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City finds compromise on accessory housing

Original post made on Apr 18, 2017

With residents clamoring for both more housing and more government transparency, the Palo Alto City Council agreed Monday night to scale back its ambitious plan to encourage more accessory-dwelling units in the community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 3:35 AM

Comments (116)

35 people like this
Posted by Dad with 2 young kids
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:36 am

The city council approves ordinance that will further increase the purchase price of homes in Palo Alto. Home ownership now further away for the middle class that does not qualify for below market rate housing and now needing even money to purchase a single family home. Thank you for moving the bar even further away for families seeking another bedroom or yard.


11 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:38 am

Great community participation last night by citizens of Palo Alto.

Thank you for expressing your views and concerns.

Respectfully


17 people like this
Posted by ADUs help residents
a resident of University South
on Apr 18, 2017 at 6:28 am

I personally saw nothing objectionable about the March 6th ordinance (even Councilmember Filseth voted for it), but I think the Council did a good job crafting a compromise last night. They were able to preserve a pro-ADU ordinance while making a measure so broadly popular that they even pulled in Tom Dubois, who was an opponent of the earlier ordinance. This is what good governance looks like.


1 person likes this
Posted by Neva Yarkin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2017 at 6:30 am

I was misquoted. Over 30 years ago!

Neva Yarkin


6 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 6:42 am

So what are the final rules?


120 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

Councilman Wolbach disqualified himself last night from holding any elected office now or in the future.

[Portion removed] Wolbach maintained in front of a packed council chamber that he authored the elaborate12 part motion on ADUs he lickity split made at the prior meeting.

When councilman Filseth displayed an email he had gotten after the first council meeting, urging him to vote yes at that meeting on the same laundry list of items as in Wolbach's motion, it was clear that the motion was not Wolbach's but Palo Alto Forward's, written by them and circulated prior to the meeting to drum up support for their 12 points.

[Portion removed.]

That any lobbying or interest group, who cares it's point of view, is now writing motions wholesale and feeding them to compliant council members who willingly cover it up is not how democracy works in Palo Alto. This is manipulation of our process and us and it is poison to a healthy civic life. Ironic that Cory ran on civility and behaves like this.

This is now the second time in weeks that Wolbach and Fine led the council into terrible decisions needing total or partial reversal - the first was the highjacking of the CAC Comp Plan process. Outrage then understandably ensues, forcing the council to back down, wasting huge amounts of time and embittering the public. As Judge La Doris Cordell said last night, this was terrible process to the point of being immoral (paraphrase).

We have 2 ideologues on the council - Fine and Wolbach - who have allegiances to PAF more than to all residents and our City. They should be recalled.


17 people like this
Posted by Sore losers
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:27 am

Anon- why don't you provide us with the proof that paf authored the motion. And feel free to start a recall of fine wolbach.
The good thing about the endless, one sided, biased attacks on fine, wolbach, Tanaka and kniss ( i.e anyone that is not an anti- everything ideal guess like holman) is that few take them seriously. Some people have been crying wolf for too long.
Btw, good decision by the qcqouncil given the state laws that override palo Altos rules


52 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:51 am

By all means, don't take my word for it - watch the video of the meeting and watch Councilman Filseth talk about PAF and the motion. You will learn a lot.


41 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:07 am

Still no mention of utilities and charges, bills, etc. Still no mention of what happens when the original property is sold and how the second unit will be affected if both homes become separate rentals.

I foresee great neighborhood angst with parking issues, particularly in areas where parking is already a problem evenings near schools, parks, churches, etc that have spillover parking evening and weekends.


78 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:08 am

Anon said - We have 2 ideologues on the council - Fine and Wolbach . Absolutely correct and they have done a tremendous amount of damage in a short time, particularly Wolbach, both in terms of the motions they've put forward/supported and more importantly the damage to the reputation of and trust in the council.

Anyone can tell me what they did with the ridiculous proposal to allow as little as 6ft setback on the rear yard?


58 people like this
Posted by Dad with 2 young kids
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:11 am

That's a great idea. Start a recall of Wolbach! How many signature do you need to collect? I'll sign and even collect signatures myself.


8 people like this
Posted by Gennady Sheyner
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:15 am

Ms. Yarkin,

Sorry for the error. I fixed it.

-Gennady


2 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:24 am

I assume handling of utilities, property sale, property taxes, etc will follow whatever the current rules are around ADUs with no change.


8 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:29 am

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Chart needed
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:36 am

There was so much confusion at the meeting, about what the state law allows/requires, and what the 2 different proposals allow/require. Even the council seemed confused a few times on FAR and ADUs/JADUs.

Can someone please make a simple chart? To summarize the rules?


83 people like this
Posted by Terrible Process
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:50 am

I was not able to attend the meeting but as I watched for hours on TV the many many valuable comments by Palo Alto residents about the lack of good process and the need to further examine the impacts of this vote on our community. I was sure the City Counsel would see the wisdom of a delay for a study of impact on our traffic, schools, neighbors, infrastructure. Shocked, I saw the manipulation of the stronger advocates for going beyond state requirements peel away at the good sense of Council supporters of Palo Alto home owners who want to maintain some protection of their privacy and quality of life. It seems now we are left with a future of big granny units peering into neighbors' yards and little control over the noise and traffic these units will bring. The winners are spec-house contractors who can build, disregarding neighbors and the culture of neighborhoods, future airbnb renters, those who own houses but don't live in them. The losers are the next door neighbors whose housing value goes down, have their privacy taken away and quality of life diminished. The City Counsel could have done better by not rushing this through and looking at some of the important issues raised by the community. How disappointing!


38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

Good to see so many thoughtful and articulate people there last night. Judge Cordell killed it. Not just the "anybody who disagrees with me is evil or fearful" people.


69 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

There should be a moratorium on this ordinance until ADUs are constructed and inhabited on every parcel in the neighborhood of each of the council members who voted yes. Even without the usual lack of code enforcement, it will become abundantly clear in few days how disastrous the increased density can be. Not sticking to the state law minimums on the parking rules is just one of the bad decisions the Council made on this issue. We should expect a case-by-case fight on each one of the ADU applications with huge cost increases for the City and all of the rest of us.


69 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:17 am

I stayed up as long as I could last night [portion removed.] What was clear is that no one understands what the rules are - how the end result is going to affect the utility system, and everyone tripping over themselves with the obvious - that they tried to pull a coupe expecting that no one knows what is going on. Has it come to the point where we have to monitor what they all are doing to cover themselves as they manipulate the city system? Bring it on - we will all monitor what is going on as they cannot be trusted to follow a valid process for transacting business. And we are not going to allow the robo-email tactics of some groups in the city.


70 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

The City just allowed someone to build a two-story home that is like a viewing arena of my previously private backyard and living room. What's more, they block my views of the sky and hills that were my daily solace, in a way that created a visual jumble, with no plans to put in greenery to block their house and the looming lighted spaceship effect at night. The owners are nice people who would have worked with neighbors, but their builder knew he didn't have to care about the privacy rules and planning directions because they just aren't easily enforceable and the City staff don't care at all. This would have been preventable had there been any easy enforcement ability of the existing rules and codes.

If you want fo ensure that this is done well, and provides for people who need the ADUs but doesn't hurt privacy, strengthen privacy rules in the code for new construction and make them more easily enforceable. This is a less controversial move that could provide direction to everyone and allow moving forward. In designing something workable, it's important to look at existing rules and how to just make people follow the rules we have and work together.

Citizens should not expect city hall to protect their privacy by improving the rules and enforcement, rules for both improving privacy ptotections and making it easier for those building to comply and move forward, those who care should figure it out and launch an initiative. They will find broad support across town.


12 people like this
Posted by FloggrGurl
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

Once again I applaud the city council on making a difficult decision with intellect, empathy and an eye on the future.
My only complaint is council member Koo's outrageous comment, regarding "let's not make a schizophrenic decision". That is the most insensitive, unintelligent, and offensive thing I have ever heard any council member say. To compare a devastating mental illness to building ADU's is outrageous.

I thank our mayor for running a concise and professional meeting. A task I certainly don't envy, but he does it so well. Thank you all for moving us into the future.


69 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:56 am

Councilmember Holman made the amendment to limit ADUs in Eichler neighborhoods to 12 feet high. This amendment was rejected. So now a 14-foot high one-story ADU can be built 6 feet from the rear property with a finished floor 5 feet above grade and towering over a maximum 7-foot fence and looking directly into a neighbors bedroom or living room. Instead there is some hope of folding ADUs into the Eichler neighborhood guideline process.

Councilmember DuBois tried to limit ADUs from getting parking permits beyond that for the main house in RPP (Residential Parking Permit) zones. Staff said it would be too hard to do. What we need is a broader ordinance that all new developments are not eligible for RPP permits and maintain a list of ineligible addresses. New ADUs can be added to that list.


74 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

Like resident, we left shortly after hearing Cory Wolbach respond to someone's question about ADU-related parking problems by suggesting that people park cars on their FRONT LAWNS!!

What a classy well-considered idea. For Appalachia.

Sadly, he was serious.


29 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:36 am

Empty your garage out and park your cars in it like you're supposed to. If you chose to use your garage as a closet then that's your choice, but you're not owed street parking because of it.


