Council clashes, compromises over housing at Cubberley | News | Palo Alto Online |


Council clashes, compromises over housing at Cubberley

With residents divided, Palo Alto City Council agrees to evaluate development of up to 112 units of housing at the community center

Palo Alto residents and City Council members clashed Monday night over a question that has come to dominate the recent discussion over the future Cubberley Community Center: Does housing belong at a public facility that has long been designated for recreation and education?

After dozens of comments and passionate arguments from both sides of the debate, the council left the door open for the possibility of building up to 112 units at the sprawling 35-acre campus, which is jointly owned by the city and Palo Alto Unified School District. Some of these units could go up on city land, the council decided after a heated debate that stretched into the late night hours.

The council voted 6-1, with City Councilman Greg Tanaka dissenting, to explore up to 112 units housing in an upcoming environmental analysis for Cubberley, an eclectic campus whose current uses include playing fields, artist studios and nonprofit spaces. The proposed plan would retain all these uses, while adding a gym, two swimming pools and various community spaces that would be shared by the city and the district. It would also increase green space by nearly 70%, largely by shifting parking from the existing layout of surface lots to an underground garage.

The plan for the new Cubberley was forged over a series of "co-design" meetings, which were spearheaded by the city's consultant, Concordia. It was largely embraced by the community up until last month, when housing suddenly entered the mix. Since then, residents have split over whether the new plan for Cubberley should include housing, with some calling it a desperately needed amenity and others arguing that housing, while critical, does not belong on public land that is designated for the entire community.

The Parks and Recreation Commission took the latter view, voting last week to adopt a memo urging the council not to include any housing on city land at Cubberley. Its recommendation was largely consistent with the position of most of the residents who attended the May 9 community meeting where the housing options were first unveiled. About 75% of those in attendance voted to reject the two housing alternatives that involved city land, though most were content with the two that limit housing to school district sites.

Jeff Greenfield, vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission and one of the co-signers of the memo that recommended against building housing on city land, told the council on Monday that including housing at Cubberley would effectively breach the public's trust and jeopardize the planning effort. The housing options, he said, didn't get added until the last minute, surprising many of the participants. He also argued that recreational assets will only become scarcer and more valuable over time, as the city's population increases. As such, Cubberley is the wrong place for housing.

"Recreation is a broad umbrella, including a wide range of programs and services. For even the most liberal definition, housing does not fall under the recreation umbrella," Greenfield said.

Dozens echoed his view, both in writing and in public comments. Resident Sonya Bradski observed that Cubberley is a well-used facility with many different functions and said she would like to see it "remain a community center for all the people." Former Mayor Lanie Wheeler said there is "no excuse to deny recreation, cultural and social opportunities for our future residents." She also framed the issue as one of "public trust," which has been compromised by the late addition of housing.

"It's up to you now to uphold the integrity of the process," Wheeler said.

That argument was counterbalanced on Monday by others, who argued that recreational and residential uses are not mutually exclusive. Former Councilwoman Gail Price advocated for housing at Cubberley, particularly for teachers and public employees. Palo Alto needs more housing of various sites, she said, particularly affordable housing, and Cubberley could be a suitable site, she said.

Stephen Levy, an economist and member of the nonprofit housing advocacy group Palo Alto Forward, rejected the notion that adding housing would diminish recreational opportunities.

"As a resident, I see housing for low-income seniors and teachers and staff as one of the highest public benefits I can imagine. I look at those site plans and I see complementary uses, not competitive uses," Levy said.

The council struggled to reconcile the different position and took three different votes before finally landing on one that secured majority support. Council members vacillated between Councilwoman Alison Cormack's proposal, which would have evaluated up to 164 units at the Cubberley site, and Councilman Tom DuBois' proposal, which sought to explore up to 100 units but specified that these would be at 525 San Antonio Road and the adjacent site of Greendell School. Underscoring the divisive nature of the housing discussion, Cormack's motion prevailed and failed in rapid succession, with Mayor Eric Filseth initially voting to support Cormack's motion, allowing it to advance by a 4-3 vote, with DuBois, Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka dissenting. He then called for a revote and voted against it, killing it.

