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Palo Alto City Council approves first major housing project of 2020

Original post made on Nov 17, 2020

Seeking to make a small dent in the local housing crisis, the City Council approved on Tuesday its largest residential project of the year: a 102-apartment development on San Antonio Road.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 12:45 AM

Comments (21)

16 people like this
Posted by Worst kind of Nimbyism
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2020 at 11:09 am

Worst kind of Nimbyism is a registered user.

Very true Ms. Kniss. There isn't anybody around to complain about this project because other than the Greenhouses, there are no other neighbors!!! Instead, this complex will be surrounded by car shops, light industrial, and offices.

If Palo Alto is going to shunt all their new housing down to the PA/MV border, how do they plan to provide the necessary services for a community, like a grocery store, schools, and most of all, parks! The nearest green space to this project is across major roads and not walkable.


43 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2020 at 11:52 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

From the PA Weekly...
>"Seeking to make a small dent in the local housing crisis.."

^A small dent indeed but yet another Legoland eyesore for Palo Alto...along with added traffic gridlock along the San Antonio Road corridor.

The southernmost area of PA is becoming more mundane by the moment.


44 people like this
Posted by Actually, Liz...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Actually, Liz... is a registered user.

Actually, Liz, please don't mistake silence for not paying attention. We are paying attention, so don't get sloppy and dump inappropriate amounts if housing here because you think it's "refreshing" not to hear opposition. I live in the neighborhood and I haven't opposed this project, though I am concerned about impacts. I am balancing community housing needs vs. these impacts. However, please think carefully how deeply you dive with housing in this poorly supported area of town--and balance any growth with an investment in transportation and community services infrastructure.

Cubberley should be used for schools and services, NOT housing. For once, Council, stick with the agreed plan and follow the Comp Plan. San Antonio is a parking lot at peak hours. Operations at Middlefield and Charleston on San Antonio are a hot mess, and the city has no solutions that I know of.

Also, get the Charleston-Arastradero Plan done. It is the mitigation for the last thousand units that Council approved and were built at this end of town. The city's failure to finish the project in over twenty years does not build trust or confidence in the city's commitment to implement promised mitigations for growth. The most dangerous intersections still have not been touched and STILL lack any bike lanes at all.

I bike... a lot. San Antonio is absolutely NOT bike friendly. Riding along it is dangerous, even for skilled, experienced bicyclist. (Sharrows on San Antonio. Really?!) Getting across San Antonio is not for the faint of heart, even at signalized intersections. It is definitely not an acceptable school route--not that there is school capacity at this end of town to support a lot of additional housing.

Think carefully about what Council does with Cubberley. CM Cormack's push for housing there is a monumentally bad idea--and yet another betrayal of trust. School capacity is going to be a problem as seniors age out and transition to smaller housing units. Their former homes will be filled with new families who will need school capacity that seniors have not been using for decades. Add lots of new housing on top of that, and really, the district's linear enrollment projections aren't worth the paper they're printed on.


36 people like this
Posted by Geneva
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Geneva is a registered user.

Overbuilt apartment complexes. Incompetent and lousy planning all the way around. No consideration give to the public and alternative transportation need to environmentally sustain these developments, let alone infrastructure improvements of roads, bike lanes, recreation sites.
The vacancy rates of all the apartments in this area and all along elcamino have sky rocketed during the pandemic.....and many who live in these locations have left permanently.
None of this development is helping the environment or the climate change crisis. No mention of solar, LEED sustainable construction efforts ......this is thinking like 1960’s. Backward thinking on behalf of the planning dept.


10 people like this
Posted by Geneva
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Geneva is a registered user.

Overbuilt apartment complexes. Incompetent planning .No consideration give to the public and alternative transportation need to environmentally sustain these developments, let alone infrastructure improvements of roads, bike lanes, recreation sites.
The vacancy rates of all the apartments in this area and all along elcamino have sky rocketed during the pandemic.....and many who live in these locations have left permanently.
None of this development is helping the environment or the climate change crisis. No mention of solar, LEED sustainable construction efforts ......this is thinking like 1960’s. Backward thinking on behalf of the planning dept.


28 people like this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 17, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Becky Sanders is a registered user.

Gee Whiz I'm astonished this article did not mention the water table and the impacts of a two story subterranean garage. Man. Wells and pumping all that water at 50 feet. The folks at Save Palo Alto's Groundwater provided so much data about the possible release of latent TCE into the biosphere as well as wreaking havoc on our environment as water wends its way to the Bay. Is this not a problem?


44 people like this
Posted by Time to go to court!
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Time to go to court! is a registered user.

When will this city get serious about human overpopulation and the need for local communities to push back on the developer driven mantra of "more growth" coming out of Sacramento.

It is past time to take SB 35 and all the other pro-growth measures being passed by the state that limit the ability of local communities to control development to court.

We need to form a coalition with other cities that don't want massive overdevelopment and out of control populations and gather the funds to go up against the state mandates. Time to tell pro-development and anti-environmental Sacramento to develop elsewhere.


15 people like this
Posted by Oh well.....
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Oh well..... is a registered user.

Not to mention that both properties border or on Federally registered SuperFund sites. Oh well....


21 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Not to mention that both properties border or on Federally registered SuperFund sites."

^ Was an EIR (environmental impact report) conducted prior to approving this development?

Residing on or adjacent to a Superfund site poses potential human health hazards.

Will the developers be taking preliminary & comprehensive measures to clean-up the tract and will they along with the city assume long-term responsibility for any remaining carcinogens and/or subsequent birth defects?

Is Palo Alto becoming little more than a twisted Monopoly game for fly-by-night developers & complicit local politicians?




