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Page Mill Road development moves forward

Original post made on Jun 12, 2014

The latest major development proposed for the bustling, congested and rapidly transforming area around Page Mill Road and El Camino Real won the support of Palo Alto's planning commissioners on Wednesday night, despite concerns about adding more office space to an area already facing commercial growth.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 12, 2014, 12:45 AM

Comments (46)

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Posted by member
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:28 am

correction: 35 feet in height with a two foot DEE for the entry tower.


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Posted by sister madly
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 8:22 am

where's the traffic impact study? currently the businesses on that block of page mill are only accessible when headed east on page mill road. (my vet is next door to the 4 houses in question.) if headed west, one must make a u-turn at page mill and el camino. a left turn lane from west bound oregon/page mill doesn't seem feasible...


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Posted by PAP&TC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:32 am

" a left turn lane from west bound oregon/page mill doesn't seem feasible... "

God will provide.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:34 am

>One concession would enable the project to roughly double its commercial square footage, from 10,770 square feet to 21,541 square feet. Because the applicant didn't choose from the set menu, the project was subject to an independent economic analysis, which confirmed that the requested exemptions are fair given the cost of providing affordable housing

>King said the trade-off -- three units of affordable housing in exchange for an extra 10,000 square feet of office space -- doesn't seem like a good deal for the city.

>Alcheck had no such hesitations and said the city should welcome affordable housing "any way we can get it."

This is what happens when the housing lobby gets its way. There is a huge (embedded) cost to provide "affordable housing". Why not trade off the three units, by putting them in Crescent Park or Old Palo Alto, and NOT obliterate our zoning rules?


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Posted by PAP&TC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:41 am

"This is what happens when the housing lobby gets its way. ... Why not trade off the three units, by putting them in Crescent Park or Old Palo Alto, and NOT obliterate our zoning rules? "

Surely you're joking, Mr. Laughton. The Crescent Park and Old Palo Alto residents have a much stronger lobby. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

It is kind of twisted that if a developer puts in more stuff, that causes more traffic and congestion, then the city owes them the right to build even more densely, which will cause even more congestion. It is the Palo Alto death spiral.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:05 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by member
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:41 am

Traffic impact study is attached to the staff report.
Web Link

State of California "Density Bonus Law" supersedes palo alto zoning laws. It allows for a 35% density bonus. Not exactly "obliterating" but a significant increase. In return it demands BMR housing.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

OK. Looking at the sketch/artist's impression, it appears to be a nice enough building. But, and here's the but, where is the street? Where is the parking? Is the street in front, in which case there is no setback from the street. If this is a sidewards on or backside building, then what will it look like from the street? If this were stuck in the middle of nowhere, it might look like that, but I suspect that we are being shown a very different aspect than the finished version.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:29 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by No more development
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

There is no room for any more development. This is a bedroom community/college town, not some urban business hub.

When Oregon is widened, it will make life miserable for residents on both sides of the street.

Stop urbanizing Palo Alto-- people move here to get away from such chaos!


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Posted by Palo Alto Lifer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:48 am

@ Craig and PAP and TC:
I agree with you that our zoning laws should be respected and am outraged by the rampant overdevelopment that is sanctioned by our spineless city council. I'm also disappointed in your comments pitting your neighborhood against Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park. The developers would love to divide and conquer this city. We need to stand together.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:59 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm

"This is a bedroom community"

I don't know why you keep making this claim, maybe because Palo Alto was at one time, or you don't actually know what it means, but if you look at the definition of a bedroom community, i.e. residential, people commute elsewhere for jobs, Palo Alto is the antithesis in every category.


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Posted by Annie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Good luck EVER getting through that intersection now.


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Slowly boiled in oil! The fix is in.


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Posted by Kat
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

hahaha "god will provide"!!
good luck folks, stick up for this town if you don't like it.
We are America.


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Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

"Alcheck had no such hesitations and said the city should welcome affordable housing 'any way we can get it.'"

