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Survey: We love our neighborhoods but are miffed by development

Original post made on Jan 29, 2015

Palo Altans generally feel rosy about their hometown, but attitudes tend to sour when the conversation shifts to housing, land use and the quality of new developments.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 29, 2015, 9:23 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2015 at 10:09 am

So there you have it folks. Fix the T and C mess, fix the the grade separation on Caltrain and fix the parking and every one will be peachy happy. The to do list for the CC. (Notice how each of these have something to do with too many cars.


Posted by Fix The T&C Mess
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Jan 29, 2015 at 10:23 am

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 10:27 am

The problem with too many cars is two fold.

There are too many cars causing gridlock and too few spaces to park them.

We need to get the cars to where they want to go efficiently and then they need to be able to park simply.

I live near a new housing development which is in a residential neighborhood, but the new homes must be underparked because the amount of street parking is huge on a street where I remember seeing no cars being parked on the street. They obviously do not have enough parking spots for their own cars, perhaps only tandem parking, and so they decide to park on streets outside the development. This is exactly what annoys so many of us about the new developments, that and the way they are filling our schools and turning them into megaschools.


Posted by Lisa Krieger
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:12 am

A nicely-written, well-organized and engaging article about a topic that can be dry as a bone: survey results.


Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

They have been going overboard trying to make Oregon expressway. We have not had any fatalities and yet they insist on putting a protected left turn lane at Louis, as if drivers have forgotten how to turn left.
Even worse is the protected left turn lane southbound on Cowper. If one or two cars are turning left, the cars turning right get needlessly backed up because they've shrunk the size of the intersection to make a blatantly unnecessary left turn lane.

Its as if the people planning this have no actual experience commuting on these roads. I see it everywhere in Palo Alto: irrational "safety" improvements which don't take traffic flow, efficiency, and common sense into consideration. Springing these changes on us might actually make it LESS safe. And please, stop worshipping bicycles!!! Driving a car is not a sin!

If Palo Alto had frequent accidents I would understand. But Palo Alto drivers are some of the safest, most courteous that I've ever seen. The city is fine the way it is! Let's work to preserve that.


Posted by Looking at the numbers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:38 am

The staff has had these survey results for months, and has spent the time breaking down the results into so much irrelevance, it now fills 112 pages, a guarantee that not too many people will look at it.

By breaking down results into so many categories, and comparing us to other cities, and every other obfuscation they could think of, like prior years and other cities, the negative percentages are disguised and buried. That could account for these:

On page 9: Percentage Rating Good or Excellent

Overall confidence in Palo Alto government 52%
Generally acting in the best interest of the community 54%
Quality of Palo Alto government being honest 58%

On page 29:
Overall quality of new development in Palo Alto 51%


Posted by Squeezed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:40 am

Palo Alto has no more room for more cars, more businesses, more housing, or more roads. Not even room for wider roads.

We are hemmed in by mountains on one side, the Bay on another side, and the city limits of other municipalities on the other two sides.

No more room= no more development. Period.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

Resident, once they live here, "our schools" become their schools. Why shouldn't they park in the street? Single family homes with driveways and garages and room for more than 1 car also fill the streets with cars.

People, Silicon Valley overlords - many who live here - are growing their companies, and more housing is needed. Where do you suggest the housing go?


Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

There was an option to complete the survey via a web-site. It would be interesting to know how many people responded to the survey on-line, and how many completed it on paper.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Memories, I agree they do become their schools as much and as such are still our schools, but do we, all of us, want mega schools?

As for street parking, I agree anyone can park in the streets. But the developers are not providing enough off street parking. If all homeowners started parking their 2+ cars in their streets instead of their driveways, we would have even bigger parking problems.

Do we want to encourage more residential developments without enough off street parking? All the talk is about office space not providing enough parking. I think we should also be looking at residential developments that do not have enough off street parking per residence.


Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

"But Palo Alto drivers are some of the safest, most courteous that I've ever seen."

Really? We must not live in the same world. I see car drivers running red lights, driving and being on the phone at the same time, speeding, and generally flaunting driving rules, every single time I am out there.

