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Op-ed: Vote yes on Measure D

Original post made on Oct 4, 2013

Measure D is about one thing and one thing only — if you agree or disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for our senior residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 4, 2013, 9:55 AM

Comments (106)

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Posted by 43vs12+60
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

The main issue that I would like clarified is:
1. What is currently permitted under existing zoning?
2. Is that a likely scenario (without any interference by the City)
3. What restrictions (if any) could the City make on a developer who wanted to build the maximum housing under #1 (without actually changing the zoning)?

Scharff said: "A private developer building under the existing zoning would likely construct 46 residences, all of which could be three- to four-bedroom homes. Common sense tells me that 46 families will generate more traffic and impacts on the surrounding neighborhood and in the neighborhood schools than would 60 affordable one-bedroom senior apartments and only 12 families."

If the first sentence is true (Weekly, is it??), then it would seem the vote should be about choosing between those possible outcomes and how you feel about their possible effects on the Neighborhood and the City.

Voting 'No' *IN HOPES* that something significantly less dense than 43 large homes be built seems a risky proposition.

FINALLY - as to whether PC zoning has been over-used in Palo Alto, I would probably agree. However, I DO NOT think that the PC battle should be fought over this specific development.


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Posted by 46vs12+60
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:50 am

In my previous posts, references to "43" should be replaced by "46" - a typo on my part; sorry.


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Posted by Hilary
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

The above opinion article states:
"Opponents have tried to link Measure D to citywide issues about development, "PC" zoning, increased traffic, pedestrian-safety issues, or just a general frustration with traffic and parking."

Well, that IS what this is about! I resent the process and the product that resulted in the building of Alma Plaza next to my house. These high-density projects are eroding the quality of life in Palo Alto and their impacts ARE felt citywide. It is always the same argument, "but, this project is different and should be allowed" - it is death-by-a-thousand-cuts and it needs to stop.


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Posted by Bike commuter who uses Maybell
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:59 am

I plan to vote 'Yes' On Measure D. I have reviewed the plans and traffic report, and I believe that traffic impacts of the proposed plan will be less than what we will get with the existing zoning if Measure D fails.

It's too bad this is on the ballot. This is actually an example of a good project. I thought Council got to a good compromise at their final meeting on the subject.

Please note that the site abuts an existing eight-story apartment building on its south side, Juana Briones Park on its west side, a 66-unit family apartment complex on its east side, and Maybell Ave on its north side. It does not touch any existing single family homes. It is true that there are single family homes on the remainder of Maybell, but it is not correct to characterize this as a "historically" single family area.


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Posted by Jim Colton
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:07 am

I'm afraid the mayor has it wrong when he says Measure D is only about whether we want senior housing. I want senior housing but this is not the way to do it. Measure D requires an arbitrary change in the zoning and changes the character of our neighborhood. That is what Measure D is about. And do you believe that if Measure D is approved, the same couldn't happen to your neighborhood? He also goes on about how seniors want to live where the rest of their families live. I completely agree with that sentiment. However, there is nothing in Measure D that insures that the senior residents will be from Palo Alto. Let's defeat Measure D and build senior housing on the Maybell site according to the current zoning.


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Posted by debate attendee
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

Interesting info on LinkedIn about the mayor, who is so eager to provide below-market housing. He was formerly Director of Acquisitions at Prometheus Real Estate Group.

From Web Link
Palo Alto mobile-home park may close soon
PALO ALTO Owners want to sell site of city's sole mobile-home park to developers
"Lawyers for the park residents say the Jissers stand to make more than $20 million if they sell to Bay Area real estate developer Prometheus, which envisions building a complex of more than 150 apartments with amenities including a fitness center, clubhouse, pool and a pet spa."


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Posted by Green Acres Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

The PAHC and the City propose the construction of 60 low income senior housing units plus 12 single family homes to pay for the cost of the land and construction. A better use of the subject parcel is to construct 46 unit senior housing project, with a few units dedicated to low income seniors, under the current zoning allowance. There will then be sufficient open space, parking spaces and slightly larger units (current proposal is only 600 sq.ft. units for a two seniors)that will serve the needs of the community of middle class to lower middle class seniors in the area. STOP the rezoning to high density! The vast majority of the community does not want the current proposal by the City and PAHC. The City has not been 100% right in these matters as exemplified by the development of the Alma Plaza resulting in the high walled 'Miki's' right up to the curb and other issues in that plot of land.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

Nope. Measure D isn't really about senior housing at all... there are many ways /places that such housing can be built, including on the proposed Maybell site under the existing zoning. For me, measure D is about putting some sanity back into rule of "zoning" law before the city's neighborhoods are ripped up and wrecked. I will be voting no.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

The decision really seems to be about two things: 1) Credibility, will the proposed change not create more traffic than what is already allowed. 2) Should Palo Alto become more urban.

Looking at recently approved developments makes it appear that in spite of claims of benefits, new developments are all about making Palo Alto more urban and less suburban.

I have a simple distrust about why a zoning change to create 12 + 60 homes will create a more peaceful residential area than the allowed 48 homes. If urbanization is the desired path this location does seem like a fair target based on just the adjacent neighbors. Do we really want Palo Alto to become a small version of San Francisco?


