Driving ourselves crazy | September 7, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 7, 2018

Driving ourselves crazy

It's time to collectively focus on viable traffic solutions

by John Guislin

The recent uproar over Mayor Liz Kniss' comment during the July 30 council meeting declaring that Palo Alto has no significant traffic problems earned her some deservedly strong reactions, including mine. We need to go beyond calling an elected official to task. We must honestly acknowledge the scope and impacts of worsening traffic congestion. As others look to Palo Alto for innovative solutions, we must collectively focus our energies on the root causes and viable solutions to reduce the traffic burden on residents and commuters.

Let's agree we have a problem and acknowledge that the empirical data from city traffic studies show the number of cars on our streets is increasing. Of course, if you live near downtown, California Avenue, Arastradero Road, Oregon Expressway, etc., you don't need a study to explain what you experience daily. Our robust economy has brought more and more cars into Palo Alto, a fact underlined by our region-leading jobs-to-residents ratio of 3:1.

Our arterial roads are now so backed up at commute times that drivers use technology to find alternate routes to shave minutes from their drive. This frequently puts them on residential streets, creating traffic that can clog narrow roads and potentially impede access by emergency vehicles. (Note: I live on a residential arterial — there are five in Palo Alto.)

Some people may be less concerned that residents like me endure hours of traffic stalled in front of our homes on a daily basis. In my view, no resident should feel trapped in his/her driveway for hours by commute traffic or risk the slow arrival of emergency services. Clogged residential arterials today will mean clogged small streets tomorrow.

Residential streets near business cores also are experiencing the impacts of commercial traffic searching for parking. The city has implemented RPP (Residential Preferential Parking) programs, but they are minimally managed, fail to maximize the use of existing parking structures and are undermined by recent council votes to authorize non-resident permit sales in excess of actual demand.

Efforts to "calm" traffic and improve safety are hindered by a lack of enforcement. I applaud our new police Chief Robert Jonsen for re-starting an enforcement division, but it is impossible for our current two enforcement officers to cover all of Palo Alto effectively.

Consistent enforcement is necessary to ensure compliance with traffic rules and maximize safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Without it, illegal turns, running red lights and other dangerous behaviors will likely continue.

A recent report from TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation-research group based in Washington, D.C., details the increased costs for operating vehicles due to the deteriorating state of our roads, the costs and increased risks of accidents and the wasted fuel due to congestion. In San Jose and the south bay — including Palo Alto — the additional annual operating cost to motorists is $2,745, trailing only the San Francisco and Los Angeles regions (see TRIP reports here: tinyurl.com/tripnetPA). To my knowledge, no one has quantified the cost of traffic to residents' sense of safety or quality of life.

Mayor Kniss has apologized for her misstatement about the lack of traffic and has proposed a community meeting in October to discuss traffic issues. In my view, we are well beyond the point that citizens need to spend time educating our mayor about traffic impacts. The City Council has been deluged with traffic complaints for years (full disclosure: I have been one of those writing emails to the council) and with enough prodding, some steps have been taken. But these actions have been narrowly focused and undertaken only when citizen outcry was loud and unrelenting.

Further, our annual resident survey has clearly shown a yearly decline in how residents rate the ease of getting around town, and traffic is seen as one of the two worst problems facing Palo Alto — the other is the cost of housing.

We need more than talk. The mayor and City Council must make finding and implementing solutions to traffic problems a priority. Here are some steps they can take:

1. Fund and staff the Transportation Division so it can implement systems, manage programs and develop solutions that address citywide issues. We had a knowledgeable and effective Chief Transportation Official in Josh Mello, who resigned on Aug. 28; city leaders must find ways to retain talent and fund projects to address increasing transportation problems.

2. Force the business community to pay a fair share of the costs for the infrastructure benefits they receive.

3. Business leaders must embrace the TMA (Transportation Management Association) and match city funding.

4. Get serious about satellite parking lots and a shuttle system that meets the needs of commuters.

5. Tap Google and Stanford University experts to submit practical solutions for Palo Alto to consider.

6. Require all new development to be fully parked — period. No in-lieu fees. No phantom parking rights.

I encourage everyone to:

— Accept Mayor Kniss' apology but demand informed stewardship from the next mayor.