33 people like this
Posted by possibiilty
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:41 am

Anon said "In the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, Wolbach maintained in front of a packed council chamber that he authored the elaborate12 part motion on ADUs he lickity split made at the prior meeting.

When councilman Filseth displayed an email he had gotten after the first council meeting, urging him to vote yes at that meeting on the same laundry list of items as in Wolbach's motion, it was clear that the motion was not Wolbach's but Palo Alto Forward's, written by them and circulated prior to the meeting to drum up support for their 12 points."

Have you considered that since Wolbach is a member of PAF, perhaps he did, in fact, author the 12 points?


56 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

@FloggrGurl, you said "My only complaint is council member Koo's outrageous comment, regarding "let's not make a schizophrenic decision". That is the most insensitive, unintelligent, and offensive thing I have ever heard any council member say. To compare a devastating mental illness to building ADU's is outrageous."

Actually Ms, Kuo's more right than wrong. This blind insistence that ADUs will reduce prices has no basis in reality. There's no provision for rent control. There's no limit to how many people can be stuffed into ADUs. There's no evidence that suddenly homeowners will gladly and benevolently charge less than market rents after spending a few hundred thousand dollars to build ADUs and see their property taxes rise accordingly. I doubt that more than 10% of the ADUs will really house grannies, disabled relatives or family members.

As for the Mayor running a balanced meeting, his bias was painfully obvious. He immediately shut down applause for speakers eloquently criticizing the sneaky midnight motion made by Fine-Wolbach but allowed the well-organized PAF contingent to stand and cheer and chant without interrupting them.


51 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 10:50 am

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Amie A
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

Well done Council. I am so happy to know I live in a community that values diversity, compassion, and inclusivity.

With all the energy in that room, imagine what we could accomplish moving forward working together!

Thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:08 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by FloggrGurl
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:18 am

@Online -you are strictly going on assumptions of what your neighbors may or may not do. I highly doubt they will be "stuffing" human beings into an ADU. And if that is indeed the case, you should call the authorities because it may be indicative of a much bigger problem than a rise is your property taxes.
I'm sorry your completely missed the mark on my reference to council member Kous comment. It was about her using the term "schizophrenic", as a verb is incredibly reckless and unprofessional and someone should call her on it.

As for our mayor, he did, in fact attempt to quiet the room on multiple occasions when the citizens broke into cheers. He can only do so much. It's a shame the masses don't understand time and place for protest and appropriate protocol. A council meeting needs to follow the rules. They are WORKING, attempting to accomplish something vital. It's not the place for a free for all. As always, it's the unhappy that turn out en mass, while the happy stay home. Love to see that change


1 person likes this
Posted by senor Blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:21 am

So what is the FINAL ordinance?
Who cares about all the back and forth.


46 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park res
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:27 am

"ADU" is a nice euphemism. Seems like what really happened though is that the Council just made a stunning change in residential zoning rules throughout the town.

Unless someone is going to enforce that these units are for family, all this rule does is allow bigger homes on existing lots. Putting aside how many people will take advantage of this, and what the specific requirements will be -- e.g. how big can the units be? what parking rights are finalized? are there any architectural restrictions? do neighbors have a say? are there any occupancy limits? who pays for utiltiies to be brought to these new units? can they put solar up? will this increase the parcel and property taxes for these owners, as seems logical? what happens when the house(s) sell? etc. -- in practice the Council just changed the rules that all existing homeowners purchased their houses under. Some people might be happy about that, but many will not be.

The Council could have decided that NEW residential lot construction will be allowed to have these units. That would have been fair. But this approach makes a joke of having meaningful residential zoning requirements. Now we have zones that meaning, unless a few people decide they don't...


29 people like this
Posted by Contingent eval
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

The idea that citizens have to keep watching out for a "contingent" doing stuff which later needs review is very disturbing.

Clearly this was something where there was enough agreement to reach compromise without a mess.

These situations are squarely on the "contingent" majority in Council which should exert basic consideration for the people they are marginalizing.

There is not much that can get done "working together" when trust is tattered almost every week, enough already.

The contingent majority is SLOPPY.


49 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:38 am

Annette is a registered user.

Many have tried to label anyone not fully in favor of the Fine/Wolbach amendments as anti-ADU, but I don't think that has been successful. I think the entire CC and most of those who attended last night support at least the original ordinance. I would have liked to see additional protections and design requirements, particularly with regard to setbacks, but that obviously didn't happen. If this proves problematic perhaps a future CC will give that reconsideration.

Some dedicated and highly informed residents, including former Council woman Judge LaDoris Cordell, were articulately critical of the community-excluding process that has now twice resulted in unnecessary divisiveness and a good measure of chaos. Comments from the dais that were made after the break suggest that the criticism fell on deaf ears. That bell should be rung again.

As for Kou's "schizophrenic" comment, I took that as a reference to the decision about fees not meshing with the decision about ADUs. It is a huge stretch to accuse her of making light of a serious mental illness.


13 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:47 am

@Arthur Keller - Show me a reasonable number of homes in Palo Alto constructed with the finish floor 5' above grade - Really... There is no reason to exaggerate like that. People work had to get their floor level as low as possible so the indoor/outdoor connection is improved. The only reason for a floor height like you suggest is to allow a basement - but in an ADU that would count toward FAR so it just won't happen. There is no benefit in fear mongering. Let's just stick to the facts.


1 person likes this
Posted by FloggrGurl
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:55 am

Lots of folks here lamenting the process, but not mentioning that the final compromise ordinance--which retains almost all of the important Fine/Wolbach changes, passed 7-2! Only Kou and Holman were opposed.

Palo Alto is changing for the better, and the council majority is delivering on its campaign promises to help serve a multi-generational Palo Alto.


33 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:57 am

Prepare for neighborhood war if people try to build ADUs with 6ft setback on back yard.


29 people like this
Posted by Phil Farrell
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I attended the city council meeting last night and spoke in favor of liberal rules for building ADUs. I had to leave mid-way through the public comment period, so I missed the council discussion and final votes.

This was the first city council meeting I have attended in the 35 years I have lived in Palo Alto. I was most impressed by the quality of civic engagement by residents, council members, and city staff. Unlike the often inflamed and judgmental anonymous comments that you read on this forum, I heard only well-reasoned and respectful comments at the meeting and saw a council and audience listening respectfully to all points of view.

I especially commend anyone willing to serve on the council - what a difficult and thankless job! They have to wrestle with complicated issues every week. They not only put in long hours at the weekly meetings (they started at 5 pm in closed session and were there until midnight!), but they have to read and digest enormous quantities of background reports and emailed public comments in advance of each meeting. Whether you agree with their decisions or not, I think we should thank and commend their dedication. And this goes for our city manager and other staff, who also have to prepare for and attend these meetings.


25 people like this
Posted by Deborah
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I don't know how many people on this discussion realize that the City is required by the State to update it's ADU codes to make them easier to build, and by easier, in Palo Alto, this means possible. Trying to get permission to build ADU's in Palo Alto has been an issue for decades.

I couldn't follow the legal argument made by Cordell, but it was persuasive. However, taking action in a municipality is very complicated. Greg Scharff is hardly a pro-housing push over and he's a lawyer. If there was a genuine legal issue here, rather than just a difference of legal opinion, he would have voted against it.

The one anti ADU complaint that I feel is valid is the potential AirBnB issues. The rest of the anti ADU complaints were absurd. Of the eight houses on my one block section of Birch, no one uses their garage for vehicle storage, two of them have already been converted into other uses and three of the houses have NO off street parking. There are twenty one vehicles associated with these eight houses, of which four are parked off the street.

In my neighborhood, I know of more than a dozen ADUs, most of them not legal. They house counsellors and cooks and Stanford graduate students and the disabled son of an elderly resident. For ten years, the director of the Zoo at the Jr Museum, Bob Steele, lived in one. Any and all diversity is housed in these ADUs.

There were several concerns voiced last night about fire safety. Well, if they are legal, they are going to be safe!

The claim being made that "every property is going to be rezoned R2" is absurd. ADU's have NEVER changed zoning and they won't in this instance.

America has a love affair with the nuclear family model of living. Seems to work for some, but it is not normal and, in this day and age, not workable.

As far as recalling Wobach and Fine, good luck. I've been watching Palo Alto politics for forty years and this is the FIRST time a candidate has run on a single issue platform AND he got elected. This is unprecedented. As much as I'd like to turn back the clock to when the planet had only one or two billion people, we now have seven billion and are expected to top out at ten billion. Many people chose to dig in their heels and resist change at all cost, causing no end of problems for others. I prefer to look at the problem practically and try to see what kind of reasonable accommodation could be made, none of which involve having as much privacy or as little vehicular traffic as I'd like.


21 people like this
Posted by In the end, probably the right outcome
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

We need housing.

ADUs are a proven way to get more housing, especially for those members of our community with special needs (elderly parents, disabled children, etc). It also has the effect of spreading these units throughout the city versus concentrating in one place.

However, we cannot expect too much from this. I do not expect more than 100 ADUs to be constructed in Palo Alto in the next 10 years. Other cities with liberal ADU ordinances have experienced this same thing: they are difficult and costly to build. Those who are in desparate need of the additional unit will build them; most will not.

