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Too much housing? Palo Alto among cities appealing their regional mandates

Twenty-seven jurisdictions request reductions in their housing assignments

Mayfield Place, an affordable apartment complex that opened in Palo Alto in 2017, is one of just a handful of major affordable-housing developments that have been constructed in the city over the past two decades. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Despite widespread recognition that the Bay Area desperately needs more housing, more than two dozen cities and Santa Clara County are appealing their assignments for the next eight-year cycle of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, arguing that the allotments pose insurmountable problems.

Each of the 27 jurisdictions that have filed an appeal is unhappy in its own way and each is hoping that an Association of Bay Area Governments appeals committee, which consists of local elected officials, will consider its case and reduce its allocation this fall, before it adopts the final RHNA Plan in October or November.

The 27 appellants face stiff odds, given that they are opposing not just ABAG's methodology, but one another. ABAG is required to assign 441,176 units throughout the nine Bay Area counties and the process is, by its very nature, a zero-sum game: For any jurisdiction that gets a reduction, one or more would see a corresponding increase.

Much like the number of projected housing units, the number of appeals is considerably higher in the current cycle than it was in 2014, when regional planners and local officials last went through this exercise. At that time, the region was assigned 187,990 units by the state Department of Housing and Community Development for the period between 2015 and 2023. Palo Alto and Mountain View were among eight jurisdictions that appealed the allocations at that time. Both saw their appeals rejected.

Despite the relatively low probability of success, Palo Alto is once again appealing its allocation. Citing its famously high jobs-to-housing ratio of more than 3-to-1, the city argues in its appeal that it is being penalized by ABAG for its recent efforts to curb job growth, a trend for which city leaders believe it should be rewarded with a smaller allocation. After being assigned more than 6,086 dwellings for the period between 2023 and 2031, the city is requesting that for this reason, as well as several others, its allocation should be reduced by 1,500 units, to 4,586.

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Pleasant Hill, by contrast, is arguing that its assigned allocation would hinder economic growth by forcing it to designate commercial lands for residential use, limiting its ability to create jobs. The city is asking that its allocation be reduced from 1,803 to 784 housing units.

Saratoga, which was assigned 1,712 units, similarly argues in its letter that the housing allocation will force it "to consider reducing the limited commercial job producing development that it has." In requesting a 50% reduction, to 856 units, the city's letter also posits that the allocation will effectively force Saratoga to build housing in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires, for lack of more suitable options.

Requiring the higher number, the letter from Saratoga Mayor Yan Zhao states, would necessarily entail construction in the city's Wild Urban Interface area, which contains much of the city's existing housing stock and which "cannot sustain increased housing density."

"Conversely, planning for the addition of more than 1,700 new homes in other sections of Saratoga that are outside the Wildland Urban Interface is simply impractical and unrealistic given the financial realities of residential construction," Zhao wrote.

Los Altos Hills' letter also cites fire risks in arguing for a 129-unit reduction to its allocation of 489 units. The entire west end of the town abuts a regional open space and most of the town is located within a "high fire hazard severity zone," the letter notes. But for all the open space, the town is "basically built-out" and its allocation of 489 housing units is neither feasible nor justified, the letter argues. The Los Altos Hills letter points to the town's "narrow roadways and limited escape routes" and argues that a proposal to increase density in its community "is ill-conceived and does not represent good planning practice."

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Santa Clara County, which was assigned 3,125 units, is one of four counties that are appealing the allocation (along with Contra Costa, Marin and Sonoma). The county's letter characterized the regional call for more housing in its jurisdiction of unincorporated areas as poor planning, insomuch as it would encourage development in rural areas and open spaces. The proposed allocation, the county letter notes, is more than 1000% greater than in the current RHNA cycle, during which it was assigned 277 units.

"This exponential increase is disproportionate to the overall regional allocation. The allocation ignores several ground realities and material limitations, coupled with longstanding County General Plan policies that focus growth within urban areas to combat sprawl and preserve farmlands within unincorporated areas."

Contra Costa County, which was assigned 7,645 units, similarly argued that unincorporated areas face significant constraints when it comes to housing construction because they lack basic services like grocery stores and banks.

Palo Alto's city planners warned in June that the appeal faces long odds. Regional bodies have been loath in recent years to grant appeals. Of the 14 Bay Area jurisdictions that requested reductions to their allocations in the current cycle (including the eight that filed formal appeals), only three — Hayward, Lafayette and Sunnyvale — saw their numbers adjusted.

