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Planned senior-housing complex wins key vote

Original post made on Feb 14, 2013

Palo Alto, a city with a growing population of seniors and jaw-dropping real estate prices, is about to get a little help in the affordable-housing department. The Palo Alto Housing Corporation, a nonprofit that manages apartment complexes and lower-cost homes throughout the city, scored a key victory Wednesday night in its quest to build a 60 units of affordable housing for seniors on the edge of the Barron Park neighborhood.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 11:43 PM

Comments (48)

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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:52 am

NO OPPOSITION? I called every one of them before the meeting and expressed my opposition to a zone change if it meant a four-story structure being built in a residential area like this. And I told them I couldn't be at the meeting.

This is not the place for dense housing. This neighborhood has only two routes of ingress and egress. It's already a concerning situation visavis emergency vehicle entry at many times of the day if something goes wrong at Juana Briones school, in the neighborhood, or at Terman or Gunn.

I'm even more shocked and dismayed that this will be financed by a city loan! If the city is going to loan millions of dollars to buy it, it should buy it to extend the park! This part of town could really use a playing field!

I'm all in favor of adding low-income and senior housing, but if it's going to be in this neighborhood, it should be no more than two stories tall. If it's going to be dense, it's much more appropriate to put it on any of the many sites being developed on El Camino, some just blocks away in the same neighborhood essentially. Given the limited routes in and out of the neighborhood, this is a safety issue. Adding high density housing back here is a BAD IDEA. I would like to know who on the city counsel supports this!

Actually, South Palo Alto has taken more than its share of high density housing in residential areas. How about finding a spot somewhere in the North?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:36 am

How will this suit seniors and how can they assume that it will be seniors who will choose to live here?

Is it a true senior facility with attendant's nearby who could come in an emergency, with food and community services onsite and cleaning services available? Is it likely to have assisted living options?

Otherwise, how can we be sure that the units will not be occupied by a different type of senior (teens living alone and attending Gunn)?


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

Resident - this doesn't sound like a senior facility, simply apartments that will be rented to low-income seniors. It will be up to the manager (the building includes a 2 bedroom managers apt) to make sure that no one sublets their apartments to anyone else. In a building filled with elderly, a teenage will stand out!

Senior housing IS being built in north Palo Alto on Alma. There is not much free space in north Palo Alto and the cost of the land makes it pretty prohibitive to build low-income housing. There is a 1/3 acre lot (house is a tear down) for sale in Old Palo Alto to give you an idea of how expensive land can be.


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

Barron Park does not need any more housing, it is too congested already. There is a lot of room in East Palo Alto for more housing, especially senior housing since they spend all their time at the facilty. The City Council is out of control- NO MORE HOUSING IN BARRON PARK.


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

No more subsidized housing. If they are seniors and retired, they don't need to live in Palo Alto and take up housing which should be used by people that work in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. There are plentky of apartments in East Palo Alto and Mountain View or even further south that they can live in.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Appalling age-ism here. Is this sort of prejudice now OK? ...NOT.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

In 6 years I will 55 years old, would love to find a place I can afford in my home area. If we sending people who worked, raise kids, spent years supporting your community just because they didn't make at the right.

A good friend of mine was right when he me the future of the area, not young, not wealthy, not the right education, not the right stuff, off to the central valley you go.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Oops, getting ahead of mine self, so the error in my writing, meant to. That the most of the people that will be moving into this complex. Have worked here, raised kids, supporting the schools, the community, that was at the right time was the right decision.


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Posted by Member
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm

There is a seven story apartment complex, Tan Plaza, that abuts the development site at 580 Arastradero. A four story apartment building will not be a complete change to the neighborhood.

Really appalling to read that people want seniors to get the heck otta here if they can't afford to stay in a place where they havefamily and freinds and have lived all their lives. Sixty seniors won't have to but many more will so don't worry naysayers, they will get otta here...


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Posted by Roger
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Good news. More housing for the senior citizens who have contributed greatly to the city, but can't afford the exorbitant costs to stay here, should be built.


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Posted by Fredrich
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

wow, and then some...

That tone, "why don't these dead beat seniors just get out on the ice floe and out of the way",is more than appalling; it is a barometer of the atmospherics here in the New Palo Alto, 2013 edition.
I've been here since 1965, took two degrees at Stanford, worked in the school District for over 30 years, participated in politics, boards, church and direct action, and am still a renter.
I applaud both the Planning Department and PAHC for this forward looking project that even now fits a growing public need.
Webster Wood in the 1970's and Terman Apartments in the 1980's have proven the invaluable benefits of City and PAHC partnerships in dealing with community housing needs.
My rent in Barron Park demands more than half of my State Teachers' pension. I have been on the waiting list to purchase below market housing for over 20 years and may need to remain a renter the rest of my natural days. This is no bother, really, but being uprooted from my chosen community would be rather more of an inconvenience. There is value in keeping some of us old fuddy-duddies around... if for no other reason than as a reminder to how much is being lost.




