News

In reaffirming 'local control,' Palo Alto vows to oppose state legislation on housing

City Council adopts resolution criticizing state bills that 'usurp' the authority of cities

On Feb. 1, the Palo Alto City Council passed a resolution that formally states the city's support for local control when it comes to issues of housing and zoning. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

The Palo Alto City Council formalized its resistance to recent state and regional efforts to boost housing supply on Monday night, when it adopted a resolution reaffirming its commitment to "local control."

In a 6-1 vote that illustrated the council's increasingly antagonistic stance toward Sacramento in the aftermath of last November's election, the council endorsed a proposed resolution from council members Lydia Kou and Greer Stone. Alison Cormack was the council member who voted against the resolution, which commits the city to strongly opposing the practice of the state Legislature of "continually proposing and passing multitudes of bills that directly impact and interfere with the ability of cities to control their own destiny through the use of the zoning authority that has been granted to them."

In a memo to their colleagues, Kou and Stone cited numerous bills that state legislators had tried to pass in the past two years, including Senate Bill 50, which would have allowed more density in transit corridors and job-rich areas, and Senate Bill 1120, which would have allowed up to four housing units in single-family residential zones. While neither bill ultimately advanced, Kou and Stone assert in the memo that state legislators have indicated that they "will continue to introduce legislation that will override local zoning ordinances for the development and production of affordable housing in conjunction with mixed use and/or luxury condominium and apartment housing."

The adopted resolution states that the majority of these bills "usurp the authority of local jurisdictions to determine for themselves the land use policies and practices that best suit each city and its residents and instead impose mandates that do not take into account the needs and differences of jurisdictions throughout the State of California."

The council "feels strongly that our local government is best able to assess the needs of our community and objects to the proliferation of State legislation that deprives us of that ability," the resolution states. It also declares that the city is "strongly opposed to the current practice of the legislature of the State of California of continually proposing and passing multitudes of bills that directly impact and interfere with the ability of cities to control their own destiny through use of the zoning authority that has been granted to them."

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These efforts, Kou argued Monday, fail to recognize and account for the "unique character" of individual cities.

"The kind of legislation that is enacted in the end does not give homeowners — people who have invested in their community — a sense of confidence, not knowing what's going to be coming up next to them and what kind of cumulative negative impacts there will be," Kou said.

Stone, a vehement critic of Senate Bill 50, said that one of the major frustrations that he and other members of the community have had with recent state legislation is that it imposes a mandate without providing any funding to address the community's most urgent need, affordable housing. Instead, the bills being issued by state lawmakers are "creating much more market-rate housing but not providing the funding mechanisms to be able to create affordable housing."

"My belief is that local governments are in the best position to know what is right for their communities and understand the historical complexities and issues that get in the way of addressing our most critical problems, which is the affordable housing piece, and helping create the diversity of community members who have historically been left out of the process," Stone said.

Despite its opposition to state mandates, the council and staff are still exploring new ways to encourage housing construction projects and meet its obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. In recent years, the city has created a new zoning district that allows additional density and other zoning exemptions for below-market-rate housing and formed a "planned housing" zone that allows residential developers to negotiate with the city over zoning standards.

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Last month, the council signaled preliminary support for a 113-apartment project that is seeking to use the "planned housing" zone. Next week, it will evaluate another housing proposal to build 290-apartment complex at the corner of Fabian Way and East Charleston Road.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt, who had strongly opposed SB 50 in 2019, maintained on Monday that the state has a strong role to play when it comes to housing. He lauded the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing law that the state passed in 2018, which requires cities to take proactive measures to target housing inequality relating to factors such as race, national origin, ancestry and religion.

While Burt said he welcomes such guidance, he criticized bills that impose new zoning standards such as height and density restrictions. He cited Senate Bill 35, which creates a streamlined approval process for housing projects in cities that fail to meet their obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process.

Palo Alto has consistently fallen well short on the regional housing targets, particularly when it comes to units that target "low" and "very low" income individuals. In the current RHNA cycle, which goes from 2015 to 2023, the council had approved only 43 units in the "very low" income category of the 691 units it was assigned, according to an August 2020 report. In the "low" income category, the city had approved 65 units, well below the 435 units it was allocated.

Now, having failed to achieve its housing targets in the current cycle, the council is bracing for higher housing targets in the next one. The Association of Bay Area Governments, which is charged with making the allocations to individual cities, has released preliminary methodology showing that Palo Alto will be required to plan for about 6,000 new housing units between 2023 and 2031.

"We now have seen that SB 35, coupled with the latest dubious RHNA allocations, will mandate on cities that they have to streamline and automatically approve projects that are massively above their zoning, that create more jobs than housing, exacerbating the jobs-housing imbalance, and provide disproportionately little affordable housing," Burt said Monday.

The Monday resolution was inspired by similar efforts elsewhere in the state. Kou pointed to the city of Torrance, which had taken a similar stance. Mike Griffiths, a council member of Torrance, submitted an email to council members from Palo Alto and other cities last year, urging them to take a stand against state mandates.