City planner Tim Wong, who is managing Palo Alto's Housing Element process, noted at a May meeting that in the Southern California region, 52 agencies had filed appeal. Two of them were able to "partially succeed," he said.

While Palo Alto's elected leaders have long been critical of state and regional housing mandates, the city's letter is more technical than ideological. It lists specific sites for which the regional agency had — erroneously, in the city's view — proposed housing growth. These include sites that are owned by the Palo Alto Unified School District rather than the city, as well areas to which the regional mapping model assigned unrealistic density (the outlier among these is the Opportunity center at 33 Encina Ave., which has a projected density of 1,625 units per acre).

Palo Alto's letter also argues that ABAG unfairly penalizes the city for instituting a cap on office developments, a move intended to reduce the demand for housing by reducing job growth. But the city's move is now being used by the regional agency to justify increasing the housing allocation under the dubious assumption that because developers can't build offices, they will now build housing, according to the city.

"This reasoning represents a false dichotomy," the letter from Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois argues. "There is not a one to one ratio of office to housing development and the inability to construct new office space does not mean a property owner will necessarily build housing."

The city's top concern, DuBois told this news organization in an interview, is the pace of construction that the allocation would require. More than half of the housing that the city is projected to need under the regional vision document, Plan 2050, would be "front-loaded in the next eight years" if the city were to meet its allocated housing total for the coming cycle, he said. From the pace of construction standpoint, this would be impractical, he said.

"There are specific reasons for our appeal," DuBois said. "It's not general grumbling and complaining, which is sometimes how it's painted. There are very specific issues with specific numbers. It's not just making stuff up and being frivolous. It's looking at how ABAG looked at the Palo Alto situation and how they assigned us numbers and where it makes sense."

ABAG is scheduled to hold public hearings on all of the appeals in September before making its determinations later in the fall. The agency's Executive Committee is scheduled to adopt the Final RHNA Plan in November or December. ABAG underscores on its website that it is required by Housing Element Law to allocate all of the 441,176 units assigned to the Bay Area by HCD.

"If the appeal of a jurisdiction's draft RHNA allocation is successful, ABAG must redistribute the units to other local governments in the region," the agency states on its webpage.

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Too much housing? Palo Alto among cities appealing their regional mandates

Twenty-seven jurisdictions request reductions in their housing assignments

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 9:33 am

Despite widespread recognition that the Bay Area desperately needs more housing, more than two dozen cities and Santa Clara County are appealing their assignments for the next eight-year cycle of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, arguing that the allotments pose insurmountable problems.

Each of the 27 jurisdictions that have filed an appeal is unhappy in its own way and each is hoping that an Association of Bay Area Governments appeals committee, which consists of local elected officials, will consider its case and reduce its allocation this fall, before it adopts the final RHNA Plan in October or November.

The 27 appellants face stiff odds, given that they are opposing not just ABAG's methodology, but one another. ABAG is required to assign 441,176 units throughout the nine Bay Area counties and the process is, by its very nature, a zero-sum game: For any jurisdiction that gets a reduction, one or more would see a corresponding increase.

Much like the number of projected housing units, the number of appeals is considerably higher in the current cycle than it was in 2014, when regional planners and local officials last went through this exercise. At that time, the region was assigned 187,990 units by the state Department of Housing and Community Development for the period between 2015 and 2023. Palo Alto and Mountain View were among eight jurisdictions that appealed the allocations at that time. Both saw their appeals rejected.

Despite the relatively low probability of success, Palo Alto is once again appealing its allocation. Citing its famously high jobs-to-housing ratio of more than 3-to-1, the city argues in its appeal that it is being penalized by ABAG for its recent efforts to curb job growth, a trend for which city leaders believe it should be rewarded with a smaller allocation. After being assigned more than 6,086 dwellings for the period between 2023 and 2031, the city is requesting that for this reason, as well as several others, its allocation should be reduced by 1,500 units, to 4,586.

Pleasant Hill, by contrast, is arguing that its assigned allocation would hinder economic growth by forcing it to designate commercial lands for residential use, limiting its ability to create jobs. The city is asking that its allocation be reduced from 1,803 to 784 housing units.

Saratoga, which was assigned 1,712 units, similarly argues in its letter that the housing allocation will force it "to consider reducing the limited commercial job producing development that it has." In requesting a 50% reduction, to 856 units, the city's letter also posits that the allocation will effectively force Saratoga to build housing in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires, for lack of more suitable options.

Requiring the higher number, the letter from Saratoga Mayor Yan Zhao states, would necessarily entail construction in the city's Wild Urban Interface area, which contains much of the city's existing housing stock and which "cannot sustain increased housing density."

