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Plan for 'car-light' development on El Camino draws mixed reviews

Original post made on Jun 17, 2017

Few projects epitomize the hopes of Palo Alto's housing advocates and the anxieties of the city's land-use watchdogs as clearly as a four-story housing project proposed on El Camino Real.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, June 17, 2017, 8:36 AM

Comments (56)

Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

Encouraging people to bicycle is great, but El Camino and Page Mill are not exactly bicycle-friendly streets. Where are they encouraging people to bicycle from that location? Will they be building a bike path to the Caltrain station? Which grocery stores are within bicycling distance?

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:24 am

Will there be comprehensive parking controls on the neighborhood streets around this development (that keep the residents and their guests from parking there)? Otherwise, an under-parked development will just push cars onto the nearby streets. If that happens, the developer's windfall is paid for by the neighborhood, just as it would have been at Maybell.

It's great if there are people who want to live a car-light lifestyle. But there are plenty who just want low rent in Palo Alto AND to have a car.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:42 am

I tend to think that although people may be able to use alternatives to cars for every day commuting in these developments, they are unlikely to do without cars. How will these residents do a Costco run? How will they get to the coast? How will they visit family and friends in the East Bay?

Even if we could improve public transportation to European levels, it is unlikely that the majority of these residents will have no cars.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:55 am

" Otherwise, an under-parked development will just push cars onto the nearby streets."

So what's the big deal? Residents don't own parking on the street - the collective city does. There's no ownership of the curb, regardless of what certain long-time residents want to believe.

Posted by More Congestion
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:15 am

While I love the idea of reducing private cars, the reality is that this project will bring more traffic, congestion, and parking headaches to an already impacted area. If you are going to build housing, offer it to the local teachers, policemen, firemen, city workers, doctors, and nurses. They need housing that are close to their work. Without that restriction, I can see more congestion, more parking problems, and people buying affordable condos to rent out/leave vacant, or use as an address to attend PA schools.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

Another under-parked development very close to the $7,000,000 under-parked "revitalized" California Ave. where the city's spending more of our money to build garages to correct the under-parking??? If anything, this development should be OVER-parked!

Doesn't this City Council ever learn? We are not bottomless pits.

I go the Animal Doctor vet right next door and it's absolutely treacherous to get back onto Oregon without getting slammed by passing cars at any time of the day. I once tried parking on the street near the vet's office and almost lost my car door.

Posted by Przemek Gardias
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

In my opinion, there are 3 big ticket principles violated with this project: retail, parking and affordable housing.

In perspective of El Camino Grand Boulevard concept, all ground floor space should be designated to retail. Besides, this specific location offers a natural commerce opportunity to advertise, sell goods and create small business jobs.

I argued for fully parked underground floors. If public and private transportation kept in pace with growth and mobility requirements, my argument would have been the opposite. However, this is not a reality today. While we are committing taxpayers dollars and taking precious land away from the housing with the proposed Sherman Avenue garage, there is an opportunity to satisfy demand by opening underground parking to a broader public. Here, respectfully, I need to assign credit for promoting this concept in the Downtown to my PTC colleague, Eric Rosenblum.

Last, but not least, there is a need for affordable housing. We enacted Palo Alto Housing Element to provide affordable housing opportunities. Under that law we are responsible to identify lots and inventory adequate sites for compliance with State Housing Element Law. This specific lot meets such criteria and should be designated at least partially for affordable housing. It puzzled me, why affordable housing has not been designated outright as an integral part of this project. The answer received, provided explanation about the lack of Planned Community (PC) zoning regulation. I cannot accept such an answer. The city has plenty of legal instruments to guard public interest, including affordable housing.

For reasons of retail, parking and housing, departing from current and ongoing concerns, I believe the opportunity for this project is different than presented to the PTC commission.

Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Even with a parking permit plan for the adjacent neighborhoods, with a two hour time frame an occupant of this building can park until 10 am, come back and park at 4 pm, and park all weekend long. With the number of apartments on the adjacent streets it's not easy to find a vacant spot to visit a friends who live on those streets. Perhaps the building could have a additional parking for zip cars.

