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Palo Alto asks public for input on growth

Original post made on Dec 1, 2013

After suffering a stinging defeat on Election Day at the hands of residents frustrated about recent development trends, Palo Alto officials will on Monday unveil a process for engaging their critics and reforming the zoning process.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, December 1, 2013, 9:00 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by Frustrated citizen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

The root cause of the issue is not something that can be fixed with some feel good "community engagement" in which our council pretends to listen to the public so that they can distance themselves from shoving the unwanted Measure D down a residential neighborhoods throat.

The root cause of the problem is that we have a council that is squarely in the pocket of development interests, and arrogant enough to believe that it knows better than residents what is best for their well being. This council's love of big city bureaucracy (hiring a 250k PR hack to tell us what a great job they are doing) is not helping : they cannot say NO when a developer comes bearing gifts.

Vote them all out. Vote for the candidates endorsed by the preserve zoning folks in 2014 and 2016. This has to stop now.

Posted by LastStraw, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

It's a little too late in my opinion. The damage is done and maneuvering downtown with wall to wall people and cars is disgusting. I'm so disappointed in this city and walk around frustrated every day I walk out my front door. I can't drive down my street to get to my house between 3pm - 6pm, we can't park in front of our house because all of the downtown employees, I sit in bumper to bumper traffic on Lytton and Alma, and riding our bikes through all of this traffic is getting more dangerous. The Lytton Gateway project was the last straw for downtown North. It was built with many protests from residents and city council let it happen anyway. There is no public benefit and now we are even more strapped for space.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

There was tons of community input on the Lytton Gateway project, and the Maybell project which was IGNORED by the city council.

In fact Mayor Scharf & Vice Mayor Shepard commented on the Lytton Gateway project that "the building itself is the public benefit".

And on the Maybell project, not one council member would dare ask city staff what could be built using existing zoning; not one council member would question staff on the shoddy traffic study. And Mayor Scharf represented the pro-Measure D side in the debates. Not one council member represented the community which the majority were against rezoning.

What's needed is to vote out Scharf, Shepard, Price (Klein is termed out), and put in council members who will listen to the community, who will question city staff, and who will represent the residents.

Posted by Que pasa, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

They are asking for our opinions a little late in the game. For years now, we have gone to city council meetings and aired our protests against these big developments that only bring heavy traffic, crowding, pollution, and crime to our neighborhoods-- and all they have done is to ignore the majority opinion ( which should be illegal).

They are doing way too little, way too late. Vote 'em all out!

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

The document released by the City is very helpful, but not as complete as it could be. Missing is information about why Palo Alto has Planned Community variances in our zoning codes, how PC zoning was introduced into the code, and how it could be removed. Also missing is any information about the City's/Council's obligation to grant PC zoning requests, as well as an applicant's options if his PC zoning variances are rejected by the City.

This sort of zoning is not unique to Palo Alto—although it is often called Planned Development (PD) in other communities. One option to the residents would be to advance some sort of ordinance to the Ballot that would prohibiting PC/PD variances in our zoning code. This sort of action would require some research to determine if there might be any possible legal challenges that would nullify a vote to terminate PC/PD zoning.

As to public benefits from granting the variances for PC zoning, it's pretty clear that the Council has been a very poor steward of the public's interests, and has never show much acumen in weighing the offerings of the Developers against the impact of the granting of the variances.

It's difficult to believe that a part-time Council will be able to spend very much quality time reviewing these matters, and that any meaningful change is not likely without more push from the residents.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

A good show of faith in this process would be for the City Council to revisit projects which were granted PC exemptions and make sure they are actually providing the benefit to the community that they promised. Cafe Riacce and St. Michael's Alley come to mind, they both promised to provide public plazas which are now their outdoor dining rooms…

Real and substantial public benefits - things like Heritage Park - should be required as part of any exemptions.

Posted by rg, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Shephard and Scharf are carrying on the poor guidance demonstrated by John Barton and Judy Kleinberg - both disasters. Barton brought us Alma plaza and Kleinberg lobbbied hard for high density projects in developers interests.

The city manager and current council cost us over $250k for an election that wouldn't have been required w/ proper leadership.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm

The most needed reform is the total elimination of the Planned Community Zoning loophole. The community benefits that the council negotiates are dubious at best and hideous at worst. Palo Alto would be better off if it didn't have ANY PC projects.

Posted by Measure D Opponent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

To start, no more letting developers skate with bogus traffic studies. Anyone who ventures out during weekday commute times knows the roads cannot handle the existing traffic inbound in the morning and out of Palo Alto at night. Palo Alto already has all the development its roads can handle--and then some. Even if a project is within existing zoning it should not be allowed if robustly done traffic studies show otherwise. Perhaps such studies should not be done by companies beholden to the developer either.

Measure D didn't start out as, but it seems to have turned in to, a fight for the heart and soul of Palo Alto. Do we really want to be a city of high rises, high density and stop-and-go traffic? Note the small businesses on the main streets of Los Altos and Menlo Park. I remember when Palo Alto used to look like, and feel like, that. Who says--other than city council and their developer cronies--that additional office buildings is really an improvement?

There should also be strict rules about what new development is allowed to look like. That new monstrosity at the intersection of Alma and Homer does not blend in with the surrounding architecture. What if beautiful cities like Santa Barbara let such ugly buildings go up downtown? People want to live in Palo Alto for a couple of reasons, the schools and ambiance--an ambiance that is being destroyed with each ill-considered development project.

Posted by Ben, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm

The whole concept of "Planned Community Zoning" needs to be permanently removed from the toolbox of city planners. It's been used by developers to get way more building in places it should not be allowed, and to violate on the books zoning regulations all to amplify their personal profit at neighborhood expense. The city council and staff have tripped all over themselves to approve every PC zoning application presented to them. Have any PC applications been flat out denied, ever? PC zoning needs to be ended because the city has consistently abused it to the benefit of developers and at the expense of residents.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm

The Council and staff are trying to hoodwink the residents and keep the game going. Don't buy into it for a second. The City is being completely
destroyed by overdevelopment and giveaways to developers, insiders who are
reaping financial benefits with no qualms at all about the destruction of
neighborhoods and the quality of life and character of the City.