Cormack noted that over the past five years, the council has only approved about 6% of its regional housing allocation for low-income units. Meanwhile, the city's existing senior-housing facilities have waiting lists with hundreds of residents, requiring years of waiting. The opportunity to redevelop Cubberley, she said, will allow the city to address the deficit while still expanding the center's recreational offerings.

"This is about more than zoning. This is about what kind of a community we will build and who can be a part of it," Cormack said.

DuBois countered that the city has already taken numerous actions to address the housing deficit, including a recent zone change that created "overlay" districts for employee housing and below-market-rate housing, allowing developments in these districts to exceed normal density regulations. The city also adopted this year a new "housing incentive program" that give significant density bonuses to projects in most commercial areas — though the new program has yet to spark any housing developments.

"We recently added a ton of housing sites in Palo Alto through our housing incentive programs and zoning changes," DuBois said. "We should expect our demand for community services to grow."

Vice Mayor Adrian Fine supported the most ambitious of the four options on the table, which ranged from 32 to 164 units. The first two options, which called for 32 and 64 units, respectively, reserved housing exclusively for school district staff on district property. The third option added a building on city property with 68 units, which could be earmarked for low-income seniors or city workers, for a total of 112 units. The option with 164 units added two stories to Cubberley itself, taking it from a two- to a four-story complex.

Fine, who is one of the council's staunchest housing advocates, made the motion for studying the most ambitious scenario in the environmental analysis before making any decisions on Cubberley.

"To me, the community center is mostly about the people, frankly. It's not about buildings, or the grass or the bike parking. It's about the people who can be there and participate in that space," Fine said.

After his proposal to modify DuBois' proposal by increasing the number of units failed by a 3-4 vote, the council supported a compromise proposal from Cormack, which set the limit of units at 112. The council also agreed to explore an option proposed by DuBois that would allow higher density on the school district sites, potentially to accommodate all 112 units.

Tanaka, the sole dissenter, argued against including any housing until the council gets a better understanding of both the school district's plans and the impacts of recreational services on the new residences.

Even with the council's agreement, no one is expecting the Cubberley transformation to take place any time soon. While Cormack stressed that the community center is dilapidated and needs urgent repairs, the school district has been proceeding on a slower pace, with no meetings on Cubberley scheduled until this fall.

The council is hoping to bridge the gap between the two landowners by scheduling a joint meeting with the school board in the coming months.

Filseth acknowledged that it will be a long time before anything gets built. He agreed with Cormack that Cubberley provides an opportunity for some housing, particularly for low-income seniors, but suggested that there may be better sites on San Antonio Road for new housing. He also noted that including housing in the environmental analysis in no way guarantees that the council will ultimately opt to advance that option.

Even if it does, funding remains a major wild card. The redevelopment plan, after all, would cost hundreds of millions of dollars under any scenario (the most ambitious one has an estimated price tag of about $800 million) and neither the city nor the school district has a funding plan in place. Even so, Filseth expressed some trepidation about going big on housing at the community center site.

"I worry that we got some exuberance here about doing this that isn't reflected in the community," Filseth said.

Related content:

Hear Weekly journalists discuss this issue on an episode of "Behind the Headlines," now available on our YouTube channel and podcast page.

Guest Opinion: It's time for teacher housing at Cubberley


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88 people like this
Posted by Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:57 am

Palo Alto residents are being asked to give up valuable recreational and community center land in order to help fix the housing crisis, but it's the tech industry that created the problem by bringing hundreds of thousands of employees into our area.

Let's demand tech companies build housing -- on property they buy -- not give away our public lands to solve their problem.

25 people like this
Posted by Bravo
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 4, 2019 at 6:08 am

Hooray to the council for moving forward with an option for housing. Having the option doesn't mean housing with be there on city land. But keeping housong alive and expanding the EIR scope will give future council and school district an understanding of impacts and tradeoffs. Alison Cormack was masterful last night kudos to her for championing housing at Cubberley. Hope the school district follows suit. Glad council is not missing this opportunity!

