News

Traffic steers discussion on Jay Paul development

Transportation agencies have warnings about developer's ambitious plan for reducing traffic

In its effort to get city approval for a new office complex at 395 Page Mill, developer Jay Paul Company faces an uphill battle in convincing Palo Alto officials, residents and regional agencies that the project's traffic won't overwhelm the already congested area near El Camino Real.

While the traffic analysis for the project won't be released until next month, early efforts to quantify the effects of adding 311,000 square feet of development to the area have been met with skepticism by the agencies that reviewed them, particularly the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the state Department of Transportation.

Each agency found that the preliminary analysis by the project's transportation consultants greatly overstates the number of people who wouldn't drive their cars to work.

At a Wednesday community meeting organized by Jay Paul, the company's Executive Vice President Ray Paul claimed that one of the major objectives of the project is to get people out of their cars. He lauded the project's proximity to a Caltrain station as a key reason for planning such a large development.

"Our rationale was: It's close to transit. It's a way to get the density while minimizing the traffic for that amount of square footage," Ray Paul told an audience of more than 40 residents.

The company proposes a number of incentives to keep people from commuting to work by car, including a bus service, subsidized Caltrain passes and walkways to the office complex from the train station. An October 2012 memorandum from the transportation consultant, Fehr & Peers, estimates that with these measures, the project will add about 2,800 car trips to the area daily, including about 300 new trips each in the morning and in the evening peak hours. The numbers, however, assume that Jay Paul will succeed in reducing traffic from the 395 Page Mill site by 10 percent and that future incentives will reduce traffic trips from the new office complexes by 24.6 percent from where they would otherwise be.

Yet the memo from Fehr & Peers also notes that according to VTA guidelines, "a maximum 3 percent reduction in vehicle trips may be applied for projects near a Caltrain station and a maximum 5 percent reduction may be applied for projects offering financial incentives (e.g., subsidized transit passes) for tenants to use alternative modes of travel."

Jay Paul's project has far grander ambitions when it comes to minimizing traffic, memos from the transportation consultant indicate. An August 2012 memo cites surveys of buildings near Caltrain and BART stations (including a "confidential site" in Palo Alto and one in Menlo Park) that achieved a 10 to 15 percent reduction in car trips. The memo also notes that, according to the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, for a site near a rail station "with a robust TDM (transportation demand management) program, an additional trip reduction of 2 to 6 percent is likely."

Jay Paul's list of proposed TDM programs include a carpool service, transit subsidies and various bicycle amenities. Its biggest strategy, its location near Caltrain, is expected to drive down the number of car trips by 10 to 15 percent.

In providing feedback on the traffic analysis, however, the VTA notes that Jay Paul's double-digit estimates for reducing traffic are heavily predicated on its location near Caltrain and the ability for people to walk from the station to 375 Page Mill. VTA points out, however, that there is an "existing gap in the sidewalk network along Sheridan Avenue and Page Mill Road between the project site and the California Avenue Caltrain station." The developer's analysis proposes various capital improvements for closing the gap but acknowledges the city "cannot be certain at this time that such improvements will be implemented and no other feasible mitigation measures have been identified."

The VTA urged the city in an August letter to work with the applicant "to strengthen the project's commitment to providing funds for the sidewalk improvements identified." If a path for pedestrians does not exist "along the shortest route" between Caltrain and the project, "the project either needs to create this continuous route or it is not eligible to take the trip reduction."

Caltrans voiced its own concerns about the analysis. In July, it urged the city and Jay Paul to do a study that tallies traffic volumes at all potentially impacted intersections around the site; considers the site's consistency with the city's Comprehensive Plan; and identifies ways to improve roadways that won't be able to handle project-related or future traffic.

Caltrans also cited the importance of easing traffic on El Camino Real, a state-owned road also known as Route 82.

"Given the scale of the proposed project, the traffic generated will have significant regional impacts to the already congested state highway system," Caltrans' District Branch Chief Erik Alm wrote in a letter to Jodie Gerhardt, Palo Alto's project manager for the Jay Paul project.

City staff noted that the traffic numbers are still being revised. Staff had initially hoped to release the draft analysis in September but delayed the release because of staff concerns about the report's assumptions. At their last discussion of 395 Page Mill, council members stressed the importance of the traffic study, with Councilman Larry Klein calling the study "a determining factor" in the decision on the development.

"We don't even get to a discussion of public benefits in my view until we decide that the traffic is something we can handle," Klein said at the Sept. 17 meeting.

Now, staff is expected to release the study either in December or early next year.

Paul Krupka, a transportation consultant charged with developing the TDM program for 395 Page Mill, cited Jay Paul's experience with TDM programs in other communities, including in Moffett Park in Sunnyvale, where the company built a light-rail station as part of a major commercial project. He noted at the Wednesday hearing that the developer's agreement with the city will include a stipulation mandating a substantial penalty for noncompliance with trip-reduction goals. The commuting trends of employees would be monitored and reported on an annual basis, he said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

VTA's comment about the sidewalk/pedestrian connection to the train station is a good and important point. It's not enough for a building to be plunked near a train station without safe and comfortable pedestrian and bike routes.

That said there *are* businesses in comparable areas that get much more than 3% trip reduction in locations near Caltrain. SRI in Menlo Park uses Caltrain's bulk-purchase GoPass program and 15% of its employees take Caltrain to work. Also, VTA is in the process of updating its guidelines, and the update will enable projects to take better account of modes other than driving where appropriate.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by TiredOfTheseClaims
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

And the Good Fairy will bless this site so everyone who works and goes will there will really, really want to do so - rain or shine - on foot, or bike, or by train and then by foot, for ever and ever - isn't that nice and so, so reassuring to know! Because we understand that Jay Paul really, really cares about the quality of life enjoyed by everyone who might happen to live in Palo Alto, especially those who live near the intersection of Oregon "Expressway", El Camino, and Page Mill Road! Maybe Jay Paul will throw in a nice little mini-park or a lovely fountain so we can all benefit from that too - just imagine!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by M. Anderson AIA
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

I think this is a smart project and the developer understands that if they create a traffic mess, the project wont be viable. I hope the developer and the City can work through these challenges. It is exciting to see this area of the city grow. The streets are filled with young people, the best and brightest in the country. Let's give these young, able minds places to work and affordable places to live and keep them in our community. Growth can be exciting and rejuvenating. Growth is inevitable, especially when you live adjacent to one of the finest learning institutions in the world. Embrace it and plan for it carefully. This is a good project.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

M. Anderson AIA……you know what they say about architects…….Never saw building they didn't want to build!!!
Biased POV from another community!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

Some day the idea that office buildings near stations will have less traffic may come to pass, but it is unrealistic to count on it in the near future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

TiredOfTheseClaims: Spot on and too funny!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

The benefit of an office in this location is that people will have the option to use transit. I suppose people would rather something like this be built way up on Page Mill where people will have no choice but to drive?