"Conversely, planning for the addition of more than 1,700 new homes in other sections of Saratoga that are outside the Wildland Urban Interface is simply impractical and unrealistic given the financial realities of residential construction," Zhao wrote.

Los Altos Hills' letter also cites fire risks in arguing for a 129-unit reduction to its allocation of 489 units. The entire west end of the town abuts a regional open space and most of the town is located within a "high fire hazard severity zone," the letter notes. But for all the open space, the town is "basically built-out" and its allocation of 489 housing units is neither feasible nor justified, the letter argues. The Los Altos Hills letter points to the town's "narrow roadways and limited escape routes" and argues that a proposal to increase density in its community "is ill-conceived and does not represent good planning practice."

Santa Clara County, which was assigned 3,125 units, is one of four counties that are appealing the allocation (along with Contra Costa, Marin and Sonoma). The county's letter characterized the regional call for more housing in its jurisdiction of unincorporated areas as poor planning, insomuch as it would encourage development in rural areas and open spaces. The proposed allocation, the county letter notes, is more than 1000% greater than in the current RHNA cycle, during which it was assigned 277 units.

"This exponential increase is disproportionate to the overall regional allocation. The allocation ignores several ground realities and material limitations, coupled with longstanding County General Plan policies that focus growth within urban areas to combat sprawl and preserve farmlands within unincorporated areas."

Contra Costa County, which was assigned 7,645 units, similarly argued that unincorporated areas face significant constraints when it comes to housing construction because they lack basic services like grocery stores and banks.

Palo Alto's city planners warned in June that the appeal faces long odds. Regional bodies have been loath in recent years to grant appeals. Of the 14 Bay Area jurisdictions that requested reductions to their allocations in the current cycle (including the eight that filed formal appeals), only three — Hayward, Lafayette and Sunnyvale — saw their numbers adjusted.

City planner Tim Wong, who is managing Palo Alto's Housing Element process, noted at a May meeting that in the Southern California region, 52 agencies had filed appeal. Two of them were able to "partially succeed," he said.

While Palo Alto's elected leaders have long been critical of state and regional housing mandates, the city's letter is more technical than ideological. It lists specific sites for which the regional agency had — erroneously, in the city's view — proposed housing growth. These include sites that are owned by the Palo Alto Unified School District rather than the city, as well areas to which the regional mapping model assigned unrealistic density (the outlier among these is the Opportunity center at 33 Encina Ave., which has a projected density of 1,625 units per acre).

Palo Alto's letter also argues that ABAG unfairly penalizes the city for instituting a cap on office developments, a move intended to reduce the demand for housing by reducing job growth. But the city's move is now being used by the regional agency to justify increasing the housing allocation under the dubious assumption that because developers can't build offices, they will now build housing, according to the city.

"This reasoning represents a false dichotomy," the letter from Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois argues. "There is not a one to one ratio of office to housing development and the inability to construct new office space does not mean a property owner will necessarily build housing."

The city's top concern, DuBois told this news organization in an interview, is the pace of construction that the allocation would require. More than half of the housing that the city is projected to need under the regional vision document, Plan 2050, would be "front-loaded in the next eight years" if the city were to meet its allocated housing total for the coming cycle, he said. From the pace of construction standpoint, this would be impractical, he said.

"There are specific reasons for our appeal," DuBois said. "It's not general grumbling and complaining, which is sometimes how it's painted. There are very specific issues with specific numbers. It's not just making stuff up and being frivolous. It's looking at how ABAG looked at the Palo Alto situation and how they assigned us numbers and where it makes sense."

ABAG is scheduled to hold public hearings on all of the appeals in September before making its determinations later in the fall. The agency's Executive Committee is scheduled to adopt the Final RHNA Plan in November or December. ABAG underscores on its website that it is required by Housing Element Law to allocate all of the 441,176 units assigned to the Bay Area by HCD.

"If the appeal of a jurisdiction's draft RHNA allocation is successful, ABAG must redistribute the units to other local governments in the region," the agency states on its webpage.

Comments

lex22
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Aug 3, 2021 at 10:47 am
lex22, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 10:47 am

This is an embarrassment. Build the housing. In fact, build more than they require. I want my kids to be to live here when they grow up.