72 people like this
Posted by Not a Hero
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:19 am

Far from hero, Cormack's arrogance and self-regard fairly bubbled over as she described her revelation that we can use more senior housing. Wow.

Once she realized this, Cormack had determined that Cubberly was the perfect site for housing because of the nearby stores and the services Cubberly offered seniors. She wasn't deterred by the notion that those very services would not be able to grow or even match the needs of seniors in the future if housing is built on the site. As I said, hardly a hero.

This is Gunn HIgh all over again for those that remember. We were going to get rid of it - could do without, until residents fought back. Or Ross Rd for its bad process that ran over residents and which Cormack abhorred and campaigned on, but now embrafor senior housing "close to services",ces for Cubberly.

Most South Palo Altans will not support limiting potential for housing at Cubberly, our primary community services, recreation and cultural facility. But Allison, have you considered an even better site - build your senior housing at Cogswell Plaza downtown, its right next to Avenidas, senior center!

38 people like this
Posted by HMM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:37 am

Residents volunteer hours of their time to serve on commissions like Parks and Recreation. We've asked them to become the experts in the area. We've asked Interested citizens to participate in these planning processes. Far too often the City Council throws out all the hard work of these individuals and committees. How do we expect to get people to volunteer for these things (other than those with an axe to grind, or political aspirations) if we don't respect their opinions?

28 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 4, 2019 at 7:57 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

We have too many columns on this topic which is garbling the message. What we learned last night
1. This is not about "Teacher's Housing". It is about "Old People Housing".
2. One CC member goes to Stevenson House to find out the waiting list is very long so old people are now the goal.
3. PAUSD owns 80% of the land - they were not there last night to assist in letting us know what their intentions are concerning the 80% of land they own. So we are spending money making assumptions which may have no impact on PAUSD or the end result.
4. If teacher housing is not the end goal here then PAUSD is not going to be very interested.
5. Concern about night activity with noise vs. old people in residence. VERY GOOD POINT. Any residents should be on San Antonio so there is a buffer between the site and the residences.
6. this project is not about one person's goals or provision of vision. This is a community center and it is not a lot of land - despite claims to the opposite. We all need to be on top of this since there are too many underlying assumptions which last night proved to be false or unfounded. We cannot spend money going down the rabbit hole on one person's assumptions.
7. Allison was not "masterful" - sorry to say. She has floated a lot of assumptions which most do not agree with and which have no concurrence with the major land holder - PAUSD.
8. Other CC members asked the right questions. Noise? Funding? Community support? Long term goals? PAUSD intentions? - All need to be worked out before we spend money.
9. When an official RFP is issued for this effort it becomes a legal document in itself since people are bidding against the total package - or if specified a list of assumptions which are separately priced. The people bidding are spending money to prepare a response. Do not task people to spend money on a proposal for items which you know now will not get funding and community approval.
9. Next time out for any scheduled committee meetings the card deck will be reshuffled - we re not playing poker here with hidden cards.

54 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:02 am

I am quite disturbed by this attitude by most members of the City Council. Cubberley does not belong to the Council. It is part owned by PAUSD but the rest of it belongs to us, the people of Palo Alto. It belongs to us to bring us space for recreation and for use as a school.

How dare they, the individuals who are on Council, go against the will of the people. How dare they think they know better than us. How dare they take no notice of the Planning Commissioners. How dare they attempt to rip the fiber from our community by ignoring our wishes.

14 people like this
Posted by Lenore Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:06 am

Lenore Smith is a registered user.

Sounds like the council did right by exploring the impact of housing on this site. How can we know if it's a good or bad idea if we don't fully understand the possibilities and their impacts? Looking forward to the city and the school district coming together to discuss this later this year.