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Posted by Oh, sure
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

And how do people get from their homes to the train and after work get back home? They have to drive. No, this is just adding more and more traffic and conjestion to an already overcrowded area. Maybe if the city council had not been so generous to developers in the past few years, some of the current proposed projects could be viable. Enough is enough. The people of Palo Alto are finally paying attention.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

I'm curious have the incentives are given out. Similar to Stanford? I know two Stanford employees who park in the surrounding areas so they can take advantage of some of Stanford's traffic calming measures and not have to pay the parking permit fee. Doesn't really help us out who live in the surrounding areas but makes Stanford look good.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

@ohsure well under half of people using Caltrain drive to the station and park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

@Oh, sure

Echoing Adina's comments, not everyone has to drive to the station, I live about a 5-10 minute walk from mine.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

> Growth can be exciting and rejuvenating.

Written by an architect! Wonder if these kinds of sound-bytes are taught in school, or if they come in the talking points of the AIA?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I bike along Park Blvd. adjacent to the proposed project site and witness traffic backups during commute times NOW. Pedestrians from CALTRAIN are forced to walk in the street and there are often close calls with the cars and bikes on Park Blvd.

The approved Park Plaza project at 195 Page Mill (82 apartments and offices totaling 102,225 SF) will add to the congestion.

Besides Jay Paul's proposal, there is another proposed Planned Community project at former VTA lot at El Camino and Page Mill (four-story,33,500 square feet).

We need to evaluate the cumulative impacts from all of these projects!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

It amazes me when people from "other communities" pipe in to tell us how to proceed. The Architect - why not in the city he lives in? The best and brightest are all over the place. This would be a good project for his city.
Menlo Park - surely you need something for that ugly stretch on El Camino - auto dealers no longer there. Would you like a high rise extending down El Camino on that ugly stretch? I do not see anything that allows us to input on that matter. That is a giant waste of a vital resource. Does Menlo Park have a site for input on what goes on in that city? Please share it.

The reality is that the Palo Alto people have to deal with traffic on a daily basis. The surrounding area to the proposed building is fraught with roads that the city keeps trying to reduce to one lane each way. I do not see that in Menlo Park. SRI has a great parking lot. Working out the transportation plan needs to include expanding the major roads in the area so that traffic can move better. Forcing people onto bikes by reducing the number of parking spaces is a poor ides. Reducing the number of lanes in a major street is a poor idea. Any constriction in the transportation paths interrupt fire protections, ambulance activity, and any other safety measures.


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

There are new developments being proposed for the empty lots on Menlo Park, and I support these developments taking advantage of Caltrain, bicycling and walking also. SRI has big parking lots - but many employees don't use them - the transportation programs are popular perks.

But just promising to do TDM programs doesn't work - it's important to have regular reporting and hold the developers, employers and property managers accountable. And it's important for cities to set those polices instead of trusting on faith.

Land use decisions are done on a city basis, and it is up to Palo Alto to decide whether to allow any or no new developments. But if that's the case, traffic shouldn't be an excuse. Just say no to new buildings.

My background is tech, my last startup was in downtown Palo Alto. A software company recently moved from Cal Ave to Downtown San Jose accessible to the Diridon Caltrain station. San Jose is eager for the business. So are Mountain View, Redwood City, San Mateo. I'd be sad if Palo Alto didn't want to be a tech hub anymore, and wanted to be more like Los Altos. But it's up to Palo Alto.

Web Link


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Posted by Disney Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm


Adina,

"I'd be sad if Palo Alto didn't want to be a tech hub anymore, and wanted to be more like Los Altos."

"Tech hub" sounds like a place where everybody gets to pretend to be Steve Jobs.

The town is getting destroyed in the process.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Note that Adina Levin is a bicycle advocate and is on Menlo Park's Transportation Commission.
Web Link

She is interested in "how Menlo Park estimates the traffic impact of new projects. ... the city only looks at vehicle trips to and from the project, and vehicle capacity. Other jurisdictions, such as San Mateo, analyze the relationship between expected traffic from a development, the surrounding land use, transit, bike and pedestrian facilities, and other factors."

Listen up, Palo Alto!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Have lived near the intersection of Page Mill and El Camino for over 24 years and the traffic continues to get worse and worse. It can take over twenty minutes to get from Middlefield through the light at Page Mill and El Camino between 8:30 and 10 am. Adding any more traffic to this is beyond the pale. Theoretical percentages are nice but not real. Reality is sitting in a stopped car five days a week. Join us sometime Council members!


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Let me tell you the parable of "one more car". I goes something like this. You have heavy traffic, if you add one more car, there is no more space for anyone to move. "GRIDLOCK". This is real: Web Link.
Wikipedia has a long discussion of GRIDLOCK. Read it. We are rapidly approaching the parable of "ONE MORE CAR". None of the current analysis takes the current traffic density into account. The Jay Paul project is supposed to only slow traffic by 2 mph. When it is already 2 mph, I guess we are at GRIDLOCK...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Love TiredOfTheseClaims' comments. It's absurd to think these new buildings won't contribute more cars to our already jammed roads. Embarcadero around Town & Country is a disaster, Cal Ave. will become worse and now Page Mill/Oregon.

Although I hear PA is finally -- 5 years later -- going to do a traffic study of the mess there. Let's hope they don't do it at 3AM so they can conclude there's no problem. STILL waiting for them to stop the red school crossing light when school's NOT in session! Maybe they'll fix it in 50 years??

How far out of our way will we have to go to cross El Camino??


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

> It can take over twenty minutes to get from Middlefield through the
> light at Page Mill and El Camino between 8:30 and 10 am.

Back in the late '60s, the Palo Alto City Council spent some time considering building an overpass over El Camino at Oregon, in order to allow a free flow of traffic at this intersection. The Council seemed to think that such a structure was too ugly for Palo Alto, so the idea was dropped.

Maybe it's time to rethink this possibility. Maybe an underpass might be a better idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

"Each agency found that the preliminary analysis by the project's transportation consultants greatly overstates the number of people who wouldn't drive their cars to work."