Not only do PC's need to be abolished in total because it has been so abused
but we need a moratorium on large projects and a downzoning to reduce
FAR's. With a strong market a buildout under existing zoning following
what is already in the pipeline will completely over-run the capacity of
the City's infrastructure.

We don't need community dialogue, community meetings, more studies. We need strong action in response to the state of crisis this Council/staff have
put us in. Watch not what they say but what they do- which will be nothing. The Jay Paul and Arrillaga projects are so outrageous, basically ridiculous, that putting them on hold as a gesture and response to the crisis we are in is simply not enough. The farce needs to end.

The ugliness washing over the City's sign-cluttered streetscapes, the congestion, the over-building and under-parking now enveloping the
500 block of Hamilton Ave, with the recently approved 611 Cowper project
at the corner poised to exacerbate the impacts already felt in Crescent
Park. The list goes on and on. Compare the hyperbole of Lytton Gateway
to the reality of Lytton Gateway. That should be the last straw. Palo Alto
is descending to the bottom passing through long accepted norms associated with responsible government.

Posted by Stop gross over-development, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Scarff, Shepherd, Kniss, Klein support every BIG Development that goes to Council. Measure D did not change their loyalties to developers and the special interests that they represent. Since the election, Council has already approved a BIG Development on El Camino Real, near Fryes. They dismiss Measure D results due to alleged "poor voter turnout"(Kniss), "bullying" (Shepherd),and arrogant disregard for the public (Klein).

These meetings are just a delay tactic to get more projects through the pipeline and approved before citizens are forced to put a 100% moratorium on the ballot. The proposed restrictions on new PC in residential neighborhoods are intended to deflect attention from all the BIG Developments in the pipelinr that Council will approve in the meantime. Just because they are not new PCs in residential neighborhoods, does not mean that the projects aren't deovercrowded, underparked,traffic inducing, ugly nightmares that include huge discretionary zoning exceptions.

The citizens of Palo Alto should not be forced to appeal, sue, pursue ballot measures, etc. just to get Council to listen. We've been telling them what we want for years. Council has declared war on the citizens of Palo Alto. Measure D was the first battle where the majority fought back. Council waging a war against the people of Palo Alto is NOT in the best interest of the city. The gross over-development must stop now!

Posted by Semper mementote, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm

It's an old insurance company tactic - when they're screwing you, they hold another meeting to play on your hope that they'll start being reasonable. Delay and deny.

"Staff proposes in the report a "visioning exercise" aimed getting the community more engaged in the Comprehensive Plan update."

Um...the participation in the Maybell process was called "historic" by even the planning department. Measure D was only one of two referenda -- the other referendum WAS engagement about the Comprehensive Plan, a referendum qualified in just 10 days. Many people opposing the rezoning spoke all along to how the Comprehensive Plan was being violated and how staff had cherry-picked things that supported their view even though overall the rezoning was very inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Pretending like they need to have a meeting to start listening to us is just insult to injury. Maybe they should start by actually reading some of the many letters citizens have written over the past several months, without dismissing anything they don't agree with offhand, and composing a letter to the citizenry that demonstrates in even some measure that they heard us.

We have no responsibility to make Palo Alto into Manhattan. The US is a vast nation with many decaying urban areas that could be reborn from spillover tech from the Bay Area. This is not Hong Kong where the only choice is to infill and go up.

The Comprehensive Plan should be strengthened for sane, safe, smart planning, and citizens should have stronger administrative recourse short of going to the ballot.

Posted by Semper mementote, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

I thought this was an interesting description of the new movie "Dogtown Redemption":
"Soltani's documentary illustrates how poor urban planning turned a thriving African American community into a destitute landscape dominated by industrial blight, with tensions rising from gentrification."

Our City Council doesn't seem to realize they can kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Also, this is really interesting:
Web Link
See the part about the Citizen Enforcement Committee for zoning....

Posted by casti neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 2:47 am

The over enrollment problem at Castilleja girl's school is a clear violation of the 2000 Conditional Use Permit, the neighbors' property rights are being violated and the city needs to defend them.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 8:13 am

Each time a big development project comes up before the city council, and this goes at leastas far back as the Sand Hill Project, the entire city council votes unanimously in favor. I get very suspicious when there is consistently no dissent among elected public officials. City council candidates who speak about "smart development", "slow development" "sustainable development", etc. seem to suddenly become highly enthusiastic pro-development once they are elected and start interfacing with the developers. These candidates-turned-councilmen/women suddenly can't meet a development they don't like.

Posted by lastStraw, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 2, 2013 at 9:02 am

It's a problem when you don't have a set of balanced views on the city council. They all have the same views so it's easy for them to make decisions and go forward with plans that the residents may not agree with. It's like a monopoly. We need a council that is more balanced with differing views!

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

SteveU is a registered user.

It appears that council and staff supports anything that generates any revenue and staff retention.

Big projects generate more permit fees than small jobs.
Big jobs need more staff to review/inspect/regulate than small jobs.
Bigger staff needs more supervision staff.

It is all about $$ and keeping their job.

Posted by Dobbin, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 11:21 am

We are DONE with the city council crew. Vote them OUT!!!!!

Posted by we're talking , a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 11:28 am

We're talking about people who think it's okay to ban parking everywhere and start charging RESIDENTS to park on the streets outside of their own homes. You get what you vote for, i guess...

Posted by Dr.E, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

@Semper mementote: Great weblink---a logical way to do things…clearly not for Palo Alto.

Posted by Jo Ann, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

Keep reminding the City Council and planners to fix the traffic light timing,

Remind them early and often.

Tell them no more ridiculous bottlenecks like happen in and around Town & Country Shopping Center.