The council's position against broad state legislation hardened this year, with former council members Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine both concluding their council terms. Both had strongly advocated for housing and Fine was the only council member who supported SB 50. By contrast, both Stone and Burt had written opinion pieces criticizing the bill prior to getting elected.

While Cormack, who had frequently sided with Kniss and Fine on votes pertaining to housing, dissented on Monday, other council members happily endorsed the memo from Kou and Stone and approved the resolution.

Even before the Monday hearing, members have routinely disparaged state and regional efforts to impose housing targets, which they argued are unrealistic and unachievable. At the council's annual retreat on Saturday, council member Eric Filseth called the recent Sacramento bills and regional housing mandates "a giant pile of virtue signaling."

"I continue to be disappointed in Sacramento and the region, which blithely hands out enormous affordable housing targets that they know perfectly well will not be built because they're not funding them," Filseth said.

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In reaffirming 'local control,' Palo Alto vows to oppose state legislation on housing

City Council adopts resolution criticizing state bills that 'usurp' the authority of cities

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 2, 2021, 2:12 pm

The Palo Alto City Council formalized its resistance to recent state and regional efforts to boost housing supply on Monday night, when it adopted a resolution reaffirming its commitment to "local control."

In a 6-1 vote that illustrated the council's increasingly antagonistic stance toward Sacramento in the aftermath of last November's election, the council endorsed a proposed resolution from council members Lydia Kou and Greer Stone. Alison Cormack was the council member who voted against the resolution, which commits the city to strongly opposing the practice of the state Legislature of "continually proposing and passing multitudes of bills that directly impact and interfere with the ability of cities to control their own destiny through the use of the zoning authority that has been granted to them."

In a memo to their colleagues, Kou and Stone cited numerous bills that state legislators had tried to pass in the past two years, including Senate Bill 50, which would have allowed more density in transit corridors and job-rich areas, and Senate Bill 1120, which would have allowed up to four housing units in single-family residential zones. While neither bill ultimately advanced, Kou and Stone assert in the memo that state legislators have indicated that they "will continue to introduce legislation that will override local zoning ordinances for the development and production of affordable housing in conjunction with mixed use and/or luxury condominium and apartment housing."

The adopted resolution states that the majority of these bills "usurp the authority of local jurisdictions to determine for themselves the land use policies and practices that best suit each city and its residents and instead impose mandates that do not take into account the needs and differences of jurisdictions throughout the State of California."

The council "feels strongly that our local government is best able to assess the needs of our community and objects to the proliferation of State legislation that deprives us of that ability," the resolution states. It also declares that the city is "strongly opposed to the current practice of the legislature of the State of California of continually proposing and passing multitudes of bills that directly impact and interfere with the ability of cities to control their own destiny through use of the zoning authority that has been granted to them."

These efforts, Kou argued Monday, fail to recognize and account for the "unique character" of individual cities.

"The kind of legislation that is enacted in the end does not give homeowners — people who have invested in their community — a sense of confidence, not knowing what's going to be coming up next to them and what kind of cumulative negative impacts there will be," Kou said.

Stone, a vehement critic of Senate Bill 50, said that one of the major frustrations that he and other members of the community have had with recent state legislation is that it imposes a mandate without providing any funding to address the community's most urgent need, affordable housing. Instead, the bills being issued by state lawmakers are "creating much more market-rate housing but not providing the funding mechanisms to be able to create affordable housing."

"My belief is that local governments are in the best position to know what is right for their communities and understand the historical complexities and issues that get in the way of addressing our most critical problems, which is the affordable housing piece, and helping create the diversity of community members who have historically been left out of the process," Stone said.

Despite its opposition to state mandates, the council and staff are still exploring new ways to encourage housing construction projects and meet its obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. In recent years, the city has created a new zoning district that allows additional density and other zoning exemptions for below-market-rate housing and formed a "planned housing" zone that allows residential developers to negotiate with the city over zoning standards.

Last month, the council signaled preliminary support for a 113-apartment project that is seeking to use the "planned housing" zone. Next week, it will evaluate another housing proposal to build 290-apartment complex at the corner of Fabian Way and East Charleston Road.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt, who had strongly opposed SB 50 in 2019, maintained on Monday that the state has a strong role to play when it comes to housing. He lauded the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing law that the state passed in 2018, which requires cities to take proactive measures to target housing inequality relating to factors such as race, national origin, ancestry and religion.

While Burt said he welcomes such guidance, he criticized bills that impose new zoning standards such as height and density restrictions. He cited Senate Bill 35, which creates a streamlined approval process for housing projects in cities that fail to meet their obligations under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process.

Palo Alto has consistently fallen well short on the regional housing targets, particularly when it comes to units that target "low" and "very low" income individuals. In the current RHNA cycle, which goes from 2015 to 2023, the council had approved only 43 units in the "very low" income category of the 691 units it was assigned, according to an August 2020 report. In the "low" income category, the city had approved 65 units, well below the 435 units it was allocated.

Now, having failed to achieve its housing targets in the current cycle, the council is bracing for higher housing targets in the next one. The Association of Bay Area Governments, which is charged with making the allocations to individual cities, has released preliminary methodology showing that Palo Alto will be required to plan for about 6,000 new housing units between 2023 and 2031.

