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Bill for Maybell election could top $600,000

Original post made on Aug 7, 2013

An election for Palo Alto's recently approved housing development on Maybell Avenue would cost the city more than $600,000 if the council decides to move forward with the vote this year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 9:37 AM

Comments (50)

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

Now let's wait for it! Waiting, waiting - soon we will read here and everywhere that this potential $600,000 special election bill is the fault of PAHC or the city - your choice. What we won't read is that the responsibility for us wasting our tax money on an irrational ballot measure to stop housing for poor people is the exclusive fault of referendum supporters. They won't take responsibility.

For a week nearly identical letters from referendum lovers have been generated demanding a June 2014 vote supposedly to save money in a less pricey general election. What they don't say is that to delay the vote to 6/14 would destroy the maybell funding, construction budget and likely the whole project. So by saving themselves a horribly time consuming and expensive battle, they could simply accomplish thei goal of destroying the housing through delaying the vote for a year.

There is no way any city could go along with this scheme to put off the vote a year. The city can only set the vote for nov. 2013 with the responsibility of a much more expensive election on the heads of maybell opponents where it belongs. And by the way - this is not news - it was entirely foreseeable before the signatures were gathered - special electons are always expensive.

Posted by no rezone, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

I vote for "No Rezone".

Posted by Ally, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

Elaine-- perhaps the city should have considered this posibility when they tried to slam the project in without the proper vetting. You are hiding behind the false representation that the group is not in favor of housing for poor people. -- I would say you are not well informed of the issues at hand--

or do you have another agenda?

It is not fiscally responsible of the city to have a special election for this with that price tag-- You are right I think the city should have been able to appreciate that the neighborhood has substantive issues with the current plan and should not have rezoned to begin with. They need to take responsibility for their actions.

Posted by Voter & Mother, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:48 am

@ Elaine,

You don't think PAHC or the city bears responsibility for bringing this referendum down on their own project?

Should I, as a parent whose children bike to school on Maybell, simply go along with PAHC's position that the project traffic impact analysis is justified in completely ignoring all pedestrian and bicycle traffic on this "safe route to school?" PAHC not only brought a completely insufficient, self-serving traffic analysis to the table, but they to this day continue to defend it as sufficient. (Note that it also utilized stale data, data from non-schooldays, and out of date projection methods that conveniently make for a lower projected impact than the current standards).

And what about the city -- surely they'd do their fundamental, simple duty to protect kids on a city-designated "safe route to school." The city should have stepped in and enforced its' own standards regarding bicycle safety, but alas, they chose not so because they'd already invested tax money in the project before even bothering to do any diligence. Why start now when the decision was already made?

The city has a chance to extricate everyone from the city/PAHC self-inflicted wound. PAHC can build whatever it wants under the pre-existing zoning, like it should have done in the first place. It also sends a message to developers that high density rezoning in residential neighborhoods on school corridors will be a non-starter for future projects, with or without a pliant city council. The people of Palo Alto have had enough.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

If the City Council decides to hold the special election, it will lose twice. Once for the cost and again when their Maybell rezone is voted down. The opposition is very motivated and they will vote.

Posted by Let me think..., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

So if this goes to a vote, and does not succeed, we: spend $600,000 of the taxpayers money our city desperately needs, destroy the opportunity of housing for seniors, and end up with a site that is zoned for 34 for-sale homes with at least 130 people and 85 cars generating much higher peak time traffic and greatly increased demand on the schools and infrastructure of the neighborhood. There is no developer that would build less than the amount permitted and they don't need special meetings or consideration to do it. That's what happened at Arbor Real. That's what will happen here. It's just business. Is this really the direction we want this to go? There is no middle ground and despite all of the dreams, it will never be open space. It's just to valuable...

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

See - knew it. Knew it! - no responsibility taken by the referendum supporters for the cost to us for the expensive special election in November. They simply can't bring themselves to take responsibility for this or the referendum debacle disguised as a popular uprising against development. As a neighbor pointed out, the referendums will have no effect on the real problem in town - commercial, not affordable housing development.

This is a little boutique issue that keeps screaming in our ears to get attention and seem more important than it is. It will do nothing to foster real land use policy change for commercial projects.

Posted by really?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

Now that Liz Kniss has smoothly gotten herself back on the Council, the original reason for changing our local election date, we should vote to go back to the previous election schedule because we'll have extra costs for a special election each time.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:57 am

The City shouldn't waste the money, because PAHC didn't meet its funding deadline anyway. Their deadline was July 3, and a basic requirement is to have the zoning in place by then.