Gee, we learned from Maybell that the answer in a situation like that is to go around screaming NIMBY. Works like kryptonite. (Or, maybe not so much anymore: Park neighbors, your neighbors at Maybell are still mobilized and happy to have your backs.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

@TiredOfTheseClaims
Now, now. Jay Paul has said the 'gift' they will give to the city is to build them a new Public Safety building. You shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Or is it the other end of the horse we are looking at?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm

"The commuting trends of employees would be monitored and reported on an annual basis..."

The company monitors the commuting and is eager to fine themselves ...
The developers are eager to make sure they have plenty of parking ...

Do hollow sound bytes ring in my ears or are my ears ringing from the car alarms of commuters filling up every residential parking spot.

Building high density near the train tracks could be a very good plan but inadequate parking will push the commuters who already park nearby to either no longer use the train or park further into the neighborhoods.

Maybe the public benefit the developer should provide is parking for more cars than his buildings could possibly need... Sure they can build office space for 3,000 employees but they have to provide parking for 6,000 and improve the roads to handle 3,000 round trips.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:49 am

I looked at Apple's commuter claims for their new campus in Cupertino. They spend a lot of money encouraging commute alternatives, and run their own bus system. They have currently 28% of employees NOT driving solo to their site. Sounds great, but still ~12% of the non-solo drivers are in 2-person carpools. (another 12% in their buses, and 4% walk or bike.) My point is that they still have auto traffic = 80% of employees, and this is considered exceptional (at least by Apple and Apple-paid consultants at city of Cupertino presentations). Even if the workers at this new Palo Alto development are aggressively encouraged to not drive solo, the car traffic impacts will still likely be 80-90% cars per employee, and maybe 95%. What is the ratio for AOL at that site right now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2013 at 9:45 am

Apple's new headquarters is worse than other big employers, even though they have a TDM program. Apple's campus is not near rail. There aren't significant populations of workers within walking or biking distance (unlike Stanford and Google). Apple is not that comparable to the Cal Ave area, which does have rail, people and services within walking and bicycling distance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Face it
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

Once the project is finished and paid for Jay Paul's claims will be seen for what they are. It will then be plain as day that Jay Paul does not care one iota for Palo Alto or its residents.

Best to end it before it begins; then there will be nothing to regret.

Incidentally, my mother-in-law lives in the neighborhood near the new Apple construction. Once it is built, it will be impossible for anyone living in that neighborhood to get onto Homestead or Wolfe Rds. Many homeowners in the area are selling ( MIL included) because they do NOT want to be living there when the new Apple headquarters is up and running--they know their peaceful neighborhood (Peacock Lane vicinity) will be RUINED. Don't let this happen to Palo Alto-- we are already halfway there!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:17 am

> Apple is not that comparable to the Cal Ave area,

Of course the Jay Paul project is comparable to Apple's new campus .. just not 100% comparable.

People who want to drive, or need to drive, will drive. That makes the two situations very comparable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

The Defeat of Measure D has shown that Palo Alto residents want our City to follow EXISTING zoning. Jay Paul's site is already at the maximum square footage for the land. He can't build anything more under existing zoning.

No more Planned Communities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Underparking enriches developers
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

Adina advocated for reduced parking in the mega-office bldg on Alma the so called Lytton Gateway. The developer did succeed in underparking the building.
What was the rationale for that?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Marie is a registered user.

No more up zoning for office space!! We have a huge job/resident imbalance which is causing unrealistic housing allocations from ABAG. What is needed is more housing, including moderate and low income housing as well as market rate. That is the only zoning changes Palo Alto should be looking at - as long as there are at least 2 parking spots per unit, plus an additional spot for more than two bedrooms, plus additional spots for visitors. Any public benefit should be additional parking spots that are so lacking in the CA Avenue neighborhood. Let the developers pay into a fund to build a new public parking lot available to Caltrain riders. Any building should add wider sidewalks plus meeting the current setbacks from the sidewalk. The setbacks SHOULD NOT BE REDUCED!!!!! No building, including HVAC equipment should exceed 50 feet.

If you want to look at what works, look at the moderate income housing built on Park near California Avenue.

Marie


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

First of all, I did not comment on the Lytton project when it was being decided on. Also, I think that just restricting office parking, while providing free neighborhood street parking and without policies to incent alternatives to driving is a recipe for problems.

Second, the tenant leasing the Lytton building turned out to be SurveyMonkey. In their current location on Hamilton, only 30% of their ~200 employees in Palo Alto drive. So when they move in, they will have 2 empty spaces per employee. Basically, Palo Alto is taking the company that has the best performance downtown at not driving, and incenting those employees to drive with plentiful free parking (right now they need to choose between a Caltrain pass and a parking permit).

The comment about Apple doesn't make any sense. Of course, some people will continue to drive. But there is a big difference between having 40% of people driving and 70% of people driving.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Wondering may have an idea, but make the Though Lanes a tunnel (Page Mill/Oregon would only have right and Left Turn Lanes onto ECR). Just depress the 2 middle lanes all the way from the Cal train UC. That should shorten light cycle times


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm

@Adina
What Palo Alto is doing is freeing up the space on Hamilton SuveyMonkey is
vacating for new office workers who may predominately drive so in effect Lytton Gateway is most likely offsetting what was achieved besides destroying the urban landscape.

All the arguments and justifications and rationales put forward for the complete destruction of the City to the benefit of a handful of developers/architects fueled by the Council's fascination with megaprojects just don't work. Just call it what it is.

Look at what is happening at the other end of Downtown, a long walk from
Caltrain, in the 500 block of Hamilton. On the heals of 524 Hamilton, we now have 537 Hamilton under construction, and coming soon 611 Cowper at the corner of Hamilton underparked by 53 spaces and outside of the parking
assessment district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by helene
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm

TOO MUCH TRAFFIC ALREADY ON PAGE MILL/OREGON EXPRESSWAY. I AM AGAINST THIS LATEST PROJECT. WHO HAS THE PETITION TO SIGN TO STOP THIS INSANENESS?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:59 pm

@SteveU - Just keep it simple and cheap, and build out a dedicated right turn lane, and expand the double left turn lanes on Oregon E. Those two easy cheap changes would make a huge difference in the southbound flow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2013 at 12:09 am

@helene,
If you have the inclination to be involved, join up with others. Contact the neighborhood groups in the North working on the traffic and parking problems, and the Maybell neighbors who are still trying to keep their area from being overdeveloped, and the College Terrace folks. Start the petition yourself if one doesn't already exist and share it with those you connect with.

