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Could future housing be built in Stanford Research Park?

Original post made on Mar 24, 2022

Palo Alto's plan for adding over 6,000 residences in the next eight years came into focus on Monday, when the City Council debated and ultimately accepted a list of sites that could accommodate the housing growth.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 24, 2022, 9:09 AM

Comments (30)

Posted by RPopp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:07 am

RPopp is a registered user.

"I am in protest of the allocation and I cannot support a housing element plan that has flawed methodology," Kou said.

So Kou's strategy is to just stick her head in the sand like an ostrich and hope that it goes away? What kind of leadership approach is that? Is this really our next Mayor? I sure hope not. Like it or not, the RHNA obligation exists. If our Council does not adapt the process to get us the housing we are required to produce, SB35 rules will allow for State-level control - ARB review and local zoning regulations will be pushed aside. At least others were on the right track in this discussion.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:27 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks heavens Ms Kou is standing up to the deep-pocketed developers and big tech. It's high time that Stanford bears the cost of its huge, never-ending expansion WHILE insulting our intelligence by telling us for decades that its huge growth hasn't added a single car trip to our city streets. Yea, right. Want a nice bridge, too?

The methodology for sticking us with this huge housing target is ridiculously flawed although those profiting from those targets would have us believe that adding 6,000 homes to PA this year and 2,000,000 more people to the Bay Area over the next few years is a wonderful thing -- except for the fact that we're in the middle of an historic drought! Just ignore that.

Also, just once, I'd love to see Mr. Tanaka --who's running to replace Eshoo -- stop advocating for business and "startups" and start advocating for his consistutents and our quality of life. I'd also like thinner thighs and world people -- which are just as likely as Tanaka and Cormack backing residents.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:31 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Forward thinking, strategic, comprehensive planning would be useful right about now. Where is the vision for how this rolls out with all of the supporting infrastructure it will need? Put the Dept. of Planning and Office of Transportation back together so they will work together.

Our current residential population is approximately 67k who live in roughly 26k households. 6k new households is roughly a 23% increase in the number of households in our community. (Looks like mostly in the south part of town with less infrastructure to support it.) Looks like it will be mostly in the south in the very short term. What is the PLAN for meeting the transportation, school, recreation, utilities , safety needs/demands of these additional residents? How will that plan be funded? When? How?


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

RPopp is a local architect.


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 24, 2022 at 1:05 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

What a sad, ignominious fate for Stanford Industrial Park. Affordable housing? Meh!


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

First point. When the JCC built homes on Fabian/Meadow/San Antonio, we were told that there would be transit to accommodate the residents and the visitors to the facility. That did not happen and there are signs all around the facility at entrances to office parking lots that no JCC event parking is allowed. In other words, parking is a real problem at Fabian already and since there is no suitable public transit options for residents already as well as high trafficked streets, more planning about transit/traffic/parking must be done.

Second point. Does anyone else feel concerned about housing at faith based institutions? Which institutions? What happens when these institutions are full on say Sunday mornings and people can't park? What happens when these institutions make noise, from singing and other activities, will the new residents complain? In other words, let us know exactly what putting 148 units in faith based institutions means as so many of these are in residential neighborhoods where parking, noise and traffic are already issues to the existing neighbors without adding more residents into the mix.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Stanford Research Park needs to be in play. I'm really encouraged to see Mayor Burt make this point.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

When we say Stanford Industrial Park, I assume we are not including the open space. I understand the open rolling hills land was donated to Stanford University for open space. If this IS correct (what I was told when I moved out here as a kid in the ‘70’s) then it must not be commercially developed or filled with mass housing. Look out for fingers of earthquake faults, too, I bet.
I get that Scott Wiener, ABAG, etc. wish to punish Palo Alto (incredibly) for it’s success as a major education, Tech and high quality jobs suburban city. That doesn’t mean the City of Palo Alto and residents, businesses here should agree with this ridiculousness.
Adding higher density housing along El Camino Real
(ALL ALONG it from South SF to Santa Clara) makes immense sense.
Trying to shoehorn in an overly costly to the taxpayer “development” in church property here and there in Palo Alto or out in rolling hills with fire risk makes NO sense.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:01 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