While I support affordable housing (not just BMR units), this attitude opens the door to too much giveaway for increased office space (which we don't "need") and only worsens the jobs/housing imbalance. Surely we can come up with some creative affordable housing solutions than this attitude.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

>Surely we can come up with some creative affordable housing solutions than this attitude.

Sheri, please provide your solutions.


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Posted by Who is on the Planning Comm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Sometimes it is helpful to look up someone who waxes poetic about a project. From Alcheck's April 2012 application to be on the Planning Commission:
Employment
Goodwin Procter LLP (2008-2011) - Real Estate Investment Management Group,
Attorney Cooley Godward LLP (2006, 2007) - Real Estate Transactions Group,

For more information see Alcheck Properties


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Is there a crosswalk across Page Mill at Ash? Or are those people jaywalking?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I can't wait to see how Karen Holman votes on this proposal or will she recuse herself


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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

The 'Environmental Impact Report' criteria is seriously flawed.
Protect beetles, but not people from over densification caused pollutions


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:37 pm

This is not a "very welcome project". What is wrong with our city council? Palo Alto has way too much traffic and development going on. Have council members even noticed what overdevelopment is doing to this town? Try driving through Palo Alto during rush hours - it's a joke.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Rush hour traffic is not as bad as some people make you wantbto think it is ( except for those people that expect to zoom across Palo Alto at 50 MPH anytime day or night). Do we want the alternative where there is no traffic in Palo Alto?
People love the tax revenue that is generated in Palo Alto, but god forbid they have to wait through traffic light cycles.


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 7:32 pm

What needs to be done with the site is a parking lot for Caltrain.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Just another project that needs to be stopped. Thanks Tom for running for the city council. Just a few more candidates and we can reverse the development and excemption mania that continues to plaque our beautiful town. No on all development office space. No on condos and apartments, at full or below market price. I do not want any more businesses or people moving to Palo Alto that already live here. Push the success of Silicon Valley to other cities and states in the union. And if we have to build, only within code, no excemptions for assumed community vaules.


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Posted by @midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Nice plan! it is certainly nicer than the existing crumbling houses in my commute path. It would be nice if the paint store becomes one of the businesses in the new building.


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Posted by Ree
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

The more office space this City allows, the more ABAG will increase the numbers of residential units we are required to provide. This continuous habit of allowing developers to "go off menu" and get other exemptions, just means jamming more traffic onto our already crawling traffic, to say nothing of the lack of setbacks, buildings that tower over the sidewalks, and lack of parking. What happened to our Family/College Town Community? I am truly saddened by the Management of our City over the past six years. Since few people at City Hall, including our elected officials listen to the majority of the citizens who live here, it's hard to tell that we live in a "Democratic Society", especially if you try to get from one end of town to the other without idling in bumper to bumper traffic for 80% of your travel time. Are we supposed to be in such dire straits for tax dollars, that Developers can build using "their own codes" and pay "referral money to folks in positions to give them what they want, here and there?


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Posted by Who is on the Planning Comm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 12:22 am

PTC chairman Mark Michael makes heartfelt speeches, very sympathetic to the public's wishes for fewer big buildings, less density, and then? votes for the development. Again and again.
Same style as his predecessor Eduardo Martinez. Same sympathetic warm speeches, same votes for developers.
The hypocrisy is so predictable.


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Posted by P&TC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

> I'm also disappointed in your comments pitting your neighborhood against Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park.

There is no such intent. We observe that Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park have been omitted from our BMR housing program, and we wish to rectify that egregious inequity.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I went to a previous meeting on this project, and felt that the space might have been designed as amenity to the Ventura area residents, approachable by bike or on foot, perhaps via Pepper. I wondered about working with Smith-Andersen gallery for some sort of art-park amenity, with a big wall facing the cars going past on the expressway.

I feel the same way about Fry's. If retail leaves, what about adding a huge new park to our inventory?

(The Ventura neighborhood houses are about $1 Million each below Palo Alto average -- maybe a nice park in that neighborhood would raise all those values --of course, this idea would mean citizens organizing against a very powerful regional developer).