Local Resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 3, 2021 at 10:51 am
Local Resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 10:51 am

The big lie is that increased density alone will solve the housing affordability issue. How did that work out for Manhattan, Tokyo, Hong Kong or even San Francisco? Plan Bay Area 2050 specifies making Palo Alto more dense than downtown San Francisco in 2015. They believe this is necessary to enable unrestrained business growth on the peninsula. Specifically that the Bay Area will grow from 8 to 10 million by 2050 and also they are front loading the housing growth in the next 8 years. Nevermind that California and Santa Clara have actually had zero and now negative population growth the last few years.

This housing mandate by ABAG for Palo Alto is triple what it was for the last 8 year cycle. 99% of all California jurisdictions did not meet the last housing cycle so do you think its realistic for them to triple it this time? Since less than 1/2 a percent of Palo Alto is vacant lots that means the only way to meet this mandate is to redevelop existing lots by increasing density and go higher. But as stated above density alone will not solve housing. Only by dramatically slowing the rate of job growth across the Bay Area and moving new job growth to San Jose, East Bay and adjacent Central Valley could real progress be made.

Lastly a large portion of ABAG number is for affordable housing which would require $1 billion state funding over the next 8 years to achieve (after subtracting out the inclusionary housing) for Palo Alto alone. Of course it is much easier for the state to give Palo Alto an unfunded mandate than provided the needed $1 billion, which they have no intention of doing.


Reginald Williams
Registered user
Triple El
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:38 am
Reginald Williams, Triple El
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:38 am

Tokyo literally solved their housing crisis by building housing. Wouldn't want housing prices to stay flat though I bet. Don't act like basic economic laws aren't still applicable because the situation is complex.

Web Link


Ozymandias
Registered user
another community
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:58 am
Ozymandias, another community
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 11:58 am

Palo Alto pays $40 million for a trailer park and now complains about being required to allow developers to build apartment complexes. That's rich.


Samuel Jackson
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:13 pm
Samuel Jackson, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Embarrassing and shameful. The only reason to appeal is to demand that the requirements be set higher. Guess what DuBois, if you're concerned about the pace of construction required, you better get started.

Everyone involved in this appeal should really look themselves in the mirror and ask why they want, so desperately, to make sure no one can live (or afford) their communities. It is not possible to preserve the status quo or "the way things were," by stopping forward movement; change still happens. The changes are just inequitable and harmful to people, climate, and community.

Sad.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:29 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Everyone involved in advocating to convert the property next door into big under-parked apartment complexes in the most expensive area in the country should congratulate themselves for being tools -- witting or unwitting -- for housing speculators from Wall Street, a trend that's finally making national and local news.

Web Link

Let's remember that these housing bills do very little to increase affordability when office development continues to outpace housing and of that housing, only around 5% is below market rate.

With the population of workers constantly soaring and increasing housing competition AND the affordable apartment complexes being demolished for either offices or MARKET RATE multi-million dollar housing units to house those new workers, how LOGICALLY will prices decline?

Also, talk to minority residents about the claim that more housing will "cure racism" when they're complaining they've been gentrified out of their homes.

Back to the well-funded "Build, Baby, Build" campaign brought to you by high-tech, housing speculators, SVLG, YIMBY Action etc etc.


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm

Work force housing and market rate housing plays well with property owners, developers, and building contractors. Of course office space construction tops those, but the only way housing for very low income, low income, and middle income members of our population will ever be built is through public funding, i.e., us taxpayers. And it will have to be enough to satisfy the bottom line goals and profit margins of the three aforementioned entities. Well, actually there is another way, if the government can dictate and set bottom line limits and profit margins for those entities. Hmmm? If I remember correctly, other countries, at different times, and with different forms of government (total control) have tried that approach in the past and it didn't work out so well.

But what the hell do I know about economics, political science, governments, and history? I'm just a retired electrical engineer and project/program manager from a company I worked for for 27 years, Kaiser Electronics. Yes, our plant was on the corner of Page Mill Rd and Porter Drive, just above HP's original campus.


MBH
Registered user
another community
on Aug 3, 2021 at 1:52 pm
MBH, another community
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 1:52 pm

This kind of proposed growth is insane - does not ABAG have a clue about what is happening this summer? Adding people to the Bay Area and building not just housing but even more business structures adds tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. And greatly increases demand for the resources we need to live - water being the biggest problem. Has anyone looked at the water levels in our biggest reservoirs? They are nearly empty . . . where is the water needed for this kind of growth going to come from?

How much methane will be put into the atmosphere from collecting and processing the needed raw materials? Cement production is one of the worst polluters/source of atmospheric methane on the planet. And with the fires ravaging millions of acres of forest where is the wood going to come from?

Do the ABAG people have some kind of secret method to protect the current and all the new building they are demanding from sea level rise?