"We now have seen that SB 35, coupled with the latest dubious RHNA allocations, will mandate on cities that they have to streamline and automatically approve projects that are massively above their zoning, that create more jobs than housing, exacerbating the jobs-housing imbalance, and provide disproportionately little affordable housing," Burt said Monday.

The Monday resolution was inspired by similar efforts elsewhere in the state. Kou pointed to the city of Torrance, which had taken a similar stance. Mike Griffiths, a council member of Torrance, submitted an email to council members from Palo Alto and other cities last year, urging them to take a stand against state mandates.

The council's position against broad state legislation hardened this year, with former council members Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine both concluding their council terms. Both had strongly advocated for housing and Fine was the only council member who supported SB 50. By contrast, both Stone and Burt had written opinion pieces criticizing the bill prior to getting elected.

While Cormack, who had frequently sided with Kniss and Fine on votes pertaining to housing, dissented on Monday, other council members happily endorsed the memo from Kou and Stone and approved the resolution.

Even before the Monday hearing, members have routinely disparaged state and regional efforts to impose housing targets, which they argued are unrealistic and unachievable. At the council's annual retreat on Saturday, council member Eric Filseth called the recent Sacramento bills and regional housing mandates "a giant pile of virtue signaling."

"I continue to be disappointed in Sacramento and the region, which blithely hands out enormous affordable housing targets that they know perfectly well will not be built because they're not funding them," Filseth said.

Comments

TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:29 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:29 pm

How is Palo Alto allowed to restrict housing like this when such restrictions are clearly based on a racist past? We all got a good education on how racist Palo Alto is with the Foothills Park lawsuit, and apparently PCC didn't learn its lesson with that one. EVERYONE has a Constitutional right to live in Palo Alto. Right?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:59 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:59 pm

WOW - Tim R - there is plenty of available housing in Palo Alto - read your local papers. And we are talking houses and apartments. So what is really your beef? Local Control? This has nothing to do with race - this has to do with running a city in a common sense manner and disallowing state mandated nonsense. Nonsense that has no money to back it up.

People typically chose housing where they work. All areas have specialties in types of jobs - Gilroy is agriculture, HMB is big surf and agriculture, SF is high tech and drub addicts on the street, Oakland has a major port. So what does Tim R do in life to make money and live? Not our job to create the Disneyland of Santa Clara County and provide the whole menu of goodies. You have to pick the goodies that apply to your life style. We only have some of the rides - there are other rides in other cities.
Thank you PACC well done.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Palo Alto must move aggressively to keep intact its single house/home zoning protections --- to protect the quality of life and the privacy of its long-term residents. Sacramento has eliminated this zoning, and San Jose appears to be hurtling along the path to destroying the quality of life in all of its single family zoned housing neighborhoods. Palo Alto also must consider one other very important issue. Move to block the rampant construction of "in-law" units in single-family neighborhoods. Sue the State if necessary. Otherwise, PA will change from a suburban community into an overbuilt urban ghetto. And as Resident 1-Adobe said above, this has NOTHING to do with race. It has to do with preserving property values, and quality of life and privacy issues --- which have nothing to do with race.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:47 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:47 pm

I agree on the ADU's. One house has been adding an ADU for about 6 months of incessant activity. And it high enough to see over the fences. WOW ugly, ugly, ugly. I am now going to get the back fence fixed with a higher footage.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2021 at 5:21 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 5:21 pm

I agree with William Hutchens above.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2021 at 5:37 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 5:37 pm

Everyone has a constitutional right to live anywhere they want. I'll take beachfront in the Seychelles, please. With a tennis court.


YP
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2021 at 7:39 pm
YP, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 7:39 pm

LOL!!! bleeding heart liberals like Stone that decry unaffordable housing but when faced with mandate to do something about it fight it!. "Local control" is just another way to say NIMBY. Hypocrites!!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2021 at 7:54 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 7:54 pm

Good. As for "We all got a good education on how racist Palo Alto is with the Foothills Park lawsuit," what you got was a good education on how the city attorney immediately caved without bothering to review the park's history and/or to consider the practicalities and costs of opening up the park to everyone, including nearby communities that refused to share the cost of the park when it was established.

Tell me again that it was"racism" and discrimination against the wealthy largely white residents of Woodside, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley who refused to share Foothill costs and aren't under ANY pressure to increase THEIR housing density because they didn't rush to add office space like PA did.

Tell THEM "everyone" has a right to live there, too. Which of xourse they do -- if they can afford it.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2021 at 8:51 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 8:51 pm

Thank you, PA City Council! Californians face repeated attempted over-reaching power grabs by state officials with complicated mumbo jumbo schemes.
Please see the intelligent “Livable California” group to find out about this ongoing threat and how they oppose some legislator’s damaging proposals.
Common sense and a reasonable approach to adding housing in built up suburbs can be done and it’s not easy.
Ceding control of local zoning to state bureaucrats is NOT the thing to do - irreversible- could end up with even more crazy traffic, lack of parking, destroyed single family neighborhoods that are modest compared to many places!
PA is a successful city with jobs and that’s great! The state aims to punish PA for this! Talk about a vindictive oddball view!
Risks include overburdened local public schools (without state support, too) and no appeal when tall building built next door crowds and peers into one’s modest Eichler, shading one’s solar panels.