For commuters this is on Oregon, Page Mill, and El Camino, so it will likely be an attractive location for those who do have to commute. Even for those working in Palo Alto there are lots of areas where people work that are not near any public transit. Even if walking or biking are possibilities all year round for the hardy few, there are winter days and summer heat waves that make owning a car more of a necessity for most people. There is simply no way to monitor and enforce "car-lite" tenants.

While this will be an attractive location for those who can live without a car, they are not the only ones who are going to apply to rent. There are more people who will be willing to pay the rent and park on the streets if necessary. It's just as attractive to those who don't work in Palo Alto, especially being near the train station. It's probably illegal to enforce only accepting rental applications for those who can prove they don't own a car.

Posted by Proceed with Caution
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm

During the city council review of this project the developer refused to say how much they plan to charge for these, implying "whatever the market will bear". Filling this property with $3K - $4K a month sub 600 square foot units that teachers and employees have an option to rent will raise the average multi-unit residential rental price per square foot in Palo Alto without positively impacting affordability. By upzoning this from a public facilities to housing it gives the developer 10s of millions in additional profit. Some of that profit should go to offering a significant percentage (e.g. 25% to 50%) at below market reserved solely for teachers and city staff. Note, how they developer has neither committed a percentage below market nor to only rent to city staff as those would eat into the 10s of millions in additional profit.

[Portion removed due to reference to the wrong Tod Spieker.]

With regards to Gardias's push for retail, I disagree for several reasons. First retail requires more parking. More importantly retail is under huge pressure from online + delivery services so I do not think we should be adding more retail. Instead we should be protecting the retail we have. The major issue facing Palo Alto is housing and traffic/parking.

I do agree with Gardias that this building is seriously underparked and slow puzzle lifts for almost all the spots is not an adequate solution. With 425 Page Mill going up across the street (also underparked) and nearby neighborhoods already overparked, I think this property needs to ensure it does not overflow cars into the neighborhood.

So in summary:
1) This developer will gain 10s of millions from the proposed upzoning
2) This developer has not put in meaningful commitments to address housing affordability for local teachers and city staff
[Portion removed]
4) Parking is not adequately addressed
5) Adding retail (in my opinion) is not the best use for this site

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm

@Me 2 -- "Residents don't own parking on the street - the collective city does."

Great idea! Our collective city should offer to sell those street-parking rights to the respective individual property owners. If VTA can raise funds by selling off our collectively owned property, as our own school district has done in the past, I see no reason why we can't privatize the entire region. Zoning has never been an obstacle where there is money to be made. With greater control of their street frontage, residents will have better access for gardeners, house cleaners, nannies, delivery vehicles, garbage pick-up, and any other visitors, not to mention solving ADU issues.

Posted by Why not a public facility?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Since the zoning is a "public facility", why isn't the site being used for that? One could argue that low income or VA housing could fall under public facility...

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2017 at 5:22 pm

" Doesn't this City Council ever learn?"

Our city council--specifically, the five PAF reps on it--has a basic obligation to provide a return on the investments [campaign contributions] of civic-minded developers. It would be dishonest if they didn't. In the process they can appear amazingly credulous, even eagerly gullible, but behind the act they are smart canny citizens giving their investors their due..

Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm

How about a "People Light" Development?
Developers are ruining our area..

Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 17, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Sometime fairly recently someone posted an excerpt from the Palo Alto's municipal code that says the streets are owned by the city on behalf of residents, paid by residents, for the benefit of residents.

Posted by PAF forgot residents
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:05 pm

@Curmudgeon -- You're totally right about the 5 PAF reps on the city council and their total lack of concern about us, the residents. Quoting from their recent announcement:

If Caltrain concerns you, come hear Caltrain/101 Corridor Vision Plan!
Caltrain/101 Corridor Vision Plan!

Traffic congestion on Highway 101 is miserable. Caltrain trains are standing room only at rush hour. What are the most effective ways to improve commutes and reduce time and stress for the most commuters? Can the region maintain economic growth without a transportation break down? What options support local and regional climate change goals? What’s best for commuters of all income levels? Are we on the right track? Come learn about a new vision to ease the commute pain and ask a panel of experts how our region can overcome obstacles to achieve solutions along Caltrain/101.