They did not have their zoning in place then, the City staff's own report says it's not in place until 31 days after the second reading, i.e., end of July, and now with the referendum, not even then. The funding situation is competitive, in other words, if PAHC misrepresents their basic requirements, they would be taking money away from another worthy project that played by the rules.

City Council would do well to remember they are elected officials. Citizens collected more than enough signatures for one of the referendums within just 10 days, even though many of the volunteers were gone for the summer or otherwise unable to participate.

Posted by Another Voter & Mother, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

My kids and I bike Maybell in the morning sometimes. It's congested, but not unsafe. There are SO MANY kids on bikes, drivers are pretty careful.

I read the traffic studies (one by PAHC's engineer and one by the neighborhood's engineer) that I have found. I don't believe there will be a significant impact.

I will vote against the referendum.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

@Let me think,

Neighbors have been trying all along to get PAHC to compromise, such as to do the traffic analysis including the bicycles, build a 3-story building instead of a 4-story building, and have 40 units rather than 60 (they can make up the other 20 units by filling the unfilled 20 out of 24 senior BMR units at Moldaw that went empty for 3 years, which I understand is now happening because of the controversy), or by making the whole property a less dense, entirely senior complex (no tall skinny row housing).

But as Larry Klein admitted, he's never seen so much stonewalling from an applicant. PAHC brought this on themselves by being so rigid and uncompromising even over children's safety.

Posted by irv, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Re "Should I, as a parent whose children bike to school on Maybell, simply go along with PAHC's position that the project traffic impact analysis is justified in completely ignoring all pedestrian and bicycle traffic on this "safe route to school?"
Whenever some parent waives that banner of safety for their child, does that automatically make them on the right side of any issue? I would think not. In this instance, the presence or absence of the Maybell project has nothing whatsoever to do with safety issues.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm

@Let me think,

Will you please just stop with the ridiculous nightmare scenarios? Whether anyone could build a million units on that property or not is irrelevant.

The City has inserted in the loan documents the ability to take over the property. They have a duty to safety, given what they know. If they believe such a disaster is looming, they can prevent it as they are responsible for safety in development in this town. They are capable of taking over the property and placing deed restrictions on the resale, so that none of those things ever happen.

So can you please stop? No one in the neighborhood is ever going to buy that bridge.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm

@Another Voter & Mother,
If drivers are so careful, how come signs in front of the elementary school are regularly hit and knocked to the ground so they have to be replaced on average about once a month?

The traffic analysis did not take into account pedestrian and bicycle safety, so we have no data to make a decision. Can we agree not to make decisions on our opinions, but to demand the heightened scrutiny of school commute routes that our City's own policy promises?

Posted by AR, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Those who condemn the referendum supporters are essentially condemning the right of people to pursue established avenues of dissent and that is more troubling than the cost of an election. I think supporters of the referendum are against the density of the project, not the project itself. Also, they want CC to look at the cumulutave impact of all the projects they approve and to not easily approve zone changes to PC.

@LetMeThink - if the vote fails the opportunity of housing for seniors is not destroyed. Also, haven't you heard? Lately the City has been telling us that the financial picture is greatly improved. I don't believe that b/c of the ever-looming pension issues and even today's report that the city is considering raising taxes, but that is the picture that is being painted. At least sometimes. Seems to me w/have a credibility issue in Palo Alto and that there'd be far less objection and "process" if that were not so.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

The presence of absence of the Maybell development has everything to do with safety issues. It's why the neighborhood is so up in arms. We live here, and we witness it.

That development has no other route in or out but along those safe routes to school. If traffic could be routed somewhere else, it would be different.

The 50-foot building when the previous zoning only allowed 30 feet has something to do with it, too. It's laughable that an above poster is bringing up Alma Plaza, when the existing zoning wouldn't allow Alma Plaza-like building, but the rezone does.

Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

@let me think:

There is the opportunity to build the senior housing and low income housing under the rules that the residents of Palo Alto have agreed.

There would be no special election if the zoning laws were simply followed. Yes, there would need to be some charitable funding, but that would be much more of an acceptable way of achieving our mutual goal of increased senior and affordable housing.

The details are too long to repeat, however the idea that building under the rules would create greater density and traffic is simply not true, and is a debunked falsehood that has been used to seduce fair-minded citizens like you.