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Posted by Your children learn how to treat you in your old age by watching how you behave toward the aging.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

I'm not a senior, but I like the idea of providing affordable senior housing so people can age in the community where they have connections. Is there a way to prioritize this housing for current Palo Alto residents? The key benefit, to my mind, is keeping folks close to family and long-time friends, places of worship and other community resources where they have existing connections and support as they need more and more help.

This is a good thing.


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Posted by Avendias?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Isn't Avenidas moving or in need of a new location? Perhaps it could be relocated next to this complex. Avenidas sounds like they offer a helpful array of services to the senior community in this area.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 8:24 am

@palo alto parent: you wrote:
"Senior housing IS being built in north Palo Alto on Alma. There is not much free space in north Palo Alto and the cost of the land makes it pretty prohibitive to build low-income housing. There is a 1/3 acre lot (house is a tear down) for sale in Old Palo Alto to give you an idea of how expensive land can be."

You have just made my point. You don't mind high-density housing going up on busy Alma, but you wouldn't want it built right next to Gamble Garden house, even though it's already a tall building near Embarcadero and they have that open space right next to it, would you?

This is an expensive, residential neighborhood of single-family homes, and the commission is trying to rezone it from single-family homes for high-density housing because way on the fringes on Arastradero, a busy street, there is one tall apartment complex near some other apartment complexes on Arastradero by El Camino. Just because that exists over there, apparently one of the commissioners looks on a map and thinks there's no reason to protect the quality of life of the single-family neighborhood. Many of us who bought at the peak spent around $1.8 million on our 50-year-old rundown 1800sqft homes on 6,000-8,000 sqft lots, and they're going for almost that again. It is NOT okay to REZONE this single-family neighborhood to make it High-density Apartmentville so that a developer can make an extra buck at our expense.

This is not age-ism or even NIMBY-ism. If you stand at the school and turn in the OTHER direction and look an EQUAL DISTANCE to the other direction, the trailer park on El Camino IS being turned into a much larger high-density housing area. This is ON EL CAMINO, with it's outlet on the other side of Arastradero and El Camino, so the traffic has an outlet also on the Page Mill side. It's a FAR MORE APPROPRIATE PLACE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD FOR HIGH-DENSITY HOUSING WHICH *IS* GOING IN. If the housing corporation wanted to, it could ask the developer to set aside just as much housing for seniors there. Just across El Camino, a brand new low-income senior housing development has just gone in.

I appreciate you're being candid, but do you see how your view comes across as a double standard, even snobbery? Why not build a high-density apartment in Steve Jobs' garden since it's open space and not far from Middlefield where there are businesses? I'm NOT suggesting that! I'm just trying to get you to see the prejudice at work here of the North vs. the South. This is an expensive area, too! Unless some greedy developer gets their way and gets to put high-density housing where it isn't appropriate!!

We have several schools in this immediate neighborhood. The kids desperately need OPEN SPACE. The commissioner with the opinion that the Tan tower over there by El Camino and Arastradero justifies turning the entire single-family home neighborhood into high-density, he also knows so little about the area and the schools, he thought the little kids and neighborhood kids could all just go over and play at Gunn during the day!! He has no idea of the area, the traffic, or how things are used here, but he thinks that Tan tower justifies more of them. It's like saying just because there are high rises on University, justifies putting high-rises on the residential end of University.

The fact is, the area they want to turn into high-density housing IS CURRENTLY ZONED FOR SINGLE-FAMILY AND SHOULD STAY THAT WAY! If they don't want to put single-family homes there, the city should first consider loaning the money TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD for us to put something that better serves the community there, like open space/playing fields, which we desperately need.

If there is such a need for high-density senior housing, we are already providing it in spades, and there are opportunities for adding it at the trailer park redevelopment site, where high-density (and tall) is more appropriate. But my warning is that we still haven't forgotten that we were promised only seniors would buy at the Rickey's redevelopment! I have many friends who live there now, and they are all families with kids in our schools. Which is fine, but now we are overflowing, there's a point where it's too much!


