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Opponents of Maybell project complete signature drive

Original post made on Jul 26, 2013

A grassroots effort to stop a proposed housing development on Maybell Avenue in Palo Alto hit another milestone Friday afternoon when citizens submitted a petition with more than 4,000 signatures to City Hall, far more than was needed to bring the issue to a citywide vote.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 26, 2013, 4:57 PM

Comments (60)

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Posted by THANK YOU!
a resident of University South
on Jul 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Great work residents. Thanks for giving us a voice in the upcoming election. Everyone is tired of all of the high density giveaways to developers. Very few of us moved here because we wanted gridlock and congestion, and the city council has completely ignored the people they are supposed to be serving, preferring instead to bend over for their developer friends. Looking forward to handing our arrogant, out-of-touch council a resounding defeat!


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Congratulations on a successful step 1 of reasserting residential control over the city versus the special interests.

Step 2: Pass the referendum

Step 3: Elect new council members. Throw out Scharf, Price, Shepard.

Step 4: Appoint new members to Architecture Review and the Planning/Transportation commissions.

Step 5: Replace city staff who are anti-resident, and too cozy with the special interests.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 26, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Thank you, THANK YOU! Those of us in Greenacres really appreciate the support across town!

I feel like I should state again, so everyone realizes, we have existing affordable housing developments in the immediate area; this is not NIMBYism or a rejection of affordable housing, or even of that development - the project would have been received very differently if it had been at a more reasonable scale, within the existing zoning.

That said, it felt pretty terrible to feel so shut out by the City, as if PAHC and what they want counts and neighbors - and the safety of their children and their quality of life - don't. Maybe they'll hear us now, as the vote for this project will likely affect the City Council's term limit extension election. (As well as a few candidates' re-election chances. People here are pretty upset.)

I wasn't able to help with the signature drive myself -- I am extremely grateful to all of you who did!


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Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

The referendum is the right thing to do for Palo Alto. Many City issues has gray areas, however, this referendum is absolutely correct for preserving Palo Alto.

Please register to vote, and vote to stop the wave of obscene development that is headed our way that has no real care for the quality of leading a human life in Palo Alto.

Thank you Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning. Please let your neighbors know that this is a watershed event in the civic life of Palo Alto, and all votes are needed to reverse the Council's deceptive actions.

Best regards,

Tim Gray


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Posted by Concerned resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm

[Portion removed.] Did anyone see the " public benefit" priovided by john mcNellis at Alma Plaza development? The community center is a tiny room on top of mikis market. Mikis market is on alma and in your face with no setback. The "park" is a patch the size of my living room carpet. [Portion removed.] Bravo to the petition gatherers. I wonder what it would take to kick out the councillors that voted for this.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Please do not generalize and refer to all developers as not caring about the future of Palo Alto and/ or being greedy, only caring about how they personally benefit. There are developers I know who do high quality, attractive projects within the Palo Alto zoning guidelines. It can be very frustrating when people blame a developer who simply wants to develop a piece of property in a completely legal manner. I have lived here over forty years and Palo Alto has never been, nor will it ever be a stagnant place. In addition, the land is simply too expensive to replace a small single story building with something of the same size. Changing the zoning and building guidelines of course can always be altered if the city/ citizens choose to do so.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 27, 2013 at 12:06 am

@resident of Professorville,
In this situation, the neighbors have been treated pretty shabbily by PAHC and the City, so I hope you can understand. Even though there is more affordable housing development in the immediate area than virtually any neighborhood in Palo Alto (except maybe in downtown, which is more zoned for density), and neighbors kept saying they would accept a development within the existing zoning, PAHC astroturf outright called them "NIMBYs" even when it was clear they were getting the City council vote their way. Neighbors have asked for a comprehensive traffic study that includes the bicycles and pedestrians til they're blue in the face, and they got nothing.

A particularly galling thing about the Maybell development is that part of the property is being resold to a private developer, on the condition the City rezone for his benefit so he can build high-density market-rate housing ala Miki's that could never be built in the middle of a residential neighborhood like this. The market-rate developer benefits disproportionately from the out-of-character houses that will fetch a premium because of the location. PAHC never went to any high-end developers, they only got bids from these row house developers who build houses like behind Miki's. They insisted they had to be involved in this transaction to make money to build the project, but when asked why they didn't auction to high-end developers to make more money so they could afford to reduce the burden on the neighborhood, they demurred and said they're not in the business to make money.

The zoning for that location was ALREADY higher than R-1, although still considered "low-density", because it was a transition zone from that spot area of apartments (the Tan being the one everyone sees) to the R-1 neighborhood that surrounds it. The zoning designation it had even allows for more units than when it was zoned that way in the first place because City Council has upped the units allowed over the years. The 40 affordable units they could build on the 2 acres under the existing zoning was far more than was ever envisioned when it was zoned that way, yet somehow that was not good enough and they had to go for a 60-unit, 50-foot-high 4-story building on 1 acres in the middle of a residential area, making s a bloc of ultra-high density with an abrupt transition to R-1 all around.

Neighbors never wanted to have to set aside their lives to have to protect the zoning, no one should have to do that. That's what zoning is for, so you know what will be there in the future when you buy. PC zoning should be killed, or at least the onus should be on the builder to prove to the voters in any conceivably adjacent areas that the public benefit truly is a benefit.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 6:59 am

@resident of Professorville
Who are these community-minded developers you know of? Can you name
one or two for us? Are their projects office buildings,commercial,
multi-family, single-family? Where are they located? We are all
open-minded here, but please don't generalize.


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

It should be easier than it is to nullify an unpopular, or even possibly illegal, action of the City Council. We should be able to use Internet/web-based petitions, and have at least forty-five days, perhaps even sixty days, to obtain the necessary signatures.

Given that a significant number of signatures are collected in this process--then there might even be no reason to advance the question to the ballot. The validated signatures would be sufficient to nullify the Council's actions.


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 10:10 am

I want to personally thank the foot soldiers that gave up so much of their personal life to pound the pavement in search of signatures. These people walked door to door and spoke to neighbors across Palo Alto to tell them the story of Maybell and to offer them the opportunity to give their signature to support the referendum. These people went to the Farmers Market, the concerts, coffee shops, grocery stores all in an effort to tell the story. These signatures did not come easily; people really wanted to know the story behind what they were signing. The amount of time spent doing this was tremendous. I applaud the efforts of this relatively small group of neighbors who are passionate and went after a goal to save the zoning of the neighborhood and to support the safety of our students.


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Posted by Corky
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

Unfortunately, for most Palo Alto residents, our experiences with developers have NOT been positive ones. We have yet to have dealings with an honest one. The closest was probably Joe Eichler, whose houses were thin-walled semi-permanent structures that could burn to the ground in seven minutes flat!


