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Palo Alto fails in attempt to appeal housing mandate

Original post made on Oct 22, 2021

Palo Alto's attempt to lower its housing mandate fell flat Friday afternoon, when the Association of Bay Area Governments swiftly and emphatically swatted down the city's appeal.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 22, 2021, 3:19 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Oct 22, 2021 at 5:39 pm

chris is a registered user.

Filseth, DuBois and Kuo

Quit wasting city resources on your fantasies and your own political purposes.

The city's resources are valuable and should not be wasted on poorly thought out ideas that have no chance.


Posted by PA Female Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2021 at 10:57 pm

PA Female Resident is a registered user.

YES! Great news! Housing is the number one stressor for so many people here. Along with anti-trust action against the mega-companies that concentrate too much wealth, we need to build as much housing as possible, and allow current housing to be adapted. Even getting rid of 20 foot setbacks, allowing 2-4 units per lot, not requiring off street parking not in the setback would help. It doesn't have to all be big buildings, though honestly I was looking at Channing House the other day and realizing - a big building doesn't have to be bad.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 23, 2021 at 10:22 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"In just eight short years, Mountain View is being asked to grow by close to 30% under a new state housing mandate that has cities across California scrambling to rezone for a spurt of residential development.

State housing officials are requiring the nine-county Bay Area to zone for at least 441,176 new housing units between 2023 and 2031, a hefty increase from prior eight-year cycles. The high growth targets are seen as a way to ameliorate the regional jobs-housing imbalance and put a dent in the high cost of housing."
Web Link

441,176 housing units = close to 1,000,000 people, mainly young techies in $4K a month "affordable" aka workforce aka market rate housing.

The same tech whales who spent big to deny gig workers benefits and a living wage backed this bill and they thank you for supporting their bill which will increase demand but not lower the prices since less than 5% of the 441,176 housing units. How great that these units will be under-parked because all these workers are early adopters who won't need cars, commuting on their broomsticks.

PS: I have a lovely bridge to sell you now that rents tank and you'll be living large. Ignore all the congestion.


Posted by panative
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2021 at 10:31 am

panative is a registered user.

Happy to see this was denied. This region will become the new rust belt if we fail to build tons more housing, and soon. Are we Palo Altans ready to see the value of our homes plummet?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 23, 2021 at 10:42 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Mountain View has a large growth in apartments in the Rengsdorff area. They also have the San Antonio buildings on the section east of El Camino - that whole area is now in construction.

Palo Alto is also in construction - homes are being upgraded and renovated with crews who come in to a house on the market and replace the whole interion with new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, exterior landscaping. One such home sold the first week of Open House. They do a great job. Hard to imagine that all of this upgrading and renovation which is going at a good price is going to tolerate a breakdown in the R-1 concept. Other cities ar putting all of their time in the areas next to Caltrain, 101, El Camino for the apartment building new growth.


Posted by Chris
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 23, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Chris is a registered user.

Do these people realize they are taking a flamethrower to the environment?

Do they realize there are too many people on Earth already?
California's out of water guys. At the same time Sacramento puts out mandatory water restrictions they are imposing mandatory population increases which is laughably ridiculous
Palo Alto is just barely over the water table. To drill into that and fill it in is SO BAD for the environment. You might as well be filling in the bay. Most of the trees in Palo Alto are dying because all the new construction has destroyed the underground rivers they use to drink.

What a joke this really is. Not a single homeless person will be housed. Peanuts will be thrown at BMRs while the true agenda of Facebook and Google will be pursued.

Just quit pretending you guys are philanthropists or something. Your credibility is below zero at this point.
This would be terrible for the environment, it will make affordability worse by far, just quit lying about it it's disgusting


Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Oct 23, 2021 at 3:51 pm

chris is a registered user.

chris to Chris,

The housing that will be built in Palo Alto will be more responsible than large sprawling houses built elsewhere.

You are distorting facts so that you can cling to plan to freeze Palo Alto in a not so environmentally friendly past.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 23, 2021 at 8:41 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@chris: For the sake of argument let's stipulate that multi-unit housing is more environmentally responsible than single-unit housing. But co-living housing is more environmentally responsible than multi-unit housing. Corporate dormitories are more environmentally responsible than co-living housing. Hot-bunked corporate dormitories are even more environmentally responsible. Eliminating population growth is more environmentally responsible than any new-housing option. Where, precisely, do you, personally, draw the line on what's mandatory and what's not? Why?


Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Oct 24, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Chris is a registered user.

The US birth rate has been running well below replacement rate for years now.
It is a red herring in the housing debate.

The moral issue that the anti-housing City Council always avoids is that Palo Alto promoted jobs in the 50s through the 90s, far outpacing the growth of housing after the 70’s. It relied on other cities to act as bedroom communities.

Palo Alto reaped the supposed benefits of the jobs, but it is unwilling to allow any substantial amount of housing, in effect forcing other communities to pick up even more of the gap created by Palo Alto.

The City Council made ridiculous arguments in its appeal that nobody outside of the ruling clique in Palo Alto accept. The Housing Element Task Force should have no problem identifying parcels that are suitable for housing in Palo Alto. Of course, the Council put its thumb on the scale by nominating certain people to the group would would love to subvert it from achieving its objective.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 24, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

What benefits? Being overrun by commuters who outnumber(ed) residents by 4:1 or 6:1 depending on which estimate you accept? Having to pay for residential parking permits and city staff to administer those programs? Having to subsidize the offices that pay no business tax and that displace resident-serving businesses? Having to listen to specious claims that densification will reduce rents and housing prices to "affordable" levels even though the new laws lack requirements for affordable/BMR housing? Having ABAG cavalierly refuse to hear appeals from local governments that a) the economy has changed due to the pandemic? b) that drought and fire risk make such unprecedented demands for growth dangerous? C) that congestion won't be a problem because everyone will ditch their cars? d) that public transportation and other infrastructure improvements aren't need to handle almost 1,000,000 new residents? e) that underparking new housing benefits neighborhoods more than developers? etc etc etc.


Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 25, 2021 at 12:36 am

Mondoman is a registered user.

I don't get it - house values would have to drop by more than 80% in Palo Alto to make houses "affordable". How is that not off the policy loony deep end?


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 25, 2021 at 9:12 am

TimR is a registered user.

Time to start thinking like a big box retailer here: stack them high, and sell them cheap!


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 25, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Chris: "It [US birth rate] is a red herring in the housing debate." Maybe so, but that's not what I asked about. I learned what I wanted to know from your reply, though, so let's move on.

"The moral issue..." From this I understand you are arguing that every political unit must have a perfect balance of jobs and housing within its geographic limits, and if it doesn't, then someone (residents, City council, employers, developers, ?) has acted immorally?

"The Housing Element Task Force should have no problem identifying parcels that are suitable for housing in Palo Alto." Here we agree. But just as in the past, if the housing people actually need in Palo Alto isn't profitable, or isn't as profitable as other investment options, developers won't build that housing here.

The previous Housing Element folks identified opportunities for thousands of units, and the RHNA process requires that they be viable possibilities (not shams), but few have actually been built. Offices are more profitable. Luxury housing is profitable enough, but the market is too small to result in many new units. Land is cheaper in neighboring cities, so it's more profitable to build in those than in Palo Alto. Funding for affordable housing is scarce. However, hiring new employees is always profitable (otherwise the companies just won't hire), and that economic difference between hiring and housing is the main reason why we have a jobs/housing imbalance in the Bay Area. The situation is different elsewhere.


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2021 at 5:57 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

It's far overdue for Palo Alto, and my city Mountain View, to tell the so-called "authorities" to shut up and go to Hell. Ignore the well-meaning fools. They must also consider Quality of Life, and for existing residents, cramming in more excessive housing and people degrades residents' deserved Quality of Life. As I see it, residents' rights are more important than the rights of people who don't live here but who want to ruin our lives. I feel really sorry for any ignorant fool who doesn't realize this. Consider not voting, nor having offspring.


Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2021 at 9:00 pm

Forever Name is a registered user.

Easy solution. Pao Alto and other cities impacted should just ignore the ABAG. Seriously. Who are these people and why are we giving them so much power over Palo Alto or any other city? Just ignore and move on.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 27, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Going down the line of responses…

@PA Female Resident: I don’t agree with all your points, but do agree with one. I made the observation about Channing House years ago, back in the Liz Kniss era. I posted that I was sure there was another site on the ‘available for building’ site map that would accommodate another Channing House size building…with some exception allowances…height limit, and casting shadows and obstructing views of the mountains to the west…in adjacent neighborhoods. I made the argument then, that I repeat now…it would not cause rental rates to drop. You’ll see why in another post below.