The city still needs a lot more to address our housing needs


4 people like this
Posted by EL
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Does this ruling change how many square feet you may build on a lot?


6 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

I don't think it changes the allowable footage - at least not according to the CPA website, which states:

Am I allowed additional floor area to build an accessory dwelling unit?
No, the square footage for the accessory dwelling unit counts toward the overall allowable floor area as well as toward the allowable site coverage for your property.


33 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

@ Randy Popp: In tidal flood zones, which includes significant Eichler neighborhoods east of Middlefield Road, the finished floor must be raised above base flood elevation. In some cases, that is five feet above existing grade. In other areas, it is three feet above existing grade, which still allows someone above five feet tall so see over a seven-foot maximum height fence. At three feet above existing grade, eyes would be at over eight feet above grade, or at least one foot above the maximum fence height.

Some 2000+ parcels are affected by tidal flooding in Palo Alto, but I don't know how many of them have base flood elevation at least three feet above grade that are in Eichler neighborhoods.

@ EL. Yes it does increase how many square feet you may built on a lot, if the excess is used to build an ADU (or JADU).


27 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm

@ Midtown Mom. You are quoting old rules, not the ones just approved by the Council. The new rules (from the Wolbach-Fine motion of March 7) are that an additional 175 of allowable square footage are allowed to be built for an ADU and 50 for a JADU.


11 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Thank you Arthur! So even if our house is at the maximum FAR for the lot, we could build a 12' x 12' cottage in the back yard?

Not that I would, actually. But it seems like a sideways route to pack in more housing density.


4 people like this
Posted by Developers rule
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Sorry to belabor the point - but if there is an extra 175 sf of FAR up for grabs, isn't a clever architect going to draw the garage/study/whatever in a semi-detached manner, call it an ADU, and build a house that is 175 sf bigger than what would have been allowed under the prior rules?

Just because a structure is called an ADU doesn't mean it is ever used for more than housing a car or a home office.


18 people like this
Posted by Bret Andersen
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Thanks to all the active citizens and council that thoughtfully debated this decision. Those leading the effort showed courage and vision to push for this significant step forward for our community and environment. I am proud that we have the community spirit necessary to make real changes in support of State and local imperatives for ADU housing.

This ordinance looks broad and practical enough to allow our community to spread the social and economic benefits of adding more small and affordable housing across all our neighborhoods. Residents in our town will now have more practical options to live closer to family members, social groups and jobs and live more sustainable lifestyles in denser neighborhoods that share more land, infrastructure and transport. It will relieve some of the market restriction that is driving the rampant conversion of small (less expensive) single family homes to giant (expensive) single family homes happening all over the city.

The beauty of the ordinance is that it largely follows the same building and lot use practices we already see in our neighborhoods. Short setbacks, height/second story limits, street/driveway parking, converted garages are all common already. City and community efforts are underway to address the general problems we have with parking, utility capacity, Airbnb, school enrollment and others. The contribution to these costs from adding ADU's should not be any more dramatic than other means of adding housing.

Thank you all for participating in this effort. Yes, we can, even with the "Palo Alto Process".


24 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

How about the impact on property taxes? If I build an ADU or if I convert an existing structure to an ADU will my tax assessment go up? If it does, will the city increase my property taxes?
If I collect rent on the ADU, will I need a business license? How much will that cost?
If I convert an existing structure, will I have to get a permit and bring it up to code if it's an older, pre-1960s building? Will I have to bring the main house up to code as well as the remodeled structure?
Did anyone think this through?


18 people like this
Posted by New Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:14 pm

@Midtown "Did anyone think this through?"

Of course not
This will be the usual Palo Alto City Council initiative fiasco. We will a regret this in a year or two and the finger pointing will be fun to watch.

Now lets all go spend $60M to buy Buena Vista!


27 people like this
Posted by Hannah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm

@Deborah

On March 7, 2017 staff provided the council with a draft ordinance to update Chapter 18 Zoning that satisfied the new state requirements.



I think most people who spoke last night were in favor of ADU’s and were aware of the new state law. They were speaking out against the lack of transparency. They voiced legitimate concerns about parking and privacy issues that were not addressed in the minor changes made last night. Liz Kniss and Greg Scharff put forward a straw man argument that the only choice was between the less restrictive state law and the Wolbach/Fine amendment. There was a third option, the original staff proposal which they could have approved and then taken time to study and vote on the balance.



The Wolbach/Fine amendment to the staff proposal goes far beyond the state requirements, for instance eliminating the requirement for an additional off street parking space for an ADU. The lengthy and complicated 12 item amendment was presented to council on March 7th after the public comment period and without analysis and vetting by either staff or the Planning and Transportation Commission. It returned yestetday for the first reading with no vetting.


Last night Eric Filseth told the public that he had received an email from a Palo Alto Forward member prior to the council meeting of March 7th but he had not opened it until after the meeting. To his dismay when he opened it later he found that it urged him to pass the Palo Alto Forward ADU amendment that looked to be the same amendment that Wolbach and Fine proposed. Wolbach denied this claim.



Below is an outline of the Wolbach/Fine amendment items that go beyond the state requirements. Last night the council made some minor changes requiring the lot size to be at least 5,000 feet for an ADU and placing restrictions on the front door placement.



Wolbach/Fine amendment to ADU ordinance:

Allow ADUs on all residential lot sizes;
Allow an additional 175 sq-ft of FAR for an ADU, but not for a two-story ADU;
Allow an additional 50 sq-ft of FAR for a JADU;
Increase the maximum size of attached ADUs to 600 sq-ft;
Remove Lot Coverage requirements for ADUs on properties that are no smaller than 10% smaller than standard lot sizes;
Limit ADUs to 17-ft high and single-story in Single Story Overlay (SSO) neighborhoods, even if the main house is a grandfathered 2-story house;
Remove design review and requirements;
Remove door orientation requirements for ADUs;
ADUs to have the same parking requirements as JADUs; and
Remove requirements for covered parking on properties with an ADU or JADU; and
Allow required replacement parking on an existing driveway within the front setback


24 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm

I wore down relatively early last night. I watched most of the public comment period speakers, but missed the CC discussion after that. I think I can still see that portion on our local media website, however.

Most of the speakers were articulate and very good at making their points, for or against. LaDoris Cordell was exceptional in her short but direct analysis and reprimand of the previous meeting and the lack of good governance in that case. Bill Ross also did a good job and showed he had expertise in the area. Whether Wolbach and Fine are just naive on the proper way to conduct official business, or if it is their intended MO, I don't know, and have no way of finding out. It seems like they put forward ideas on the most liberal and extreme sides of issues, hoping nobody will notice and question them. Then when there is kickback and they are questioned, and they cause a stir, they pull back just enough for their ideas to be accepted with minor modifications, so it's a win-win for them, ala Obamacare. Pass it first and then read it to fully understand what's in it.

None of the important issues and things that can go wrong, that many speakers brought up, were addressed in the approved ordinance, as far as I know, but as many have said and asked about, "What are the rules in the new ordinance"? It sounds like there was much confusion about that last night and if you polled all 9 council members, you probably wouldn't get a consensus on it. I like the idea of one commenter, to make a chart of comparisons, and to go a step further, show examples of elevation and plot plans and additions that would be acceptable under the new ordinance.

It is disappointing to me, but, the ordinance is now in place, so I will have to accept it, as long as I want to live in this city that was great at one time, and for so long.

'The council also directed staff to provide quarterly updates on new accessory-dwelling units so that it can address any unexpected impacts'.

What will classify as an unexpected impact? Sounds like parking, lack of privacy, traffic, infrastructure, et al, are exempt because approving the ordinance already exempted them from the 'unexpected' category.

The quarterly reporting idea is a good one if it is real 'in depth' objective reporting. Why hasn't there been any reporting about the current and legal ADU's under our old ordinance? Former mayor Burt says it's working well in his Community Center neighborhood. I can understand that. Homeowners there have multi-million dollar homes on big lots. They complied with the old ordinance and life was good, no conflicts with neighbors. That's the way it should continue. The new ordinance allows so many violations that will never be monitored because of lack of enforcement officers. The quarterly report should list the names of all the new ADU applicants, their addresses, and they should talk to the applicant's neighbors to get their opinions on an ADU in their neighborhood. This should be the most transparent report available. Let the CC member pro ADU advocates just sit back and listen.

I'm just curious. How many of those YIMBY tag wearers last night are thinking about adding an ADU on their property? Or would happily accept one on a next door neighbor's property, and toss in a second next door neighbor adding one on their property, on the other side. Us NIMBY's are really nice friendly people once you get to know us, but we don't want to give up our backyards to ADU's. I'll invite you over for my BBQed salmon (wild and fresh caught by me) if you promise to behave yourselves and not talk about politics. lol! That will be in 'my backyard'.







17 people like this
Posted by densely
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Last night the City Council cut back the in-lieu payments by developers that fund below-market-rate housing. They also removed many restrictions on ADUs. The net result is to enshrine class privilege in Palo Alto's approach to housing growth. They cut the funding source for housing that would be open to all applicants and opened up a fast track to build new housing to be used as homeowners choose, whether for family members or for other people. There's no restriction on how much renters will pay.

Millennials who think these ADUs will be good for them are kidding themselves. They'll still be at the mercy of the evil Boomers who won the real estate appreciation lottery. Moving out of their parents' basement and into the back yard may feel like a step up, but they'll still be second-class residents.