So many comments on this, pros and cons, and yet it's left me with a headache, trying to figure them out...and I watched some of the CC meeting on Monday. I'm going to read the article and comments again, then go offline to write/draft my comment. I've experienced too many failures of hitting the wrong button, or my comments just getting mysteriously dropped from the string of comments after I spent so much time writing them.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:01 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Anonymous: SRP is mostly east of Foothills Expressway (there's also a chunk between Foothills and Arastradero). The zoning map is here Web Link and the pages you need are mainly 8, 11, and 14 (with a little bit on 15). This area was annexed by Palo Alto in the '50s.

I like the idea of housing in SRP because land is available, you can build without disrupting existing neighborhoods, you can build housing close to jobs (if you think the arguments for that are convincing), you can leverage existing parking and transportation infrastructure, and you can use the land to improve the jobs/housing imbalance rather than making it worse.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:04 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Firstly GS, reporter, I am not entirely sure Burt and Filseth were on the same page. Filseth came back w tail between his legs after opining micro units at ROL / GM HEWG sites. And this after turning down bikeways grant in the very GM sites now a transit desert and toxic carbon fumes, dust as well as industrially worrisome sites as this. Filseth’s elitist R1 protectionism is bordering on BLDM black lives don’t matter or for families or low wage workers or anything else that demonstrates a sound, inclusive community. Tanaka since when was Palo Alto NOT a bedroom community ? Kou when running for her seat did not know what track grade separation was … Why was DuBois absent? A conflict of interest. Then $900 k returned in grant funding for the very ROLM / GM sites proposed ! Please read “A Confederacy of Dunces”. And GS do your research and write with some teeth in the reporting and journalistic way you were schooled in. As of now your write up are editorial in nature . Our housing woes and wars are real. As those on the brink of losing it or unhorsed are one landlord complain from hitting the gutters and factually dying in the cold, frigid Palo Alto nights — yes in R1 zones. Just because we can.t build there does not prevent the loss of human life outside a R1 single family home zone. Do the work you get a paycheck to do , report and not opine.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:25 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I voted for most of the sitting CC members. I respect and honor those others I didn't vote for and that I don't agree with on some...bump that up to many...issues, but not all of them. Thank you for your dedicated service in supporting your constituencies, even though they may not be mine or agree with mine. I speak from my background as a lucky SPA homeowner from the 60's. Don't mess with my neighborhood


Posted by KOhlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2022 at 5:01 pm

KOhlson is a registered user.

Hospitals, schools, roads, utilities, public safety. None of these support existing population. We can only hope these are part of The Plan.


Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 24, 2022 at 9:51 pm

Andy is a registered user.

these are positive steps but this is an opportunity to think bolder, taller to triple the number of housing units...

* go taller
* include underground parking
* make ALL commercial, industrial areas mixed use
* incentivize and fast track ADU's

Palo Alto could easily add 50,000 housing units in 2 years if it removed all obstacles.

Every community should do the same.


Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 24, 2022 at 10:14 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

I certainly haven't done any research on this, but what's stopping us from building a dozen 8-10 story apartment buildings on some of PA's parking lots in the downtown area, with underground parking garages? At 150+ units each, that would get us 2000+ new units. There are already tall buildings in that area.


Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:23 pm

chris is a registered user.

Mondoman,

In order to build buildings taller than 50 feet, the city has to change its zoning. Note that the taller buildings you see were built more than 50 years ago, when the voters revolted against the building of more taller buildings. The city needs to go back to the future.


Posted by RPopp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 25, 2022 at 11:26 am

RPopp is a registered user.

