Changes to 'megahouse' plan don't mollify neighbors | February 24, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 24, 2017

Changes to 'megahouse' plan don't mollify neighbors

More than 50 residents oppose 1710 Newell Road project

by Sue Dremann

Proposed last July as an 11-bedroom, 14-bath home, plans for 1710 Newell Road in Palo Alto continue to upset neighbors — even after the house plans were recently revised.

More than 50 neighbors have signed and sent a petition to the City Council and city planning staff about the conversion of a three-bedroom, two-bath single-story residence at the corner of Embarcadero Road into a potentially 7,300-square-foot, two-story mansion with a basement.

The new proposal would reduce the number of bedrooms to six and the number of bathrooms to eight full- and four half-baths.

Property owner Fr. Bishoy William, a former surgeon and priest at Archangel Michael & Saint Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Redwood City, previously told the Weekly that he doesn't plan to use the home for any purpose other than for his family and visiting family members. On Wednesday, he expressed surprise at the opposition but declined to comment.

Neighbors said they are worried a home with so many rooms might be used as a group home or for commercial purposes, which would go against the intent of the single-family neighborhood zoning.

"There is serious concern that there may be some covert or unstated business purpose for the new project: an Airbnb hotel offering rooms for short-term rentals, a 'hacker hostel,' a conference center, an assisted-living facility or perhaps long-term rentals allowing more families to gain access to the Palo Alto school system," the petitioners wrote.

The neighbors also worried over the safety of bicyclists passing by the home. Many students from Jordan Middle School, Walter Hays Elementary School, Castilleja School and Palo Alto High School and people heading to Rinconada Park, the Rinconada Library and the Palo Alto Art Center use Newell, a city-designated bike route, they said.

The proposal would move the driveway from Embarcadero to Newell, which would directly conflict with the bike route, petitioners noted.

Neighbors are also concerned about parking. The proposal includes a one-car garage and two driveway spaces. Already, with only a three-bedroom home, "there are typically three cars in the driveway every night and sometimes as many as four," they wrote.

"If you take the plans literally as written and call it a six-bedroom house, that gives the capacity for somewhere between seven and 12 occupants," said Paul Mielke, who spearheaded the petition.

"The parking situation will create problems for the whole surrounding neighborhood. If they use their excess space to run some type of business with short- or long-term rentals, the additional traffic and parking hassles will decrease livability and property values in the whole surrounding neighborhood," Mielke said.

The petition also elaborated on neighbors' other issues with the project, which include "dewatering" of the ground as part of the construction of the basement and the removal of a city-protected tree.

City planning staff were expected to meet this week regarding the property, City Senior Planner Ranu Aggarwal informed the petitioners in a Feb. 22 email.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

68 people like this
Posted by Family and visitors?
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 9:28 am

6 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms just for family and visitors? I guess 'visitors' would be a loophole to use this residence for other purposes.

Stop the nonsense and reject this plan.


32 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2017 at 9:49 am

There is a lot of hypocrisy going on here. The city rejected Zuck's plan to have a number of individual homes grouped in an area of single family homes.
And here is an area of single family homes the city has allowed an individual to come up with a mega house which is not a single family home. [Portion removed.] Can the city please get out of the political minefield and just run the city under existing residential requirements. If this allowed to go through then the city can write-off whatever credibility is has. The city needs to understand there is no sympathy for weasel wording intention here. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 9:54 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Beverly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:00 am

The owner said the house was for family. [Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.] Anyway neighbors in palo alto are always upset about something. If the plans meet city requirements it should be built.


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:16 am

Beverly - churches get federal funding to support immigration issues. That is a fact available on FB. Many churches who support immigration issues and loudly proclaim so have the federal funding included in their budgets in the Missionary allocation. As to the house in question it does not meet the requirement of a single family residence so the city cannot weasel word and approve other then what exists in the single family location. And the church in question is located in San Mateo County, Redwood City. Red flags are all over this situation. [Portion removed.] The city cannot compromise in this situation then pull out the stops regarding rejection of Zuck's plan. There lies the total hypocrisy in this situation.


