cap and the four aligned with the slow-growth "residentialist" camp supporting its retention.

On Monday, the council followed up on the January 2017 action by changing the city's zoning code to remove the downtown cap. Once again, the decision was made by a razor-thin margin, with Councilwoman Alison Cormack joining the council's pro-growth members, Liz Kniss, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka, in supporting the repeal of the downtown cap.

The debate turned testy at times, with both sides resorting to hyperbole to make their case. Kniss argued that keeping the cap in place would effectively "freeze downtown," even though the proposal from the "residentialist" camp made exceptions for retail. Kou, for her part, called the removal of the cap "extreme" and said it will "wreak havoc" in downtown, notwithstanding all the other existing laws constraining commercial development.

"The discussion isn't about freezing downtown growth but to look at it responsibly, not recklessly, as was done in 2017 when it was taken out of the Comprehensive Plan," Kou said.

While the vast majority of public correspondence strongly favored keeping the cap, Kniss sided with Chamber of Commerce CEO Judy Kleinberg, who argued that a vote to remove the commercial office cap is actually a vote for housing. Because office use is much more profitable than residential, she said, allowing it gives developers the financing they need to include residential components in their mixed-use projects.

"If you don't allow some of the economic office buildings to be built, perhaps in mixed-use, there won't be the money for housing," Kleinberg said. "If you get rid of the cap, you're actually helping build housing downtown."

While Kniss agreed with this argument, Fine supported the cap's removal for a different reason. If the council retains the downtown cap, he said, commercial development will simply shift to areas like San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road and El Camino Real, which don't have the kind of transit and services that downtown offers. Downtown, he said, will be "effectively frozen."

"Future office growth will go anywhere else in the city," Fine said.

Others didn't buy this argument. DuBois, a strong proponent of keeping the cap, often cited it during his election campaign last year and pointed to the proposed conversion of President Hotel from an apartment complex to a luxury hotel as precisely the type of project the cap aims to prevent. The council's Monday vote spells a victory for Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners, the owner of President Hotel, by removing one of the barriers that stood in the way of its proposed conversion.

Filseth also argued that inviting more jobs downtown will only worsen the area's parking and traffic woes, which he noted are already pretty bad. Removing the cap on office development, he said, is also inconsistent with the council's ongoing effort to encourage more housing downtown.

DuBois, Kou and Filseth had all supported a citizen initiative last year to halve the citywide cap on non-residential development, reducing it from 1.7 million square feet to 850,000 square feet by 2030. Filseth observed that the public is generally in favor of restricting commercial development. By removing the cap, he said, the council is "in denial on this issue."

"I think we're chasing a vision for downtown that is not supported by the majority of the community. ... I do think it's unlikely that a majority of residents in town feel that repealing it is a priority at this time," Filseth said. "In fact, I'm guessing it's probably the opposite. It seems like we keep finding ourselves on the wrong side of this issue relative to the residents in Palo Alto."

Hear Weekly journalists discuss this topic on an episode of "Behind the Headlines" via video or podcast.

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Comments

199 people like this
Posted by Cap Scrap Flap Wrap
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 12:48 am

Alison Cormack last year told voters she "didn’t see any reason to remove the Cap." But last night, she did a total flip and voted with the pro-growthers on the Council to gut the 33 year-old Downtown Commercial Cap.

Despite an outpouring of residents pointing out that the Cap helped Downtown grapple with its traffic, parking, and housing problems. Cormack and her developer-backed fellow councilmembers voted instead with the Chamber of Commerce and big property owners who want no limits on how much they can build.

Once again we elected someone to the Council who was all for keeping local growth in check .. until getting elected. How many times can we be fooled?


129 people like this
Posted by Benjamins
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:49 am

"The council’s Monday vote spells a victory for Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners, the owner of President Hotel, by removing one of the barriers that stood in the way of its proposed conversion."
Money talks


149 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 5:10 am

Sounds real green to me, let's see the city council explain how this helps the climate change high priority goal.

Cormack hid her pro-developer views during the election, and the press and questioners at all the candidate forums never pressed her to state her views. Such a pity.


122 people like this
Posted by missing Wolbach
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 6:25 am


The only story here is the new council member who “caps” the majority vote.

Those four lights - Kniss, Fine, Tanaka and Cormack, way to go to eliminate the people’s voice





164 people like this
Posted by Just Awful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 7:06 am

Fine and Kniss were well informed, knew how the DT Cap actually worked if left in place, and well aware of the built in process of the DT Cap that was about to be reached as it soon maxed out its lifetime square footage Cap and went into a 1 year building moratorium to study the current situation downtown - impacts of traffic, parking, housing, retail protection and development, etc., and then could craft new regulations for the area to rationally address these. Seems reasonable. All this was spoken of in the meeting.

Instead, they both simply lied and lied about how it worked during their comments. It was stunning. They had no shame that anyone watching just heard how it actually worked and knew they were lying as they described the Cap and it’s process as it wasn’t. Amazing!

Kniss did the bidding of the developers who shoveled campaign donations to her in the last days of her election (we still await the FPPC ruling on the legality of that) and for her best friend Judy Kleinberg, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

Allison Cormack Declared herself loud and proud at last, and as suspected all that waffling during her campaign hid just another developers friend, but in sheep’s clothing. She actually tried to disguise her actions last night in concern about a fantasy performing arts center and praising commenters for being informed to show how “civil’ she was.

Tanaka said nothing (he wore himself out on the consent calendar). The President Hotel is on its way to being lost.
Kou, Filseth and DuBois (Kniss still can’t remember how to pronounce his name after 5 years) tried but failed to save the Cap or an alternative from those staff had crafted (good work by staff but why oh why can’t this critical material be available earlier to council members and public rather than pop up during the slide presentation?). They did good work on behalf of us.