Remind them we are furious that while we're voting down Measure D they're STILL approving downtown buildings with 500+ parking shortfalls AND conducting surveys on how much RESIDENTS -- not businesses -- would "like" to pay to fix their parking-traffic mess.

Remind them to give up THEIR personal parking spaces first so they can see how everyone else copes.

Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 11:48 am

Is it going to be like the voting on the fountain design on California Ave. few years ago? If you recall the City asked us to vote which design we prefer and when the people voted for more classical one the City said "thank you" and announced that the fountain will be replaced with the modern one nobody cared about.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

It's all about money,power,influence,egos. The Council is fascinated by
big projects, corporate offices, more sq footage. That's how you end up with a massive completely out of place "Lytton Gateway". And a 537 Hamilton Ave under construction, to be followed by a 53 spaces under-parked 611 Cowper, etc, etc. For the staff it's more responsibilty and resume building. For all these players, Palo Alto is simply a platform to further their own goals, not a community with a character and quality of life to be valued and protected.

Posted by Jo Ann, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

" On Dec. 9, the council is scheduled to discuss a proposed "transportation demand management" program aimed at reducing car trips to the city's primary business areas."

And in the process reduce sales tax revenues by reducing the number of people from shopping downtown??? No problem, sayeth our officials. We'll just raise utility rates to cover the shortfall.

Didn't the city just hire another City Tourism Promoter for $200,000? What will they promote if tourists can;'t go downtown? Travel to Menlo Park?

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I find it amazing that the city council is so homogeneous when it comes to development. The larger the growth trigger, the less dissension there seems to be. This has been going on at least since the Sand Hill Project. Council members who ran as environmentalists and slow growth advocates suddenly support very large developments projects utterly out of line with the city's character and heritage. How is it even possible that nine people consistently agree with each other on such issues? It is truly mind boggling.

Posted by Recall, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Vote in 2014 is too late


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Marie is a registered user.

What I would recommend;
Total moratorium on all projects until a new city plan is adopted.

All projects must comply with existing zoning - no exceptions. If bonus density is required by the state, reduce the allowed density so new projects will meet what is right for Palo Alto. If you want more control, specify density is this without public benefit and will be higher if they include a specific benefit (more parking, retail, housing).

Eliminate PC zoning without a public vote.

Require increased parking for any new projects, in order to make up for our lack of parking. Some percentage of parking in any area that today lacks parking, must be public.

Implement a TDM and see if it works before allowing any more development. There is so much in the pipeline today, that there is no reason to approve any more until the traffic situation has improved.

Return Charleston to four lanes.

Reduce the allowed time for the traffic light just before E. Meadow on Alma so that Alma traffic has more preference. Since that light has activated, traffic backs up much further, almost to Page Mill. Waits to get out of that driveway should be equivalent to those for people already on Alma.

I would gladly sign a petition to eliminate PC zoning for Palo Alto without a vote per project by Palo Alto residents.

Posted by litebug, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

(former resident, 1970-2008) Some of us were concerned and spoke up repeatedly about this subject for many, many years. Developers have ruled in Palo Alto for decades and, despite all the objections, things just kept getting worse for the average resident. The quality of life, the charm and appearance of the town, were all greatly compromised. Palo Alto appears to want to become a high-density, high-rise commercial center like downtown San Jose. It's certainly been moving in that direction for some time.

While I realize that the economic situation in Silicon Valley is not representative of the entire country, I was nonetheless amazed to see "The renewed pace of development since the end of the recession...". The recession ended and no one told me and much of the rest of the country?!?!?

That's the problem with Palo Alto: distorted vision, distorted values. One can only assume that many palms have gotten greased and favors exchanged in bringing about this shameful state of affairs. Why else do people suddenly switch sides as soon as they get elected, as someone noted? This became increasingly routine during the 38 years I lived there. We kept getting the exact opposite behavior from that promised when city officials had been running for office. Lying politicians can be found everywhere but not every city tolerates them as well as Palo Alto.

Palo Alto was always upscale and conceited but it's gone totally off the rails in snobbery while having less and less to point to with pride, as far as quality of life for the residents, except for the ultra wealthy. There used to be a much better "vibe" in the town, one that was friendly and made living there special. I was a dedicated Palo Alto booster for a long time but had gotten pretty soured on the town by the time we moved.

One could feel the quality of life, the "vibe" of the town, changing along with the physical landscape. The more the development, the more only the wealthy could exist there, the the less quality of life, less esthetic considerations, more nastiness (Children's Theatre, Cook Book restaurant/Town & Country, etc.). It absolutely tracked. Things kept getting uglier all the time, both physically and otherwise.

The turning point started, I believe, with elimination of almost all retail except that catering to the wealthy, continued with destruction of perfectly good and attractive variety of residences to be replaced with ugly McMansion monstrosities. I'd once shopped at Stanford Shopping Center, Town and Country, downtown, midtown and California Ave. It came to be that I did almost no shopping in Palo Alto and I was not alone.

I've seen pictures of some of the development going on there since I left. I keep up with things in the area, friends send me clippings and such. OMG! Who is approving such ugly monstrosities? If there is to be development, must it be so offensively ugly? The Jewish Community Center was just finishing construction when I moved but it was already obviously a totally imposing ugly eyesore. I've seen pictures of what's happened where the Sears store was on San Antonio. More and more building right up to the sidewalk. More and more congestion when it was already bad.

I fought the Town & Country and Edgewood Plaza fights only to become totally disgusted with how things were done, with the city totally on the side of the developers and screw any other concerns. All you get is lip service.

The town lost our business, our support and finally we voted with our feet and left. To those similarly disgusted and wanting to leave, I can tell you that there are still good towns to live in, ones a lot like Palo Alto once was, but is no more, places that are convenient, pleasant and liveable. We were lucky enough to find one and the quality of life here is so much better.