7 people like this
Posted by Beverly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

Resident-- I suggest you provide real proof for your claims- conjecture about the owner is not proof. If the house does not meet palo,alto code, it should not be built.


7 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

Twelve bathrooms does seem a bit excessive. lol

Personally, I don't care if this house is built or not. If this is a man's personal home (not belonging to the church, business or any other non-profit), then he should be able to have it built according to his specifications as long as it meets existing zoning and building codes.

Question: What redesign steps could be taken to ease the minds of the people concerned with it?


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:14 am

[Post removed.]


41 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm

He compromised on six bedrooms, but he will probably build them larger, and then will divide each of them somehow internally, and will have 12, to match the number of bathrooms.
This is indeed VERY FISHY!


17 people like this
Posted by another resident
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm

11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms! It doesn't make you think the Father is trying to host his church members in the name of his family? He is the Father of his church family members. I hope the IRS is also looking at his practice.


24 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Fourteen bathrooms?!?! This is a party house or an event center. Either way, plan on lots of cars at all hours of th day and night.


7 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 24, 2017 at 2:49 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by No Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:09 pm

No Parking is a registered user.

Whatever is built at that site, there needs to be a plan for construction access, deliveries and parking. There is literally no street parking for that address - Embarcadero has no parking and Newell has no parking from 7 am to 7 pm.


28 people like this
Posted by Paul Mielke
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for the article keeping attention on this issue! It is worth pointing out that revised plans nominally have 6 bedrooms and 12 baths versus the 11 bedrooms and 14 baths of the original plan, but that this number is achieved by a transparent subterfuge. They simply relabel the two bedrooms on the first floor as "studies". One of them has a closet and private access to a shared hall bath, so any real estate agent would classify that as a "bedroom" when listing the house. There are two other rooms that can easily be converted to bedrooms: the second study on the first floor has no closet, but has easy access to the adjacent hall bath shared with the other study. Add an armoire and you have the 8th bedroom. The "game room" in the basement already has a private bath, so also can easily be used as a bedroom. A more honest evaluation of the plans as currently written would make the house a 9 bedroom house.

If the intent is to accommodate a large number of short term or long term residents, the large common room in the basement can also easily be converted to a second kitchen and dining facility. To support all this capacity with only parking space for three cars is a recipe for a huge parking mess.


44 people like this
Posted by Deep Sigh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

The changes have not been sufficient to change the FACT that the house is an absurd abomination.


12 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 25, 2017 at 8:39 am

It is obvious from the statements above that this is not a single family home being build in a R-1 neighborhood which is one of the better neighborhoods.
Question to CC has the neighborhood been re-zoned to accommodate this structure? We also see related discussion on the renting of houses in a hotel format in R-1 neighborhoods. Everyone is trying to make money here and splitting hairs on the description of use so categorization of the structure and how it is taxed is funneled through the eye of a needle. I hope that further discussion of homes in a R-1 neighborhood gets explored so we do not have these anomalies setting a new bar in how the city functions.


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 25, 2017 at 8:58 am

Parking was noted above. How convenient that this is directly across the street form the community center. Assume that any cars will be parking at the community center, and if electric using the outlets at that location. I note at Mitchell Park people are sitting in their cars reading and working while their cars are being re-charged. Maybe the planning group can review how many recharge points are on the actual property since there is no parking no the street during the day.


4 people like this
Posted by Biased conjecture
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:03 am

Resident- no it is obvious that the above statements are not based on any facts whatsoever. They are conjecture and fear monger Ing. And most of it is being posted by you.


1 person likes this
Posted by No parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:36 am

@resident, the house is across from a fire station, a residence and the Art Center, not the Mitchell Park community center.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2017 at 11:51 am

Something tells me you guys would be shocked to know how many "single-family" homes around here have every nook filled with a renter due to the severe shortage of apartments.