13 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

@ Arthur Keller - "In tidal flood zones, which includes significant Eichler neighborhoods east of Middlefield Road, the finished floor must be raised above base flood elevation. In some cases, that is five feet above existing grade. In other areas, it is three feet above existing grade, which still allows someone above five feet tall so see over a seven-foot maximum height fence. At three feet above existing grade, eyes would be at over eight feet above grade, or at least one foot above the maximum fence height."

You are factually correct but realistically totally out of scale - there are so few that are at that extreme and the total you state includes parcels that are only an inch below flood level. Please stop being so inflammatory. It's so negative and misleading.

Here's a helpful bit of info - over the past many years, there have only been 4 ADU's approved per year. Even if this becomes 10x that, we are still not talking about a significant impact. Distributed all over the city, it's just not.

Every house in Palo Alto, except those in SSO districts, has the possibility of privacy challenges - it is not something unique or new just as a result of the ADU ordinance. All interior R-1 lots have either a 6 foot or 8 foot side setback requirement and even the 20 foot rear setback does not prevent sightlines from a 2 story house into an adjacent neighbor's yard or home. Honestly, the best tool to manage this is landscaping. Not regulated or limited in any way!

We need to move the ADU regulations forward. The balanced approach first proposed by Cory Wolbach and Adrian Fine was smart and reasonable and struck a good compromise between what the State requires and what Palo Alto should regulate. The arbitrary add-on's from last night were a mistake but politically necessary to make more of the population happy - not sure if they will stand since they are in direct contrast with State mandate... will be interesting to see...


13 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:39 pm

@Randy Popp:

"the total you state includes parcels that are only an inch below flood level"

For what it's worth, houses with first floors three or more feet above grade are quite common here. I lived in one for 26 years. A small portion of the lot was in a 100-year flood zone; the house was not at risk. I built my present house with the first floor at grade (to make it accessible to the disabled), and received pushback that the design wasn't compatible because the first floor wasn't above grade.

"over the past many years, there have only been 4 ADU's approved per year. Even if this becomes 10x that, we are still not talking about a significant impact."

Indeed. ADUs are going to provide no significant improvement for housing availability or price.

"The balanced approach first proposed by Cory Wolbach and Adrian Fine was smart and reasonable and struck a good compromise between what the State requires and what Palo Alto should regulate."

Could you explain this? As @Hannah described above, the Wolbach/Fine amendment relaxed regulations well beyond the State requirements and beyond what Palo Alto allows today. To me it doesn't appear to be a compromise at all; it's a move beyond all the limits that previously existed.


Like this comment
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Sorry - a quick edit - I meant to say:

Every house in Palo Alto, *even* those in SSO districts, has the possibility of privacy challenges


50 people like this
Posted by Carl
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:26 pm

I don't see much 'compromise' here. PAF and their city council members carefully avoided dissenting opinion, avoided city input, and decided for everyone that a building free for all under the fig leaf of housing for granny was best for Palo Alto. I have not, never will vote for Wolbach or Fine.


7 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:57 pm

@ Allen Akin

There are homes in Palo Alto with raised first floor levels, such as the one you describe. As you mention, "A small portion of the lot was in a 100-year flood zone" so clearly not pushing the floor to the height it was built at. That was a design decision and it sounds like you got stuck in one of our subjective design reviews. What Arthur is latching onto are those situations where homes are compelled to raise their floor level by FEMA regulation to be above the BFE (Base Flood Elevation) for that specific site. The BFE varies greatly across the city and in some small areas is as he describes, but in general, it is MUCH less. My issue with his statement is that it is a gross exaggeration that just inflames the conversation and is not really relevant in general. It is an argument that only applies to a small number of parcels relative to the total number in the city.

Regarding @ Hannah's statement "an outline of the Wolbach/Fine amendment items that go beyond the state requirements"

I'm no attorney but here's my 2-cents - Frankly, the statement by @ Hannah is just wrong. Most of the motion is either consistent with, or more even more restrictive than the State Code!

I'm quoting from the State Ordinance and the HCD interpretative memo: Web Link

*Allow ADUs on all residential lot sizes;
65852.150 (b) It is the intent of the Legislature that an accessory dwelling unit ordinance adopted by a local agency has the effect of providing for the creation of accessory dwelling units and that provisions in this ordinance relating to matters including unit size, parking, fees, and other requirements, are not so arbitrary, excessive, or burdensome so as to unreasonably restrict the ability of homeowners to create accessory dwelling units in zones in which they are authorized by local ordinance.

"Utilizing approaches such as restrictive overlays, limiting ADUs to larger lot sizes, burdensome lot coverage and setbacks and particularly concentration or distance requirements (e.g., no less than 500 feet between ADUs) may unreasonably restrict the ability of the homeowners to create ADUs, contrary to the intent of the Legislature."

Since ADU's are allowed in the R-1 zone, Palo Alto may not arbitrarialy restrict the ability of homeowners to create accessory dwelling units due to lot size. Just picking a limit without analysis or findings is completely arbitrary.

*Allow an additional 175 sq-ft of FAR for an ADU, but not for a two-story ADU;
*Allow an additional 50 sq-ft of FAR for a JADU;
*Increase the maximum size of attached ADUs to 600 sq-ft;
*Remove Lot Coverage requirements for ADUs on properties that are no smaller than 10% smaller than standard lot sizes;

These all fall under 65852.2 (a)(7) A local agency may amend its zoning ordinance or general plan to incorporate the policies, procedures, or other provisions applicable to the creation of an accessory dwelling unit if these provisions are consistent with the limitations of this subdivision.

It is completely within the realm of the State Ordinance to have a city create unique rules like these. The State Ordinance says the total floorspace (not even FAR!) for an ADU shall not exceed 1,200 square feet. The motion to add a small amount of area does not come anywhere close to approaching this sizes suggested by the State. Honestly, this is moderate compared to what might have been proposed...

*Limit ADUs to 17-ft high and single-story in Single Story Overlay (SSO) neighborhoods, even if the main house is a grandfathered 2-story house;

I actually think this area could be a problem for the motion. The state code says you must approve if consistent with residential construction in the zone in which the property is located. A 17 foot and single-story limit seems in conflict:

65852.2 (b)(1)...every local agency shall ministerially approve the creation of an accessory dwelling unit if the accessory dwelling unit complies with all of the following:
(G) Requirements relating to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural review, site plan review, fees, charges, and other zoning requirements generally applicable to residential construction in the zone in which the property is located.

*Remove design review and requirements;

65852.2 (e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, a local agency shall ministerially approve an application for a building permit to create within a single-family residential zone one accessory dwelling unit per single-family lot if the unit is contained within the existing space of a single-family residence or accessory structure, has independent exterior access from the existing residence, and the side and rear setbacks are sufficient for fire safety.

*Remove door orientation requirements for ADUs;

This was removed and then reinstated by Dubois. I happen to think it is foolish. The goal stated was to maintain the aesthetic character of a single-family neighborhood by not having additional doors facing the street. This is just nuts - we allow garages to have people-doors without regulation and what about someone with an accessibility issue? How do you solve this when they need the door to be as close as pratical to the street so they can get to their unit without going around to the side or rear? Just so subjective and arbitrary... In fact, you could probably kill this on the basis of 65852.150 (b) but See 65852.2 (e) "has independent exterior access from the existing residence" If it has independent exterior access, it must be ministerially approved. The regulation cannot stand.

*ADUs to have the same parking requirements as JADUs; and
*Remove requirements for covered parking on properties with an ADU or JADU; and
*Allow required replacement parking on an existing driveway within the front setback

65852.2 (a)(1)(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (B), a local agency may reduce or eliminate parking requirements for any accessory dwelling unit located within its jurisdiction.

Completely within the State language to just remove parking. Not in any way going "beyond the state requirements".


9 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

@ Densely (who claimed that last night City Council lowered in lieu fees for affordable housing).

As I remarked at the meeting, it was precisely the opposite. The staff report from PTC recommendation is here if you'd like to understand the issue better (Web Link). Most fees have been substantially raised. The issue is that some were calling for fees to be raised even more (and the city's "nexus study" had suggested that higher fees could be legally justified).

Easy summary of the issue: fees were substantially raised. Some think that they should have been raised even more. Others felt that raising them even more would result in fewer (or no) development applications, which would devastate our affordable housing fund.

I hope that is helpful.


3 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:49 pm

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 19, 2017 at 12:40 am

Rainer is a registered user.

Above there are curious contributions from @FloggrGurl which irritate me greatly:

• My only complaint is council member Koo's outrageous comment, regarding "let's not make a schizophrenic decision". That is the most insensitive, unintelligent, and offensive thing I have ever heard any council member say. To compare a devastating mental illness to building ADU's is outrageous.

This actually is a very incisive observant comment by Lydia Koo, you just have to know what you are talking about, and not copy from a self-help book.

. FloggrGurk’s diatribe is a cheap shot, in the recent history of the City Council only matched by Cory Wolbach’s slimy attacks on candidates for City Council 2 years ago, fortunately recently again documented by Doug Moran.

