News

Palo Alto looks to steer housing growth toward San Antonio Road

City Council agrees to further loosen height, density limits to meet targets for residential growth

A car makes a right turn onto East Charleston Road from San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

With its narrow sidewalks, industrial warehouses and nonexistent public transportation, the eastern stretch of San Antonio Road looks like a most unlikely destination for Palo Alto's next big housing boom.

Rather than boutiques, supermarkets and restaurants, the segment between Middlefield Road and U.S. Highway 101 boasts a flooring company, a commercial printer, a gas station and an eclectic mix of industrial, commercial and low-density residential uses. There are no stucco walls or red tiled roofs, just utilitarian one- and two-story buildings with some of the city's most affordable commercial space.

It's also an area where the City Council is doubling down on residential construction. On Monday night, as council members contemplated their strategies or meeting state mandates on housing, they agreed that the city's typical development standards such as a 50-foot height limit for new buildings should no longer apply here. By loosening zoning, they are hoping to generate thousands of new housing units and meet the city's Regional Housing Needs Allocation of 6,086 dwellings between 2023 and 2031.

The policy change, which the council supported by a 5-1 vote, with Vice Chair Lydia Kou dissenting and council member Alison Cormack recused, is by far the most dramatic and ambitious proposal that the council contemplated during its discussion of the Palo Alto's new Housing Element, a state-mandated document that outlines the city's strategies for housing and identifies sites where they expect residential construction to occur.

Shifting properties in the manufacturing zones to residential use has long been seen as a key strategy, which city staff had previously estimated would generate about 1,500 new dwellings. On Monday, however, council members decided to supersize this strategy with the hopes of generating hundreds of additional units. The council agreed to allow residential density of up to 90 dwellings per acre in this area, more than double of what the city currently allows in its highest density residential zoning district, which is RM-40. The decision went well beyond a staff recommendation to increase density here from the existing level of 32 to 50 dwelling units per acre to 50.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"I think this makes a huge amount of sense to double down in this area," said council member Eric Filseth, who made the proposal to go big on housing along San Antonio.

Some of the changes that the council wants to see are already occurring. Last week, the council encouraged a developer to move ahead with its proposal to build a five-story 75-condominium development at 800 San Antonio Road, a project that also exceeds the city's height and density regulations. And in 2020, council members approved a similarly sized development at a nearby site, 788 San Antonio Road, that includes 102 apartments.

"I think we're going to have to go aggressive here on the development standards," Filseth said Monday, in reference to the broader San Antonio area around Fabian Way and Charleston Road. "The worst case is that we put a little bit here and it's not enough to bring in all the other stuff that we want to have happen, the transportation and retail and so forth, over time."

For Palo Alto, massive redevelopment of San Antonio would represent a dramatic policy change. While Mountain View has been aggressively building residential, commercial and retail projects along its stretch of San Antonio, most notably in the El Camino Real area, for well over a decade, Palo Alto has been far more cautious. Unlike its neighbor to the south, it does not currently have a "specific plan" to guide growth or any tangible proposals for transportation improvements or community amenities.

Despite these challenges, Mayor Pat Burt and others argued Monday that sites zoned for "general manufacturing" and "research, office and light manufacturing" uses could become suitable for housing.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

"It does have the Mountain View shopping center area," Burt said of the area. "It is an area of low-cost offices right now and it's right off a very major freeway exit. I actually think there's a lot of opportunity there."

He and others pointed to the large number of jobs in the area, primarily on the Mountain View side, where Google and Intuit have expansive campuses.

By focusing its energies on south Palo Alto, the council also agreed to scale down some of its plans in the north. One area that will not see any projected housing in the new Housing Element is the downtown transit center at 27 University Ave., an area that Stanford University had projected could accommodate up to 270 apartments.

The council and city staff have gone back and forth over the past year on whether the transit center should be part of the city's housing vision. Last year, members agreed that the site is so critical to the city's housing and transportation goals that it requires an extensive planning process before it could be included in the Housing Element. In recent months, however, the city moved to include the site as one of three Stanford-owned properties that could accommodate significant new housing development, along with sites at 3128 El Camino Real and on Pasteur Drive, near the Stanford University Medical Center.

On Monday, council members went back to their original plan and took the University Avenue site out of Housing Element, dealing a blow to the housing advocates who have been calling for residential development near the transit center. Planning Director Jonathan Lait called the site "ripe for redevelopment," noting its proximity to the second busiest Caltrain station along the entire line. He suggested, however, that relying on it for the current Housing Element would be premature.

"I don't think it's had the proper public process to really rely on that as a site," Lait said.

Council members hope that by further loosening the zoning laws on San Antonio, they can still meet the housing target even without the transit center site. Lait suggested that doing so would likely involve allowing residential buildings with heights of about 85 feet.

Not everyone is thrilled about the council's sudden shift to the south. Winter Dellenbach, a Barron Park resident, said her neighbors are worried that the city is expecting their area to absorb most of the city's residential growth.

"I'm expecting a lot of housing, as much as possible, to be also built in north Palo Alto," Dellenbach said. "I understand that Cal. Avenue, San Antonio and El Camino are going to be seeing a lot of housing, but I don't want to see it as the only place."

The view of El Camino Real from Arbor Real homes in Palo Alto. The city plans to build more homes near the main roadway under its Housing Element. Embarcadero Media file photo by Olivia Treynor.

Scott O'Neil, member of the group Palo Alto Forward, argued that the city should also consider loosening height limits in the transit-friendly downtown area.

"Housing near transit is good for climate change," O'Neil said. "Walkable resident customers are good for struggling businesses in our downtown. It's good for reducing car dependence and hence traffic impacts, all things that are shared values by even the people who tend to disagree with me on housing."

The council's plans, however, are far more modest in the north than they are in the south. The proposed Housing Element programs envision 168 dwellings on city-owned parking lots, with the lot on Hamilton Avenue and Waverley Street as the leading candidate. There's also the Pasteur Drive site, which Stanford believes can accommodate up to 425 dwellings.

Other proposals take a citywide approach. The council envisions 512 new accessory dwelling units over the eight-year period, a trend that has been accelerating in both north and south Palo Alto. The city also hopes to generate more than 1,000 dwellings through more conventional upzoning efforts such as reforming its "housing incentive program," which loosens development standards for residential projects in commercial areas and which offers builders an alternative to the state's density bonus law.

Currently, the program applies only to commercial properties along San Antonio, El Camino Real and downtown. Under the change, it would expand to other neighborhoods and include multifamily zones, said city planner Tim Wong, who is leading the Housing Element update.

Council member Tom DuBois suggested that while these efforts may help, the city should also identify areas where it can go bigger with residential construction: namely San Antonio.

"Having a site where we can consider larger projects, specifically designed to serve some of these job centers, I think it's an experiment worth doing," DuBois said.

He and other also acknowledged the many challenges that the city will face as it tries to bring housing to San Antonio. There are, for example, no bus lines or biking amenities. Burt, who represents the city on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority board of directors, has been lobbying the transit agency to run a bus line along San Antonio, from the Baylands to Foothill College, but he acknowledged on Monday that the VTA does not see the project as a priority.

"It's not going to fall on our lap," Burt said. "We're going to have to work it."

He also pointed to the fact that some of the businesses along San Antonio use hazardous materials in their operations. The sites around these areas would not be suitable for housing, he said.

But while council members agreed that the area begs for further planning, particularly on biking improvements, Kou suggested that the city should not move forward with major housing plans until these amenities are in place.