June 28th 6 pm Mitchell Park Community Center (Adobe Room)
Co-sponsor include Friends of Caltrain, SPUR, Transform, Stanford, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, Palo Alto Forward

Please RSVP at Web Link
Hope to see you there!
Caltrain 101 Corridor

Caltrain 101 Corridor

And of course their "experts" will keep telling us to "build, baby, build" and make the residents pay the commuting expenses for the commuters over-running us.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm

I am now using El Camino for my commutes up to Redwood City and back. Better then using 101. 101 continually has some activity going on - bridge installation, Embarcadero activity, now Willow Pass upgrade. Please do not mess with 101 - they are already talking about messing with Middlefield. It would be nice if one project could be finished so that the net effect can be graded for effectiveness instead of continual activity which is interfering with other activities in process.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:36 pm

Every room that will be built, MUST have a parking space per room.

Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

With the full range of measures that the developers have stated they are willing to include, this project can set a model for car-light residential development.
In addition to what is listed in the article, last fall the council and developers indicated that the residents of this development would not be eligible for Residential Permit Parking (RPP) in the surrounding neighborhoods. Also, the developer agreed to have deed restrictions on a significant portion of the leases so that those tenants could not own a car. Many millennials already live this lifestyle. This would mean that the developer would bear full responsibility for the success of the trip reduction program. If they could not find tenants under these requirements, they would shoulder the consequences financially. The developers would have the risk and responsibility rather than the neighbors and community. The developers have publicly stated confidence that there is more than adequate supply of such tenants.
If the current council requires the full set of measures as conditions of approval, along with strong monitoring and enforcement consequences, then the community could see how low impact residential development is practical with today's best practices.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm

So what are the penalties if renters lie about having cars? About renting cars? Are they and the developers going to go to jail? Of course the developer is going to say there will be no problems because they want approval. Denying them RPP permits will only create more spill-over as will other commuters and Stanford's ever-growing population.

For what it's worth, they've tried building large no-car buildings in San Francisco and the neighbors are all outraged with all the spill-over into their neighborhoods.

If you want to have a successful "trip reduction" program, maybe PA should start restricting the number of new offices and hence the number of new commuters.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2017 at 12:20 pm

" With the full range of measures that the developers have stated they are willing to include, this project can set a model for car-light residential development."

WILLING to include. CAN set a model. Right. Let's hold out for MUST include and MUST set a model. Or be demolished. Make 'em post a bond to cover the costs. Set a deadline, say, 3 years from opening. Monitor it.

What guarantees do we get that the tenants will obey the hype? How (and will) they be enforced? Hmm?

We've heard these utopian pipe dreams again and again. They don't come true. Baited promises are cheap and ephemeral. The resulting buildings are real and permanent, but somehow not what was advertised..

Posted by out of control
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Introducing puzzle-lifts to satisfy already reduced
parking requirements may actually make underparking
worse since the lifts are impractical and not used.
Just another developer/staff ploy. Before the City
approves any lift parking there should be a detailed report of how currently in place lifts
Downtown are being utilized. We need a govt process
in Palo Alto which actually works for a long-term
sustainable future - we are in a vicious cycle now which is ruining the City. The present is bad, the
downward momentum is shocking and the future is being completely lost.

Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I'm not sure I get any of the outrage over people living here and potentially owning cars... coming from people who live here and own cars.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Promises, promises. I'll believe it when I see a grocery store at Edgewood.
We'd better get the fine-print vetted, or we'll be sued when we try to enforce it.

Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jun 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

Can you hear the chuckling?

If I were the developer, this would be the greatest deal ever. Build housing without the required parking saving tons of money. Make vague and empty promises (market rate housing for small units).

And if it fails? It's called Bankruptcy. (Any half-smart developer will build this with a separate legal entity to avoid infecting his other projects; financing will be handled by the banks so there's no risk there; and when does a project fail? Only 4-5 years after it's completed and sold. That's when the 5 City Council members will have moved onto the Assembly or retired with 'glowing' awards about how they built 'affordable' housing in this town. They'll blame the current City Council for failing to uphold their vision and the NIMBYs that made the project fail.

The reality, in this area, is that this project is a funny looking 'Unicorn'. It sounds good, satisfies all the lofty promises, but in reality it's still just a unicorn. Wishful thinking.

Let's stand our ground and say no!

Posted by Codes
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:48 am

@ "Windy Hill has offered to build a one-level garage with 65 parking spots, more than the 45 it had initially considered but far fewer than the 102 that would be required by code."