Until we get Global Warming under control and atmospheric methane back to a reasonable amount, we should not be building ANYTHING!!


Mama
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2021 at 2:27 pm
Mama, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 2:27 pm

Can someone please explain to me why ABAG has the right to tell cities how much housing they must build? How was this “right” given to ABAG? Has this been tested in court? What has happened to the concept of self determination? If states’ rights exist, why not cities’ rights?


StarSpring
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2021 at 3:33 pm
StarSpring, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Mandate all housing below market rate until all the homeless are housed. No more givaways to developers. Atherton has lots and lots of space around each mansion.


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 3, 2021 at 4:14 pm
Stepheny , Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 4:14 pm
long view
Registered user
Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm
long view, Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm

Increase the density allowed in the affordable housing overlay zoning, and allow only a 700 Sq foot studio per lot of market rate housing. Grandfather in the existing housing, but not its FAR upon redevelopment. This would create a situation where affordable housing developers could outbid any other developer, because they could build more.


tmp
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2021 at 7:20 pm
tmp, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 7:20 pm

All of these measures are just a giant give away to developers and their paid for stooges in government. Yes, let's take a state with more density than most of Europe, awful pollution, little water that is currently being rationed and where we are paving over and killing most every other creature in the state and add millions more humans to this mess.

This unchecked, state and developer growth is insanity and I hope that every city fights back with all that they have. It is a good way to spend my tax dollars! We need to implement population measures and limit the size of the human footprint. Best to start here, locally, and see if perhaps there is any planet remaining worth saving in the coming decades. Because if we don't stop this mess here this state will become worse than it already is for quality of life and health.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2021 at 8:01 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2021 at 8:01 pm

Typically icky and arrogant decision.


Banes
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Aug 4, 2021 at 2:01 am
Banes , Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 2:01 am

Exactly! local resources, like water or clean water. Transportation infrastructures …


chris
Registered user
University South
on Aug 4, 2021 at 10:59 am
chris, University South
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 10:59 am

The city has the ability to rezone commercial and office areas to housing. There are many of these underutilized areas where developers will eagerly build housing with appropriate zoning.

The housing committee appointed by city council should have no problem identifying these areas.
Unfortunately, a number of appointees were selected because they are anti-housing.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 4, 2021 at 11:58 am
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 11:58 am

I agree that rezoning commercial/office areas for housing is a good thing to do. Stanford Research Park seems like a great opportunity -- there's land, parking, reasonable transportation access, and the ability to build without destroying existing residential areas.

I'm not optimistic that developers will build much housing, though. The economic factors still work against it. Building here is insanely expensive due to cost of land and materials. Investment money will flow to the most profitable projects, so offices and small amounts of luxury housing will come first. Then the money will flow to offices and luxury housing elsewhere before it goes to less-profitable missing-middle or affordable housing here.

Water, services, transportation infrastructure left as an exercise for future generations.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 4, 2021 at 12:44 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 12:44 pm

I don't understand how an unelected board such as ABAG, which doesn't even seem to fit into the local/county/state government scheme, can mandate housing levels to counties and cities.

Is it truly a legally-enforceable mandate, or is it one of those "if you don't do what we say, we'll withhold funding that you rely on to run your cities?"


stephen levy
Registered user
University South
on Aug 4, 2021 at 3:32 pm
stephen levy, University South
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Regional planning agencies such as ABAG are given the responsibility under state law to allocate the regional RJNA total to local jurisdictions.

Members of the ABAG voting board are locally elected office holders appointed by their councils to serve on the ABAG board.

The ABAG methodology committee that recommended the allocation to local jurisdictions was almost entirely local elected officials and their appointees

Yes the idea to look to convert excess office space and their parking lots to housing is a good idea and the same is true for no longer viable retail space.

This can be made attractive with the proper incentives as other cities are doing.

State law asks cities to adopt incentives as part of their new Housing Element.

Pure below market rate projects require funding that has been hard to find enough of.

But BMR units that are part of market rate or mixed use projects (thin Google and Facebook) bring many BMR units. It is again a question of proper incentives.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2021 at 4:13 pm
Longtime Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Read "The West's Water Restriction Nightmare Is Just Beginning". It talks about a city in Utah that halted any further development due to lack of water. I realize that it is a different state, but perhaps California can change their outdated pre-climate change laws. Here's the story

Web Link


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 4, 2021 at 5:40 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2021 at 5:40 pm

The problem is that too many landlords are greedy. They need to be willing to charge lower rents and make less money. Why would any sensible, compassionate person build housing that's not "affordable?" What do you even call that--"unaffordable housing?"