Please understand that this is a stand for the future of Palo Alto where development honors the Comprehensive Plan and zoning that has served to preserve Palo Alto as very desirable place to live. This is not about one development in Barron Park, but is about following the rules that were objectively set to protect all Palo Alto residents.

Beware of the steam-roller of development agendas that are heading our way waiving the flag of sincerely good causes (i.e. senior housing), when in fact they are "wolves in sheep's clothes." We don't have to destroy our quality of life in the name of progress. We can work together, with high integrity communications, to solve our collective needs. What we have observed is manipulation and forcing of a high density configuration on a neighborhood that already has bottle-neck traffic that is endangering children. Laws were put in to place to protect all residents, and we need to honor and respect those rules that were authored by wise and objective citizens that had a vision of orderly and respectful growth.

Please City Council, represent your residents and withdraw from the railroading approach of going full steam ahead at a very high cost without offering the high integrity conversations this community deserves. Yes, a 2013 special election, no matter how some might spin it, is a public expenditure for the benefit of a single party. That is the exact definition of inurement, and that is illegal.

Offered with complete compassion and understanding that the cause of good might cause us to take our eye off the ball and forget that we are in this together. A sustainable future is achieved by sticking with the rules. No matter how much "candy" is offered, we must be loyal to the path of sustainability within the rules that we have collectively established. We cannot accept anything less.

Best regards,

Tim Gray

Posted by Let me think..., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm

@Timothy Gray - you do not represent all of us...

Please City Council, represent your residents and move the project forward. You have followed process and allowed for community involvement. Do not allow this project to become a costly burden.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I'm for a vote in November. That way we can all be reminded to vote out the 5 incompetent city council members that are up for election that day, too. It would be a clean sweep. Out with the Maybell development and out with the present city council. Palo Altans win.

Posted by Ayah aye, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I totally agree with Ally

Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

What we are seeing on the part of PAHC and the City is known as the "self-inflicted hardship". It is a too common tactic in Palo Alto politics -- the applicant creates a situation and then demands "relief" from the taxpayers.

Notorious example: Alma Plaza: The developer kicked out established tenants who wanted to stay, then failed to do even basic maintenance, and then successfully argued to the Council that the area was "blighted" and that the remedy was for the Council to ignore the Comprehensive Plan.

The Council members and PAHC are arguing that the taxpayers should bear the additional cost of a special election because Council approved the project despite the many flaws (that others have detailed). Why didn't Council take the time to fix the problems? Because they were presented with another self-inflicted hardship: PAHC wanted approved before a deadline for a round of grants.

So we are now two levels deep in self-inflicted hardship. There is yet another. The Maybell site is a poor location for senior housing because it is too far from too much. But the City has chosen to make irrational planning decisions in response to the nonsensical demands of ABAG. And I suspect that others can find additional layers.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm

There is no reason that a special election like this one, which will only produce a tally of "Yes" and "No" votes should not be conducted on-line. Palo Alto claims to have at least 90% Internet access, every library has an Internet terminal, so it's hard to believe that we, here in the heart of Silicon Valley, can not figure out how to spend our public money better than we do.

Last week, the Post ran a story about an election for the renewal of a parcel tax for their library system. The Post seemed to suggest that the cost of this election could run to over $700K. These two elections--which will just produce two tallies of Yes & Nos will cost us upwards of $1.5M.

This is nuts! Time for a change.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

While the city is whining about election costs, it's hoping you will forget the high-priced employees it has recently hired, which will cost millions more in benefits and pensions. Web Link

Director of Office and Management and Budget: $172,432
Chief communications officer: $175,000
Chief Information Officer: $180,000
Airport Manager: $128,000
Chief sustainability officer: To be hired

Council recognizes the "escalating pension and health care costs," but wants to put a bond issue on the ballot (or raise taxes) to pay for basic essentials like fixing the streets: "Berman was more open to a bond and argued that the city should save regular tax revenues for looming expenses such as the escalating pension and health care costs. He advocated a bond for those items that resonated with the voters, including sidewalk and street repairs." Web Link

Focus on the real problems and wasted money in the city.

Stop blaming residents for the cost of a ballot issue. When your back is to the wall because your government won't listen to your needs, the legal remedies include a referendum. It's called democracy!

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I support the BP neighborhood, and all other neighborhoods, in fighting against re-zoning. The CC should wise up and save the city $600K and admit defeat now.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Beautifully put, Tim Gray. Thank you.