Posted by Long_Term_Fix, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Folks, Let's make sure we do not get bamboozled by the city councils lame, last minute pretences to listen to the citizens rather than the developers. I'd like to solicit ideas to fix the city government's attitude for ever so developers do not get special consideration and so we do not turn into manhattan or LA. Some ideas

o Complete Moratorium on new projects until we have a new plan
o No more PC zoning
o All meetings with developers/citizens have to be videotaped and made available to citizens. No private meetings for any reasons. No city discussions over lunch. etc. etc.
o Every city council candidate has to disclose any and all connections to special interests - With this Scharf would never have become mayor

I can think of more but we need other input.

Posted by Long_Term_Fix, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Also, I realize that these rules would have to be very carefully thought out and worded (how to stop the city attorney from wording new laws with loopholes, for example) and some may have constitutional challenges. This is a long process but I think we have to stay engaged and do it if we don't want these people destroying what is left of Palo Alto's character.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Dear City Council,
Are you reading this? Do you realize that every, single comment disapproves? Who do you think you are to go against the wishes of the citizens of this town?

Posted by Ray Bacchetti, a resident of University South
on Dec 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Of all the commentators above me, only one signed his name. That tells me something about what's happening in our community. Democracy, identity, and dialogue are out; monologues, fury, and anonymity are in. Having only a few settings on one's civic dial--outrage, disparagement, ranting--doesn't leave much room for the kinds of behavior that got Palo Alto to be the community that we treasure--analysis, planning, entrepreneurial thinking, teamwork, civic engagement, sensible development, collective responsibility, and a commitment to the social contract.

Reading the comments above, I could not tell what the writers are for. A pessimistic reading would suggest no growth, inflexible zoning, resistance to innovation, a static business and residential climate, and the elimination of individually owned vehicles.

If those become the candidates' themes in next fall's Council elections, I wonder how those who espouse them would deal with economic vitality, diversity and inclusion, progressive thinking in a negative political atmosphere, the claims of the younger generation for opportunity and a political voice, our civic responsibility for those living lives on the margin, and a vision of what this generation's legacy will be to the next.

To me, the issue isn't growth, it's what kind; it's more planning AND zoning; and it's about how we can all take a breath and come together realizing that progress without change never happened.

Posted by Fear of law suits, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Former Palo Altan resident veteran ( having had to engage in several big project headaches). City might be using PC as a way to pacify residents in order to appease certain developers. Developers often threaten the city with law suits by saying "you are taking our profit". Well I have heard that new laws protect the city from these types of law suits. I support Wayne Martin's comments. I hope the residents will get VERY savy and get better protections for the sake of all of us around here.

Early on ( PAMF project , Sand Hill Road ) the Head City Planner said at a community meeting that "he hated the word sustainable" and after Palo Alto went on to work with Stanford Development. Another thing to address looking back at what PC is giving today. Seems like outdoor dining is always next to parking lots and heavy use street.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Identifying oneself and speaking before city council doesn't seem to do any good, but doing so and then being ignored does make people angry, which is what you see here. I think you are incorrect that there are not constructive ideas here: listen to ordinary people, less clout for developers, REAL public benefit for exemptions, enforcement for promised public benefits, no exemptions, smaller scale building, etc.
You may not like anonymity, but remember, all these commenters are going to vote anonymously; I would think council members would like a heads-up of how the citizens are thinking/feeling. Besides, if someone is too thin-skinned to tolerate on-line criticism of public decisions, they ought not run for office.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm

>Of all the commentators above me, only one signed his name

Well, Ray, I do sign my name.

You are clearly upset that Measure D was defeated, and you seem to be explaining it away as some sort of rant. You could, alternatively, accept that a neighborhood and neighborhoods wanted to protect themselves.

A bottom line issue is the welfare housing that has been foisted on Palo Alto neighborhoods. Eliminate that craziness, then so many other problems will disappear.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Not every single voice was against measure D. I voted for it and felt very discouraged that a bunch of NIMBYS voted down much needed housing for low income seniors. I am so tired of the 'have's' stomping on the needs of the 'have nots'.

Posted by Long_Term_Fix, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

@Ray Baccheti

Only with Anonymity will we get to know what people really think. Sorry if you don't like it but PaloAlto Online has a good reason for the policy. I do not necessarily want my neighbor who has built his house violating the daylight plane know that I'm complaining about it and looking for suggestions online for example (made up situation)

@Jennifer - Most people will simply ignore your post because you've made it clear that you're only interested in name calling and not debating the real issues people brought up. Go take a look at Alma Plaza and the "benefits" the developer provided if you want to know why people are pissed off. In case you did not know it "Have nots" do not have an automatic right to live in a particular place. For example as a "have not" myself (relatively speaking) I do not expect anyone to subsidize me to live in Atherton. There are many right ways to do low-income housing and even more wrong ways to do it. One of the right ways is to pass a city-wide tax assessment. If it doesnt pass, then people do not want to pay for it. That does not mean they are NIMBYs or heartless. The wrong way to do it is to willy-nilly rezone, with the pretense of "public benefits" which as in the case of Alma Plaza are very very tiny because the developer, in collusion with the city council, cheated and pulled the wool over the eyes of palo alto citizens.

BTW, Instead of name calling, debate issues - Why don't you work on refuting the claims of people here that there was no way to ensure Maybell housing would go to local low-income people instead of people from other cities or even countries?

Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I voted against measure D. We don't need anymore low income housing in Palo Alto. If someone wants to buy a house or condominium, pay the price. Don't expect to steal money from the other residents or city taxpakyers.
In City Council's left wing tradition we have too much "affordable housing" and it has only increased our crime rate.

