DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL -
Maybell senior housing project just too dense: Vote no on Measure D
[Portion removed due to copyright infringement. Please use links instead of posting the original work of others.]
Original post made by Vote Against D, JLS Middle School, on Nov 1, 2013
Vote against D--- do you think thatbthe voters in palo alto are not intelligent enough to make their own decisions on how to vote. Do you think they actually rely on our 3 local newspapers ( well 2 local newspapers and a for profit autotrader- like advertising rag) to tell us how to vote??????
I actually think the citizens of Palo Alto are extremely well read and won't be swayed by the big money, consultants, and full time staff deployed to push this Measure through.
Thanks for the link! (I have tried to maintain this moniker on the election threads, but I didn't post above. In deference to you, Vote Against D, I will post below as just "AGAINST D.")
I think it's great that the Daily News/Merc also endorsed AGAINST D!
The newspapers that have really had to consider both sides all sided with AGAINST! If AGAINST wins, I hope they will honestly follow through on the results and help healing things to happen, not just run bile by people who have taken to heart the NIMBY-card playbook accusations, because I think it ultimately hurts the cause of affordable housing -- and hurts the low-income residents themselves -- when false accusations like that persist.
Joe Hirsch and Bob Moss, two leaders in the AGAINST D campaign, have asked all along for a working group similar to the one that produced the Terman low-income apartments AND saved the Terman school site from being turned into a development, so that we have them to thank for Terman Middle School there today.
My hope is that the City would enable something similar if AGAINST D wins, so that the affordable housing could be done, and done right - my personal preference is to redirect the money to help save the Buena Vista Mobile Home park and eventually build some units there (but not through evicting the residents!) and find a way to save the orchard as parkland (no added traffic!) After all, it was neighbors who basically bought and saved Bol Park, and who prevented the City from turning what is currently Juana Briones Park across the street from the Maybell parcel, into an electrical substation.
In the meantime, there are still vacancies of BMR senior units at Moldaw and there will be BMR units at the new senior center being built across El Camino nearby to Maybell. A working group might be able to forge a way to a discount or subsidy, so empty spots are filled with those who need them.
"I actually think the citizens of Palo Alto are extremely well read and won't be swayed by the big money, consultants, and full time staff deployed to push this Measure through."
More exaggerations by vote against D. Has he read all the letters for D. I am sure that the voters will not be swayed by the two local newspapers and the autotrader- like advertising pages.
>do you think thatbthe voters in palo alto are not intelligent enough to make their own decisions on how to vote.
I trust that they are intelligent enough to see the issue. I could be wrong, but that is what I believe. This election is a tipping point for Palo Alto. If D passes, then it will be more of the same on steroids; if it fails, then the current regime will be in trouble, probably for the next decade. I want D to fail, because I want a new crew at our city council, one that understands that our neighborhoods actually matter.
"because I want a new crew at our city council,"
Well, that won't happen--elections are staggered so only a few are up for election each cycle. Plus, I only recall one council member being voted out of office--Sandy Eakins.
And remember that this forum does not truly represent the feelings of the residents of Palo Alto--the comments are from a small number of people.
My bet--all incumbents will be re-elected come election time
Vote yes on A
I thank the three local papers for their support of "Against MeasureD". The analysis of the Weekly seems a fair assessment.
The analysis for a project of this size (actually any size) needs to be unbiased and support what is best for all of Palo Alto. There are many passionate views on both sides of this Measure. This has become divisive for a neighborhood that has embraced low income housing. The process is flawed and produced a flawed development. Maybell should not be rezoned. It makes perfect sense to start over with unbiased information and work within current zoning.
@Change is Bad
George Santayana, the philosopher, wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". In 1967 the political battle in Palo Alto got so tumultuous that a recall election removed the entire city council. Web Link and Web Link Given the large number of problems with traffic, zoning and mismanagement in this city, I expect the residents will have a long memory come November 2014.
By the way, what is Measure A? I'm voting against Measure D.
@Not an issue: Yes, Palo Altans are of high intelligence, but many still vote by reading the papers. I have three children and have read some about Measure D, but only because I make an effort to vote. It's a confirmation that my "no" vote is supported by 3 papers. Maybe you are finished raising children and have time to study prior to each election. See you at the polls.
Mom-- well, that would explain the city councils that people are so upset about. All these members are all heartily endorsed by the weekly. The weekly has been a cheerleader and supporter for the city establishment, who constantly provide members for the council. Has the weekly ever endorsed an independent candidate? They did not endorse Tim gray last election cycle, but went with old establishment member, Liz kniss. They no there is no money in it for them supporting an outsider. The weekly has been key in whipping up this frenzy over D-- it is all about profit for them.