@Consider Your Options. - Yup. You are correct. I'm indeed an Architect - and one who is in favor of smart local zoning and capable local review. The lack of momentum in housing construction is frightening and if we do not start to incentivize developers to build the units we are obligated to produce (PA Council fought and lost that argument already) we will see SB 35 invoked. This will mean no design review and the maximum limitations in the local zoning can be achieved without subjective restriction. Ministerial rapid approval of projects until the quantity is achieved.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 25, 2022 at 11:59 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The city needs to go back to the future."

The city and state need to go back to reality. Where will the Bay Area put another 2,000,000 more people and millions of sq feet of office buildings that are being bought up at record prices to attract more jobs, more people, more congestion??

Good thing none of the 2,000,000+ will consume water and flush toilets; good thing none of the 2,000,000+ will add a single car to the roads and impede fire engines and ambulances from getting through, something that the Menlo Park fire chief said YEARS ago was a serious life-threatening risk since his crews couldn't get through.

But hey, let's ignore reality because the big tech, big developers and lobbyists need to thrive; forget about the rest of us and our quality of life.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 25, 2022 at 4:57 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Mondoman: Building tall costs more per square foot. If your goal is simply to squeeze as many people as possible into a given area of land, then building tall makes sense. If your goal is to make housing more affordable, then building tall doesn't make sense.

The Terner Center has a series of articles with very detailed explanations. This one is a good place to start: Web Link "Type I projects, which are typically over 5-7 stories and constructed with steel and concrete, cost an average of $65 more per square foot than other types of construction..."


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2022 at 5:02 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

Look at the large piece of property on El Camino across from the PAMF. That is a huge piece of property filled with trees. A whole section of housing could be put in that space - but it would go to SU employees. But that still puts us ahead of the game. It could go further back from the road and tastefully done.
Becker needs to put some pressure on SU since they have the most open land. There seems to be some assumption that PA is suppose to provide housing for employees of SU and that needs to be put out there as unacceptable - or at least open to negotiation.


Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 25, 2022 at 5:41 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

@Allen Akin Thanks for the info! Yes, I was concerned with number of units only. The "affordable" housing horse left the barn already more than 3 decades ago in Palo Alto and won't be coming back. If we want to tax ourselves to build a pittance of "affordable" units that in reality mostly aren't, that's fine. There's no shame in being a town with mostly "unaffordable" housing, though.


Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 25, 2022 at 6:28 pm

Paly Grad is a registered user.

The population of Santa Clara County decreased by an estimated 2.6% from 2020 to 2021:

Web Link

We may not need as much new housing as ABAG is asking for.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 25, 2022 at 7:10 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Paly Grad, please join the rest of us who keep trying to tell ABAG that but -- like fire and drought -- they refuse to consider the impact of remote work in their equations and will automatically and reflexively reject your logic,

It can't hurt to keep reminding them though -- just so they know we're not as dumb and/or ill-informed as they apparently think.

Some might call their refusal to consider any and all reasons biased, illogical, unrealistic, ... but I've got a few other choice words for what it could be called but since this a family publication...


Posted by StephenM
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 26, 2022 at 8:45 pm

StephenM is a registered user.