But then FloggrGurl doubled down on her [portion removed] comments, only be called out by Annette as “It is a huge stretch to accuse her [“Kou”] of making light of a serious mental illness”.
Maybe FloggrGurl [portion removed] is not versant enough in logic application of proper English, where you can use a medical adjective (schizophrenic is mostly used as an adjective, sometimes as a noun, never as a verb) neutrally to describe the state of mind of an organization, or a politician.

Elyn Saks, one of the best known, and most admired, survivor of schizophrenic attacks maybe has best described schizophrenia in the abstract:

• It elicits both positive and negative symptoms.
• Positive symptoms, "re things that you have that you don't want”, and negative symptoms are those “things that you want but don't have”.

In my mind this precisely describes the gyrations the City Council is going through. Bravo Lydia! We want more Housing, and we have too many Offices, because of reckless policies of past City Councils.

More technically good examples for use would be:
• technical : relating to schizophrenia

Changing frequently between opposite states. For example:
1. He criticized:
• The government's schizophrenic foreign policy, or
2. She criticized the City Councils schizophrenic building policy, wildly swinging between:
• Office Buildings Uber Alles (because builders make more money with Offices than with Residential Real Estate) and
• Housing at any cost, because the young inhabitants of the office cubicles must have single family housing now! Immediately. They cannot wait and save.


8 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 19, 2017 at 2:34 am

@ Randy Popp. I don't live in an Eichler but I do live in the flood zone just off Ross Road. I live in a Brown and Kaufman home with the finished floor about 1 foot above grade. The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is about foot higher than that. For the houses near me near Louis Road, the BFE is about three feet above grade. This height varies based on where along Louis Road. In some areas by Greer Road (in Eichler neighborhoods), the BFE is higher than three feet.

As I observe above, with an ADU placed six feet from the rear property line, with finished floor three feet above grade, an occupant while standing can look over the maximum seven foot fence into the living room or bedroom of an Eichler on the other side of the rear fence.


4 people like this
Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 8:10 am

@Arthur Keller

Thank you for the clarification Arthur. Your house and the nearby block having that constraint makes sense for the focused area you live in.

My point, simply, was to generalize that situation was inaccurate. Of the +2700 Eichler homes in Palo Alto, cross-referenced with the 2000 homes in the flood zone, I think you will agree that the number of those with a BFE of 3'-5' is really quite small. If one of those belongs to you, it could be an impact but again, the only real remedy, consistent with what you would do if a home was built next to you, would be to plant a hedge.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:01 am

Rainer, thanks for saying that.

See also Douglas Moran's recent blog on the contentiousness in PA politics. Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

@ Randy Popp.

Yes, the number of Eichler homes that MUST have the finished floor of an ADU at 3-5 feet is not 2700. But there are several Eichler neighborhoods east of Ross Road comprising several hundred homes. To those homes, the loss of privacy is significant. And those include neighborhoods in which the Single Story Overlay zone was rejected.


12 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

@Randy Popp:

OK, I think I understand the source of the confusion now.

The State rules *allow* almost any ADU, subject to modest constraints for size, safety, and so on. The State rules *require* very much less, and still leave a good deal of discretion to local governments.

You felt that the Wolbach/Fine amendment was a compromise because it didn't allow everything that the State rules allow.

But the Wolbach/Fine amendment did allow much more than either the Staff/PTC proposal (which presumably met the State requirements) or previous Palo Alto ADU rules (which did not meet the State requirements) allowed. It went beyond the previous proposal and beyond the scope of the analyses from Staff and the PTC.

If there had been a formal proposal on the table to allow everything the State rules allow, then I think you could fairly characterize the Wolbach/Fine amendment as a compromise. Without that, it was simply a new proposal, slightly more extreme than the existing one. I agree with the commenters who argued that it should have been vetted in the same way that the Staff/PTC proposal had been vetted, and the same goes for the most recent proposal.

You said earlier that few ADUs will be built even under the new rules, so negative impacts will be small. If that's true, there also will be no significant positive impact on housing availability or affordability.


19 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

@ Randy Popp.

Why not limit ADUs to only standard size lots, within existing FAR (floor area ratio), and with existing daylight plane rules? Those more restrictive rules would still allow one JADU in any single-family residential home in Palo Alto. And those more restrictive rules would be consistent with State law too. They would simply mean that ADUs would have to meet existing standards.

You mention several things CONSISTENT with State law. But those are not REQUIRED by the new State law. In particular, your comments above (quoted below) are NOT REQUIRED by the new State law.

Since ADU's are allowed in the R-1 zone, Palo Alto may not arbitrarialy restrict the ability of homeowners to create accessory dwelling units due to lot size. Just picking a limit without analysis or findings is completely arbitrary.

*Allow an additional 175 sq-ft of FAR for an ADU, but not for a two-story ADU;
*Allow an additional 50 sq-ft of FAR for a JADU;
*Increase the maximum size of attached ADUs to 600 sq-ft;
*Remove Lot Coverage requirements for ADUs on properties that are no smaller than 10% smaller than standard lot sizes;

These all fall under 65852.2 (a)(7) A local agency may amend its zoning ordinance or general plan to incorporate the policies, procedures, or other provisions applicable to the creation of an accessory dwelling unit if these provisions are consistent with the limitations of this subdivision.

It is completely within the realm of the State Ordinance to have a city create unique rules like these. The State Ordinance says the total floorspace (not even FAR!) for an ADU shall not exceed 1,200 square feet. The motion to add a small amount of area does not come anywhere close to approaching this sizes suggested by the State. Honestly, this is moderate compared to what might have been proposed...


21 people like this
Posted by Hannah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

@ Randy Popp

You are conflating what is legally allowable with what is legally required. The ordinance that staff and the Planning and Transportation Commission drafted after careful study and debate that was submitted on March 6th provided what was legally required by state law. TheWolbach/Fine amendment goes beyond the legal requirements providing legally allowed bonuses.


For instance state law allows up to 1200 square feet for an ADU but allows a municipality to have a smaller ADU. The state does not mandate the additional 175 sq-ft of FAR for an ADU or 50 sq-ft of FAR for a JADU, and in answer to another posting above, this additional FAR can be used to increase the total FAR for a single family home with no requirement to rent the JADU or ADU.

Another issue that is a hot topic in our community neighborhoods is parking. State law allows cities to require one additional off street parking space for an ADU unless the property meets one of the following conditions: Is within a half mile from public transit. Is within an architecturally and historically significant historic district. Is part of an existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure. Is in an area where on-street parking permits are required, but not offered to the occupant of the ADU. Is located within one block of a car share area.

Per the staff report the issue of parking was studied and debated and only one Planning Commissioner supported expanding the state parking requirement and that was only to increase the transit district to .75 mile from the University station. The Wolbach/Fine amendment eliminates the parking requirement for ALL properties.


Here is a link to the staff report provided to council. This is the type of analysis that was needed and sadly missing from the council action. Web Link

For the record I am for ADU’s but I don’t understand the rush to pass an amendment fraught with multiple items that may have substantial quality of life impacts on neighboring properties. Frankly I don’t see why the amendment was necessary.


24 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Eric Rosenblum says that the Council didn’t lower affordable housing fees. But they did, both from what they had previously approved and from what the fees were before.

The staff report he points to actually helps make that point. The biggest drop was in fees on housing, which use to be 7.5% to 10% per square foot but the council lowered to $50 a square foot. Since most housing in Palo Alto sells for over $1,000 a square foot, the drop is from $75 or more down to $50, so that’s a loss of at least $25 a square foot. Multiplied by the thousands of new housing units that developers are eager to build, that’s likely tens of millions of dollars right there that we’re losing for affordable housing.

The council had previously approved having office space be charged $60 a square foot but now that’s been lowered to $35. So that’s another $25 a square foot loss. Stanford alone wants to build a million more square feet of offices in the Stanford Research Park, so that’s another $25 million loss.

Rosenblum works for Palantir, a company that has opposed Palo Alto office growth limits. So it stands to reason that Palantir would be sensitive to higher fees on new office space.


9 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Thank you Arthur Keller and Randy Popp for your back and forth comments. You have obviously done much more homework on the subject than I have or ever will.

To all those speakers who said they want an ADU for their own family members... kids, parents, grannies, disabled, or anyone that has a legitimate need for care and to be able to stay in PA near their loved ones, I am happy for you that this ordinance passed. Now, please move ahead with your plans to provide an ADU. I imagine the cost will be high, maybe higher than you ever anticipated, but now you can proceed with having plans drawn up and presented to our planning department for approval. You did your part in speaking out in favor of it...and now that it passed, the really hard work begins, to make it a reality in your life.

I hope my concerns, and those of many others opposed to the very liberal rules passed by CC, that go beyond the state law requirements, go unfounded. If it works out the way it should and for the people it was intended, then I apologize for my resistance. And I don't really think it would be a problem in my neighborhood anyway. We already have our share of rental homes full of techies...with their cars. I don't think the city will want to spend much time dealing with that issue because they have so many more important things to do.

I hope the planning department is allowed to ask the applicants 'what is the purpose of the proposed ADU?'. Will it be for family or used as a rental for income? I have always believed in the basic goodness in people. That was my upbringing, but that has been eroded over the years. In troubled times, when people are desperate and need money, it brings out the worst element in us.
Bad people rob banks. These are tough times in our area, and bad people can take advantage of the new ADU ordinance. Okay, now I'll shut up and sit down.