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Posted by Petition signer
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Thank you to all those who collected signatures. If the City council had listened to the genuine safety concerns of residents, all this time and effort would have been unnecessary.

The "road diet" or whatever you want to call it on Arastradero Road in 2010 was done without study or consideration of the impact on neighboring streets like Maybell Avenue. The City would like Maybell Avenue to be something it is not, a wide two-lane boulevard with plenty of room to handle the extra load of cars and bicycles which has already shifted to it since the changes to Arastradero. But wishing does not make it so.

No one I know in the neighborhood is against senior housing. If Arastradero Road traffic-calming project was recognized for the miserable failure it is, undone, and traffic from the proposed development was to be routed on to a two-lane road like Arastradero, I don't think the city would have faced the opposition to the senior housing project.

Too bad it has to come to a referendum. I suspect it will be the first of many referendums against proposed projects if the city continues to ignore the safety concerns of residents.


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Posted by senior longtime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I was one of the many collectors of signatures for the petitions. It wasn't any easy or comfortable job for me since I had never done it before. It was rewarding to speak to some of the ardent opponents of rezoning for high density in Palo Alto who are very appreciative of our efforts. I want to let those of you who made such comments in person and on this site to let you know that your positive comments are very welcomed. Now on to the election. We'll need all of the support that we can get at that time and may we prevail!


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

I don't understand the vitriol you direct against PAHC. They purchased the land out from under private developers who could offer more, but couldn't close the deal in the time frame the seller demanded. That and the tax benefits led to PAHC acquiring the property.
Without that, that land would probably already be well underway to being developed to the maximum extent possible, within zoning guidelines,. No opportunity for community input, no Planning and Transportation Commission review, no City Council review.
So we got an initial project proposal that pushed the boundaries of what could be done--that's expected. Through community input, meetings, hearings, fliers and hard work you now have a project that satisfies many of the initial objections: no driveways onto Maybell, attention and funds to advance the Safe Routes to School project on Maybell, big setbacks, side yards, only 2-story homes on Maybell (7 instead of 9), 5 instead of 6 3-story homes on Clemo, with a mere 2 1/2' additional height allowed (32 1/2' max) for doing a third story, shared shuttle van with neighboring Arastradero Apartments so seniors could do their shopping, and more.
You would like the orchard to remain and be rejuvenated and for the 4 ranch style homes to remain and be renovated. So would I. But it's extremely unlikely.
Something else will happen on that land. Will we get as good as the city's ordered if rezoning is rescinded? I hope you'll agree that it's a question worth asking.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm

>No one I know in the neighborhood is against senior housing.

Really? How would you know, unless it is put to a secret ballot?

I signed the petitions and helped to get about 8 others to sign. However, the "we all support low income housing for seniors" is a cover story. At any rate, it looks like it will go to a vote, which is a very good thing. Barron Park, as well as the rest of us need to vote on it, and for it.

Once it passes, the day of reckoning will come for PAHC...it is time to shut it down.


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Posted by Briones Elementary Mother
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jul 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Jerry,

You're a frequent defender of PAHC. You seem genuinely taken aback by the anger they have aroused in the community. Although I did not make the post you were referring to, let me take this opportunity to send a little more vitriol PAHC's way and explain to you in perfectly clear terms why.

PAHC Produced a traffic study that completely ignored the fact that our children use Maybell Ave to get to and from school. They commissioned a hack job firm that cherry picked data, used old, too optimistic models, and intentionally avoided the one issue that any parent or anyone concerned about the safety of our kids cares about. When called out on this, they double down and continued to back the validity of the traffic study, knowing their political allies on the council would not call them out on it.

Call it what you will; dirty politics, inside baseball, whatever. What it comes down to is PAHC chose to knowingly ignore the risks to my kids and the thousand of others who use that corridor, because they were afraid that a real traffic study might not support adding more density on Maybell. Nobody gets to take blind risk with my children. Does this help you understand the vitriol, Jerry?

I will never support a PAHC project again. I will happily support the Maybell referendum, and any referendum against any PAHC project in the future. I will vote against any councilmember who uses tax dollars to fund this callous and corrupt organization. Shame on them for playing fast and loose with the safety of other people's children, and shame on the council for rolling over for this arrogant special interest.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm


">No one I know in the neighborhood is against senior housing.
Really? How would you know, unless it is put to a secret ballot?"

Well first of all read the comments from residents of those neighborhoods n this forum and in the newspapers.
Plus, I doubt that anyone -- private or the city- will ever put a ballot measure up that asks people to decide if they are for or against senior housing.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm

>Plus, I doubt that anyone -- private or the city- will ever put a ballot measure up that asks people to decide if they are for or against senior housing.

If it (ballot)is done in the targeted neighborhood(s), I doubt that any neighborhood(s) would buy into it. It is an easy thing to ask generic questions, but specific questions focus the mind and heart and pocketbook.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Briones Elementary Mother, a member of the Juana Briones School community

Wow, it's hard to know where to start. Were you at the April informational meeting in at Arastradero Park? The traffic consultant said that they did look at impacts on pedestrian and bicycle traffic even though the traffic report that the City of Palo Alto was using at the time did not require or give a way to include the data. She asked those in attendance to pressure the city to adopt new standards, which some states and cities had begun using, but not Palo Alto, to capture that data.

A problem, she said, is that you don't get to pick and choose which standards to apply to which projects. You can't use one set of standards for Maybell and another for the Stanford Medical Center expansion. I gather from posts on this topic that the city has now adopted the new, more accurate standards. One person claimed in a post (I have no way to verify this.) that even with the higher trip numbers assigned to senior housing by the newer studies it didn't rise to the level of significant impact.

You fill out whatever forms you have to submit when you're trying to put a project together. To wait for an uncertain change in policy that might change the traffic data to use doesn't make sense when you're dealing with multiple deadlines and need to get underway.

That doesn't relieve PAHC, the school district, the city or other entities and individuals from the responsibility to assure kids are safe on the streets. Let's work to make the Maybell Bicycle Boulevard a success. Be involved. Look for an announcement from the city of a Maybell neighborhood meeting to identify details of traffic problems so work can begin on solutions.

I ask you to keep this in mind: none of the traffic problems we see is due to a PAHC project, certainly not one that hasn't even begun. PAHC may be an easier target than the big projects because it is so vulnerable to public opinion, but it actually tries to be a good neighbor because it's here for the long haul.


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm

"That doesn't relieve PAHC, the school district, the city or other entities and individuals from the responsibility to assure kids are safe on the streets. Let's work to make the Maybell Bicycle Boulevard a success. Be involved. Look for an announcement from the city of a Maybell neighborhood meeting to identify details of traffic problems so work can begin on solutions."

