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Palo Alto to weigh different visions for growth

Original post made on Aug 1, 2014

As Palo Alto prepares to debate this week four different visions for the city's long-term growth, one common theme stands out among the different scenarios: a growing opposition to impacts of new development.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 1, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (50)

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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2014 at 11:05 am

I had a strange feeling that I have not quite reconciled last week sitting thru two hours as a guest of the Housing Element committee -- there were about 16 of us there total -- and then walking home, from Lucie Stern to Downtown North, passing by some beautiful and elegant Professorville Houses, chiefly on Melville and then Waverly.

We were debating how Palo Alto would change if we let R-30 be built rather than R-15, along El Camino for example. That's 30 housing units per acre.

I don't think any Palo Altan wants to live above or below another Palo Altan. People aspire to live, if not in an historic district then a cute Eichler in South Palo Alto.

After sitting thru several of these Our Palo Alto / Comp Plan / scoping meetings -- some with hors devours and others with merely filtered water, if you ask the right attendant - I have a distinct distrust for the process. It seems we are under severe pressure by highly incentivized special interests to not resist both more office space and more dense housing and upzoning. The framing of the issues seem to assume we will not actually resist. The four choices are not choices per se. (And the "do nothing" option is given short shrift; it takes a tremendous amount of effort in recent times to preserve the status quo).

I am for a park at Ventura if Fry's leaves, for example and not more housing, which is considered off the charts. I look at Greer Park as precedent (when the Drive-In failed).

I don't think these issues are being debated as much as this is a dog-and-pony show. And we the taxpayers are paying $1.7 million to a consultant in Berkeley to guide us through this? (No wonder they are all dressed so nicely -- some of us do this just for reasons of conscience and concern for our fellows).

And for the record I grew up here and am a renter. Someone brought up the issue, at the Housing Element meeting, that maybe as a type of resistance and a concerted effort to protect the middle class here, we should have a tenants union and maybe rent control and not just mandatory mediation (via Human Relations Commission) which to my mind is a landlord amenity.

I would think the same energy is needed and more timely to defend our neighbors at Buena Vista Mobile Park: leadership should broker a deal there.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

[Portion removed.]

The budget lists $325,00 for Our Palo Alto but packet has copy of contract with DCE of Berkeley for $1.7 M


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Mark Michael is not a residentialist.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm

We need a down-zoning. The FAR's are too high, the setback requirements too lax. A build-out under current zoning in commercial and residential areas will destroy the livability and all the dwindling qualities we have left here.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The SJM today discusses the growth limit movement in Menlo Park - Save Menlo Park. Same players - Stanford, Arriliga, etc. This includes a "consultant" who arranges the facts to suit the city growth plan.
Everyone on the peninsula is concerned about preserving their cities - Mountain View also has a movement on the ballot for same purpose.
We need to see what is working in the other cities and apply it here - we are not alone in this concern.


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Posted by Jeffrey Hook
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Our ideas about value are deeply flawed, having been developed during a period when cheap oil allowed us to forget fundamental physical requirements needed to sustain human habitation and an "advanced" society. Cheap oil allowed us to think that continuous growth in population and in resource/energy use per capita were an economic "good". As fossil fuels have become more scarce, the cost of obtaining energy from them has risen dramatically. Instead of an Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) of 100:1 in 1900 we now have ratios at least ten times smaller. The EROEI for the Alberta Tar Sands may be as low as 3 or 4 to 1. The lost efficiency means the vast majority of the energy contained in fossil fuels, energy we used to use to build housing and roads, power our industries, and produce the fertilizer to feed our swelling numbers, must now be spent on obtaining that energy. In addition to EROEI we have greatly underestimated the cost of fossil fuels in terms of climate disruption, disease and groundwater pollution.
In a nutshell: we can't afford growth. Not in population. Not in resource use per capita.
Everyone participating in the growth debate needs to study BioPhysical Economics at a minimum, and learn some fundamental science. Otherwise the choices before us are illusion. They are not possible in the coming era.


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Posted by calinative
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm

and, pray tell, where will all the cars that go along with all this housing go? (in all senses of that question) traffic is already a mess...as is parking.

i'm hoping the drought will continue and send about half of california's current population back to where ever they came from.