"In 1967 the political battle in Palo Alto got so tumultuous that a recall election removed the entire city council."
Re-read your link,Zayda, 2 council members were not recalled.
I do not think that the residents will recall the council next year. Given how incumbents are re-elected, I think most people are happy with the council. The anti-council feeling on this forum is not an indicator of how the public feels.
Maybell Middle Ground
Everyone agrees that the Maybell site is an excellent site for senior housing, which could be the start of working toward consensus. No one wants to see the land sold to a for-profit developer, but an alternative to the rezoning overdevelopment will not emerge unless Measure D fails to pass.
The corporation backing Measure D, the proponent of rezoning, claims that they cannot obtain all of the grants & loans with just a 41-unit apartment building at Maybell. But they can build the 60-unit building they want to build, without any modifications to to the existing design, through a density transfer from the rest of the land. They also claim that their budget will not balance without the twelve luxury homes planned for two-thirds of the land. I have been attempting to obtain evidence which prove or refute this claim since July, 2013; when and if I receive any I'll get back to you.
If Measure D fails, the financial issues can be put on hold while the neighbors & the corporation negotiate a solution everyone can live with. Preferably directly, without the City Council playing emperor. If a compromise is reached, the pending lawsuits will disappear before the next City Council election. Otherwise the discord will continue to be expensive for all in both time, money, & additional damage to the social fabric of the community. This much-needed reconciliation will not happen unless Measure D fails, so please vote NO on Measure D.
Dear Margaret Fruth,
I appreciate your intelligent comments, but I don't think everyone agrees the orchard is an excellent place for seniors. It's not a good place for seniors, there are no walkable amenities, no grocery or medical nearby. From the neighborhood's perspective, a development within existing zoning for seniors is better than a market-rate development under existing zoning, because of less impact on the schools and yes, seniors do drive less - which is not the same as saying they don't drive, and while pointing it out puts the proponents of rezoning into fits of apoplexy, the DMV says seniors are more likely to have collisions than working age drivers per miles driven, which is relevant on a school commute corridor traveled by thousands of school kids, but since the city refused to look at the safety impact of the development to bikes, we don't really know how that factors in.
PAHC has been saying no site is perfect, etc, but they never did a market study then a search for a site. This one came up, they saw an opportunity to get the housing cheaper, for which they should be commended. Unfortunately, they just went too far.
They even described the market rate portion as part of the public benefit, because it made them money. Unfortunately, though, it is only making them the money from the sale of the land and the zoning violation, the sale of the acual market-rate houses is only going to the for-profit developer, who will pocket the millions and move on to his next neighborhood victim. The chimney-like houses ala Miki's Market are becoming the new norm here. Since PAHC is building the main structure, they could have also built the houses at the same time and made that money to apply to the project which would have in turn allowed them to minimize many of the impacts to the neighborhood. For example, then just 6 normal houses is doable, then and they'd have a little more room for the rest. But that didnt work for their financing scheme, because they needed the money sooner to portray it as investment to make them more competitive for their funding application.
This whole project was designed to the financing long before there was public input. Other ways could have been found to achieve the same goals, but they locked themselves into one plan, hence we are here.
I think we're pretty much in agreement about most things, though - and if you find the information you are looking for, please share! i would like to know, too. One of the main issues now for the Center for Public Integrity is looking at these public-private partnerships that are ripe for being corrupted because they have all the advantages of public entities, without the disclosure and oppenness public entities must comply with. It's too easy for developers to use this as a way to get around our zonng laws, using PAHC's relationship with the City and public goodwill for their own profits, as is happening at Maybell with this plan.
All 3 local newspapers endorse voting AGAINST Measure D, and they're the ones who have been looking at both sides!
Every smart liberal in Palo Alto is on the side of building this project. Why is the Weekly against PAHC and with the Post? I just can't understand it. Your October 18 editorial is a rag-tag mishmash of conflicting assertions and unsupported allegations. You say, for example, that selling market rate homes to finance the affordable housing "is inconsistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan." Which goals? What page? Where shall we look for support for this statement in the Comprehensive Plan?
The Comprehensive Plan is a big document and its goals are broad. It contains something for everyone and so is not the best document on which to rest such a flat assertion -- particularly without specifics and evidence. But on chapter 4, page 1, under the "vision statement" for the 2007 Housing Element, it states "The City is committed to increasing the development of affordable and market-rate housing."