"Planning in this manner is really difficult, with just thinking about housing sites and not looking at everything else that goes into making livability and making a community," Kou said.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now
Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Your support is vital to us continuing to bring you city government news. Become a member today.

Palo Alto looks to steer housing growth toward San Antonio Road

City Council agrees to further loosen height, density limits to meet targets for residential growth

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 23, 2022, 9:47 am

With its narrow sidewalks, industrial warehouses and nonexistent public transportation, the eastern stretch of San Antonio Road looks like a most unlikely destination for Palo Alto's next big housing boom.

Rather than boutiques, supermarkets and restaurants, the segment between Middlefield Road and U.S. Highway 101 boasts a flooring company, a commercial printer, a gas station and an eclectic mix of industrial, commercial and low-density residential uses. There are no stucco walls or red tiled roofs, just utilitarian one- and two-story buildings with some of the city's most affordable commercial space.

It's also an area where the City Council is doubling down on residential construction. On Monday night, as council members contemplated their strategies or meeting state mandates on housing, they agreed that the city's typical development standards such as a 50-foot height limit for new buildings should no longer apply here. By loosening zoning, they are hoping to generate thousands of new housing units and meet the city's Regional Housing Needs Allocation of 6,086 dwellings between 2023 and 2031.

The policy change, which the council supported by a 5-1 vote, with Vice Chair Lydia Kou dissenting and council member Alison Cormack recused, is by far the most dramatic and ambitious proposal that the council contemplated during its discussion of the Palo Alto's new Housing Element, a state-mandated document that outlines the city's strategies for housing and identifies sites where they expect residential construction to occur.

Shifting properties in the manufacturing zones to residential use has long been seen as a key strategy, which city staff had previously estimated would generate about 1,500 new dwellings. On Monday, however, council members decided to supersize this strategy with the hopes of generating hundreds of additional units. The council agreed to allow residential density of up to 90 dwellings per acre in this area, more than double of what the city currently allows in its highest density residential zoning district, which is RM-40. The decision went well beyond a staff recommendation to increase density here from the existing level of 32 to 50 dwelling units per acre to 50.

"I think this makes a huge amount of sense to double down in this area," said council member Eric Filseth, who made the proposal to go big on housing along San Antonio.

Some of the changes that the council wants to see are already occurring. Last week, the council encouraged a developer to move ahead with its proposal to build a five-story 75-condominium development at 800 San Antonio Road, a project that also exceeds the city's height and density regulations. And in 2020, council members approved a similarly sized development at a nearby site, 788 San Antonio Road, that includes 102 apartments.

"I think we're going to have to go aggressive here on the development standards," Filseth said Monday, in reference to the broader San Antonio area around Fabian Way and Charleston Road. "The worst case is that we put a little bit here and it's not enough to bring in all the other stuff that we want to have happen, the transportation and retail and so forth, over time."

For Palo Alto, massive redevelopment of San Antonio would represent a dramatic policy change. While Mountain View has been aggressively building residential, commercial and retail projects along its stretch of San Antonio, most notably in the El Camino Real area, for well over a decade, Palo Alto has been far more cautious. Unlike its neighbor to the south, it does not currently have a "specific plan" to guide growth or any tangible proposals for transportation improvements or community amenities.

Despite these challenges, Mayor Pat Burt and others argued Monday that sites zoned for "general manufacturing" and "research, office and light manufacturing" uses could become suitable for housing.

"It does have the Mountain View shopping center area," Burt said of the area. "It is an area of low-cost offices right now and it's right off a very major freeway exit. I actually think there's a lot of opportunity there."

He and others pointed to the large number of jobs in the area, primarily on the Mountain View side, where Google and Intuit have expansive campuses.

By focusing its energies on south Palo Alto, the council also agreed to scale down some of its plans in the north. One area that will not see any projected housing in the new Housing Element is the downtown transit center at 27 University Ave., an area that Stanford University had projected could accommodate up to 270 apartments.

The council and city staff have gone back and forth over the past year on whether the transit center should be part of the city's housing vision. Last year, members agreed that the site is so critical to the city's housing and transportation goals that it requires an extensive planning process before it could be included in the Housing Element. In recent months, however, the city moved to include the site as one of three Stanford-owned properties that could accommodate significant new housing development, along with sites at 3128 El Camino Real and on Pasteur Drive, near the Stanford University Medical Center.

On Monday, council members went back to their original plan and took the University Avenue site out of Housing Element, dealing a blow to the housing advocates who have been calling for residential development near the transit center. Planning Director Jonathan Lait called the site "ripe for redevelopment," noting its proximity to the second busiest Caltrain station along the entire line. He suggested, however, that relying on it for the current Housing Element would be premature.

"I don't think it's had the proper public process to really rely on that as a site," Lait said.

Council members hope that by further loosening the zoning laws on San Antonio, they can still meet the housing target even without the transit center site. Lait suggested that doing so would likely involve allowing residential buildings with heights of about 85 feet.

Not everyone is thrilled about the council's sudden shift to the south. Winter Dellenbach, a Barron Park resident, said her neighbors are worried that the city is expecting their area to absorb most of the city's residential growth.

"I'm expecting a lot of housing, as much as possible, to be also built in north Palo Alto," Dellenbach said. "I understand that Cal. Avenue, San Antonio and El Camino are going to be seeing a lot of housing, but I don't want to see it as the only place."

Scott O'Neil, member of the group Palo Alto Forward, argued that the city should also consider loosening height limits in the transit-friendly downtown area.

"Housing near transit is good for climate change," O'Neil said. "Walkable resident customers are good for struggling businesses in our downtown. It's good for reducing car dependence and hence traffic impacts, all things that are shared values by even the people who tend to disagree with me on housing."

The council's plans, however, are far more modest in the north than they are in the south. The proposed Housing Element programs envision 168 dwellings on city-owned parking lots, with the lot on Hamilton Avenue and Waverley Street as the leading candidate. There's also the Pasteur Drive site, which Stanford believes can accommodate up to 425 dwellings.

Other proposals take a citywide approach. The council envisions 512 new accessory dwelling units over the eight-year period, a trend that has been accelerating in both north and south Palo Alto. The city also hopes to generate more than 1,000 dwellings through more conventional upzoning efforts such as reforming its "housing incentive program," which loosens development standards for residential projects in commercial areas and which offers builders an alternative to the state's density bonus law.

Currently, the program applies only to commercial properties along San Antonio, El Camino Real and downtown. Under the change, it would expand to other neighborhoods and include multifamily zones, said city planner Tim Wong, who is leading the Housing Element update.

Council member Tom DuBois suggested that while these efforts may help, the city should also identify areas where it can go bigger with residential construction: namely San Antonio.

"Having a site where we can consider larger projects, specifically designed to serve some of these job centers, I think it's an experiment worth doing," DuBois said.

He and other also acknowledged the many challenges that the city will face as it tries to bring housing to San Antonio. There are, for example, no bus lines or biking amenities. Burt, who represents the city on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority board of directors, has been lobbying the transit agency to run a bus line along San Antonio, from the Baylands to Foothill College, but he acknowledged on Monday that the VTA does not see the project as a priority.

"It's not going to fall on our lap," Burt said. "We're going to have to work it."

He also pointed to the fact that some of the businesses along San Antonio use hazardous materials in their operations. The sites around these areas would not be suitable for housing, he said.

