The effort to stop Maybell housing is a wild shot at the wrong target and won't lead to land-use reform any more than shooting at a moose will catch a trout. If the goal is Planned Community (PC) zoning reform, then do PC zoning reform. Sponsor a smart, nuanced initiative protecting affordable housing development while reining in crazy-making commercial and massive market-rate residential development. All No on D will do is deprive over 100 of our elders of any hope of remaining in town.
I know a lot about PC zoning in Palo Alto, having conducted an investigation and analysis of commercial and residential PC projects, recommending substantial PC reform. But I will vote Yes on D because defeating the Maybell project won't reform or curb development, but will destroy affordable housing.
The Maybell housing is the rare appropriate use of PC zoning, providing a way to guarantee this housing will remain affordable for our low-income seniors. The 12 market-rate homes make the affordable project financially feasible given diminishing state and federal funding for this housing.
If this housing, as approved, isn't built at Maybell on one of the few remaining large parcels of land in town, it will never be built short of a miracle. Arguing otherwise simply isn't credible (see yesondpaloalto.com). Surely we won't sacrifice precious affordable housing for the fantasy of trickle-down land use reform.
I live in Barron Park and will vote yes on Measure D for affordable senior housing and an economically inclusive community.
La Para Avenue, Palo Alto
Safety over senior housing
We lived off Maybell for eight years before moving to Channing House.
Arastradero Apartments (66 low-cost housing units) have egress on Maybell. They have many cars using it now. Palo Alto Housing wants to build 60 more senior units, using that same egress for more cars. Most seniors need cars. Public transportation is impossible.
Maybell is hazardous now for students trying to get to four schools. Safety for our children should have priority over questionable senior housing. Please vote no on Measure D.
Sara J. Jennison
Webster Street, Palo Alto
A seismic shift
We chose Palo Alto 42 years ago for our multi-generational home because of the neighborhood quality of life. For us as working parents, with a non-English speaking grandparent in the home, the ability of our children to walk/ride bikes to school and to various activities — with safety — was critical. Today, our streets are an unsafe jungle of cars, posing a serious threat to the lives of children, including our grandchildren who live with us.
We urge everyone to vote against Measure D because City Council's actions continue to accelerate Palo Alto's overdevelopment, destroy residential neighborhoods, fail to meet the needs of Palo Alto seniors, and ignore the safety of our children and grandchildren. The seismic negative shift in the quality of life in Palo Alto — including congestion, density, parking, safety — must be halted. We must send a message to the pro-developer City Council who considers zoning regulations protecting residential neighborhoods irrelevant, situational and malleable at will. We must repudiate the questionable ethics of the City Council's multimillion-dollar investment in the project before its approval.
We must stop Measure D since it does not guarantee affordable housing for eligible Palo Alto seniors! Contrary to "proponents of rezoning," City Council has the capacity and the resources to create affordable housing for Palo Alto seniors without rezoning. Instead of affordable housing for Palo Alto seniors, Measure D only guarantees City Council's ability to rezone and destroy residential neighborhoods, with great impunity.
Please vote with us against Measure D!
Eva and George Gal
Donald Drive, Palo Alto
It's not about traffic
I am a Barron Park neighbor who enthusiastically supports Measure D and the affordable housing for seniors it will generate. I recognize the concerns about traffic on Maybell and have been in the middle of it on occasion. But Measure D is not going to worsen the situation.
Our community faces traffic challenges on numerous arteries and the reason is not affordable-housing developments. We have nearly 90,000 jobs in Palo Alto — way more than our population and well over triple the number of households (26,000 as of the 2010 census). These are the drivers who clog the roads, not seniors who don't usually need to drive during peak traffic hours.
Fixing traffic congestion will require bold, creative initiatives regardless of Measure D's fate. We need to take advantage of the complex funding formula that enables the Palo Alto Housing Corporation to build 60 affordable units for some of the many seniors in our community who need it in order to remain close to friends and family.
El Centro Street, Palo Alto
Define the problem
Confusion over Measure D is rooted in the lack of clarity regarding the problem.