Our city and residents were badly served last night. There were middle ways instead of total repeal that could have been considered - Cormack could have exempted theaters for instance, but no - what was going on was wanting big commercial development - bring it on baby!





149 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 7:18 am

It didn't take long for Cormack to show her true colors. Our fears are confirmed. The nice lady with her PTA and library friends who didn't do their homework before the election are going to continue ripping the soul out of Palo Alto.


139 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:01 am

"Kniss sided with Chamber of Commerce CEO Judy Kleinberg, who argued that a vote to remove the commercial office cap is actually a vote for housing. "

Wow, that's the whole thing in a nutshell. Kniss taking her cues from the head business lobbyist (who lives elsewhere) that uncapping office space is actually pro-housing. That's the "logic" leading our community, folks - where commercial developers are "housing advocates," the Chamber of Commerce trumps residents, and Lis Kniss is the Red Queen (how's the campaign finance investigation coming?) leading them all. Alice, welcome to Wonderland!

Cormack, hope you read this - that's who are throwing your lot in with. A shame - you know the saying, lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. It didn't take long to establish your reputation.


117 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:05 am

Not surprised really but very disappointed Cormack showed her true colors and ignored residents needs and logic along with the other three developer backed council members Kniss Tanaka and Fine.

Somewhat ironic that their decision which will harm residential uses In the downtown and drive away small neighborhood serving business was followed by an earlier reversal of s decision to build a garage downtown.

So more commuters more traffic more pollution more parking on neighborhood streets. Is that what theses people call. Win win????

Perfectly finicially sound to have mixed use that excludes or limits office. We already do it in business zones.
Also two new projects at least I can think of mixed use no officr, one on Page Mill near ECR and Sobrato project at former mikes bikes on ECR.


91 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:22 am

It is not a surprise that Alison votes pro-development. She received a tidy sum from developers towards her campaign, had lots of endorsement from Liz Kniss who, like Fine, hasn't seen a development proposal she doesn't love. The blame sits squarely on the uninvolved, oblivious public. She is articulate and smart but highly conflicted which is not a surprise to those who were/are watching.

More office development, cell towers in front of people's homes whether they like it or not, "yes" to city spending requests, etc. We need to embrace what we voted for. Get used to it.


122 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:23 am

Remind me again why we bother to collect signatures for ballot initiatives to CAP commercial development only to have the pro-development forces continue to ignore the voters who not only wanted to cut commercial development but to freeze it totally.


110 people like this
Posted by True Colors
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:56 am

The Palo Alto City Council showed their true colors last night. Cormack hid her true ideology from us, the voters, during the election, and indicated she would vote to uphold the cap - last night, she voted to abolish the cap.

Fine's vote was no surprise, but one quote he said caught my attention. He attempted to appease the vast majority of residents who spoke last night by saying he heard us, and understood that a majority of residents likely want the cap in place, but he then said, "we [the council] serve residents, but it's also a balance." He was speaking about the need to balance the interests of the residents with that of outside interests - office developers! Outrageous.

City council's job is to represent their constituents, the residents of Palo Alto, not outside interests like office developers.

2020 can't come soon enough...


112 people like this
Posted by Thank you Lydia Kou
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:58 am

Thank you Lydia Kou is a registered user.

Lydia Kou fought last hard to improve the housing situation but unfortunately Allison McCormack and Adrian Fine voted for new office & hotel development over housing. The staff reported and it was stated numerous times during the meeting that office is more profitable and despite massive upzoning for housing, this vote essentially means there will be one less floor of housing in new projects downtown. As Eric Filseth correctly pointed out, the mixed use projects are adding more office workers than residents.


130 people like this
Posted by Liz Kniss insults residents
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:59 am

Liz Kniss insults residents is a registered user.

Liz Kniss's presentation saying anyone against removing the cap was only worried about change was so insulting. She ignored residents concerns about traffic (again) and about the need for more housing.


51 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:59 am

"Fine supported the cap's removal for a different reason. If the council retains the downtown cap, he said, commercial development will simply shift to areas like San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road and El Camino Real"


Notice that Fine carefully did not mention the Research Park on his list of alternate places for commercial development, since that one actually makes sense.


70 people like this
Posted by missing Wolbach
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 9:27 am



PS: I don't want to see any City, school or Cubberley bonds coming my way

No representation - don't expect my money




91 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

People are so easy to be mislead.

Cormack clearly WAS and IS PRO-DEVELOPEMENT.

Why didn't voters see that?

Now we are stuck for more years with the majority of council pushing through developments that the majority of residents don't want.

Can there be a recall campaign to rid of us Cormack, Fine, Kniss, and Tanaka?


42 people like this
Posted by Lost opportunities
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:11 am

Lost opportunities is a registered user.

Lots of hyperbole from the dais last night about how keeping the downtown cap would “freeze all future development” downtown. Fact is, if kept, the cap would merely trigger a one-year moratorium to allow the city time to come up with more direct and effective ways to counter insatiable demand for office growth and manage its impacts … such as curbing office development by allowing only retail, services, and mixed use (commercial plus housing) projects.

In the past 15 years the city has allowed over 220,000 square feet of new commercial space downtown as compared to 65,000 square feet added in the 15 years prior. For a good primer on why the downtown cap was created and how it fit in with other land use controls and incentives, check out this recent story on Palo Alto Matters: Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by reality
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

The reality is that cities change. The reality is that downtown is for commerce and entertainment and dining and yes, offices. The residentialists have successfully moved the conversation to the point that people are tearing their hair about each and every square foot of office - yet we all forget that business is a good thing! Heard of taxes, economic opportunity anyone?

Not lifting this cap would have meant that Downtown would never change. No more office, no more retail, no more banks, no more pharmacies, no more theaters. Period. As one speaker said - "Has Downtown really reached it's perfect state of being?" Of course not!