But while council members agreed that the area begs for further planning, particularly on biking improvements, Kou suggested that the city should not move forward with major housing plans until these amenities are in place.

"Planning in this manner is really difficult, with just thinking about housing sites and not looking at everything else that goes into making livability and making a community," Kou said.

Comments

Local Resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:40 am
Local Resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:40 am

This area is great for biking to Google and even Facebook. A shuttle could make it even more viable. Even for drivers, their Vehicle Miles Traveled will be miniscule by comparison. They never need to get on the highway to get to these nearby mega tech companies. The resident amenities are not going to happen unless there is high density housing is there. I think some ground floor retail should be required and biking and pedestrian infrastructure should be invested in as part of this plan. However, these should be done in parallel, not waiting to upzone for housing till the next cycle and miss a huge opportunity.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:53 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:53 am

When the JCC was built many moons ago, we were told that public transit in the area would be improved, with a shuttle to the Caltrain station, blah blah blah. None of that has happened. In fact, public transit in the area is now worse.

This San Antonion/Charleston to Middlefield area is very busy traffic corridor. Adding housing without adequate parking and or public transit will make the volume of traffic on San Antonio horrendous, or more horrendous than it already is.

Can we have some infrastructure discussions before discussing housing. Or is that much too sensible?


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:58 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:58 am

"He and others pointed to the large number of jobs in the area, primarily on the Mountain View side, where Google and Intuit have expansive campuses.

"Having a site where we can consider larger projects, specifically designed to serve some of these jobs center, I think is an experiment worth doing," Burt said."

How special that Burt supports providing housing for techies for Google et al yet they can't even pay a reasonable business tax. Someone teach the Mayor how to negotiate for PA residents instead of turning us into cash cows to support Big Tech.


Rand Bacon
Registered user
Portola Valley
on Aug 23, 2022 at 11:25 am
Rand Bacon, Portola Valley
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 11:25 am

The 'new San Antonio Road' with its high-rise mixed-use occupancies looks a lot better than when the area was merely known for the Menu Tree, Oshmans, Sears, and a Burger King.


Ferdinand
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:33 pm
Ferdinand , Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:33 pm

Thank you "Bystander" for suggesting we look at the infrastructure and not only adding housing components. Transitioning some commercial to residential should be part of future plans, but also keeping some affordable commercial land for small businesses also reduces transportation impacts of not having to drive distances for useful, basic products and services. Along with identifying locations close to walk-able shopping and public transportation, requiring safe bicycle/pedestrian and convenient bus/shuttle services should always be part of any large development. We can increase density (and maintain quality of living) if we decrease car use.


Scout
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:58 pm
Scout, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Years back I attended Stanford’s General Use Plan (or Permit?) presentation—the one that Councilman Joe Simitian thankfully held at bay. Traffic and transit were among the issues. We all learned that no additional train cars can be added to the tracks. Whatever the technical reasons, the rail system has not been upgraded. So building housing near and counting on our train stations is pointless.

At this meeting, we learned that Palo Alto schools were all impacted. Neighbors and SEIU workers asked Stanford if it would build schools for employees’ kids. Nope!!

And will someone please check the RHNA calculations? Outdated and inaccurate is an understatement.


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Aug 23, 2022 at 3:42 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 3:42 pm

I think it's worth asking: if you were trying to create a new Racially/Ethnically Concentrated Area of Poverty* out of thin air, what would you do? Well, I think you'd go to a part of the city where there are no residences currently, then vastly exceed current density limitations in just that place.

I don't think this is the way Council is thinking about it. But I do wonder if it's illegal to do under the state's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing law. I didn't bring this up in my comment because I was asking the proposed heights to be applied more broadly. But by taking densities so much higher in only this tiny corner of the city? I suspect they're crossing a line. Definitely violates the spirit of AFFH, and very likely the letter, as well.

* Web Link


Local Resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:08 pm
Local Resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:08 pm

Most of those apartments will be market rate for higher income earners since many more people want to live in Palo Alto than other places because its nicer and conveniently located. The battle is actually if there will be enough low income housing. With 15% inclusionary housing at 80% to 120% of Santa Clara County AMI, we're not talking very much subsidized housing or very big subsidies.


Scout
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:18 pm
Scout, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:18 pm

Please, everyone read the full texts of Senate Bills 9 & 10! We should forget about affordable housing units—our state legislature did.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:24 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:24 pm

"Please, everyone read the full texts of Senate Bills 9 & 10! We should forget about affordable housing units—our state legislature did."

Exactly. Read the bills and challenge all those claiming they mean the Peninsula For Everyone because it's not for everyone, just the highly paid techies whose employers backed the bills and who want their workers (employees and contractors) packed in like sardines but who won't pay their fair share in business taxes and who create homelessness by classifying their gig workers as contractors -- thus denying them benefits and unemployment insurance.

All while WE get stuck with congestion, increased crime, growing homeless populations.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:34 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:34 pm

I just about fell over in disgust with all the cooing, ooooing and awwing the CC did for ROLM/IDUST site. The generalizing work/live assump'tives violates our Fair Housing. How HCD will handle as a legit site? Like everyone is going to work high end jobs at Google. Jonathon come Lait(ely) that HWY 101 will provide easy driving to jobs!!! HAHAHAHA. Becasue of a Fast Trak pay toll? Hey, Eric F! Get everyone to "double down" driving to schools, jobs, shopping. What a bunch of climate dust balls was thrown into our eyes. Hypercritical maximum. Could not come up with funding to do a neighborhood, infrastructure analysis where 1000 apartments have no transit, schools, retail and is laden with manufacturing toxins. Lait contending the number of unit yields would have to be taken off the inventory should the CC require any area pre-plan for housing. Yet. They can do a development study for 27 University because? They took the BIG money off the inventory list. High end apartment "homes" are going to go into Julia Morgan property. Hello. Why? Because of Stanford etc. . Money for property exchanged all over the place -- and home for humans is being barred in the least most toxin, noisy, congested outskirts of town. The City and Stanford want low-income, working families using their cars & as far away from their precious R1 zones as possible. The number of times CC verbalized "and that's away from our R1's" was hideous and discriminatory, Red lining. Shame, shame, shame. No thank you Tanaka. When Kuo brought up storm surge as a concern, Burt shushed her. Plus. Johnny come Lait(ely) was asked, "Have you been in communication with MV?" He never answered. The city does not want this housing & literally shoved 1/3 of it on Mountain View's hind legs. Where we can't see it, nor want people to shop in Palo Alto, Park in Palo Alto, use the roads, Work in Palo Alto or actually reside in Palo Alto... counting the minutes for when "phony", Filseth and "Do What!?" are evicted from CC.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:35 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:35 pm

I just about fell over in disgust with all the cooing, ooooing and awwing the CC did for ROLM/IDUST site. The generalizing work/live assump'tives violates our Fair Housing. How HCD will handle as a legit site? Like everyone is going to work high end jobs at Google. Jonathon come Lait(ely) that HWY 101 will provide easy driving to jobs!!! HAHAHAHA. Becasue of a Fast Trak pay toll? Hey, Eric F! Get everyone to "double down" driving to schools, jobs, shopping. What a bunch of climate dust balls was thrown into our eyes. Hypercritical maximus. Could not come up with funding to do a neighborhood, infrastructure analysis where 1000 apartments have no transit, schools, retail and is laden with manufacturing toxins. Lait contending the number of unit yields would have to be taken off the inventory should the CC require any area pre-plan for housing. Yet. They can do a development study for 27 University because? They took the BIG money off the inventory list. High end apartment "homes" are going to go into Julia Morgan property. Hello. Why? Because of Stanford etc. . Money for property exchanged all over the place -- and home for humans is being barred in the least most toxin, noisy, congested outskirts of town. The City and Stanford want low-income, working families using their cars & as far away from their precious R1 zones as possible. The number of times CC verbalized "and that's away from our R1's" was hideous and discriminatory, Red lining. Shame, shame, shame. No thank you Tanaka. When Kuo brought up storm surge as a concern, Burt shushed her. Plus. Johnny come Lait(ely) was asked, "Have you been in communication with MV?" He never answered. The city does not want this housing & literally shoved 1/3 of it on Mountain View's hind legs. Where we can't see it, nor want people to shop in Palo Alto, Park in Palo Alto, use the roads, Work in Palo Alto or actually reside in Palo Alto... counting the minutes for when "phony", Filseth and "Do What!?" are evicted from CC.