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 25, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I am totally aware that the house in question is directly across the street from the Rinconada Community Center. I am still making the point that is where these people will be parking. They have no room to park in their own neighborhood. I am, however, noting that the electrical hook-ups are used at Mitchell Park library with people sitting in their cars so am suggesting that the hook-ups at the art center will be occupied by residents who are not actually using the art center or library.

So happy that people use "fear mongering" when someone is challenging the planning department or CC in their decision making. I do not live in the neighborhood but if it is a R-1 location then respect the zoning laws. It is an expensive neighborhood and it is going to be changed by a "residence" which has 12 bathrooms. If you are all uncomfortable with someone challenging the logic of what the city has done - or is going to do then be uncomfortable. But realize that red flags are all over this transaction and have been since it arose to everyone's attention. So be it - that is the point of this discussion. Not fear - just straight logic.


19 people like this
Posted by former resident
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Feb 25, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Wow! I was visiting my stepdad on Newell Rd where we grew up, and parked across the street in a "public parking" area , not blocking any driveway, and was met the next day with a nasty note on the windshield saying that they would have my car towed if I didn't move it. This is a few houses down from the proposed 14 bathroom single-family home?? That corner is one of the busiest in Palo Alto! We were not even able to cross the street there to go to school at Walter Hays..or risk going to 'traffic court' for kids! If I had a problem with parking just visiting, I can only imagine the snarl and danger on the corner of Newell and Embarcadero should this be allowed to move forward. New homes should be able to "fit in" with the existing size and footprint of these long time neighborhoods...this proposed structure clearly would not do that.


14 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:25 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ YIMBY - "Something tells me you guys would be shocked to know how many "single-family" homes around here have every nook filled with a renter due to the severe shortage of apartments."

No, people are aware of it, and have a good understanding of the negative impacts on the neighborhood. No conjecture needed to see the massive problem with this proposed house/hotel.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

This is just a symptom of a bigger problem though. This particular example is pretty egregious, but homes crammed full of renters are going to continue to be common so long as apartment units remain in incredibly short supply. You can't hope to go around and root out every instance of this, and more will just pop up.


9 people like this
Posted by take a dump
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2017 at 1:23 am

Why does anyone need more bathrooms than bedrooms? Obviously this guy needs to take a dump twice as much as he needs to get sleep. What's the problem?


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 26, 2017 at 7:53 am

This situation was obviously green-lighted by the planning commission and whoever in the city coordinates these exceptions to the codes for the city. We have numerous articles across the city on number of units in a building, parking - a major subject and a number of unstated circumstances where the city determines traffic flow and occupancy. This section of the city is a higher priced area with higher priced homes. So now the other homeowners have had their neighborhood re-scripted as to occupancy and parking - the main topics that are discussed every day in this city. It is time to surface this in the city CC meetings so it can be sorted out with full exposure of the parties and intentions, as well as impact on the neighborhood.


25 people like this
Posted by Jayson
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:33 am

I agree with the above comment about a party house. 12 bathrooms and 6 bedrooms... there is definitely going to be a lot of "events" happening at this home. Neighbors, get ready!


5 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 7:42 pm

Are there any similarly-sized homes in Palo Alto?


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:16 pm

This is link is to a 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath house on Louis Road in Palo Alto.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 26, 2017 at 8:51 pm

A five bedroom house is not unusual if you have a number of children. 3 1/2 baths suggests a family. Maybe a grandparent - or nanny to care for the children while parents are working.


7 people like this
Posted by Paul Mielke
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

Paly Grad,

The link you posted is to a 5 bedroom 3.5 bath house with 4,026 square feet. As you can see from the pictures, they have a large two stall garage and a very generous driveway that looks like it has space for at least 4 or 5 cars. Contrast that to a 9 bedroom, 12 bath house with 7400 square foot and a one stall garage and driveway space for 2 cars. I hope you would agree that the two houses are not comparable.