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 8:38 am

Can the trolls please stop with the demagoguery? No one is against senior housing. No one is even trying to stop our area from, once again, taking far more than our share of high-density housing.

The fact is, THERE IS HIGH DENSITY HOUSING GOING IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, just at a MORE APPROPRIATE SPOT ON EL CAMINO!! It's a much larger development, too. Sheesh!

In this neighborhood, everyone stays in their houses when they get old because it's a quiet, cohesive neighborhood. And, if someone WERE going to want to move to a low-income senior apartment, there are some new ones JUST BUILT across from our neighborhood on the other side of El Camino (El Camino Way).

Please stop with the demogoguery. My family sacrificed plenty so we could live here, with a certain quality of life. I'm not against any of the things the demagogues are claiming, we are providing all those things in spades. Just please don't do it in a way that ruins our neighborhood. It's not necessary, nor appropriate. Leave the zoning AS IS.

GREEN ACRES NEIGHBORS: The City Council has not approved this re-zoning yet! Please speak up if you want to retain the quality of life of our neighborhood! The biggest problem with this project is that we have NO EGRESS from this neighborhood on the South and West sides, and we are landlocked here between three schools. At certain times of the day, there is no way to get in and out of the neighborhood. Putting the traffic out on Arastradero doesn't solve the problem, the bottlenecks are Maybell on one side (which isn't even a full-sides two-lane street with room for bike lanes on either side) and Arastradero between the schools and El Camino on the other. What if there is a future emergency at any of the schools, especially the elementary school or even a "senior" high-density development plopped in there? Access is already so difficult because of the afforementioned bottlenecks. To the many seniors already living in the neighborhood, how do you feel about emergency vehicles having far more trouble getting to you and the schools?

Please stop the demogoguery. We have senior housing in this area. If we need more of it, there is a more appropriate, larger place to put it in the same neighborhood! What we don't have enough of is open space for the kids. Here is an opportunity to provide a little more of that!


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Posted by member2
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Would someone please tell me what is considered 'affordable' housing?
'Affordable' by what standards? What will people pay in rent? I'd also suggest that rather than 55 years old being consider senior that we raise the age to 65.

I do agree that height, density and traffic are problematic. Nevertheless, to callously tell seniors to get out of their home town is appalling. (As an elderly person, would you like to live in East Palo Alto?) Those seniors are the very people who helped make Palo Alto what it is today. Further, extended families, grandma and grandpa nearby, are very beneficial for children.

This is indeed nimby-ism. Instead of knee-jerk hostility, work to find a compromise. Personally, if it were not for restrictive planning regulations, I'd be happy to create a granny flat in my own home. If many of us could do that, it would partially ameliorate the senior housing crisis.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Lifetime resident - if the Palo Alto Housing Corporation can purchase the land next to Gamble Gardens and have it rezoned for a complex for seniors, they should. Probably not going to happen though. This is not a case of as you put it "a developer making an extra buck". Palo Alto Housing Corporation is a private non-profit agency that develops low and moderate income housing.

Perhaps a smaller structure would make sense in a residential neighborhood, but traffic from Seniors is pretty minimal compared to other types of residents. I think the max height for a residential building is 33 ft which would allow 3 stories or so.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

@member2,
Read what I wrote, no one suggested ANYTHING you just claimed.

We have just built a large low-income senior complex in the neighborhood on El Camino Way. Same town, same area, just across El Camino. Not East Palo Alto, right here. Apparently you aren't from around here, are you?

Secondly, no one is pushing seniors out of here, except the people who want to make the existing neighborhood unliveable by rezoning single-family areas to high density. In this neighborhood, the seniors like to remain in their homes, that's just a fact.

Thirdly, there is a MUCH, MUCH larger plot of land being turned into a high density housing development at a more appropriate place IN THIS SAME NEIGHBORHOOD that nobody else is contesting, despite our side of town taking far more than its share of high density housing. No NIMBYism, we just don't want high rses where it will create a nightmare, a SAFTY hazard because of traffic bottlenecks, and ruin the neighborhood and the value of our investments. If you think it's no prblem, how about you put that high-rise next to Bol Park instead?

University is a commercal street, why not rezone the residential part for high-density, high-rise senior housing if you think it's such a great idea to do that in the most inappropriate part of my neighbrhood?


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

@palo alto parent,
What are you talking about? The Palo Alto housing corporation is not a developer. They will be PAYING a developer who will be making way more for high density high rise. In fact, they will be paying the developer who owns the building in which the head of the planning commission lives and which he himself admitted was a conflict for which he would recuse himself from the vote but did not.