I'm confused. Why do we even have city codes if developers are going to be exempt from them? Why would any developer be allowed to proceed with a project that does not meet code? Codes serve a critical purpose.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

I'm confused. Why do we even have city codes if developers are going to be exempt from them? Why would any developer be allowed to proceed with a project that does not meet code? Codes serve a critical purpose."

Simple, the present PAF majority in the CC represents the financial interests of land developers, not residents. City staff have historically been very developer friendly. That is why developers consistently and historically managed to exempt themselves from city codes.

Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:07 am

I'm glad to see somebody responding to the complainers. We are talking about only 60 units.
Palo Alto needs to try a number of new things. This experiment has been restricted in a number of ways, so the worst case will not be very bad. The upside could be an example for the future.

For the last 40 years, PA has made very few changes to its approach. These years of inaction have led PA to the mess it is in now. Why would you want to consider following the same policies into the future? It's time to experiment and try some new things.

Between the 30's and 60's, some taller residential buildings and railroad underpasses were built. In some ways, the previous generation was smarter than the current generation of complainers.

Posted by Marjorie in MP
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:34 am

Any chance this oroject will provide a remedy for the proliferation of RVs along El Camino? I assume they are a sort of housing development resulting from tthe lack of affiordable housing in Palo Alto.

Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

65 parking spots is less than the 102 that would be required by code. The project should be rejected on that basis alone. End of discussion. If the developers want Palo Alto to change its zoning, that would need to happen outside this review process. It's a joke that people seemed more up in arms about the proposed restaurant on California Avenue that was supposedly underparked by one space than by this fanciful fairy-tale farce. And for @Me 2 and others who say "park on surrounding streets," two of the four "surrounding" directions are unparkable, hemmed in by Page Mill and El Camino (not that this was a good suggestion anyway). The code (and the reviewers) should actually require more parking in such hemmed-in lots, not less.

Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I agree that we must strengthen monitoring, enforcement and consequences to assure compliance with mitigations and public benefits when they are part of project approvals. Two years ago, Winter Dellenbach provided the city council with a history of public benefits from Planned Community (PC) commercial projects showing a pattern of generally not meeting their obligations. However, Winter and others have pointed out that nearly all of our affordable housing and many of our market housing projects have been the result of PC's. The answer is to strengthen enforcement and consequences to assure compliance which the staff and city council committed to doing last year.
Last fall the applicants on this project agreed to a very strong set of trip reduction requirements. Enforcement mechanisms such as bonds or strong penalties need to be included.
I believe that small unit housing projects, located near our downtowns, with trip reduction measures and RPP restrictions are a sort of new housing we need to support.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Car ownership is not always what it seems.

Many young techies straight out of college are not able to get a car loan or insurance in their own name and quite often the parents name is on the title or insurance. These cars are for the sole use of the young person and the parents may live anywhere in the State.

As I said, would cars being used and parked on the street by young techies be technically owned by them?

Posted by AnotherUse
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Where is the new Police/Public Services building going to be built? Is that the one near the Courthouse? what about this site? Not big enough?

Posted by Judy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Trying to push a large housing project because of its close proximity to the train is ridiculous. I live about as close as a train as you can get (a one minute walk) and none of my neighbors take the train. Why? It's more expensive than driving if your employer is not paying for your commuter pass, and unless your company is very close to the train station or good, reliable transportation that will take you to your place of employment, the local public transportation is of no use. Also, companies are forever changing: downsizing, moving, going out of business, etc. With most companies today "at will" employers, many workers find themselves changing jobs frequently, and there's no guarantee your next job will be easily accessible to public transportation. Someone might move into the new housing because of train convenience, but then find they're commuting to the east bay for work, which requires a car.

Let me tell you about Spieker... He's buying up many of the apartment buildings along the Peninsula, remodeling them, and raising the rents at an exorbitant rate. He plants palm trees in front of his properties as kind of a trademark, I think. I live next to one of his properties and hear the horror stories of rent increases. It seems he practically has a monopoly on apartment buildings and controls the rent. Beware.

Posted by Bababooie
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Slap some green paint in the local area bike lanes, call it a "bike path", and problem solved!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2017 at 1:53 pm

What "public benefit" does this building have? You can make all the rules you want and continue to break them while claiming "public benefits" and that no one will have cars but we all know it's nonsense.