Thanks to the adults in the room for understanding that and overturning this silly cap.


62 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:27 am

“Reality”


Your comments ring hollow. Staff prepared a nice variety of options to halting all commercial growth.
Mixed use with retail, retail like m, neighborhood serving business and the Housing the entire Council claims they want to see downtown would have been a viable option.

Tech companies were not even allowed downtown until the recent comp plan was adopted.

Big tech companies probably shouldn’t be there at all, but we haven’t had a community conversation about that issue.

The majority action last night hurt residents hurt the president hotel apartments MSN’s will further exacerbate the problems of most of us to benefit a few.


83 people like this
Posted by Res
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:34 am

Res is a registered user.

OUTRAGEOUS! Or maybe just what we should have expected.

We need a voting WALL OF SHAME that maintains a list of the names of council members who clearly ignore the will of residents and side with their developer friends.

The legacy of Liz Kniss is now set in stone: deny traffic problems exist, deny we have too much commercial development downtown, talk about housing but deliver benefits to business. Looking forward to the day leaves the podium for good.


9 people like this
Posted by Arnold Ziffel
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:50 am

This is a very clever move on the part of Liz Kniss and the other city council members. By giving the thumbs up to developers they are able to direct attention away from honoring Dr. Vanessa Tyson for her courage in outing the sexual assault on her by Virginia Lt. Governor Fairfax. This is in contrast to the council's honors bestowed on Christine Blasey Ford.


82 people like this
Posted by Seriously? This was persuasive?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2019 at 10:58 am

Seriously? This was persuasive? is a registered user.

The article says Kniss sided with Chamber of Commerce CEO Judy Kleinberg, who argued that a vote to remove the commercial office cap is actually a vote for housing. Because office use is much more profitable than residential, she said, allowing it gives developers the financing they need to include residential components in their mixed-use projects.

"If you don't allow some of the economic office buildings to be built, perhaps in mixed-use, there won't be the money for housing," Kleinberg said. "If you get rid of the cap, you're actually helping build housing downtown."

Where in the Bay Area has it EVER played out this way? The developers will always go for the highest margin if we let them. That is why thoughtful zoning and (sometimes caps) are critical. It would be helpful, CM Fine, if the big businesses that are driving rampant office development would use their high margin commercial projects as leverage to incent developers to BUILD housing for the thousands of employees they are bringing here. If the businesses do not do this, cities certainly cannot. Cities do not have the means. The businesses do (that is, if they care at all about their employees. But that is another matter. Isn't it?)

Sorry, Council. You blew it on this one. CM Cormack, I was hopeful you would demonstrate better sense. This isn't about being against change. This is about moderating the pace of change so that it is manageable. Big tech has shown that we cannot rely on them to help mitigate the messes they are creating. House the humans--in homes, not just offices, please.


15 people like this
Posted by non-residentialist
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:01 am

Just want to say that not everyone in this town is a residentialist... Smart development and planning is key. We are where we are... let's not try to turn back the clock – you can't! Let's try to make things better instead.

I have a hard time understanding people who don't want any growth. Let's make Palo Alto even better, without building any invisible walls for people that want to live here.


4 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

commonsense is a registered user.

Oh no, change! Quit freaking out - this will do nothing to spur development downtown.


63 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

Vote the frauds out. You see who's interest$ they really represent


77 people like this
Posted by Wolf in sheeps clothing
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:39 am

This bears repeating from Just Awful, above:
"Allison Cormack Declared herself loud and proud at last, and as suspected all that waffling during her campaign hid just another developers friend, but in sheep’s clothing. She actually tried to disguise her actions last night in concern about a fantasy performing arts center and praising commenters for being informed to show how “civil’ she was."

Deceitful and dishonest, there is no pretending anymore, she is part of the Kniss-Fine developers cabal.


56 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:56 am

"yet we all forget that business is a good thing! Heard of taxes, economic opportunity anyone?”
Incorrect, all “businesses” are not equal. Retail helps our local tax base and serve residents. More offices don’t, in fact, their development has been shown to cost more to residents than those “businesses" are paying in fees. Their enabling further decimates retail and enables those that don’t pay local taxes to create many negatives like traffic, degradation of civic life for existing residents, pollution, destruction of green space, degradation of safety, etc. Palo Alto gets no benefits from these “businesses”, and they clearly feel no responsibility for being good citizens.


73 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 12:07 pm

"Remind me again why we bother to collect signatures for ballot initiatives to CAP commercial development only to have the pro-development forces continue to ignore the voters who not only wanted to cut commercial development but to freeze it totally.”

"Can there be a recall campaign to rid of us Cormack, Fine, Kniss, and Tanaka?”


First of all, residents have to start realizing that they have to step up, because there is an assault going on right now by people who want to take what the public built and turn Palo Alto into their own urbanized private playground and office park/overdevelopment piggy bank, regardless of the consequences.

The last 10 years, quality of life here and around the Bay Area have really tanked. How much is your time worth? Your ability to spend it with your family? Your ability to have a horizon, green space, reasonable levels of noise, traffic circulation that doesn’t mean gridlock/pollution/compromise of safety in an emergency?

The above poster does not seem to realize that there is a difference between retail and the office-park occupiers. The former pays taxes, and have been gutted by the latter in the last 10 years. The office-park occupiers have been taking over the retail areas, replacing an ecosystem of vibrant resident-serving retail with office spaces that pay NO TAXES here and as analyses have shown, contribute to development that doesn’t even pay it’s way — residents are subsidizing this, with absolutely zero benefits and a huge number of negatives to Palo Alto.

Residents, if you want this to change, YOU have to decide to do something. Form coalitions. Join with citizens like those who brought the initiative to cap office growth last year.