Posted by TiredOfTheseClaims, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm

This is NONSENSE: Most of us who live in Palo Alto have to work at something else - a job unrelated to real estate development, for example - to support our households and just want to live here in the place we though we chose to live in. We don't have time to get sucked into endless, and usually pointless, community "input" meetings, while those making money turning our town into "shoot for the moon" (a cute little phase used to describe Arrillaga's proposed monstrosity on University Avenue) city are more than happy and to have their paid minions go after every angle, every day to get what they want, and then line their own pockets at our expense - we have to pay for the long-term infrastructure and services costs - not them. How about we forget "community benefits" and simply enforce the zoning laws we have just as they are? Just imagine that. How about if the city, instead of sending staff off on a visioning exercise, simply post online a map of all the approved and pending and proposed developments together with their cumulative stats (parking, traffic, demands on infrastructure, etc.) so we can actually see them all at once? I think once the community got a look at that its vision would be pretty darn clear.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Ray Bachetti claims that 'Democracy, identity, and dialogue are out; monologues, fury, and anonymity are in. Having only a few settings on one's civic dial--outrage, disparagement, ranting--doesn't leave much room for the kinds of behavior that got Palo Alto to be the community that we treasure--analysis, planning, entrepreneurial thinking, teamwork, civic engagement, sensible development, collective responsibility, and a commitment to the social contract.'

Does he bemoan the lack of democracy because, as a board member of Channing House, he invited the YES side to come to present their case to residents, but did not invite those AGAINST? That was not very democratic.

But democracy is definitely IN, thanks to over 4,000 residents who signed 2 petitions to get Measure D on the ballot, which then won by 56.1%. That's democracy in action.

Dialogue is only out because the city staff and council don't like to have dialogue with residents. We get 3 minutes to speak to the council, but it's a one-way conversation, not a dialogue.

Like so many staff and council members, Mr. Baccheti equates any form of criticism with 'fury, outrage, disparagement, ranting.' By doing so, he is able to dismiss the comments, and then claim anonymity is the problem.

But all those people who went to numerous meetings about the Maybell project, the Gateway project, 3159 El Camino, California Avenue narrowing, Arastradero road diet, etc. were not anonymous. They stood up and voiced their opposition, yet Council and staff still ignored them.

Mr. Baccheti claims that 'we treasure--analysis, planning, entrepreneurial thinking, teamwork, civic engagement, sensible development, collective responsibility, and a commitment to the social contract.'

The only people who treasure those things are the residents. Council and staff are pretty bad at analysis. Just look at all those bogus traffic studies and decisions made based on expectations and wishful thinking vs. hard data. How about the Mitchell Park library? Who's responsible for the analysis and planning on that disaster?

As for 'sensible development,' the reason that council is finally owning up to the problem with PC zoning is because so much irresponsible and unsustainable development has already taken place or been approved ' to the detriment of the city.

'Civic engagement'? 'Commitment to the social contract'? The only contract the council has is with developers. 'The building itself is a public benefit.'

If the city council had a social contract with residents, councilmembers would pay attention to their wants and needs and wouldn't now be looking at a 'visioning process,' which will go the way of other such excuses for communication. Remember 'Open City Hall,' which is still being paid for in spite of sitting vacant in cyberspace for years?

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Not a Palo Alto resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Pat, above, is NOT a resident of Midtown. She may own property in town, but is currently a resident of Los altos. I am not sure why she feels that she should have a say in what is going on in Palo Alto. She does not have a vote in Palo Alto elections at this time. So I am not sure what her comment above, including a long attack on ray bachetti, is really for.

Posted by Lorna, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I have lived in the neighborhood over 30 years and applaud the council and Transportation Dept taking away the four lane race way - don't bring that mess back! I was for Measure D and am saddened by those who threw out the baby with the bath water because other developments were not to our liking. The real estate agents are salivating - looking forward to those commissions! Below Market Housing allowing those purchasing their own units is NOT WELFARE. It allows city workers at mid (which is now low income) to own a home and then allow others to do the same when the owners are ready to sell. Palo Alto used to be a city of caring people and good neighbors - what happened?

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

> I am not sure why she feels that she should have a say in
> what is going on in Palo Alto. She does not have a vote in
> Palo Alto elections at this time.

Property owners have voting rights in some Palo Alto elections (Prop.218), as well as being responsible for all taxes on the property they own. Non-residents can contribute to the political campaigns of both candidates, as well as Ballot items. Certainly we have seen several candidates for City Council receive significant financial support from people/organizations which are not resident here in town. Lastly, the value of every property owner's property is dependent on intelligent decisions by the City Council, as well as intelligent management of the public assets by Staff.

> attack on Bachetti

Good lord! Pat (of Midtown) simply challenged Bachetti's claims with hard evidence. Do you really believe that people who disagree with you are attacking you? That is hardly what "democracy" is about.

It's hard to find fault with Pat's rebuttal of Bachetti's claims.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

>Below Market Housing allowing those purchasing their own units is NOT WELFARE

Yes it IS welfare! In fact, it is the worst form of welfare, because it pits one neighbor, in a given development, against another.

Posted by Not a Palo Alto,resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not a Palo Alto resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

It doesn't matter where Pat lives or owns property. Everything she said is
absolutely correct and stands on its own. She could have been anonymous
if she wanted to.

Posted by Not a Palo Alto resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Resident-- would that be your response if an out of town developer would have said what Ray bacchetti said? What about if an out of town developer would argue in favor of PC zoning? Would you say then that it did not matter that this person is not from Palo Alto

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

> Wayne-- what about the following comment of Pat's

> Some of us ignore his comments because we know that he --
> as a frequent commission member and one of the "Palo Alto 400" --
> is simply an apologist for City Hall and the status quo."

Assuming that you believe that this is an "attack" on Bachetti, just how much of the comment is true? Can one "attack" another by simply stating facts?

What is true is Mr. Bachetti has been appointed to numerous commissions--while other worthwhile candidates who would like to serve, and voice opinions other than Bachettis are ignored. As to his being "connected" at City Hall, I was in attendence at a public meeting where the City Manager almost fell over himself trying to praise Mr. Bachetti. Haven't seen that kind of attention paid to other members of the public. Kind of makes one wonder why Mr. Bachetti is so popular at City Hall, and others can't win a seat on some of these high-visibility commissions?