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Posted by Reason to be suspicious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

The reason I am suspicious of the "Our Palo Alto" process is the lack of data.

If someone is being paid $1.7 million to discuss such issues, they should at least have data about the jobs in Palo Alto which are supposedly driving the legislative threats for up zoning. How does anyone know how many jobs have been gained and lost in each city? There is no accounting.

I'm not seeing value from my taxes, in terms of state or regional planning for transportation, none that makes any sense. Even if it wanted to, Palo Alto could not make decisions about zoning with such poor data.


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Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

"Michael Alcheck, Eric Rosenblum and Chair Mark Michael — made a pitch for more aggressive growth policies, including a relaxing of the city's height limit. "

DO ANY OF THEM LIVE NEAR DOWNTOWN WHERE WHAT USED TO BE NEIGHBORHOODS AND ARE NOW PARKING LOTS? And YES, I know I am shouting. DO THEY SEE WHAT THE UGLIFICATION OF PALO ALTO IS DOING TO OUR CITY? I hope that the economic principle of unexpected consequences continues as in the Mayfield Revolution (and, in parallel) the Menlo Initiative where residents of these cities wrest control from City Councils and various panels such as the blind Architectural Review Board. I think that government by Proposition is an abysmal way for governing, but when those who are elected or appointed are not stewards of the city, citizens need to gain control. I moved here from a small NE town in Mass. where we had town hall meetings and direct control. It worked! Noisy and messy, but transparent!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Would any of these proposed changes be subject to voter approval? Or better stated, can the public vote down any of these proposed changes if the CC approves pro-growth, pro new height, etc.?

My two cents is that the CC should not vote on this until the new CC is voted into place. Otherwise, the new CC will recall and then start over. Just wait.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 3, 2014 at 7:38 pm

My knowledge of consultants is that the person paying them says what the result is suppose to be and the consultant will produce whatever facts are required to produce that result. Menlo Park - consultant did not mention two major developments - Stanford / Arrilaga and one other.
How do we put a cap on consultants - many paid to do the job we are paying the city manager and staff to do.
Push the consultant to respond to the questions you all have - don't let them off the hook - or the city management.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 3, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Menlo Park - consultant did not mention two major developments - Stanford / Arrilaga and one other. "

The Council did EXACTLY what the law specifies:
9111. (a) During the circulation of the petition or before taking
either action described in subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 9116,
or Section 9118, the board of supervisors may refer the proposed
initiative measure to any county agency or agencies for a report on
any or all of the following:
(1) Its fiscal impact.
(2) Its effect on the internal consistency of the county's general
and specific plans, including the housing element, the consistency
between planning and zoning, and the limitations on county actions
under Section 65008 of the Government Code and Chapters 4.2
(commencing with Section 65913) and 4.3 (commencing with Section
65915) of Division 1 of Title 7 of the Government Code.
(3) Its effect on the use of land, the impact on the availability
and location of housing, and the ability of the county to meet its
regional housing needs.
(4) Its impact on funding for infrastructure of all types,
including, but not limited to, transportation, schools, parks, and
open space. The report may also discuss whether the measure would be
likely to result in increased infrastructure costs or savings,
including the costs of infrastructure maintenance, to current
residents and businesses.
(5) Its impact on the community's ability to attract and retain
business and employment.
(6) Its impact on the uses of vacant parcels of land.
(7) Its impact on agricultural lands, open space, traffic
congestion, existing business districts, and developed areas
designated for revitalization.
(8) Any other matters the board of supervisors request to be in
the report.
(b) The report shall be presented to the board of supervisors
within the time prescribed by the board of supervisors, but no later
than 30 days after the county elections official certifies to the
board of supervisors the sufficiency of the petition.

*******

Save Our Special Interests doesn't like the results of an independent analysis so they ignore the law and attack the legally correct process.


The Wise Report properly addressed the issues raised by the Lanza/Fry initiative and there is no legal basis for the Wise Report to have addressed the Stanford and Greenheart projects.