7 people like this
Posted by Paul Mielke
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:19 am

Paly Grad,

Also note that the house you reference is on the west side of Louis in the 2200 block. There are no parking restrictions on that side of the street, so there is space for additional on street parking. The proposed house at 1710 Newell would be on the west side of the 1700 block of Newell, which has restricted parking from 7am to 7pm to protect the bike lane. The street exposure on the other side of the lot is on Embarcadero which has no parking on that side of the street allowed at any time. The proposal is a recipe for a huge parking problem, which is one of the neighbors' big concerns with it.


13 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:57 am

The only reason I can think that the want to have so many bathrooms is they are planning to use other rooms as bed rooms.

It seems to me that a house with 6 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms (was 11-bedroom, 14-bath home) is going to have a lot of people living there. At a minimum the city should assume there will be more than two cars associated with the residence. They should require parking for a minimum of six cars, or better 12 cars given the number of bathrooms.


8 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Hi Paul,

I agree completely with you. I think the Louis Road house has plenty of parking and a reasonable number of bedrooms and bathrooms for a large house. The proposed Newell Road house is unreasonable in so many ways: too many bathrooms for a family home in a residential neighborhood and very underparked especially given its location which has no available street parking! I'm also concerned about the possiblity of a protected tree being removed!

Paly Grad


17 people like this
Posted by Corporate housing?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I have seen some start up companies own or lease a big house in Palo Alto. They let their short-term/travelling employees for short-term stay. They put 2 single beds or 2 bunk beds in each room. That way they can house A LOT of people.

It might be the same case with this dorm.


15 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." This house is what we think it is - mass housing for some (unknown to the public) reason. It should not be allowed. There's something amiss here! Families homes do not need that many bedrooms and bathrooms. Plus the structure is too big for the lot and will create parking and traffic issues for the neighborhood. "No" on this one!!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of University South
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm

There should be an upper limit of 4br and 2000sqf for houses. Mega-mansions exacerbate the housing crisis by limiting supply.


4 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:14 pm

@Palo Altan I agree, I think the solution to the housing crisis is to force any home owner whose lot is larger than 50 x 100' to sub-divide their property into multiple lots. That will force an increase in the housing supply.

Let's start at the north end of town and work our way south street by street. Any lot greater than 50 x 100 will be forcibly divided and new housing built.

:^)

/marc


4 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2017 at 3:13 am

The zoning code allows only "single family homes" because it is economically completely ridiculous to build single family homes on such expensive land, and when you only allow economically completely ridiculous forms of development, that means you will end up with only rich people, and the riffraff stays on the other side of the creek, which is just how Palo Alto wants it: prevent less wealthy people from competing for a scarce resource in the only way they can, which is by being willing to cut the pie into smaller slices. I support creative ways to circumvent this discriminatory attitude, and I sincerely hope that this house is indeed being built with the intention of having lots of lodgers rather than just to show off somebody's wealth.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:14 am

JJ - I bet you are a resident of Atherton or Portola Valley and deflecting potential problems for your city. Pile the people into Palo Alto so the surrounding cities can maintain their status quo and city game plan. Note that every city has a criteria for the tax base for their city. The city plan should drive the zoning for residential and commercial property. It is not up for grabs or commentary from other cities unless coordinated at the top city to city level.


16 people like this
Posted by One Car
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:39 am

This is insanity.

Build a mansion with a ONE CAR GARAGE?

This must be the reason that the streets of Palo Alto are covered with cars.

Tear down a two bed room house with a two car garage and replace with a 6 bedroom house and still only have a one car garage.

Who thinks this is a good idea?


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm

"resident", I live in San Francisco but I work in Palo Alto. Until recently I lived in East Palo Alto. I have definitely never lived in Atherton or Portola Valley. Everywhere you go, there are people who believe that 100 out of 101 municipalities in the Bay Area should allow more housing to be built. It's funny. In San Francisco, people point to the suburbs. In the suburbs, they point to San Francisco. In the peninsula, people suggest the East Bay, and in the East Bay, they suggest the Peninsula. Occasionally somebody comes up with the bright idea of just banishing all newcomers to Stockton.