Posted by pa parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Despite the arguments [portion removed] that voting for the referendum is not a vote for BP/Greenmeadow NIMBYism but, rather, a way to send a message to City Hall to play by the rules/realize residents don't want so much development/modify future plans to conform more to residents' desires, I honestly don't see many residents of other PA neighborhoods buying these arguments. My prediction is that this expensive initiative will be soundly defeated in a city-wide vote.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Another Voter and Mother - interesting comment that you sometimes bike that route with your kids and you don't see any issue with traffic.

What times would those sometimes be? ARe any of those times school days during the rush hour? just curious, but why aren't your kids biking that route to school alone - are they going to one of those three schools in the area that use this route?

If you are only sometimes using that route to school, during school commute hours, what is the usual route and mode to school for your kids? Car? walk? etc?

Or are you perhaps biking this route for leisure, during non-rush hour or on weekends?

Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

pa parent, [portion removed] I don't live in the maybell neighborhood, I have interaction with people in midtown and many other neighborhoods related to various activities my kids are in, and the people I talk to are livid.

I guess we'll find out on voting day.

Posted by AR, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm

@Pat - thank you for the list. I am always amazed to see how big a bureacracy this city needs. Based on the org chart one might guess our population was SEVERAL times greater than it is. We should shrink the size of our city council (less discussion, greater efficiency) and the size of our city staff. If we cannot achieve that perhaps we can at least demand that the use of consultants be reduced signficantly. It makes no sense that we need all the staff we have AND all the consultants.

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:42 pm

The 3,000 signatures the Maybell neighbors gathered (through 70 volunteers rather than the usual paid signature gatherers) in just 10 days, for a referendum involving removing something from the comprehensive plan (!), with many signatures from across Palo Alto, speaks loads for what will happen in an election.

Perhaps "pa parent" is relying on the likely-PAHC sponsored, intrusive phone survey, the news of which spread like wildfire among those opposed to the rezoning who refused to take the survey until the caller would tell them who was sponsoring the survey (they wouldn't).

Here's why the City Council should simply reverse the decision:
1) The opposition to the rezoning has been historic and unprecedented.
2) PAHC missed their funding deadline for this round anyway
3) The referendum and CEQA suit are not nearly the last recourse for neighbors, who are in this for the safety of their kids and will not give up
4) PAHC only hurts their reputation in the community through these unethical tactics, which they will continue to hang themselves with if they have to wage a political campaign
5) School will start and everyone will be reminded of the horrible traffic, which will only get worse into the rainy season
6) City Council is made up of politicians who will at some point realize they will be political toast if they keep doubling down on densifying and making Palo Alto unlivable in opposition to residents

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm

> "I honestly don't see many residents of other PA neighborhoods buying these arguments"

You obviously weren't out and about getting the petitions signed. If you had been, you would know that people all over town were happy to have an opportunity to challenge the city. Lots of people are fighting mad about what's happening with PC zoning big, ugly buildings and traffic congestion everywhere.

Posted by It's a myth, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:01 pm

" and traffic congestion everywhere."

While the arestadero road diet is a major mistake that the city and the bike lobby's servant, Jaime Rodriguez, refuses to acknowledge and correct, there isn't "traffic congestion" everywhere.
One of the big myths in palo alto is that there are traffic problems all the time, everywhere. Many of the traffic problems that do exist are self inflicted-- having road diets in the hope that cars will magically disappear.
Perhaps it's time to rethink how traffic is dealt with in the city.
Or would people prefer that there would be no traffic in the city( I.e. no visitors, no workers, no dents, no shoppers)

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

@it's a myth,
Did you see the City staff report, a piece of propaganda for the rezoning under the heading of FAQ's, where staff blames the Gunn start time for the Arastradero traffic?
Web Link

Posted by Dean , a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

Neighbors will continue to take the safety of their children seriously, regardless of how dismissive PAHC and its developer friends get to try to smear them. It's only making PAHC look worse to the community. The City Council may have been oblivious to PAHC's astroturf, but many in the neighborhood had their eyes opened by their unethical tactics during the rezone.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:04 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 8:08 am

Tim Gray is exactly right in framing this. The problem is that there
are no standards, principles, for what the City approves/does - they are simply out of control.There is no over-all vision for the
City. This is the antithesis of what you would expect in this community. That is where this Council/ARB/staff have taken us.