Not Good Enough
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2021 at 11:31 pm
Not Good Enough, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 11:31 pm

Losing more local control over our zoning and land use laws and processes will be a disaster. City Council must do all it can to stop it. Thank you Councilmembers Stone and Kou for your leadership with this.

That Member Cormack was the lone no vote is bizarre. That she did not feel it her duty to protect her city's control of it's juisdiction over land use and planning, its zoning ordinances and process as fundamental is mind-boggling. This is a pattern for her. As our BAWSCA Representative she supported a policy contrary to that of our City. Cormack needs to remember she was elected by Palo Altans to represent us and our City's interests, not her own political ambitions.

The RHNA demand that Palo Alto build 6000+ units of affordable housing in 4 years is unfunded. Ridiculous. There should be state subsidies written into housing Bills if housing is actually able to be built, yet not. Sen. Scott Wiener and his ilk are shameless hypocrites, paying lip service about wanting affordable housing built, but not funding it.

Some in town advocate for a lot more market-rate housing as if that the answer, with affordable housing trickling down. Wrong. At a 20% affordable unit set aside, in order to build the 6,000+ RHNA mandated units, 30,000 units would have to be built - more than double our current housing stock and doubling our population. Where do we get more schools? Park space is scarce now. Libraries and other city services? This can't happen.


toransu
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:12 am
toransu, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:12 am

Clowns, one and all. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is Palo Alto reaping what it sewed. If it and the communities around it refuse to build housing, it’s up to the state to come in and do it for you. Allowing total local control has only made the problem worse, why in the name of God would staying the course fix anything? You lot are getting what you deserve.


Norman Beamer
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:33 am
Norman Beamer, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:33 am

There seems to be a misunderstanding that Palo Alto, or any other city, is somehow obligated to build houses. Not even the most aggressive bills proposed by the state would require that. Rather, they require cities to pass zoning rules which ALLOW denser housing, and require the cities to approve projects mush faster without the usual design or environmental regulation. This is a boon to developers, who are the contributors to the state legislators who are pushing these bills. None of these bills are primarily targeted to affordable housing -- they would generate market rate housing with at most token amounts of units ostensibly allocated to lower income.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2021 at 10:52 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 10:52 am

Local officials are elected by local people who sort of know who they are, so most of the time they do what a majority of voters want.

Me, I think we should let developers build anything they want (or nothing, if doesn’t make enough rent money).

Unfortunately those officials and the majority who elected them disagree with me, and they have control over zoning here in Palo Alto. Therefore we need to change that, and leave those decisions instead to other people in our state Legislature who do agree with me.

Now, some people might observe that those wicked fur-hat guys that stormed the Capitol disagreed with the majority who elected the president, and they wanted to leave that decision instead to other people in swing-state Legislatures who do agree with them. So isn’t that a little bit …

Of course not, that’s just jerky-ism. It’s totally different. Those people were wrong. Totally different. Democracy of course, but when voters are wrong they’re wrong. So unfair! Also I don’t own a fur hat.


long view
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2021 at 11:58 am
long view, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 11:58 am

This article and these comments are a rerun of the recent election. Keep Palo Alto "nice", but don't ask nice for who? The dark side of local control in Palo Alto is the result: continued gentrification of our community. More tear downs, more new maximum size homes going up. These new homes are just as massive as a fourplex on the same site would be. Before the complaints about parking start, why not dewater for underground parking instead of for a basement wine cellar...
I understand that Palo Alto of the 60's or 70's was more idyllic than today's Palo Alto. But do you like what is happening? How the minimum income to live here keeps going up and up? The best thing the city could do to return to being a city for a mix of incomes would be to allow fourplexes in R1. And if you can sell your home and let a fourplex go in, you property value just went up.
What is missing in this article, and would be interesting, would be to hear why council member Cormack voted no.


Banes
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:24 pm
Banes, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Pretty crazy comment by TomR. Some people just think they're entitled to everything even if they can't afford it and contribute nothing to its existence. Then turn around and pull the racist card out of their hat.

Nevertheless playing a racist card or not, the more important thing is what is sustainable for the city of Palo Alto.
Housing?
Water? Power and utilities?
How about WATER & SANITATION?
If there isn't enough water supply the price of water goes skyrocketing.
The city manages the utilities & if they can't put any more on the grid what happens ?? There's power failures, there's water shortages, there are sanitation and sewer back ups That can't be processed because there's not enough water to process it .

The objective is not to turn Palo Alto or any other city in America into a Third World country, For the benefit of racism or any other fool excuse reasoning.
No everybody doesn't have a right to live wherever they want - if they can't afford it. The Palo Alto residents pay for Foothills Park, And if people who don't live in the city want to go there, they too should be paying for it, Like everybody else - you pay for your own Way, You are not entitled just because you were born in the United States or born poor, you have to pay for it also, like everyone else.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:31 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Excuse me. If you look at the ads for new communities they have a planned community with beautiful homes, community centers, well planned streets and parks, playing fields, schools. If that is what is selling in the new majority of this state then why are we expected to dismantle all of the amenities in this city? What kind of long view is that? Those types of long view come from people who are in the developer/building business and have a short view to their profits.