The Palo Alto Housing Corporation has as much right to ask the developer of the much larger project going in at the trailer park to accommodate those units rather than rezoning and taking over the residential part of the neighborhood - again, it is this neighborhood, too, just at a much more accessible and appropriate location.

You do not live here so I will excuse your ignorance about the traffic bottleneck and safety problem a high rise high densit project of any kind would create here if that area were rezoned from SINGLE FAMILY as it is now. This neighborhood has very limited egress and ingress. Already, the one street, Maybell, is not fully two lanes with two bike anes and two sidewalks wide. It is a "safe route to school" and kids are already unsafely weaving in and out f traffic veryday on that street. The other route is onto Arastradero, on a very limited and already too congested stretch, where that outlet/inlet is blocked by school traffic fom three schools twice a day, plus all the existing high density housing traffic and worker getting across town. Those schools will be expanding by hundreds of students in the next decade. This is NOT SAFE if there is an emergency, even for the seniors who would supposedly be housed in that high rise, nuch less for thise of us who already live here. There are no other routes in and out of the neighborhood AT ALL in an emergency. If anything goes wrong at the schools and response is delayed because of bad planning now, it will be on all of your heads.

There is a HUGE new development going in on EL Camino in this neighborhood at the same time that is NOT single family homes zoning where that housing can go. Same neighborhood, just a safer a more appropriate part of it. Leave the zoning in Maybell as single family.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm

For those of you who insist on justifying this project by saying seniors don't make much traffic -- you obviously don't know the neighborhood, do you? Maybe you are planning on ensuring only seniors who don't drive and who never have anyone visiting will stay there? Right now, that area is a beautiful open space with old oak trees on it, with a few single-family homes, appropriate for the existing zoning, on Maybell. Now THAT'S a place not generating traffic!

Those two stretches -- Maybell from the school to El Camino (which as I have already explained, is NOT a fully-two-lanes-with-two-bike-paths-and-two-sidewalks-wide street, and is a "safe routes to school" that is already dangerous because of the crowding), and Arastradero between Gunn HS and El Camino, which is already horrendously backed up much of the morning and afternoon, and will take hundreds more students in the next decade because of the schools -- those two stretches are the only egress and ingress for the neighborhood, which has NO outlet on the south and west sides. You can put a high-density project at the trailer park -- which is already going to happen -- without so negatively impacting the egress for the neighborhood and the safety of the school kids. But even developing that patch with new single-family homes -- FOR WHICH IT IS CURRENTLY ZONED will add traffic this area can barely handle.

Leave the zoning on that patch on Maybell as is!! If the housing corporation needs more high-density housing, it should negotiate for that at the much larger new development being planned RIGHT NOW on El Camino in this neighborhood, or ensure the seniors from this neighborhood who want a low-income apartment right here have priority (over people moving here from elsewhere) at the existing new high-density development on El Camino Way just across El Camino from our neighborhood, or in the new project going in on El Camino.

There's a lot more space on the residential part of University, and there are already high-rised on University and apartments -- why not put it there? Although that was a rhetorical question, in all seriousness, University is a busy street and there's no traffic bottleneck creating a safety problem for the local elementary school like there is here.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Oops, I need to restate the above paragraph because it's unclear:

Those two stretches -- Maybell from the school to El Camino (which as I have already explained, is NOT a fully-two-lanes-with-two-bike-paths-and-two-sidewalks-wide street, and is a "safe routes to school" that is already dangerous because of the crowding), and Arastradero between Gunn HS and El Camino, which is already horrendously backed up much of the morning and afternoon, and will take hundreds more students in the next decade because of the schools -- those two stretches are the only egress and ingress for the neighborhood, which has NO outlet on the south and west sides. You can put a high-density project at the trailer park -- which is already going to happen and is IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD -- without so negatively impacting the egress for the neighborhood and the safety of the school kids as rezoning Maybell from its current single-family residential home status. But even developing that patch of Maybell with new single-family homes -- FOR WHICH IT IS CURRENTLY ZONED will add traffic this area can barely handle.


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Posted by 75 units, not 60
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm

> the project consists of a four-story, 60-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors and 15 single-family homes that would be sold at market rates.>


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Posted by member2
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm

@lifetime resident: Did you bother to read all the comments posted here or are you just focused on your own? Regarding East Palo Alto here is the comment to which I referred: Also, your tone is unnecessarily quite rude.

"Posted by jerry99, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

No more subsidized housing. If they are seniors and retired, they don't need to live in Palo Alto and take up housing which should be used by people that work in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. There are plentky of apartments in East Palo Alto and Mountain View or even further south that they can live in."

