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New housing bills target parking rules, commercial sites

Original post made on Aug 31, 2022

California cities would be required to abolish parking mandates in transit-rich areas and allow housing developments at sites zoned for office and retail use under bills that state legislators passed this week.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 31, 2022, 9:42 AM

Comments (37)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:29 am

Online Name is a registered user.

How ridiculous. Let's keep destroying restaurants and retail businesses. Let's keep destroying sales tax revenue.

And don't tell me that everything's gone to online shopping. Your dentist hasn't, your hairdresser hasn't, your massage place hasn't, your favorite restaurant where you meet friends hasn't....


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:54 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Like Eisenhower for massive Hwy and freeway infrastructure w eminent domain. Which destroyed swaths of USA neighborhoods. Feds must re-engineer homes for humans with said . Driving is not a right. Yet humans living with safe, healthy QUALITY shelter is — it’s not only a civil rights issue, it’s a human rights imperative. I disagree w you on this one Sen., Becker. The divide is wide. Prop 13 and the Williamson act protects private and commercial land owners and it must cease. It must be an election year!


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 31, 2022 at 11:09 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

No parking seems very short sighted


Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2022 at 11:18 am

Mama is a registered user.

Here is what’s going to happen even more than it is now. Those of us who grew up in the Bay Area are fed up with Gavin and the idiots in the California government. They will build lots of unattractive new housing, and many Californians will move somewhere else. Our state in 20 years (and happening now) will be left with only illegal immigrants and drug addicts still on the street…nice of us to give them the housing. Every time I go to gatherings all I hear is talk of where people are thinking of moving to get out of our once wonderful state.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 11:53 am

resident3 is a registered user.

"By reducing the overbuilding of parking, this bill would reduce traffic, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, reduce the cost of housing to renters and homeowners, and improve the prospects of small neighborhood businesses fighting to survive during the pandemic," wrote the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Research Association (SPUR), which supports the bill.“

Reducing the building of parking doesn’t solve the problem that there is no such thing as “transit rich” in the state.

It’s also increasingly unsafe to use public transportation.

You can’t retrofit a culture of public transportation into non-existing infrastructure. And I don’t understand the term “transit”? That doesn’t sound like anything but a station, not about actual mass transportation.

Any data about what percentage of the population uses the so called “rich transit.”?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 31, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by SR
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 31, 2022 at 1:40 pm

SR is a registered user.

We don't have any dying malls in Palo Alto. We have the San Antonio district that is close to jobs, transit, schools and parks. Convenient to Hwy 101 that'll soon be green and all electric.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Hurray! The state legislature is finally taking on the local NIMBYs."

Hurray!!!A The state legislature is finally creating more MARKET rate housing -- 85% of all new housing -- and creating more unemployment for people working retail and in restaurants -- usually those found among the 15% poor and very poor...

Thanks well-funded lobbyists -- the state and local YIMBY's, big tech and big developers for taking care of their backers while ensuring that the Peninsula is only for the elitists, the well-paid, the single techies --those who can afford $4,000 a month rent.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:10 pm

felix is a registered user.

So this seems to mean that the 382-unit proposed development at the Creekside Inn Hotel site can simply have no parking for 700 - 800 tenants because it’s on El Camino at Matadero, a transit corridor?

That “transit” is a nearly empty bus that goes by now and then, that maybe two more people will ride if this project is built. Everyone else will park their hundreds of cars in the neighborhood and on ECR.

Developers will clean up - they won’t have to spend money building parking space while spuriously claiming that - Shazam! - people will have fewer cars!

Nope.



Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:26 pm

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

Well there is an effort to get an initiative on the 2024 ballot that would return housing to local control and put an end to these legislative efforts to destroy our communities. Look for it!


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Legislators should hold off on this for a while to see how the legislation they already have passed works. Judging from the rapid pace of housing development approvals in south PA right now (with total absence of any kind of comprehensive planning), I'd say the current legislation may be sufficient. It may even be too much.

What this all amounts to is a state mandate that gives developers carte blanche, and there is no money for transportation or community service or school capacity improvements attached to it.