IF Lanza/Fry and Save Our Special Interests had wanted to have a vote on the Stanford and Greenheart projects they could have worded a simple one paragraph initiative on each of those projects. Instead they proposed an initiative which would impact every single projects in the Downtown ECR area.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

This planning process is more or much more of the same. It also does not
take into account projects already approved in the pipeline. We already have
street network gridlock, an intractable parking overflow problem into
neighborhoods, exceptional drought situation with unknown outcome and
consequences, ugliness with street markings and signs and congestion
and construction zones and backed up traffic and outsized buildings
squeezed onto too small sites with no open space, and the City planning
process produces four scenarios which are more of the same or much more of the same. All this will all go into File 13 when we get a new Council majority in Nov which will try to address the issues.





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Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

A Council can do EXACTLY what the law specifies right down to points 1 through 8 a & b. It still can result in uglification of Palo Alto. I wish we had the right to do what residents of Atherton do. Put out boulders or tree trunks in front of our homes in order to discourage intrusive parking in front of our homes.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I wish we had the right to do what residents of Atherton do. Put out boulders or tree trunks in front of our homes in order to discourage intrusive parking in front of our homes."

That is actually prohibited by Atherton's ordinance and that ordinance is now being enforced.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2014 at 10:59 pm

"That [Put out boulders or tree trunks in front of our homes in order to discourage intrusive parking} is actually prohibited by Atherton's ordinance and that ordinance is now being enforced."

Being enforced? Why? Surely not because intrusive parking is occurring in Atherton, of all enclaves. Heavens forbid! Could the fruits of Atterton's developers--Harold Hohbach comes to mind--be coming home to roost in Atherton itself? Man!!

Get some boulders, Mister Peterson. I know a vendor right over the line in RWC if you want a referral. And get that ordnance repealed, for the sake of your property values. Like, if Atherton ain't safe from intrusive parking, what place on the peninsula is?

To the barricades, Athertonians! The fate of upscale peninsula civilization is in your hands!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by William Thurgood
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 3, 2014 at 11:14 pm

>IF Lanza/Fry and Save Our Special Interests had wanted to have a vote on the Stanford and Greenheart projects they could have worded a simple one paragraph initiative on each of those projects. Instead they proposed an initiative which would impact every single projects in the Downtown ECR area.

Peter, chill

As a third generation Atherton resident, I do not favor the traffic that the proposed 550 El Camino Real development would channel through Atherton. You are a newcomer, and your energy is commendable, but given your status there is much you do not and obviously cannot understand.

550 El Camino Real is emphatically not in Atherton's best interest. I urge you to discontinue your misguided advocacy for it.


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Posted by Laughing
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2014 at 12:56 am

>Mark Michael also made a pitch for accommodating, rather than resisting, change.

"I may be a residentialist, but I sincerely disagree with the implications of the militant anti-growth rhetoric," Michael said.

I am laughing so hard I can hardly type. Corporate lawyer Mark Michael wants to be thought of as a residentialist! Poor Mr Michael, he's [portion removed], but he and corporate real estate lawyer Alcheck agree, they want growth.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 4, 2014 at 6:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

William - Having lived here for more than 30 years I am hardly a newcomer.

I will continue to fight against the assault on citizen participation and good government represented by the Lanza/Fry initiative and Save Our Special Interests. The Council made great progress on improving the 550 ECR project before this special interest craziness brought that effort to a halt.

If the Lanza/Fry initiative were to pass what could happen on the ECR will make the current ECR projects look wonderful - we will 5-7 separate projects, all boxes, with no integrated design, each with its own ECR access, no pedestrian tunnel, a lot of medical offices and a lot of 3 bedroom residential with huge impact on the schools, etc..


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2014 at 7:41 am

Palo Alto cannot afford or sustain a growth of 167 housing units per year. If we are to preserve what's left of our quality of life and the special character of Palo Alto, we need net zero growth and less, not more residents. Growth is just not possible anymore.


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Posted by Future
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2014 at 8:23 am

When did our City Council become the handmaiden of development and developers, at their beck and call and unable to deal with its duties like safety and civic life? The Baylands center is falling apart and Council gives themselves $4.5 million for a City Hall makeover. What of things like parks, open space, recreation for the kids? Remember the schools from whence comes our property values? The golf course should have been upgraded with corporate sponsorship, the money should have been used for compensatory open space in south Palo Alto that we are due under City code for all the massive development, like saving the 100 established trees at Maybell (imagine that, saving an orchard that doesnt need to be watered in a drought). If the Fry's lease expires, that site should be turned into an open community space, a park with performance, play, and maker space. (What to you want to bet our Council has no idea what maker space is, they're such tech pretenders.)