Seriously, having contributed to Palo Alto for 35 years, I would not now want to live in East Palo Alto. Luckily, I will be able to remain in my own home. However, since you consider that area to be Palo Alto, please move there as soon as possible.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm

@member,
You did not bother to address the one poster who made the suggestion you took issue with. Had you done so in your post, I would still have adressed the demogoguery about nimbyism in your post tht just isn't applicable here.

Speaking of not reading someone's post and being rude, you seem to be the only one doing that here. I made no mention of East Palo Alto AT ALL in any of my posts. and I certainly wasn't in any way rude like you have been. When someone wants to plop a high rise high density development next to your single-family home that will create a safety issue for getting emergency vehicles in and out of the neighborhood of many existing seniors and affect the daily safety of school kids, much less worsen existing daily traffic snarls, when they could turn a few degrees in a different direction and put all that housing safely there in the SAME NEIGHBORHOOD just in a better spot, you might understand why I care to speak up against demagoguery that isn't even applicable.

I like living here and pay handsomely to do so. The maybell area in question is currently a rare open space with a bunch of beautiful old native oaks, adjacent to a park that could use the extra space, for the kids and for community emergencies. The city is involved to benefit the community, not make this spot unlivable for those who already live here by making poor planning choices. Put the housing at the EL Camino site (in this neighborhood) and leave the zoning in the single-family neighborhood area as is.

You don't seem familiar with the neighborhood or the usual protocol on this list. Lest I be censored, I won't comment on it except that it's obvious.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm

@75,
And those 15 single-family homes would be high-density, tall houses that could never be built in the current zoning of the neighborhood, either. Even the people on the other side of the Rickey's Hyatt development were allowed to insist on less dense homes than that facing their neighborhood even though their existing properties and lots are smaller and less expensive than this neighborhood.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 17, 2013 at 10:32 am

The whole point of zoning for a single family residential area is because if anyone puts anything they want anywhere they want, the neighborhood quickly loses cohesion and stops becoming a neighborhood. This is already a small neighborood. Please do not rezone our neighborhood just because there's a high density apartment cluster adjacent on the Arastradero ElCamino side. There is plenty of space for these units on the ElCamino side at the trailer park development being planned now, where they are less of a safety hazard to the schools because of the egress/ingress bottleneck described above. Would you want someone to rezone the houses next to yours to put a highrise there, especially when there is alarger place for them at a more appropriate location nearby?


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Posted by 75 units, not 60
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

<the building in which the head of the planning commission lives and which he himself admitted was a conflict for which he would recuse himself from the vote but did not.>
What?!?


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 17, 2013 at 1:27 pm

lifetime resident - I agree that its pretty odd to put high density housing in a residential neighborhood. The problem with the trailer park is that it is privately owned and I'm sure worth WAY more than the Palo Alto Housing Corp paid for the two lots. The Senior Housing on El Camino is an expansion of Palo Alto Commons (I think that is what you are referring to) Assisted Living homes are actually businesses, not rental apartments.

Back to the idea of senior housing in North Palo Alto, I don't see why some of the space at the Main Library, Art Center and Community Garden couldn't have been used for senior and/or low and moderate income housing. There is LOTS of open space, especially if some of the garden space was reduced. Selling (or renting like Stanford does) the land could provide income to the City too.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm

palo alto parent -
Thank you for your agreement, I appreciate you hearing my comments! The lot on Maybell was ALSO privately owned! From the article: "The project already received an early blessing from the City Council, which agreed in November to loan the agency $3.2 million to purchase the two parcels that comprise the 2.46-acre site."

The trailer park is a much bigger space and no one has to take away a huge chunk of the single-family zone to put the high-density housing there. The Palo Alto Housing Corporation has as much pull in that development as this one.

If the city was going to get involved in this neighborhood, the kids here need OPEN SPACE more than anything. When PAUSD took back Terman, it limited open space in this area even further as the school uses the space back there most of the day now and the community no longer has the same access as before.

The city should consider leaving that lot as open space, including the majestic old oaks, integrating it with Juana Briones park since it's right across the street, and putting one of the underground wells there. This is after all the only part of Palo Alto really outside of a liquifaction hazard zone. It would be a smart place to put the emergency well right next to a park that will also be a post-quake community site -- well, at least if there is still space for the neighbors should the zoning be left alone -- and frankly, we could use the extra space.