— Become informed about traffic issues and proposals.

— Write down what is important to you without losing sight of the impact on those around you.

— Contact at least one council member and let him/her know that the council and staff must find ways to act upon citizen concerns. Denial and inaction are not the hallmarks of good government.

John Guislin is a Palo Alto resident and longtime advocate for residential quality of life and improved traffic safety. He can be reached at jguislin@gmail.com.

Comments

38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2018 at 8:42 am

I have noticed from walking and driving at the morning school commute time that traffic is far worse now that school is back than during the summer break. The traffic is impacted not only by cars, but by packs of bikes and crowds of walkers as much as anything else.

The school commute does impact traffic flow even when not passing a school directly. Vehicle traffic takes longer to flow through intersections as pedestrians crossing prevent cars turning so instead of many cars turning on each green light, only a couple of cars can turn after the pedestrians pass before the light turns red.

We do have a great deal of people driving into town for work, but we also have a lot of local traffic trying to get out of town. For many of these people there is no alternative way to get where they are going.

As a result, I think we have to get more shuttles to our schools. PAUSD got rid of the school bus program many years ago. PAUSD students are good at walking and biking but we have a very small number who are able to get to school buy bus or shuttle.

I think it is imperative to get decent shuttle service serving all our middle and high schools. The more students who are able to access a bus or shuttle, the difference it will make during school commute time.


45 people like this
Posted by Bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 7, 2018 at 10:21 am

I'm stuck on my street. Impacted by traffic, bikers who don't stop at stop signs, pedestrian who don't look before crossing the street and tons and tons of construction that has pained us for 3 years and no end in sight. As a resident it is anxiety inducing trying to get around town. Thank you for your opinion. It's spot on.


32 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

Online Name is a registered user.

1) How many letters did Mayor Kniss get? And did she or anyone in the city bother to respond to the points raised in the letters?

2) When is the city going to start conducting traffic surveys during peak traffic times, not the lightest times of day, so they get the answers they want?

3) I want to hear from all the city council candidates on what their positions are on spending more money on traffic calming, botts dots, bollards, bulbouts etc etc. etc. One candidate Cory Wollbach sees reducing car traffic and getting more people to walk and bike as part of his platform. Let'd hear a defense of his reasoning and let's hear from all the candidates.

4) PIMBY -- PRISONER in my Back Yard -- should be added to our local NIMBY, YIMBY vocabulary for all of us who can't get out of our driveways during much of the day.

5) Make Palo ALto a Bollard-Free Zone.


15 people like this
Posted by MPAGA?
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 7, 2018 at 10:59 am

Palo Alto, and the whole bay area, need denser housing and more mass transit. Traffic isn't going to get better until we either build the infrastructure to support the people who want to live here, or build a wall and deport the immigrants. And by immigrants I mean all those not lucky enough to have been born in Palo Alto 50 years ago.


61 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

Um, isn't it obvious? Place a moratorium on ALL commercial development, in Palo Alto, and lobby for regional planning to do the same. Commercial developers scream "we need jobs" and build more office space. Then, the residential developers scream "we need more housing". Never ending cycle. There is so much demand, you cannot build your way out of the housing crisis -it's just going to suck until a big crash happens (eventually). Until then, stop making it worse - stop building commercial space. Doesn't Palo Alto have a good enough tax base to provide required services? A city is not a business- the goal is not to grow endlessly. Wake up!


28 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

Annette is a registered user.

I wish to add the following to the author's list of encouragements:

1. If you bike, honor the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs, yield at yield signs, walk your bike in the Cal Ave tunnel and on the Oregon overpass, etc. Road sharing should not translate to "get out of my way b/c I am on a bike"!

2. Write City Council about adding shelters and signage at shuttle stops b/c even though we are blessed w/a pleasant climate the goal here is to change daily habits and standing out in the elements waiting for a shuttle on bad weather days is a good way to discourage ridership.

