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Palo Alto to shop around for housing proposals on downtown lots

Original post made on Dec 7, 2021

The idea of building housing on downtown parking lots hasn't always enticed Palo Alto leaders, who quickly scrapped the proposal in 2018. On Monday, however, the City Council agreed to resurrect the concept.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 1:13 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2021 at 10:41 am

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

I wholeheartedly support this effort for housing in downtown Palo Alto. If only San Jose City Council were to exercise the same progressive thinking: opposite the California Theater on 1st Street are proposed 2 20 story, >1m sq feet buildings of office space and across the street at the corner of Santa Clara and Almaden and 1st Street 1.4m of business plus parking on 2 always full parking lots. Each of these schemes seems to me to be post Covid-19 madness. Office space is passé.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2021 at 11:22 am

William Hitchens is a registered user.

I'll bet the remaining downtown merchants and their customers all over PA and surrounding communities really hate this proposal. Most people aren't willing to walk, bike, or ride a long slow shuttle to downtown. This is another "just what was the City Council thinking?!" moment. The City Council should be rethinking this proposal too, if they're capable.

Posted by MidtownMadness
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2021 at 2:45 pm

MidtownMadness is a registered user.

@William Hitchens - Why would downtown merchants hate this? I've never had too much of an issue finding parking downtown (even in peak times), before or after the retail/office landscape changed due to covid. I'm not at all convinced that we need to prioritize adding more parking. However, more downtown housing like what's proposed here will add more people just steps away from of all those merchants. People who will go past these stores and restaurants on a daily basis, and maybe even see them from their windows and be enticed to stop in to buy something, sit down for a meal, or pick up dinner on their way home. Sounds like a win for merchants.

Posted by blah
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2021 at 3:03 pm

blah is a registered user.

Of course it makes complete sense to build housing on top of parking garages given we have already enacted bans on smoking in order to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke because clearly, cars and the fumes they emit are definitely less toxic than cigarettes.

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2021 at 5:49 pm

mjh is a registered user.

"without losing any parking spaces."

But does that address the additional parking spaces that will be required for all these new residents? It's not enough to replace existing parking spaces. Almost everyone has a private car, even if they commute by other means of transport.

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2021 at 9:43 pm

Amie is a registered user.

Build HIGH-DENSITY housing downtown near transit, retail, and services - this is a brilliant plan and deserves quick and serious action. It is the only was to strengthen our retail/service core centers and create a walkable, livable community for all ages. More people living downtown = more customers and more community!

Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 7, 2021 at 10:11 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Amie: Downtown was more vital when housing density was lower than it is today, so it's not clear that increasing housing density even more will improve that situation. Maybe other factors, like insanely high rents, too many high-density offices, and the retail shift to online stores, are responsible for the deterioration.

Posted by Gail Sredanovic
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2021 at 10:18 pm

Gail Sredanovic is a registered user.

re we could use the housing but if the city keeps approving more and more offices it won't make any difference. Many residents understand this but leaders don't want to touch the third rail of city jobs/housing imbalance. The offices. Sheesh.

Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2021 at 9:10 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

One thing should be obvious to Council. Stop taking parking "in-lieu" fees which must be used to build more parking capacity. This weakens climate control efforts and restrains floundering mass transit efforts..

Palo Alto's current in-lieu fee policies guarantee displacement of commercial parking into the adjacent residential neighborhoods. These neighborhoods will be challenged sufficiently by new housing developments with minimal onsite parking requirements.

Palo Alto's current in-lieu parking incentives are Modern day Trojan Horses for least needed land use: downtown high-end office parks. And just wait for traffic congestion to rear its ugly head in 2022. How many years behind is Caltrain modernization?

Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Sunshine is a registered user.

Just make certain that you do not decrease the total number of parking spaces in downtown areas when you build more housing.
Please note that some people do not feel comfortable parking underground. No one can see what is happening where you are parked. I think it could decrease safety for residents as when you go to your car you are not visible to anyone who is not underground.

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 14, 2021 at 11:46 pm

tmp is a registered user.

What an awful idea. We don't need to cover every open area that gives one some breathing space downtown with giant towering buildings. Besides if all of the people who used to work downtown are no longer coming there, then change those buildings into housing.

This is just another developer driven scheme to cheat the taxpaying citizens out of community parking spaces so they can build for profit buildings on top of them. They make a fortune and the community has a degraded, overcrowded environment with not enough parking , too many people and has to pony up extra taxes to pay for added infrastructure and the needs of more residents. It is a lose, lose, lose for the citizens of Palo Alto.

Stop giving away our town to developers. We have stopped adding any jobs in Palo Alto (due to the moratorium on office development) and so the city is not responsible for housing the new residents that are working in Mtn. View and Menlo Park. Plus our rents are leveling out so there is more available. Rents in Palo Alto are the same as Mtn. View and Menlo Park.

Don't be fooled by developers and their payed for growth loving sycophants. Tell the city council this is a bad idea all around. Fill in empty office space and stop adding more density. Less is more to save the planet in this over-consumptive world..

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