Go to the Paloaltoville.com website for more...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I'm just surprised that so many of the commenters here live in homes and work in offices that don't generate traffic, otherwise their objections would be quite hypocritical.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Zoning laws are essentially a promise to the people who buy property in a given location. There is no hypocrisy in wanting to preserve the rights people are granted under zoning laws, to be concerned about the environment and quality of life. All the years I commuted to Palo Alto, it would never have occurred to me to criticize Palo Alto taxpayers for not building walls of dense housing to shorten my commute. (And anyway, it would not have meant I could have lived here anyway because of the cost, it would simply have made my commute longer and more polluting.)

Speaking of hypocrisy - demanding cities build housing to reduce emissions that instead creates a whole host of problems including more emissions, and the destruction of existing affordable housing for a few units of new (very expensive) affordable housing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Why not put the horse in front?
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm

"Embrace it [growth] and plan for it carefully."

How about this: Plan for it carefully, then embrace it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Why?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Why do we need to rezone for additional office space?
We already have areas of the city zoned for office.

Why do we need to exceed the current zoning for that property by 120%?

Why do we want a police station in an area with limited access in/out?

Why is this even being considered?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe in Green Acres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 25, 2013 at 6:48 am

Joe in Green Acres is a registered user.

To save words, I agree totally with Why?, particularly the last comment. When a developer asks to exceed the existing, already built-out zoning by 120% (311,000sf = to Palo Alto Square I'm told), why doesn't City staff and/or City Council just say "NO!" and be done with it. Or do they want to see if the residents will object bitterly and then maybe listen to us (or maybe not). We're told that City staff is overburdened, so let's eliminate some projects, like this one, that should have, under guidance from a Council responsive to the residents concerns, no chance of success.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ventura Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

I wonder if our City Leaders read these comments - hope so!
So if there is this huge development and another one, right next to it on Park Blvd. right across the street from AOL - it will be a nightmare traffic problem. Not good planning!!! And why more homes, and no entertainment?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

Adina, not everyone who rides bikes rides them all the time. So that's still more cars most of the time.

The city recently called with a very long survey that covered how much RESIDENTS -- NOT BUSINESSES -- would pay for garages etc. to moderate the parking problem. This was on the SAME day they approved that building downtown with a parking shortfall if 500+ parking spaces.

That was also the same day they announced the Mitchell Park Libary would have another long delay and more cost over-runs.

How much would I personally pay?? Nothing although all of us got stuck for the price of the stupid survey.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm

@ JoAnn
A stupid survey is what emboldened the City to put us through Measure D. They do surveys to give them political cover, not to tell them the truth - up until Nov 5, they continued to tell us that they had a lot of support in the neighborhood for rezoning, even though despite all their campaign money, political consultants, grossly biasing the ballot, shilling for the rezoning from City Hall, 80% of ballots cast from those who live closest to the property were against rezoning. They had been hearing that for free from residents who wrote reams of letters.

They do what they want unless residents are prepared to stop them. Currently, residents have shown a greater willingness to stop them. If you live near any of these developments, make contact with other groups around town and even in Menlo Park fighting against stupid overdevelopment. It turns out you can fight City Hall.


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

@Jo Ann true. Residents and businesses are very reluctant to pay for new parking structures. So the question is what approach to take? Is the amount of driving that people do a fixed amount, or does it vary based on bike and ped safety, programs and incentives, etc. Organizations and other cities have evidence that it varies (but just putting a TDM program on paper and taking on faith doesn't work!). Does Palo Alto want to investigate these options, or keep the status quo. Is there a balance, looking carefully at projects, their impact, and cumulative impact. Or is no new building the preferred approach?


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Adina, the survey didn't ask about what businesses should pay, just residents.

You also asked above whether Palo Alto wanted to stop being a tech hub and turn into Los Altos. Please notice the decline in Palo Alto retail as stores are replaced by offices whose employees need all-day parking, not hourly parking.

I find myself shopping in Los Altos more than downtown Palo Alto since they have better stores for my needs -- Cooks Junction, the Nature Gallery (formerly of Pali Alto).

Given the choice, I'll certainly take no new dense building with all the parking shortfalls and increased gridlock.

We got stuck on the way to Santa Cruz during Friday rush hour and funny, I didn't see a single bicyclist but we sure saw solid gridlock. Bikes are great but it's not a religious issue defying all logic. They don't work real well in the rain, for shopping, taking kids or yourself to the dentist, etc.

How many bicyclists have you seen carrying their Thanksgiving turkey???


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

@jo ann yes, and how often do you get a Thanksgiving turkey or watermelon, vs. how often do you stop off a the supermarket to get salad ingredients which fit nicely on a bike.

Only a relatively few people are fit enough to bike over the hill to Santa Cruz :-) Obviously a bike does not work for all uses. But how many trips are short trips, with one person in the car, who is not elderly or disabled? Re: rain - there is high bike use in Portland and Vancouver, and it rains more than here :-)

Re: businesses paying for parking, there have been quotes from business leaders about lack of eagerness to pay for more parking. I don't have sources at hand tho.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm

The intersection of Page Mill/Oregon/El Camino Real is already congested to the point of near gridlock during rush hour. Even at other hours, this is a terrible intersection.
Most people heading north on El Camino cut through the neighborhood and enter Oregon just east of El Camino.
Much of the problem is due to cars in the right hand northbound lane that do not turn right. This makes everyone wait for the signal to change, even when one could otherwise turn.
A second huge problem is the number of cars turning left off El Camino onto Oregon eastbound that run the red. Every day I have to wait past the time when northbound El Camino light is green as 6 or more cars rush through the intersection to turn onto Oregon eastbound.
Any additions to this area would truly cause gridlock.
Furthermore, if the city height limit for buildings is 50 feet, no building should be approved that exceeds 50 feet. Each new project must provide at least as much parking as the city requires. No excuses.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Except for groceries, which I do usually purchase near along California Ave, I prefer to shop in Los Altos. The shops are mostly more interesting and parking is usually not a problem.
However, in truth, I usually can always find a parking space that will allow me to stay for 4 or more hours without paying. Remember, when I park in front of your house I am shopping and spending money in the nearest downtown.For any shopping over a very small amount I can no longer carry it on my bicycle. As a matter of fact, at my age I probably should give up the bicycle. I certainly don't ride it when it is dark, raining (or about to), cold or have large or many packages to carry.
What should happen is low income housing should be built near the train depots as both are also served by many busses. This might encourage workers to use public transit.
Except for CalTrain I have generally found public transit to be very unreliable in this area. Busses also have strange routes that do not go where I want to.
In order for workers to be encouraged to take public transit the large companies need to provide a van or small bus that will take employees from trains and busses to the workplace. These busses should be free and employees should receive a bonus for taking public transit.