[email protected]
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 23, 2022 at 7:40 pm
[email protected], Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 7:40 pm

The money for affordable housing should come from the general fund, not from taxing new homebuilding. Or we repeal prop 13 for Palo Alto and other cities that rail against jobs and techies.

If you don't allow new dense climate responsible homes, how about we cordon off your city and not allow access to jobs and other services that you are glad you are able to enjoy in someone else's neighborhood but yours?


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2022 at 8:48 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 8:48 pm

@[email protected] Totally agree. Push everyone out to East San Antonio, Texas, more like! I recuse from said label NIMBY to NIMSHT “Not in My State’s Home Town” ! Let’s get together. Avendidas this Friday 2 to 4 . ReEvolve housing!!


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 23, 2022 at 9:22 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2022 at 9:22 pm

New housing is proposed Downtown and in the neighborhoods near it, near Cal Ave, in Ventura, on San Antonio, and along essentially all of El Camino that doesn't belong to Stanford. There are also some really big properties on East Meadow Circle near West Bayshore. You can see all of this at the Housing Element website ( Web Link ) which has an inventory document and a nice interactive map.

Don't forget the R-1 areas are already fair game for SB9 and ADUs.

I believe the headline for this article did us a disservice by implying a heavy concentration on a single area when that kind of concentration doesn't actually exist.

I also think the elephant in the room is the lack of housing proposals for Stanford Research Park. It has land, access to transportation infrastructure, a huge concentration of jobs, the ability to support tall buildings without disrupting existing neighborhoods, and the City controls the zoning. I've asked Council members about this, and I get the sense that everyone is aware of it, but so far Stanford isn't convinced.


Easy8
Registered user
Green Acres
on Aug 24, 2022 at 12:44 am
Easy8, Green Acres
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 12:44 am

Is there any reason we couldn't add the area east of 101 (e.g. where Anderson Honda and the old Ming's restaurant are located) as an additional housing area for apartment complexes?


Local Resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:52 am
Local Resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:52 am

@Easy8 the problem with the Bayland side of 101 is its subject to sea level rise. Shorter term winter storm flooding. Its also on soft wetter soil so much more vulnerable to earthquake shaking. Best to leave it commercial.


Local Resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:52 am
Local Resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:52 am

Easy8:the problem with the Bayland side of 101 is its subject to sea level rise. Shorter term winter storm flooding. Its also on soft wetter soil so much more vulnerable to earthquake shaking. Best to leave it commercial.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2022 at 11:10 am
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 11:10 am

@Scott,

“I don't think this is the way Council is thinking about it. But I do wonder if it's illegal to do under the state's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing law. I didn't bring this up in my comment because I was asking the proposed heights to be applied more broadly. But by taking densities so much higher in only this tiny corner of the city? I suspect they're crossing a line. Definitely violates the spirit of AFFH, and very likely the letter, as well”

Just remember that this is the idea of three or four guys who just decided on this “experiment” because nobody was asked. Since nobody lives there and the decision makers don’t care to know the opinions of residents who are concerned about just “warehousing” people where it’s not Palo Alto (which could be a good thing if they could secede) this was not our choice.

The costs and lack of ability for City Hall to manage something better given their negotiation skills means the freeway entrance and that ugly Mountain View center are it.

But if this goes wrong nobody will remember that we were not asked about this idea.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Aug 24, 2022 at 1:57 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 1:57 pm

This is what happens when the clowns get to run the circus, with access to ticket sales to use for development of evolving side show acts.

What's wrong with using some of the open space all up and down Page Mill Road for housing development? I already know the answer to that, it's rhetorical. But how about instead of cramming more people and cars on a street that already has more than enough accidents due to people who are clueless about the freeway on-ramp, can't we get something going on a not-so-clustered area? Sure the land there is cheap but there's a reason. It's not really buildable for anything but industrial purposes.

I'd like to see how many of the people who are getting to decide this have degrees in engineering. I don't have one but I'm not pretending I know how to utilize taxpayer funds in the matter of building more housing, either.

My favorite part of the article was the "The council envisions 512 new accessory dwelling units over the eight-year period" bit. Not sure why but immediately was struck with a memory from the story The Night Before Christmas -- "While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads".

The CC will have a new clown act soon, don't let the current troupe go too far in their fantasyland of urban planning.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm

@MyEelz. Which came first? The clown or the Baffin? Clearly we know there are 7 chickens laying rotten eggs under the PA CC Dias while trying to sell fake golden goose eggs to public!

Anyway nice to have some humor here. Thank you for the chuckle your post gave me.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2022 at 4:09 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2022 at 4:09 pm

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]


SR
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 30, 2022 at 12:27 pm
SR, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2022 at 12:27 pm

@Native. Relax and breathe. It's gonna be ok. Really. State is pushing new legislation to encourage housing in commercial districts. Are you at all concerned about getting to the State mandated numbers?

SOMA in SF didn't have a Whole Foods before all the new housing went in. Couple thousand units and you'll be amazed by what services pop up.

Charleston and San Antonio is a mile to Caltrain and the GooglePlex. Adjacent to the new bike bridge. 1/2 mile to Cubberley, Mitchell Park, Greendell and Mitchell Park Library. 101 will be zero emission EVs.

The whole point of the State mandates is go big, and San Antonio is a big vision. If it works out we'll have a tested model for the Stanford Research Park and maybe some direction for what we can do on larger parcels in DTPA for the next cycle.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2022 at 1:12 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2022 at 1:12 pm

Go big without a plan for supporting community services and transportation is NOT smart. It is a state unfunded mandate to cities to cave to developer demands with no funds attached to plan or build the necessary infrastructure to support that new housing and its new residents. This is recipe for destroying communities.

Where is the Area Plan? These units are adding up to some real numbers in an area that already is very auto congested and lacking community service capacity and infrastructure for transit, bike, and pedestrian options to support higher density. These units are replacing community-serving businesses. Cubberley has been allowed to fall into disrepair by PAUSD and the city, so capacity for services is not in place. The Area Plan should come first, or at least with, but not after, the housing is approved and built. This looks like knee-jerk reaction to developer demands, not thoughtfully planned development. Here are the numbers, totaled up:

Development Recently Built, Approved, or in the Pipeline for East Charleston and San Antonio
75 Condos (800 San Antonio Road)
76 housing units (1237 San Antonio-Home Key transitional housing for unhoused people)
102 apartments -788 San Antonio
50 apartments (525 E. Charleston – 100% affordable, 10 parking spaces)
249 room hotel (744-750 San Antonio—Marriott hotels)
22 senior units plus 8 nursing beds (figure one room for each two nursing beds at 824 San Antonio Road)
578 TOTAL hotel rooms and units

A plan is needed ASAP.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 30, 2022 at 3:13 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2022 at 3:13 pm

An Area Plan is a great idea.