This action by City Council can be overturned. I can’t tell you the means, but more active citizens can. It might be a referendum. It might be an initiative and a revision to the comp plan. It might be a recall of those on the pro-overdevelopment majority (esp Kniss and Fine) who misled the voters during their election (the FPPC already deemed Fine as having misled the voters — do you want him to continue doing this to Palo Alto as the next mayor, or hold him accountable for misleading them when he campaigned?)

It might mean partnering with Stanford (while they are asking for expansion) and housing advocates to come up with a plan for the City buying up the main retail spaces and stabilizing the price of land the way Stanford has. This allows the City to leverage better wages for the workers there, even as the (retail) businesses themselves have lower costs over time. What this also does is allow the City to prevent companies that should have been prevented from taking over downtown and Cal Ave to get them to move to a real office park. It’s a longterm fix, because the high value of land is what is driving the pressure for urban uglidensification.

The above can also help with the housing crisis by ensuring traditionally low-wage workers get a living wage here, and will allow Palo Alto to do more and more over time. This will not be possible with Kniss, Fine, Tanaka, and McCormack in office. Kniss and Fine at least are recall-able. Do the recall for the misleading elections first, and realize it will be an ugly fight worth fighting. The community coalitions that come from this against this ugliformation of Palo Alto will be worth it.

Come up with an action plan, and first do something about this ruling, because it’s the death knell of Palo Alto as a reasonably-sized town.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Posted by Restore Civic Life, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:

"Can there be a recall campaign to rid of us Cormack, Fine, Kniss, and Tanaka?”

See Article VI Sec. 1, about page 15 or so, of this PDF:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Re Alison and above commenter’s “fantasy performing arts center” wording—
I missed the meeting, have not seen the tape, have not even read the article – I start with the people’s comments – I’m actually at a music promoters’ conference in Los Angeles —it’s a $31 billion industry with a rosy upside and billions of construction starts. And I endorsed and donated to Alison‘s campaign even though I was a founder of “the new residentialists” that elected Tom and Eric — and I would say I would trade the downtown cap for a public private partnership for performing arts here.
Go, Alison Cormack. You’re doing a good job.


72 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Last night's CC votes are mind-numbingly contrary: put the plan for a garage on hold b/c we need to do more STUDY on the need for it and ways to manage traffic but remove the downtown cap which, upon being met, would have triggered a 1 year moratorium to be used to STUDY the way to best approach downtown development. Huh?

Absent the looming demands of AJCapital and possibly a strong desire to avoid being sued there was no pressing reason for CC to take the action it did last night.

What we learned last night is that the new majority is willing to further compromise this city. Comments from the dais would have you believe that the Palo Altans favoring retention of the cap are opposed to and possibly even afraid of change. That may be a convenient argument that wins a debate in Council chambers, but it is a bogus argument. Also bogus is the assertion that what CC did last night is GOOD for housing. Perhaps that is true in the abstract, but we are facing the need to build AFFORDABLE housing in a town that has become absurdly unaffordable. It's unlikely that a mixed use project that might be built downtown as a result of this is going to provide housing for any but the rich and lucky - unless one of the area's developers is willing to take a bath. I can think of one who might be that generous but I don't know if he owns an appropriate property downtown.

So, more of the same for downtown. I think what happened last night is sad.


21 people like this
Posted by Bunch of no growthers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Gosh Palo Alto is so tiring - no more offices! I support Housing BUT! Parking! Traffic! Quality of life!

Can't you all realize that we live in a wonderful, peaceful, prosperous city? I for one support more development! Keeps downtown interesting. Yes there's traffic - but there's traffic everywhere it's not only Palo Alto!

Frankly I'm getting pretty tired of these residentialists who claim to be "slow growth" but time and time again, they simply try to kill any change.


68 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:46 pm

The majority of the council is clearly not representing the desires of the community. Thanks, Lydia, it was a good try.


63 people like this
Posted by Wolf in sheeps clothing
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Dissembler in Chief Liz Kniss went through a bunch of pictures of University Ave and other places to show that we have "changed" over time. Proving nothing except that time passes. I doubt she has ever studied logic or proof or science for that matter. (e.g. there is no traffic problem on Ramona St therefore there is no problem.)

Developers are using the word "change" instead of the accurate one, Development.
This is government action, Liz, not "change."

PS. Where is the FPPC decision about her hidden developer donations?


71 people like this
Posted by Liz = Logic Proof
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Liz Kniss is "logic proof" - facts don't mean anything to her. She lives in her own political bubble. Only someone like that could say 1) Climate change is my most important issue, therefore 2) We must uncap downtown commercial development. Wait, what?!

Yep, makes perfect sense - to Liz. A shame - a career in public service, only to drag her reputation through the mud for developers.


62 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:15 pm

"Gosh Palo Alto is so tiring - no more offices! I support Housing BUT! Parking! Traffic! Quality of life!
... I for one support more development! Keeps downtown interesting. Yes there's traffic - but there's traffic everywhere it's not only Palo Alto! Frankly I'm getting pretty tired of these residentialists who claim to be "slow growth" but time and time again, they simply try to kill any change.”

The above point of view is exactly why existing residents should take decisive action now, before it is too late. Palo Alto has been susceptible to the arguments that this is just about a little more development, or “any” change. But that’s kind of like trying to be a little pregnant. People who move in to the place as overdeveloped did not sacrifice for decades living in really substandard conditions to get into a house in a neighborhood where their kids could grow up, only to have the City overdeveloped around them and all the resources pushed out and advantages they struggled for degraded and City assets they pay for out of reach because of traffic.

There’s traffic everywhere but about 10 years ago, it wasn’t excessive for the infrastructure. What’s happening now is seriously destroying some people’s livelihoods and educations, because it’s too hard to get around. Traffic circulation is one of the responsibilities of local governments. Existing residents have a right to expect that the town should operate to sustain and support civic life, not to treat people like corral who never move from one spot. Existing residents have a right to expect that the taxes they pay for should not be enabling and a few developers to get richer at their expense, and so that you can have your urban playground and don’t have to endure the ennui and petty tiredness you expressed over residents having their entire lives upended.