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Posted by Disney Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm



Adina,


Are you in favor of large and high density developments so that more people can use bikes?

You seem to keep making arguments in favor of high density to advance an issue (bicycles) that is practically a NON-issue compared to the traffic gridlock that results from cars.

I recall during the 27 University threads you distracted from the conversation, sided with the trolls who insisted there were no traffic issues on EL Camino, and you seem to be at it again.

Density needs to go elsewhere, please take your bicycles there.


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Sunshine is absolutely right. Reality vs wishful thinking shows we're already over-built and too crowded as it is.

Adina, my WEEKLY grocery shopping will NOT fit on a bike. I don't rush to brave traffic to get salad greens or other single items, not when traffic is already so ridiculous I dread backing out of my driveway. We've already had idiot drivers plow into cars parked on the street twice, one tine totaling the parked car. Do you think insurance covered the cost of a new car??

People are already so antsy about gridlock, they're making their own lanes at Middlefield and Embarcadero. Solid citizens driving grey Jaguars, SUV's, etc.

Do you want more gridlick and traffic accidents???

My point is that there WILL be added cars and traffic for everything you consider an exception -- Thanksgiving turkeys, dentist trips, weekly shopping, rain storms, etc. etc. etc.

If you want to ride in the rain and get sick, have fun. I don't. And it's ridiculous for you to claim others should get sick because you consider biking a religion.

I don't like breathing car exhaust fumes from all the gridlock caused by our fearless leaders claiming not a single car will be added when we build huge buildings with no parking, cut traffic lanes because people SHOULD ALWAYS ride bikes but in reality DON'T.

That means it's disingenuous to claim that NO traffic will be added because people should be riding bikes all the time.

Try reality instead of wishful thinking!


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm

@disney I am pretty sure I didn't say anything about 27 University other than supporting public input for any redesign of the transit area, if there is going to be any work on the transit area. Nobody is claiming that all car trips will be replaced by bicycle, either. You're putting words in my mouth that I didn't say, which makes for a nonproductive conversation.

The question is whether Palo Alto can relieve parking and traffic with programs and incentives for people to drive less. Large employers and other cities do this, the question is whether Palo Alto wants to.




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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm


Specifically, what kind of incentives could you offer? Paying people to park to let commuters park on their lawns? Fining them if they drive to meet a friend for lunch? Fining them if they have fewer than 3 grocery bags per trip? Requiring a note from their doctor to drive a car in the rain?

There is absolutely no indication that incentives will reduce traffic at all and they certainly won't offset dense new development. There IS evidence that building MORE buildings cause MORE traffic, parking problems and gridlock.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm



Adina,

"The question is whether Palo Alto can relieve parking and traffic with programs and incentives for people to drive less. Large employers and other cities do this, the question is whether Palo Alto wants to."

No Adina, the question is first how Palo Alto will reduce parking and traffic by reducing density. The programs come later, after all efforts are made to reduce cars.

When referring to your bicycle increase programs, you seem to lay a guilt trip by saying "the question is if Palo Alto wants to."

In Palo Alto, there are two "wants" - what developers want, and what the residents want.

What the residents want is no more cars, so your bicycle increasing conversation is not really relevant now. Also because sometimes Palo Alto wants everything on the Santa Claus list but is incapable of making it happen - see infrastructure.

Please stop distracting the conversation by talking bikes and bike paths.


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

True, if the goal is to prevent additional development then traffic is a red herring.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Adina,

"if the goal is to prevent additional development then traffic is a red herring."

No Adina, in a small town without proper infrastructure, traffic is a problem with hardly
any solutions and your bicycles are irrelevant.

This is not Manhattan, we have no subways, we have no bridges, and we have no tunnels.

Traffic in Palo Alto is like stuffing a bunch of people in a room with no exits or fire escapes.

Development requires infrastructure. If you invited 100 people to live in your house, you would need infrastructure.

You are correct that Palo Alto can handle bicycles, that is all.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Adina,


I might add that even Disneyland has one of those trains that can shuttle people around fast. As a matter of fact, if Palo Alto could get half the infrastructure Disneyland currently has, we could maybe handle some of these buildings, but not now and who knows if ever.


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Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Disney says: "...in a small town without proper infrastructure, traffic is a problem with hardly
any solutions..." and "...even Disneyland has one of those trains that can shuttle people around fast. As a matter of fact, if Palo Alto could get half the infrastructure Disneyland currently has, we could maybe handle some of these buildings"

Well golly gee, I thought I saw something that said 'Caltrain' on my way home today through the cornfields of small-town Palo Alto. And when I cranked up my internet-machine before milking the cows, I found out little ol' small-town Palo Alto actually has two stations for that there train that can shuttle people fast. Takes people all the way to San Franciscky in barely an hour. And my internet-machine tells me that more than 5 thousand 4 hundred people board the train in one of the stations, every day that I churn the butter, and almost 1 thousand 3 hundred people board the train, every day that I gather the eggs. Seems small-town Palo Alto does have some of that infrastructure that Disney was talking about. Maybe they can handle some of these new-fangled buildings there too...

Web Link


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm

OMV Resident,

Yes, pardner Caltrain runs between San Francisco and San Jose, the 14th and 11th largest cities in the US.

Perspective please


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Is Caltrain the infrastructure Palo Alto is counting on?

Sorry, in practice that sounds as helpful as bicycles.

Cars are the main event here.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:03 am

Over the weekend San Francisco was judged the No 1 Bicycle Friendly city. Cities that were ranked also had other transportation choices - Caltrain. Bart, Muni, lite rail in Mountain View and on east coast subways. We should be pushing for Bart on the western peninsula corridor, Foothill and 280 to close the BART loop around the bay. Bart puts the bicycle people in proximity of their work location. We can make a lot of options work but at this time we are single streamed on Caltrain. That puts more people in cars.
Comparing us to San Jose or San Francisco who have multiple transportation options is trying to stack a deck without all of the facts. The bicycle by itself is not a good fit for the location.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

Sam Mateo County has an on-line system called Almanac - same as this system - in which the Surf Air controversy is on-going and has morphed into a discussion of air space over Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton. It turns out that Palo Alto is in the directed flight path for incoming planes to SFO and includes activities for the Palo Alto and San Carlos Airports which have to assume a lower altitude in this air freeway interchange above our heads, but not above our ears and general safety. This raises the question of building height and location - the buildings here are directly in the SFO incoming corridor, as well as the lower altitude private planes.
Palo Alto needs to take this turn of events to question to the Santa Clara County our part in the decision making concerning building height and air space. We have the people on the ground with MTA saying we have to increase building density while the people in the air are on a different government track - the FAA - which is overloading the air space. Time to get our elected officials in one room to collectively combine the concerns that are driving these two opposed actions. The divide and conquer thought process needs to back-off so that we have a collective plan for all contingencies we need to support with taxpayer money.