17 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm

"Evil Boomers"? For simply wanting to live in the houses they worked many years to pay for?


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Yes Sheri, you may be an evil boomer. As one councilmember said last year:

“That generation got a sweet deal, we’re getting a raw deal. Palo Alto residents who have been here since 1950 have told me “My generation screwed you.”

Web Link


“These regulations are at fault. As is frankly the attitude of folks who have their single family homes. They're happy with them.”

Web Link


Also per former PTC commissioner Kate Downing of Palo Alto Forward:

“What? We just perpetually decide that it’s ok for NIMBYs to hurt our economy because their desire for boring suburbs outweighs the needs and desires of a new generation and a new, knowledge-based economy? How long will social-security and pension-drawing baby boomers be allowed to keep strangling the younger working generation?”

Web Link


27 people like this
Posted by R-1 just became R-2
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

After attending the Council Meeting Monday night, i come away very disheartened that the CC is rushing through this ADU ordinance. R-1 lots are very different from R-2. If our family wanted to live in a R-2 lot, then we wouldn't have bought an R-1 lot to raise our family. I have neighbors currently on 3 sides of our home that have built as close as they could to my home (6 feet). One neighbor built a covered patio, which City Enforcement had to put a STOP NOTICE on because they were building illegally (8 years ago). Another neighbor built the maximum lot coverage and their new home was flooded , because there wasn't enough soil/ground to contain the recent rains. These 2 adjacent properties have maxed out on the sq. buildable footprint of their lot size. I really wonder if CC has any idea of the enforcement problems that they will now face with this ordinance.
As a side note, the pro-ADU people kept pulling the "poor, disabled card", but for those of us who have lived here for awhile, this is basically a giveaway to developers of new homes, because their sale price is based on square footage. A $3 million house, can now go for 3.25. I hope the pro-development Members (Kniss,Scharff and Tanaka) have to deal with ADU's within 6 feet of their homes on all 3 sidesl


32 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Resident posted above this statement attributed to former PTC commissioner Kate Downing of Palo Alto Forward:

“What? We just perpetually decide that it’s ok for NIMBYs to hurt our economy because their desire for boring suburbs outweighs the needs and desires of a new generation and a new, knowledge-based economy? How long will social-security and pension-drawing baby boomers be allowed to keep strangling the younger working generation?”

True confession: I am a boomer and I find that quote concerning and offensive. I surely hope it is not emblematic of her generation's attitude towards the generations that preceded them.

One of the speakers at Monday's CC meeting made a point that is true for many Palo Alto homeowners: we didn't graduate from college and immediately buy a house in Palo Alto. Most people I know rented and saved and - yes - even struggled their way into home ownership. And now they work hard to keep their home here. One's home is, obviously, a huge investment. Of time, money, and heart.

Just for ducks, let's turn Ms. Downing's statements around: should the needs and desires of a new generation and a new, knowledge-based economy outweigh a homeowner's desire to keep and enjoy their home and not see the city in which they are so deeply invested turn into a dense, uber-urbanized city w/o adequate infrastructure? And should social-security/pension-drawing boomers blithely accept being strangled by the impacts of density so that the new generation can get what it wants and when it wants it?

Never mind the hubris of implying that the boomer (and older) generations are not too smart or that what they prefer is boring! Or that we are not working. When I read things like this I cannot help but think that those who adhere to such thinking are just a little too self-absorbed.


41 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:59 pm

The ideology of PAF, which they usually attempt to obscure, but is time and time again exposed by the comments of an extremist like Kate Downing is that small town and suburbs are immoral, obsolete and prevent younger people from getting housing where and when they want it. Suburbs and small towns should be replaced by dense urbanity. They sneer at the concept that for some reason was an axiom for me 30 years ago: you save, sacrifices and build up toward a house in a desirable town like Palo Alto, you don't get it immediately on demand, sometime you just don't get it and settle for a less prestigious zip code, and you don't demand that long time residents give up their quality of life and chosen life style to subsidize your desire.


6 people like this
Posted by 3 facts
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 19, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Mauricio- Kate downing is yesterday's news. PAF is not the enemy. [Portion removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Lenore
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm

I couldn't attend the meeting, yet watched from 11:15 - 12 am. I am not sure there was a compromise. or consensus. I saw two council members push their agenda. This was supported by a bullying atmosphere to others who didn't support their agenda by the mayor. I am sure somone will react to my using the word "bully" but don't have another appropiate one for this circumstance..

Consesus would be after there is research and discussion. There was almost no research - had neighbors not gotten up in arms over the "need to make a decision NOW, there could have been a decision a while back.....at least Eichlers will have some chance of maintaining privacy.....

What is PAF afraid of if there was more discussion and research? To Ms Downing - you are only in the position you are in because the older generation worked hard to create what so many seem to think they are entitled to.... instantly. OOOPS - we are not ready to yield to those that are still growing their life expereienes and youth does not trump time.


32 people like this
Posted by Gordon Gecko
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Kate Downing made Palo Alto a national joke for generational entitlement as she demonized everyone around her except the companies that shove $60K H1-B visa employees into hacker hotels and push up housing costs.

She outright LIED when she claimed Mayor Burt wanted to ban tech companies from Palo Alto when what he said was that big BILLION dollar companies like Palantir were pushing out the startups that made the PA and the Valley great.

But her legacy lives on [portion removed.]

It was the visionary boomers -- Vint Cerf, Pierre Omidyar, Craig Newmark, Steve Jobs, Brewster Kale, etc -- who created "insanely great" services and industries because they believed in more than creating their 3d copycat services that might go public and a nation of contractors with no benefits from the "sharing" economy.


12 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 6:52 pm

I think the key thing you're all missing with the talk of how hard you had to bootstrap yourselves into your housing is that you weren't up against a generation that was pulling the ladder up with it and solely concerned with getting theirs at the expense of everyone else. You guys are benefitting from a sweet deal with Prop 13 and yet you're doing everything in your power to stall any new housing from getting built in the area while salivating over the thought of a recession so things quiet down for you.


21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Yimby, how about going after the corporations and developers and big housing complex owners that benefit even more from Prop 13? I don't see them rushing to reduce rents or pay higher salaries to offset their Prop 13 benefits.

Why just demonize homeowners?


9 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Because this isn't about wanting housing complexes to be charities and voluntarily reducing rents because they want to be nice. Housing is a market, there's only so much supply, and there's a whole lot of demand. Rents and housing prices are going to reflect that. You have to add supply to the market or reduce demand if you want prices to come down. As someone with a job and a wage, I and many others would appreciate having the economy around here continue to be strong, because not all of us have the luxury of being retired and living off of savings and investments alone, so it'd be nice to add more housing supply rather than intentionally try to slow economic growth and reduce demand.


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm

[Post removed.]


52 people like this
Posted by Tiresome
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:17 pm

YIMBY you keep presenting this really tiresome argument about an older generation pulling the ladder. I don't see that happening. At all. Palo Alto is, and always has been, one of the most expensive areas to live. There is a VALUE to the COST of living here. Either you can afford it or you can't.

I can't. Never will be able to. But I don't expect them to start changing their character and development just to suit me. Which is EXACTLY what you are suggesting. You have the gall to suggest anyone who owns is selfish because they want to keep the ambiance, character and design that they INVESTED IN AND PAID FOR.

Really? Who's the selfish one here?


1 person likes this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Look, if you want to freeze the city, then pay for the social cost by giving up Prop 13. No one should have to subsidize you while you're intentionally driving up the cost of living in the area.


65 people like this
Posted by Nate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2017 at 7:46 pm

How did we get to the point where we have two young Democrats on the Palo Alto City Council waging a political war of attrition on R1 homeowners?

With the rise in automation, and the export of American manufacturing, the Democratic Party saw its traditional source of campaign funding from labor unions go into sharp decline. Faced with ever increasing campaign costs California Democrats found a new way to finance their political campaigns by entering into a symbiotic relationship with California's booming real-estate industry.

What started as cheer-leading for an industry that was minting millionaires almost as fast as Silicon Valley's computer industry quickly evolved into a quid-pro-quo enterprise with elected officials providing legal but corrupt services to the real-estate industry that siphoned value out of the community and converted it into developer profits and campaign contributions.

The newest entrants into the Democratic Party's corrupt quid-pro-quo enterprise were indoctrinated by aging 60's radicals who left the streets and embedded themselves within civic institutions to continue their lonely lifelong struggle against their parents and the horrors they witnessed growing up suburban America.

These Democratic Party hopefuls secretly see themselves as oppressed heroes in an inter-generational cold-war war with R1 homeowners who are secretly conspiring to deprive them of the American dream. [Portion removed.]


45 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 19, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Annette is a registered user.

There's an angle that is being over-looked in this supply:demand mess: STOP growing the imbalance by NOT relentlessly approving the addition of office space. And for tech companies, factor in a higher occupancy number. I am not suggesting we do this forever and never add more commercial space, but we badly need to stop the bleeding and this will never happen if CC persists in adding to the demand side. What they are doing is digging a bigger hole. And to what good end? People balk at the suggestion of caps but something has to give and in my view it is unrealistic and grossly unfair to impose upon the neighborhoods and home owners the multi-faceted negative impact of resolving problems that have gotten out of hand due in large part to City decisions.