Mr. Schwab comes across to residents and observers as well-above average in terms of ethics and values; Northway likewise or even more so.

Neighbors in certain ways were more concerned about the former HP property, the Jay Paul project, relative to this.

I agree, however, that Keller generally stands alone as being pro-resident and not obviously pro-Growth.

Mr. Rosenblum, despite having a demanding career and a young family, shows a lot of promise for public service. Good luck, Eric! (He who missed this meeting...)


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

>There is no such intent. We observe that Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park have been omitted from our BMR housing >program, and we wish to rectify that egregious inequity.

Maybe because there's no available space for developers to even consider building multiunits, much less BMR units in those neighborhoods?

Need developers that can make money building multi units / multi-use complexes in order to make such a requirement make any sense.

Give me a break.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Why would you ever put subsidized housing for low income households in the middle of Crescent Park far away from services, shopping and transit?

My downtown south neighborhood and others like it are smarter places.

The location of this project is also a reasonable place although the number of units is small.


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Posted by P&TC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm

We regret your neighborhood has been so egregiously discriminated against. We will do all in our power to quickly remedy that.

There are various methods for integrating new below market rate housing into existing neighborhoods, especially those like yours with large lots and widespread scrape and overbuild activity.

Requirements to provide on-site BMR housing units may be attached to building permits for future such projects. Occupancy permits can be withheld until same are leased to qualifying applicants.


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Posted by Iconoclast
a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm

@Levy

The current CP residents don't seem to mind hopping into their Land Rovers and driving to those missing services and shopping, and they seem to get along well without transit, such as it is. I'm told that a Chevy works for those endeavors as well.

On the other hand, although it's a short stroll to Whole Paycheck for residents of Oak Court and 801 Alma, what's the point? Likewise to St Michaels Alley for a quick snack. For them the area is a food desert, with cruel proximate reminders of what they cannot have.

In Crescent Park, they can at least enjoy the neighborhood, and drive to wherever they need to shop for necessities, just like the rest of their neighborhood and us downtown dwellers. Whether that neighborhood welcomes them... .


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Unfortunately it is true that Old PA, Crescent Park, and Downtown North rule the roost when it comes to the City Council and what to develop where.
The proposed development for Page Mill is the wrong project in the wrong place. The intersection of PageMill and El Camino is already nearly impossible Also the on ramp from Park Blvd onto eastbound Page Mill is an accident looking for a time to happen. It is a disaster. Anyone who lives or works in the area tries to find another way around this patch of road. Unfortunately the only other choices require crossing the tracks at grade often during rush hour when there are many trains.
It is not possible to enter any of the businesses or houses o the south side of Page Mill in that area from the westbound lane of Page Mill. You must be headed east to enter anything on that side of Page Mill. There is a divider along that section of the road.
Overbuilding south of Stanford Ave is a huge problem that should be stopped immediately. No one should be allowed to exceed existing zoning on any parcel for any reason. Furthermore, no one should be allowed to put in fewer than the required number of parking spaces and should not be allowed to put in only "compact" car spaces.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:56 pm

I noticed in today's Palo Alto Weekly that East Palo Alto wants to put in a lot more low income housing. They want to do this along the western edge of East Palo Alto, along the border with Palo Alto.
Would it be possible for Palo Alto to work with East Palo Alto to help pay for some of this housing and thus get ABAG off our backs and send ABAG scuttling off? It would help East Palo Alto get some much needed housing. This housing would be right next to Palo Alto so it should be able to be counted in our required units. It would help East Palo Alto and Palo Alto both.

Palo Alto Council must put an end to overbuilding south of Stanford Ave in Palo Alto. The housing that ABAG wants does not have to be west of Alma. The section of East Palo Alto along the Palo Alto border would be very convenient, and East Palo Alto wants the housing. Palo Alto could help with costs or planning.
Stop trying to ruin Barron Park and the adjacent neighborhoods.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Joni Mitchell


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

...and then they built a giant oversized building up to the sky to make us wish we just had a parking lot!

