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Plan to add housing, retail on El Camino gets a boost

Original post made on Jul 13, 2017

Palo Alto's effort to chip away at what many in City Hall acknowledge to be a “housing crisis” advanced on Wednesday night, when the city's planning commission threw its support behind a plan to construct two buildings with 50 apartments at an El Camino Real site that until recently was occupied by Mike's Bikes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 11:28 PM

Comments (31)

37 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2017 at 1:21 am

Since both this project and the proposed Windy Hill project next door are aimed and single, high income, car-light professionals is it possible to limit the studios and one bedroom floorplans to a single student enrolled into the school district. That would address school overcrowding and day time school traffic concerns. With 110 (50 for Sobrato + 60 for Windy Hill) units between the two projects, what we don't want is these units being used as workaround, temporary weekday residences for families from outside the school district to get 2 kids or more into the already overcrowded Palo Alto junior high and Paly/Gunn. Otherwise that could lead to over 220+ additional students.


46 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

Neighbors were not notified about this. We live VERY nearby this and NEVER received notification. Disappointing that Mike's Bikes was kicked out for yet another high-density, traffic causing development.


52 people like this
Posted by Ugh!
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

Kick Palantir out before building anything else!

Demand that Facebook and Google to expand somewhere with more space and infrastructure to support growth. We don't have space or supporting infrastructure here!!


42 people like this
Posted by A couple more
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

@ Just a thought "we don't want is these units being used as workaround, temporary weekday residences for families from outside the school district to get 2 kids or more into the already overcrowded Palo Alto junior high and Paly/Gunn."

Good point! I agree.

Not sure where and how all these new people are supposed to enter and exit El Camino. It is usually backed up north and southbound at that locations, and regularly gridlocked during morning, evening and lunch time. The construction will be quite disruptive to El Camino as well.

"and they tried to tear the mountains down,
to bring in a couple more.
More people.
More scars upon the land."


54 people like this
Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 13, 2017 at 11:28 am

We do not have a "housing crisis". We will NEVER be able to accommodate everyone who wants to move here so stop trying to cram everyone in for pets sake!

What about taking a hard line of curbing development? Am I the only one who thinks that's a good idea? What are the pitfalls of curbing development?

What do you think?


35 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 13, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Why are all the citizens not protesting the added developement utntil there is concrete plans in place to deal with the current existing nightmare of traffic all along the El Camino Corridor?

It is ruining our communities, our environment and overall quality of life........yet no one demands that the planning commission address the traffic increase due to all the composite development !


22 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2017 at 1:09 pm

"Palo Alto's effort to chip away at what many in City Hall acknowledge to be a "housing crisis" advanced on Wednesday night"

What?! How on earth is this "chipping away". It's making it worse. Tech keeps bringing in newcomers at a jaw-dropping rate. There can never be relief to the housing shortage as long as the demand is growing far faster than the supply ever can. And that's before we even start talking about transportation, infrastructure, community, parks and open spaces, local shops and everything else that's important for a region to function.


12 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I don't have any skin in the game or serious complaints, except for added traffic, so I only offer an opinion or two from the outside. Good! No office space planned! Good try on retail, but I would like to know what kind of retail is planned? I can't imagine what would be successful there.

Units...predominantly studios and 1 bedroom apartments. What will the rental prices be? Never heard a word about low income (affordable) units, unless I missed it.


27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 1:33 pm

I agree that we don't have a housing crisis. What we do have is a potential resident crisis.

These potential residents are hoping to live here and all over the Bay Area. We are adding to Bay Area population by 90 people each and every day. That is not just more births than deaths, but people wanting to move into the Bay Area for many reasons.

In my own neighborhood, two homes have just become 3 generational as grandparents have moved here from elsewhere either to look after grandkids (as nannies) or because they are too infirm to live on their own and are moving in with their family.

On top of that, we have homes being bought as investments by people not even planning to occupy them.

We can build, build, build, but still they will come. Not just to Palo Alto but every community in the Bay Area. It is a regional problem. Building a few more condos/townhomes/apartments in Palo Alto is not going to do anything to the problem.