@ Online Name: Thanks for taking a poke at the housing advocates who haven’t thought this through. One of your comments kinda faded away…the 5% one…but I filled in the words in my mind. Sorry, you’re going to be stuck with that bridge.

@ Modoman: I understand what you’re trying to say but the fact is there are are enough people who can afford housing here that we’re not going to become a Wild West ghost town, at least not very soon. Sadly, Palo Alto has become a city of the rich and for the rich. That wasn’t the case in 1961 when we moved here. We felt differently, living down here in SPA, from our neighbors to the north, but we were all Palo Altoans, and we lived where we could afford to live. We had teachers, a gardener, secretaries, firemen, doctors, one lawyer, living in our neighborhood. .Asians, blacks, and East Indians, were our neighbors.

@ Allen Akin: You always seem to get it right. Your one point about developers only building projects that yield the highest rate of return is spot on, and building affordable housing doesn’t fit their model. Will the “affordable housing” advocates ever understand that? And I hope you’ve answered the question about PA forcing neighboring communities to provide housing for workers who work in PA every day. Cheaper land and the ability to grow out yields lower housing costs, purchase or rent. ABAG doesn’t it.


Posted by Monroe
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Monroe is a registered user.

Curiouser and curiouser (sic)
We froze jobs so now we should be able to freeze housing.
"Filseth told the ABAG committee that because of commercial restrictions that the city had adopted, it effectively stopped jobs growth even as other parts of the region are still approving job-generating commercial developments."


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 27, 2021 at 4:59 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

‘’get’ lt.


Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 28, 2021 at 7:36 am

Andy is a registered user.

We should do everything to exceed any mandates for more housing supply.

* taller structures

* mixed use

* higher density

* ADU's


Palo Alto, Mountain View can each TRIPLE their population and still have extra room if planned correctly with taller structures.

We should also allowing Stanford to build as many residential skyscrapers on their campus as needed.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 28, 2021 at 9:21 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Andy, you forgot:

* produce more water

* produce more roads to accommodate all the new people without spending a dime or taking over more land for the new roads needed

* create parking without requiring the ADUs or high-rises to have parking

* invent curbside areas for the 3 trash bins since the curbs are already jammed with overflow cars

* support mixed use with yet more offices to atrtract more people to compete for "workforce"-rate housing costing $4,000+ a month

* support the environment after cutting down all the trees and greenery

* prepare to sacrifice people since ambulances and fire trucks can't get through the jammed roads, something that the Menlo Park fire chief has complained about for years

* buy binoculars to peer into neighbors homes from your high rises, ADUs and drones. Up with voyeurs.


Posted by David Ross
a resident of Portola Valley
on Oct 28, 2021 at 10:46 am

David Ross is a registered user.

In light of these rulings by ABAG, I am grateful for the prudence of the Portola Valley Town Council in avoiding a costly appeal. Taken together, every appellants' possible grounds for appeal by PV was struck down. Our Town's decision avoided costly litigation.

I hope that Some of the Town Council's strident critics over this issue now realize that this decision was not made rashly or via a wide-ranging conspiracy as some have claimed.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 28, 2021 at 11:06 am

Online Name is a registered user.

David Ross, wonderful.

So how many housing units is Portola Valley required to build based on its jobs numbers? How many jobs are there in Portola Valley? Which big companies are in PV? What's the average lot size? How many big universities? Do you have 40% or more renters in PV?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 7, 2021 at 10:23 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Reading the SF Chronicle 11/7/21 big article about housing in SF for low income and the SF Board of Supervisors trying to stall the building in dirty parking lots. Lots of locations that are ready for renovation and no action by SF city officials. So a major city in the state is lagging purposely that has available space while beating up suburban cities. And the new appointed AG Bonta is threatening action. What a bunch of political nonsnese - beat up suburban areas while leaving the obvious big city locations sitting there untouched. Everyone - can we please get this political game straightened out? Do not allow big cities to avoid action and let the state government then beat up on suburban cities. Time to clean house in this political jungle because lack of consistency in policies is going to cause many people to not get re-elected. Bonta - get on the SF city supervisors. Suburban cities - do not let the state get away with political activites which are killing this economy. We are in political chaos and allowing it to happen.


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