1 person likes this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

JJ - I'm sure even the most radical housing advocates wouldn't be suggesting a 6 bedroom 12 bathroom single family home in a residential area 1.5 miles from caltrain is any sort of solution to the housing problem. It's obviously not "transit friendly", it's not urban, it's not walking distance from anything. This is the wrong thread to push the development agenda.


Like this comment
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Well, john_alderman, I *am* a radical housing advocate, and I will gladly oppose building too far away from transit in Palo Alto once Palo Alto starts actually allowing housing to be built close to transit. As long as people use traffic merely as an excuse to oppose any and all development, and nearly nothing ever gets built, I am going to support any and all development. Fair?


2 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:23 pm

john_alderman -- Another way to put it is this: where do you think people that work in Palo Alto are going to live if not in that house? I've spoken to people who commute in from Gilroy or Stockton. Now that's what causes the real traffic problems.


11 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2017 at 10:35 pm

JJ said:

"I live in San Francisco but I work in Palo Alto. Until recently I lived in East Palo Alto"

JJ is a perfect example of why building housing "near jobs" in Palo Alto will have no effect on transportation congestion. People are going to live where they want to live and work where they want to work, and there is nothing anybody can do about that. If Palo Alto built 100 new homes tomorrow, they would immediately be filled by people who want to live in Palo Alto and work at Apple, or Uber, or Intel, or...


15 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

@JJ,

There is no "transit" in Palo Alto. If you are referring to Caltrain, it only has the capacity to serve 1% of the three million people living on the Peninsula, and it is already full.

If they ever find the funds to complete Caltrain electrification it will take a decade to complete, and when finished will only increase Caltrain's current capacity by 21%.

So, if Caltrain electrification was completed in 2027 its capacity would be 1.12% of the Peninsula's current population, and an even smaller percentage of the 2027 population. In all likelihood, an electrified Caltrain would serve an even smaller percentage of the Peninsula's population than it does today.

Housing is easy. Transportation is the real problem. Transportation is very very expensive, and the people who build the offices and housing don't want to pay for it, because it would eat into their profits.


Like this comment
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 1, 2017 at 2:15 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@john_alderman - So you goal is punitive? At least you are honest about wanting to destroy existing neighborhoods. Seriously though, it is counterproductive to your own goals. Even if everyone in that house worked in Palo Alto, how do you suppose they'd get to work? In a car like everyone else. So it means more traffic, not less.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:40 am

There is new housing going up all over the peninsula. People keep talking like this is not happening and it is. New apartments going up near California St. - Park St. New housing in Redwood City both east and west of 101. New housing in Mountain View. New housing going up in East Palo Alto. Housing is going up where there is available land. Palo Alto is built out. The surrounding cities are now just building out the available land. There is a narrative like JJ's which there is never "enough". And Palo Alto always seems to be the target of not "enough". The problem is that other cities have to deal with in the infrastructure what supports the new building on raw land - sewage lines, electrical lines, schools. power. There is a lot of work that has to go into new building other than the actual building itself. Going back to the topic here the twelve bathrooms are a big water issue. And heating issue - assuming that there is hot water in all of the bathrooms. Imagine all of the twelve bathrooms flushing at the same time and all of the people taking showers at the same time. Yes - all of the people - assume this is not a single family home despite the zoning.


6 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm

If the current SR-1 zoning ordinance allows a boarding house use, the owner can have an underparked boarding house for all his family and friends on a corner with seriously limited overnight parking. What would our communtiy say if the owner truly needed all thlse bathrooms if he, a family member or guest has right now a disability requiring bathrooms every few feet on a house. Palo Alto simply can't discriminate against those with a disability.