31 people like this
Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Obviously the Planning Commission does not care about traffic.
Do you know how 100+ cars will get:
To 280? Winding through neighborhoods to get to Page Mill.
To 101? Via Olive already crowded with cars cutting through in the morning.
To North El Camino? Not directly to El Camino because that is already a mess in the morning - winding through neighborhoods.
To South El Camino? - winding through neighborhoods.

This is simple....I will vote against any and all City Council members who vote to approve this project


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm

@ just a tgought sure knows the score - see first post on this thread for the hard truth.


23 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:04 pm

This will just make an intractable problem worse. The best solution, and this is far from perfect is to stop all new commercial development, and pressure companies, Palantir ahead of all others of all to relocate out of Palo Alto, and hopefully the Bay area.

Palo Alto's infrastructure iat all levels is highly inadequate to accommodate our overpopulation, permanent and the one that comes in for work and shopping. Palo A lot never had a housing shortage, it has an overpopulation problem, its real estate is perceived as a safe investment for foreign buyers and many want to have a glamorous Palo Alto zip code.

This terrible plan will just make everything worse and solve absolutely nothing.


14 people like this
Posted by Give us a chance
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:31 pm

To all of you who are negative about building more housing, especially this mixed use space:

Maybe I am just young and naive, but I think that myself, and my brand new family, deserve to live here just as much as any of you. Just because I don't have millions of dollars to purchase a house (or was lucky enough to have my family purchase when it was a little bit affordable) doesn't mean that I should live an hour driving commute to work. You think traffic is a problem, it's because the housing market it so high and no one can afford to live where they work. By creating more mixed use retail/housing this will boom walkable, enjoyable neighborhoods.

A lot of young people WANT to bike or train to work. They don't want to drive. They want a sense of community where they can walk to dinner or to pick up groceries. ElCamino is currently a useless, ugly space, so give it and us a chance, jeez!


8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Palo Alto has three times as many jobs as beds. Building more beds will reduce traffic as it will allow people who work in PA to actually live here. I'd bet good money that most of the people who move into those apartments will bike or walk to their jobs instead of driving in from elsewhere.


1 person likes this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm

Just a Thought doesn't seem to realize that enrollment in the school district has strarted trending down, particularly in the lower grades.


23 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Building more beds can only reduce traffic if the number of people working in the region (not just Palo Alto) stabilizes. But tech is adding jobs ten times faster than housing can ever be built. The end game of this trend is a Bay Area consisting solely of giant tech campuses and skyscraper ant farms where tech workers live in 8x20 studios.

It makes no sense to concentrate all tech growth in one small area that's already busting at the seams. The growth should be distributed to make jobs available in areas that need them.


31 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2017 at 5:49 pm

"Just because I don't have millions of dollars to purchase a house (or was lucky enough to have my family purchase when it was a little bit affordable) doesn't mean that I should live an hour driving commute to work."

Welcome to the world, kiddo. If you don't like driving an hour to work, move to a job closer to your home. Preferably one that pays more. Adjust your home address if need be. It's that simple.

But I do sympathize with you. Myself, I'm chronically disappointed I don't have millions of dollars to purchase a house (or was lucky enough to have my family purchase when it was a little bit affordable) with an ocean view in Pebble Beach right beside a Spyglass fairway. But I've managed to cope.


2 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2017 at 6:20 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Google is opening a Boulder, Colorado Campus and is encouraging their employees to move there. That youngster complaining about housing can find a job in the Denver Tech Center ( DTC ) as many companies are creating jobs with shorter commute times. Building is up in the I-25 corridor and the money you pay to rent a house in the SFBA and Silicon Valley areas will BUY you a house near Boulder/Denver.


2 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2017 at 6:41 pm

@chris: It is true that enrollment is dropping and so the goal of regulation is to reduce any community concerns that are blocking the approval of these buildings.