This is in the hands of the City. No meeting has been set and according to the Council, Arastradero is off the table in this discussion. Not sure there is much that can be done. Green lanes on a street that is not wide enough for a bike lane is not going to change the problem. I am willing to see what they can come up with this time. The City spent thousands of dollars and lots of time reviewing Maybell a few years ago. At the time of review, the City did what they felt was the best and most that they could do on Maybell (since it is not wide enough to do much else). Maybe something new has happened. Please let us know when they reschedule the June meeting. I hope they give us all more than a weeks notice for the meeting. Maybe we should have a meeting in advance of the City and see if the neighbors have ideas or things that they do not want to see for Maybell. School starts in a few weeks.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of University South
on Jul 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Though there does not appear to be much support on this forum for the PAHC, there is out in the community. About six or seven years ago a project was built close to Whole Foods to help families and individuals in need of more affordable housing than they could find elsewhere. Many of the children living there attend Addison, Jordan, and Paly, where my own children attend. THe project is attractive, especially given that the budget had to be more restricted than a private development. Local families are helped and are able to live in close distance of their children's schools. I have been to the apartments of two families who have lived there due to connections with my children. In addition, I am very aware that this project could not have happened without the dedication and huge number of volunteer hours from PACH Board members and others. It is great to have these Palo Alto citizens care so much for others less fortunate in the community! I understand some of the frustration over the Maybell project, but some of these postings directed at PAHC volunteers are down right mean.


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Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

It's not about senior housing. It's about boiling a frog.

You know how to boil a frog. You don't drop it in boiling water. You drop it in warm water and then gradually raise the temperature.

Every single development project that comes up gets argued back and forth on the merits of that particular project and possibly its impact on the immediate neighbors.

What doesn't get discussed is the overall impact on Palo Alto of it becoming more and more densely populated, with more and more auto and other traffic on its ill-maintained streets.

I wouldn't mind a dense, high-rise project on the El Camino corridor--IF it didn't increase Palo Alto's total population. Every project should be balanced by reducing housing--with parks, say, or retail developments that would bring the city revenue permanently, instead of temporarily, as residential housing does (property taxes are a drop in the bucket next to business taxes).

The New Urbanism represents an unholy alliance of liberal ideologues bent on providing housing for the poor and conservative developers bent on short-term profits...and of course building trades unions. They get their way by boiling the frog--we have to resist by insisting that the overall city plan be kept to, instead of exceptions constantly being made for the big developers.

And yes, we must vote out city council members who serve the special interests that constantly work behind the scenes to get their project through, even though very few Palo Altans want this town to become a mini-Manhattan.

The proponents of


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm

To PA resident, I think that it important for you to understand, the majority of the residents on Maybell currently live in a PAHC complex. These families are part of the South Palo Alto neighborhood and schools. My guess is that there are more PAHC residents than people who live in individual homes on the remaining part of Maybell Ave. Many of the children living there attend Briones, Terman, and Gunn, where my own children attend. THe project is attractive, especially given that the budget had to be more restricted than a private development. Local families are helped and are able to live in close distance of their children's schools. I have been to the apartments of many of the families who have lived there due to connections with my children. In addition, I am very aware that this project could not have happened without the dedication and huge number of volunteer hours from PACH Board members and others. It is great to have these Palo Alto citizens care so much for others less fortunate in the community!

I will bet that, though, that the zoning has not been changed next to it near your neighborhood to add 60 more units. If PAHC would have been content with 40 units they could be breaking ground as we speak. It is hard to tell the story without saying who is digging their heals in the ground for rezoning and building beyond what a neighborhood should have to endure.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 27, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Jerry, you have been a long-time fawning devotee of this rezoning, and seem to be willing to say anything. You have been asked about what your connection is to PAHC and the project. Will you please kindly state?

You once criticized Joe Hirsch for his letter to City Council stating that realistically, only 18 or fewer units could be built on that property in a market situation. Your dismissal as I recall was because Hirsch was only once a Planning Commissioner for the City, not the HEAD of Planning. Something like that.

So what is your expertise in traffic? TWO independent analyses of the traffic report by certified traffic engineers were done, and both of them have something very different to say than your claims. (See both at Web Link )

Certainly your expertise is not in getting your facts straight. I know a neighbor who recorded most of that April meeting at Arastradero on a cell phone. The traffic study the City did most decidedly did NOT assess the impact on the bicycles and pedestrians, and such was admitted to then by the company.

It's exactly that kind of fast-and-loose with the truth revisionism that has alienated the neighborhood from PAHC - aside from their disrespectful attacks on neighbors through the rezoning, and disregard for the safety of our children.

I completely understand Briones Mom's sentiments. I no longer support PAHC either. They have been completely unethical with the neighbors. That's not the same as not supporting affordable housing here. But there are other operators in town. I heard the City gave the running of the new development on Alma to a different operator, not PAHC.

As to your claims about how PAHC has "compromised" - even Larry Klein, no friend of the neighborhood in this (understatement) said he had never seen so much stonewalling from an applicant. (Just so you know, "stonewalling" by definition means "not compromising".)

The more you try to make up a new narrative, the more ridiculous you seem to those of us who were there.


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 11:33 pm

To give a clear picture of the current Maybell Ave. (.6 miles long) and some of the realities already existing at this location:

A rough count of individually owned houses that are either on Maybell or cul-de-sacs that feed onto Maybell = 87 individual homes

Juana Briones Elementary School = 376 students

PAHC existing housing complex = 66 units of one, two, three or four bedrooms which, if maxed out means:
1 bedroom = 2-3 renters;
2 bedrooms = 4-5 renters;
3 bedrooms = 6-7 renters;
4 bedrooms = 8-9 renters

Add to those numbers a "Safe route to schools" for Gunn (1850 students), Terman (650 students), Briones (376 students) =2876

I think that it is fare to say that Maybell Ave. does a great job of already sharing the street with PAHC. If they had built 40 more units each of those units could potentially have three people in each unit (according to PAHC rep). That would give possibly 80-120 new neighbors and that was not contested by the neighbors. Instead PAHC wants to add 80 units which could equal 160-240 people plus 12 four bedroom houses flanking the sixty units. Well, you can do the math at this point. To say that Maybell is not willing to share low income housing is actually a bit laughable.

Existing Individual houses: 87 and PAHC: 66
Rezoning plan - Individual houses: 87 and PAHC: 126 + 12 high density houses


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Posted by Tenant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

I currently live in the PAHC property adjacent to the orchard and most of us living here do not want this rezone. As it is, we already feel very crowded and would rather see the orchard turned into a space that everyone can enjoy. We also are against turning Maybell into a no parking zone (which was proposed by the City Council and PAHC as a traffic band aid), as we will lose nearby parking spots, and then have to park further away. We simply do not have enough parking on the premises. Part of the problem is that there are more residents in some units than allowed.