Posted by Referendum Supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 8:56 am

The City Council has the responsibility under statute to reconsider the rezoning decision tonight. They can save taxpayer money and set aside the rezoning. PAHC did not meet their funding application deadline for this round anyway. If the Council sets aside the rezoning, PAHC will have time to take stock, and come up with a better plan for that site. Or perhaps take stock and focus their energies on other projects in line, as fighting the neighborhood in this case is a losing battle, neighbors are fighting for their children's safety and the long-term character of the neighborhood, and will not give up. The referendum will not be the end.

The City should start over, where they don't preference one group or one market-rate developer, and give equal consideration to the neighborhood and safety for how public funds are spent. They are tearing down 500 trees for their very own golf course, they could save 100 established trees here and consider allowing neighbors a chance to develop a community orchard (with or without Hostess House). This side of town has very few public resources and none of the amenities, while it hosts some of the most affordable housing development already.

The City staff report says the rezoning doesn't guarantee the site will be kept as senior housing anyway. In their rush to push this thing through, the City has allowed bad decision to compound bad decision.

They represent all of us. Or they should. The referendum, the huge and unprecedented opposition and participation, should give the Council every reason the show that the Fix really wasn't in, and that they answer to the neighborhoods and not just the special interests.

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Referendum Supporter, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

You mention again, as you have in many threads, that our neighborhood "hosts" affordable housing.

I have a different take on this. Residents of PAHC housing are our neighbors, not our guests. The property owner, PAHC, is a responsible, long-time member of this community, here before I got here (don't know about you, you may be a lifelong resident) and sure to be here decades after I'm gone. Who is hosting whom in this case.

Is our neighborhood similarly "hosting" people who are building their dream homes in what had until recent boom times been a relatively modest neighborhood?

Posted by Voter, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:11 am


The diction that so offends you speaks to the argument that PAHC has made (I say their flyer) -- that Barron Park and Green Acres residents are a bunch of selfish NIMBYs who want to keep affordable housing out of the neighborhood. The fact that BP "hosts" more affordable housing than any other residential neighborhood speaks to the absurdity of the PAHC allegation.

We get it: you're a self-styled open minded, welcoming guy. But [portion removed] the rest of Palo Alto is just as open minded and liberal as you are. That doesn't give anyone the right to try to steamroll legitimate traffic/safety/liveability concerns, as PAHC and their pro-developer, ABAG-fearing friends on the council did.

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Voter, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood

Can you point us to evidence that PAHC (not anonymous Town Square posters) has called Barron Park and Green Acres residents a bunch of selfish NIMBYs"? This oft-cited but never substantiated claim has circulated here in Town Square for some time. Time to back it up!

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

"the rest of Palo Alto is just as open minded and liberal as you are."

Oh that is rich. The same people opposed to this and every other project spew out the same type of vitriol (also based entirely on ideology as opposed to logic) as those against gay marriage, civil rights, etc.

Posted by Referendum Supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm

The City Hall meetings that led up to the rezoning are online and you can still view them. Have at it. PAHC uses the term "NIMBY" on their own website when speaking of general strategy, and indeed, while neighbors spoke of traffic safety and their kids, their concerns were belittled, and they were attacked as NIMBYs, in the same general way PAHC always does (the steamroller).

You are trying to divert the conversation, it's really irrelevant now. Tonight, City Hall s required by statute to reconsider the rezoning, and unwisely placing the rezoning of that property on the comprehensive plan. They can spare the City much expense and rancor if they simply now, finally, listen.

You and your buddies at PAHC (you remain quiet about your connection despite many calls to reveal) have shown you are very persistent, and are capable of moving on to the next project, hopefully with a lesson in how important it is to work with rather than against neighbors. The City would do well to redirect your energies to something more positive for all.

PAHC apparently missed their funding application deadline anyway. They said it was July 3, but City documents say the rezoning doesn't take effect until 31days after the2nd reading, which is July28. (Then the referendum suspended it further., As well as theCEQA suit.) They had to have the rezoning in place be July3 per the regulations. It's a competitive situation, so I'm sure they don't want to take away from other worthy projects that played by the rules.

The most healing thing right now would be for the City to rescind the rezoning, let the neighbors have a chance to put positive energy into building a community orchard with the 100 established trees that would be saved by the decision, and help PAHC move on to other, more positive work. Then neighbors can put more energy into helping neighbors at Buena Vista retain truly affordable housing by retaining it as a resident-owned trailer park (which also retains significant affordable housing for the area and spares us more overdevelopment of another giant PC upzone).