It is very hard to say that the Maybell project is "inconsistent" with that goal, at least.
Weekly, what is really going on here is that you have your underwear in a twist over 27 University and you are willing to see Measure D fail because you are far more interested in sending a message to City Hall than you are in having affordable housing. You proclaim that you aren't really being forced to make a choice, because somehow by magic (MAGIC! Who doesn't love MAGIC?) it will all be great after Measure D loses and we will end up both sending the message and getting the affordable housing through a process of happy negotiation.
That is incredibly unlikely to happen. Finding a golden ticket to ride a unicorn in your crackerjack box is more likely. The most likely outcome of the imminent Measure D loss --thanks in part to you-- is that it will very hard to build affordable housing anywhere in PA in the foreseeable future because it all requires PC zoning and the PACC will be undertandably gun shy; and because PA is expensive and without using creative funding mechanisms like this one it is becoming impossible.
Many PA residents want to stop development because they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to live in a the bright center of the universe, with all the money, jobs, shopping, transportation, great schools, etc. But they don't want anyone else to come here, and they can't understand that those two goals are inherently incompatible. Urbanization and increased density is what success looks like. Just ask all the towns that were bypassed by the railroad in the 19th century. This Measure D thing is the equivalent of some backwater town in Kansas forming a citizens committee to keep the railroad out in order to keep out increased density. I wonder how that would look in the light of history?
Editor, why have you done this? You have cut off the nose of one of our best nonprofits to spite John Arillaga's face. Not your finest moment in any way.
"Urbanization and increased density is what success looks like."
Well, those who make the most money from urbanization and increased density tend to live in suburban or more rural areas.
Personally, I see urbanization and increased density as a failure.
It indicates that greed has overtaken other values.
The price of urbanization is everything from uncaring neighbors to increased crime and disease, pollution, corruption, blight, power politics and money power. Increased stress all around, neurotic behavior becomes normal.
But some get rich driving it; others fill their resumes for more powerful positions.
"All 3 local newspapers endorse voting AGAINST Measure D, and they're the ones who have been looking at both sides!"
And so what??? Do paloalto residents need these newspapers to make decisions at the ballot box? And I suppose you think that the weekly's take on this has been balanced? Note how the weekly allows Vote against D to repeat the same fairy tales and long stories on multiple threads. Think they at unbiased in this matter?
This is exactly the opposite of the truth where affordable housing is concerned. Increased density is the result of high land prices because where a single family land parcel costs $1mil, it is necessary to build both up and out in order to obtain the economies of scale necessary to bring down the per unit price. What is driven by "greed" as you say, is keeping lot sizes large through zoning and preventing multi-family or small lot sizes.
In your preferred scenario, lot and land use regulation are used to ensure a high price for each individual owner (i.e., you) as increased frustrated demand drives prices up.
There is no way to have affordable housing without building more densely. And there is no way for Palo Alto to be both the bright center of the universe, generating wealth, value, and desire, without creating more housing to both allow people to live near their jobs and allowing them to purchase affordable homes. Another way to accomplish some of those ends is rent stablization, rent control, and other forms of price control. Are you all for that?
This particular project is neither too dense nor dangerous nor dishonest. It is a fine project, that harmonizes with the surrounding neighborhood. It's not any kind of problem and all the fearmongering and hysterics are scandalizing.
To answer the editor's issue, this project also has nothing whatsoever to do with the legitimate issues with cutting corners on process for-profit developers that he is worried about. PAHC is one of our oldest, best, and most respected nonprofits and this campaign has cut it off at the knees. Why our otherwise sensible Weekly has joined in the chorus is mystifying and sad.
In the long run, it's not possible to both be Palo Alto, with resources, great schools, jobs, economic growth, amenities, and also be the same small town of your fantasies. You can't have it both ways. If you want to have the high land prices that result from that status, then you have to accept greater density in order to guarantee diversity and also to allow for the demand that status creates.
Palo Alto faced this same problem of overdevelopment years ago, it's why we have spots of high rises around town, including the Tan Apartments, which are being used as an excuse to make further inroads here into the neighborhood. Kind of like telling a kid with a scar that they shouldn't mind a few more big gashes because they are already disfigured.
In the time since that wave of overdevelopment, there have been times of boom and bust. The bust times even caused us to sell off school sites, figuring we'd never need them again. Luckily, some of the same people fighting against D stood up and made sure we didn't let Terman Middle School become a development. And that battle is why we have the low-income Terman Apartments, too, the Terman Working Group worked out a win-win as many of the same people have asked to do here again. That can only happen if Against D wins.