The PA Chamber of Commerce, ABAG, Palo Alto Forward, Stanford and Imagine Menlo will all keep pressing for more and more and more until we're totally gridlocked.

Maybe Palo Alto can follow Google's example and stick a 300-unit trailer park somewhere in Palo Alto? And they can follow Stanford's example and buy up a $100,000,000 apartment building in Los Alto. Of course they'll still continue to force the cities to let them keep expanding so nothing will make a dent in the problem because all the big companies and Stanford keep expanding and expanding and crippling our mobility.

When is enough enough?

Posted by stop dreaming
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm

"city faces a severe housing shortage"

The city also faces a severe traffic problem. According to normal planning, 60 units will generate 90 new cars. No matter what dreams and fantasies the developers are pushing.

Codes are there for a reason. Enforce them.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

@Pat Burt, "I agree that we must strengthen monitoring, enforcement and consequences to assure compliance with mitigations and public benefits..."

We desperately need to strengthen monitoring and enforcement and forcing our city officials to respond instead of passing and ignoring obvious dangers that have no public benefit.

Case in point: At 2PM today a friend drove Page Mill/Oregon and tried to turn N. onto Middlefield. BUT she got caught in the MIDDLE of Oregon Expressway along with several cars and trucks blowing their air horns She was shaking when she got to my house as she described her illegal u-turn and surface street escape!

Why? BECAUSE cars are STILL backing up from Jordan INTO OREGON when a car's trying to turn on N. Cal Ave and the stupid BOtts Dots and bollards restrict through traffic.

For more than a year we've complained while the City continued to ignore us. When pushed to respond, they either say they're "monitoring" this or "starting discussions" with the County to change the Oregon light timing which will accomplish what if it ever happens??!!

Is getting t-boned in the middle of intersections a public benefit?? Or part of the "traffic reduction" plan?

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

"Winter and others have pointed out that nearly all of our affordable housing and many of our market housing projects have been the result of PC's. The answer is to strengthen enforcement and consequences to assure compliance... "

The answer is to restrict the use of PC to affordable housing. Period.

Posted by S Brown
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2017 at 4:23 pm

This property sits on top of a toxic plume. Why would the city give permission to dig an underground garage at this location?

Posted by Another Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Deja vu all over again. Although it is to Palo Alto's benefit to have the new businesses in town, downtown particularly, it is not to Palo Alto's benefit to have the jobs imbalance, the parking deficiency and the awful traffic which those businesses bring. We are in this situation because various city councils failed to insist that the developers stick to the Palo Alto building codes. Particularly providing parking which covered their employees. Why is this a mistake we keep on making?

It feels as if the city council is in a similar position to a new car buyer. You have to negotiate with the salesman but you will never get a really fair price because the salesman is 'way better at it than you are. But in this case Palo Alto holds the cards - the building codes. I'm not at all convinced that providing the required parking spaces for the number of occupants is going to cause this developer all that much trouble, or lose all that much money. If he has enough to be going around the area and buying up apartment buildings, he's not hurting.

The problem is that the problems caused by insufficient parking spaces will fall on the nearby Palo Alto inhabitants. Enough already!! Make the developer adhere to the code. Get some backbone, City Council!!

Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Parking garages add a huge expense to building, why should anyone be forced to pay for a parking spot if they don't drive?

Posted by Richard
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Parking is a non-issue here, especially because it's close to Caltrain and the Stanford free shuttle stop making 1.5 parking spots per apartment unnecessary and a waste. The real problem is that it is too short and without enough units. Let's get it built!

Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

Adding offices does not benefit Palo Alto unless the occupants produce a product on that site that the sales tax applies to.

As for thinking these office buildings produce a significant property tax contribution to the city think again. A large number of these commercial properties have been owned for many decades by the same owners, or in some cases for several generations. So much of Palo Alto's commercial property tax is set at the 1975 level, plus the 2% increase every year.Even when properties do change hand their are legals ways this "sale" can be set up with the help of commercial real estate lawyers so that the property tax reassessment is not triggered. When a property is remodelled or redeveloped then the cost of that construction is added to the property tax base.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:52 am

Annette is a registered user.