Perhaps it's time to remind you, and others, that in these sorts of venues--it's OK to attack the message, but not the messenger. Perhaps, like beauty, "attacks" are in the eye of the beholder--but, in my opinion, Pat didn't "attack" Mr. Bachetti--but she did attempt to counter him.

> you benefit now from welfare in PA-- the CT parking program.--
> but as long as you benefit, that is not welfare, right? What hypocrisy!!!!

I am having problems understanding this claim. Using the Wikipedia definition of welfare, it seems that "welfare" is:

Web Link

Welfare is the provision of a minimal level of well-being and social support for all citizens, sometimes referred to as public aid. In most developed countries welfare is largely provided by the government, and to a lesser extent, charities, informal social groups, religious groups, and inter-governmental organizations

The key phrase here is "public aid". If the City is providing services to all in the College Terrace area, relative to some sort of parking control--this can hardly be seen as "welfare" (or public aid)--such as someone getting a check in the mail every month in lieu of a paycheck every week.

It certainly seems to me that the below market housing being discussed above seems to fall into the area of "public aid", and hence--"welfare".

> One can only hope that someday craig and Ruth will end up
> in need of assistance.

This may not qualify as an attack on Craig Laughton, but it seems pretty mean spirited to me.

Any chance we can dial back the rhetoric, and stick to facts?

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm

>Really, Craig,? you benefit now from welfare in PA-- the CT parking program.-- but as long as you benefit, that is not welfare, right? What hypocrisy!!!!

The RPPP in CT is partially subsidized. My solution for that is to increase the fines for the scofflaws. However, we were the first to develop an RPPP in PA, and that basic model will become the essential way that other neighborhoods will control their own parking issues. Also, we in CT pay our share of taxes for police services, yet we demand very few of them...pretty much a scratch.

> And below market rate housing is not welfare, despite what you say over and over.

BMR is totally a welfare model, because market rates are not paid...somebody else has to do that. I will continue to tell the truth about that. Over and over.

BTW, how can you claim to be "Not a Palo Alto resident", while you claim to be a resident of Midtown? Perhaps a little confused?

Posted by on growth?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Not a Palo Alto Resident,

How do you know that Pat lives in Los Altos?

Posted by Carla Talbott, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Ray Bacchetti: I posted earlier as "litebug". Now you have my name, for whatever difference it makes.

Posted by Not a Palo Alto resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Wayne-- the editor has deleted that portion of pats post that you and I are discussing-- meaning that they consider it a violation of their policy. As for the claims of welfare, perhaps you should discuss with Craig what he describes as " welfare" . I am sure you will then understand my comment. And if you want to stick to the "facts"-- which facts are those? You label pats claims as being " facts"-- so maybe we should stick to opinions that do not offend anyone.

Craig-- perhaps you should go back and see that my name ( not a Palo Alto resident) was referring to the poster who posted prior to myself. Dah.

On growth?-- if you were familiar with the poster you would know the city of the posters residence. He/she does not make a secret out of it.

Posted by PA Native, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm

The Architectural Review Board members need to be replaced. Unfortunately most of the members terms aren't up until 2015. That gives them plenty of time to continue the destruction of Palo Alto. Has anyone looked up who is on the ARB?
They are a bunch of loser architects hoping to get business by being on the ARB. One of the architects on the ARB was the architect for the monstrocity, Jewish Community Center. That gives you an idea of what kind of taste these so called architects have. Nothing will change in Palo Alto until the ARB, city council and city manager are tossed out.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

@Not a Palo Alto resident
Developers who are PA residents are after the same $$$ as those who
live in nearby cities. Public policy should not depend on who the developer
is or where they live. That is the problem in PA - insiders, those connected, are given a free pass.

Posted by Not a Palo Alto resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Resident-- one of the problems is that, as others have pointed out, there is no,penalty if the public benefit part is not carried through. That is a failure of the council. Perhaps PC zoning needs to be retired, as others suggest.
I say we should listen to what the council,has to say. People are claiming that the council do not listen, then in the next breath that it is too late for the council now. Shouldn't we wait and hear whatbthey suggest .
I am not sure we can institute a complete moratorium on building as some posters suggest.
There is an election coming up-- if the council is s clueless as many suggest , then there will be an opportunity to replace some of them next year. For those who want a complete recall of the council, get the ball rolling on a petition.

Posted by palo alto native, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I was nearly hit by a car today while walking in the crosswalk at the corner of California Ave and Birch.
The driver was not looking. I went flying back as I jumped out of the way. I was splayed across the street, purse
contents everywhere. As I got up off of the ground the driver yelled at me....something about the fact that he
was not even close to hitting me. I think after all of these years it is time to leave.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

As a Registered User,
I am not anonymous. The Weekly has my full name.
SteveU is my first name, Last name Initial

Back to the topic
We used to have downtown businesses for all walks of life.
Now they mostly cater to the rich (they have to, just to afford the rents).

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

PA Native
Look at he requirements for the ARB
You don't even have to be a RESIDENT

Posted by Justin, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2013 at 12:23 am

Ugh, everyone here really just wants to keep Palo Alto the way it is? It seems like most everywhere in the Bay Area (San Francisco included), people are against more density. Sorry, this is a great place to live and more people deserve a chance to live and work here. We should have more apartments (and tall ones at that, not just 2-3 story condos) and more jobs, that is the only way to make it more affordable to live here. And no, more parking isn't going to make Palo Alto a better place to live. Stop complaining and bike more. We need to charge a fair market price for parking and make better use of existing spaces.

Posted by Seriously?, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 3, 2013 at 1:44 am

The majority of Council wasn't interested in listening to the public.

Klein, Kniss and Burman spent much of their time lecturing the public about why the Vote Against Measure D was meaningless.

Klein stated that Kniss was elected with more votes than cast ballots in the Nov. 5th election so you can't draw any conclusions about what it means. At least he is honest enough to announce that he has no respect for the voters.