3. Sign up for SCOOP and rideshare.


50 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:28 am

This editorial is a great summary of the traffic problems and some of the solutions. I would add one more important point. A major cause of our traffic woes is that the City has approved more office space, and therefore more employees, than the roads can handle. Let's stop approving more office space until we solve the traffic problem. The first step in that direction would be to not vote for Cory Wolbach in November.

Clearly the meeting proposed by Kniss is unnecessary. I would propose a boycott except that she might then conclude that there really isn't a traffic problem after all!


16 people like this
Posted by Please check out Pat Boone
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:40 am

Please check out Pat Boone for City Council. Web Link He is making traffic one of his big priorities. He calls himself a candidate for the residents and promises not to take money from builders.

I think he sounds like a breath of fresh air, and someone we need on Council.


14 people like this
Posted by College Terrace
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 7, 2018 at 1:21 pm

College Terrace is a registered user.

In the 1980's quite a number of the neighborhood elementary schools were closed, resulting in more children having to cross increasingly busier and more dangerous streets to get to school. This has undoubtedly led to more children being driven.


30 people like this
Posted by What Traffic?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Living on Middlefield Road near Embarcadero and trying to pull out of the driveway during rush hours is nearly impossible without having to endure a 4-5 minute wait or the courtesy of an oncoming driver.

A neighbor recently sold her house to get away from this and the listing RE agent described the home as 'conveniently located near schools and shopping'.

Go figure.


21 people like this
Posted by Don't attend the Oct. meeting!
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Thanks to John Guislin for this excellent article.
Kniss' response to the uproar over her ignorant statement is to call a meeting??? For what purpose? To give her a chance to electioneer for her two development-supporting candidates?
The meeting is scheduled approximately 2 weeks before the election. Good planning by an experienced politician. It is a sham, and my time is not available for political manipulation.

_WE_ know about traffic problems. If SHE needs to be updated, she can read the same things we do. Or ask the staff.

What to do:
Write a short note with a suggestion about what to do about traffic. Or, just send her a copy of the article above. Mention that you cannot spend your valuable time to educate the Mayor. Write to liz.kniss@cityofpaloalto.org
and cc city.council@cityofpaloalto.org

Public meetings are expensive. Preparation and staff time. It should be cancelled. Wasting time and money is not a traffic solution.


16 people like this
Posted by Sharing the road
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2018 at 5:21 pm

Sharing the road is a registered user.

"Share the road" is a message for all road users. I observe the majority of people who walk, bike and drive do comply with the law, behaving legally and courteously. There is a subset in every category of road users who do not, and their bad behavior has consequences for us all.

We all need to be safe and legal out there, but drivers have the greatest potential to do harm simply because of the weight and power of the machines they have been licensed to operate. As a driver, I view the privilege of driving as an awesome responsibility. As a bicyclist and pedestrian, I also am careful to abide by the law.

Hyperbole is not helpful to civil discussion. Grown-ups, please model your best adult behavior. The next generation learns by watching YOU--including how you conduct yourself online and on our public streets. Please stop exaggerating.


3 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:49 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

Oh, the irony! Guislin's sixth step on traffic problem solutions:

"6. Require all new development to be fully parked ...."

As all urban planning academics (or scholarly papers) will confirm, being "fully parked" (i.e. enforcing strict parking minimums) maximizes car commuting. Professor Donald Shoup, author of the seminal book "The High Cost of Free Parking," and probably the world's most respected and acclaimed parking expert writes: “Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars.”

Interview with Parking Guru Donald Shoup: Web Link

NYT story "Free Parking Comes at a Price": Web Link


23 people like this
Posted by Safe Route to School
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Picture this: At the start of the new school year on a street that is traveled by parents and students to two elementary, one middle, and one high school; they were greeted with the following signs blocking the bike path and one lane of traffic.

SHARE THE ROAD
then
BIKE LANE CLOSED
then
LANE CLOSED

This did not happen in the summer but work began the first day of school. Also, that same week the "Safe Route To School" on Maybell closed the entire street near El Camino. They dug up the street and replace the holes with metal plates that were sticking up creating hazards on the bike route for those same schools.

Great City planning!! If Liz Kniss is still confused about the traffic, maybe on the way to her meeting about traffic, she could drive Arastradero during school commute and see if it needs improving. She might have some good ideas.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 8, 2018 at 2:16 am

There are only two ways to reduce traffic: reduce the number of cars on the roads, or build more roads while ensuring the number of cars doesn't increase to fill them.

