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Facing concerns from College Terrace, city looks to reassert commitment to single-family housing zones

Original post made on Apr 7, 2021

Since Palo Alto launched the "planned home zone" last year to encourage more housing, it has seen a steady uptick both in developer interest and in neighborhood anxieties. On Monday, the council plans to refine its newest zoning tool.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 3:51 PM

Comments (13)

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2021 at 5:19 pm

mjh is a registered user.

Gennady Sheyner writes, "the council plans to step into the debate by narrowing the intentionally wide parameters of the planned home zone"

My understanding at the time was that council's intention was for the new "PHZ" to replace the old "PC" designation to broaden and encourage building housing were it was not previously permitted.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2021 at 6:36 pm

ALB is a registered user.

So why was PC zoning tabled in the past? The public was outraged by the 27 University Avenue (Arriaga Proposal), 395 Page Mill Road project and the Maybell development which was stopped by referendum. I remember well the council chambers when the Arriaga project was pitched. The chambers was bursting with public attendees. You could hear a pin drop. Fast forward to the council of 2020, under the direction of Mayor Fine, where the zoning was resurrected under the new moniker PHZ. Enter CATO LLC who has never met with the community to explain their dense apartment complex plan. This project is not affordable housing. It would require the city to scrap R1 zoning for PHZ. Now all of the city of Palo Alto would be targeted under PHZ should the council approve the zoning change for this Trojan Horse. Thankfully we have a council who will listen to the recently appointed housing element group and to residents both renters and home owners. We need strong standards. Yes we need affordable housing. The planning staff perpetuates the myth that housing can only be built with office. That is not true. BTW Palo Alto is awash with vacant office spaces.The council needs to avoid spot zoning and focus on the grand picture to include strong and defined zoning standards. I hope they all remember the community's reaction to earlier PCs and the annulled proposals rejected in the past.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 7, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"The planning staff perpetuates the myth that housing can only be built with office. That is not true."

Not true and it goes against the intent of the voters/ taxpayers. Several years ago more than 3,000 signed the ballot initiative petition to cap office space. Many who signed the petition wanted a total ban, not a cap.

Plus common sense says when residents are already over-run /out-numbered by commuters 4:1 that you stop digging and adding more workers which will only push up housing prices for all.

Posted by Carol
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 7, 2021 at 8:16 pm

Carol is a registered user.

Thank you Lydia Kuo, Tom Dubois, Pat Burt and Greer Stone to keep College Terrace as a residential neighborhood, safe for all families and students!

Posted by sunnypa
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 8, 2021 at 8:10 am

sunnypa is a registered user.

Wouldn’t this proposal on Wellesley still keep College Terrace as a residential neighborhood?? What are the College Terrace residents afraid of?? Lowering their home values? Opening up their neighborhood to lower income residents so as not to tarnish their wealthy cookie cutter suburb with a 3-story building?

This is crazy. We’re in 2021 after all. About time we open up our neighborhoods to allow for all those who contribute to our Palo Alto lifestyle to actually afford to live here. I say let the building be built. College Terrace is just steps away from El Camino with a gas station on the corner. What is the big deal about a residential building in its streets? This screams elitism to me.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2021 at 9:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

A resident of SU is accusing other neighborhoods of all type discriminatory activity. WOW - SU totally controls the building of housing on it's properties. SU picks and chooses where single family housing is built and where other housing for students and families live. Do not sit on SU property and lecture other neighborhoods. The single family housing is carved out, protected, and is a good example of elitism..

If SU would so choose they would section off a piece of property for the people who live in RV's that work at SU - maybe back by the Maintenance section. that would satisfy the rant on discriminatory housing.

One really well done housing section is the SU West apartments which are off Sand Hill Road. Those are for lease. SU is controlled environment. If you live in a controlled environment then do not lecture other neighborhoods that want a controlled environment.

Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 8, 2021 at 10:22 am

Carol Scott is a registered user.

I hope several thoughtful people will write letters to the editor of the Weekly with well-informed and differing views of what this all means. I would really like to see some good discussion of what the changes really mean and
the pros and cons of what is being proposed.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Carol. R u suggesting that multi family housing is unsafe? The only unsafe neighbor are attitudes like yours, Klaus “residential” parking lifts fall into this category too. Q: Can someone give a definition difference between a “developer” and a developer? Hot button knee jerk agitative words, thrown out like the difference between a conservationist and a environmentalist. Where is our housing Julia Butterfly? Oh yeah they are living in tents under HWY84 and banks of local creeks. I believe Alta housing falls into one of the above “developer” definitions. This is no housing test. However. Creating poor people’s hamlets in ugly, unhealthy sections along the Bayshore, ECR and San Antonio is not a answer — only a quik fix solution to a problem created 50 years ago with P13, and a massive ongoing crisis up into the next Century. Trust and hope in a Neighborhood’s “character and charm” kills society, community preservation & responsibilities in a larger context. In other words: it’s a phrase used to psychological assassinate progress using metaphoric racist firing squads. Or rather killing the elephant in the room. Denial of a self inflicted (city of affordable PA housing crisis) wound does not make the boo boo all better! My teenaged son (which the city is behaving immaturely like)would call this draconian reaction to — the anti housing people movement — as hiding behind a bunch of, “Karens”!

