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Arastradero Road Lots Suggested for Higher Density

Original post made by Herb Borock, Professorville, on May 3, 2014

Steve Pierce of Zane Macgregor has suggested including four large lots in the new Housing Element at higher densities. If included in the Housing Element's site inventory, then no rezoning would be required to implement the rezoning if the state's Housing Density Bonus law is taken advantage of in a development proposal. The City committee meets Thursday, May 8, at 4 pm.

Agenda: Web Link

Staff Report: Web Link, see pages 8-14.

Comments (10)

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Posted by Kay
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Hold on a second. I have many questions about this process. Can anyone just nominate some properties for whatever reason they want to fulfill the Housing quotas for ABAG? What about our property rights? Who stands to benefit from this up zoning? Why doesn't the City Council (instead of a Consulting Co.) have control over these decisions? Why are non-elected persons (not elected officials) running the Housing Element Committee? It seems to me that this type of process is fraught with conflicts of interest, as was in evidence with the Maybell up-zoning. These decisions/allocations/quotas should be transparent with all parties nominating properties (with obvious conflict of interest) be help accountable. If 1 of these nominated properties was mine, I would get a lawyer and appeal it as far as I could in the court system, even to the Supreme Court. It seems obvious money/special interests are doing the talking and the little guy is getting taken advantage of! I'm sure the City will find some way to label this a win/win situation as they have been doing for the last approximate 15 years. Livability is finally in center court. Does Steve Pierce and his family want to live in 1 of these high density dwellings, what about the neighborhood nearby, the Gunn traffic nightmare, the pollution generated by cars on Arastradero,accessibility to shopping, etc.? Any up zoning should have to face voter approval, instead of special interests guiding the decision-making.

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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.


Take a look at my current blog post. It explains the process and links to staff and council committee documents.

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Posted by Safety First
a resident of Green Acres
on May 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm

The big problem here is that the City is just piling on this part of town with no effort to discharge their duties to state mandated things like safety, traffic circulation, etc.

The reason they have to insert such things in the Comp Plan is that comp plans require consistency, and such high density development on that corridor violates important provisions of the comp plan. They put things like this is the comp plan to ensure neighbors have less recourse to stop such things when the properties are subdivided.

It's a pretty interesting thing to happen, given how they claimed they weren't going to use the Maybell development as an excuse to densify Arastradero.

I think given the push to get all kids on bikes, and the importance of that road as an East-west corridor, it's time the City Council stopped this madness and put safety first, starting with making more specific rules by which the City must discharge its duties under its own policies and development conditions it created.

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Posted by vague numbers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Steve Levy,

Can you clarify what the risks are for not self-zoning?

It appears to be that the state and a judge could re-zone instead, but based on what?

Numbers for job growth are reported to be about 40,000 new jobs and about 7,000 new houses built. Each house can probably hold at least 3-4 people, and it's not like there was no housing before. People are living somewhere right now. Some may leave, the rate of growth could change - how do they come up with the numbers?

And how could a judge hold any town to a particular amount of housing and jobs on the basis of vague numbers?

Palo Alto has not been keeping track of the jobs here. Many new jobs, but some lost like Facebook and Google. Do Stanford jobs stack the Palo Alto requirements? If they do, why should that zoning not be within Stanford?

A judge ruling on vague jobs and housing numbers does not seem right.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

This actually seems like a sensible idea. There is lots of multi-family housing in the area, its next to a cemetery, near lots of business, not to mention Gunn.

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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I have a blog going on the Housing Element (HE) site selection process with links to staff reports and other info.

Residents have opportunities to suggest sites that could replace sites they consider less desirable.

If I can I will answer questions about the HE on my blog site.

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Posted by don'tgetit
a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I read Levy's explanation but it doesn't make clear why these types of high density projects can be forced onto the city, like it or not. This sounds like upzoning to me cloaked in different language.

Maybe we need an expert to explain why a city cannot reject rezoning or more high density projects.

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Posted by Bob Moss
a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I would have to see what new density is proposed for the site to have a better idea of compatibility with the neighborhood, but I think it's between the cemetery and the school next to Terman so it's not next to R-1 housing, but it is across the street from homes. An increase of more than double current zoning would be excessive. However any increase in density will have traffic impacts on a school corridor that already has major rush hour problems due to traffic from 4 schools on the narrowed street. A development there may push more traffic onto Maybell that already carries over 3300 trips/day on a street less than 30' wide. Adding traffic to Arastradero is a bad idea. Anyway putting it into the Housing Element at higher density requires formal city council action so objections can be raised at the Housing Committee and Council.

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Posted by vague numbers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm

don't get it

"Maybe we need an expert to explain why a city cannot reject rezoning or more high density projects."

Good idea.

If only the City would think so. They either assume everybody understands, or they purposely don't want anybody to understand.

Maybe election time will be the time when we can ask, did you ever explain how this really works? Why not?

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Posted by SHAM Housing Committee
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm

The so called Community Housing Committee is composed of housing advocates and local major developers. Stephen Levy, housing advocate, is advising that committee. He has also been an advisor to ABAG.
The city has stacked the committee with development proponents and developers but calls it a Community committee. Steve Pierce is a major Palo Alto and Menlo Park developer.
The committee is part of the city's underhanded behavior of the type we have seen from major oil companies and banks, but now it's right here at home for all to see.

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

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