Posted by jerry underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

jerry underdal is a registered user.

@Referendum Supporter, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Thank you for giving me a reason to repost what I said at the end of the July 26 "Opponents of Maybell Projectů" thread. You may have missed it.

"PAcitizens," "resident," "neighbor," "longterm resident," "referendum supporter," "Don't be deceived" and who knows how many other Green Acres residents posting (only one of them per thread) on Maybell/Clemo have asked. I hope they're all reading now.

@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.

I was willing initially to work with you on the traffic issue and set aside consideration of how the property would be developed. But what I've seen since, as the group has moved to achieve each of the goals it set out at the first meeting, up to setting up a Political Action Committee and filing a CEQA law suit to stall and hopefully kill the project, has made me see that I should actively support PAHC on the referendum issue.

You have bigger fish to fry, a city to remake. I just want the best deal possible for the Maybell neighborhood.

Posted by no rezone, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

The ballot measures should go on the next general municipal election (in November 2014) pursuant to the City Referendum rules. The Council should not spend taxpayer money on a far more costly special election when it is not required under the City Referendum rules. The Council should not favor a single developer at the cost and expense to Palo Alto taxpayers.

To file a refendum you must get signatures within 30 days of the second reading from City Council's decision. This is the process. The signatures do not request a date nor require a date for being put on the ballot. The date for the voting is set by the City Council. They are the ones that make this decision. The City Council made the decision to up zone the property for developers profits and the neighbors would like to see how Palo Alto feels about this decision. The Council can decide when to have the voters decide.

As much as this is about the neighborhood and the everyday issues this really is about up-zoning property for the benefit and gain of the developers. This is happening all over Palo Alto and the City has a long list of future projects. This is not really about who lives on the property (seniors are welcome) but it is about the quality of their life and the sustainability of the neighborhood. We need a plan for Palo Alto as it grows with increased population at VMWare, Google, downtown, Stanford, the schools, etc. Right now the comprehensive plan and zoning needs to be followed. Palo Alto deserves a well thought out plan for the future. If the plan is not working then work needs to be done on changing it before these random acts of re-zoning continue.

Posted by do it quick 'n cheap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm

I like the suggestion someone made earlier to have an online election in November, 2013. This would allow an early resolution of this contentious issue without incurring a huge cost to the city of Palo Alto. Would this be possible?

Posted by Referendum supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

@ do it quick ' cheap,

There is a minimum number of days after the signatures are verified that the referendum can be voted on, and there are timing requirements in advance of the election as well. I think it's too late to put it on the ballot for November 2013, so voting on it sooner would mean a costly special election. If there isn't anything else already for Palo Alto on that ballot, it may incur the same costs as a special election.

The City Clerk has laid out the costs, and by far the cheapest is the general election in November 2014.

Posted by Referendum Supporter, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Neighbors have never wanted to kill the project. They have wanted to kill the rezoning. Sometimes the words get intermixed -- even Gennady Sheynar does it.

Neighbors have asked PAHC and the City repeatedly to do the safety analysis, the "heightened scrutiny" the City's own policy promises for developments on school commute routes. Let's talk over good data instead of past each other. But they never did. Neighbors would still like that done, regardless of what comes next. We hope you will join us in that.

Neighbors have always approached this as hope for the best, prepare for the worst. To most of us, we don't want to look back if the worst happens to a child, and think we could have done more.

All of this may prove moot, if PAHC indeed didn't meet their basic requirements of their funding application, which required verification of all zoning by the application date, July 3. The City's staff report says the zoning ordinance didn't even go into effect until around July 28, and they knew it wouldn't go into effect even then if neighbors referended. Given the historic opposition to the rezoning in the lead up to the vote, they could have seen that coming.

Posted by False analogy!, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 7:44 pm

@ Elaine: Yours is a false analogy. The residents are to blame for the expensive election, are they? By your logic, I would be responsible for a road accident when the other driver hit my car when that other driver was texting and talking, instead of watching the road. I'd be to blame for just being on the road knowing that other people violate the traffic laws, right?

Posted by BP resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2013 at 7:54 pm

From the "blame the resident" and "oh, the cost!" comments being posted here, I take it that PAHC has found and already hired its political consultants for PAHC's "aggressive" campaign as promised.

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