54 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:35 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

On a personal note my brother's family lives in Baltimore and niece goes to a high end high school that provides teachers housing. So I say to Brother - WOW - isn't that great? He says NO - they cannot retain the teacher's beyond their contract. Teacher's have a personal life and need to be separated from the school and students so that they are only there when they chose to be there. And they also do not want to live in proximity of the other teacher's because they have a personal life. They do not want to be dragged into events for the school that are not scheduled. And they do not appreciated their personal lives open to all to comment on.
We all appreciate when kids go to summer camp that the counselors are there at the kids disposal because that is what they are paid to do. Not so in regular life. So it is a concept only - does not work in real life.

18 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:41 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Comparison's last night to Oshman.JCC Center - trying to make that a "model" to copy. Oshman and the JCC are working a specific concept that has lot of money behind it. I have previously talked to the finance person over there.
That is not what we are doing here - we are building a community center for the total community which is addressing similar but not same issues. Please do not think the block of concrete which is the JCC location is what we are aspiring to.

11 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Just for the sake of argument, rather than building at the Cubberley Community Center 112 units of housing for seniors and teachers, what if we sold it to become a summer residence of the Abu Dhabi? Don't laugh. Our former assistant city manager Steve Emslie works for him, managing the swath of East Palo Alto The Emirate purchased recently.
Web Link

What if we sold Cubberley to Abu Dhabi for $10B and used that to restore the Brown Bag concert series at Cogswell Plaza and other amenities that we've let fester?


43 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:58 am

JCP is a registered user.

Rita Vrhell made a great point last night. Why do we allow the destruction of housing for the wealthy that want to combine lots to make room for swimming pools? A moratorium on combining lots and reducing housing in residential zones would be a start.

13 people like this
Posted by PA Grandma
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 4, 2019 at 11:11 am

I was one of the community members who participated in the design process that produced the Cubberley development proposal. Each meeting I was at a different table with different participants. At each meeting someone brought up the housing issue and everyone at the different tables agreed that housing should be considered, with senior housing as the first choice.

Those of you who are not yet seniors and who have no trouble bicycling/driving, etc to access shopping or other community activities, have no idea how difficult it can be for seniors. Especially those who have limitations on their ability to drive or who can no longer drive to shop or participate in community activities - art classes, music performances, lectures, exercise classes etc. Senior housing IS a community amenity, because seniors are your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and having them close to family is very important. And providing housing for seniors in a place that encourages them to stay active and engage with the community is extremely good for their health!!

So YES, senior housing should be seriously considered as part of the Cubberley project.

23 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 4, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So we have the crises de jour? Went by the Maybell site and guess what - construction under way. No senior housing, no below market units. Also noted that Palo Alto Housing has other projects under way in different cities.
So busy constructing a crises here? There is no crises - only marketing. Next time someone tells you there is a crises ask where and what city.

33 people like this
Posted by Upscale tastes
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm

>Cormack stressed that the community center is dilapidated and needs urgent repairs,
She said it was an embarrassment.

I was reminded of her comments when the Mitchell Park library was being discussed. She said she was embarrassed to show it to her friends.

I guess we have to adapt to the fancy lady's standards and be mindful of her expensive associates.

8 people like this
Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

Why wasn't anyone from PAUSD at the meeting? They're up in arms about the Stanford GUP, but don't seem to care that the city want to build housing on their land.

10 people like this
Posted by Shounak Dharap
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Shounak Dharap is a registered user.

@Samuel L-- the Board has not yet taken a position on teacher housing at Cubberly, so it would be inappropriate for any individual member to opine on behalf of the Board at a City Council meeting. The appropriate forum is a joint study session, which was scheduled for last month but was postponed until the last co-design meeting was completed.

11 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 4, 2019 at 2:55 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I see housing for teachers and low income seniors as a significant needed public benefit.

I want to see if we can make housing for low income seniors work on this site.

I agree with the mayor that there may be tradeoffs and that this is complicated.

But I also agree with council member Cormack that this is a great site for teacher and low income senior housing and that Cubberley can embrace both housing and other community center uses.

The point of an environmental analysis is to learn whether there are, indeed, tradeoffs, and how significant they are and whether they can be mitigated.

I vote to explore housing opens the door to learn more before making a final decision.