Another thought is if both the Downtown area and the California Ave area required residential parking permits and existing residents in the neighborhood would be given 2 parking permits. Residents from these two buildings would not be allowed residential parking permits. Also the new buildings would require dedicated car share parking spots for Zipcar. Both Downtown and Cal Ave. would be great for senior housing and Stanford students.

It would reduce the instances of multiple single people occupying single family homes as room-mates and allow real families to move back in. Right now our neighbor rents to 6 Stanford students who drive up rent and have 6 cars parked in front of our house.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2017 at 7:51 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2017 at 8:46 pm

"Car Light"
What a Joke, all of those 150 parking spaces will be filled, the neighboring streets will have "Light Cars" in front of their homes.
Another bad plan shoved in our face.
What about traffic study? All of the traffic cutting through Olive to go to Page Mill is bad already..


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2017 at 8:53 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm

[Portion removed.]

No seniors like ground floor with enough space that they can more around with a walker and surrounded by their own familiar things that they have had for most of their lives. Their community is their neighborhood where things change slowly and they can face the changes one at a time not all at once.

Seniors and students do not make for good neighbors.


22 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:05 pm

This planning commission needs to be replace with proactive elected official who give a dam about quality of life,
Environment, and creating a infrastructure plan that is in place BEFORE accepting all the demand of the developers proposal.
The owners, developers of all approved plans for these El Camino plans do not even live in the community . they will not suffer the consequences of their developments. WE the residents of PA and all our neighboring communities will .
The funding of the elections of our elected officials campaigns and any future promises of reward are driven by the developers...not the taxpayers of PA

We are moving from Palo Alto shortly........it's become I place I no longer wish to live due to all the crime, parking, traffic issues.
for all the intelligence in the community it is severely shortsighted on urban plannning, its elected officials are bought and paid for by developers, Done with this overpriced mess of a town.......one where it's own citizens are too busy to actively act as a community to protect the place we used to cherish.


8 people like this
Posted by Marlene Glez
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2017 at 11:16 pm


I think that the " overcrowding " is not the fault of new people or families coming, the real fault belongs to Big companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc that are growing in Bay Area and are inviting people to work from other cities. If they are bringing more people, they need to build more housing. There is not enough room to build! They built houses or apartments on parking areas, old buildings of one or two floors were torn out and transformed into three or more floors. They already used everything! The only "room" left is the cemeteries, but I'm afraid they already put an eye on ! Traffic now is a nightmare...! There is not enough room to construct wider roads unless they start building bridges and subways. Soon the Bay Area will be transformed into another New York... :(


11 people like this
Posted by Mimi Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2017 at 10:14 am

Nearly every day the news is about the City supporting another development, but scarce news of efforts toward alleviating traffic gridlock. The two go hand in hand. If the City allows more housing, what is being done to encourage these families to use alternatives to driving? School buses? Safe bicycle/pedestrian routes? Increase shuttles and VTA buses during commute hours? Work on coordinating VTA schedules/routes with SamTrans?


12 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 15, 2017 at 2:34 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@Chris

"Residents from these two buildings would not be allowed residential parking permits."

Not being allowed a parking permit, but with free 2 hour parking in RPP neighborhoods, still allows person to park from 4 pm until 10 am, and all weekend long. In other words, drive to work before 10 am and arrive home after 4 pm, and park overnight.

That is, unless the city designates all impacted neighborhoods as RPP from 6 am until midnight, and our taxes are spent on hiring ever more parking enforcement personnel. Persuading city staff and council that they should approve under parked developments because commuting by car and car ownership will decline appears to be the latest exercise in magical thinking, incompetence, or cynicism, because there is no comparable city with data to back up this "car light" claim. At best it's an experiment and at worst a giveaway to developers since reducing the amount of land required for parking or the cost of excavating basement parking is money in their pockets.

It is enlightening to watch live broadcasts of council meetings and match the members who received considerable financial support from these business interests, and contrary to what they said or implied while campaigning, appear to consistently support new developments with components that are not in compliance.


4 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Where are the low income apartments? As long as they meet the low income requirements with actual apartments, not cash donations inadequate to build the equivalent apartments to the city, and add the four required parking places, I will gladly support this project.


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