The idea that governments have to subsidize "below market rate" housing just for ordinary people with good jobs to be able to afford living in the Bay Area is ridiculous. The "market rate" is a choice that landlords make among themselves. It's not some mysterious law of nature that can't be changed. Landlords just need to charge lower rates and stop raising rents every six months or year. They'll still make more money than most people.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2021 at 8:31 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 8:31 am

In light of shifting norms in remote and hybrid working options, it is wise to delay making big housing decisions here.

There should also be no housing mandates until or unless big changes are made in public transit particularly for commutes where there are currently little or no options such as crossing the Bay or crossing the Peninsula from the coast.

I do not like what is happening in our residential neighborhoods as changes are likely to alter quality of life for families who already live here.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2021 at 10:01 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 10:01 am

"Members of the ABAG voting board are locally elected office holders appointed by their councils to serve on the ABAG board."

Please clarify exactly who the councils are that elected ABAG and who elected the councils. Who exactly are they?

As for the myth that everyone's going carless, it merely lets the developers under-park their properties while creating problems for their neighborhoods. Congestion continues to gridlock us all.

Also, please comment on the increasing trend for WALL STREET to start buying single-family homes so they can convert them to high-density, under-parked monstrosities. This has become national and international news.

Finally, what are the pro-density folks doing to stop companies like DoorDash from underpaying its gig workers, thus creating more homelessness and proverty> These companies spend HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars in the last election to deny their gig workers even minimum wage compensation and obviously benefits.

When will you start blaming THEM rather than mean selfish Granny and the Nimby's? Oh, never. You'd lose your funding!


Evergreen Park
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Aug 5, 2021 at 10:29 am
Evergreen Park, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 10:29 am

Has anyone else noticed all of the For Rent signs in Palo Alto? There are lots of rentals available -- just not in the price range that would allow lower income people to live here. My daughter who makes a middle class income in D.C. was eligible for a program there that allowed her a tax credit of 20% of her mortgage interest each year in order to assist her in buying a condo in an attractive area of the city that she would otherwise be priced out of. We need more creative programs like this -- assistance with downpayments, etc. -- that would actually help low and moderate income folks. Making lower income families live in 500 sq ft apartments with no parking for the vehicles that they must have to get to work is a solution for them? Turning Palo Alto into a concrete urban jungle means no one gets a nice place to live. We need to get creative if we are to expand opportunities for low and moderate income people AND offer them the same quality of life those of us who chose not to settle in a large city want to have.


community member
Registered user
University South
on Aug 5, 2021 at 11:16 am
community member, University South
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 11:16 am

We were warned about the dangers of over-population but no one mentions it, lest they incur the wrath of the powerful religious hierarchy.
Most of the world's problems would be eased if we encouraged birth control instead of celebrating population growth.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2021 at 12:27 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 12:27 pm

We are a suburban city - we are not Hong Kong or any other major city. Why do people who are in the city of SF and Sacramento get to dictate how this state is going to be run. Every major city has a tax base with a lot of avenues to raise taxes, major airports, major rail lines, major ports, major sports teams. We have none of those opportunities concerning the tax base, and we are built out from border to border in this city.

This state now has major issues concerning sustainabiity of the existing number of people and homes and now people are thinking up ways to make it worse. Groups are single minded in a cause with no rcognition that their cause by itself cannot be supported with the existing amount of land, water, utility services, and general maintenance of the roads. Single minded causes have to rcognize the limitations that we are now facing.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2021 at 12:45 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Huge increase in housing in a very short period unaccompanied with funding for transit, roads, schools, and other infrastructure expansion. This is not a plan. It is the fantasy of single-issue zealots and tech industry shills.




chris
Registered user
University South
on Aug 5, 2021 at 9:30 pm
chris, University South
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2021 at 9:30 pm

Jeremy Erman,

Rent control does not increase the availability of housing, it decreases it.
Fundamental economics.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 6, 2021 at 11:49 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 6, 2021 at 11:49 am

The city's latest Uplift newsletter has a survey about housing and where to put various types of new housing. I was shocked at how blatantly biased it was. There was no way to say you didn't want more housing or felt infrastructure improvements should come first.

Someone remind me why we pay bureaucrats so handsomely when they obviously have the developers' fingers on the scale and when City Council has specifically directed them to oppose the ridiculously unrealistic ABAG requirements.