Posted by Seer
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Apr 8, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Seer is a registered user.

I remember when the brave neighbors who defeated Senior housing at Briones park so that they could put in a couple of $5M homes instead, affordable by like F10 and above levels at Google (moreover, buyer beware, I went through those homes and they didn't use quality stuff in the details -- lighting, light, counter ...).

Now, half a mile walk from the train station, across the street from an existing apartment building, we simply cannot have another apartment building.

I also think it is really wise (NOT!) that DuBois and Kou are getting involved in the economics of housing proposals, they don't want office space mixed with housing. This mixing makes for more vibrant neighborhoods, but anyhow, I don't think politics should micro-manage the economics of the firms whom might actually build more housing in Palo Alto.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 8, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

It makes it more "vibrant" sticking offices in residential neighborhoods?? Sure, if you like "vibrant" battles over limited parking and being over-run by even more commuters and all the delivery trucks, janitors etc. servicing those offices at non-peak -- aka EARLY and LATE -- hours!

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2021 at 11:14 pm

tmp is a registered user.

We don't need any more office space until there is parity between jobs and housing. None at all. And we do not need to destroy the lives of current residents of Palo Alto by cramming in dense development that will further overcrowd this area.

It is OK to say that an environment is full, we are at maximum capacity, we don't need to keep polluting the air and water and ground with more people and more waste. The only housing that should be built is low income housing and we know that developers are not interested in that because they want to make money.

The city needs to look for government money/grants to build affordable housing and stop taking any meetings with developers who either want to build office space that will add jobs we don't need or market rate housing that will overcrowd our community.

We also need to fight Sacramento where the representatives seem to be in the pockets of developers and trying to force cities to approve 6 to 8 homes on a lot. (See bills 8 and 9 this year).

Crazy overdevelopment that is destroying the planet needs to come to an end and our city can fight it.

Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2021 at 1:36 am

Greenacres is a registered user.

Neighbors didn’t defeat Sf housing or put up $5M homes-a for-profit developer enabled by the City did. Affordable housing could’ve been built @Maybell if City & alleged housing advocates hadn’t been pigheaded&vindictive. If City had allowed neighbors a working group AS THEY ASKED, they would’ve worked for affordable housing, but without the 60% FOR-PROFIT 3-story stovepipe houses (~as many as now).

Same neighbors 20 years prior in almost identical development battle bulldozing Terman School for apts, got a working group & rejected a for-profit development, saved school & got affordable housing built. Neighbors asked again at Maybell in City mtgs. If they hadn’t been vilified&ignored, all citizens could have come together as 20 years prior to make affordable housing happen @Maybell.
Internal neighborhood survey prior to referendum found favored land use was preserve historic orchard. Same survey found neighbors’ preferred DEVELOPED use was affordable housing. If City had treated neighbors in S PA the same as in N PA at Alma, Maybell would be affordable housing today.

CITY COULD HAVE RETAINED ORCHARD (FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL) & ALLOWED A WORKING GROUP TO GET AFFORDABLE HOUSING THERE AS AT TERMAN. The false narrative about Maybell is politicized disinformation for sake of rich developers/virtue signaling. The CITY decided to sell it to a for-profit developer rather than keep it for park or affordable housing. Neighbors asked for City to at least not sell it for 12-18 months to put together a plan.

If referendum had gone differently at Maybell, BV Mobile Home Park could never have been saved, because big for-profit developer in partnership w/owner would’ve demolished it, scattered residents to the winds like @President Hotel & put in dense mostly luxury apts. But just after referendum result, big developer pulled out & no one took their place because of referendum result (no densifying). Protecting zoning was an essential aspect of SAVING affordable housing at BV.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2021 at 10:27 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In the SJM Sunday Real Estate section is a full page add for PA's newest neighborhood - Orchard Park. The homes are starting in the mid $4M. So high cost housing won out over Affordable Housing. That is the Maybell location - a subject of a lot of discussion. A lot of talk. but the end results are in now.

We still have not seen any finalization on the Fry's site - waiting for that shoe to drop. A lot of wrangling in process in the general area of Park.

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