@anonymous: Just to clear up a misconception: The foothills lands are part of the original Stanford property that the Stanfords deeded to the University without any constraints other than not selling it.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2022 at 11:06 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Basically, PA was under the gun to identify potential housing sites to accommodate RHNA’s mandate, passed down via ABAG, which in my mind, was supported by very bad legislation at the state level in Sacramento. Credit goes to the city's Housing Element Working Group, its Planning and Transportation Commission, city staff, and our CC. They put in a lot of time and effort to come up with the numbers to satisfy the housing element report that’s due in January. They got the job done…on paper. I could poke holes in some of the ideas, but not very many. History has shown that we’ve done a very bad job in providing housing for the two bottom tier income levels. I see no sign that that will improve this time around. I’ve said, and supported for many years, the idea of raising height limits. I cited two examples of existing housing that far exceeded that limit…Channing House and Palo Alto 101 (on Alma). I remember being impressed with Palo Alto 101 on our first drive into Palo Alto in 1961. I still wonder if there was ever a fuss made from neighbors living in its shadows and not being able to see those beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains and sunsets to the west.
More housing can only happen when there are willing partners to allow it to happen. The profit margins have to be there to satisfy the goals of property owners, developers, and construction companies. They are enterprises, private or public funded (through stock ownership)…they are in business to make money. Palo Alto is not in that business. Stack up all their goals together and there will be very little chance of low income housing being built…unless…we, the taxpayers (taxes in all its ugly forms), are willing to pay for it.
If all these mandates ever become a reality in PA, it will have destroyed the desire and excitement of owning a home in Palo Alto, and the fabric of what makes a community. It will add nothing to the neighborhoods or the neighborliness of its residents, the very thing that drew us here initially.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2022 at 11:18 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Single family homes were affordable when we bought ours in 1963, in South Palo. My wife didn’t work and I was just starting my career as an engineer with only a BSEE degree. To meet the actual goal of providing (not just planning for) housing It will become a city whose new resident members will be composed primarily of singles, maybe couples…mostly tech workers or professionals, making high (6 digit) incomes, and living in very small units, not in single family homes in neighborhoods like mine. Most of those married couples who have aspirations of raising a family and owning a home on a nice lot with space for a patio and playground equipment, will still be commuting long distances from across the Bay or from communities far south of Palo Alto. Since there won’t be many families with kids it might not be as big a burden on our schools as some have argued, but on the other hand, there won’t be any interest for supporting schools either…and all the issues related to them, including funding.

It’s all bad news for Palo Alto, as a community, if the state’s only goal is to provide shelter and a bed, a bathroom, a minimal kitchen, a closet, and a combo (family room/den/living room/dining area) in 250-350 square feet of space.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 27, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Every day there's a new article about housing speculators / hedge funds buying up affordable housing -- trailer parks, apartment complexes, residence hotels etc -- and then forcing out tenants who've lived there for decades. This is what happened to the President Hotel here in Palo Alto.

Instead of blaming the "Nimby's" like the deep-pocked lobbyists for YIMBY, Peninsula For Everyone, etc etc and all their spinoffs love to do, how about CA doing something to STOP / limit this type of speculation??

You'll recall that when Zillow was forced out of the flipping game and was limited to proving information, their stock dropped like a rock because there's HUGE money in speculation.

Housing speculation is at 20% of the entire market and rising rapidly. Pay attention.


Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2022 at 4:50 pm

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

The real and only answer to all this nonsense is to pass a proposition, that is intended for the 2024 election, placing zoning and housing decisions back into local control. This initiative was slated for the 2022 ballot but time is too short for the necessary signatures to get it there.

If our city leaders really had the interests of Palo Alto's citizens at heart they would support this process in a highly visible way and work with other cities to do the same and ensure that people know it exists and where they can sign up.

This would put an end to, and overrule, the state mandated construction and make ABAG an advisory entity with no enforcement power.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 29, 2022 at 6:03 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Time to wrangle our local legislators. They are the people that are approving all of the legislation that supports minimalist housing. They are working their career goals. I am not convinced that they actually believe all of the hype they produce - but are just working the system to stay in the game. If their career goals are counter to common sense then let's point it out and challenge them to answer to the obvious pitfalls of overloading the city's ability to manage increased demands on the utility systems, natural water availability, and the supposed "transportation" that is suppose to move people around. Hwy 101 is a pitfall of very bad road management. Can't point to that to say the state is "doing something".

We still need to manage the discussion of the extent of open land on SU that belongs to them. If they build then that means increased demand on the utility system.

If the total systems are just a memo on some supposed budget item that never actually gets done then let's point that out. Too many of the state systems are managed by incompetent people.


Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2022 at 1:22 pm

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

Perhaps we might rethink the purpose of ABAG. It might actually be more useful to reverse their charter to (instead of projecting ever increasing housing needs for a never ending growth of population) looking at the optimal size of each community and then issuing mandates as to the maximum number of jobs that can be offered in each one. I suspect we would see some significant reductions if all was honestly done. Life here would be a lot better.


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