Uploaded: Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 9:40 am
Measure D opponents hang tough in cash battle
Despite being heavily outspent by developer, 'No on D' campaign enjoys best fundraising month
With Election Day just around the corner, the nonprofit looking to build a bitterly contested housing development on Maybell Avenue has further widened its fundraising lead over the project's opponents by injecting another $60,000 into its political campaign.
According to campaign-finance data submitted Thursday, both the proponents and opponents of Measure D have greatly expanded their campaign coffers, receiving close to $20,000 each in contributions. The numbers show the "Yes on D" camp maintaining its wide fundraising edge, with more than $180,000 raised this year. Of this sum, $110,000 came from the developer, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation.
But the finance data also spells some good news for the project's opponents, who have seen their campaign coffers nearly triple in the final weeks before Election Day thanks to larger checks from residents of Barron Park and beyond. With the latest slew of donations, opponents of the City Council's decision to rezone the Maybell site to accommodate the project now have nearly $28,000 in the bank. Just a month ago, they had less than $7,600.
While the biggest difference between the project opponents, Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning and the proponents, Palo Altans for Affordable Senior Housing, is the Housing Corporation's $60,000 contribution, the "Yes on D" campaign has also received checks from numerous housing advocates, elected officials and local nonprofits. These include a $2,500 check from David Dunlop, a $1,000 check from the League of Women Voters, $4,500 from Sunshine Quality Services and $2,000 from Eden Housing, the developer of the recently built affordable-housing complex at 801 Alma Street. Councilman Larry Klein contributed $500 in the past month, while Councilwoman Gail Price kicked in another $150.
For opponents, almost all of the recent contributions came from individuals (the only exception is a $500 check from the law firm Inspiralaw). The largest contributions came from Lucy Yuan, who gave $5,000 to the campaign and from Laszlo Tokes, who gave $3,000. Joseph Hirsch, John Elman and Grace Wu each contributed $1,000 to the "No on D" campaign. The group's treasurer, Timothy Gray, contributed $400 in the latest period, which goes from Sept. 22 to Oct. 21.
The list of contributors to the "No on D" campaign also suggests that while the epicenter of opposition remains Barron Park, other parts of the city are also paying close attention. It includes land-use watchdogs and neighborhood leaders from various parts the city, including College Terrace's Fred Balin and Doria Summa, Elaine Meyer from University South, Neilson Buchanon from Downtown North and former planning commissioner Susan Fineberg from Greenmeadow.
If Measure D passes, the City Council's June decision to rezone the 2.4-acre orchard site to "planned community" will stand. This would allow the Housing Corporation to build a 60-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes.
Posted by Vote AGAINST D,
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm
Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.
@bobgnote in Mountain View,
The opposition sign said: "Protect our Children".
First of all, Measure D is not for or against senior housing. The City Attorney, working for the City, somehow gets to write the ballot, so that's how she wrote it, to mislead people into not realizing the ordinance was a ZONING ordinance, to upzone a neighborhood by up to 8 times the existing zoning limits for a particular building plan. Senior housing could be built there without this rezoning, with a different rezoning, or a better plan, and neighbors have simply asked that that be done.
When they were not listened to, they felt they had to oppose THAT PLAN -- one reason, because safety should come first, especially where children are concerned. Proponents of the rezoning have done little more than belittle neighbors who live there who know how dangerous it is, rather than educate themselves about the facts and try to push for solutions that would allow a better plan.
AGAINST D is only a rejection of a particularly odious plan. IF AGAINST D WINS, THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS ALL ALONG PUBLICLY WELCOMED A NEW PLAN TO DEVELOP THE SENIOR HOUSING IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THE NEIGHBORHOOD CHARACTER, CHILDREN'S SAFETY, AND (AT LEAST TO SOME REASONABLE APPROXIMATION) EXISTING ZONING, WHICH CAN BE DONE, IN MORE THAN ONE WAY. That is the crux of it. Many of the same people leading AGAINST D were involved in bringing a 92-unit low-income housing complex (with 25 units set aside for seniors) to the same neighborhood through the Terman Working Group.
Regarding children's safety:
The City has steadfastly refused to do traffic safety analysis for the development, even though the City's own policy is of "heightened scrutiny" on school commute routes. That new development puts a major, high-density development between the major two Safe Routes to School to 4 major local schools, for over 3,000 students, almost half on foot and by bike, including Gunn High School. One of those streets, Maybell, is seriously substandard, without room for even a single continuous or full-width sidewalk or bike path on either side. Plus it has a huge amount of traffic for such a narrow street, and peaks come in waves throughout the day. It has in the last few years gone through an expensive safety upgrade, with much citizen participation, so they know it's as safe as it gets. Nevertheless, the stop sign in front of the school has had to be replaced many times from being knocked to the ground by cars. There have been many deaths of bicyclists reported around the Bay Area in recent weeks, many of them schoolchildren - residents who live here can see it is unsafe, and have every right to expect the City, whose first job is safety, to put the safety of children first. They have not done so here.
One of the most well-respected traffic engineers in the state reviewed the traffic analysis for Maybell and found it "inadequate". He said there was no traffic safety analysis done for bicycle and pedestrian safety, and that the proposed project may have a significant impact on traffic circulation and bicycle safety. Hence the sign you saw.
After approving Maybell, the City Council adopted two of that same traffic engineer's projects, including moving away from the outdated traffic model they used at Maybell for the whole City, but they did not apply new traffic data or current standards to review the Maybell situation, even though one of the Councilmembers who came out to witness it admitted "It may be a Safe Route to School, but it's not a safe route to school."
If you think the proposed development will have such insignificant impacts, then why the steadfast refusal to review safety? If AGAINST D wins, it will still be possible to put senior housing there (!), but the City will have to be willing to work with neighbors, ensure it's done in a safe way, and maybe even come up with a different plan to accomplish the same goals.
For example, the current plan is made cheaper to the City/PAHC by PAHC selling off 55% of the property, upzoned for the benefit of a private developer. PAHC makes the profits from the sale of the upzoned land, but not the profits from the sale of the houses, many millions the for-profit developer will make by violating neighborhood zoning. If PAHC simply built fewer, more in-character houses themselves at the same time as building the main building, they could use the greater profits they would get from selling the houses as well as the extra land they would get from fewer of them to solve the impacts the current plan is foisting on the neighborhood. (The complex is 50-feet tall because it's squeezed onto 45% of the property.)
It's a bad plan, and CAN be done better. Please Vote Against D.
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