For some reason Council has prioritized Area Plans elsewhere, even as you point out, momentum has been building on San Antonio.

Repeating the Ventura process would just waste precious time. There has to be a better way.

The Council got this one right: they've identified a district with the potential to assemble multi-acre parcels, low value uses, obsolete buildings and proximity to jobs, transit, parks and schools.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2022 at 3:31 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 30, 2022 at 3:31 pm

SR,

“The Council got this one right: they've identified a district with the potential to assemble multi-acre parcels, low value uses, obsolete buildings and proximity to jobs, transit, parks and schools.”

SOMA? I don’t think so. There’s a Whole Foods already by the ugly Mt View Center.

I saw that a Meth lab was found at the apartments in the Mt View Center. Will the prices reflect that it’s barely Palo Alto? Probably not, it will be unaffordable and not help the people currently being displaced by increasing costs and reduced quality of life.

Great distraction.


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2022 at 9:12 am
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 9:12 am

As one who commutes this corridor daily I can assure you the traffic is already unsustainable -without- the additional proposed housing. I predict the new traffic light at Louis and Charleston will bring gridlock to that area. People will not walk or bike or use public transportation. Why should they?


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:00 am
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:00 am

Just to reinforce a point made earlier: The State mandates are intended to force unmanaged growth *everywhere*. The San Antonio area is not alone, and it would be a shame to get caught up in neighborhood-vs-neighborhood conflicts instead of concentrating on the big picture.

This morning's Merc reminded me about AB 2097, which will eliminate parking requirements for any project, residential or commercial, within a half-mile of public transit. ("Public Transit" is generously defined to include not only things like Caltrain stops, but also bus corridors.) It's pretty obvious what this is going to do to traffic and parking in Downtown and the nearby neighborhoods, as well as the Cal Ave area and probably all the neighborhoods adjacent to El Camino.

There are band-aids we can apply in some cases. For example, we could put the Downtown commercial core in a separate permit parking district, so that daytime spillover is limited (though this wouldn't have any effect on overnight parking). An initiative is probably the best fix in the long term.


Sanjay Chopra
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:09 am
Sanjay Chopra, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:09 am

San Antonio Road is no different than Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale where development has flourished.

With a growing population of potential renters, homeowners, and everpresent homeless population, what better location than to accommodate as many of them as possible?


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:17 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:17 am

The other aspect to parking is going to be about charging electric cars. With all the news about gas cars not being sold how are residents going to be able to charge a car overnight? Will they be able to do home charging or depend on public charging stations? These are issues that are separate from how is the State going to provide enough power for EV cars.

The recent overnight power outage in major parts of Palo Alto caused EVs to stop charging. Many people depend on that overnight charge to give them power for the following day's business and personal driving. Without many hours of chargetime, those cars did not have enough power for the following day.

Unless our power supply can be improved, an overnight outage is going to cause chaos to those who depend on EVs. It doesn't matter how many incentives we are given to go electric, without a dependable power supply those cars will become useless to their owners.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:57 am
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:57 am

@Allen Aiken,

“This morning's Merc reminded me about AB 2097, which will eliminate parking requirements for any project, residential or commercial, within a half-mile of public transit.”

Aa most people, who probably do not rely on “public transit,” we live in a one-car-per-person culture in the US and especially CA where people love their cars and it’s a status thing…there is no real public transit. Caltrain doesn’t have proper signage at some stations (even the schedules are confusing). I find it unpleasant and unwelcoming, and it’s NOT the riders but the gross infrastructure. As population grows, add one car per person.

In a car status obsessed culture, the next toy is probably flying machines but that is still not public transportation.

Just being close to a “transit” station is not enough.


Anne
Registered user
Midtown
on Aug 31, 2022 at 1:46 pm
Anne, Midtown
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Let's dump all the density and traffic on South Palo Altans!


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 3:52 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 3:52 pm

1). Put University back in the mix. Don't protect one area that is ripe for development, very transit rich, very bike friendly and close to increasing numbers of jobs at Stanford and retail--and then make San Antonio, an area that has almost none of those amenities, your dumping ground without bothering to plan for transportation and services. (Sunnyvale's growth was comprehensively planned--which is WHY it was successful.)

2). Create an Area Plan now. If you have to hire a new planner to get the work done, then do that. But what the city is doing to south PA right now is grossly irresponsible (as well as pennywise, pound foolish), especially given the city and PAUSD's long-term, dysfunctional misuse of south PA's last publicly owned land that could provide the school and community service capacity that will be needed to support all of this housing growth.

The failure of Council, PAUSD and city and staff to look at the big picture and plan for it in south PA, is a recurring problem. It is wrong to make one part of the city bear the brunt of this.

The count is now 568 housing units, hotel rooms recently approved built or proposed in this area. So much for community engagement.

Oh, and one last thing...just remember that when grade separation construction happens, Oregon Expressway and San 'Antonio are going to be the ONLY detour routes-- for all modes. That's all we have at this end of town. Please think about that as you do your area planning for San Antonio.

Though I am a skilled bicyclist, I avoid San Antonio. It is an awful place to ride and walk. It will need a PLAN, and a lot of work and money to make it a safe and comfortable place for people to walk and bike. Train service is local trains--lots of stops. Most people nearby, go to the Cal Ave station to pick up a train. There is no decent bus service to speak of. University has ALL of these things. San Antonio can carry the housing IF it comes with necessary amenities. Make a plan.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 31, 2022 at 4:45 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 4:45 pm

University *already is* in the mix. See the map on the Housing Element Working Group website, Web Link
It looks to me like there are close to a hundred Downtown properties on the target list.

I don't think this is a case of Council discrimination. I think this is a case of developer and financier interest being greatest where the lots are largest and the cost of land is lowest, plus the State mandates forcing everyone to build even where there isn't preparation for it.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Aug 31, 2022 at 5:05 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 5:05 pm

Allen is right. University is in the mix, but the parcels are too small to do anything fast enough to matter. Developers need to assemble bigger parcels. That could take decades and we don't have decades.

Stanford Research Park is also a great idea. CPA's track record negotiating with Stanford is terrible.

Along with more housing mandates, the State has taken away all our tools to manage traffic and is slowly taking away our tools to manage parking. As Bystander notes, no one is coordinating EV mandates with EV charging. As Resident3 points out, we don't have good transit. If we did we'd all use it. VTA shut down light rail for months and Caltrain started losing riders two years before the pandemic.

The Council got this one right: San Antonio is an underdeveloped corner of Palo Alto with parcels that are big enough to work with. Proximity to jobs, transit, schools and parks. Close to 101 that will be all EVs soon.


resident17
Registered user
Monroe Park
on Aug 31, 2022 at 5:37 pm
resident17, Monroe Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 5:37 pm

Allen Akin -
From a Palo Alto Weekly article earlier this month

"On Monday, council members went back to their original plan and took the University Avenue site out of Housing Element, dealing a blow to the housing advocates who have been calling for residential development near the transit center. Planning Director Jonathan Lait called the site "ripe for redevelopment," noting its proximity to the second busiest Caltrain station along the entire line. He suggested, however, that relying on it for the current Housing Element would be premature."