Kniss misrepresented the nature of the public's comments. She claimed that of the 50 speakers, the sentiments represented were evenly split, because she was keeping a tally. How on earth could she tally anything. There was no single issue. Comments ranged from complaints about traffic to suggestions for using technology for remote participation at Council Meetings. Are those for or against comments?

Berman defended his decision on Measure D because he knows he was right. Seriously?

Posted by on growth?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2013 at 2:14 am


Apartments in Palo Alto would sell or rent at NY prices, or HIGHER, so the ratio of rich/deserving and cars/bikes for new housing would not make the idealistic deserving bike rider very happy.

As for your idea that Palo Alto needs to also create even more more new jobs for all the deserving people, what kind of jobs would that be, any special requests?

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2013 at 6:29 am

Seriously? - if I remember correctly, the city council decided to have ballot on Measure D in an "off-year" election knowing that

1) they would not have to run for office with side by side with this issue, (which tells us that they know where public sentiment is already)

2) "off-year" elections have lower turnout, and they thought by supplying PAHC with $150,000 in funds, they could outspend the opponents to victory.

What a farce the council made of this. This is the 2nd meeting where Klein, in my opinion, showed his disdain of the No on D crowd (the first meeting was his comments in approving the El Camino mix used building which exceeds the 50 foot limit).

In my opinion these council members think they are the Prince & Princesses of Palo Alto, lords of the land, members of a club with privileges (like the free dedicated parking spaces they have downtown); I think many of the voters have a different view of a council member function - representing the voters.

Posted by Lorna, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 3, 2013 at 11:01 am

Perhaps those who are harping on WELFARE involved in BMR should go back to the spirit of the program when it initially started. It started when some now living here weren't even born or living here. Go back and read the reasoning for the City as to it being important to those who lived in Palo Alto and other cities on the Peninsula to have such a program. Why is it so important to demean others who worked hard to pay their bills, including their mortgages? There are many programs which we ALL use in this country that could be called welfare by your definition from Wickipedia. This ALL includes those who are complaining.

As far as "pitting neighbor against neighbor" - I don't know what you are talking about!! This recent election is a first that is what makes it so sad. I've always heard positive comments in general from my friends and neighbors about the BMR program. As I have said before, we hope to have a Palo Alto which is caring, with good neighbors treating all with dignity.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

So Justin in Mountain View feels the need to tell us to build more high rises and more bike paths. Justin - you live in Mountain View - the home of Google. Go tell your Mountain View city council you want more high rises and bike paths. I am sure they will appreciate your input. You are obviously very young and not a family person - maybe you can move to SF and take the Google bus here - then you would be in the Disneyland for young, unmarried people. You can bike around SF. Mountain View does have bike paths so what is your problem?

And litebug - you have moved on to another community - I hope it meets your expectations. Some of your comments were very harsh and extreme. But you cannot go to the football games.

I have to say that we have a beautiful city with a lot of really great features. It is beautiful at this time of year.
1. The Oshman Center hosts a lot of Commonwealth Club events because it has two auditoriums - that is a great plus or the city.
2. Measure D - that was the wrong place for the development planned - stop trying to make a very bad idea acceptable. I do not think very many people understand the problems in senior housing - The Sunrise facility and other like it are a benefit to the community. There is a very high insurance risk in these type facilities. The city was not up to the demands in this type housing. Note article in SJ Mercury today 'Housing Advocates Sound Funding Alarm" is extensive article describing various funding schemes, including tax credits. Essentially that is what Measure D was about - using funding schemes to build the facility - but the end results to the occupants would be a disaster - my opinion since I had a relative in Sunrise and understand what is required here. Any continuation of housing funding schemes will need immediate input and discussion before money is wasted by staff.
3. Other cites are getting a high rise complexes - Menlo Park at Marsh Road; Redwood City at 101 - another Jay Paul development; San Carlos on El Camino - they even want to build a hotel - the city. Getting a high rise complex is not specific to PA.
4. The problem we do have is building height relative to incoming SFO air traffic, PA Airport air traffic, etc. What is happening in the sky needs to be evaluated as to all other activity. A major stream of discussion in on-going on that topic.
5. We need to understand how to wrap all of the concerns up front so we are not wasting time and money.

Posted by sunshine, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

What City workers who are low income? The salaries listed under Freedom of Information Act show most of them making more that I do per year (At least anyone who is full time). However, Medicare calls me "high income", sufficiently high that I must pay the highest rate for their insurance. City employees are in fact very well paid, I might say over paid when you consider their many benefits, starting with a very generous vacation/sick leave policy.
Most City workers earn more than their counterparts in private industry. In addition their package of benefits far exceeds that of any private company where I ever worked. They still have a "defined benefit" instead of "defined contribution" retirement package. They contribute little for health care benefits and get to take these benefits into retirement. Finally, once they are employed by the City for a certain length of time they are guaranteed employment until retirement or death. How many local engineers and others in tech fields have suddenly found themselves unemployable (even with additional degrees) in their field once they reach 50 or so, not because of inability to perform to standards, but just because of age?
The basic fact is that the City Council does not and has not listened to residents for a long time.

Posted by sunshine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

To Justin:
No one past childhood deserves anything; you must work for it.
From your letter you seem to be very young. You would like a more swinging social life perhaps. The Bay area is not Manhattan, NYC. Perhaps you should live in Berkeley or Oakland, and commute across the Dumbarton in the Express bus or use BART to Millpitis and CalTrain to your work. You could also live in San Francisco and commute on a Google bus or CalTrain or a public bus.
In case you haven't noticed, this is an earthquake area. Tall buildings are not advised, especially most of this area is not on rock; it is all adobe. This means it shakes when there is a quake.
There are many apartments around. Once there were more before owners decided to convert their apartment buildings to condos, as happened in Mt View. Living in PA has always come at a premium; it is far cheaper to live in Mt View and once was in Sunnyvale.
PA seems to have a vibrant evening/night life. Whenever I pass through downtown at night or in the evening there are many people on the street and many restaurants are open. There are not many night clubs, yet the police seem to find many intoxicated people each night so they must find the liquor somewhere. There's too much noise from nightclubs and downtown areas are too close to residential ones. If young people would be content to have a night club with quiet music and dancing I'm certain there would be more. Unfortunately, even many restaurants play their music far too loud. We do not seem to have any restaurants for true fine dining in a quiet atmosphere.
There are several live theaters in the area, although I must admit we lost some of our best movie theaters to developers who hoped to make more money from offices and retail. We do still have several good movie theaters and too many multiplex theaters. You can find many more cultural events on Stanford campus, most are relatively low cost. They range from lectures to art to movies and fine music.