When Mr. Seale first subdivided land south of Embarcadero for housing he wanted to attract top dollar for his lots so he specified in deeds still valid today there would be no smelly stabling for horses, no smelly beer brewing and no other conditions to make the land not attractive for "single" family housing. But, he never said no renting of rooms by widows to make ends meet or forbade priests from running a boarding house or monastery. He also did not contemplate Air B&B or every teenager and adult in town having an automobile.

The City Council can tighten SR-1 zoning rules anytime to forbid boarding houses or Air B&B rentals. It hasn't done so and I doubt they will stop this project by changing the zoning code as they did in the 1990's when the FAR ratio changed and killed a bunch of Monster House remodelling projects in planning review. Council can set a bedroom/bathroom ratio to prevent boarding houses. It already has a number-of-kitchens limit in SR-1 and the goofy two-of-three rule for sink/toilet/shower in accessory structures in its attempt to stop rentable garage conversions.


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

"a disability requiring bathrooms every few feet " Are we really discussing this kind of silly fantasy scenario?


3 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Yes, John, because the alternative is to "accuse" someone of having a "loathsome" disease or condition which would likely make the Town Square moderator delete such a comment from this forum. It is sad to say but human effluvia is an awkward subject sometimes for many people. I do know at least one person who prefers to have access to an unoccupied bathroom at all times thanks to very unpleasant surgical complications. That one would genuinely love a house with 11 bathrooms.

Our local CVSs and Wahlgreens seem to devote more shelf space to adult incontinence products than hair color nowadays. Times are a'changing thanks to our aging Baby Boomers!


2 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2017 at 11:38 pm

resident writes "And Palo Alto always seems to be the target of not "enough"."

Again with the accusations that people are specifically targeting Palo Alto.

This is simply not true.

There is a pro-housing movement afoot all over the Bay Area.


6 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2017 at 11:43 pm

As to the idea that Palo Alto is "built out," this is also simply irrelevant. "Built out" is a concept that comes to us from 50s-era suburban planning, where you started out with a plan for what sorts of things could be built on a bunch of previously unused farmland, and at some point, you were done building that. It doesn't mean more cannot be built. Of course more can be built. It wouldn't look the way that suburban expansion plans were laid out when surplus farmland near major cities was abundant and the federal government was subsidizing massive highway construction. But it can be built.

Between 1990 and 2000, Arlington County, Virginia added 30,000 units of housing in an area extending just a couple of blocks around a 3 mile commercial corridor. Much of the rest of Arlington County still looks pretty much like Palo Alto. It can be done. I understand that you prefer that it not be done, because you don't care about the housing needs of people that cannot afford Bay Area housing. But it can be done.


10 people like this
Posted by What it is
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2017 at 7:24 am

It is obviously a group home being built for commercial use - most such residents don't drive - hence no parking.

I have a buddy in Fremont who lives around the corner from one. There is no oversight, and a push to house more 'difficult 'residents, as the state pays more for higher levels of difficult residents. Bigger is better in this industry.

This all went terribly wrong when 'resident' Steve showed up on my buddies doorstep with a knife and chased the family into the garage.

Because the stat refuses to oversee these homes, and the operators have a financial incentive to take as many high risk patients as possible, the end result is that the risks are borne by the neighbors.

This man is stealing his neighborhood home values.


3 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm

It's not that the megahouse owner is stealing from his neighbors but that the Palo Alto City Council is allowing by lax SR-1 zoning rules a "taking" of some of the value of neighbors' houses by allowing what reasonable people know is a boarding house. The owner is just working the system.

Our Council has allowed for decades street parking fiascos and exponential densification around Downtown and California Avenue as another "taking" of value away from home and business owners in those neighborhoods, too. At this rate, all our SR-1 neighborhoods will soon look like College Terrace with dead-ends everywhere which is what College Terrace did on reaction to Stanford's densification.