Correcting an earlier poster, the school district not the city will decide about housing on their land hopefully in a collaborative process with the cituy.

18 people like this
Posted by No Housing at Cubberly
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:12 pm

@ Shounak. "The Board has not yet taken a position on teacher housing at Cubberly, so it would be inappropriate for any individual member to opine on behalf of the Board at a City Council meeting."

While the PAUSD School Board has not yet taken a position, no one needed you or anyone else on the Board to "opine". Your role wasn't to "opine"! The School Board needed to attend and LISTEN! The first step is always listening: to the Council, to those who generously participated in the community input process (and were then ignored with the last minute addition of housing), to the PA Park & Rec Supervisors who are experts in their area (and oppose Cubberly housing 6 to 1), to concerned Greenmeadow neighbors, to all Palo Alto residents who came with various perspectives. The Council publically and rightfully noted that it was shocking not a single School Board member was present. At least one member of the Board should have been at this meeting to take a pulse, listen to over 40 community members who spoke, and educate yourselves on the issues. The School Board (which includes you) missed a golden opportunity to listen to the community. Considering PAUSD owns 80 percent of the land in question, the lack of representation sent an unfortunate message to all parties present at the City Council Mtg that PAUSD either doesn't care what the community has to say and/or will be operating in a vacuume.

24 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:24 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

When a PAF board member who is a tireless advocate for housing development, commercial development and urbanization, who never happened to meet a housing or commercial development proposal he didn't like and who his so enthusiastic about housing at Cubberley, everybody's antennas should immediately go way up. If I lived anywhere near Cubberley, I would be very scared right now.

4 people like this
Posted by PTA member
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:30 pm

@No Housing at Cubberley, you realize the meetings are televised, live streamed, and recorded, right? So no one needed to be there in person to hear what was said. FWIW, while I've seen school board members at council meetings before, I don't recall ever seeing a sitting council member at a school board meeting, either about Cubberley or anything else.

13 people like this
Posted by No Housing at Cubberly
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:55 pm

@PTA Member. Yes, I'm aware the meetings are recorded and live streamed (I've attended both City Council Meetings and School Board Mtgs having lived here over 35 years). But I appreciate you pointing that out in case other community members could not attend last night and would like to observe what transpired.

As I mentioned, it was a City Council Member who expressed shock that no PAUSD Board Member was present. So we can only assume that City Council had the impression that PAUSD should have been physically present at the meeting (not remotely observing). And saying that no City Council Member has been present at a School Board Meeting you've personally attended does not mean that a CC member has never attended a Board Mtg (!) and drastically misses the point. Renovating Cubberly would be an unprecedented joint City/PAUSD project. The City owns only 20% of the land in question. PAUSD owns 80% of the land in question. They can't each operate in silos and expect to get anything done. They need to work together, starting with being present and listening to each other and the community. We're talking about a potentially $300-$400+ million project, so saying they haven't talked to each other before so why should they talk now doesn't bode well for the likelihood of this project being successful. As it is, any Palo Alto School Bond that includes Housing at Cubberly will fail. The Palo Alto community doesn't want housing at Cubberly. Plain and simple.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 5:56 pm

I fully understand that the school board and the council are separate entities, but they act as if they are on different planets.

I don't care whether the school board members were watching this at home on tv. That is only part of the issue. The problem is that the school board are not visible when the council is discussing a city wide issue and at the same time the council is not visible when the school board is discussing an issue that involves the city.

Issues such as bell times, traffic, safety, bike lanes, transportation, etc. as well as something like this, needs to be hand in glove between the two entities. Reading minutes, watching tv while eating dinner with family, is not being visible. The community needs to see the active involvement between the two.

So many times in the years I have been paying attention I have seen very little communication made visible. There is nothing apparent when we have no one in attendance at important meetings.

For another example, there is a meeting this evening about Caltrain. Is the school board paying attention to the talk about Churchill being closed to traffic?

It is about time for PAUSD and PACC to be seen to communicate with each other and to pay attention. One hand must know what the other is discussing and we have to be able to see that they are doing so.