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Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2013 at 9:09 am

The city councils needs to get over itself. Make the developers pay to widen Pagemill and Oregon. And while they are at it they can re widen Arasterdero and Charleston. The traffic is horrendous in this city.

Lets be real any incentive to use alternative trans is not going to solve traffic issues in PA. Most of the traffic is caused by tourists and people commuting from places like Tracy.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

> Land use decisions are done on a city basis, and it is
> up to Palo Alto to decide whether to allow any or
> no new developments

This has been the case, more-or-less, in the past. But there has been significant effort from forces at the State level to remove some of this authority for California Cities. This recent OneBayArea Plan is an example what to expect in the future.

Given the nature of property rights—it's not clear that Palo Alto (or any City) can actually disallow new developments. They can, on the other hand, not grant variances to the zoning codes that would allow for developments that are overly large, or burdensome, to a community. Presumably a City could zone out all commercial property use, but there aren't very many examples of that sort of thinking to be found.

--

More than one of the posters have mentioned that the Oregon/Page Mill/El Camino Real intersection is "maxed out". It's a real shame that the Traffic Engineers have not outfitted this intersection, which is undoubtedly the busiest in Palo Alto, with real-time traffic monitoring equipment. Real-time monitors can be purchased for as little as $4,000 dollars each. There really is no reason that we shouldn't have continuous, real-time, data about this intersection every day of the year—posted on the City's web-site.

Worrying about bicycles bridges, and boulevards, is really showing just how deeply we have our heads in the sand.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

@OMV Resident

The argument here seems to be "I don't use mass transit, therefore nobody else does and we shouldn't invest in it". Otherwise there wouldn't be such opposition to Caltrain electrification, El Camino bus lanes, etc. Personally, I appreciate having alternatives to being stuck in the traffic that WILL only get worse with new offices and housing.


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm

The City Council is tone deaf. With all the current brouhaha and the vote on Measure D, they STILL approved a new building with a shortfall of 500+ parking spaces.

Maybe Adina could channel her energies to ensuring that City Council and all relevant city employees ONLY ride bikes? Maybe then they'll get a clue.

Maybe she could start lobbying for school buses and requiring kids to bike to get all the mommy chauffeurs off the road?


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm



Robert,

"Investing in mass transit"

open question -

Whose responsibility is it to invest in mass transit?

Palo Alto's idea of investment in mass transit seems to be additional bike lanes, yet City Council is ATTRACTING offices and dense housing, as if it's San Francisco. Even San Francisco is having problems.

A lot of good points have been made about what state or local "authority" is making Palo Alto do what, and there are the nuisance voices about bicycles.

Developers and City Council have no idea about what they are getting Palo Alto into, they just look at their immediate interests.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

For those two examples I provided its the Joint Powers authority and the VTAs responsibility. My point was not that it Palo Alto needs to do this, but perhaps they shouldn't spend so much effort fighting it tooth and nail.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

And as an aside, the Palo Alto City council isn't "attracting" offices and dense housing. If you're thinking that the city council or ABAG is the one making the push for these things, you really shouldn't even be commenting on the issue.


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Excuse me, Robert, buy ABAG certainly is requiring the increased density that will grow by 2 MILLION. Search under ABAG and LAWSUITS and you'll find other communities are challenging the increased density.

According to wikipedia, membership in ABAG is VOLUNTARY so PA doesn't HAVE to comply:

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is a regional planning agency incorporating various local governments in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. It deals with land use, housing, environmental quality, and economic development. Non-profit organizations as well as governmental organizations can be members. All nine counties and 101 cities within the Bay Area are VOLUNTARY members of ABAG.

Web Link

Projecting a healthy regional economy, the Plan anticipates that the Bay Area's population will grow from about 7 million today to some 9 million by 2040. "Maintaining our region's high quality of life," continued Worth, "will depend on making wise decisions about transportation, housing and land use."

Plan Bay Area provides a strategy for meeting 80 percent of the region's future housing needs in Priority Development Areas (PDAs).


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Wayne Martin makes the excellent point about how the city really needs to spend the money to monitor and then time the traffic lights, something I've been calling them about for years!

Please feel free to join me in this!


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Robert,

"If you're thinking that the city council or ABAG is the one making the push for these things, you really shouldn't even be commenting on the issue."

Please refer to Jo Ann

and there are many ways you can "attract" offices and dense housing. For example, spot zoning is a great way to attract both.

Not having any plans or vision for the city also "attracts" come what may.

I can think of many reasons that Council "attracts" density in a way that is out of control.

I think it's great that others have input on Palo Alto because it means people care about the City, but Robert you, as a member of another community, with the defensive tone, may want to consider that residents have something to add to the conversation.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Jo Ann,

There is a lot of misinformation relative to what ABAG is responsible.

The short-term housing planning targets arise under state law. The state gives each region a planning target and allows them to allocate the target among cities, a task done by a committee made up of council members and supervisors from around the region.

But if ABAG did not do the allocation, the state would. In a meeting earlier this year, the person who oversees this work for the state told the Marin folks exactly what I am telling you but also that if he did the allocation, they would have received a higher target.

While ABAG is a voluntary organization, following state law is not usually considered voluntary.

And the regional housing targets given to ABAG by the state had nothing to do with Plan Bay Area. They were determined before Plan Bay Area was final and without input from the plan.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm



stephen levy,

Could you please explain how the allocations work? What is the criteria.

Are all "cities" included? What is considered a city?

Why are Woodside, Atherton and Los Altos sort of intact?

Does it matter if a "city" has the infrastructure or not?


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Levy,


Is there a reason the state would have higher allocations?

Given that the state can be lobbied, I just wonder if the threat from the state is political or with some other method that makes sense.

And with all this responsibility given to each city the state offers what in return? or id the idea that cities like Palo Alto have to continually pay for success. Success is not looking very good if the price is destruction and gridlock.


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Diana Diamond's columns routinely call for Palo Alto to join Woodside, Atherton, Portola Valley, Los Altos, etc. in fighting the growth targets since there's no more place to put so many more people.

Here's just one: Web Link


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Jo Ann,

from the link you posted

"If cities don't carry out its mandates, they could lose state funding. Palo Alto gets roughly $2 million a year in grants for transportation and housing needs, said Curtis"

Is this really what the state offers in return for the mandates? 2 million a year?