Sorry - tired of the hype that says this city is suppose to turn itself on its back for the current ploy that has no teeth, and no funding. There is no reason that this city has to ditch it's current city plan when we know that many are leaving the state. And they are leaving because of the grasp for home equity by the corporate groupies.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm

Local Control doesn’t mean you can’t have R-1 fourplexes in Palo Alto. It means the decision should be made here in Palo Alto, not by some detached person in Sacramento, or Texas for that matter. Sacramento just decided for their own city, San Jose is thinking about it, and it’s perfectly reasonable that Palo Altans might evaluate it themselves too.

If people are arguing that such a decision shouldn’t be made in Palo Alto because a majority of Palo Altans might oppose it, that’s where the fur hat comes in.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 12:50 pm

R1 has to be taken up by the local ACLU. “Can’t afford” is nice for “poor people don’t even think about moving here” . If all the BLM signs in the yards of single family homes in PA might say “No to R1”. Councilman Stone is just “a pawn in their game” . Sad and mad.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:57 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Native - who provides the spin for you? Everything that goes on here is not a result or determined by that type of spin. Maybe you have a problem if you translate every decision that is made by a city in a one dimension line item. There is more to running a city then a one dimension thought process.


germaine c.
Registered user
another community
on Feb 3, 2021 at 2:06 pm
germaine c., another community
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 2:06 pm

Race-related residencies in Pal Alto should not be subject to debate.

It could all be resolved if the city mandated and allocated homes to people of color below market value as a means to overcome and move beyond a perceived racist past.

As far as new residential zoning goes, older houses built on larger tracts of land (1/3 acre or more) should be demolished upon sale and replaced with multi-unit complexes regardless of the Palo Alto neighborhood.

There are very few historically-relevant homes in Palo Alto worthy of preservation and many of the older, larger homes along University Avenue are reminiscent of plantations.

When these symbols of the past are finally removed, Palo Altans can finally move forward and be proud of their commitment to social equality and fair housing options.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2021 at 2:31 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 2:31 pm

germaine c. It's too bad Palo Alto Online changed their format so that those who agree with you can't just like your comment instead of having to write a time consuming statement of support.
BTW, if I'm right, you wouldn't get much affirmation for your post. But we'll never know.


Nancy Ng
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Nancy Ng, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Once again our city rears its ugly,elitist, racist head. “Local control” is NIMBY at its worst, masquerading behind the far too prevalent notion that “of course we know better”.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:02 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:02 pm

germaine c.
Registered user
another community :

"As far as new residential zoning goes, older houses built on larger tracts of land (1/3 acre or more) should be demolished upon sale and replaced with multi-unit complexes regardless of the Palo Alto neighborhood."

Just curious, do you have these rules where you live?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:36 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:36 pm

Yes Pat - noticing that we have responders from other cities who take it upon themselves to define what we should be doing in this city. How remarkable is that. I do not attribute those responses as working to some high ideal. I attribute those responses to some money grab that is aspirational to the poster. Maybe those posters can provide where they are coming from - what city - and why this city is targeted. And what responder has the right to dictate city policy for a different city?

That is getting very old - what developer do they work for.
And worse - the people who sometimes comment in a positive response to these type comments live in Crescent Park. Do people who live in Crescent Park think they are somehow not vulnerable to these type assaults on our city? Crescent Park is not that big. If a portion of the city in the next neighborhood is compromised then you really are not living the "life" you want.


Mitchell Zimmerman
Registered user
Green Acres
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:46 pm
Mitchell Zimmerman, Green Acres
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 3:46 pm

This Palo Altan disagrees with the proposition that state control over local government zoning decisions is "usurpation." Cities and counties are actually creatures of the state, and cities like Palo Alto are not independent sovereignties, entitled to make their own rules.
The argument that localities are best able to determine their own needs is evasive and self-serving. Every local government in California might well decide that it likes itself just the way it is, and desires no accommodation whatever to the area's and state's desperate need for more housing.
Cities like Palo Alto, serving what they see as the interests of their current residents in avoiding change, aren't likely to contribute in any meaningful way to solving the housing crisis if left to their own devices. Hence they are not likely to be and should not be left to do as they choose. Those who stridently attack the legislature for trying to solve this problem do not speak for all who live in Palo Alto.


J. Levy
Registered user
another community
on Feb 3, 2021 at 4:29 pm
J. Levy, another community
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 4:29 pm

~"Cities like Palo Alto, serving what they see as the interests of their current residents in avoiding change, aren't likely to contribute in any meaningful way to solving the housing crisis if left to their own devices."

Concurring. Palo Alto residents on the whole will not strive to make any progressive socio-economic-residency changes unless forced to do so by state mandate.

Denial is not an excuse as bigotry and self-serving NIMBY motives provide their own indictments.

The resident outrage over opening Foothills Park to non-residents and people of color spoke volumes as the best excuses offered by the opponents were questionable eco-concerns and spoiling an elitist and private nature nirvana exclusive to Palo Alto residents.