As a little reminder, Los Altos recently had the courage to FIRE its City Manager for ignoring Council directives.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 6, 2021 at 3:57 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 6, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Consider+Your+Options.+

This is a very good brief summary of what is going on. Except ... the fantasy of zealots and tech shills would be getting nowhere without a very well funded support from real estate developer industry and Wall St fully vested in large scale land grabs for the purpose of short and long term unilateral enrichment. They will get their money and depart (or stay where they are) while the rest of us will be stuck in the crowded gridlocked neighborhoods to deal with shortages of water and energy and excesses of sewage.


Rose
Registered user
Mayfield
on Aug 6, 2021 at 4:52 pm
Rose, Mayfield
Registered user
on Aug 6, 2021 at 4:52 pm

Community Member wrote: We were warned about the dangers of over-population but no one mentions it, lest they incur the wrath of the powerful religious hierarchy.
Most of the world's problems would be eased if we encouraged birth control instead of celebrating population growth.

Thank you for pointing out the longstanding problem of population growth! Our economy is based on growth and consumption. I haven't read anything from major economists about how we can transition to a sustainable economy. Everything is based on selling more to someone. Yes, we need to reduce population growth, and what about everyone consuming less of everything? Why can't we be satisfied with a moderately sized home? Why is it always more, bigger, better? We are killing our planet and every specie on it including humans. We must drive less, which isn't hard if one puts his/her mind to it. We need to focus not just on housing, but on every aspect of this crazy modern world.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2021 at 6:09 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 6, 2021 at 6:09 pm

There is a percentage of the population that enjoys living in a big city with people stacked on each other. They think that is great. Then there is a percentage of the population that thinks having a home in a neighborhood where there is room for a dog and vegetable garden is great. Then there are older people who want to reduce their home responsibiites and move into a older person residential location. This state can provide all of that - each choosing where they want to be.
So why do we have a percentage of people who want to dictate to other people their own personal wants and desires concerning housing. For them - go live in the city where you can wallow in a place with people stacked on each other. Just what you want.
That is called CITY - an Urban location. We are a suburb. we are houses where people can have a yard and garden, place for childrn to play. And if you want an apartment then we also have those - downtown and brand new ones on San Antonio - that is the city of Mountin View. We still have it all.

We are not suppose to be housing the world - they are all trying to escape from where ever they are. They are all fighting with each other so do not accuse us of unfair treatment. If they cannot manage their own home location and the people that live there then they cannot manage this location where they do not have a job. Each continent on the globe has to get their act together, quit fighting with each other, and manage their location with all of the knowledge that is available now.


YentaThe Renter
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2021 at 3:38 pm
YentaThe Renter, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 7, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Sure, plentynof housing — I really appreciated the creativity, the tents in downtown parking garage.fewer cars, and leave those parking spaces for we the peepul! Put up a parking lot for MORE tent homes, Palo Alto— solves at least two problems with one swell foop…


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2021 at 7:38 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 7:38 am

Yenta - working on the Kibbutz approach? Sorry - these people need to be in San Jose where they have a huge amount of housing in all price ranges and lots of strip mall type jobs. There is no benefit to placing people in a suburban city that has high priced housing and few jobs that do not require a college degree. No one is doing anyone any favors in that regard. People who are trying to destruct this city and small cities on the peninsula are being paid to serve up the city so that the powers to be in San Jose can advance their political careers. San JOse is really cleaned up - no homeles on the streets I was on. There is a huge amount of housing in SJ - Churches and whoever put people in that housing. It is there and available.


J. Peron
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2021 at 7:56 am
J. Peron, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 7:56 am

Given the choice, most homeless people would prefer to live in Palo Alto or Mountain View compared to San Jose.

Somewhere in Saratoga or Los Gatos would also be OK.

But a big NO to places like San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Alviso because those cities are not pleasant places to hang if one is homeless.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2021 at 10:02 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 10:02 am

Just FYI that a woman in Los Angeles is suing the city for damages and medical costs from her accident when she had to walk in the street to avoid the homeless tents blocking the sidewalk and got hit by a car.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:41 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:41 pm

Peron - that is your problem - just "hanging" is an inication of lack of desire to get some type of job. You want a subsidy and a place to sleep. Problem is that type of attitude sticks out in PA, but you can drift along in SJ. A major city has a lot of opportunites to work and live. You are shooting for high cost cities that are of a residential nature and not a lot of jobs. The obvious just passes you by.


chris
Registered user
University South
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:46 pm
chris, University South
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:46 pm

Web Link

Latest video Lydia Kou is promoting to fuel the anti-housing message.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:58 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 2:58 pm

Reading a novel with location in New Orleans some parking lots are where they are to prevent the building of high rise hotels and apartments in a concentrated area. Blocking the views with wall to wall buildings is not always a desired outcome. Wall to wall buildings present a number of costly problems for city sewer systems, utility systems, police problems, and population control. Everything you see sitting on top of the land has a huge network of services below the top of the land. And that is a cost to the city and state. Espeially in a flood zone. Uncontrolled growth is just that - uncontrolled.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:29 pm

@Chris, thanks for sharing the video from Council member Kuo on what will happen if the pro-density housing bills SB9 and SB10 pass since they do nothing to increase affordable housing.