The US Supreme Court says governments can take away value in private land by zoning changes for the general "public benefit" and as long as you can pitch a tent once and awhile on your land the government owes you no cash in compensation. Don't like that? Throw the rascals out of office.


3 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Meant to write "megatoilets" not "megahouse."


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Posted by # of Bedrooms & Bathrooms Irrelevant
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

The fact of the matter is there is nothing in the zoning code that restricts the numbers of bedrooms or bathrooms in a house. Also there is nothing that can prevent the house from being sold once it is built. Any violations would likely be use violations once the house is built. For example, if the rooms were rented out for less than 30 days, or if an office was operated out of the house.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm

I'd expect a lot of spillover parking to the Rinconada Library / Community Center lots from this monstrosity. What will be done to prevent that? It's tough enough to park there now with all of the e-charging stations and car pool-only spots.

Will anything be done to prevent this?


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 2, 2017 at 3:54 pm

There's already a serious parking spillover at the Rinconada/Community center. Once this monstrosity is built, trying to park there would be like trying to park on University Ave. Good luck with that.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

Based in the information provided in the set-up for this stream it will be owned by a Minister of a church in Redwood City. After all of this discussion tell us why the decision on Zuck's home was rejected and this could be accepted. The basis for approval or rejection is compliance with the zoning and overall suitability for the neighborhood. We all agree it is not suitable. So who specifically on the planning commission is pushing this? Time to get name, rank and serial number. How did this get this far to begin with? And where is the approval cycle is this sitting? We do not want the owner or residents to be hanging on decisions.


8 people like this
Posted by Lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

I enjoy going to the bathroom as much as the next guy but never in my wildest dreams did I require 14 bathrooms for my needs. I am not trained in the medical fields so maybe the need 14 bathrooms might be for a medical condition.
The real anger should be directed to the current City Manager and the staff he has hired to rubber stamp everything and anything that comes across their desk. The city obviously lacks leadership.


7 people like this
Posted by Prof-ville comment
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 3, 2017 at 11:10 am

Absolutely agree with many comments above. Another example: Castilleja ignores the Conditional Use Permit for 15 years - now wants to expand a further 30% AND 70% of the students are from outside of Palo Alto (years of construction!) Significant increase in Traffic, clearing of wonderful tree canopy and less quality of life for families who worked and saved for many, many years to be able to buy in a quiet Palo Alto neighborhood. "The real anger should be directed to the current City Manager and the staff he has hired to rubber stamp everything and anything that comes across their desk. The city obviously lacks leadership." Sad....


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2017 at 1:24 pm

THE City of Palo Alto zoning has a maximum house size of 6000 square feet in R1. Is this being ignored?


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 3, 2017 at 3:38 pm

This is starting to remind me of a church in San Francisco that wanted to build a low income/homeless shelter in the middle of a upper middle class neighborhood because they had some extra land. Comments abounded in the opinion section of the SFC. It was eventually rejected as inappropriate for the neighborhood. The people were not located in an area in which they could get out to any market or other services. They were trapped in the location.
Is this some type of "church" outreach program? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered here - many red flags.


6 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2017 at 11:40 pm

I would think that the proximity of the fire station, in addition to an important cross-walk for bikes and pedestrians to access City Facilities such as our park, libraries, pool, Art center, tennis courts, and Walter Hays Elementary school (a short ways down); would make this project a "No-Go".
Don't string the guy along.
Try sending him a personal letter and just explain this to him.
I have often found that the true culprits on these elaborate projects are actually the greedy architects or realtors who sell these properties with promises.
They target the ultra wealthy and take advantage of them.
Often the ultra-wealthy can be out of touch with local norms and ordinary people, but are easily "brought down to earth" by a simple note or even a chat - without any "go-between".
This is from my experience having been born and raised in Palo Alto for nearly 60 years, and knowing a lot of people in this town.


3 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 4, 2017 at 9:15 am

Have we heard anything more on this from the City? [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Immigrants Welcome
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2017 at 5:24 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm

[Post removed.]


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