Building more roads is obviously not a feasible option in Palo Alto. So to improve traffic, we must reduce the number of cars.

Therefore, we must build dense housing near office/retail and we must build desirable mass-transit. The way to have fewer cars on the road is to ensure that people can work, eat, and shop without wanting to drive.


Like this comment
Posted by Turned my back on it
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2018 at 6:02 am

For sure, the only reduction in traffic time will be brought on by a reduction in too many cars trying to occupy too little space.
It was bad when I first threw up my hands in disgust and grabbed my bike for small trips, then some years later traffic became even worse as more cars hit the roads. With the massive increase in cars even since the 90's it seems the bike is the new "fast".
It feels amazing to roll past lines of traffic, and to be sure, not in a "neener neener" sort of way. It's more like "Thank God". Anyway, its nice to not have to worry about it for town trips.


22 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2018 at 8:48 am

If you are a fan of Kniss’ attitude toward our traffic, you may want to know who she is strongly embracing for city council this election, Cory Wolbabach and Alison Cormack.


7 people like this
Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 8, 2018 at 8:53 am

Great article John! Thank you.

The solutions are simple, we need city government that is really interested in implementing them — the long term solutions are ONLY two: denser housing and better mass transit. But in the mean time, I think you made some really good points that will help:

1. Enforcement of existing laws. I routinely see 40+ mph on University, Embarcadero and Middlefield. There other day I was doing 27 mph on Eastbound University in a no-traffic hour. I got honked several times by an impatient driver!

2. Satellite parking — this should fund itself by increased cost of downtown core parking and congestion fees for cars to enter downtown. Fees could be more for cars that are just cutting through downtown, like 101 to Stanford.

3. No commercial development — but this is already happening. A city council member told me that we have not added any office space years. I found that odd, but I don’t think he was lying ...

4. More residential development.

How can we motivate the council to do this?


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2018 at 9:11 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"If you are a fan of Kniss’ attitude toward our traffic, you may want to know who she is strongly embracing for city council this election, Cory Wolbabach and Alison Cormack."

Yup. Cory's candidate statement says he favors reducing car traffic in favor of more traffic "calming": projects to favor bikes and pedestrians. Cornack said said in an 8/30 article that curbing office growth "limits our degrees of freedom."


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2018 at 10:35 am

Question for Cory: how do you propose those who cannot bicycle get around? In your answer, please assume that walking long distances is also not an option.

I do not know the exact demographics of Palo Alto, but I can see that there are plenty of senior citizens for whom distance walking and bicycling and scooters are not options. Handicapped individuals have similar restrictions.

Where am I going with this? The City needs to look at improving the shuttle program b/c without a robust, reliable shared-ride system I think people will continue to drive cars simply b/c they must. I use the Embarcadero Shuttle regularly and must say it is very limiting. Riders who take it out to businesses on the east side of Embarcadero Road are stuck out there from the time the morning shuttle service ends and the afternoon schedule begins. If a person needs to get anywhere during the middle of the day a car is needed. So most people drive.


24 people like this
Posted by STOP the City Council
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 8, 2018 at 11:54 am

High-density housing proposed for San Antonio Road in Palo Alto: Web Link

"A developer is seeking City Council input on Sept. 17 on rezoning the 1-acre property at 788-796 San Antonio Road at Leghorn Street to accommodate a 46,000-square-foot apartment building. . . The building would include six below-market-rate units per Palo Alto’s law mandating that developers include 15% affordable homes. Five of the six would be reserved for low- and very low-income residents."

These City Council, pro-development members must be being paid-off by developers. No integrity: Fine, Kniss, Wolbach. Get them out.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2018 at 12:02 pm

For those advocating more housing, please tell me where you think it might go.

From that perspective, it has to be land that is not being used for anything else, I don't like the idea of getting rid of useful amenities that we enjoy and appreciate having that makes quality of life in Palo Alto, to bring in more housing.

I often see what used to be the community garden in Midtown just as fallow land, not even parking. We lost an amenity and have a weed patch.