Residents, this was the City Council declaring open season on this Manhattanization of the Bay Area, including Palo Alto. Change can be good — let’s change things from being assaulted by selfish greedy interests to being a resident-serving town with a good civic life again.


32 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Isn't there a state proposition that requires the state to pay for the costs of unfunded mandates?

It's time the Cities get together and demand the state pay the actual cost of the overdevelopment being foisted on us, including by ABAG mandates. This new governor is going to be the king of foisting those things on us (and I voted for him, too) unless we help get him out of the developer-manipulative framing that someone demand will be static as we build more supply to "catch up".

The US is a vast nation with many areas really, really emptying out and hurting because of the gravity of the big cities. Stop increasing that gravity while destroying quality of life and displacing existing residents through overdevelopment. The companies can move.

Something that grows and grows without regard to the damage it does to its host is called a cancer. Being against cancers is not the same as being against healthy growth. The only people who are going to ensure we have healthy growth are residents. Each resident who cares about this town needs to think about whether it's time for them to get involved. Just going to City Hall is not enough -- citizens putting together initiatives and referenda like those who worked with Greg SCHMIDT on the recent referendum really have to act.


32 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm

By the way, since the overdevelopment majority on the Palo Alto council will never do the above -- start suing the state to demand they pay for the overdevelopment unfunded mandates -- citizens can get together and do that in the place of their local governments.

Facebook left Palo Alto because it needed to grow, and the company and Palo Alto are better for it. Other dodo birds are not willing to leave the nest no matter what damage they do to the other birds -- residents must do something.


63 people like this
Posted by Ian Irwin
a resident of University South
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Shame on this council majority. Kniss, Fine, Tanaka and now Cormack, who has come out as the most recent addition to the pro developer agenda. This new majority has removed any reasonable restraint from downtown development. Until now Palo Alto creates about 15 jobs for every housing unit, leading to a severe jobs-housing imbalance. Look for this to skyrocket, bringing more traffic, pollution and degrading the environment and the quality of life of their constituents.

With this new move - removing the limit of 850,000 square feet on downtown commercial, in place since 1986 - this council majority has worsened the problems of traffic, noise, pollution, loss of retail and services and lined the pockets of developers.

These four council members touted economic development as an "engine" for housing. Yes. This is a rocket engine that will send rents further into orbit. Even Palo Alto Housing Corporation, which is supposed to provide affordable rents to disabled and low income residents has started renting out its properties for office space - see 751 Alma - and begun charging market rate rents to tenants.

This council majority - Kniss, FIne, Tanaka and Cormack - tout "mixed use" development as a key to creating new housing in Palo Alto. How disingenuous! Developer have been trotting out this panacea of mixed use for nearly two decades! One need only to look at skyrocketing rents and the so called "mixed use" developments which are ultra luxury penthouses on top of offices - such as 611 Cowper or 260 Homer. The rents for these units are upwards of $32,000/ month! Yes 32,000 per month!

Finally there is the question of who this new majority serves. There were about 20 speakers at council on this issue. The great majority were Palo Alto citizens who wanted to retain the cap. Those who spoke to remove the cap included the CEO of the chamber of commerce and two developers.

Kniss, Fine, Tanaka and Cormack. Remember those names. Who do they represent? The citizens of Palo Alto or the developers?


80 people like this
Posted by Not another bad vote
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Cormack, shame on you!


53 people like this
Posted by Council elections
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Council elections is a registered user.

The only upside is that Fine, Tanaka, and Cormack have shown their true colors perhaps residents will wise up and refuse them a second term on the council, as happened to Wolbach.

Unfortunately Kniss is termed out now that she is as shown her true colors.


5 people like this
Posted by ninja
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 12, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Given we have a housing crisis AND office space crisis, kudos to removing the ridiculous office space cap.

Startups and small business are the economic pulse and future and we were trying to kill it.

That said, we now need to remove height limits so there's far better land use for both residential, office and we should encourage mixed use.


29 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Council elections - Are you new to town? Unfortunately, not one of the votes 4 votes eliminating the cap is surprising, least of all Kniss'.

@ninja - office space crisis?


8 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2019 at 3:35 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Blor
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Measure E passed, its no surprise that more hotel development is being encouraged. Unfortunately it probably won't be enough to fill the CalPERS sized hole in the city budget.


9 people like this
Posted by Downtown don
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm

I can’t wait to move out of downtown after 25 years. I can’t get excited about anything on Univ si what’s the point. Menlo Park here I come.


88 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Glad I didn’t vote for Cormack. She’s not trustworthy.

Looks like we need another office space referendum.


29 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Concerned is a registered user.

@ninja Hello? Small business in downtown has already been killed by the sky rocketing rents that they can’t possibly afford! And guess what they are being replaced by yet more office space!


10 people like this
Posted by Jackson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2019 at 5:22 pm

I moved to Palo Alto 30+ years ago and despite what everyone complains about, the only impactful change I've seen is in my home price. And in the inability of my children or anyone normal to live here.

I moved to Palo Alto because it was - and is - a center of technology, business, education coupled with a great quality of life. But special places like Palo Alto don't succeed and thrive by "capping" growth - they figure out how to harness it effectively and for the benefit of all.

This downtown cap was a silly idea from the start - can you imagine limiting the growth of downtown, the part of the city _where things happen_? Anybody remember the old Petula Clark tune? Downtown is where stuff happens, where businesses get built, where people go to work... and I'm ashamed by some of these commenters who want to shut the city down and deny the opportunity and beauty of Palo Alto to the next generation.