Leaving the zoning as is for that part of our neighborhood is a far, far safer thing for the neighborhood. The city should have first offered to partner with the neighborhood to decide what to do with that plot instead of trying to carve out our neighborhood for high-density housing it could put so nearby at the trailer park much more safely and easily.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

The owner of the trailer park is planning another type of housing project, yes it is high density rentals. Would he want to sell his property or investment at a loss.

Yes you could put all of Palo Alto seniors in East Palo Alto or Mountain View, where are the residents of those cities to live. How about 27 University, build 1 large office building, the rest high rise rentals. MacArthur Park can be dining hall.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Dear Garrett,
While I get that you are being silly - and only one person has suggested putting the housing out of town or even out of the neighborhood, I certainly haven't, you've actually made quite a good point inadvertently, that the Macarthur Park site is also very large and would be a desirable place for senior housing as it would be a stone's throw from medical care at PAMF and Stanford, and walking distance to music, art, dining, and other cultural offerings, even Palo Alto adult school classes that would be very inexpensive for them. All of these developers need to get concessions from the city for their projects, and has a lot of clout to negotiate that housing for the trailer park. The problem with our neighborhood is that they have to take over single-family residential areas, significantly and negatively hurt safety and quality of life for existing residents because of ingress and egress bottlenecks, and the city has to lend millions to do it.

You have made an excellent suggestion of an alternative location in North Palo Alto near Stanford that wouldn't require taking over part of a single-family residence zone and is a better location for high density and better to offer seniors a high quality of life. Having once temporarily lived off of University when I was younger, it's great living over there. Every potential location has it's concerns and challenges, but I'm sure it's nothing the demagogues can't try to push their way over there, too, eh?


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Posted by Long Time Green Acres Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I have concerns with having additional traffic on the Maybell and Arastradero corridor. Already, we have major influxes of traffic coming from the businesses and through traffic coming off of 280 during school hours. This neighbor is defined by its unique feel. If I wanted to live on a busy street, I would have bought a house along Foothill Expressway or on Alma. We already have the stress from Terman and Gunn traffic.

I think the residents of Green Acres did not object since we are too busy trying to make enough money just to pay the property tax in the area. Changing the zoning for Green Acres is a bad idea. It is even worse that the City would loan the money to change our neighborhood. This area is a single family resident area.


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Posted by Mckissock
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 8:08 am

Traffic and Parking are already a major problems in Maybell, Arastradero, Donald, Coulombe and surrounding areas.

Any trend to start changing zoning to higher density in this area is a very poor move which will have a negative impact on preserving the character and property values of the surrounding neighborhood. Is not one of the purpose of zoning?


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

The city keeps talking about sustainability, so why isn't it thinking of that here? That site is the poorest place for senior rentals. It's not a planned senior community, it's just rentals. There really are no services seniors typically need within walking distance, of course they'll add to the traffic. Channing House made that same assumption and has to have a valet to park all the cars! Worse, that spot is, as I've noted, a bottleneck to the neighborhood which has no outlet at all on the south and west sides. It's a completely inappropriate place to put high density anything, much less seniors who will be hard to get to by ambulance because of existing traffic congestion certain times of the day.

And let's face it, wat's to keep granny from moving there from other communities so that junior can live there (with car and probably most of the time wthout granny) to go to Gunn high school, which already happens too much around here?

Please leave the zoning as is, and ask the city to consider that parcel as a RARE and priceless opportunity to give the neighborhood back some of its open space and extend the adjacent park!!


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

The reasons why the council will vote for this:

1) Satisfies the Union Special Interest: construction jobs (Shepard, Price)
2) Satisfies the Developer Special Interest: (Scharf, Klein, Burt, Kniss, Berman)
3) Satifies the Affordable Housing Special Interest group, (Scharf, Burt, Klein, Shepard, Berman, Kniss, Price)
4) "As long as it's not in my neighborhood" (Scharf, Klein, Shepard, Berman, Kniss, Burt)


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 11:28 am

It's a long holiday today, so traffic is thin today, but I invite the council to make their way to work this week by detouring from ElCamino/Arastradero, up to Donald, make right, go right on Maybell, up to El Camino, onto El Camino Way and right onto East Meadow to Middlefield at, oh, about 7:50. Then go on your way. Do the same thing in the other direction at, oh, 2:50 in the afternoon. Then come back at 4:45 and go up Maybell to right on Donald, left onto Arastradero, and try to go across El Camino to the railroad tracks. Time yoursel every day for a week and compare notes. Now imagine adding hundreds of cars for the school expansions on Arastradero. Then go into the neighborhood and have a medical emergency requiring an ambulance, and ask yourself if you really want to add the traffic from a high density development to that stretch of Maybell and Arastradero?