I will never vote for Gavin Newsom again. Sen. Becker and Assembly Member Berman, I'm starting to wonder about your judgment too. Slow down. You have made some VERY big changes that communities are struggling to manage. Watch and wait to see how it works, so you don't destroy communities.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:35 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

The El Camino VTA 522 and 22 bus lines run about every ten minutes in Palo Alto. Just the facts, please.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Where is this housing being built? San Antonio (568 hotel rooms and housing units) in an area with almost no useful transit, and extremely unsafe conditions for people who walk and bike. These new residents will drive because alternatives won't be available to them.. The housing that is being built replaces former community-serving businesses, further encouraging people to get into cars. The city and PAUSD have let Cubberley, our last publicly-owned site for school and community service capacity expansion to decay. Failure to plan seems to be a recurring theme. Residents here had to fight for a quarter century to get traffic mitigations for the last huge round of housing, research park growth. City staff, where's the Area Plan?

'El Camino actually does have pretty good bus transit with the 22 and 522 bus lines--IF you need to go where these buses go-connections are inconvenient and slow. El Camino is not a bike or pedestrian-friendly area at all. These people will also need auto parking.

If you want to see what happens to a city with this kind of sloppy, top-down leadership, visit Portland, OR. It has become the kind of place people are leaving--for good reason.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:52 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Sorry. I misread. I agree with Sen. Becker on this one.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 2:53 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

If we want to create more housing, get rid of Prop 13, the "third rail." The Dems are afraid to take this one. It is the crux of the problem.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 31, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@felix, @Consider Your Options.: The text of AB2097 reads "'Public transit' means a major transit stop as defined in Section 21155 of the Public Resources Code.". Section 21155 says "A major transit stop is as defined in Section 21064.3, except that, for purposes of this section, it also includes major transit stops that are included in the applicable regional transportation plan. For purposes of this section, a high-quality transit corridor means a corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours." Finally, section 21064.3 says "Major transit stop means a site containing an existing rail transit station, a ferry terminal served by either a bus or rail transit service, or the intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of service interval of 15 minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods."

I'm not sure exactly how to read this, but it appears to me that if Creekside doesn't qualify on the basis of the 22 alone ("high-quality transit corridor"), it qualifies by being within 1/2 mile of the El Camino / Page Mill intersection, which has multiple routes that appear to meet the 15-minute requirement during peak times ("intersection of two or more major bus routes").

The developers might decide it's not in their best interests to punt on parking altogether, but it sure looks like they could provide as little as they please. Barron Park has to take the overflow.

If you live in Barron Park, you might want to consider requesting a permit parking district.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2022 at 3:27 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"If we want to create more housing, get rid of Prop 13, the "third rail." The Dems are afraid to take this one. It is the crux of the problem."

Are you also going to end Prop 13 for businesses? They "live" longer than residential owners and don't seem to reduce rents given the low low low property taxes they've been paying for a long time, thus reducing the share of taxes they pay in Palo Alto (and elsewhere) while claiming they can't afford to pay their fair share.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 3:36 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Dumb thinking.

Loma Verde has street parking for the underparked housing on Bayshore. Those cars are there every day and even the streetsweeper can't sweep the streets! That is what happens where there is not enough parking in a development.

Then there is the incentives to EVs, yet if people can't park and charge overnight in their own parking space they won't get an EV if they have to park on a neighboring stret.

Does the government at any level actually have any common sense?


Posted by Mark Mollineaux
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 31, 2022 at 4:06 pm

Mark Mollineaux is a registered user.

@Bystander

I recommend simply disallowing cars from parking on the street in Loma Verde, this will allow the streetsweeper to do their job and have the benefit of producing less traffic


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2022 at 4:13 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@Online name,

"Are you also going to end Prop 13 for businesses? They "live" longer than residential owners and don't seem to reduce rents given the low low low property taxes they've been paying for a long time, thus reducing the share of taxes they pay in Palo Alto (and elsewhere) while claiming they can't afford to pay their fair share."

True, home owners die or move. Business lobbyists don't, and they own City Hall.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2022 at 10:40 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Yes. Of course, I would include businesses--the biggest beneficiaries of Prop 13. They poured money into the campaign to pass this regressive legislation, snookering the public.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2022 at 11:05 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@SteveDabrowski, you said, "Well there is an effort to get an initiative on the 2024 ballot that would return housing to local control and put an end to these legislative efforts to destroy our communities. Look for it!"