50 people like this
Posted by Maurice McDonald
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Everyone needs to wake up and realize that what is happening in in Palo Alto is not unique. What is happening in Palo Alto is also happening in Brooklyn, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angelese, etc.

Liz Kniss didn't invent the idea of selling off Palo Alto to real-estate developers to finance her political ambitions. Kniss is simply following a business model that was pioneered and proven to work by the Party leadership in San Francisco and New York.

Try to think of the Party as the franchiser and Kniss, Fine, Cormack, Wolbach, etc, as the franchisees. The franchiser licenses its know-how, procedures, intellectual property, use of its business model, branding, etc, to the franchisee. In return the franchisee agrees to comply with certain agreements and obligations, and to support the franchiser by maintaining the brand.

Web Link


36 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The cap was a PLANNING tool. Years ago a CC essentially agreed that when the downtown built environment hit the 850,000sf level the City would stop for 12 months, assess, and plan the way forward. To say or even infer that the cap is - was - a method of freezing Palo Alto in place is akin to the sort of fear-mongering that we hear too much of in national politics. We plan our families, we plan for retirement, we plan vacations, we plan budgets. Businesses make plans. We have a plan for the Ventura area. And Cubberley. Why not plan downtown?

I think it would have made sense for the City to dedicate time to planning the future development of the downtown area. We obviously need it. The project by project approach may work well for a few people but it clearly isn't working well for the larger community. If it was working well, we wouldn't have so many key factors (circulation, traffic, parking, affordable housing, other housing, disappearing retail) so badly out of balance.

Those assailing the CC members who voted in favor of retaining the cap and the residents urging that are in essence accusing them of being in favor of planning. That makes absolutely no sense to me.


76 people like this
Posted by Referendum for a cap!
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Yes to another referendum to put the cap back on down town. In fact it should be no office space without the developer building all needed housing for every employee on the same lot.

And of course Allison was a growther. You could tell by the way she never really gave any answers during the campaign and also by the way she took tens of thousands of dollars from the developers. Her first vote to pay the masters came last night.

I'm ready to start collecting signatures!


1 person likes this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2019 at 1:24 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2019 at 7:54 am

I was very much in favor of Pat Boone for the last election. He was upfront about not accepting money from builders (developers). He was upfront in stating that he was for residents.

Unfortunately so many said he had no experience, hadn't lived here long enough, didn't understand the town and its issues, etc. etc.

I think we should have had him instead of Cormack!

Pat Boone, please don't go away, we need you.


11 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2019 at 10:23 am

@Jackson,

Lovely sentiment, by the development is strangling "Downtown", not adding exciting new venues for residents to stroll between and enjoy. Petula would not have written that song today, about Palo Alto. I think the song you meant was "Uptown Girl", slumming in a decaying Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 13, 2019 at 10:29 am

This is what I believe is the story: City staff goofed big time by prematurely telling AJ that they could restore President back to a hotel. Now we taxpayer citizens are on the hook for a multi-million $ settlement to AJ if they are impeded in their plans. So the Council really had no choice but to remove the cap and allow AJ to proceed.

I actually think the Council did the right thing. The cap was about to be reached and needed a new plan forward anyway. The President is a bit decrepit but will be restored to former glory on AJ's dime (and new taxes generated for PA). I WANT the Council to protect City coffers from expensive lawsuits.


20 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

I am trying to find out if less signatures are needed for a recall versus a referendum.


61 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

As others have stated, repealing the cap works against housing.
The city’s housing plan aims to expand new residential in the downtown areas. To do that two things needed to occur. First was the recently completed upzoning of residential development in those areas. Those changes make new housing a viable investment, but it will still not get built as long as office can be built at a higher ROI which is the case now that the office cap has been lifted.
Rather than eliminating the cap, the council could have and should have retained the cap on office, but exempted new retail. Staff should have been directed to return within a year with the completed Phase 2 of the Downtown study. At that time any other exemptions could be considered , such as entertainment, local serving service businesses or non-profits. That would have been thoughtful planning. Instead, the council majority offered red herring arguments to justify office growth that actually compounds our problems.
In addition, without the cap, existing housing (such as the President apartments) may be converted to commercial. Council Member Fine has bemoaned our no net gain of housing due to losing the President units. However, lifting the cap is a reason why we will lose those apartments and, potentially, other existing residential units in the future.
Monday’s actions were bad planning, bad policy and bad politics, all rolled into one.


46 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2019 at 7:14 pm

I voted for Cormak to remove another person from the city council. I remember how she basically refused to directly answer housing and development questions when asked directly, but was able to herd cats to get the Mitchel Park project moving along. Shame on me for adding to her vote tally. Wow, a pretty spectacular way to make the big reveal of how even more unnecessary commercial development, which is surely the root of the housing and traffic problems in this city is a good policy, and how quality of life for the rest of us is simply collateral damage or political expediency. So very disappointed.


29 people like this
Posted by Restore Civic Life
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2019 at 9:46 pm

Anyone who doesn't realize Fine isn't still "misleading" the voters must be living under a rock. All of those people who voted him in believing that he would be good for "housing" are responsible for displacing residents and destroying Palo Alto as the great college town it was since it began. [Portion removed.]

@Pat Burt,

What can citizens do to overturn this action? I'm afraid I don't know enough about the way local government works. A referendum? An initiative? A referendum and an initiative that strengthens the comp plan so that downtown retail areas have to be retail and/or mixed use with housing?


51 people like this
Posted by The irony
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 13, 2019 at 10:13 pm

Fine, Kniss, Cormack and Tanaka can NEVER EVER again say that they are in favor of affordable housing. You can't be in favor of office growth and for affordable housing. It's a zero sum game, at this point in Palo Alto.

[Portion removed.] They are all raging capitalists, at any costs, human or otherwise. Cormack is the biggest disappointment of all.