One of my neighbors spoke on behalf of PAHC at one of the city council meetings after being recruited by PAHC. This individual stated that he/she would not disobey PAHC as it would be unwise, even though he/she was opposed to the project.

As a beneficiary of low income housing, I would still rather not see more crowding in our neighborhood. I find this difficult to state publicly, but as a tenant, I would be as impacted by this projected as anyone.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Please take a look at your opening paragraph. Here I am reduced to a "fawning devotee of this rezoning willing to say anything" yet you ask me that question in that manner? What answer do you have a right to expect but silence?

You've got the wrong person in your second paragraph attack. Seems there was more than one person who said something that got you upset. I remember reading the post you refer to. Go look it up, but please don't say it was me again.

I don't have any experience in traffic, apart from being in it a lot. Will you please do a fact check on my claim that the traffic survey data set used now is different from that which Palo Alto was using when PAHC's consultants did their work. While you're at it, find out if they had the option of using the up-to-date surveys when filing their papers.

I would love to hear your neighbor's recording of the meeting. I'd also like to talk with the traffic consultant who spoke to us to make sure I heard what I thought I did. It's unsettling when a statement like "there will be side yards for the private homes" seems to vanish without a trace while project opponents continue to talk about housing that looks like Arbor Real on El Camino. Or when a statement by a consultant that they did consider pedestrian and bicycle traffic although there was no way to feed that data into the formal report disappears as if it were never uttered.

I'm skeptical of the reliability of eye (and ear) witnesses, myself included, so I truly would like to confirm whether I'm right or wrong. And you can't give it since you weren't there. I can swear to you that since that April meeting I have felt that selective listening was very much at play. Bring on the recording.

Why should my statements alienate the neighborhood from PAHC. They're not the ones making them, I am.

You've announced many times that you've lost respect for PAHC. Message heard. And you believe PAHC is no longer competitive in Palo Alto for providing affordable housing. That's interesting. Could you flesh it out with some detail if it's important.

Is the project as it stands now the same as it was when first proposed? Was there accommodation to concerns expressed by the neighborhood? You can have lots of stonewalling at one stage and still have compromises by the end as pressure is applied. I don't believe Council Member Klein made his statement on the day the City Council gave its final 9-0 approval.

More disappointing rhetoric in the last sentence.

Hey, you should be rejoicing! Both referenda almost certainly got the required signatures. Public sympathies are with you at this point. Take a break. Enjoy the weekend.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2013 at 1:20 am

@Jerry,
You have been asked on more than one thread what your connection with PAHC and the project is. What is your connection? You have made statements asking who other posters are (and you clearly seem to have lumped a bunch of us together, because I have no idea who you are talking about), but you won't say what your connection is.



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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2013 at 1:28 am

Dear Tenant,
Thank you for your courage in speaking out.


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Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2013 at 6:47 am

It takes no courage to say something anonomously no matter the reason. And why would anyone only imagine there must be some nefarious connection with PAHC just because a person supports maybell. A lot of detractors exhibit a paranoia that cannot be explained. Scapegoating PAHC is being noted and commented on widely in private forums - by all means keep it up as it fuels opposition to the referendums. You really don't understand how much respect pahc has earned. A very good organization that has contributed mightly to what is good about palo alto. And for goodness sake just watch the archived video of city meeting online - it is funny anyone would do an audio recording on a phone (where did all that memory come from? It would be a surprise to Apple). Try watching what Klein actually said - that you opponents had been intractable, as had PAHC some. By the way, 801 alma, the affordable housing at alma and homer, was the result of years if effort by many residents in town and Eden Housing built and will manage it.

Many opponents of maybell are, in their irrational fear and paranoia, doing harm to our community. It is one thing to critique using activism to effect change, but the destructive anger, vitriol and misplaced attacks on PAHC discredit you.


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Posted by pamom
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2013 at 9:40 am

@Ellie and Jerry -- I agree with you that we should be civil. Most people are. [Portion removed.]

I find it very wrong for the city to change the zoning at will. This Maybell project that you defend so passionately could set a precedent and undermine R-1 Zoning protections. In addition, there are problems with the PC Benefits exemptions and over building all over Palo Alto.

These referendums will shine light on these problems.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

>Scapegoating PAHC ...

Huh?

PAHC has driven subsidized/BMR housing projects for decades. It has always used a bait-and-switch lie, namely that such housing is for essential city services, like police/fire/teachers. PAHC targets S. Palo Alto, and dumps these projects there, but not in elite neighborhoods, where they or their friends tend to live. PAHC does not deserve to continue to exist. If you want to make sure that your neighborhood is not targeted, then find out where the Board members of PAHC live, and buy there, if you can afford it. They are not being scapegoated, they are guilty as charged. PAHC went a bridge too far on this Maybell fiasco...it will pay the price, deservedly so.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2013 at 11:06 am

@Ellie,
Please don't jump on people because you have a general belief about something. That's been the issue in the Maybell situation all along -- this really IS a dangerous place to add a dense development, and PAHC is reacting in a boilerplate way as if no matter what the circumstances, they should just be dismissive of opposition.

First of all, the April meeting that a neighbor recorded on their phone is NOT online, it was held by PAHC (as all their early meetings) in a community room on their own property, rather than at the schools where most outreach meetings are held. You could find out more about that by looking at the Palo Alto Weekly story about it.

Second of all, since you seem to be just joining this now, the meetings at City Hall where PAHC had bodies in the room were clearly astroturf. I spoke personally with people there who were from PAHC properties who admitted to being there because they get concessions in their rental situations for going "to these things", and also admitted to siding with residents against the rezoning, even though they spoke publicly FOR PAHC. I was shocked and saddened to see PAHC send out a coercive and inflammatory message to its residents of all their properties, inviting them to the City Hall meetings, but couching it as if there was suddenly a vocal group of people wanting to oppose their affordable housing. Other neighbors overhead people talking who clearly had no idea before they got there, what was going on or even where Maybell was. My next door neighbor was upset by a call from a good friend at another property just before the meeting, who said PAHC employees were trying to strong arm residents to sign petitions for them. (They never produced one for the City, so it must not have been very successful. Nevertheless, residents should not be treated in such a humiliating way.)

Given the coercion I was reticent to believe myself until it was impossible to avoid, I think it took a GREAT deal of courage for Tenant to speak out as above.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I agree with Ellie -- this whole horrible and hysterical "discussion" makes Palo Alto look very ugly indeed. The irrational hysteria, along with superficial cover arguments, is just awful. So much nastiness over some modest senior housing!

Palo Alto better get used to change....you can't stay the same. The population is aging and growing with young tech workers at the same time. You can't have the $$$ benefits of Silicon Valley without some planned change.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Ellie

Thanks for stepping up to draw some of the fire. It's a rough neighborhood, let me tell ya.

@Neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Do you know if your friend has the part where the Hexagon consultant was talking about the absence of data on bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the study and the reasons for it? Could you listen and find out whose recollection is better, yours from listening to the iPhone recording or mine. I'll see if I can contact the consultant or at least someone else who was there for the whole meeting, as I was.

Ah, yes, the famous Astroturf. i remember at the first meeting of your organization that I attended months ago, being surprised when a speaker (you?) expressed outrage that PAHC would dare communicate with the people most directly benefiting from PAHC services and encourage them to get involved. Seemed natural to me, kind of like you did in Barron Park/Green Acres You scared neighborhood residents with visions of tall, skinny houses with no setbacks and dangerous senior drivers likely to mutilate their kids among other motivators to get them engaged. Same basic process to expand and mobilize the base. You were far more successful.

Using your standard of knowing where Maybell is and what the neighborhood is like, what percent of the referendum petition signers across the city really know this neighborhood? My guess would be not that many for College Terrace and Professorville.

The story about coerced signatures on a petition is astonishing and distressful if true. Would your friend or you know what petition that would be? I had not heard of a PAHC-inspired counter-petition.

Tenant has contributed a new voice to this thread by adding his perspective. Wish we'd get more new perspectives.


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Posted by realist
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Personally, I don't mind dense and/or BMR housing, but I realize that I'm in the minority. My guess is that most Palo Alto residents who live outside the Maybell area will NOT vote to ban the Maybell project as it's a sum-zero situation: ABAG has demanded the city build 2000 or so new housing units, and if we don't have the 64 new ones on Maybell, we'll need to build more in other neighborhoods. And btw, the N. Palo Alto neighborhoods around the University and CA Ave CalTrain stations contain the majority of BMR housing units.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm

> My guess is that most Palo Alto residents who live outside the Maybell area will NOT vote to ban the Maybell project as it's a sum-zero situation...

My guess is that they will. If Barron Park can be hijacked, so can other neighborhoods.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm

"Seriously" needs some assistance in doing the math! She/he claims that "PAHC wants to add 80 units which could equal 160-240 people plus 12 four bedroom houses".

Let me count the incorrect statements here:
1. Exaggerating the # of units: The original proposal and the approved project has 60 units for low income seniors (30-60% of household average income in Santa Clara County). Asserting that there will be 80 units has no basis in fact whatsoever.
2. Wildly exaggerating the # of occupants of senior housing: In fact, it's 59 units with 600 sq foot, i.e. very small one bedroom, plus one 2 bedroom unit for the resident manager!! Senior couples tend to stay in their own homes until one dies or must move to a care center. Average number of residents per unit will be well below 1.5. Asserting that the number of occupants "could equal" 160-240 has no basis in fact.
3. Misrepresenting the single family units as "high density". The seven single family homes on Maybell will be required to have lot widths averaging 48 feet including side yards averaging 10 feet, i.e. no shared walls. The City Council specified that the Maybell homes may only have two stories, plus average front setback of 20 feet (minimum 18 feet). Nothing here even remotely resembling Arbor Real or other truly high density developments, despite constant hyperbole from petition leaders! I am not an architect but would bet my mortgage payment that it's not possible to design a 4 bedroom house under these constraints.
* The 5 homes on Clemo might be able to squeeze in a 4th bedroom but since they would have a height limit of 32.5 feet, they will look nothing like the "high density" housing claimed.

Finally, the opponents of the PAHC project persist in the counter-factual belief that the alternative of developing the project under existing zoning would somehow be more compatible with the R1 homes across the street. Anyone who knows about the existing zoning for the site (R2 and R15 zoning) and the density bonus knows that any for-profit development of those 2+ acres without any need for zoning approvals would produce more density and much more traffic, and be much less compatible with the existing look and feel on the street. Be highly skeptical of anyone asserting otherwise. Repeating fantasies about zoning issues does not make them true!

PS Just to anticipate the scurrilous personal attacks that greet any effort at rational discussion with those opposing the PAHC project for 567 Maybell, I have no links to PAHC and will not benefit in any way, whatever happens on that site.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@get the facts: You are correct and I apologize for the mistake that I made saying there are 80 units when in fact they are 60. Truly this was a mistake.

However, from what a rep from the PAHC told me when I asked directly as to how many are "legally" allowed to live in the units I was told that it is two per bedroom plus one more. Only one has to be 62 or older. If this is incorrect please let me know. I am only going by what a PAHC person told me. The 1.5 per unit is really only a guess by staff or PAHC as to what could happen.

The picture that I am trying give in my comments is that the street is full now. Adding additional density to the street will be a burden to the neighborhood.

Existing Individual houses: 87 and PAHC: 66
Rezoning plan - Individual houses: 87 and PAHC: 126 + 12 high density houses

P.S. to me high density is removing four houses and adding more.


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Posted by Harry Vertelney
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Thank for signature collectors for your hard work. I'm very glad this issue will be brought to the citizens of Palo Alto to choose. Why doesn't the city council do the right thing in the first place?


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@ Jerry,
I have no idea who you think I am, but it's clearly not me. I wasn't at any of the early meetings, because I didn't know about it, since PAHC did such an abysmal job reaching out to the neighborhood.

I am not a part of a formal organization. There is no formal organization. I understand that you don't want to accept it, but this neighborhood is against the rezoning - witness the extraordinary number of volunteers who got signatures for the referenda, and there were many who wanted to but couldn't for an array of personal reasons.

This has truly been a groundswell in the neighborhood. One neighbor did an internal poll in Greenacres and found that opposition to the rezoning was nearly unanimous in Greenacres. There are only a few very vocal people like you who don't, who probably have ties to PAHC. Why don't you tell us yours? I have asked now several times and you have ignored me or taken umbrage, but keep evading. I'm sure we'll all find out between now and election day as you spin such a yarn for your side.


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

From the analysis of PAHC's traffic study, by an independent, certified traffic engineer:
Web Link

(A sample of many deficiencies around bikes and pedestrians, can't quote the whole thing here:)

"...bicycle and pedestrian values were not counted during either the AM or PM peak hours at any of the other four intersections in the Hexagon TIA, thereby missing the school-related bicycle and pedestrian volumes in the AM peak hour at these four locations. Additionally as discussed further below, the TIA did not analyze bicycle and pedestrian volumes at Maybell Avenue/Coulomb Drive and at Maybell Avenue/Amaranta Avenue, even though these volumes were counted at both of these intersections.

...

Under "other TIA Errors and Ommission"

"Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Must Be Analyzed" (followed by long paragraphs describing many)

The CERTIFIED TRAFFIC ENGINEER disagrees with your self-serving recollection, and from his STUDY of PAHC's actual traffic study, finds they did no bike and pedestrian safety analysis.