SR - Where do you see "transit, schools and parks" near San Antonio, particularly between Middlefield and 101?


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Aug 31, 2022 at 6:05 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 6:05 pm

@resident17: That paragraph refers to the single site at 27 University near the Transit Center, not to the roughly 100 other sites in the Downtown area. If you look at Jon Lait's comments, it's pretty clear that site will be back on the table, too.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 6:19 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2022 at 6:19 pm

@Resident17,

“SR - Where do you see "transit, schools and parks" near San Antonio, particularly between Middlefield and 101?”

That’s what I thought-

The terms “transit” and “proximity” are just fiction and only time will tell what future buyers will believe.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 1, 2022 at 7:33 am
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 7:33 am

Middlefield and San Antonio is 1500 feet to Cubberley and 3000 feet to Mitchell Park. Ramos Park is another option. Closer to parks than most of Professorville and Old Palo Alto.

PAUSD still has Greendell elementary that they'll reopen when demand grows in the district.

Middlefield and San Antonio is 3000 feet to San Antonio Caltrain.

There's a Safeway and a Whole Foods at San Antonio and ECR and another Safeway at Shoreline and Middlefield.

@Resident3: you're not wrong that transit in the Bay Area is a legal fiction. It's part of the State's framework so just tick off the box and perhaps lobby for better 101 access on Rengstorff and Shoreline close to the jobs


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:50 am
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:50 am

@SR

"...perhaps lobby for better 101 access on Rengstorff and Shoreline close to the jobs"

Hmm, maybe things staying tricky as they are for 101 S access from San Antonio is better if you already hate the traffic on 101 but asking people to lobby to get to work?

Businesses have made it kind of obvious that nothing is worth "lobbying" for in Palo Alto. Businesses don't care how you get to work, or how you live. Businesses use more electricity than households, need more police resources but they want nothing to do with the costs. Why don't they lobby for something other than themselves for once.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2022 at 12:03 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Again, Cubberley is a rundown mess. The city and PAUSD have wasted thousands of hours of south PA residents' time working on redevelopment plans that they, evidently, never intended to implement. Cubberley has not been significantly renovated since it was built. Its poor functionality is a problem that affects its usefulness.

As for proximity to the parks, schools, etc., the bike and ped connections to these amenities are AWFUL. Yes. I "yelled" that on purpose. The word "Awful" barely touches the severity of the problem. I bike this area lot. San Antonio is a hot mess with alternating awful congestion and/or speeding traffic across very long bike/ped crossings at different times of day. These are tricky, expensive problems to solve. It is an unsafe and uncomfortable place to be on foot or on a bike. e-cars still create congestion and parking impacts. Cars cannot be the transportation solution on this road. It simply doesn't have sufficient capacity to carry them in the numbers that this development will draw nor is there sufficient right-of way to add that capacity.

The one University site they took off the table was the one that is most useful for development. That speaks volumes. So, yes, San Antonio is being treated differently. That's not ok.

Greendell has always been in use by Preschool Family and presently is being used by PAUSD to serially house elementary school communities while their sites are under construction. It won't be "reopened." It never closed


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:08 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:08 pm

The city's beliefs about the likelihood of downtown lots merging (University and Cal Ave) are based on experience under current zoning and current regulations. It's absurd to claim that this would continue if we upzoned to 90 du/acre (parity w/ GM/ROLM proposal) and streamlined lot merges (Sacramento has already helped with this). If we did this, merging lots in Cal Ave and University would be like printing money, so it's more than a little ridiculous to claim owners along those corridors wouldn't find a way to divvy up those spoils.

What's going on in the GM/ROLMs is NIMBYs on the Council discovered they can upzone a place that is essentially Mountain View as far as that key "Proximity to Backyard" metric is concerned, yet get credit towards Palo Alto's RHNA. It's that simple, and that ugly. But when has that ever stopped them?

Calls this to mind:
Web Link


tmp
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:12 pm
tmp, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 4:12 pm

Don't like all of this building - support a referendum to return development and growth planning to local communities. There are groups out there working on this.

The state should stop passing out development rights with no infrastructure support to their developer buddies who donate big bucks to their campaigns.

The only poor planning here is the state government forcing cities to approve these developments that only serve the rich. They have taken away any ability to require parking, charging stations, levy fees for schools, infrastructure or even require net zero energy buildings. It is all about letting developers put up market rate buildings with no parking and no fees so they get rich.

The city is left with no options besides comply or get sued! Take it out on your state legislators and senators if you don't like what is happening because it is all on them.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2022 at 5:12 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 1, 2022 at 5:12 pm

@tmp,

"Don't like all of this building - support a referendum to return development and growth planning to local communities. There are groups out there working on this."

How does this address the glaring problem of a failed transportation system with a mandated transition to eliminate one source of energy, for a new one for millions of cars plus grid issues. Not seeing any humility anywhere, just plans and plans. How has "local" planning helped so far? How did "local" help the people who have quietly had to leave or are leaving now after years giving to the community.

A "return" seems to be what it already is now.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 2, 2022 at 7:23 am
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 7:23 am

We've been directed by the state to get something done in Palo Alto. It's Palo Alto until you cross the city line to Menlo Park or Mountain View. Let's applaud the Council for making a serious effort to comply.

Take a look at the Stevens Creek Promenade project for an example of what we can do with just a 10 acre site. 3 buildings, 580 units. San Jose just dumped offices from the project, added 173 BMR units, a hotel and retail.

Web Link

San Antonio is close to parks, transit, schools and jobs.


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2022 at 10:21 am
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 10:21 am

As was pointed out earlier, for practical reasons, San Antonio is NOT close to parks, transit, schools and jobs.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:17 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 3:17 pm

"The one University site they took off the table was the one that is most useful for development."

As I understand it, Staff originally left 27 University off the list for the Housing Element. Council overruled that and added it. Then a while later Council backtracked. Why?

One reason might be grade separation. It's likely impractical to grade-separate the Alma crossing. If it's closed, we'll need a new crossing to carry that traffic; University can't handle everything. One proposal I've heard was to build an underpass at Everett. If that's done, part of the 27 University site has to be used for the intersection with El Camino. Building now would preclude that and cause unsolvable traffic problems throughout Downtown. Setting 27 University aside until later doesn't eliminate it from contention. All of this is muddled up with the University Ave redesign, and we're on a deadline for the new Housing Element, so Staff probably wants to keep the number of moving parts to a minimum right now.

I live about four blocks from the Waverley/Hamilton parking lot. That's 2/3 of an acre, and it's City-owned land, so it represents one of the best chances we have to put affordable housing Downtown. 27 University is only one of the sites useful for development, and maybe not the best one for some things.

"...merging lots in Cal Ave and University would be like printing money..."

@scott is too optimistic about this. Lot merges drive land prices up as sellers demand the maximum the market will bear. Whatever gets built on the merged lots would need to have stratospheric margins to be profitable, and around here, that means offices rather than housing.

Sure, we'd get some tiny, expensive, unparked housing thrown in. The market here will support a little of that (but not much; see 955 Alma). To understand the endgame all you have to do is look at places like Manhattan, where the average apartment is both smaller and more expensive than the average apartment in Palo Alto.