If the problem is middle class Palo Altans can't afford their mortgage and property taxes after they retire, the solution might be to reduce their property taxes so they can stay in their homes. If the problem is parents of current Palo Altans can't afford to move here to be near their grandchildren, the solution might be to allow homeowners to build cottages in their backyards. If the problem is low-income Palo Altans can't afford their apartment rent after they retire, the solution might be to subsidize bus service to lower-cost cities so they could easily return to visit family. If the problem is that low-income San Jose residents would prefer to retire in Palo Alto, the solution might be to improve living conditions in San Jose.
Until we define the problem, we can't define the solution.
Southampton Drive, Palo Alto
A good deal
The vote on Measure D is a test of whether Palo Alto's strong support for affordable housing can be sustained when people are worried about rapid change.
"No on D" feels obligated to present itself as favoring affordable housing "done right" to overcome support for giving PAHC a chance to compete with commercial developers for property to build on.
The ballot argument for "No on D" says, "We support building affordable senior housing on the Maybell parcel within current zoning." How is it being supported if it's impossible to finance?
Palo Altans for Responsible Zoning wants to eliminate all Planned Community zoning due to abuse of the process. They have attacked PAHC as if it were Jay Paul Corporation, which wants PC zoning for a huge complex near California Avenue. Yet PAHC is a nonprofit whose sole goal is to build and maintain affordable housing. There is a difference.
"No on D" calls for sympathy from the rest of the city for Maybell if the project is approved. Well, save the sympathy.
The normal process of getting community input, revising plans and then submitting them to the planning commission brought major improvements. Political pressure got further adjustments in density and appearance, as well as bicycle and pedestrian-safety measures on Maybell. This is a good deal.
I have lived in Barron Park, a block from the Maybell site, for 38 years and would welcome this project.
Please vote Yes on D.
Georgia Avenue, Palo Alto
Keep Palo Alto inclusive
Somewhere over the last 50 years, Palo Alto ended up with around 65,000 residents and a daytime population of 110,000. The difference — 45,000 — a whole extra city's worth of people — are driving to Palo Alto and are part of Palo Alto's sky-high demand for housing. Measure D opponents lament that our city has changed. Yes, it has, and there is no going backwards.
What can we do? We can all appreciate that we live in a beautiful city, even if rush hour isn't fun. We can also remember that Palo Alto of the '60s was an inclusive community, where nurses and mail carriers could buy a single-family home. We can't roll back housing prices, but we can add 60 units of affordable senior housing. Let's remember what's important to preserve — keep Palo Alto an inclusive community. Vote Yes on D.
Alger Drive, Palo Alto
Seniors don't do rush hour
Every senior I know is way too smart to drive in rush hour. If you want less commute traffic on Maybell, count on seniors — we won't go near that mess. We don't have to. If you care about the safety of kids on bikes, vote Yes on D.
Grant Avenue, Palo Alto
A perfect remedy
If you support residents in the affordable housing at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, then you should support the affordable senior housing at the Maybell site and vote Yes on Measure D.
There are dozens of seniors who live at the mobile-home park who may get displaced if the owner sells the property, which is his right. The Maybell project would build 60 affordable apartments for seniors, providing a perfect remedy for some being displaced at Buena Vista. Maybell is a solution for seniors in jeopardy at Buena Vista, not a problem, offering a permanent source of badly needed affordable housing.
A downside of rising land values is the accelerated loss of Palo Alto residents to redevelopment, with seniors particularly vulnerable. The Maybell senior housing is a responsible, affirmative measure to minimize this loss.
If you care at all about affordable senior housing, vote yes on Measure D!
La Para Avenue, Palo Alto
Chamber says Yes on D
The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce strongly endorses a "Yes" vote on Measure D, a sensible effort
to provide affordable senior housing in our community.
The Maybell-Clemo project was approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote of the City Council after extensive public meetings and participation by neighbors and other affected constituencies. The ordinance adopted by the council was carefully considered and offers extensive community benefits.
A "Yes" vote on Measure D will permit construction of 60 affordable senior apartments located close to El Camino transit lines, to be financed in part by sale of 12 market-rate single-family lots. The availability of well-designed, well-situated senior housing is essential to building a sustainable, diverse community of residents and customers who support Palo Alto businesses. The use of the property under current zoning would likely be up to 46 multi-bedroom residences to be sold at market prices, with a far greater impact on the neighborhood in terms of local traffic.