Are you unaware that there's a drought? How much less water are we all supposed to use to accommodate all the new residents that these bills would allow if each single-family lot is converted into 8 units? Farmers are cutting back on their crops and livestock because there's not enough water to sustain them. Fish are being TRUCKED to nearby bodies of water.

Are you aware that the percentage of single-family bought by investors and Wall Street is steadily increasing and will further decimate our communities?

Again, thanks for sharing that video and hope you're all paying attention to the pending legislation that will destroy community control of their future -- and for what? To provide more 800 sq feet "market rate" housing for techies while big tech and their backers still fight paying gig workers a living wage and/or paying businesses taxes!




Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:33 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 8, 2021 at 3:33 pm

The voice-over in the video does make me roll my eyes, but it's not wrong. To support the type of growth that SB9 and SB10 require, most trees have to go. Interior trees will be removed to make room for new structures, and most existing trees between the new structures and the lot-lines won't have enough room for their root systems to survive. Parking-strip trees with highly vertical root systems are probably OK; you can see some in the video.

The video alludes to the fact that you don't have to destroy R1 neighborhoods to build housing, but doesn't offer many details. Rezoning commercial properties for housing is one way; others were mentioned earlier in this discussion. SB9 and SB10 exist to break R1 zoning for the benefit of investment companies, developers, and construction unions, not to provide large amounts of housing or to make it affordable to the middle class.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2021 at 10:40 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 9, 2021 at 10:40 am

The people in Sacramento whose votes come from big cities are single minded on flooding the state with housing when other agencies which are paid by the state are single minded on water-lack of. And utility costs based on hydro-power - lack of. Agencies which each have a job and a single minded approach to the goals of that job are contradictory to other agnecy goals. No executive at the top level who is suppose to put all of the goals together to arrive at a balanced outcome that benefits eveyone. No one is benefiting from any agency activities at this time. We cannot flood the state with housing becsause we do not have the infrastructure and support system to support that outcome. That is obvious to anyone who reads the newspapers and listens to the news. Ideology needs to trim back to what makes sense. Ideology is of no use if it does not supprt the most logical outcome based on the available resources.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 14, 2021 at 7:58 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Mercury News article 08/13 - "Wealthy areas push back on housing golas". "Who is fighting housing Goals". Large article which starts with the City of Dublin then gets into Los Altos, PA, Los ALtos Hills, etc. All type of agencies get noted with their take on this issue. All of these takes are like a one leg chair. A single focus with no recognition that housing requires new sewer systems, water, utilities, trash removal. That is what a city has to pay for. Do the people who are in ABAG read the papers? Do the people who write these articloe read their own papers? Does the editorial staff review what is printed before it goes out? One-sided rticles are not journalism. They are opinion pieces sponsored by agencies which are pushing their agenda.
ABAG is going down a rabbit hole that will destroy this state. We need to sue them for incompetence.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 14, 2021 at 8:55 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2021 at 8:55 pm

Neither of our elected reps, Berman or Becker, will admit to having taken a position on the housing bills coming up. Shameful.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 15, 2021 at 3:17 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2021 at 3:17 am

Becker in his starting time was sponsord by the current VP Harris. Berman is in the Weiner camp - pictures of them during festivities in SF. The D take on housing associates it with wealth. That is their political gig. The areas they note do not have vaste commercial activity which would provide jobs for all of the people that they want to move into the suburbs. San Mateo has a better combination of job types with the SFO airport and all of the hotel/car activity associated with the tourist industry. Santa Clara is less of a tourist location and hotels are struggling.

Jobs at major infrastrucure locations is key to succesful location of population. The D's seem to have forgotten about JOBS. They also have overlooked the cost of increased housing in areas that have limited utility and water issues. The bay area is struggling with all of the water and utility issues - lack of. The papers are discussing that all of the time. Do they read the papers? Do they comprehend that you cannot increase housing if you have not successfully dealt with the major issues that houses require to be livable. The cities have to deal with the shortfalls of the state to deal with these issues. That cost money.


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