As to Oregon Expressway, even if there were no fatalities, I have seen many horrific accidents on that road. I like the improvements that were made on Oregon. I really think they have improved the flow of traffic. BTW it was a county project, not a city project. If only other roads could be improved, particularly the mess that Embarcadero is between the tracks and El Camino.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Fix the T&C Mess,

The answer you got from Tom Dubois is an example of why I am encouraged by the new political setting in the city. Thank you for sharing it. It's sad that only those of us who are registered users can see it. I hope you can remedy that. Let us know if you get the follow-up you expect. With luck you'll train your eye on another significant problem, bring it to a counsel member's attention if you need help to determine what the hang-up is, and let us know what you find out.

Congratulations on testing the proposition that it's a new day in Palo Alto for public discourse. Thanks again to former P&T Commissioner Arthur Keller for taking part online in such a helpful fashion.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by km
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Since this survey was done there has been a big turnover in the council, four new members. The question I would like answered is how much faith do you have in the council? How much faith in the civil servants in city hall?


Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Condensed version: Our neighborhoods are great, but God forbid anyone wants to move into them...


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by jerrry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 12:48 pm

I would like Barron Park a hundred times better if the City Council would stop dumping the Below Market Rate apartments and condos into Barron Park. There are several within a mile of the trailer park as it is.

And stop holding up the closure of Buena Vista trailer park, which [portion removed] is falling apart. It would cost many millions of dollars to replace the sewers, electricity, water, etc. that have reached their end of life and it would only be allowed to have half the number of trailers under new existing trailer park regulations. Close the eyesore now.


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

"east of 101 in the Baylands for multi-family housing"???
Isn't this all a flood zone and earthquake hazard zone? Isn't it "nature" (to the extent possible)...with a portion the Baylands parkland. it would also be a grim location.
It sounds like a poor idea to try to insert housing into that isolated sector on the other side of the highway.
Plus let's try to retain what little "nature" that remains, NO flashing automobile dealership billboards and showrooms and lots in the Palo Alto Baylands, much less multi-family housing.
I suggest more mid-height multi-family housing along El Camino Real, NOT jammed right up against the roadway but with a slight setback.


Posted by counts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

"Its as if the people planning this have no actual experience commuting on these roads."

They don't. Someone should sue Liz Kniss, Larry Klein, and Gail Price and the other developmenmongers who gave us all the overdevelopment on the other side of town from where they live, and get some kind of poetic justice the way renters get against slumlords: For 6 months, they should be disallowed from using a car and must bike and walk everywhere in Palo Alto, most especially in the south. Imagine getting to wave and squeeze by one of them on Alma in the dark, just past those ugly things at Alma Plaza or that hideous hotel going up at El Camino and Arastradero....


Posted by Stuart Berman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Stuart Berman is a registered user.

I'd like to reply to Johnny:

Johnny,

I agree with your comments about the unnecessary (and detrimental) left turn lanes on Cowper. Where traffic used to flow smoothly through this intersection, cars waiting to turn left now block cars wanting to go straight or turn right. Worse, there used to be plenty of room for bicycles to have their own space at this intersection. Now bikes get squeezed in with the cars.

As a car driver who bikes whenever possible, I disagree with your characterization of the treatment given to bicycles in this town. I hope that you will try riding a bike in the traffic. If you do so you will quickly realize that the cars are a lethal menace to bike riders and everything possible should be done to protect bike riders. In my opinion the city has paid far to little attention to the needs of bicyclists versus the needs of cars.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm

>Condensed version: Our neighborhoods are great, but God forbid anyone wants to move into them...

Robert, of course anybody can move into any of the PA neighborhoods. Look at the real estate listings, figure out what home is desired, then pay for it at market rates. Dah!


Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm

I love those left turn lanes on Louis (and presumably Cowper) at Oregon. In the past, people going straight were stuck behind people turning left, or had to do risky, unsafe maneuvers around those waiting to turn left in order to be able to proceed before the light turned red.

I think those left turn only lanes are a very good idea that add greatly to the safety of the intersection and actually help the flow of traffic.


Posted by Work your way up
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2015 at 4:12 pm

To Memories
You ask where new people to the area should live??
It isn't a God given right that everyone/anyone can live in PA. East Palo Alto is less than two miles from downtown PA. Housing is much more inexpensive there. You can buy a 3 bedroom house for $400, 000. [Portion removed.] Not everyone can live in one of the most expensive towns in the USA. Especially when they are just starting out. [Portion removed.]


Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Not every person who works in the Valley must live in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is absolutely jammed and packed full. Even sardine cans are not filled up infinitely. Due to our unique geography, having natural boundaries to the east and west and lots of unbuildable land, as well as neighboring towns to our north and south, we have run out of space to accommodate more development, more business, more traffic and more people.

If the new elected city council is intellectually honest, it should communicate clearly and in no uncertain terms to the residents and developers, as well as anyone wishing to move to Palo Alto through new development projects, that this is impossible and not going to happen.


Posted by Not a fan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Much of our parking and overcrowding woes can be attributed to our recently removed, incredibly incompetent, Mayor Sheppard, and the outgoing city council members. Hopefully our new mayor and recently elected new city council members will be more thoughtful and not bow to developers. We still need to get rid of councilman Berman, who doesn't do his homework and is ill prepared for city council meetings. Hopefully this new council and Mayor Holman will fire City Manager Keene, and Planning Director, Gittelman. The council took one good step last week, when Transportation Chief Jaime Rodriguez was either encouraged to quit, or was fired.


Posted by Work your way up
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2015 at 6:43 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Not a fan- well if you are going to blame the past council, then do not forget holman. She is so me of the longest serving members, so if there is blame to cast, you must surely include her.
I am certain that by the end of the year with holman as mayor, shepherd will be considered to be a great mayor. In fact, I predict people will be talking recall for holman, filseth and dubois.
Though I do agree with you that Rodriguez had to go.


Posted by WhatSurvey
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Sure wish every resident received the survey or even knew about it. I sure didn't.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@jerry99

"I would like Barron Park a hundred times better if the City Council would stop dumping the Below Market Rate apartments and condos into Barron Park."

And I have always liked Barron Park in large part because of its eclectic mix of housing types and household composition. I plan to stay because this neighborhood offers so much that is unavailable anywhere else in Palo Alto--close to the hills for hiking and long-distance bicycling, relatively light traffic at most hours of the day that invites walkers and bicyclers out onto the sidewalk-free streets, Bol Park and Briones Park, good schools, a strong neighborhood sense of place and much more. I would have welcomed the Maybell affordable housing for seniors and would enthusiastically welcome the Buena Vista community's continued presence here should it become a reality.




Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

pat is a registered user.

I agree with Johnny and Stuart about the left turn lanes on Louis at Oregon Expressway.

Before left turn lane, we could go right on red when the coast was clear. Now, we’re stuck behind cars going straight across.

Of course this is a trivial problem compared to the lack of a right turn lane on El Camino north at Oregon.

If you’re interested, the full SEA report is at:
Web Link

3,000 were mailed, 104 undeliverable, 796 responded.



Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Work - are you living on the same planet? Of course they can live in Palo Alto. There are apts, condos, single family homes, duplexes. Whatever fits their budget determines their move - if places are available.

East Palo Alto isn't responsible for providing affordable housing for the area, and tgey already provide more than their fair share for their county. Our county doesn't. The tech overlords are creating jobs and apparently, politicians realize the entire increased workforce can't all fit into Brentwood, Hollister and Livermore, hence the need in the region for more housing - dense housing.

Also, please stop pretending that this is all about our special Palo Alto. It's not. It's the whole region.


Posted by give give and give some more
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm

"I predict people will be talking recall for holman, filseth and dubois."

Yes, people like Shepherd, Kniss, Baer, Keenan, MacNellis, ...


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 30, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Bicycling is getting more dangerous but I think the problem is not caused by cars and traffic alone. Of course there are some rotten drivers here but that's true anywhere. I think the poor condition of many streets plus various construction-related factors (high number of large dirt-haulers, detours, temporary fencing that blocks vision, steel plates, cones, temporary lane reductions, closed off parts of campus) and dense parking all conspire to make a trip across town on a bike a risky venture. It's daunting to be on two wheels, surrounded by big dirt haulers. Hopefully things will mellow out at some point but until then, watch out!


Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Curmudgeon-- and don't those people that you mentioned have the right to seek a recall? [Portion removed.]


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