The Palo Alto Housing Corporation is an exceptionally effective locally based nonprofit organization that has made notable contributions over many years to our city's attractive residential environment and overall quality of life. We're proud that the PAHC is a longtime member of the Chamber of Commerce, and we believe that the Maybell-Clemo project can be another successful PAHC
Rebecca A. Teutschel
Chair, Board of Directors
Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
Don't hold housing hostage
On Nov. 5, Palo Alto voters will be asked to vote yes or no on Measure D. A yes vote will support the unanimous decision made by the City Council on June 17 to allow the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation to build 60 affordable senior apartments at Maybell and Clemo avenues in Palo Alto.
As Barron Park residents, we support Measure D.
We've read all of the opposition's arguments. They reflect a reasonable concern about overdevelopment in Palo Alto and granting zoning variances to for-profit developers in exchange for minimal public benefits.
However, those concerns are simply not relevant to Measure D. The 60 units of senior housing is a real benefit for our community, and the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation has done tremendous good in our community for many years by providing affordable housing to Palo Alto residents. The proposed project, both the senior housing and the 12 single-family homes, are appropriately scaled for the location and neighborhood. Despite claims to the contrary, the Maybell development is consistent with the Housing Element of the city's Comprehensive Plan, in particular its emphasis on the need for more affordable housing.
Let's not hold this much-needed affordable housing project hostage because of issues with other recent developments elsewhere in the city. Let's secure the benefits of this project for Palo Alto and address larger concerns in the context of the commercial projects in which they arise and in electoral politics.
Vote yes on Measure D.
Ken and Michele Dauber
Paul Avenue, Palo Alto
League: Yes on D
The League of Women Voters of Palo Alto has long supported affordable housing in Palo Alto. We expressed our support for the Maybell project at every step of the nine-month public process through our letters and public testimony. When the Maybell project was placed on the ballot in the form of Measure D, we signed the supporting ballot statement, and we voted to endorse and advocate for a yes vote on Measure D.
Measure D affirms the Palo Alto City Council's unanimous decision to change the zoning at the Maybell site to enable the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation to build 60 units of affordable housing for low and very low-income seniors and legally require the apartments to remain affordable and age-restricted.
We especially support this project because the need for affordable housing for senior citizens in Palo Alto is so great. According to the Council on Aging Silicon Valley, nearly 20 percent of Palo Alto seniors are living near or below the poverty line; and there are hundreds of seniors in Palo Alto on waiting lists for existing low-income senior housing properties and hundreds more who are looking for affordable, independent living.
The League of Women Voters of Palo Alto urges a yes vote on Measure D on your mail-in ballot or on Election Day.
Mary Alice Thornton
President, League Women Voters of Palo Alto
Measure D: not a PC abuse
I am a Barron Park resident who has often opposed Planned Community (PC) zoning changes that have resulted in over-development in Palo Alto, yet I support a "Yes" vote on Measure D.
In my opinion, there have been many abuses of the PC zone, but Measure D is not one of them. Because land prices are so expensive, higher densities are required to keep unit prices affordable to low-income groups. To date, almost all affordable-housing projects in Palo Alto have required a zoning change.
I believe Measure D is a proper use of the PC zone because it will enable a designated low-income group to live in Palo Alto, and therefore provide more of the kind of diversity that I value.
Measure D is one of the few real opportunities to provide affordable housing for low-income seniors. Please do not confuse Measure D with some of the many bad examples of PC zoning that have occurred in the past.
Please join me on voting Yes on Measure D.
Military Way, Palo Alto
Look around; vote yes
I support Measure D. I support community diversity and affordable senior housing in Palo Alto. I support innovation and change and empathy. The "not in my neighborhood" theme is a common way to tell people they don't belong here and should leave. The idea of kicking our residents out, because of lower income, is a sad commentary on our community values. It's not generous or thoughtful. Our pride of place should not be exclusive.
My family has lived in Palo Alto since the 1950s; my father is a healthy 101 years old; we are very lucky he can stay in his house, well cared for and safe. But what if he couldn't? Would that mean he has to leave the community he has lived in for over 60 years? How many, except the wealthy can afford to buy or rent in Palo Alto these days? Don't we have a responsibility for all our residents young and old?
I think we should look inside and look around. Think about your parents, yourself, your kids. Vote Yes on Measure D.
Starr King Circle, Palo Alto