8 people like this
Posted by Mental Health
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2019 at 10:19 pm

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Maurice McDonald
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2019 at 10:47 pm

Fine, Kniss, Cormack, Tanaka, and Wolbach ARE democrats. This what the Democratic Party has become. They are all following a playbook handed down from the upper echelons of the Party. Fine, Kniss, Cormack, Tanaka, and Wolback were all endorsed by the Party leadership, funded by party friendly NGOs, and will continue to be supported by the Party as long as they continue to follow the playbook.


31 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2019 at 5:59 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Not true. Tanaka was a registered Republican and switched his party registration in a cynical way to get elected. Fine is not a Democrat. Cormack has claimed she is an independent without party affiliation. Kniss is a DINO, closely associated with big land developers who are anything but Democrats. [Portion removed.]
I actually blame gullible, clueless voters, who fell for Cormack. They already had an example in a previous candidate who refused to answer direct questions about his position, hid behind platitudes, and received developer contributions in Cory Wolbach, yet voted for Cormack regardless, although the exact same red flags were right in front of their eyes. She has always been the candidate of the chamber of commerce, good luck dealing with her.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2019 at 9:32 am

Posted by Maurice McDonald, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Fine, Kniss, Cormack, Tanaka, and Wolbach ARE democrats. This what the Democratic Party has become. They are all following a playbook handed down from the upper echelons of the Party.

Apparently not true of all, according to someone else above, but, let's assume for the sake of argument that at least one is a Democrat.

So what? It is a huge party, with lots of different viewpoints. A "big tent". ;-) The Republican Party has been declining in popularity in California since Jan 2017 Web Link And so, many California politicians with near-term ambitions are going to be Democrats. But, again, so what?

On the particular issue of the Manhattanization of Palo Alto, you find varying viewpoints among people, Democrats and Republicans. If we are agreed that we are opposed to Manhattanization, then, let's work together on that issue. That is how representative government is supposed to work-- issue by issue.


35 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 14, 2019 at 9:43 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

There's a spate of relevant articles in the Merc this morning.

The housing market is cooling: Web Link

Office rental rates are at record highs, and vacancy rates are at multi-year lows: Web Link

Job growth has slowed a bit. Four technology companies (Google, Facebook, Apple, and Salesforce) currently account for 98% of it: Web Link

Taken together, I think these observations imply two things.

First, the four hyper-growth members of Council just killed any chance of significant housing development in the transit-oriented downtown area. The value of housing is going down (relatively), the value of offices is at record highs; the financial incentives are aligned to build more offices, so without a cap, that's what will happen. Look for more offices and a few expensive condos. And more traffic.

Second, a handful of large companies are driving the unmanaged growth that's creating the problems we're facing. To fix this, their financial trade-offs are going to have to change. We're headed for head taxes.


19 people like this
Posted by Maurice McDonald
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2019 at 10:44 pm

@ Mauricio,

If Liz Kniss is not a real Democrat why was she endorsed by Anna Eshoo (d), Jerry Hill (d), Rich Gorden (d), Joe Simitian (d), Jackie Speier (d), Zoe Lofgren (d), James Beall (d) Evan Low (d), and a list of other local democrats too numerous to post here.

If Adrian Fine is not a Democrat why was he endorsed by Anna Eshoo (d), Jerry Hill (d), Rich Gorden (d), Joe Simitian (d), Marc Berman (d), Greg Scharff (d), Cory Wolbach (d) and a list of other local democrats too numerous to post here.

If Greg Tanaka is not a Democrat why was he endorsed by Anna Eshoo (d), Jerry Hill (d), Rich Gorden (d), Joe Simitian (d), Evan Low (d), Marc Berman (d) and according to one of his campaign flyers the California Democratic Party, The Peninsula Young Democrats, the SVAPA Democratic Club, Democratic Activists for Women Now, and a list of other local Democrats too numerous to post here.

If Alison Cormack is not a Democrat why was she endorsed by Anna Eshoo (d), Joe Simitian (d), Marc Berman (d), Greg Scharff, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, and a list other local Democrats too numerous to post here.

With the collapse of the organized trade unions the Democratic Party was forced to find a new source of funding and a new business model. The Party found real-estate developers and franchise model, and things have never been the same.

Side note: while perusing old campaign literature for the above endorsements I found a Kniss flyer that lists Alison Cormack as the Honorary Campaign Chair of Liz's 2016 campaign.


38 people like this
Posted by Elected officials Shoukd represent residents NOT developers
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 15, 2019 at 7:11 am

Too much Corporate office space ruins a thriving downtown. Companies and funded startups will always outbid small businesses (restaurants, retail &services). Same has happened in Mountain View, city councils should represent residents not developers.


27 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Steve Dabrowski is a registered user.

It is interesting to see so many comments expressing surprise about Allison Cormack's vote to repeal the office cap.
I thought her campaign from the start was a cynical effort, easily seen through by just looking at who supported her. Kniss, Simitian, other county Democrats and especially the $37K from Harry Guardino (not sure of that spelling) which for sure was not given unless he knew she would support the Silicon Vally Leadership's causes even if it conflicted with the welfare of Palo Alto residents.

The whole office cap thing was another cynical effort by the Kniss group-first the election year indicated the need for council members to take care not to offend voters so an office cap was in place to placate the community, also it looked like Wolbach would possibly lose his seat. When the initiative to further reduce the cap looked like it had large community support things turned grim for the Growthers. So they decided to do two things, first defang the initiative by going along with the new cap before it could be voted on by the public on the ballet and also have Wolbach cast a yes vote to make him appear more palatable to voters. Then they figured a strong campaign for Cormack would get her in place in a reduced council even if they lost Wolbach and after the election they could easily get rid of the cap altogether which they had wanted to do in the first place, but could not with an election looming.