Stephen Levy,

Is this the state threat?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Adina is not a resident of Palo Alto - she is showing her residence as Menlo Park - which is San Mateo County. San Mateo County has a different tax basis and agenda. It also has BART to Millbrae - the SFO AIRPORT.

Switch up to what Santa Clara County is willing to support. It is supporting BART in San Jose. We need to get BART to close the loop to Millbrae so we have alternative forms of transportation. People can take bikes on BART so they are in proximity of their workplace. If the loop on BART completed presume you can BART to the San Jose Airport - or SFO.

People are throwing out cities above that are not in Santa Clara County -start with the governance of the city of Palo Alto within the context of Santa Clara County because that is where the authority for changes in Transportation routes will be approved. Also where financing comes from.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm

@Jo Ann

In the absense of ABAG or any kind of zoning, high density offices and housing would be the norm. The market is pushing for high density housing, many consumers want it because they value location over space. If this was not the case, you would have nothing to fear, because developers would have no incentive to build housing that people don't want to live in.

The only thing "attracting" these things are both a red hot office market in Palo Alto, and an huge housing shortage, neither of which are caused by ABAG.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Robert,

"The only thing "attracting" these things are both a red hot office market in Palo Alto, and an huge housing shortage, neither of which are caused by ABAG."

Yes, ABAG may be an excuse, and if the threat of not complying with ABAG is 2 million per year, then it's a real poor excuse.

Palo Alto has no reason or ability to subsidize the "red hot office market". We have no infrastructure for the red hot office market. The housing shortage is a "shortage" because of the red hot office market.

The red hot office market actually also wants me to pay for "affordable housing" in a red hot office market.

The red hot office market offers "amenities" to City Council which do not pay even for Adina's bike boulevards.

What would you do if you were a resident of Palo Alto?


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Robert,

Of course developers have incentives to build the highest possible density so they can make the most money without regard to the surrounding community. For the most part, the developers don't live here or look at the places they build or drive on the roads they congest or fund all the new schools.

Maybe they should just build in the Google parking lots so they can get location, location, location AND keep them off the roads. Better yet, maybe the should build in the middle of El Camino so they can claim they're close to transportation.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

@Jo Ann

Again, your beef is not with developers, its with the people that want to move to Palo Alto, as you or your family did at one time. Without that component, developers would have no reason to build here. You, nor anyone else, have a "birthright" to live in Palo Alto, by your logic you should leave Palo Alto because that would decrease congestion and reduce demand for density. You're being the kind of person who sits in a traffic jam complaining about the other cars, when you are just as much to blame as anyone else.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

resident,

"People are throwing out cities above that are not in Santa Clara County -start with the governance of the city of Palo Alto within the context of Santa Clara County because that is where the authority for changes in Transportation routes will be approved. Also where financing comes from."

So, how does Palo Alto currently "plan" in the context of Santa Clara County?


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Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

No, Robert, I can understand people wanting to live here while it's still "desirable." My beef is not with them any more than it is with people who buy cheap WalMart stuff made with slave labor in Bangladesh.

By your logic, we should knock down all private property so developers can build all the high-density housing and offices they want so everyone who'd prefer to live/work here can. What happens when the companies say, "Hey, no one can afford to move here from Kansas. Let's outsource some more."

My beef is with the governments and the developers who give/get incentives without regard to the consequences of uncontrolled growth and paralyzing high density.

Look at someplace like Tokyo that pushers to push people into their subways and such small places that people can only slide into their beds but not even stand up.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Robert,

The congestion is not caused by residents. There is data for that.

If some of us wanted to buy in Palo Alto today, we also could not live here. Our children can't afford Palo Alto but I would actually rather see my own children live elsewhere than have them live in a high rise in Palo Alto or have them put me in a high rise next to the traffic fumes on EL Camino.

Palo Alto can't handle all the "needs" that developers want to meet just to make everyone happy. Offices, housing, offices, housing, offices, housing.

The same sun sets for many other cities nearby, and instead of Palo Alto saying yes to all the "development" it could spread the wealth, force better regional infrastructure per resident's suggestion.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Robert,

Actually there is no wealth from development in Palo Alto. You should know that.

The City does not have money to fix potholes on the main roads near downtown. It has no money for infrastructure.

All the fancy buildings only bring traffic. The only wealth is to developers.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 27, 2013 at 12:43 am

Disney - Palo Alto is in District 5 of the county. There is a board of Supervisors - Joe Simitian heads up District 5. You need to go to the County of Santa Clara web page to see all of the government control issues for the county. When you pay your property taxes you are paying to the County of Santa Clara. If you look at your property tax bill it itemizes what your taxes are paying for at the county level - many bond issues. Joe was previously a state senator who was termed out. He was on the original HSR team - going back in time. Other projects that PA has been involved in received funding from the county through grants. It is the coordination with the other cities within the District 5 - Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Santa Clara to complement each other for regional planning.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2013 at 9:47 am


resident,

What I meant by my question is not what is Santa Clara County is, but how planning for this type growth is done within the context of the county, in particular regarding transportation issues.

It appears there is no planning, for example for the ideas you brought up,

"Switch up to what Santa Clara County is willing to support. It is supporting BART in San Jose. We need to get BART to close the loop to Millbrae so we have alternative forms of transportation. People can take bikes on BART so they are in proximity of their workplace. If the loop on BART completed presume you can BART to the San Jose Airport - or SFO."


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

> If the loop on BART completed presume you can BART
> to the San Jose Airport - or SFO."

Are there any ridership counts that illuminate the general public's use of BART for transportation to SFO or the Oakland Airport? If the numbers are low for this part of the Bay Area's general population--why would people in Palo Alto stop using cars, or other vehicles, to get to/from SJO/SFO?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Folks, the District 5 cities do not have BART. They collectively need to coordinate to get BART. They have to designate where they want BART to stop in their city and provide some parking space. Cupertino continually fumes about the new APPLE complex and the amount of traffic it will generate. That traffic is coming in part from Palo Alto. Stanford can use BART on the west side of campus to move students, faculty, and employees - of which there are a large amount, especially in the hospital areas - to alleviate the number of cars on campus and space for garages. If you can alleviate the number of cars on the road on 101 and 280 - which includes buses, then it helps on the midtown traffic crossing in the Stanford east side of campus and El Camino. If these cities get on board for BART then Menlo Park and Redwood City would be included. I use BART to go to the city and can tell you it has a very high ridership - the Daly Station is full every day. And people have their luggage going to the SFO/Millbrae station. Cal train is very busy and very full - but we are single streamed as to transportation and need to fix that problem. You can't argue about bike paths if the comparable cities have multiple forms of transportation - it is not a valid comparison. If we are stuck in more cars then you need more parking and you need streets that are not trying to constrict auto traffic. Parking at San Jose airport is now a problem - BART can swing through that complex on its way to join with the San Jose BART section. SFO and Oakland Airport have a BART connection.
I can't help you if you do not see that logic. How is the current logic working? NOT VERY GOOD.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm

@resident/Charleston Meadows posted about air traffic routed over Palo Alto and also the problems that have arisen from Surf Air over Atherton. I have noticed excessively noisy commercial aircraft low over our neighborhood - when that hasn't been the case in past - and have also read that SFO is slated for a huge increase in air traffic. If the City of Palo Alto permits extra tall buildings, especially those over the supposed legal 50 ft limit - could this in fact be a risk for all of us....seems there are a variety of issues that should be carefully considered by us residents/voters, City Council/Staff before agreeing to developer proposals.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I understand it's inconvenient to take Caltrain to Millbrae to the BART connection to SFO - sometimes it's not even available. This hardly is comparable to some cities with excellent public transportation links to major airports, Chicago for instance. For me, driving to SFO or SJS is a direct line on 101 (I live right by 101) and the idea of driving up to park at or be dropped off at a Caltrain station to then take a long transit to the airport either way is ridiculous.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 30, 2013 at 12:19 am

Resident - many people arriving in the SF city are there for the weekend - they fly in - they do not need a car. They are there for an event. There are all kinds of people on the Bart train and Caltrain with luggage. Many people here for a special class at Stanford - or a sports game. It is not about one person's desires or interest - it is about what a city that is trying to attract business / tourists both short term and long term. Many people arrive via San Jose Airport and do not want a car but need to get one - if they were coming for a short time event they would take the train.
There is also the employee of a company - they do not want to have a car but may need to if the location is not near a train. I am on both of those trains, especially now during the holidays and there is a lot of people who are traveling via the airport. At SFO and San Jose the long term parking lots fill up fast. Getting there by car is expensive and chancy if you have to park. It is cheaper for students and young people to take the trains. If you ride the trains you can see it all. They are not inconvenienced by it - they are just getting from point 1 to point 2


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 30, 2013 at 8:56 am

I see Mr. Levy has weighed in from the ABAG standpoint. Questions:
1. Who is subsidizing the ABAG effort - it needs financing to push it's agenda. What government agency is the pivot point for this?
2. If the MTA is the financial pivot for this then what is their position on BART being completed around the bay? BART at this point is not in competition with HSR - two different agendas and location of tracks / depots. Two different goals. This area needs more than one form of ground transportation to help alleviate the need for automobiles.
3. How is ABAG coordinating with the major / minor airports? We now have an on-going thread concerning major/minor airlines maximizing their presence in the vicinity which affects building height and location.
4. Where is the government agency that is coordinating this conflagration of intersecting interests?
5. Please lay out the plan as to how this all sums up to address all of the concerns.
6. HOPE IS NOT A PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:09 am

resident, Charleston

I would not hold my breath for simple or clear answers from Mr. Levy.

I found this in a Weekly editorial Web Link

"The authority for ABAG's quotas comes from Senate Bill 375, a law passed in 2008 that sets a goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases throughout the state and aims to build homes close to jobs and public transportation. Cities are expected to develop housing plans and zoning that will create the quotas established by ABAG. If the mandate is ignored the city could lose funding for transportation and other projects."

We really need to lose penniless ABAG funding for transportation and other projects.

If ABAG wants to meddle in our zoning, they should pay Palo Alto prices. The 2 million would have to be 200 million for Palo Alto "projects." Buying housing and zoning plans in Palo Alto is certainly no the price of a house.

2 million could not even pay for City Council's idea of transportation - bicycle lanes and bus depots.

And can we really call Caltrain transportation for Palo Alto?

The traffic to/from Palo Alto goes in a lot more directions than these two directions, and certainly at a lot of different scheduled times.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:19 am



By the way, ABAG used as an excuse for housing, but what excuse is being used to mess with zoning for office buildings?

Greed?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

Disney - I am well versed on the Senate Bill 375. It still does not answer all of the questions as to how it interacts with the other agencies. You are not his spokesperson. He is being paid to do this. It is his job.

As a side note Jay Paul is building two tower facilities in Redwood City at the old Malibu raceway next to 101. There is also a hospital on Veterans Blvd that is going up. So is Redwood City building a "buffer" to airport rights of way? Maybe we need to get Jay Paul to position his buildings in the right places to create the height buffer to deflect the airline routes. Is there more ways to skin a cat here? San Carlos has a development in the planning stages on the area next to the Caltrain - a couple of blocks long. Another buffer? That is in proximity of the San Carlos Airport.


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Posted by Disney
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2013 at 11:47 am

resident,

If Redwood City and San Carlos have planned it this way - to create height buffers to deflect airline routes, they would deserve the Oscar equivalent for planning. I doubt it, but not to say that Palo Alto should not be looking very carefully into the air congestion.

I say this in Palo Alto, to the sound of 2 loud loud airplanes.

I heard Atherton has been on it to get rid of the plane routing, so you know Palo Alto will be stuck with more noise not less, and because the City is so busy with bicycles and building housing for ABAG it may never look at this problem

I hope you will get answers from Mr. Levy and if he has no answers, this is not the type of expertise that should be relied on, the fact that he gets paid for it does not make it right.

Seems to me that for all the knowledge people have about state and county affairs, everything being asked now should have been answered long ago. How different agencies interact and so forth.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

In the SF Chronicle today Willie's World he said that SF's attempt to drive cars out of the city by reducing parking spaces was a horrible idea. The buses do not work and the existing parking is always full and too expensive. We are so competitive here - we look at what a major city is doing then try to copy it - even when it is a bad idea. Getting back to the topic of this stream is that enough parking needs to be provided for new developments; attempts to reduce the number of lanes on major streets is a very bad idea. That is especially clear on game days when we have a large number of people who are coming in for big events - which is weekly.

On other topics discussed here the SF Chronicle today - Matier & Ross - provide documentation that the air traffic at SFO is increasing greatly and that is a planned event. A number of airlines are switching from Oakland to SFO. We know that is PA since we are at the ARRIVING junction.

As to other developments there is a planned development with high rises for 101 at Marsh Road, as well as the Redwood City high rises at 101 at the former Malibu Raceway. Atherton has no high rises and will be the only area for easy access by Surf Airlines. Time for them to get building their own high rise.


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