@neighbor of another Palo Alto neighborhood - You clearly do not know how serious the safety problems in this neighborhood are. That or you are just being a jerk. Neighbors' concerns for the safety of their children is neither a "superficial cover" or "hysterical", but your name-calling is the same kind of attack-based nonsense that has cost PAHC its previous high level of support in the neighborhood.

Even Marc Berman, who couldn't have twisted himself harder to support the rezoning, called Maybell unsafe (and he went out to look when the traffic was frankly better than most of the school year). The City has to replace the traffic signs an average of once a month when they are knocked to the ground. Maybell is a street of substandard width with no room for a proper sidewalk or bike lane. It's already overburdened and no place for a dense development. The City has a POLICY to accord school commute routes "heightened scrutiny" for developments. No such scrutiny was done. Your calling neighbors "hysterical" for demanding the scrutiny the City's own policy requires is insulting, ugly, and uncalled for. PAHC's engaging in such ugliness during the rezoning battle really hurt their reputation in the community. You are not helping them by engaging in more of the same.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Hi, PAcitizens,

Welcome to the discussion. I don't think I've ever seen your registered Town Square handle before. Perhaps you've been using another, unregistered name to post, or else you're on the wrong thread...but no, you do correctly refer to my name so I guess you've been here before. In an case, welcome.

Do I understand you to be stating that there was no meeting at the Barron Square clubhouse to launch a campaign to eliminate the PAHC and eventually--after a city-wide referendum to overturn an almost certain City Council approval of the project, initiate an initiative that would seek the abolition of all PC zoning in PA? Or that the hat was passed (not literally a hat) to raise funds for legal expenses? Maybe you weren't there, but the meeting happened, and everything has been going according to plan.

I don't know if you saw our paltry little table and display easel in Briones Park the evening of the launch of signature gathering. Our message, there were 5 or us, all long-time residents of the immediate area, was to congratulate the neighbors for successfully wrestling a recalcitrant city and PAHC into modifying the Maybell/Clemo project to be more in line--in scale, visual impact and traffic consequences--with the neighborhood.

You can imagine how frustrated I was, when I first got involved with school traffic safety issues--my main concern--and it looked like there was no give at all in the PAHC proposal. At this point (Feb. 13) they presented their lightly revised plan in which the neighborhood's biggest concern, driveways onto Maybell, had been addressed and some other changes made. It seemed to me that there must be some give and take here, that you couldn't just jam a project down the neighborhood's throat.

That's how I got involved. My main concern was, and is, bicycle safety.

I went out and walked and bicycled Maybell while school was still in session to see what traffic was like. I took pictures and videos, but when I mentioned that at the April meeting I was told that there already was a video--so no interest in what I had.

I learned that a redwood tree at Pena Court had been disregarded as it spread its underbrush to almost completely block the bicycle lane, that inconsistent no-parking provisions left several places going towards Juana Briones Elementary where a single, legally parked car would block bicycle traffic and force kids out into traffic. On Arastradero I noticed that cars perpetually and illegally parked close to El Camino were forcing student bicyclists into very dangerous traffic.

And yet I also learned that Palo Alto students are for the most part careful on their commute, that drivers are careful and thoughtful and realize they're in a danger zone on Maybell. The changes to Maybell in the past couple of years have made it far better than it had been, but the amount of bicycle traffic is way up as well.

My hope is that Barron Park and Green Acres residents will cooperate with city and school district efforts to design and implement the Maybell Bicycle Boulevard.

Whoops, it looks like you had a very fiery paragraph geared up to send about someone being clueless or a jerk and the like, but got confused about where you were in your thoughts or what thread you were on or something else. I can understand. That why I just use my own name when I post to Town Square on any topic. If I can't associate my name with it, I shouldn't write it.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

Jerry,

I admire you for standing your ground, using your own name. However, I strongly disagree with your stance. Barron Park has been dumped on by PAHC and the compliant city council. Barron Park decided to take a stance, and it fought back. Once this thing goes to a vote (secret ballot box), I think you will find out how strong the feelings are, if you have not already.

Regards,

Craig


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Edit: the meeting was to eliminate the PAHC project, not the PAHC.


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Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Lee Thé is a registered user.

Upthread you'll encounter what I can the Borg argument from Star Trek:

"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."

That since ABAG has demanded that Palo Alto morph into a mini-Manhattan we have to bend the knee and submit, and let a thousand Maybells bloom.

Only we don't have to submit. The state legislature--which is really the operator here, with ABAG its sock puppet--has decreed that certain Peninsula towns be punished for the crime of providing lots of jobs by sacrificing the character of the town we sunk our life savings into buying into.

Meanwhile, towns of the elite like Atherton are not expected to do anything. Why doesn't ABAG demand that they provide more jobs instead of us more housing?

Moreover, we don't have to give in. Palo Alto has not been dissolved and subsumed into an appendage of the state legislature. We can "just say no" and band together with other California towns that feel the same way.

The unstated assumption that the Bay Area's population will double again (it has already doubled since I moved here in the 1960s) is, first, speculation, and, second, objectifying the fact that no town's population increases unless its city council OKs it. We don't have to.

The other unstated assumption about the Bay Area's population is that we'll always have enough drinking water for everyone. But if you talk to hydrologists and climatologists you'll find that we're pushing up against our limits already. Funny how ABAG and the New Urbanists never talk about water rationing, which is the inevitable result of their schemes.

First to go will be our lawns and trees. Of course we won't have room for them anyway when Palo Alto becomes a maze of concrete canyons, will we?

Maybell must be argued in the context of the overall city plan and all the other projects developers are pushing all over town.

We should refuse to consider any of their schemes until they can tell us where the water will come from and what they'll do to handle the extra traffic--double-decker roadways like Chicago's, maybe?

Anyone seen Blade Runner?


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

Lee The,

Good post. You understand the underlying issues


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Craig Laughton

Thanks for the comment about using my name. I've appreciated your consistency in doing so as well. We have very different outlooks, but I have learned a lot about a way one informed person looks at government intervention in providing subsidized housing.

Thanks, too, to Margaret Furth and Lee The (above) and a small handful of others who have given us the privilege of knowing their identity as we evaluate their position on issues of common concern.

I'm pretty sure that both referenda will win. Won't even be close unless PAHC can generate some popular support in other neighborhoods (lost cause in Barron Park, where the attack campaign on Maybell has poisoned the well).