I have little doubt this was a plan worked out well in advance-if anyone thinks this bunch does not work collusion I guess they might want to also buy a bridge that may be for sale.


2 people like this
Posted by Dahhling
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 15, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Am I the only one concerned about another out of place building going in that ruins the scale of our DT? The garage design was poor and and out of scale w/ surroundings.
If this should EVER go through please find a better design and or designer that has more awareness to surroundings.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 15, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I suggest it was NOT The Soccer Mom in the Kitchen with a Rolling Pin but Mr Ballot Initiative with 54 points in the Fall of 2014.


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Posted by Steve Dabrowski, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> It is interesting to see so many comments expressing surprise about Allison Cormack's vote to repeal the office cap. .. I thought her campaign from the start was a cynical effort

Nobody is surprised, but, we were hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Alas and alack.

I admit that I was surprised by the ruthlessness of the new, pro-office-growth majority.


Like this comment
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 16, 2019 at 1:08 am

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 16, 2019 at 3:40 pm

"Am I the only one concerned about another out of place building going in that ruins the scale of our DT? The garage design was poor and and out of scale w/ surroundings."

The city allowed the alibi for this monster five years ago, a Ken Hayes box unadulterated by any semblance of taste on the 600 block of Waverley. Nearby existing abominations justify the next atrocity.


19 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 18, 2019 at 7:19 am

mauricio is a registered user.

And I would be wiling to bet the farm and every dollar I managed to save that the supporters of the office cap removal will continue to moan about "job/housing imbalance" and "lack of housing", just like drunks complaining about hangovers. Hypocrisy and irony seem to have no limits.


32 people like this
Posted by Maurice McDonald
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2019 at 9:39 am

Building Office is a two-for for developers. A win-win.

Developers get to build office (which is more profitable) AND they get to "bank" future high density housing construction under what is becoming state law and ABAG rules requiring an office/residential balance.

The slide is being greased for developers at every level of government in California.


25 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 18, 2019 at 12:18 pm

I wonder if an investigation into collusion is warranted? Moderators, note - seriously. Removing the office cap in no way, shape or form can be construed as benefiting the City of Palo Alto. Who is making bank here, besides the developers?


24 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Rebecca White is a registered user.

Palo Alto is being preyed upon by developers at the expense of our community. Kniss, Fine, Tanaka and Cormack are selling our future for financial gain. It's pretty outrageous. Hoping some excellent candidates run against all of them: calling all people with foresight and integrity!


15 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Things might have been much different if Arthur Keller had chosen to run, but unfortunately he did not do so. Boon might have been better, but he was relatively unknown and did not have the financing that was needed to compete with Cormack. At this point any campaign literature that is slick, indicates support from local, state and national leaders as well as emphasizing civility and politeness should probably be considered a red flag.

As for densification, that is the program and it is a dreary prospect indeed. Almost all of these large projects seem like dead zones in any community. Take downtown San Jose, lots of apartment projects but where they are you seldom see much in the way of human activity-now strollers or people walking pets. Here in Palo Alto on Alma and High Street or close by you seldom see people out for a walk. I believe these large structures are repelling, only constitute utility housing for a somewhat transient population. In contrast neighborhoods with R1 and some smaller apartment complexes are usually alive with pet owners walking their dogs and people just out to enjoy the day or evening.

This is where the vitality of our community lies, not in the developer designed monstrosity heavy environment championed by the Kniss factions of our city council.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

If Arthur Keller had run this cycle, he would have had to beat an incumbent, Cory Wolbach. The other two seats were locked up by "residentialist" incumbents Dubois and Filseth. That head-to-head contest (Alison Cormack had not yet entered the race when Keller opted out.) carried long odds of success. Prospects probably looked much better for the 2020 election, when four of the seven seats will be in play.

It'll be interesting to see if the familiar breakdown of the city council into pro-development and residentialist camps makes sense going forward. FWIW, I think of Kou and Dubois on one end, Kniss and Fine on the other, with Filseth, Tanaka and Cormack in the middle. Lots of possibilities for scrambled positions. I don't foresee a consistent majority/minority division.


9 people like this
Posted by missing Wolbach
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Jerry Underdal,

“FWIW, I think of Kou and Dubois on one end, Kniss and Fine on the other, with Filseth, Tanaka and Cormack in the middle.”

Cormack and Tanaka in the middle?

For what? Vote on raises for interns?

What happened with the Downtown cap was a thumb (or other finger) to residents on behalf of greed. Tanaka and Cormack were with *who they belong to* Kniss.

Sorry but Tanaka and Cormack are no Eric Filseth

That quick motion, the insults, and predictable lights 4-3.

Give Filseth some credit, you think he’d vote stupid just to be in the middle?


19 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2019 at 5:57 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Cormack and Tanaka are not in any middle. They are proteges of Kniss and hey will never meet a commercial or densification project they won't like. The hyper development faction has a solid 4 majority and unless Tanaka and Fine are defeated in the next cycle and replaced by residentialists, the Manhattanization of Palo Alto will keep gaining speed.


5 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2019 at 9:47 am

Data?

Does Ms Kleinberg have any data to support her assertion, that increased downtown office space will actually increase housing? Would the Weekly please ask for such, and then publish it? Thank you.

--Because, such bald assertions -- that up is down, black is white, and so forth -- have become endemic in our post-Fairness Doctrine era of fake news and made up 'facts'. Her statement flies in the face of instinct, moreover. So, it was surprising that no Council member, nor anyone from the media, held her feet to the fire.

As an aside, Ms Cormack has lost any future support she may have commanded from me. I voted for her in the last election, but will not in the next. Our downtown has already become too corporate; uncapping, here, won't have a major effect, due to other restrictions, but the trend bothers me, FWLIW. (At the same time, I am not in support of Ms Kou's resistance to increased and denser housing along transportation corridors.)


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

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