GKL
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2022 at 9:19 pm
GKL, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 9:19 pm

I totally agree with Consider Your Options. Too much building on San Antonio. Listen to your constituents. City Council: come experience the traffic that already exists, then imagine so much more. Consider MV's building projects along San Antonio Rd. Public Transit won't make a dent.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 3, 2022 at 11:21 am
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2022 at 11:21 am

I totally sympathize with the traffic issue. Pin this on the State for pretending cars don't exist and transit does. That's not an argument about San Antonio. Where in town can we can add 18,000 daily trips (6000 units x 1.5 people x work and back) without impact? Ask the State why we can't worry about that.

The whining "It's barely Palo Alto" "It's almost Mountain View" "Park access is not practical" is coming from people who aren't serious about hitting the target.

San Antonio is in Palo Alto. Parks, jobs, schools and transit are factually nearby. Joseph Eichler had the vision to build thousands of homes and transform underdeveloped land into neighborhoods. We can do the same.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Sep 3, 2022 at 12:03 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2022 at 12:03 pm

San Antonio road is not busy at 5 AM. How about encouraging more businesses to create flex-time hours to allow people to commute before the rest of the world wakes up?

I'm just kidding, of course. I'm more in favor of replacing the city council with appointed engineers instead of elected people who don't have a clue about how to build housing and fit it into existing infrastructure. And then add services for all of the poor people they will be importing into all that low income housing. City Council should be comprised of people who have a PhD in Social Services, with a State Contractor's license, with an MBA focused on finance.


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2022 at 9:28 am
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2022 at 9:28 am

Any developments will be underparked. Any infrastructure residents of these proposed new developments need to get to will require a car. Fabien is already nose to tail with RV dwellers. By default those cars will be stored on nearby residential streets. Employees of the nearby JCC are already doing that. People who do not live here need to stop with the head-in-the-clouds attitude that since some other city made a different situation work, then It will automatically work on the San Antonio corridor. Nope.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 4, 2022 at 3:22 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2022 at 3:22 pm

" elected people who don't have a clue about how to build housing"

That's the whole point. The council doesn't build housing. Developers propose and build the most expensive housing that will bring in the highest possible return for their investment.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2022 at 12:47 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 5, 2022 at 12:47 pm

@ mjh

"Developers propose and build the most expensive housing that will bring in the highest possible return for their investment."

Developers get a return on their investment by charging a lot of money to rich and richer people and by reducing their costs per square foot. On a day like today, who wants to be a in a sea of concrete or in an eyesore of CARS instead of trees.

Somehow parking "requirements" have turned into a variable to incentivize developers to build market rate housing when it's a quality of life issue (for "market rate" buyers and everyone else). Won't there be a need to have parking with chargers for all the electric cars?

Where will all the "young families" go on a hot day when school is closed. In dense areas, high quality buildings have swimming pools, indoor play areas for kids. Will they plant a lot of trees or is that even a requirement.


The developers are the ones who have an opportunity to do better than the ugly Mountain View Center that have residents running meth labs. Web Link



Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:54 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:54 am

SR, your lack of knowledge about transit availability in the San Antonio area might be excused based on where you live, Community Center. The San Antonio train station has limited service with only local trains, no express trains. This is why most current residents of the area travel to Cal Ave Station to catch a train, as do I. Further, bus availabilities are extremely limited. Have you looked at the schedules and stop location? Maps are deceiving. What matters for transit use is the bus stop proximity and headways (that is how frequently the service stops at a specific location), and whether the bus service takes people where they want to go. Look at the routes. They are junk for this area. Bike/pedestrian connectivity and safety is terrible too. Higher density and transportation improvements MUST go hand in hand. That is being ignored here...as well as community service and school capacity to serve all of these new residents.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:29 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:29 pm

"Higher density and transportation improvements MUST go hand in hand."

True, and this point has been made to Regional and State officials over and over. They've consistently ignored it. I guess their plan is to wait until the transportation disasters outrage everyone, then impose new regressive taxes to fund multi-decade projects to fix the "transit crisis". Too bad for the generations of residents that have to live with a mess they didn't create, then pay for cleaning it up.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:34 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Whatever, as long as we quit catering to the bigs, most obviously Google. Our politicians appear to help them, see two adjacent hotels on San Antonio, for example; Inwas told theyre filled w G ppl.
Apartment rental (market rate) “close to Google” (even if not, especially) have high rates. There are regular professionals about who contribute quite well to our Tech economy, and taxes, too, you know. Google = obscene overpaid and apartment conglomerates base their practices off that.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 6, 2022 at 6:55 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2022 at 6:55 pm

@CYO - every train that stops at Cal Ave also stops at San Antonio. I take your point, but it's both or neither.

Buses and shuttles are easy to change to meet demand. You should help lobby for an Area Plan to ensure good shuttle service.

I agree with many of your points, but your anger should be directed at Governor Newsom and Assemblyman Berman. Not at Mayor Burt and the PACC.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2022 at 12:29 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 7, 2022 at 12:29 pm

SR--An Area Plan must come from the City of Palo Alto, not the state legislators. That is how these things are done, and that's part of the stupidity of all of the state mandate. Small cities do not have funds for this kind of unexpected comprehensive planning process.

We have a State housing mandate that has no attached provisions for transportation improvement or area planning FUNDING. This is very bad practice.

Buses/shuttles come from VTA, Santa Clara County's regional transit agency. Apparently, you haven't worked with them much. I have. Getting bus service improvements is anything but easy. VTA is one of the worst performing transit agencies in the nation, and they will generally prioritize San Jose over all other cities and cities in close proximity of San Jose ahead of north county cities. Why? Because San Jose controls their Board.

Palo Alto shares only one VTA Board seat with other cities. That means we have representation only one year out of every three years. By comparison, San Jose owns six seats at all times, which enables them to constantly work the system. It is appalling to watch VTA staff pander to San Jose reps, particularly Liccardo and Chavez, who have accumulated a lot of power and historical knowledge simply by holding their San Jose seats constantly for so long. Getting new bus service for Palo Alto is actually incredibly hard. Keeping it will be even harder because our city often has no representation when big service decisions are being made.

These are the facts we live with. Please don't dismissively remark that it's easy. Many people, including me, have worked for decades to get better bus service in Palo Alto with limited success and many more setbacks. If you think it's so easy, step up, learn how things work, and help.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 8, 2022 at 10:27 am
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 10:27 am

Buses and shuttles are easy. VTA is hard. Extend the City Shuttle or make a shuttle a development condition paid for by a new business district.

Where in Palo Alto do you expect to get the mandated 6000+ units actually built in this cycle? Stanford Research Park has no transit by your definition. El Camino has the slow bus to nowhere. ADUs and Infill require 1000s of projects to get imagined, designed, approved, financed and built.

The City Council got this one right. We need some big projects to reach the number and San Antonio is the best place in Palo Alto to do them in the next few years


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2022 at 11:08 am
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 11:08 am

Nope. Palo Alto should fight this taking of property by the state.

Let's get real about public transportation - no one uses it. When I lived by the Castro St. light rail the schedule took 90 minutes to get to my workplace in Santa Clara. A 20 minute drive. Did I ever take light rail? well, no. Would you (anyone?).

Let's also get real about cars. Everyone needs one. Few people can afford one yet. A happy vision of 101 filled with electric vehicles is still decades away.

If there is no place to park/charge a car people will park wherever they can, turning neighborhoods into impromptu parking lots. It is already happening.

Developers are in the business of making money. They will happily steal quality-of-life from the surrounding region to do so.

And, speaking of affordability... let's look at property taxes. Even if you can afford to buy a home, the yearly property tax bill could itself be unaffordable.