There is no sense of ensuring all neighborhoods have access to such things. We've watched our retail in south Palo Alto decimated, ugly giant block buildings with no setback sprout up and take the place of the bowling alley and reasonable-sized retail. The buildings shut out and divide.

On the other hand, the net zero proposal is just a wolf in sheeps clothing, PC zoning on steroids, and a way to repackage more of this egregiousness. See Jay Thorwaldson's excellent essay from Friday's Weekly.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

> When did our City Council become the handmaiden of development and
> developers, at their beck and call and unable to deal with its duties
> like safety and civic life?

If you take the time to look at the early history of Palo Alto, right up to the present day—Palo Alto has always been the focus of development of one sort or another. Many of the ideas flopped—but that didn't keep the Developers from coming back a year or two later with another idea to build homes, businesses, schools and religious institutions here in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Reason to be suspicious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:37 am

boscoli,

"Palo Alto cannot afford or sustain a growth of 167 housing units per year. If we are to preserve what's left of our quality of life and the special character of Palo Alto, we need net zero growth and less, not more residents. Growth is just not possible anymore."

This would be supported by data, if there was any data to begin with. And the reason is that Palo Alto is no longer a city with a fixed population. One needs to count daytime workforce, and tourists. Tourism happens during quality of life times, dinner, and weekends. Residents hardly enjoy the "amenities" when everything is crowded during the evenings and weekends. Office traffic is of course throughout the week.

Who pays for the costs associated with infrastructure? The residents. There is no data that shows how the other part of the population support the city. If there is more housing, there aren't enough schools.

Where is the data to be able to speak about these big growth plans? To show that growth is worth it or even possible?


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

> Where is the data to be able to speak about these
> big growth plans? To show that growth is worth
> it or even possible?

I believe that the data exists, but getting it out of the City, and used in a comprehensive model of the City that predicts all of the direct, and indirect, costs of providing municipal services, and quality-of-life issues—like street intersection LOSs, cross-town transit times, need for additional infrastructure, etc. is a different matter.

It's hard to see any evidence that anyone in the Planning Department has ever seen a need to produce such a model, and certainly the City Councils over the past decades don't seem to have been thinking along these lines either.

Here we are in the middle of the Silicon Valley—and not using the technology that our residents have developed in the many hi-tech enterprises that dot the landscape, and have elevated the Silicon Valley to worldwide prominence. I hope people will be asking hard questions of the Council candidates about why there is so little modeling/simulation used in our planning process? Will be very interesting to hear their answers.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

Where's all the data in "Our Palo Alto"?

The site is totally unusable. Trust me, I've tried several times and given up.

Will the same firm, from Berkeley I believe, be hired to design the very costly Wayfinding app for City Hall? Probably.

Does the city ever use what they design? Do the traffic guys ever drive what they plan? FEH.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:21 am

> The site is totally unusable.

I agree. But that doesn't mean that the City isn't sitting on a lot of data. Moreover, other Cities also have data that could prove relevant.


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Posted by baruch boxer
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

I appreciate Mark Weiss' comment on his experience attending a planning commission sub-committee discussion meeting. It helped me understand how essential decisions will probably remain opaque, and how PA planning/zoning decisions will undoubtedly continued "wired" to developers/dense housing construction interests.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:31 am

More office space produces more cars. More cars degrade the infrastructure more rapidly. The additional revenues from more office space, if it actually exists, helps paying to repair those roads. More likely, it's the Palo Alto residents who end up paying the entire cost of repairing the infrastructure which will happen more frequently as more and more cars will be using the roads. Repairing damaged roads causes hardship to residents and non residents. One can use the analogy of self mutilation in which a person stabs himself with one hand while using the other to bandage the stab wounds.