6 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

No one said a board member had to opine on behalf of the board. Several board members have made statements as private citizens, without speaking for the board. Are you saying that you can not, as a person well-versed on school related matters, have a thought on the idea that the city is looking at using PAUSD land for housing?

I'm perplexed as to how PAUSD can be against the Stanford GUP due to the increase in students and the impacts that will have on the district, but they sit on their hands when a third party is planning on developing their land when, as you say, PAUSD has not even taken a stand on the issue. Isn't it premature of them to even consider alternatives which include housing?

If you look at the four options put forward, all of them include housing on PAUSD land.

I find it hard to believe that there hasn't been some communication between PAUSD and the CPA with regards to housing on their land.

@Stephen Levy - Does it make sense to you for the city to be evaluating alternatives which impact land that is not theirs, without PAUSD being involved in the process?

5 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:25 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

What would be PAUSD's plan if the additional Stanford housing leads to a number of students that necessitates the building of an additional high school? Is PAUSD banking on Stanford to provide that land? Or, do the board members figure that they'll be termed out before that's an issue, and approving teacher housing is an easy way to get reelected?

Do you have any studies on how many PAUSD teachers have left the district due solely to housing costs? That would be teachers that moved out of the area to become a teacher in an area outside of say a 30 mile radius. Is there data to show that PAUSD has not been able to hire teachers due to the cost of living? How many teaching positions have been unfilled in the last three years?

8 people like this
Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:32 pm

@Samuel L, @No Housing, @Resident - I think you are missing big chunks of the story. The school district and board are well informed and pursuing their own course. Since they don't need ANYTHING at Cubberley at this point, they told the planners to make sure it could accommodate a future secondary school, and if possible, workforce housing and an administrative building.

The planners came back with options that include those things, so I expect the school board is going to just say "sounds good" and encourage the city to proceed with whatever they want to do, while the school district takes its time to meet its own needs.

Keep in mind that this whole process is occurring because the CITY insisted they want to do something and the schools were holding them back. My read of this plan is that it has effectively de-coupled the projects, with school facilities going on one side of the site, and city facilities going on the other. As long as the district feels their future needs are met with the space provided, they should be ok with whatever the city does.

In terms of school board members speaking at a meeting - if the board hasn't taken action (sounds like it hasn't) all they can do is express a personal opinion. If the council takes action based on one board member's personal opinion, that would be nuts. If three of them speak, that's probably a Brown Act violation. So I'm not sure what you think school board members could have done if they were there, aside from watch and shake their heads.

@Resident, you think school board members should go to BOTH school board meetings AND city council meetings (and visa versa) just to "be visible" to the 20 spectators in the room? More than I would think to ask of a unpaid volunteer.

3 people like this
Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:43 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

@PTA Member,
But what if it doesn't "sound good"? Isn't this what students would call "busy work"? There are so many unknowns, why work in parallel instead of together?

It's similar to how the peninsula is approaching the Caltrain crossings. Menlo Park could, conceivably vote for a city long tunnel, and Palo Alto vote for a berm. That would leave quite a gap where the two cities meet.

It does not make sense for them to be discussing plans for the entire site when the city does not own that land.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2019 at 10:17 pm

I think one of the school board members should have been at the meeting, or if not a board member then a PAUSD representative. Yes, being visible is important. I know the school board are volunteers and I respect that and thank them for their time. But as representatives of an elected body they are our representatives. If school board members can go to graduations, go to football games, go to May Day parades, is it too much to ask for one to go to community meetings that affect our schools?

This is important community outreach and we, the community, deserve to be treated with respect. Not all of us are able or willing to take up civil office, but those that do are taking on a responsibility and a role that is one of public service. I think we, the public, deserved to be served by our council and school board who are our working to our best interest.

Saying that, I do want to thank all our elected volunteer officials for their time and their diligence.

18 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2019 at 5:35 am

eileen is a registered user.

Housing in this site is a super bad idea!!

This is a community center dedicated to all residents of Palo Alto.
We will need this land in the future as our city becomes more and more dense.

I vote for zero housing on this site!!