As described, this sort of development does sound like a small part of an answer to our jobs:housing imbalance problem. Too bad the City and CC squandered the opportunity to build creatively by over-building at a ridiculous pace for the last several years.

Posted by Oregon's Already Gridlocked
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

If Oregon's gridlocked for most of the day and if people are getting stuck in the middle of Oregon intersections at 2PMk, perhaps adding more under-parked buildings to one of the 3 main access roads to 101 isn't the best idea for anyone except the developers and his political cronies?

Especially now that the other 3 access roads in PA -- University & San Antonio -- will be a mess for the next few years.

Posted by Here's an idea.
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm

A public facility presents an opportunity--I like the idea of reasonably priced teacher or city employee housing that could be offered as part of a salary/benefit package. It would solve a lot of problems because these folks are definitely local workers (and that is easy for the city to track) who could walk or bike to work or use a bus.

PAUSD and the city are having real problems attracting and keeping excellent staff because of our high cost of living and the commute times these folks have to endure. In addition, in the past when employees lived here they were personally invested as community members. They had a different attitude about the community because they were part of it.

I really hate the idea of giving a developer, especially this one, the opportunity to fleece the community.

Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm

My view is that this is simply a gambit on the part of the developer to reduce the parking requirements and therefore the cost of construction.

The developer has obviously notices that the city hates cars and does not want to provide for roads or parking to the extent that actual demand requires. So, the developer hopes to tap into this source of possible cost reductions.

Once built, my belief is that people will buy or rent these units (whichever is offered) if it makes some sense to them somewhat independently of their need for automobiles. People will decide that they can live with the kludgey automated system and perhaps find parking on nearby streets that have not yet been made unavailable for parking.

The result: the developer wins, the community loses, and the city once again fails to do anything proactive about automobile use.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm

We shouldn't be surprised by this or any of the other decisions made by our Pro-Growth council. They've already shown that growth is their priority, with minimal regard to impact on traffic or public infrastructure. Without clear and enforceable rules on car ownership and owner-occupancy, these relatively affordable units will be snapped up by investors.

The best we can do now is to speak up, hope for the best, and vote for a smarter growth council at the next election.

Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Posters frequently suggest that housing units should be reserved for a particular types of people, such as teachers. But the law considers that selecting certain categories of people while excluding others is discriminatory and illegal. Don't quite know where senior living facilities fits in. Or if the school district builds housing for teachers on school district lands if that might be legal. Certainly Stanford specifies who can and who cannot reside on campus.

Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm

I generally am anti-development but I am going to argue for this concept. If you want to build "affordable housing" that is not subsidized by the taxpayers, you need it to be "market rate". The more desirable it is, think Atherton, the more it costs. So the trick is to make affordable housing less desirable, hence 600 sq ft units. That may turn out to be still too desirable to be affordable. Take away the parking and restrict parking around the building. Make the units the size of RV's. Anyway you get the general idea. THE MARKET RULES...

Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 20, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Vehicles are not going away. Install double deck parking:
Here is a link.
Web Link

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2017 at 9:31 pm

^ The photo in that link looks uncomfortably like an automobile crusher.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:10 pm

Not as uncomfortable as being run over, while biking, by a preocupied Android texting driver.

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:53 pm

The idea that people living next to Caltrain won't need a car is absurd.

The US Department of Transportation breaks down car use as follows:

45% of daily trips are taken for shopping and errands.
27% of daily trips are social and recreational, such as visiting a friend.
15% of daily trips are taken for commuting (to work).

Caltrain only really replaces the the commuting fraction of car use, and then only if you, by some quirk of fate, happen to work near a Caltrain station.

Everyone that wants to have a life needs to have a car, and every car needs to have a parking space.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2017 at 8:08 am

For those who think that Uber will make life easier, San Francisco is blaming them for increased traffic congestion as the drivers drive around waiting for their next ride. Web Link Web Link

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm


San Francisco politicians need something to blame congestion on besides themselves. San Francisco politicians are bought and paid for by real-estate developers, just like Palo Alto.

According to your link: “In 2016, San Francisco was rated as having the third worst traffic congestion in the nation". This didn't happen over night and it didn't happen because of Uber.

Ride-share has grown as residents desperately try to cope with development policies that have allowed the city to grown beyond the capacity of its transportation infrastructure.

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