37 people like this
Posted by It's the Schools, Stupid
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

There's been hardly a mention on this thread of schools, but I think it's very relevant to YIMBY's claim that if we build a lot more housing, prices will come down. My feeling is that Palo Alto housing is actually vastly underpriced due to our excellent schools.

I know a number of families in the Bay Area that live in areas with so-so public schools and opt to put their children into private schools. It costs on the order of $40,000 a year per child. Two kids is $80,000 a year. Over 13 years of schooling, that's $1.04 million.

But these same families admire the Palo Alto Unified School District and most would be thrilled to have their kids attend it. And if they buy a home in Palo Alto, they'll then save $1.04 million on tuition. It's like that home in Palo Alto comes with a gift certificate worth a million dollars.

It gets even better when you look at the long term investment advantages. Even though you can't deduct the interest on the additional loan you'll need to buy in Palo Alto, you do get tax-free accumulation of appreciation and long-term capital gain treatment of the profit. In other words, you pay interest on the mortgage but you'll likely earn it back and more from appreciation. So families with school-age children who buy homes in Palo Alto for the schools get to have their cake and eat it too. They come out financially way ahead from people in other cities who after 13 years of paying private school tuition have no financial asset to show for it.

That means when a young millennial with no children wants to buy a home in Palo Alto, s/he is up against a family for whom that same home is worth a million dollars more. The young millennial is never going to win. It's completely misleading to say millennials are being held back by the people already here. Rather, they're being held back by families with kids who also want to move here. All the entreaties at City Hall and on this forum cannot erase a single dollar of the million dollar incentive that families with children who move here have over others.

If you look at comparable homes, you'll see that price difference between Palo Alto and other towns is often much less than a million dollars. Which makes Palo Alto homes cheap -- to folks who care about schools. It’s almost comical to see young people march into City Hall on Monday nights to demand that they be given housing. It’s the folks who are still at work at that hour or home with their kids who are going to get to live here.

In my opinion, Palo Alto Forward and the candidates it backed cynically dangle the prospect of cheaper housing in front of naive young millennials rather than being honest with them. Developers keep building units targeted for families because of that million dollar advantage. Even the Palo Alto Forward-backed councilmembers, who claim to be for lower cost housing, actually voted to make housing more expensive by removing our minimum density rules. That is, on lots zoned to allow apartment buildings, you used to actually have to build quite a few units, which kept them smaller. Now, you can build just one house or a few large ones on that same lot. Why would developers want that? Because they make more money that way. And even with small condos or ADUs, parents will find ways around that. One person I knew bought two condominiums in a Palo Alto complex and put his kids in the second unit.

As long as there are families willing to pay for good schools, Palo Alto homes are going to be super-expensive. Let's be honest about it.


1 person likes this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Perfect, more reason to build then. The same high-earners who would buy houses here would also compete for housing nearby in other areas and drive prices up. So if there's supply for them here it will take demand off of housing elsewhere.


40 people like this
Posted by Don't get it
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Now that MV has rent control it would seem to be a MUCH better option for those seeking to rent homes in the area than ADUs. And unless someone has no student loan debt plus $300K in savings sitting around (or very generous parents or executable stock options), even the lowest-priced Palo Alto condos will simply not be affordable to buy.


28 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:14 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@It's the Schools, Stupid

Your discussion of the value of PA schools is a good first approximation.

A more detailed look would involve not just looking at the dollar difference between houses in Palo Alto and neighboring cities, but also looking at the percentage difference. According to various real estate agents and publications, Palo Alto has a 25% premium to Mountain View and Menlo Park because of the schools.

That percentage difference is important because it is the basis for lots of add-on fees associated with the sale plus the property tax.

And the cost of attending PAUSD school is not zero: There are the many "voluntary" contributions to the schools that many parents regard as mandatory.

I have had several neighbors who are in finance run the numbers over the years and find that the extra costs of living in Palo Alto and the school fees made it roughly break-even with living nearby and sending their children to a private school. Of course there are lots of variability/choices in such a calculation. This is just a second-hand caution that the calculations are more complicated when one is evaluating the trade-offs for real.


29 people like this
Posted by Developers rule
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Many of the leaders who advocate for bigger structures earn their living via development.

Developers, architects, real estate people, lawyers, and politicians who receive contributions from development are at the forefront of the push.

Developers, architects, real estate people, lawyers, and politicians writing to this blog should identify their occupational connection to development.


33 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:10 pm

The global elites and liberal progressives [portion removed] don't have the power (yet) to build 10 story residences like they will be doing in Stanford. So they do the next best thing which is to deconstruct those high rise edifices and scatter each apartment into family neighborhoods.

Their true goal is not to reduce the housing prices. In fact, an ADA unit just adds to the cash flow and increases the property value of the lots by several $100K. Don't like the median price at $2.5M well then it will soon be $2.9M. New listings will advertise three bedrooms, two baths, esteemed Palo Alto schools, park like settings and $60K per year in AirBnB rental revenue.

So why does a supposedly democratic government work so obviously against its own residents? Are there not enough crumbling roads to fix, spiking crime rates to fight or budget deficits to balance? What rubric of logic could possibly explain prioritizing more growth in office development, reduced investments in transportation infrastructure, un-affordably raising salaries, staff and benefits and buying Buena Vista?

The answer is that the government is not attempting to serve the people and improve their quality of life but rather they are seeking to reshape the electorate and clear the way to solidify their power. It is the familiar bookended strategy of forming a coalition between the rich and the poor to decimate and drive out the middle class. The result, like so much in California, is not a healthy and vibrant community but a political fiefdom that serves big donors.

It is the same strategy that the globalists and progressives have tried at a national, state and now local level. They sneak into office on false promises, then they methodically shift the demographics of their voters, then they exploit the resources of their district and lastly they stifle and dismantle the process for opposition.

Is short circuiting the feedback process for ADA units that much different than the Obama administration ruling by executive fiat? Is the censoring of the programs from the comprehensive plan so different from the thuggish silencing of free speech at Berkeley or across many other university campuses lately? Perhaps in degree but not intent. The knives and clubs are velvet but just as damaging to democracy.

Unfortunately, we can foresee the future if the axis of elitism between socialism and kleptocracy continues. The city will become a vast tenant farm of rental properties owned by remote landlords and nerdy nobility. The average family forced to work like silicon valley sharecroppers. Their digital age dreams become despair and Palo Alto becomes Pottersville.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm

I'm still amazed that someone can sit in a multi-million dollar home in a highly affluent area and crow about the "global elite".


27 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

I am still amazed how pawns of the global elite always get manipulated and never realize it so I guess that makes it even.

They carry the water, write the placards and run to the ramparts only to realize a few years later they were taken once again.

Same game, same outcome.


8 people like this
Posted by Gary Bradski
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

I think it's fine in principle to allow more units per property, but strongly enforce no windows with views into neighbors yards no matter how ugly that makes the unit.

But, I didn't see any mitigations for 2 things:

(1) How to manage a flood of AirBnBs? ... and if we allow them, can we capture that hotel tax into School/City?
(2) Families may indeed move in to take advantage of our schools. Great! But, can we capture money to more than compensate for this for our schools? Maybe an additional tax or rental fee?




2 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious Nate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:48 pm

You appear in many shapes. Us durn elites with our nefarious plans to foist various liberal schemes such as Hillary's ADU coop! Or whatever. Or, maybe this is all a result of a number of things, some of them actual boomer evils, but most just capitalism:

* Conservative Prop 13 causing my neighbor to my left to pay 10x less taxes than me and my neighbor to the right to pay 4x more and we all have same looking Eichlers. There can be no moral justification for this. It's just wrong.
* We live in Silicon Valley, due to DARPA being the only industrial policy the conservatives didn't kill, we flourish and imagine ourselves libertarian! But, as in all centers of the universe (and we are), the surrounding wealth makes prices rise and attracts crowds.
* Capitalist greed drives the ADUs. More things to rent, or simply more square footage to sell. Yeah! People make decisions that tend to be greedy (most especially with boomers) and so, we maximize money at the common's expense. This is especially egregious in neighbors building additions that look right into another neighbor's property w/o discussing/mitigating it with said neighbor. Can't we all just get along?!

But, take off the tin foil hat, yes, Trump is a grifter filling the store with extraction based billionaires out for plunder. And we're just a town in a remarkable time and region that they'll write heroic mythic ballads about in ages hence, after the great climate caused collapse and dark age!

Now, should I buy a second home in Palo Alto? It's got all that intrinsic value and now I can also offset the cost/taxes with AirBnB rent!! All the property here might actually become relatively undervalued until people catch on. Ya think??


39 people like this
Posted by a poor process
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

As long as we are discussing restrictions that are important to people, placing these small homes SIX feet from a neighbors yard is horrible. The home owner should be restricted to having the new addition abutting their house, cutting off their privacy rather than surrounding themselves by a yard and placing their new addition in a place in their property that most impacts the neighbors. Location on the lot should have been an important part of the City Counsel discussion and was not mentioned by the CC members. A number of commenters did mention the noise impact but it was not picked up. I agreed with the one women who held a six foot string between her and another and whispered. It was clear that placing a home six feet next to a neighbor would drastically impact their quality of life.