Posted by too crowded already, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

Downtown certainly is crowded, and traffic has gotten horrible because of all the businesses. What to do?
* no more development, just stop
* early close time for restaurants/bars. maybe 10pm?
* stronger restrictions on alcohol.
* a business tax on offices that is higher if more people are squeezed in together

That should help make the downtown quieter and reduce the number of businesses. What do you think?

Posted by Julian, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm

PC absolutely needs to be tossed out. It's just a mechanism for the city administration to tramp all over zoning and community interests. How do we get this passed into law? I'd say it's a given the council won't do it.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2013 at 8:27 am

Thank you Lorna, for providing another voice with a modicum of humanity. I don't know where these Scrooges come from.
SUNSHINE: I am a city of Palo Alto employee who earns below the poverty line. I am an hourly limited employee who performs HIGHLY skilled labor. I make $17.26 per hour and I am permitted to work 1000 hours per year. More than that and the city would have to pay me benefits (SHOCK, HORROR!) I patch in other work for the rest of the year, but my overall income is rarely over $24,000, and I work harder than most people in Palo Alto. My misfortune is that I am not a high tech person, nor will I ever be. I simply don't have an aptitude for it. Does that mean I should be squeezed out of my hometown or live illicitly in my car? I already know the answer from Craig, so he needn't pipe in here. He and the other voices that sound like they're the villains from a Dickens novel are just depressing me.

Posted by Lorna, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 5, 2013 at 9:45 am

Communities like Sunrise and others that provide dependent, and or assisted living are for those who need watchful care. Some dependent seniors choose to live there. It is costly, even if you have a 30% BMR discount to live at Sunrise or any other similar facility. Most seniors that I know who are independent choose to stay in their own home and make use of programs like Avenidas Village and/or they hire outside help. The prices to live in facilities like Sunrise understandably go up each year although Sunrise doesn't require a buy in. Most senior communities require that you put the sale of your home monies as a buy in on top of monthly cost which goes up each year. Check it out! Each facility has different financial requirements. Some will be forced to do this of course. If you are a senior you may already know this. And any adult living in Palo Alto someday will be a senior if you stay here that includes those who are living in the area that voted against D. I daresay most seniors want to stay in their own home as long as possible, if they have a home!

Posted by Semper mementote, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 6, 2013 at 3:36 am

"Does that mean I should be squeezed out of my hometown or live illicitly in my car?"

This doesn't have to be the choice. Most people in every community across the country have to make a choice about whether to move somewhere less expensive when they retire, especially if like us, they choose to live in such an expensive place. I expect like many friends before us, I will have to find a place to resettle before we are too old to make new connections somewhere else. That isn't unique to Palo Alto.

Posted by lorna, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

Dear Semper:

Re: your comment to Jennifer

By your own words you could be "squeezed out of your hometown". You won't have to since "you choose to live in such an expensive place". First you say "this doesn't have to be a choice" and then you say "most people have to make a choice" - which is it?

This will be my last comment: To Jennifer my very best wishes - to all in the City if Palo Alto and the City Council may the "spirit of Christmas future visit you - God bless us all EVERYONE"! Thank you Mr. Dickens for your insight!

Posted by who pays, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2013 at 10:12 am


"I patch in other work for the rest of the year, but my overall income is rarely over $24,000, and I work harder than most people in Palo Alto. My misfortune is that I am not a high tech person, nor will I ever be. I simply don't have an aptitude for it. "

How can you live in Palo Alto on $24,000?

Do you own your home?

What is the issue with our lamentation that you are not a tech worker. Not everyone in Palo Alto is a tech worker, but people who can afford to live here are making money in other fields, including not a ton of money but just barely to stay.

Regardless of the profession, many of us, all of us who cannot afford to live here or any expensive city move. There is no shame in that, it's reality.

Are you saying that because you are not making enough to stay here, you should stay? Why? and who pays? how much? for how long, and why?

Posted by Semper Mementote, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I said, "this doesn't have to be THE choice, meaning, the ONLY choice, as she stated, between being squeezed out and living in a car.

All the years I lived in Sunnyvale and commuted to Palo Alto because I couldn't afford it, was I being squeezed out of Palo Alto? I don't think people in Palo Alto owed me a cheap place to live. People across the country in every community make the choice of moving elsewhere when they retire in order to have a higher quality of life. That's life. Ever heard of Florida and Arizona? A third choice is to plan to be in Palo Alto for work and plan for a community where one's income nets a higher quality of life for the same income on retirement. One friend who grew up in Mountain View moved to a cheaper state a few years ago, and at first felt the same way as you, but now enjoys such a high quality of life, the rest of the extended family followed, and they're all very happy they did it. Being able to afford a nice home and good medical care are important in retirement. In case you hadn't noticed, this is a vast nation.

If you choose to drive a Mercedes on a limited income, you have less money for everything else. You're not being "squeezed out" of your home because it doesn't leave money for rent. It's a choice given the realities.

Because most people earn less when they retire, they usually are faced with a choice of moving somewhere where they will have as high or higher a quality of life with less income, or staying and living less well. The choice is: stay in expensive place, live badly, move to cheaper retirement haven, live well. The choice is not, as she wrote, essentially between being cast out into the darkness and living in a car.

Posted by Hutch 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm

The Palo Alto City council has sucked since 1999

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