We lost a gas station and have a yoga studio.

We lost a bowling alley and have housing and hotel.

I won't go on, but you get my drift.

I don't want to lose other useful services which will make me drive further afield to obtain them. Bringing housing will do nothing except make us all drive more to get the things we have lost.


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 8, 2018 at 9:13 pm

"Therefore, we must build dense housing near office/retail and we must build desirable mass-transit. The way to have fewer cars on the road is to ensure that people can work, eat, and shop without wanting to drive."

You must be new here, sir. That's been the "solution" since the fifties. The fact is, nobody who can possibly drive uses mass transit, such as it is. And it won't get any better until there's a substantial ridership base able and willing to pay for upgrading it.


31 people like this
Posted by Ron Wolf
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 8, 2018 at 10:02 pm

One of the big, unrecognized traffic problems that has crept up on us slowly over the last couple of decades is the need for residents to make many more trips outside the city. We've gradually lost businesses and services that were once provided within city limits and now require driving elsewhere.

If you want the convenience of a full-sized supermarket, you have to leave town to get it. If you happen to drive a car made by General Motors or Ford, you have to leave town to get to a dealer. If you need a full-size home-supply store or a major office-supply stores or any of the other big-box retailers, you have to leave town. Ditto for large, well-stocked bookstores.

If you get your health care from the largest provider in Northern California, Kaiser, you have to leave town.

If you want to see any of the major popular first-run Hollywood films, you have to leave town. Ditto for music venues (apart from Stanford performances.)

No one of these inconveniences may be a major traffic generator, but they all add up. And getting in and out of town is a problem because we have too few good arterials for a city of this size. We've allowed ourselves to become an oversized gated community. But instead of gates we've created tight traffic bottlenecks like University, Middlefield north of University, Sand Hill Rd. and the Embarcadero-Oregon-101 mess.

The planners seem to like parking controls as a way of discouraging auto traffic INTO town. But they seem to be oblivious to the ways in which parking controls generate more trips OUT of town. When we want to hold small business or social meetings now, we'll schedule them at sites that require driving elsewhere in order to avoid parking time limits and neighborhood permit-parking zones within Palo Alto.


35 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2018 at 9:01 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Well, Hong kong tried building mass dense housing, didn't cap office development, many people bike and wall ,and by the way, they have the best public transportation in the world, yet traffic is a malignant nightmare and density has reduced the quality of life for all but the very wealthy. Traffic in Palo Alto, due to over development and overpopulation has long ago passed the point where biking and walking would make any significant dent on the problem. The mega development lobby seems hell bent in following the Hong Kong model. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2018 at 9:22 am

The reason public transportation is not being used is because it is useless to most people.

Efficient bus services run more like trains getting from A to B along the most direct route. Taking a circuitous route may work for school buses in rural areas, but do not get adults to work more efficiently than driving solo.

When bus services are efficient (e.g. Google buses) commuters will use them particularly if they can work or sleep and don't have to worry about parking issues.


23 people like this
Posted by Former CA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2018 at 11:26 am

Nonsense, the reason people don't use public.transit esp. in Palo Alto is because driving their Teslas and BMWs with full climate control and a sound system and comfort & privacy is an essential aspect of a higher quality of life than crowding into a noisy bus with strangers.
It's funny how these same people love to advocate that OTHERS, particularly "low-income" workers should use public transit because there are too many "single-occupant vehicles on the road".


3 people like this
Posted by A View From Beyond
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm

>> the reason people don't use public.transit esp. in Palo Alto is because driving their Teslas and BMWs with full climate control and a sound system and comfort & privacy is an essential aspect of a higher quality of life than crowding into a noisy bus with strangers.

Yes. Plus no one wants to sit on a dirty bus seat where who knows who may have had an unfortunate 'accident'. I wear expensive clothes and my dry-cleaning bills are already astronomical.

Quality of life is paramount to one's personal sense of fulfillment and happiness. Sometimes I feel sorry for those who have to ride a bus but where else can you travel for a two dollars? They should be grateful for VTA and SAMTRANS.