24 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

Airlines have crammed as many seats as possible into their planes. If everyone had somebody sitting in their lap, then more people could be accommodated. What could go wrong...


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:39 pm

(2) Families may indeed move in to take advantage of our
schools. Great! But, can we capture money to more than
compensate for this for our schools? Maybe an additional
tax or rental fee?


The answer is no. About 20 years ago, development interests got Sacramento legislators to pass a law making it illegal for cities in California to apply their own impact fees or other levies on developers, in order to mitigate school impacts. It also outlaws cities from citing school issues to impose conditions on any specific development project.

What the law did was establish an official statewide schedule of school impact fees - maybe a few percent of their true impacts - and declare that once a developer paid these fees, all impacts on schools were legally fully mitigated.

Basically the schools are screwed. Communities must levy taxes on their general population to cover school expansions. However even that is increasingly problematic in Palo Alto since very little land is even available in the sizes schools would need.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Just another one of the wonderful after-effects of Prop 13.


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2017 at 9:14 pm

" it seems like a sideways route to pack in more housing density."

At hundreds of thousand$ in construction costs, it's also very expensive. But it's a great way to expand your living space beyond the customary FAR limits. Also a perfect way to build that rumpus room for the younger family members.


23 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 10:04 pm

@Sanctimonious Nate

Now that's the spirit. Thanks to the new liberal progressive policies, you too could be a global elite by following the following hypothetical ADU blueprint:

1. Move out of the neighborhood because once you get finished you won't want to live there anymore.
2. Rent the main house as a hacker hotel. You can stuff at least two people per bedroom. Add a cappuccino machine and high speed internet and it will be hostel living at its finest.
3. Finish off the garage as an JADU. Rent it as a marijuana distribution center since recreational use is now legal and our city attorney has not stopped putting them in neighborhoods. Allow the tenant to convert the lawns to planter boxes to grow more product and charge a small percentage of the yield. Good news is your hacker hotel tenants may be your best customers.
4. Build an ADU in the backyard and rent it to two out of district tenants seeking to establish a PAUSD address. They won't be around much during the day and at night/weekends they will mostly be at Kumon for tutoring or practicing for their SAT tests.
5. Turn one parking spot in the driveway into a loading zone for your deliveries and the constant flow of Uber drivers coming by to shuttle your tenants around town. Use the other side of the driveway to temporarily rotate one of eight tenant cars off the street every 72 hours. Park the other seven in front of your neighbors houses on the street.
6. Don't forget to sprinkle a few Jerry Brown or Liz Kniss campaign signs in the front yard for good measure. It is important to blend in and support those whose decisions have provided so much.

If you manage your taxes effectively you should be able to net at least $100K per year from this progressive ponzi scheme. You can then use that income to follow the seasons around the world and get a taste of living the lifestyle of a true globalist. Paris in the spring. Tokyo in the fall, Carmel in the summer and Buenos Aires in the winter.

Of course, their scale is much larger. However, the racket is the same. The global elites earn their wages not by working in a classic sense but by exploiting the masses, lobbying politicians for favors and taking advantage of loopholes in liberal policies.

Right now, business is booming.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2017 at 10:22 pm

@Sanctimonious City

That's a very capitalist sounding plan.


39 people like this
Posted by New Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

With the ever growing application of rent control and the ridiculous tenants rights laws we see in SF, other cities, and now in Palo Alto, I can't understand why any homeowner would want to put a additional unit on their property and rent it out. You run the very likely risk of getting a dead beat tenant that you can't evict and property that you cannot repurpose - just look at what the tenants and the City did to the owner of Buena Vista. And all he did was rent trailer parking spaces. If you have people (renters) living in your backyard, do you really think the city and its laws will allow you to tell the renter to leave when you don't want them there anymore ? Not likely. They will tie you up in court for years, vilify you and make you pay for the tenants comparable housing and relocation expenses IF you can even find anything comparable. You'll loose every penny you made in rent and more. They'll probably also make you compensate them for loss of access to Palo Alto schools. Only a fool would allow a renter to live on their private property in this town.


21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2017 at 12:35 pm

@New Resident, thanks for that post. That's a huge problem in SF and even elsewhere in Silicon Valley where savvy tenants know how to live rent-free forever while dragging out their eviction for more than a year. One of the reasons SF rents are so high is that owners prefer to keep their units off the market rather than go through the whole eviction hassle. One of my SF friends is considering moving back to NYC and refused to consider renting her home for those reasons.

In the case of ADUs, the eviction process becomes more tense and even dangerous is the tenant(s) is on your property. And what happens if you suddenly need your ADU for their supposed purpose for your kid, relative, granny, friend-in-need??

The question about evictions is one of the MANY questions I've been asking since this was ramrodded through.

Off the top of my head, can I charge a lower rate or free rent to my child, granny, cousin, friend-in-need, other relative while charging market rent to my other tenant(s)?

Is there a limit on how many tenants I can have?

How will ADus be taxed if you just plunk an attractive pre-built structure down in your yard and ONLY require hookups for utilities? Will the city really be more concerned about seeing that your child and granny is housed than in the tax revenues??


17 people like this
Posted by Developers rule
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Nate wonders: How did we get to the point where we have two young Democrats on the Palo Alto City Council waging a political war of attrition on R1 homeowners?

Tanaka was a registered Republican until shortly before the election. Liz Kniss escorted Tanaka to the Democrats meeting to support his endorsement.
Kniss has also mentored Wohlbach.

Adrian Fine is also a recent convert to Democrat.
Kniss is expert in manipulating the Democrats (and also the Below Market Housing people who fall for her sweet talk). Then she votes for the big developers, not for BMRs.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm

It seems like if Palo Alto had just built high density housing close to downtown the issue of ADUs would have never taken off. Instead so many people fought tooth and nail against any new housing that the pressure for it grew so large and it's now exploded across all of Palo Alto in the form of ADUs. If you guys just accept that the region is growing and that there is a housing crisis, you could plan out that growth in a way that's complimentary to everyone's interests. Instead if you do everything in your power to stop all development and ignore the issue, half-solutions like this happen and no one's really happy.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Hey, Yimby, great idea. Maybe if the city wrote us all checks for our properties at their current value and waived all local, state and federal taxes, your dream can come true and you/they can raze all the buildings and put up all the high-rise, high-density building you want.

Until that happens, the city owes us some specific answers.

Seriously, there are lots of ads for cute pre-fab buildings -- refurbished street cars, cute cabins, etc. -- that require no construction and just need to be hooked up to utilities. I want to hear how those would be taxed and whether these ADUs are just a way for the city to increase taxes.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Hyperbole much? No one's trying to raze your property. People who own land that you don't own are trying to build high-density housing on it and then being told they can't do so. Also, if the government did start writing checks for that they should give you what your houses value is worth according to what it's taxed at via Prop 13 and not a cent more.


38 people like this
Posted by And again
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm

And here we are again with YIMBY telling everyone else how to live. Palo Alto, how do you like someone telling you how your City should've when they don't even live there?


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 3:31 pm

When you guys figure out how to accomplish your dream of putting Palo Alto into it's own pocket dimension where it lives in complete isolation then I'll stop having an opinion on the things that you guys do which currently have side-effects on the rest of the Bay Area. You're​ right next to Stanford, so maybe they can help. =)


31 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 5:38 pm

You have no right to dictate to residents of Palo Alto how to run their city. If you don't like Palo Alto because there are too many offices, or not enough offices, or because the houses are too big, or too few, or too ugly, or because the Fry's re-packages returned merchandise, or for any reason at all, or no reason at all, then don't go there. Don't cross city limits, except along 101 / 280. I promise you that Palo Alto city business will have zero effect on your life, you can worry about your own business.

And don't claim for one second that you get to decide how Palo Alto is run, because they built too many offices, or because they are close to Stanford, or some other nonsense. It's THEIR city and THEY get to decide!


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

That's great and all, but what happens in Palo Alto affects Mountain View and vice versa, so I'm still going to voice an opinion when you guys are doing something that's negatively impacting the region. If you don't want to hear any dissenting outsider opinions then be aware that no one is forcing you to use the internet, and you're more than welcome to do other things that won't potentially​ expose you to opposing viewpoints.


20 people like this
Posted by New Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2017 at 7:06 am

@YIMBY - Why don't you get up out of your chair and actually do something about it ? instead of sitting in your room all day on your computer ? Your approach of insulting all the homeowners isn't going to get you out of your unfortunate situation, and is most certainly hardening the opposition to your positions. You seem articulate and able to express an opinion well enough. Why not put that talent to getting a job ?


6 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I think "New Resident" makes a very good point. As is we have a CC that appears to be more focused on and concerned about people who do not live here than those that do; it would be folly to expect homeowner protection to come from City Hall. Council's rush to approve the amended ordinance has resulted in an ordinance that paves the way for homeowners to be the architects of their own (and their neighbors')misery.

Consider: the parking shortage is a consequence of pro-development Council decisions and policies that is problematic throughout the city. At this point it doesn't even matter if the problems are an unintended consequence. They exist and effective solutions are proving elusive. The consequences of the new ADU ordinance have the potential to surpass parking on the problem scale.

I think the amendments need more work, with privacy and parking being top considerations.


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