Show me a comprehensive plan and I'll get behind it. Adding hundreds of units to an underserved area is not it. The plan is calling for units to be added on Fabien Way which is not walking distance to jobs, transit, parks or whatever imagined perks will serve the new residents. Even if the building were at Middlefield and San Antonio people are not going to find it a walkable situation - and why do they have to walk when everyone else has cars?


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 8, 2022 at 12:20 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 12:20 pm

@Eeyore. You're not wrong, but what Palo Alto neighborhood do you think San Antonio residents will park in?

Where do we put the mandated units to meet your concerns? Is your thought we just shouldn't do it? Or do we do our best to make it happen?


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2022 at 1:06 pm
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 1:06 pm

They will park in Adobe Meadow, Meadow Park, Fabien Dr. and the industrial section of Mountain View just across the street. And let's not forget Meadow Circle which is also scheduled for dense, unparked housing. A casual drive-by will show the impact the existing condo complexes have had.

I am far from conservative, but state mandated housing without state mandated improvements to infrastructure is an obvious fail.

So, yes. Unless the state steps up, I oppose the mandates.

Shouldn't take much to encourage Google and Facebook, and Palantier(!!) to move to Texas. Texas want them and I am sure they would sweeten the pie.

Why do you think we should "do our best" to make this badly planned development possible?


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:10 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:10 pm

I think Adobe Meadow, Meadow Park and Fabian will get RPPs that don't cover south of San Antonio. Mountain View will do whatever they want to do.

I think we have to take the State Mandates (as badly defined and unfunded as they are) seriously. We don't have much time. I've watched neighbors spend multiple years on simple projects like ADUs (this is on them, not on the City). We could get a thousand units with small projects, but the only way to reach 6000 is with some big projects. I assume large scale projects will take 5+ years from concept to occupancy.

Historically tech companies used Silicon Valley for innovation and other locations (Portland, Phoenix, Boise) for growth. Manufacturing left the Valley 30 years ago. Do you want the 1000 innovators at Google to leave town along with the 10,000 adword managers? I think distributed work will sort this out and I'd like the top couple thousand to stick around and not all move to Bozeman and Jackson Hole


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:46 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:46 pm

@SR,

"Do you want the 1000 innovators at Google to leave town along with the 10,000 adword managers? I think distributed work will sort this out and I'd like the top couple thousand to stick around and not all move to Bozeman and Jackson Hole"

If the idea is to make this a place housing for Google or other companies, then call it that. Then these companies should invest in this idea that came out of nowhere as far a I can tell. Or it comes from state pressure which comes from Google pressure. It's all the same players.

If the idea is not a corporate campus, we need more housing near downtown for regular people and ideally replace the build up of hotels or commercial buildings. Shuttles are good for offices and hotels, not for more permanent dwellers.

You mention Jackson Hole as the alternative. That's the competition even for corporate personnel. Palo Alto is still massively attractive to young families because of the schools, but there's a limit. Living in a corporate campus far away from town...maybe better off in Jackson Hole?


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:48 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 2:48 pm

"I think Adobe Meadow, Meadow Park and Fabian will get RPPs that don't cover south of San Antonio."

The State limits what you can do with RPP districts, and in particular, doesn't allow RPPs that prohibit residents in high-density housing from parking elsewhere in the district. (Even if that high-density housing was deliberately constructed without parking because it's in a "transit-rich" area where residents "don't need cars".)

As I read the laws, the only way to get any control over this is to establish the boundaries of new parking districts *before* projects are entitled. Hence the interest in establishing a separate RPP district for the Downtown commercial core, which is not part of the existing Downtown RPP district, before more unparked housing is built in the core.

Be aware that even this may have no effect on contention for overnight parking if the RPP district's hours are limited.

If you live near any area where substantial development is proposed, my advice is to contact Council for support and start the process of developing new, compact RPP districts right away. People who truly believe these new developments don't need any parking should have no problem with this.


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2022 at 8:05 pm
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 8:05 pm

I’m in favor of making all new housing well below market rate and limited in availability to teachers and service employees. That will improve our quality of life and maintain our exemplary schools. Let’s take the developer profit out of the equation and see where we stand. I still want to see real public transportation options, parks, and shopping in place -before- adding housing. Developers throw us a sop of “market rate” when they calculate what it takes to maximize their profit. So it is perfectly reasonable for Palo Alto to fight the special interests in court, if that is what it takes. But then Palo Alto Utilities have been overcharging us for years, so I don’t see PACC growing a spine anytime soon.

And yes, send the 1000 Google innovators out of town. There is nothing that they do locally that solely benefits the local population. Most of them are in India, China, and Russia as it is, being paid a pittance of what US workers make.

My next door tech CEO just moved to Boise. He is very happy there. Boise locals perhaps not so much.


Eeyore (formerly StarSpring)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2022 at 8:20 pm
Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 8, 2022 at 8:20 pm

And make provision for adequate parking. Teachers and service employees are not serfs and should be able to enjoy freedom of movement beyond what VTA, CalTrain, and. BART provide after a half mile hike to transit.


SR
Registered user
Community Center
on Sep 9, 2022 at 12:30 pm
SR, Community Center
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2022 at 12:30 pm

@Eeyore – You’ve strayed off topic.

The State is not directing us to build teacher and service worker housing. Gavin Newsom, Marc Berman and Josh Becker all believe in trickle-down market-rate housing. Gavin Newsom is directing agencies to sue Cities for non-compliance. Time will tell if this is a good choice for a prospective national candidate. Only time will tell if trickle-down works any better for housing than it has for general prosperity.

The task before us is to create an environment where 6000 units get built in Palo Alto over the next few years. We know from past experience that merely identifying sites is unlikely to lead to success. We’re talking about market-rate units that are likely to be expensive because that’s what the State is directing us to enable. If you disagree, work to remove Newsom, Berman and Becker from public office.

Affordable housing for teachers and service workers is still a great topic. The answer is simple: it takes money. Lots of money, like billions of dollars. Several hundred thousand dollars per unit. If you believe there’s 10x leverage, we need to find 100 million dollars locally to kickstart affordable housing over the next ten years.

What’s not helpful is to say “We can’t go big in San Antonio because we don’t agree with State mandates.” Or to say “San Antonio is unsuitable because it needs some prep.” Or “County agencies aren’t cooperative.” What’s helpful is to suggest another way to get 6000 units built if we take big projects off the table.

Allen Akin is of course completely right. I wonder if establishing a San Antonio RPP boundary right now is the quickest way to protect all the nearby neighborhoods.


Eeyore
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2022 at 8:33 pm
Eeyore, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2022 at 8:33 pm

SR, I have complete faith in Palo Alto’s inability to complete even simple tasks.

The least we can do is make this “mandate” work in our favor. We don’t need more wealthy developers building unaffordable housing while RVs line our streets. I am not sure why this is even a question. Cap developers profits. We can already require that developments contain a percentage of below market rate units. I encourage you, and the PACC, to start thinking outside of the box. This focus on “staying on topic” is not useful.

Here is another strategy: defund the schools. They are the magnet, right? That should net us 6,000 units within the specified time. :) or, build -really expensive- housing in Foothill Park and use those taxes to fund affordable housing for our teachers. That would be an excellent, and poetic, use of the Cubberly property, the inverse, if you will, of the Ortega McMansions,

As other have noted, it is not just the cost of adding more bedrooms, it is the infrastructure costs that add up. More schools, additional healthcare facilities, fire and police, the list goes on.. .


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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