Did you know that the state publishes a guidebook on how to apply to the state to pay for unfunded mandates?
Web Link

The bonus density rules and ABAG allotments amount to a huge unfunded mandate for our town.

"When the Governor or Legislature mandate a new program or higher level of service upon local agencies and school districts, the state Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for the cost of these new programs or higher levels of service. State law establishes the Commission on State Mandates to determine if new laws impose reimbursable state mandated programs.

The purpose of this guidebook is to describe the mandate reimbursement process." and "This guidebook will assist the public in defining their role when they choose to participate.

How do we stop this madness? Force the state to pay for what is essentially an unfunded mandate creating huge burdens on our public services and infrastructure!

I'm sure we have a lot of citizens who would be able to start making a running list of costs we could take to the Commission to ask the state to pay for this. Not just the ABAG allotment, but for the bonus density rules, a developer giveaway that incentivizes destroying existing affordable housing.

If you are reading this, please do not expect someone else to do this for you, then no one does anything. Please read the guidebook, talk with friends, contact paloaltoville.com, and figure out how to get the state to pay for the cost of these unfunded mandates. At the very least they need to be confronted with that cost.

Extra points to any Council candidate who actually does this and brings the billions to towns to pay for fixing the consequences of busting all reasonable zoning.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 14, 2014 at 10:26 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

PT&C

"There are various methods for integrating new below market rate housing into existing neighborhoods, especially those like yours with large lots and widespread scrape and overbuild activity. "

Most of these neighborhoods are zoned R-1. Not going to get many multiunits there, which is the only way to get BMRs shoehorned into infill. As for large lots, what's your definition of large?


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Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

That's the trouble, Moderate, this city council seems not to respect the zoning rules. They don't seem to respect R-1 either. As Bob moss has often pointed out,ABAG wants us to densify everything within 1/4 mile of major streets. Think about high density into all the neighborhoods 1/4 mile from Alma, all the way through Palo Alto, or El Camino...most of out R-1 neighborhoods would effectively be destroyed.


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Posted by Cheryl LIlienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Please watch this:
Web Link

I'm sensitive to being labeled. I was labeled with various names when I was actively opposing the fraud capacity inherent in electronic voting systems. (In California we finally won that fight in all counties except San Mateo, so now all California voters --except for those of us who cannot hold a pen or are visually impaired--now use some form of voting on paper that can be verified by the voter, and audited by the human eye. Elections can still be stolen but it's a lot more work, not a (possible) click of the computer any more.)

During that fight, we were called were "tin foil hat conspiracy theorist," "luddite," "uninformed."
Yet, we won.

The same thing happened with Measure D.
Nimby, selfish, etc.

So I appreciate this ridicule piece about Plan Bay Area: it gets the point across about attitudes towards those of us who are not in agreement with the plan, and I sympathize with the creator (whom I don't know) who is being attacked.

See what you think!

Web Link






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Posted by Vincent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Cheryl-- but you had no problem labeling your opponents on measure D as thieves, when you accused them of stealing campaign signs? Looks like the kettle is calling the pot black


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Cheryl

Thank you for posting the link. The satirist team who put this together gathered together most of the arguments we heard during the Measure D campaign. Turns out there was less originality in the arguments that were given a local context in Town Square than I thought--the video you recommended and the arguments that were heard from the Maybell Action Group and its successors make the same points.

They are expressed more articulately and with much more context, in an interview Web Link given by Mimi Steel, founder of the SFBay Area Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights. Readers can take a look at the top of the Paloaltoville.com home page and select the post entitled "Regional Government is not Self-Government" for a brief introduction to Ms. Steel.

Anyone interested in the link you posted should take a look at this interview to get firsthand the Property Rights Movement's positions on a number of issues. The animated figure in your link is cute, but Mimi Steel is more interesting and influential.

Web Link (Web Link)


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