If disgruntled, the discontent should serve as an ongoing incentive to do better in one's life. While not everyone can reside in Atherton or Woodside, it is not unreasonable to work hard and eventually save for a modest home in South Palo Alto.

Perhaps the key is not to waste money on things like fast food, alcohol and drugs.


17 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

In a recent speech the mayor of San Francisco said 50% of San Francisco's pollution comes from transportation and 50% of San Francisco's pollution comes from buildings.

Assuming building an apartment actually gets someone out of a car (which it doesn't) and the mayor of San Francisco is correct, then how does building an apartment, to get someone out of a car, help the environment?

Building is not a cure for the problems caused by urbanization.


9 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

"Let them eat gas"

Global Elites rarely suffer the consequences for their impractical and mis-guided policies. Whether it is dealing with RVs parked in front of their businesses, rushing across town traffic to pick up their kids or how to pay for their carbon free power bill that doubles every few years.

They are more concerned about telling you how to live and what to think. Banning plastic straws, outlawing high wattage tea pots and limiting the amount of time cars can idle while waiting are much more important matters.

If you are middle or upper class, they deplore you and wish to replace you with someone more reliable. A pliable and dependent class. Of course, they dislike them even more but know they can always keep barriers between them by limiting upward mobility. There is no ladder to clime up just a government life ring to cling on to for economic survival.

Powdered wigs have been replaced by Botoxed foreheads but the dull, contemptuous and exasperated eyes are the same. If traffic is too congested then ride Uber. If you are too busy then get a nanny. If you can't afford a house then sell another round of private equity financing to more suckers. Just don't ask them to follow the same rules you do.


11 people like this
Posted by Meg
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 9, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Don’t forget Uber and lyft! They are constantly flying down my street looking at their phones. They’ve brought a lot more cars to the streets driving empty from one pick up to the next.


13 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2018 at 6:28 pm

QUOTE: If disgruntled, the discontent should serve as an ongoing incentive to do better in one's life. While not everyone can reside in Atherton or Woodside, it is not unreasonable to work hard and eventually save for a modest home in South Palo Alto.


Did you just awake from a cocoon that was buried somewhere in the 1950s?

South Paly homes are now going for $2M+. That means a down payment of at least $400K + monthly payments of $10K per month over 25+ years.

Your 'recipe' for PA home ownership is far easier said than done.


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2018 at 6:45 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

And there's no reason for Greg Scharff to be on both ABAG and Peninsula Open Space if we ever hope to deal with traffic and over-development.

Web Link

Their Palo Alto City Council tenures may be coming to an end, but Karen Holman and Greg Scharff are preparing to square off in another competitive election this year, as each is looking to fill a seat on the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board of directors.


14 people like this
Posted by Gunn/Fletcher parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:50 am

"No significant traffic problems?" She's kidding, right? Has she ever driven on Arastradero coming from the hills towards Fletcher?? Did anyone realize that adding another site to Bowman will only make it worse?? It's already horrendous traffic and getting even worse with the construction. There was NO WAY Arastradero could accommodate another campus on that stretch of road, and yet, the not-so-brilliant-and-practical minds at our city government chose to approve the project. Unbelievable!


16 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm

"Our Liz" wants to spend taxpayer dollars for a public meeting to attempt to smooth over her memorable Summer comment on local traffic? Carefully timed to send "I'm a wonderful listener" and "I care" messages to persuade voters to keep her legacy going by promoting her endorsed council candidates right before Election Day. What a boondogle for taxpayer funds. And what hypocracy given her decades of pro-growth policies while taking developer money for her campaign war chests which led to the traffic mess.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 10, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I want to know how many letters she's gotten and why we've gotten no responses from our mayor and/or city officials, I also wonder whether the letters had anything to do with Josh Mello's departure.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 10, 2018 at 6:20 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2018 at 6:58 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

A new Googleplex is being built in Boulder, CO and is encouraging their em0loyee to move there. That should take care of #5. HP has moved other Divisions to other areas. $10.00 / hr employees are headed East along I-80. Many businesses just leave to better business locations, where they are taxed less and find a better business climate. Even Tesla did not use the NUMMI assembly plant. too many taxes and permits to spend money on. The #1 reason a small busines fails is lack of startup money. In Palo Alto, you just burn that money up paying fees and taxes ( an oxymoron ). I knew 40 years ago that I could not buy a house on my Senior Calibration Technician pay.