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 11:32 am

Oops, i meant at 4:45 go left onto Donald to Arastradero, left onto Arastradero, and make your way to the RR tracks.

The rotes I've suggested earlier in some cases are against traffic, and yet are still jammed.


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Posted by Avenidas?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm

lifetime resident, isn't Macarthur Park on land owned by the all-powerful Stanford, for the use of the developer Arrillaga for his future massive office towers development? I think you are correct to want a comprehensive examination of possible locations for more low-income subsidized housing and I agree, I certainly hope outsiders won't game the system in order to put in teens from families who use it as a shell location so the teens can attend Gunn without paying property taxes!


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

@Avenidas,
It doesn't matter who owns the property at Macarthur Park, the majority of the properties that go into the BMR program for the Palo Alto Housing Corporation are set aside from private developments as required by the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan:
Web Link

"When a development of five or more residential units is built in the City of Palo Alto, the developer is required to offer at least 15% of those units for sale at below market prices." (Note: "at least", but not limited to...) The city could just as easily require a residential aspect to that major development if there isn't already one. It's a very large space, in case you haven't been back there lately.

What are you talking about teens paying property taxes? Our schools are packed. We don't need to compromise the quality of life and property values for existing residents to put high-density housing at an unsafe location for it, so that we can entice people to move here from elsewhere so their grandkids can attend Gunn, which is already happening.

Arrillega and every other developer has to offer concessions to the city in order to build their desired developments. There are much SAFER, better places to put that housing, INCLUDING in the SAME NEIGHBORHOOD, at the trailer park development, which is 4.5 acres, much larger than the Maybell site.

The Maybell site is currently zoned for SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCES. It is in a location that is COMPLETELY UNSUITABLE for high-density ANYTHING. There are no residents there now except in two houses, it is an OPEN SPACE with beautiful old oak trees that is not contributing to our traffic bottleneck AT ALL. And we have a traffic bottleneck in this neighborhood because there are only TWO ROUTES of ingress/egress. That bottleneck will get worse, making access by emergency vehicles even more iffy in the future, just because of hundreds more students going to the schools, including Gunn which is under construction to add classrooms for all those hundreds more students. The two routes of ingress/egress for the neighborhood are already supposed "safe routes to school" for kids from all over town, which are not actually very safe because at least one of those roads isn't very wide and the other is a main thoroughfare packed with people already. ADDING HIGH-DENSITY HOUSING RIGHT THERE WILL SIGNIFICANTLY HURT THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF THE EXISTING RESIDENTS.

What happens if heaven forbid there was a serious crisis at the elementary school or the middle school? At certain times of the day, access is already difficult because of the limited ingress and traffic. This is just a completely inappropriate place to put high-density housing!

The trailer park is CURRENTLY zoned for high-density housing, and is being rezoned for higher density. The city can put the desired units there, or they can easily put half the units there, and the other half in the Arrillaga development or other developments going in the El Camino corridor in the next few years. This is not a senior facility with services. The Maybell location has no place for seniors to WALK to locally for almost anything from that location, they will add to traffic. This is not a location that can take the extra traffic nor is it an appropriate location for high-density housing of ANY KIND.

Putting a high-density development in the Maybell location is a BAD idea. If these units are so important, why doesn't the city put them on the Lawn Bowling Green, a large open space that it owns and could put whatever it wants on, right on the busy street of Embarcadero and much closer to medical services and shopping seniors needs? (I am not seriously suggesting that, I am once again pointing out the hypocrisy in shoving this development down our throats when we are taking another large development in the same neighborhood that is in a far more appropriate location for these units.)

The people trying to do this to us know as little about this area as you apparently do. The zoning should remain single-family, and that property should be turned into something much more appropriate for the neighborhood, like adding to the park and creating open space EXISTING RESIDENTS desperately need.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Methinks we should begin protesting BOTH high-density developments, BOTH of which require rezoning to happen. This is what we get for being reasonable.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Keep the Maybell site as OPEN SPACE for our kids!!! Extend Juana Briones Park by putting a playing field there behind the beautiful old oak trees, and put an emergency underground water storage there for this side of the city! It's a far better use for the site and much safer. In fact, you don't get opportunities to do something like this very often.

That area is currently Open Space, something we desperately need, and should stay that way.


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Posted by What's-Going-On-Here?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm


> Have worked here, raised kids, supporting the schools,
> the community, that was at the right time was
> the right decision.