Please elaborate.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 2, 2022 at 11:48 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Online Name: The one I've heard about is Our Neighborhood Voices ( Web Link ). The original intent was to get it on the ballot this year, but COVID interfered with building the in-person part of the effort.

In short, the initiative amends the constitution so that local land-use decisions override any conflicting measures implemented by the State, with certain exceptions (for example, Coastal protection).


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Annette is a registered user.

It's worth keeping in mind that the housing laws are passed by people who have graduated from real life and entered the world of theory. Putting housing near transit makes sense. Theoretically. But transit is woefully lacking in CA outside of a few large urban areas. Try taking CalTrain from SF to a job in Palo Alto that isn't on or near University or Cal Ave. Even when there was a shuttle, the "last mile" added time, expense, and hassle. Stashing a bicycle at one of the stations might work - in good weather and IF it doesn't get stolen.

Do our legislators even bother to think about the big picture? Multiple times this week we have been warned to conserve energy so that the State doesn't have to "initiate power outages to maintain system power". Additionally, there's an extreme water resource deficit. Forget YIMBY and NIMBY. These are real infrastructure issues for every Californian; our own inconvenient truths. And yet our legislators and governor pass laws that suggest that they believe new development is the only way to address the self-inflicted housing shortage. How about repurposing existing but under-utilized development? Or tackling the ghost house problem that reduces housing inventory? Or relocating jobs? Or adding public transportation that makes transit-oriented an actuality? Or queuing up new housing development applications until existing housing is at least 80% occupied. For a look at housing development gone amok, just read about China's Evergrande.

There's enough housing legislation on the books right now. I agree w/the suggestion that we should wait to see what works (and what doesn't). It's time we pulled our heads out of the sand and faced the hard facts about what is smart and what is stupid. Frankly, I think it is time for CA cities to spine up and tell the legislators that the RHNA numbers are unrealistic and that they should get working on critical infrastructure issues.


Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:37 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Well said, Annette!

The city should enforce Airbnb laws. Many houses in Palo Alto are exclusively used as Airbnb, "hotel" rentals.

I have one across the street from me. The owner has moved overseas and now only rents the three-bedroom house on Airbnb because they can get more money.
This means there is one less house for local families to rent.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:51 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Absolutely, Annette!

It's totally absurd that PA's ridiculous housing targets are based on jobs numbers from BEFORE the pandemic and that the state refuses to consider the drought and fire risks while demanding that current residents reduce our water consumption even more.

And what is PA doing about Stanford's never-ending expansion and the way it continues to remove needed housing from our tax rolls WHILE refusing to house its own community on its own campus? Always glad to help poor impoverished Stanford.

Remember to take public transit but too bad the transit parking lots have been converted to housing because it's "transit rich"

Silly me. Stanford's claims that adding millions of sq feet of buildings and tens toousands of people won't add a single car trip while it continues to sing the popular "No New Car Trips" ditty adopted by Casti and others.

Another PA miracle.


Posted by Ryan
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 6:59 pm

Ryan is a registered user.

We actually need LESS housing in the Bay Area, not more. Too much crowding, pollution, noise. Build more open spaces, parks, nature preserves. Quality of life is more important than pollution.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2022 at 3:35 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Resident3 Rich transit are those that can afford a Prius and a Tesla. It's remains cheaper to drive in 20 year-old cars to get to low-paying jobs or errands or shopping Even with inflation and fuel prices, caltrain, VTA, city buses are more expensive over driving SOV for VMTraveled adding to green house affect. So when the city plans to install 2000 units in a public transit desert, as Johnny come Lait(ley) and fake Fillseth said, residents can easily "hop" on the HWY 101 to all the jobs South of the Border, and outside of PA. The city is about to loose millions in tax credits because of their Libertarian slants. Grossly. To make up for the massive revenue loss, they penalize children and raise to the Junior Museum entrance fees . What else is new???


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2022 at 3:41 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@ryan and how might California and the Bay Area offset the 200,000 unhoused families, individuals and teenagers who have lived here for generations. And who did not take a job in the 1990's tech rich sector or get lucky with government job security? The Bay Area is coming up way short on quality of life where tents line train corridors, freeway underpasses, creek beds, and most likely your neighborhood's corner lot. All of us have to get our heads out of the Bay sands. Yes ginormous housing hole is "the inconvenient truth" California is not confronting and only layering old band-aids on, over and over again.