Questions to keep in mind: will the city rescind the rezoning or take the referendum to a vote that is likely to overturn the rezoning? If the rezoning is rescinded, will we get a renewed orchard and 4 ranch houses, or a scaled back PAHC project, or a bulked up PAHC project that uses the power it has as owner to build to the max, or a rewind to pre-purchase and sale to a commercial developer.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Thank you Jerry and PACitizen for adding reasoned discourse to this subject. Having lived in Palo Alto for 24 years, and as a senior citizen with grandchildren in local schools, I support additional low income and senior housing, the PAHC and safe routes to our schools. However, I signed both referenda eagerly as it was a way I could oppose the city hall and council almost totally ignoring existing zoning and comprehensive city plans. Spot upzoning for meaningless public benefits has negatively impacted many neighborhoods in Palo Alto. Planning done right, such as the SOFA development, enhances our city. Maybe we should promote the city staff who worked on and approved of that project and demote those who approved of the gateway project, Alma Plaza, Arbor Real etc.

It is unfortunate that the Maybell project has to deal with all the anger originating from other even worse projects. However,IMHO, the PAHC brought it on themselves by not really hearing those of us (not just from Barron Park - I live and own property on Alma), who want our existing zoning respected. It isn't just the number of units. It is the proposed 20' foot access roads, when existing 20' wide roads have already caused problems for garbage collection. It is underestimating the number of low income 62 year olds working poor renting in Palo Alto who will want to live in this project, along with two cars. It is the proposal that 47 parking places for 60 units is adequate in any neighborhood even if it had adequate mass transit, which it does not.

Now if we could only have a referendum reversing all zoning rules that allow businesses to have fewer than required parking places for any reasons - location, money, etc. Why does city of Palo Alto require new businesses to provide many fewer parking places than the number of their employees? Why does the City of Palo Alto use a parking permit system that results in many people have a full-time reserved parking spot even when they only use them half the time, leaving many empty spots which cannot be filled when there is a long waiting list for downtown parking permits? There must be a better system.

I support a Maybell project where the city uses Palo Alto's money set aside for low income housing to subsidize the PAHC so they don't need to sell any land for houses, instead using that land for sidewalks, bike lanes, and the additional parking needed for the senior working poor and for the caretakers for those seniors too old to drive. Hey - maybe they can make money by renting out some parking during the day to students at Gunn.

I don't use my real name because I am a single woman living alone and not hard to find. The vitriol of some posters is frightening. I find that when PAOnline restricts comments to registered users, the general level of discourse goes way up, even as the number of posts goes down.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>Questions to keep in mind: will the city rescind the rezoning or take the referendum to a vote that is likely to overturn the rezoning?

Jerry, my experience tells me that they will back off, because it is an obvious result, and would cost time and money to demonstrate the obvious. It has strong similarities to the historic home fiasco, and this makes me think that they want to avoid another disaster. But you never know.

Regards,

Craig


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 30, 2013 at 12:29 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@Jerry,
Will you please disclose your personal connection to PAHC?

Per your last long, rambling, confused message directed to me:

I had to register because the Weekly closed the thread to those unregistered. When I post, I try to keep a consistent name. I thought it was clear I was Neighbor above, but that moniker was taken when I registered. To further clear up your confusion, when I wrote the following, I was responding to another poster in the 2nd half of my message. When someone uses the "@" sign, it means they are responding to that person:

"@neighbor of another Palo Alto neighborhood - You clearly do not know how serious the safety problems in this neighborhood are. That or you are just being a jerk. Neighbors' concerns for the safety of their children is neither a "superficial cover" or "hysterical", but your name-calling is the same kind of attack-based nonsense that has cost PAHC its previous high level of support in the neighborhood.

Even Marc Berman, who couldn't have twisted himself harder to support the rezoning, called Maybell unsafe (and he went out to look when the traffic was frankly better than most of the school year). The City has to replace the traffic signs an average of once a month when they are knocked to the ground. Maybell is a street of substandard width with no room for a proper sidewalk or bike lane. It's already overburdened and no place for a dense development. The City has a POLICY to accord school commute routes "heightened scrutiny" for developments. No such scrutiny was done. Your calling neighbors "hysterical" for demanding the scrutiny the City's own policy requires is insulting, ugly, and uncalled for. PAHC's engaging in such ugliness during the rezoning battle really hurt their reputation in the community. You are not helping them by engaging in more of the same."


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 30, 2013 at 12:53 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@ Marie,
Thank you for your very apt post.

@Jerry,
There have been many meetings, discussions, emailings, internal polls, instigated by many different people around Greenacres and beyond. This has been incredible grass roots! You don't seem to grasp that you are dealing with a ground swell, many, many different people. Many neighbors did in fact accept early on that they would need to hold a referendum, but that was because the City was giving every sign of a rigged process, talking a good game as you do but listening to neighbors no better than you seem to be.

No one wanted to be involved in any of this, it was forced on the neighborhoods by a City failing to do its job for the citizens, and an insular organization that is ramming an overdevelopment of the neighborhood down our throats. They have not been willing to consider the option of a scaled back project, that's what neighbors have been asking for all along. PAHC has said they have no room to scale back, it's all or nothing. (Dropping to 12 from 15 houses is almost meaningless, they're still putting up 2 houses in the place of every 1 ranch house on Maybell now, and putting up 3-story houses on Clemo when there are no 3-story houses in Greenacres or Barron Park. All this discussion has not added a single parking spot, they still have only 47 parking spots for 60 units, including employees, residents, and visitors.)

PAHC's recalcitrance is why Larry Klein, even though he was probably the worst one of all toward the neighborhood, said he's never seen so much stonewalling from an applicant.

All this may be moot, though, as I, like other posters, have heard a rumor that PAHC may not have met their funding application deadline, or may have, with City staff, improperly verified their zoning as the PC zoning even though they did not technically have the zoning in place then - City Staff report admits the rezone doesn't officially take effect until a month after the 2nd reading (i.e., end of July), and with the referendum now, not even then. So even without the referendum, they didn't have the rezone when their application was due, but they submitted it anyway and claimed they did. Their funding is a competitive situation, so there may be consequences to other worthy projects in California if they misrepresented their basic application requirements such as zoning. That's the extent of my understanding, but I wish I knew more. Perhaps you do? What is your connection to PAHC?


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@Jerry,
If your main concern is bicycle safety, why can't you lobby for the traffic from the development, regardless of how much, to go out onto Arastradero only, with a traffic light (tied to the next one)? The exit on Maybell should be emergency only with a small barrier that could be overcome in an emergency. Putting the traffic onto Maybell instead of Arastradero is like choosing to put a backbreaking load on the far weaker of two already overloaded, sick horses.

Why can't you lobby for the City to do the safety analysis of the bicycle and pedestrian traffic, rather than falsely claiming it was done, or that they WANTED to do it but somehow didn't (what difference does that make?!)?


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Posted by jerry underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

jerry underdal is a registered user.