Scott Wiener is going to put an end to all of this restricted housing nonsense and if Palo Alto resists by making up its own residency rules, a civil court date will prompty follow and private legal representation defending Palo Alto elitism will not come cheap.

Why fight city hall or in this case, the state legislature?

It's time to evolve with the times.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 6:06 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 6:06 pm

WOW - little dictators on the move. There are now two people who are working to challenge Mr. Newsome. Keep talking folks. You are making their case. The more you talk the bigger the case you are making to start this CA government over again.

You will note that the Governor is a major landholder - should you all go over and split his large house and multiple properties? Is Mr. Weiner ragging on the governor? On the Zuck? Mr. Guv Brown?

Mr. Zimmerman is talking about the "desperate need" for more housing. We have new housing going up all of the time. Some are noted on other blogs here. On Fabien, on ECR, in College Terrace. And if they would get going on the FRY's site. That is new housing. New housing is going up everywhere - Gilroy is next. You have to keep up here - reality is moving along and you are stuck in some ancient narrative that is pre-covid, and pre everyone leaving the state. Come along and keep up. You cannot sell a narrative that is now no longer valid.

And the narrative above on FHP - the exclusion was specific to residents. People of color was not part of that restriction. Mr. Levy is busy rewriting history. And of course add Mr. Weiner. He of the legislation concerning the sexual conduct of minor children. Mr. Weiner's problem is that he is dictating policy but has no funding to back up his dictates. Did you all forget MONEY?

You can sit around and create narratives that have no relation to reality - that which is occurring right in front of your face. Other people are looking at reality, reading the daily papers which are documenting the flight from the state. And here is a clue - it is not about housing- it is about the state taxes which are excessive. Maybe Mr. Weiner should talk to the Guv about taxes. And the upcoming drought. And the upcoming return to no electricity. And the upcoming lack of new dams and infrastructure, and the misappropriation of state funding due to total incompetence.


panative
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2021 at 6:15 pm
panative, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Palo Alto will come to rue this decision - the City may win a battle or two but will unquestionably lose the war and its citizens and taxpayers will pay for the misguided approach the council is taking.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:08 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 7:08 pm

Another Crescent Park resident voting for the 4-plex. How about a bundh of 4 plexes in Crescent Park? Does this only work for you if it affects other neighborhoods in the city. How about your neighborhood?


Carol
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:04 am
Carol , College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:04 am

We must keep the unique character of PA neighborhood! We shall fight to stop the changing R1 zoning to an apartment building in CT and any other area in PA!


Mig
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2021 at 1:11 am
Mig, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 1:11 am

Palo Alto is changing, the Bay Area is changing. Do you old timers think this city can maintain it "character" 50 years from now? This town is gentrifying and pricing out the blue collar worker. Do really think it's sustainable for your waitress, bartender or landscaper to drive 1.5+ hr one way to serve you?? If you think "what does it matter" then you are complacent with driving the wedge deeper between the wealthy and low income. That long term will only hurt the Palo Alto community. The city of the future will allow all who work in it be able to live in it. Single family homes and their communities will be phased out, it's not practical for the demand that the Bay Area has created. Ya'll single family home clingers can move to the midwest...or texas. That's what ya'll sound like.."Let's keep it how it's always been." [Portion removed.]


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:00 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:00 am

Mig lives in Menlo Park. You can look at the prices of homes in the real estate section of the paper for Menlo Park. Higher than the average in PA. How is Menlo Park dealing with the "future"? They have a big construction on El Camino. We have big construction on El Camino. Otherwise they are protecting their residential sections. They are in San Mateo County and have a major corporation in their pocket - FB. WE have a major corporation in our pocket - SU.

When contributors from other locations call us out to degrade our community it can be assured that they are trying to deflect the same impact to their city and expect us to absorb a requirement for housing for low cost workers. That typically has been the status of East Palo Alto which is in San Mateo County. But guess what - EPA is on the rise with new housing and charter schools.

I have to say that Mateo County is doing a better job of city management than Santa Clara County. They methodically plow forward with positive growth with no squabbling over racial impacts - but that is because they have a economy that has both manufacturing and high tech. They can spread over the economy which is vast in its choices. They have an active port and international airport.

So Mig - why Palo Alto? Why not Menlo Park? Why does PA have a target on it's back?


Mig
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:11 am
Mig, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 10:11 am

So actually Res. 1, I am a postdoc at Stanford. I put Menlo Park because that's the community I'm closest with. I don't own a home, I rent and it's tough just on my salary (whole other discussion) I only referenced PA bc that's what the article was about. In reality it's all bay area cities that need to take responsibility for those who work and live there imo


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 4, 2021 at 11:29 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 11:29 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:49 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:49 pm

SU is the biggest land holder and biggest employer in this geographic location. We have a SU post-doc lecturing this city on housing. Let's assume that the post-doc is employed by SU and/or mentored by SU. And the lecture on housing is really about SU's desire to control their own property from excessive housing for the non-educational portion of their employees. What could be described as their non-educational employees should be shouldered by the city of PA? That is now very clear.