This thought, posted earlier in the discussion, is probably not really true. There are far too many seniors here who are the parents of recent immigrants—people who never paid a penny in taxes, and in many cases, may well have lived in countries that were working hard to destabilize the US in their youth.

It would be a really good thing for the City to produce some data about the people who are living in these subsidized housing establishments. It's pretty clear from watching people coming and going from these facilities that they are of foreign origin.


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Posted by Vote-no-rezoning
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

To "what's going on here"

You are missing the point here. What you said might be true but it is irrelevant in this case. Lets not lose the focus!

Folks who want to vote NO to the project: what is the call to action here?? When and where we can make a vote?


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:23 am

@Vote-no-rezoning,
Please call and write our city council members to let them know they should vote against rezoning that site. The more people who do, the better.

Right now, I think the planning commission vote doesn't create the rezoning, the City Council vote will. If they choose against the neighborhood, would we be able to overturn that with a local vote? I don't know, better to actively let our City Council hear neighborhood opposition to the rezoning and deal with local balloting only should it come to that.

The most important reason not to rezone is that a high-density development will so negatively affect traffic at the only two routes in and out of the neighborhood, which are already traffic bottlenecks (expected to get worse with school expansions), and that this is unsafe for the neighborhood in the event of an emergency. Arguments that hundreds of people at that location, even seniors, won't increase traffic are specious, as if no one will have visitors or need a car for medical/shopping/eatingout/etc, in a neighborhood where none of these things are walkable. There are better locations to put that housing which are already zoned for denser housing, even nearby at another location in this area (the trailer park). It's also not so great for the environment to create more traffic logjams.

I think it helps, too, if the neighborhood gets involved to ask that the city help retain that parcel as open space! It would be a great resource for Greenacres and Barron Park to have both the underground emergency water supply there (if the city decided to put one there) and a much needed playing field added to Juana Briones Park. Plus the open space is a priceless resource in the event of predictable emergencies like earthquakes. It's a rare opportunity for the city to act on its commitment to open space for a part of the community that could really use it.

I am not a lawyer, but I think the lawyers among us could also look at the question of whether the city incurs liability (or loses any imaginable design immunity which is already a stretch under those circumstances) for consequences of creating predictably unsafe conditions by rezoning for and playing an active role in putting high-density in that location. It's been very obvious that the arguments for the project are being made by people who do not know this immediate area or the negative impacts of putting high-density there to egress/ingress for the neighborhood. Should loss of life or property result because of dangerous conditions, esp if the dangerous conditions create a foreseeable risk of which the city had reasonable notice, the city would likely not be immune from liability. So please let the City know of your experiences with difficult traffic conditions at both outlets to the neighborhood (the Arastradero corridor and Maybell), and your concerns about adding high density right at that bottleneck, when we'll already be seeing many hundreds more students at the middle and high schools in the next decade. Any potential benefits of this high-density project could be realized at better, alternative locations that don't have the same risks or negatives to existing residents, or incur the same liability for the city. We certainly don't want to have to suffer any tragic consequences or open the city to serious liability when it's so reasonably preventable at this stage.


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:37 am

@vote-no-rezoning,
But your point about voting brings up an interesting question of whether, under all the high-density pressure we face in our neighborhoods across Palo Alto, whether we should put something on the ballot requiring the city to get a majority or 2/3 approval of existing residents within a neighborhood to rezone areas zoned for single-family residences for high-density, or to replace medium with high-density in existing residential areas. The default shouldn't be that we constantly have to watch out for our neighborhoods or they'll be constantly threatened. The developers shouldn't automatically have the upper hand; existing residents should be able to expect some peace in their homes!


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Posted by lifetime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:40 am

Here's a link to our city council members and their contact information:
Web Link


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Posted by Fredrich
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Enjoyed the interlocutory over the proposed project for the Clem Street site behind the Tan Apartments.
The parcel in question appears to be a onetime apricot orchard; the oak trees are mostly at the edges and at curbside.
The problems with the traffic corridor are largely the product of ill-conceived and executed "traffic calming" experiments on Arastradero that were initiated without adequate review of data on side street impacts and then extended, again without adequate fact finding.

Question--Is there more than one lifetime resident in Green Acres ?
Or do all habitues of that happy neighborhood use the same name and speak with one voice?


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I took a look at these lots on Zillow. They back up to a large multi-story apartment complex (it looks like 7 or 8 stories). It actually seems like a logical spot for more high-density housing BUT it should also have car entrances only on Cleo (before the barrier) to keep the auto traffic out of the nearby neighborhood.


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