Posted by Stepheny
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:08 am

Stepheny is a registered user.

Chile's recent elections should serve as a cautionary tale for California's politicians as well as nationally: Web Link Voters resoundingly rejected government provided housing, food and medical care. Chilean voters still believe that people should work for what they get. They believe that you can't always live where you would like to live.. You have to earn it.

Newsom backtracked on "safe injection sites" for drug users and other extreme left ideas, but he and the likes of our State Assemblyman Berman and State Senator Josh Becker still push dense housing so that everyone who wants to live here can. They believe in providing housing for the homeless without any expectation of those being taken care of by the community giving back to the community. I -- and an increasing number of other voters -- don't.

Most immigrants come here for the opportunity for a better life and most of them believe it has to be earned.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Stephany are you being sardonic? Chile also criminalizes and out laws abortion health care services for women and their Colonial Roman Catholic Church oppresses the masses. Chile has seen some of the most severe human rights violations on Earth, killings, kidnappings, disappearances for those fighting against oppression. I hope you are being ironic?! Let's never forget Pinoche mass coup that killed many thousands of humans and has cost generations of people to live in fear.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Stephany are you being sardonic? Chile also criminalizes and out laws abortion health care services for women and their Colonial Roman Catholic Church oppresses the masses. Chile has seen some of the most severe human rights violations on Earth, killings, kidnappings, disappearances for those fighting against oppression. I hope you are being ironic?! Let's never forget Pinoche mass coup that killed many thousands of humans and cost generations of people to live in fear of a totally corrupt system of fear and humiliation.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Cities like Palo Alto gave up the controls of the city a long time ago when its last Century infrastructure refused to confront the "an inconvenient truth". Not addressing a housing shortage 40 years ago. All so that exclusive property values could rise and rise and rise above those human lives being pushed out in exchange for the capital dollar amount of the dirt. Julia Morgan designed a community house in another neighbor town. Once it was moved to its current locale of Palo Alto on a transit corridor its dollar value has increased exponentially. Not for the sake of her history as an architect for social good, or as a benefit to the entire community, but for real estate value of "location, location, location". Her legacy is no longer about any that, Ms. Holman. It's all, land value! If it were truly about the legacy of her and the building itself, it would easily fit into an affordable housing schematic, near transit, for all people and the climate ready change now upon us.


Posted by Please Don't
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 11, 2022 at 6:40 pm

Please Don't is a registered user.

There is literally no such thing as "transit rich" in the bay area. As long as there is "open space" there is no "transit rich". This is very funny article. NPR did a good piece on this subject.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 12, 2022 at 1:22 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

And today we learn from various articles that apartment construction has declined more than $58% from San Francisco to San Jose. Does anyone pay attention to the contradictions when they're virtue signaling and preaching that we need more housing? Does anyone notice that most of the rent-controlled apartment complexes have been sold off to create more unaffordable housing?

But hey, let's ignore reality and kill off some more businesses by eliminating parking and reducing sales tax revenues. Then the cities can plead poverty and the pro-density lobbyists can say, "See. No housing here. Give us more money so we can keep lobbying."


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2022 at 8:25 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Retail serves a lot of important functions, and retail centers act like de facto community gathering places. The last thing we want is to Matrix-ize our cities. Online commerce serves important functions but so does local commerce.

Online commerce was given a tax holiday, as I recall, to help it get established. Now that the state has this big surplus, it should give local retail a similar tax holiday. If people didn’t have to pay tax by shopping locally for awhile, they’d rediscover retail. At the very least this would reduce shipping waste.

Local downtowns and retail serve such an important function, I wish the state would help localities buy the land under those downtowns to stabilize costs long term. Think about it: the only reason cities can afford to have schools, parks, and fire houses is that they own the land. We need to realize that this applies to having useful local retail centers, too.


Posted by Eeyore
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2022 at 8:41 am

Eeyore is a registered user.

It should also be noted that climate change studies show that the San Antonio housing plan, including Fabien and Louis are slated to be under water in our lifetimes. I guess we could just expand Bay Ferries to mean “transit adjacent”.

Newsome will be gone soon and this madness will fade. His ambitions extend well beyond California.


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