This is our twn, and this is a democracy. We do not have to let developer whims and profit lead us around be the nose. Land use decisions are permanent.
The first major theme of the Comprehensive Plan is:
"Building Community and Neighborhoods
".... The City is committed to building upon the strengths of its neighborhoods, keeping them safe and attractive, maintaining a distinct identity for each, and delivering top-quality community services to all residents."
This project does the opposite, which is why neighbors have gone to the extreme trouble to fight it. Rezoning proponents assume that anything they do is good because it helps them build some affordable units. But it does so at too great a cost to the neighborhood, and is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.
Neighbors understand the identity and character of their own neighborhood. there is much affordable housing here now relative to other residential neighborhoods, because we do care. That should not give developers carte blanche to do whatever they want to us. Please vote Against D, as all 3 local papers have also recommended.
Editor is that the portion of the Comprehensive Plan on which you based the statement in your editorial that the Maybell development is "inconsistent" with the Comprehensive Plan?
If so, please account for why you placed so much reliance on that vague "theme" -- which is only contrary to the Plan as a matter of opinion not as any kind of fact. For example, the "theme" states that the City Council is committed to "building upon the strengths of its neighborhoods, keeping them safe and attractive, maintaining a distinct identity for each, and delivering top-quality community services to all residents." But the Maybell project is consistent with all of these themes.
The Maybell project is also consistent with the Housing Element, which is not vague at all but guarantees a commitment to build more affordable and market rate housing. (Chapter 4, page 1)
Let's scrutinize this claim of inconsistency further:
1. The Maybell project builds on the strengths of the Barron Park neighborhood. One of BP's strengths is commitment to diversity, including economic diversity. This project builds on that strength by creating more economic diversity and increasing affordable housing availability, which is consistent with page 1 of the Housing Element portion of the Comprehensive Plan, and with the Land Use element, which provides that "the diverse range of housing and work environments will be sustained and expanded to create more choices for all income levels." (see chapter 2, section 1).
2. The Maybell project keeps the neighborhood safe and attractive. There is no evidence that seniors will create any kind of risk to safety or to aesthetics. The City performed the required traffic study and though the residents do not like it, the conclusion was that the development was not unsafe. Moreover, building at the current zoning will also add a similar number of vehicles and traffic. There is no net negative from this project. Regarding aesthetics, that is a subjective matter but the project is attractively landscaped, utilizes setbacks, and preserves heritage trees.
3. The Maybell project maintains and enhances Barron Park's distinct identity as a diverse and welcoming community.
4. The Maybell project delivers top quality community services to all residents. The key word in this sentence is "all." The Maybell project provides affordable senior housing. Affordable housing is a valuable community service and this helps to extend that service to "all" residents by including seniors as well as families in that service.
Looks consistent to me.
Editor, why did you rely on this portion of the Comprehensive Plan rather than the more specific and clear Housing Element? Do you want to retract your statement that the project is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, since it isn't, or perhaps respond and explain which part is in conflict and how.
Because as I said above the CP is vague and has something for everyone, it is not the kind of document you can just say does or does not directly support something. You have to make the case, cite the provision, and show your work.
Vote Yes on D for affordable senior housing that will enhance our community, as is provided in the City's Comprehensive Plan.
@BarronParker You wrote, “Every smart liberal in Palo Alto is on the side of building this project.”
Really? I know an awful lot of very smart liberals who have voted AGAINST.
As for the Comprehensive Plan, here’s one thing you may have missed: "Maintain the scale and character of the city. Avoid land uses that are overwhelming and unacceptable due to their size and scale."
It seems that it is your underwear that's in a twist because you can’t imagine that the Weekly did an objective and thorough analysis and came with an opinion that differs from yours.
The part of the CP you cite is "Avoid land uses that are overwhelming and unacceptable due to their size and scale." This is Policy L-5 (ch.2 page 8). I do not agree, nor did any member of the City Council agree, that the Maybell project is overwhelming or that it is unacceptable due to size or scale. But even leaving that aside, what is the basis on which you (and presumably the editor as well, though he is not explaining which provision of the CP he is referring to in his editorial) resolve the conflict between this provision and the many provisions of Chapter 4 which conflict with it in this case:
1. Policy H-2: "Identify and implement a variety of strategies to increase housing density
and diversity in appropriate locations. Emphasize and encourage the
development of affordable and attainable housing." This policy specifically provides that the City will "Encourage development densities at the higher end of allowed density ranges in
multiple family zones by using methods such as preferential or priority
processing and application fee reductions for projects that propose
development at the higher end of a site’s allowed density range and that
provide affordable housing in excess of mandatory BMR program
requirements. Consider increasing minimum density requirements in multiple
family zones as well as in all Comprehensive Plan land use designations that
That is precisely what was done here. You can disagree that it's a good thing. You can't disagree that it's in the Comprehensive Plan, and that the Maybell project is consistent with H-2.