SU does have a big investment in an apartment building on Jefferson across from the Sequoia shopping center - The Cardinal. They have a new campus in RWC which is filling out and is very impressive. You all should go over and check it out. They are very good at planning and producing results. SU should be housing it's gardeners, kitchen staff, bartenders at the faculty club, and other support staff at the hospitals on their property. RV's on El Camino are not the answer. And why doesn't that post-doc have an apartment at the Cardinal? Not a good negotiator.

Let's also note that SU is a non-profit educational organization. FB is a commercial operation subject to standard taxes so there is no equivalency regarding the institutions.


J. Beasley
Registered user
another community
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:59 pm
J. Beasley, another community
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 12:59 pm

A step on the right direction would be for the Palo Alto City Council to formally declare Palo Alto a sanctuary city as did college cities San Francisco and Berkeley.

This will erase the city's alleged racist and elitist past by welcoming all people to the city regardless of their socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Though the current RV community along ECR is seemingly maxed-out, local Palo Alto residents could consider accommodating transient newcomers (providing they do not create neighborhood disturbances) by allowing them to park on the public streets in front of their homes or perhaps in unused driveways.

With the Covid-19 pandemic still flourishing, many previous renters and homeowners have been displaced and RV sales are on the upswing.

Why not open up Palo Alto to some of these RVs as many of them need a semi-petmanent place to park.

Some of the nicer and more exclusive Palo Alto neighborhoods could well afford to do so as a goodwill gesture is always welcomed by those on need.

Then perhaps some of the lesser-valued Palo Alto neighborhoods might take a cue and be more receptive as well.

As an alternative to further residential development, consider adopting an RV dweller and their respective families.

It's a neighborly thing to do and would quickly dispell the elitist mentality the city is reputed to embrace.




Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 4, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 1:16 pm

The City of Palo Alto does not have a racist past. That was false narrative regarding FHP. Mr. Beasley is from another community - are Rv's parked in front of homes in his city? That is an idea that was pushed by the former mayor of Mountain View and has been quashed. Not going to happen. His own city is against it. And it is not going to happen in this city. It has been suggested many times that the Palo Alto Business park on east 101 at San Antonio is the perfect place for the city to allow RV parking. That puts the burden on the city - not residents of the city. Is Mr. Beasley one of the owners of the RV's that are rented out to people.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2021 at 2:28 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 2:28 pm

Do dare. Private property prevails and holds all the cards. Yet. The government has the right to take any property they choose. Example massive freeway infrastructure of ‘50’s ‘60’s. Or during War Time. Imminent domain is real and so is the unhoused crisis. When a City denies housing for all, the state steps in. R1 is exclusionary virtual gating communities. Every Bay Area city has to contribute a fair share. Self centered software engineers have created an alternate reality — the biggest conspiracy of all = massive denial. Get real!


Mig
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2021 at 2:46 pm
Mig, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 2:46 pm

Geez Res. 1 do you think I'm here to lecture you on behalf of SU??? Take off your tin foil hat.... And negotiate getting an apartment with SU? They would have to house all graduate students first then maybe have room for postdocs. I do agree a little with your borderline conspiracy brain in that SU should provide housing and support for it's students and maybe some staff but to an extent. Are you saying SU should be it's own town?? Your a bit cuckco but passionate so I wont disregard all that your saying. But also Palo Alto does have a racist past. If you don't think so then your blind to your own bias...Not saying your racist but you are the kind that unknowingly get behind racist agendas/policies if it "preserves your community". What's wrong with denser housing or 4-plexes? I bet if it was only "nice white people" moving into those kind of units, you wouldn't think twice about it. It's your fear of lower income minorities moving in. [Portion removed.]


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 4, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 4, 2021 at 3:29 pm

Oh Pleez - try selling that to Menlo Park. Your comments are to the point - you are indoctrinated that PA is a racist city. I grew up in LA and lived in UCLA Married Student Housing - I know more about race than you could ever imagine. And to the Boomer - note that FB is now flooding the system with the original motown greats. Tom Bradley was the LA mayor 1973-1993 and ran for governor. Willie Brown was mayor of SF and then head of the CA legislature. And working in the defense industry black people were in positions of authority at major military institutions. We were rocking and rolling until Vietnam. Then the whole thing broke down. Riots - some on SU campus. My relatives lived on campus so I do know a bit on this topic. My mother grew up on SU campus. My father went to SU and was in the journalism school.

If you are a post-doc then your level of involvement on this topic is minimal. As to SU it is it's own town. The millennial brain starts history at it's point in birth and gathers the majority of history om FB. You didn't mention what your area of research is. It must be assuming that it knows about everybody else.


Deb
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Feb 5, 2021 at 10:46 am
Deb, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 10:46 am

Palo Alto councils dithered for decades about ending it's residents only policy at Foothills Park. What happened? Doing the right thing finally got shoved down their throats and disaster ensued. Same thing is going to happen with single family residential.

As for all those apartments being built? Most of them are just warehouses for humans, not homes, which, more importantly, can be owned. It's import not to conflate the two.


J. Williams
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:14 am
J. Williams, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:14 am

At this particular juncture in our lives, we are leaving Palo Alto having purchased a vintage-era home in Connecticut via a generous offer presented to us from a very successful and wealthy family from China.