At no point do we ever hear from the city leaders about the physical and mental damage that more and more traffic and noise inflict on the residents who make it all possible. There is also the issue of crime that is always attracted to places with hyper commercial activity. Palo Alto is already much less safe than it used to be only 20 years ago. We never hear the city leaders admit the connection between further development and increase in violent crime, let alone a plan on dealing with it.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

Time to jump on city management and the meetings that support this effort. Send in questions for the consultant. We need names of the people representing PA who are in charge of this operation and their email numbers. Push for the answers we need and more information printed in the papers. Flesh out the details.
As to boulders in Atherton impeding intrusive parking the question is who is parking there? The residents and their service people. There is minimal business activity - do not see people rushing in to park unless for CALTRAIN.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I lived downtown for five years, and recently moved just across the creek to the Willows. The Palo Alto downtown is a thriving place! It's definitely also a more interesting place than it was fifteen years ago.

What the comments on this thread miss is that the nearly 50% increase in rents in the last five years make it difficult for anyone to find a place to live. Many people in Palo Alto want to live downtown, walk to work, shop at CVS, and take the train to the city when they need to. But there's not enough apartments to let people do so.

Freezing or slowing development just makes this harder. If parking is a problem, one large parking garage within the current height limits can replace several surface level lots. We can turn some of those into parks!

If congestion is a problem, let's cut out all the commuting trips into and out of downtown by allowing denser development within downtown - where it's already dense - and allowing those people to walk to work. Many people I know who want to walk to work are forced to live in south Palo Alto or in Mountain View and have to drive in and out every day.

The Bay Area is growing. Trying to freeze development in Palo Alto is just going to force it out into Gilroy... and then those people will drive back to Palo Alto and Mountain View, because that's where the jobs are.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Thinking beyond the sea of 1 story buildings that dot the landscape which I am not saying turn R-1 neighborhoods into high density. Most cities in the world do well with 2 to 3 story residential units, not all of New York City is covered in tall buildings.

2 to 3 story flats, 2 to 3 story apartment building with shop or no shops on the ground on El Camino Real. Downtown or more built up commercial area might work well with taller building over 3 stories.

You will always need single family home neighborhoods, every city has them, every community which I don't think that will change.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

People who seem to think that more housing in Palo Alto is needed to in order for their children, and grandchildren, to live here rarely seem to think about how even a small growth rate will increase our population. The following is an estimate of the population of Palo Alto over a 35-year window, using 1.2% and 2% growth factors---

Web Link
Population in 2050 = 99,864 @1.2% a year.
2015 - 65,780
2016 - 66,569
2017 - 67,368
2018 - 68,176
2019 - 68,994
2020 - 69,822
2021 - 70,660
2022 - 71,508
2023 - 72,366
2024 - 73,234
2025 - 74,113
2026 - 75,003
2027 - 75,903
2028 - 76,814
2029 - 77,735
2030 - 78,668
2031 - 79,612
2032 - 80,567
2033 - 81,534
2034 - 82,513
2035 - 83,503
2036 - 84,505
2037 - 85,519
2038 - 86,545
2039 - 87,584
2040 - 88,635
2041 - 89,698
2042 - 90,775
2043 - 91,864
2044 - 92,966
2045 - 94,082
2046 - 95,211
2047 - 96,354
2048 - 97,510
2049 - 98,680
2050 - 99,864

Population in 2050 = 132,592 @2% per year.
2015 - 66,300
2016 - 67,626
2017 - 68,978
2018 - 70,358
2019 - 71,765
2020 - 73,200
2021 - 74,664
2022 - 76,157
2023 - 77,681
2024 - 79,234
2025 - 80,819
2026 - 82,435
2027 - 84,084
2028 - 85,766
2029 - 87,481
2030 - 89,231
2031 - 91,015
2032 - 92,836
2033 - 94,692
2034 - 96,586
2035 - 98,518
2036 - 100,488
2037 - 102,498
2038 - 104,548
2039 - 106,639
2040 - 108,772
2041 - 110,947
2042 - 113,166
2043 - 115,429
2044 - 117,738
2045 - 120,093
2046 - 122,495
2047 - 124,945
2048 - 127,443
2049 - 129,992
2050 - 132,592

What's needed is a model that tries to house all of these new people. Where will they go? If we are pretty much maxed out now, then will the solution be "Manhattanizing" the town—with 20 and 30 story high rises? How many people really believe that their children and grandchildren are going to want to live in a high-rise, just to have a 9430x zip-code?

How many R-1 neighborhoods are going to have to be torn down to house all of these people in multi-family housing?