26 people like this
Posted by San Antonio Parking Lot
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 17, 2020 at 3:22 pm

San Antonio Parking Lot is a registered user.

Tossing another few hundred trips a day on San Antonio Road sounds like an excellent idea.

BTW...who did the traffic study for this one? Last I heard, San Antonio Road is beyond capacity for more than 4 hours a day.


7 people like this
Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Amie is a registered user.

Way to do the right thing Council well at least part of the council. I believe in a Palo Alto for more people and income groups. This project makes us stronger and better as a community. We are way beyond a little inconvenience for drivers, how fast you can drive down a road seems like a sad measure of quality of life anyway.

This city needs thousands of units, not hundreds. Build more, small units with limited parking please. Lots more!


11 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Sheri is a registered user.

"We've just upzoned a lot of these parcels to provide these parcel owners with more profitability," Kou said. "Essentially, what we've done is increase the value of land all around the corridor."

Which makes it even harder to create non-market rate housing, which is what Palo Alto sorely lacks in its housing goals. We give lip service to "affordable housing," but then making these kinds of zoning changes that fundamentally preclude such housing. Those 15% sops just won't cut it.


23 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"I believe in a Palo Alto for more people and income groups...This city needs thousands of units, not hundreds. Build more, small units with limited parking please. Lots more!"

^ About 25,000+ additional 'small' units contained within larger Legoland high-rise complexes throughout the city & renting for around $1750.00/month max should do the trick.

The question is...who among current residents would want to live here anymore?


12 people like this
Posted by Duveneck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Duveneck is a registered user.

102 apartments--32 studios, 66 one-bedroom units, 4 two-bedroom units. Not only are 16 units too few to set aside for below-market housing, but my guess is that those units won't be either the 2-bedroom units or many of the one-bedroom units. What is going to be the distribution and how far below-market will those units be? Once converted to condos, it is unlikely that those needing below-market housing will be among those able to afford one of those condos--and the below-market problem would resurrect itself.


25 people like this
Posted by ralphc
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Nov 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm

ralphc is a registered user.

As usual with our Council Agendas, the 7pm the actual issues under discussion occurred from 9pm to 11+ at which point I'd quit watching and gone to bed. But not before Ms. Kniss painted a charming picture for Palo Alto's San Antonio Road ala Mountain View's towering 7 story metropolis, ignoring the fact of our narrow street with essential street-side parking vs theirs twice wide and no street-side parking. Then the council disregarded the little matter of it's environmental review process forgetting to consider it's 2nd level underground garage and the ongoing aquifer nightmare which has already caused settling problems to local buildings (including ours). Oh yes, and the Council is pleased that local residents have stopped complaining much -- hardly a surprise after fruitless efforts during a four year loosing campaign over the two new Marriot hotels arisen across the street! Has the Council read PAN letters telling it to stand up to impossible demands for more hosing than is possible. Palo Alto is surrounded by barriers on all four sides, not the least of which is spacious Stanford, 101 and neighboring Cities. We're not alone. It is not Palo Alto's fault that our property values are high.
Once the additional now re-zoned rental 400 sq. ft 1-bedroom apartment properties are added to San Antonio, pressed right against the street, with absolute minimal parking, no bike lanes, no green space, or public transportation, we can be glad we've done our part to dump a bit more of the problem on our southeastern border.


18 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2020 at 1:07 am

Citizen PA is a registered user.

"Liz Kniss observed that there is one benefit to approving a project at a relatively remote site"

Remote? For whom? Don't you just love what a NIMBY Liz Kniss is -- by the true definition, she's happy to keep overdeveloping "remote" crowded South Palo Alto because it's not her backyard, and she's even stated publicly that she has ZERO idea about the traffic here already.

I think she means remote as in the distance she looks down her nose at those of us who don't live in the wealthier neighborhoods of the North (where they have most of the amenities all of us pay for -- remote for us, given the prepandemic traffic).


17 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2020 at 1:08 am

Citizen PA is a registered user.

Challenge to Liz Kniss: rezone your actual backyard first.


20 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2020 at 8:07 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Ms. Kniss painted a charming picture for Palo Alto's San Antonio Road ala Mountain View's towering 7 story metropolis,"

^ Charming? What an embellishment.

Was Ms. Kniss a residential real estate agent in another life?


6 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 18, 2020 at 10:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In your planning you need to include parking for your residents. In the current situation in South PA we have people from JCC and Oshmen directed to park in residential locations so there is more room for the "visitors" to their locations. Unfortunately the people who park here leave trash and fast food wrappers. And now leaving tissue and toilet paper. UGH!!!!! Double UGH!!!!!

I told one parker that his license plate is being recorded and if he leaves any trash than he will be reported for leaving trash. He can be penalized for that.
So all of you "parkers" and people who tell someone to park anywhere but in front of their house or place of business then your parker's behavior - which you appear to have no control over -is going to be reported.

Get your planning in process because if you contemplate any overflow to your projects then you will be on the hot seat along with the trash people. And do not assume that any one living on San Antonio is going to be on bicycles - as been pointed out that street in that location is a jam packed road rage location. That is not a bicycle friendly location.


13 people like this
Posted by Here SInce 1979
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 18, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Here SInce 1979 is a registered user.

Again, where is the water going to come from? I've lived through 3 major droughts and they weren't fun. Currently we are very close to another drought due to below average rainfall.

Water is finite. We could try to make a pact with other states to get water from them, except in the last drought they backed out of the contract because they were in trouble as well.

So which one of the developers is willing to forgo their share of the water when the next drought hits?


2 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 25, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

If this underground garage works here with all the water issues, there should be no issue whatsoever with tunneling the tracks.


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