That same pay rate got me a tri-level house and the adjacent property on a Tech level pay rate. After I was made an Engineer, it was far easier to pay out on the loan, and invest in the Stock Market.

Wae slaves can do neither at the insane levels for RENTING, not owning. There is part of your reasons for traffic congestion. My guess is that people will vote with their automobiles and the rents will start becoming at reality rent levels. Google has already created Telepresence along with Telecommute employees. A former workmate is doing that right now. That employment means one less car in a traffic jam. Eat breakfast, then several steps to your lab or " cubicle " to do your work. At lunch time, a few steps to your own kitchen...you get the picture. that is part of a practical answer to the traffic problem. How about giving every City worker a transit pass, like my wife had during here work at the CITY/COUNTY BUILDING in Denver, CO? ( she got the big C and died many years ago ) You TALK about eliminating congestion, how about doing that yourself, city employees? no fancy, fuel wasting drives to and from work. If your buses and Light Rail cannot transport you, WHY NOT? That maybe another answer to traffic congestion: DESIGN BETTER TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE like the Denver Metro did many years ago, after we FIRED the money wasting Transportation Board to getlight Rail built out PROPERLY. The VTA has the same problem; just get rid of the Board of Directors at VTA. Build out to Shoreline Park. Then you kill two birds with one stone: No parking needed at concert events, like takng BART to the Oakland Coliseum like I did way back then. Think BETTER TRANSIT OPTIONS all the time. Boulder and Denver already has.....


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2018 at 7:34 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I forgot my favorite mantra: WHERE IS MY BART TRAIN I VOTED FOR???
Pay me now or pay me later. Well, it IS later and the bill is due.

A view from a Behind would be a much better title.

If you want to get revenge, just fart in an elevator. Klingons do.

I hope your comments were just irony. If they are real, I've never seen a more shallow person on this site.


4 people like this
Posted by @the_dummisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:03 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm

The only transit IMPROVEMENT I have seen in years, was getting real platforms at CalAve station. Everything else is making it worse.
Closing schools, Blocking/choking roads, under parking ALL new construction, Driving (making it un-affordable, over regulating)Service providers and manufacturing jobs away.
When I returned home from my Navy service in 1973, I interviewed for a manufacturing job at HP on the hill . I also had other choices, right here in PA. Today, forget it if you don't have at least a BA.

We have more RESIDENTS, but we have LESS transportation routes or options.
How many households have only ONE car these days? Back in the 60's, this was normal (and only one person had a job) . Council is aiming in the wrong direction.


2 people like this
Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2018 at 4:48 pm

More housing. Less parking. More (and safer) bike/bus lanes. Require employers to implement TDM plans, they work! We cannot engineer or road-widen our way out of this.

The American Planning Association has been publishing some great articles about this lately: Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Posted by Amie, a resident of Downtown North

>> More housing. Less parking. More (and safer) bike/bus lanes.

I agree with the principle. In practice, to make it work, you have to have fast, efficient public transportation first. Buses that share lanes with cars are slow and ineffective when they are needed most-- heavy traffic at rush hour. You also need to get the public to buy in to controlling street parking-- such as in urban Japan. You can't just start out by building under-parked apartments-- people will own cars anyway and you just get a parking mess.


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Posted by Anja
a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Please include at least SOME discussion on carpooling, the most immediate method of everyday drivers to make a difference in the congestion. What was started regionwide in the 170s with Caltrans highway signs "CARPOOL INFO 861-POOL" needs to be reinstated: Employers need to incentivize their employees to do the quick and easy click to be matched up for potential carpool colleagues. Rather than the state coming down heavy-handed on cities to allow more and more housing they should mandate Caltrans or all cities to map the origins and destinations of all commuters on their arterials and enforce the carpool matching in whatever way they find most effective.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Carpool is hard when parking is limited to permits only attached to license plate number. It means that the same car has to do the driving and the carpool doesn't happen when the car owner is on vacation, or sick. There should be better rules to help carpools work.


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