Lets have dense housing on San Antonio near shopping etc.
Senior or low income housing? How will you control who will live there? Will they be local seniors or workers
who are struggling to live in Palo Alto or people that just want to live in a nice community center in Palo Alto?

This needs to be carefully thought out.

11 people like this
Posted by Theft
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2019 at 5:38 am

Theft. Pure and simple.

It’ll languish in court.

The interesting thing is a complete failure of imagination. There was never any consideration of the infinite other things you could do with land as alternatives.

Given the colossal mistake, the should at least make it temporary: lease the land for 50 years. Don’t sell it.

2 people like this
Posted by Shounak Dharap
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2019 at 5:45 am

Shounak Dharap is a registered user.

@Resident just to correct the record, our board President WAS at the meeting.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 6:29 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Two PACC members indicated that the PAUSD should be asked to explore teacher housing on other school sites in the city. And the city should be exploring the use of city owned land throughout the city that can be used for low income and teacher housing - parking lots, land in California St area.

We are noting the amount of construction in process at this time in the city. Maybell Site is in construction - report on Google says no low income at that site and no dedicated old people at that site. It is under construction by the Palo Alto Housing Corp. So the city does have construction on going throughout so this site at CUB is not a do or die event. Suggest that the Planning Department of the city - the ones paid to do a job - provide a view of the on-going projects and planned projects so we are not being blind-sided about all of the possibilities in the city.
I am getting the feeling here that we have a city manager, city finance person, planning department - all paid employees of the city that are behind the scenes without full disclosure of the legal, financial, and overview of projects. If there is a place on the City Website that has that information than plese indicate where.

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 6:35 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Looking at other city community centers they are green belts with buildings for community use and theaters. They are not concrete blocks of buildings for residences. Having concentrated buildings on the property dedicated to residences is contrary to the concept of a community center. I think the two concepts are mutually exclusive.

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 10:16 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So look at the title to this stream. No one agreed to housing at Cubberely. It was agreed that the city would look at housing on San Antonio which is on the south side of the street. So there is a buffer zone between the park and housing. It was also agreed that housing would be priced but that did not qualify as a requirement for funding. It is for information only. Note that the housing plan and pricing can be implemented any where is the city. It can be plunked down anywhere in the civic center area.

Looking at this now it is probably a strategic move on the PAUSD's part to not be "present" at the PACC Meeting. The point of the PACC Meeting is to gauge public support, wants, needs, and desires of the residents of the city. Also to gauge who on the PACC panel is directing traffic - which we know in part - but more senior members of the PACC have legitimate concerns that have to be recognized. I think in the end that the more senior members of the PACC will prevail in the consideration of the long term goals. They laid out what is considered the logical issues of how the property is used, day and night.

I think that PAUSD recognizes that they are not going to be manipulated into some idea that the community wants housing at this location. The general community says that housing is not the rationale for a community center. Good move PAUSD - you know were the general public stands on this.

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Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 5, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Teacher housing --- just another money grab by the teacher's union.

Shounak Dharap was endorsed by the teacher's union, fyi.

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Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 12:44 pm

jh is a registered user.

@Shounak Dharap "just to correct the record, our board President WAS at the meeting."

Why then, when during their discussion the council specifically asked if any member of the school board was present, no one did? Someone said that a member had been there earlier but had left.

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Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 1:06 pm

jh is a registered user.

@ Resident 1-Adobe Meadows "No one agreed to housing at Cubberley"

I think that statement is misleading. Yes, no one agreed to housing at Cubberley, but the consultants were eventually directed to STUDY that possibility. Tom's original motion had, I believe, limited studying housing to the San Antonio and Greendell sites.

However, Alison's substitute motion eventually won the day with a compromise which reduced the number of housing units that her original motion proposed could be built on the city owned land. So housing is very definitely not off the table. Which is why Greg Tanaka was the only vote against Alison's motion since he was the council member who was most concerned that the noise from the playing fields and housing in close proximity were incompatible and would be setting up a situation pitting the occupants against those using the playing fields.