@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Thank you for clarifying who you were insinuating might be a jerk. I scrolled way back up and spotted the post you were referring to.

To your next point: why the sensitivity about the idea that there's been some planning and organization around the opposition to the Maybell project? Maybell Action Group, Palo Altans for Responsible Zoning, the paloaltoville web site, it's a very impressive, very successful campaign structure.

I just noticed, by the way, that there's a link to my piece entitled "Please Don't Kick it Away" in the Thoughtful Opinions section of the paloaltoville.com web site. Here's an excerpt characterizing the PAHC project as a "... hastily put-together, though well-intentioned, project that didn't show an awareness of the deep suspicion of city hall and seething resentment over traffic impacts of the Arastradero makeover."

Can you accept that and stop suggesting that I have no idea how deep the antagonism and distrust are?

I've been told that the rumor you mentioned (again) is untrue. A senior member of the Barron Park Association, no longer an officer, raised those rumors recently so I was relieved to learn they were incorrect. That same person stated that he had rejected a 7/15 meeting with PAHC and neighborhood leaders, to be facilitated by Palo Alto Mediation, without a prior commitment to significantly reduce the scale of the project.

PAcitizen, whoever you are, you seem anxious to know about my connection to PAHC. I'm engaged as I am, not because I came into this process as a PAHC supporter. In fact, as I've mentioned before, I was at the Barron Square meeting because I wanted to share what I'd learned about bicycle traffic in the neighborhood. I didn't know that it was the launch of a full-out campaign to defeat the project, demean PAHC, bring about a total change on the city council, and start an initiative to kill PC zoning in Palo Alto.

But as I saw the way that contrary views about the project seemed blocked out from discussion while it was clear to me that a lot of arguments against PACH and the project were wrong I sympathized with the organization and the people trying to make affordable housing happen in a trying situation. I've never liked bullying, and the way PAHC has been treated has been incredibly shabby, in my opinion.

Popular agitation over abuses of Planned Community Zoning will be responded to politically as debate unfolds over the referendums and, later on, an initiative that Palo Altans for Responsible Zoning plans to get on the ballot. But PAHC is not an example of a developer that claims bogus community benefits to get zoning changes that enable them to make more money. Their job is not to make a profit but to build affordable housing that will be here for many decades to come and be good neighbors in the community.

PAHC's claim to provide a community benefit by making affordable housing possible is legitimate. Providing meeting rooms that no one can use or fountains and other splashy adornments to get concessions is not. There's a difference.

Yet PAHC is being attacked as if it's a greedy enemy out to destroy the character of Palo Alto. And very few are stepping up to defend it and hold opponents to account for what they say, often anonymously, as you're well aware. It's easy to attack PAHC and hard to attack the real drivers of the overdevelopment that we're all concerned about. Easy, but not fair.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Just a couple of things to add. Did you listen to your friend's iPhone recording of the April 25th meeting at Arastradero Park? I did my homework by checking with PAHC staff, who offered to let me speak to the Hexagon consultant who did the traffic study but wasn't available at that moment. The staff person said she had been at the meeting and recollected what I have described above and you have vigorously denied: the consultant told us that they did get numbers on pedestrian and bicycle traffic flows which were included as notes or addenda at the end of the report. I said I didn't want to disturb the consultant and was sure you would accept her account.

But, for further corroboration I looked in the PA Weekly archive and found Sue Dremann's report on the meeting. Omitting the detail that numbers on bike and foot traffic had been
appended, she reported: "Hexagon consultant Michelle Hunt admitted the study doesn't take into consideration how pedestrians and bicyclists slow traffic. The city has guidelines about how traffic studies are done, and currently the rules don't require that pedestrians and bicylists be accounted for, she said. There are newer guidelines that could be adopted that do take consider pedestrians and bikes, she said." Pretty close to what i said in my post.

Just think of all the wrangling about PAHC traffic consultants who supposedly didn't give a thought to schoolkids' safety on the streets we could have avoided if someone besides me had raised these facts early in the debate.

I've lobbied one person on these matters, our local council member Gail Price, who knows the neighborhood and lives nearby. I delivered pictures and videos I had taken of bicycle hazards on Maybell. She subsequently made her approval of the project contingent upon using $200,000 to improve Maybell safety before any construction at the Maybell/Clemo project could begin.

The public will be invited to a Maybell neighborhood meeting soon to provide details of what needs to be fixed on Maybell so a plan can be developed. Everyone can lobby each other about what priorities should be as they look at the overall picture. Will there be money if the referendum passes? I hope so, but it's not a sure thing.


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Posted by PAcitizens
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm

PAcitizens is a registered user.

@Jerry,
You have added a whole lot of nothing to this. The traffic report did not assess the impact on the bicycles and pedestrians. You have admitted as much.

The City has a policy of heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute routes, but did zero safety analysis here, despite the public outcry for it. Whoever specified what was done did not ask for a safety analysis of bicycle and pedestrians, despite being well aware of the student traffic. Just because something isn't required by state law ( and I am not saying it is or isn't) doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done, in fact neighbors pointed out as early as April that the City's own policy of heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute routes should have spurred such review. (Just to be clear, knowing that you have a lot of bicyclists, i.e. counting them, is not the same thing as looking at their safety, such as the additional risk to them of being injured or killed ). Having already just completed a major improvement of Maybell for bike safety, yet a traffic sign knocked to the ground at least once a month, City planners have already tried and failed to make Maybell either safe. Is this push to try again an admission of failure with the first six- figure improvement? If so, who is responsible?

Still waiting for you to disclose your connections to PAHC.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2013 at 6:48 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAcitizens, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

My involvement with the Maybell Project has been with the interests of the Maybell neighborhood of Barron Park uppermost in mind, not those of PAHC or those who want to use our neighborhood to advance a goal of overturning the current development process and changing the composition of the city council. Those may be worthy goals, but they're not my focus.

My primary concern is that student bicycle and pedestrian traffic safety concerns be addressed.

PAcitizens, like you, my favored end-state at Maybell/Clemo would be a renovated orchard with the four houses even though it wouldn't be good for the city overall because it would be a lost opportunity to add to the housing stock.

Next would be the PAHC proposal in its final form. I won't list here the ways I think the neighborhood would come out well, I've done so elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I think the alternative ways to develop the property would be disadvantageous for the Maybell neighborhood.

From this point on, I'm more curious than involved. PAHC will gear up to present its case and won't need someone like me to raise questions about facts that haven't gotten a real hearing, voters will make their decision about the rezoning and about PC zoning, the government will respond in some form and within a couple of years the Maybell/Clemo property will be developed.

I hope someday in the near future a journalist or political scientist will do a thorough analysis of how the Maybell/Clemo controversy grew from insignificant to potentially transformative in the politics of Palo Alto.


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