The CP has a lot of provisions. It could be argued that the commitment to affordable housing is one of the most, if not the most, clear and direct in the plan. But whether you like one element or another, you cannot simply state that it is "inconsistent" with the CP, since as I have shown it is consistent with the housing element, and specific goals and policies of chapter 4. Thus, it may be at worst consistent with some parts of the CP, and perhaps inconsistent with another, which is quite different than the blanket, untrue, and unsupported statement by the Weekly.
Weekly, it is not only the opponents of D who have engaged in what your more recent (but no less convoluted) editorial called the "whirlwind of assertions that too often were distortions and exaggerations." Your own editorial of October 18 contains seems to contain "distortions and exaggerations" regarding the Comprehensive Plan.
Would you care to clarify?
Quotes that are very telling about the Palo Alto process:
When the Planning Commission voted to initiate a "planned community" zone change, allowing developers to break zoning rules in exchange for "public benefits." Commissioner Tanaka marveled at the lack of people attending the meeting and surmised that neighbors were unaware. "I think if the people really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there." (Feb '13)
What is allowed at Maybell was critical in the council's decision on whether to approve the zone change. The R-2 zone allows a second unit but requires a 6,000' ft lot. The R-2 site is 14,000' ft with four homes, meaning the lot sizes are nowhere near 6,000' ft minimum. That calls into question the city's calculation for two residences on each lot. When asked about staff reports, City Manager Keene emphasized the limitations, "The findings in the staff reports tend to support the particular staff recommendation rather than represent all views"(Jul '13)
Mayor Scharff (against PCs when running for council) now says "PC zones are not springing up in your local neighborhood." (Oct '13) The council has approved three PC projects ( Lytton Gateway, Edgewood Plaza and Maybell ) since Scharff joined the council in January 2010.
This has become divisive for a neighborhood that has embraced low income housing. The process is flawed and the outcome is a flawed development with no winners. Maybell should not be rezoned. It makes perfect sense to start over with unbiased information and work within current zoning.
Check it out for yourself: AgainstMeasureD.com
I've read the Comprehensive Plan, and if I had to post all the ways the proposal doesn't comply, I'd be deleted for posting too much, and I've written some long posts. It's ridiculous to have an argument about it here. Fortunately, when subdividing, the process is evidentiary. Your ridiculous cherry picking won't go over as well with a judge. You have conveniently forgotten there are Land Use and Transportation Elements in the comprehensive plan, and inclusionary policies in housing also include the disabled.
The current zoning of the property is what is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, not a building that is up to 8 times more dense than existing zoning, without the parking spots. Justifying putting a high-rise in that spot because someone got away with building the Tan there when it was county land is like telling someone with scars that they should be okay with being cut again if the new scars are nearby.
All 3 local newspapers have now endorsed Voting AGAINST D. Thankfully, the communications people reading both sides made the right choice. Voting for will only result in more conflict and lawsuits. The only healing path forward, where there might be a win-win, is if Against D wins.
Above I gave an extremely clear and straightforward reading of the CP and pointed out the numerous visions, goals, and policies favoring affordable housing. I discussed the land use policy that may or may not support the project and gave it a plausible supportive reading. PC zoning is clearly countenanced by the CP. Please defend the idea that the CP supports only one interpretation (yours) rather than supplying a variety of justifications for many different possible perspectives.
Maybell does not conflict with the CP. It conflicts with your idiosyncratic and self interested reading of the CP. Every judge would agree with that. The question is what to do when there is a conflict among provisions and how to resolve it. If the opponents of this plan had a straightforward path to victory in the courts they'd have taken it rather than mounting a ballot initiative. In court what you will have is a CEQA stall and delay. [Portion removed.]
You are being used by the Bob Mosses and Dave Prices to advance their owns agendas against development and against poor people, respectively. The weekly has its own issues over process and 27 university. You are a pawn in a larger game. [Portion removed.]
The reality is this project is not dangerous. A year from now we are all going to look back on this as an episode [portion removed] that hopefully didn't prevent us from having housing for some poor elderly people.
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