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

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Senior Housing is a very complicated set of legal issues and insurance issues. That is why universities and churches eventually sell those markets to corporations that specialize in senior health care. Note that Webster House has been sold a number of times from it's original SU initiation. Sunrise on Oregon and El Camino has gone through ownership changes. Good intentions end up in a huge pile of legal issues and insurance compliance issues and the city should not entertain and no involvement in that scenario. That is a game for corporations that have already worked out the legal complications that can occur. Our city and school system are struggling with the issues they are currently chartered for. They should not entertain any further financial and legal complications that are out side of their charter.

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I watched the whole "show" and am fully aware of the events and participants. Greg Tanaka did a good job in identifying the major glitch in the housing scheme. If there is any housing then it will be on San Antonio on the south side of the street. There is a large margin then to isolate the housing from the fields. A major street. As to Greendell I believe that is owned by the PAUSD and it will be needed in the future plan for students.
AS to senior housing you can forget that. Neither the city or PAUSD has the charter or legal requirements to run a senior center. All local attempts to run senior housing have ended up in the hands of corporations that are specifically identified in that Commercial or private sector. And we do not plan on any sales of property to major corporations in that line of business.
And I am not JUST TALKING - have been through that whole scenario with aging parents at Webster House, Lytton Gardens and then Sunrise on El Camino.
The whole problem here is that the PACC participants maybe have not yet encountered that whole scenario so are ignorant of the requirements both legally and insurance to handle that whole scenario. Not in the city or PAUSD charter. And not selling land or leasing land to those corporations.

2 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2019 at 10:19 pm

The pro-growth city council members will do anything for densifying Palo Alto. All neighborhoods (especially South PA), all streets, all alleys, all back yards, and all parks.

Their goal is to create a Manhattan in California.

6 people like this
Posted by No Allison
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:11 am

No Allison is a registered user.

It was excruciating listening to Allison Cormack smugly tell everyone about her discovery that we need senior housing in Palo Alto. It reminded me of explorers claiming they discovered America as the Natives looked on in puzzlement. Yes, Allison, we do and have need for BMR senior housing, housing for families and the homeless for the half century I've lived here. I am glad you have now agree along with the rest of us.

Now I hope Cormack will join with the rest of us, especially those of us in the south of town who need and use our community center and its joint use playing fields, that housing is needed, but not when it scavenges other vital resources such as Cubberly. Though you say "everything will fit together", it won't, not in the long future when space for many more services will be badly needed.

Housing is no more appropriate at Cubberly than at Lucy Stern Community Center where there is land to tuck in 20 or so units, or Mitchell Park Community Center and Park where we could put a lot more. But that would be wrong.. The Parks & Rec Commission has it right.

As I watched the council meeting, someone spoke of broken trust. Boy oh boy, have you ever broken trust with us, Allison. You manipulated the process at the last minute, got a couple of other people on board, and then felt like a leader with a mandate. You are mistaken.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:12 am

Resident is a registered user.

I was very wary about Alison McCormack when she first announced her desire to run for CC. She has a lot of support through PTA and library, and yet most of the people I know who voted for her had nothing to say other than she was a nice lady.

It is time that people in Palo Alto started paying more attention to local politics. Even those I know who are very active and interested in politics in general admit they don't really know much about Palo Alto local matters until after something like Ross Road is started. They vote by name recognition only.

How can this be changed since so many don't seem to care until it is too late??

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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:13 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Retirement homes are a specific classification of corporation for both legal and tax liability considerations. Stevenson House is run by the John Stewart Corporation. If you do a check on Google for retired people homes and all of the other combined terminology you will find that there are a huge number in the direct vicinity. And they are run by professional corporations. By definition they have to be on their own turf for legal and tax considerations. The City of Palo Alto and the PAUSD cannot have a separate corporation on site.
CUB has to retain the flexibility to become a high school again when Gunn and PAHS become overloaded and exceed their maximum effective rate for the students. We cannot push ourselves in to the legal strangulation of outside corporations on school property for some short term gain which will result in a long term loss. No housing of any type on campus..

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