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Just like Wayne Martin above points out, continuous development , even at a much slower pace will create a Manhattanization of Palo Alto. More density would undoubtedly mean inserting tall apartment buildings into residential street, causing a dramatic change in the character, life style and quality of life of the residents.

The "smart development" concept is also not working in Palo Alto. Most people living near public transportation still use their cars. I can tell because when I walk or ride my bike by the apartment building on High St residents are constantly driving out of the parking garage, while we were promised they would use public transit. So we know that even developing near public transit doesn't work in this car society. The two incident with the two 90 plus drivers in Menlo Park and University Cafe indicate that drivers, even at a very advanced age, are extremely reluctant to give up their cars in our society, and living near public transport will not change that in a significant way.


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Posted by resient 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

El Camino is now all multi-level condominiums, East meadow Circle and West Bayshore also new apartment buildings. New apartments in downtown. We are not lacking new apartment buildings. It is happening all around you. So who is saying we are doing enough? We need names, rank, and serial numbers of those who think nothing is happening here and we need to do more.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Just returned from the city council meeting. Plenty of young tech-employed people looking for unfettered growth, or at least enough new housing to enable them to move in and raise families. They all left before the topic of water restrictions was discussed.

I'm sure there will be a new article and thread of comments on the growth vision tomorrow.


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Posted by Reason to eb supicious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 12:03 am

resident 1,

"El Camino is now all multi-level condominiums, East meadow Circle and West Bayshore also new apartment buildings. New apartments in downtown. We are not lacking new apartment buildings. It is happening all around you. So who is saying we are doing enough?"

I agree, that's what happens when there is talk, talk, talk, but no specific data about anything.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2014 at 12:07 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Rent control?


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2014 at 4:17 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Re Wayne martin's growth chart.

Posters are free to make up numbers to scare folks BUT

Both the state department of finance and ABAG project growth of 0.9% per year to2040 and slower growth thereafter in the years after that. This is much slower than growth sine 1970. Might as well use the real numbers instead of making them up.

As far as being Tokyo or Manhattan or ten story buildings, this is more hyperbole I gues to scare people. But folks can see that recent buildings here are three or four stories and the comp,plan should show that this height is more than enough to handle the growth. Or we could have some taller buildings and fewer new buildings in total.

As to the claim that no one was wants to live in multi story buildings that is contradicted by posters in this thread pointing to recent developments and seriously undercut by the high prices families are willing to lay in such buildings--enough to buy single family homes in south PA or Mt. View.

The anti-growth posters and candidates know this-- that demand for new multi- story housing is strong.

Moreover, this strong growth and our personal experience crushes the view that PA is on the decline and a horrible place to live because new housing and jobs have come.

This constant put down of the residents who are happy to move here NOW is almost breathtaking in its denial of reality.

I remain hopeful that staff and Council will clarify the limits of discretion re future growth and the comp plan alternatives will be within these limits so we can have a realistic debate about growth among Council candidates with no false promises made by either "side".


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 5, 2014 at 7:36 am

Garrett from another community lives in the east bay. If he came over here more often then he would see that El Camino is all new apartment complexes, East Meadow Circle, West Bayshore, downtown - all new apartments.
Can people from other communities please stop lecturing us on what we should be doing? Could the pro-growthers - Mr. Levy please acknowledge that we have already increased our apartment requirements by a huge amount?
People get paid to push a thought process and deny what is in front of your eyes. Drive around the city and look at what is there now. Oh wait - some people do not have driver licenses and can't drive around and look at what is there now.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

> Both the state department of finance and ABAG project growth of 0.9%
> per year to2040 and slower growth thereafter in the years after that.

And what makes the Srate/ABAG right in their estimates? Have they a crystal ball?

And what about the possibility of new immigration policies that open the borders, more-or-less, to tens of millions of new people who want to move to the US?

ABAG is no more to be trusted than a stock broker who claims that "this is a sure thing".

> As far as being Tokyo or Manhattan or ten story buildings, this is
> more hyperbole

Mr. Levy is welcome to his own opinion—but we all know the mantra: "if you build it they will come!" Manhattan was a cow pasture once—just as it could be said of Palo Alto: "it was a nice residential community once."