The petty politics of Palo Alto, and a hypocritical and ineffectual California governor prompted our decision.

That said, the future overdevelopment of Palo Alto, potential ecological destruction of Foothills Park, emerging traffic and parking gridlocks, school matters, transient RVs, and socio-economic related conflicts will be the absolute least of our worries or concerns.

Palo Alto has changed and some folks cannot accept the changes. Instead, many just opt to complain and point fingers at one another in self-righteous indignation.

Rational people do not need such distractions or the subsequent and potential stress factors. Instead they move one and leave the bickering to those with the perseverance or neurosis to do so.

Thankfully property values skyrocketed in Palo Alto as it has provided for our escape from the madness.

While eastern winters will be harsher, it's far better than having to deal with the perceived harshness of an evolving or de-evolving Palo Alto environment (take your pick).

The Palo Alto that fuddie-duddies nostalgically pine for vanished over 40+ years ago and clinging to the past will not resdurect it in any shape or form.

As Mig has implied, it's time for older boomers to make way for the new as Palo Alto will never become a permanent haven for NIMBYs, racists, and elitist mentalities.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 5, 2021 at 12:04 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 12:04 pm

You bought a "vintage-era" home in Ct?? I thought all the beautiful old homes were supposed to be destroyed to make way for high-density stack--and-pack housing. SO confused.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2021 at 6:13 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 6:13 pm

Congratulations on your upcoming move. As to the Boomer comment everything that the millennials are squawking about happened before they were born. Also most happened before the X-generation was born. Most have no actual experience with a truly historic and meaningful set of events that we are celebrating. What they have is a FB rendition or twitter rendition in 140 words or less that keeps repeating the same grievance - over and over. You can see it in these comments - the need to codify though processes in neat little proscribed statements. End result is petty comments. No meaningful understanding of actual history.


Anticomi
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:06 am
Anticomi, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:06 am

Asking Palo Alto residents who like to live in the single family houses to move to Midwest is like former Soviet Union’s dictator(s) ordering dissidents to move away from their hometown. Then why don’t you to ask the governor or senator(s)to move to a small houses or apartments. Sad or see this kind of comments form highly educated person. It triggered the flashback of living in the communist ruled country in the past. He or she should understand that people had no freedom of speech, no private property, no incentive to work in those countries.
On the other note, it is hypocritical for the developers to use providing affordable house’s excuse to hide their hunger for making huge profits.



Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2021 at 9:05 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 9:05 am

Reading the SJM/BAN today, 02/06 "Big surge in homes is needed, suit claims", and "affordable housing proposal ditched - Google Village". No end of actions on this topic. Note all of these actions employ a huge amount of hyperbole to make their point. The hyperbole is not backed up by facts - just hysteria, name-calling and finger-pointing. No facts is the way this is going. Hysteria does not work on facts.

How about some facts - John Kerry of the pipeline shut-down said on TV - it is about choices - all of those laid off workers made bad choices in their employment choices and now need to retrench in some other choice. Note that he directed the choice to the individuals. So the people that are suppose to descend upon us - what type of choices have they made? Degrees in computer science? Degrees in running a business through an MBA? People make choices and then have to move to where those choices are applicable. The location is not expected to house people who have no viable way to make a living in that environment.

In the opinion section of the paper people wrote in that San Jose's decision concerning zoning was about moving ownership of homes by the individual to a commercial business entity. Personal ownership of homes is the target. We can see that in the HSR land grab for a train that does not exist. The state owns that land now. They need to cough up some land for all of these schemes.

As to PA we now have a developer who is pressuring the city to build more office buildings. If ever we needed an excuse to just say NO. Build apartments and condos on those proposed sites.

As to the 4-plex in residential areas that has been established as the totem pole for these activities - the battle cry. Get rid of home ownership - make this all a corporate / commercial spread like Skippy peanut butter.


LeeLee2021
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:44 pm
LeeLee2021, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 4:44 pm

Thanks to all the council members who voted to resist the high density housing. Perhaps there aren't housing shortage now in Palo Alto because many retail businesses closed and many moved to other states


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 6, 2021 at 5:03 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2021 at 5:03 pm

Instead of lecturing residents and accusing homeowners and boomers of discriminating against you, how about looking at the real reason why real estate is so high: the incessant growth of big tech which hires more low-paid contractors than full-time employees with benefits and stock options. (As per the NYT in May, Google had 120.000 fte's vs 130.000 contractors so it's higher now.

Stanford University, big tech companies and their lobbying groups have successfully fought to cap foreign workers pay at around $85K-$100K so we all end up paying to house them.

Follow the news. In the last week, Google settled a suit for pay and sex discrimination against 5,500 women and Asian-American workers for $2.600,000. If divided equally, that comes to a louse $472 per person. Amazon just settled for $7,000,000 for stealing drivers tips. Facebook just settled its own discrimination case. Big tech spend $230,000,000 in the last election to deny gig workers benefits to enrich themselves and impoverish their workers.

Google just got unionized and is now suing to bar people from discussing salaries. It's at the NLRB.

Trust me, you're not the only one discriminated against. Fight the forces that are discriminating against more than you while fighting to densify and destroy communities for young workers who will leave in a few years any way.


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