I you like the town the way it is—then it's worth fighting for.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2014 at 9:47 am

>Plenty of young tech-employed people looking for unfettered growth, or at least enough new housing to enable them to move in and raise families.

How dare THEY want to do this to YOUR town!


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

Annette is a registered user.

Last night's Council meeting was interesting. What I didn't hear mentioned was Rent Control. Does anyone in this forum know if that has been a discussion item? Many of the "younger demographic" who spoke last night expressed appreciation for all that is good about Palo Alto and their very strong desire to be able to live here, work here, walk or bike to work, and enjoy Palo Alto restaurants and services. Sounds good to me, too, but we can hardly undo the fact that Palo Alto drifted into "unaffordable" years ago and densification doesn't reverse that. Ironically, should PA "relax" the height limit and build up so as to accommodate the desires mentioned last night, we'd exacerbate infrastructure problems that are already very bad and erode the very characterisitcs that draw people and businesses here.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:54 am

I would prefer more long term ownership housing get built, different styles and different densities. We either build apartments or single family homes but not much in between.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Ah, I go out to dinner and the "fair weather friends" society comes out.

Wayne Martin, who along with many residents and some Council members, loved the DOF projections when they were lower than others, now claims the professionals don't have a crystal ball but it is fine for him to make up numbers. FYI, I did the ABAG regional growth projections and if you have any evidence of inappropriate behavior, bring it on. Otherwise i suggest you might apologize for your hypocrisy re growth projections. And both DOF and considered the impact of immigration reform.

I get that you like PA the way it was but you should acknowledge that lots of residents like the way it is otherwise they would not continue to buy, rent and live here. And as you heard at Council last night, lots of people share my perspective just as lots of people share yours.

[Portion removed.]

@annette

All those young people must have come here fairly recently and I bet they are mostly not millionaires. They speak for the future. You have no clue whether more density will help prices from rising as fast. And the irony is that allowing more new residents will help the infrastructure situation as likely they will support funding to expand school capacity and fix aging infrastructure because they are not using infrastructure as an excuse to limit growth. What would PA have been if the generations prior to us had not invested for the future.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Luckily the residents of Palo Alto have a final say in all of this.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Steve Levy, please tell us, what were the Plantir employees referring to when they talked about "Mr Levy's e-mail" during last night's meeting?

The "new voices" seem like the same pro-growth, overdevelopment story you've been pushing for years. I'm sure you love the story, but the rest of us aren't buying it.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@bill

I sent an email to Council before we left on vacation. It is part of the public record and is/ was attached to the agenda.

I was not at the meeting and had no active role in who came or what they said.

Nearly everything in the email is also posted on my blog.

If people referred to my email, that is news to me.

I am glad that younger voices came and spoke and am enjoying reading what Kate and others are saying.

We are buying what you are selling either. It is good to have some balance in the public debate now.

Why are you so upset finding out yours is not the only perspective?


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Posted by Reason to be suspicious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Stephen Levy,

"We are buying what you are selling either. It is good to have some balance in the public debate now."

So who is "we"?

According to this article, Plantir had a "real estate addiction" already back in 2012. You don't have any connection to Plantir?

"Founder after founder has privately complained to me about Palantir's real estate addiction. Their signage might not be on the buildings, but they're up and down University Avenue. Where does that leave a promising startup with high hopes and anywhere between $1M-$100M in funding? The answer: San Francisco."

Web Link


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Posted by Reason to be suspicious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

According to this article, Plantir has been an office space hoarder, shutting out smaller start ups.

Web Link


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm

> "Time to jump on city management and the meetings that support this effort. Send in questions for the consultant. We need names of the people representing PA who are in charge of this operation and their email numbers. Push for the answers we need "

Good luck with that. Maybe you didn't read the Grand Jury report that charged Palo Alto with lack of transparency and not responding to Public Records Access requests. Web Link

> "let's cut out all the commuting trips into and out of downtown by allowing denser development within downtown - where it's already dense - and allowing those people to walk to work."

What if they work in SF or San Jose?

> "You have no clue whether more density will help prices from rising as fast."

Mr. Levy, as an economist, why would developers build lower-priced housing with land selling at $4 - $5M/acre and construction costs rising? How many more housing units would have to be built before prices go down?


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