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Posted by R Evans
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I will vote No.

60 senior units with only 41 parking places, financed in part by the profits the city will receive by development fees due to the upzoning to high density in a residential zoned neighborhood.

Bad policy, bad precedent, potential threat to many other residential neighborhoods in Palo Alto. If the city gets away with using high density rezoning to finance pet projects this time, it will do it again and again.

Build this under current zoning. It will be lower density, have fewer traffic impacts and will provide reasonable parking for the residents.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

> 60 senior units

It might be only 59 senior units, as one of the units is reserved for the manager. If the manager is a senior that applied for occupany on the list, then it would be 60 units. But it's hard to believe that there will always be a qualified Senior available when it's time to hire a manager.


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Posted by Sew so
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

So pick a neighborhood that is not already overcrowded and plagued by too much traffic!

The market rate housing in the development will not be affordable. And it will be ugly.


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Posted by Erik
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I have been deeply confused by the arguments made by the city mayor and other Measure D supporters. The following is one of the most troubling ones:

Measure D is about one thing and one thing only — if you agree or disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for our senior residents.

Current zoning already allows 41 senior affordable housing units to be built. So their logic is "if you would want lower density in senior affordable housing (that is 41 versus 60), then you are still against senior affordable housing. Are they trying to set a criteria on who are for and who are against senior affordable housing? What if I would only agree to 59 insread of 60 senior affordable housing units to be built? Would I still be considered to be against senior affordable housing? Would I still considered to be cold, indifferent to the less fortunate ones? I am still trying to figure out what the city council is doing behind the scene.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I am voting NO on D.
This plan does NOT provide GOOD housing for seniors. What if every resident in this complex wants to have a car? There is no place for them to park. This is NOT an assisted living facility, it is simply very small apartments. So the seniors living in them will have to still be self-sufficient. If they are still active and engaged with life, many of them will still want independent transportation. Making the decision for them in advance whether or not they may keep a car seems arrogant and judgemental, particularly since that neighborhood does not have many walkable amenities.

The push for higher and higher density in Palo Alto must stop.
We must look at the cumulative effects of all the PC rezonings and high density construction. Judging each project independently is foolhardy.


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Posted by Ken
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I live not far from the area and have heard both side of this for many months. I like the idea of lessening commuter traffic Maybell and more can be done to make that possible.

Right now, there are four houses and a vacant lot right next to a 10 story apartment building. It's not all that residential an area. It's surrounded by a park, the high rise, and some existing condos. Maybell Ave. is the only residential interface.

The PAHC proposal is to put 72 units there (60 for seniors and 12 small houses) there and eliminate 4 existing driveways on Maybell. The residents would use existing Tan Plaza access and a new outlet to Clemo Ave, which is blocked from Maybell.

If measure D fails, a developer could put up to 46 market rate houses with many driveway cuts to both Maybell and Clemo.

It's pretty clear that Measure D is the better solution for the neighborhood. I only wish PAHC had pointed that out better.


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Posted by Will
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

This sounds like Boehner logic, read our lips, no zoning changes.


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Posted by JerryL
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I will vote NO on D and so will 3 other family members.
It is absurd to provide only 41 parking spaces for a 60 apartment
development! Where are the tenants to park? Can no husband/wife actually own 2 cars? Where will visitors and staff and service
people working at the complex park?

I HATE PC zoning and this is just another example of the city allowing a developer (profit or non-profit--it matters not) to get away with not providing the resources the project really requires.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

A Yes vote would mean that the push for higher and higher population density in Palo Alto will never stop. Mr. Scharff needs to be honest with us and tell us whether he believes that turning Palo Alto into a highly urban, high density, traffic chocked polluted city/industrial park for current and future generations is something he believes he has a right to do.

Palo Alto is not Manhattan, downtown San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo or any of the appalling and dreary industrial parks in Ventura county and the San Fernando Valley. Residents who moved away twenty years ago would hardly even recognize this town. We can't add anymore population density and we can't add any more substantial developments of any kind. We are starting to resemble a sardine can.


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Posted by Ken
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Will, I probably don't agree with Boehner as much as you don't. Calling me a name isn't going to change the logic. No matter what your lips are saying, defeating Measure D isn't going to keep development from happening.

Just be careful with your presumptions. Defeating Measure D may prevent senior housing from being developed there. Be careful what you wish for.


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Posted by will for congress!
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

"This sounds like Boehner logic, read our lips, no zoning changes."
This made me laugh! The opponents are so like the current GOP. "We're willing to negotiate, just give us everything we want!".


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Posted by anony
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

The byline at the top of this article says "by Greg Scharff / Palo Alto Weekly Staff" ... I guess that makes sense.


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Posted by Won't
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Insurance companies that offer homeowners' insurance like to say that the risks involving high density housing require higher premiums. The risks apparently are: increased traffic, in erased parking on streets, increased traffic accidents, increased crime, especially burglaries, robberies, vandalism, auto theft, and assault and battery.

So. Uch for Palo Alto as a safe haven!


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm

As someone who was present at the meeting where Larry Klein proposed a delay and meeting, the Mayor is absolutely misusing that situation for his own purposes.

City staff asked for people representing the neighborhoods to give their names, and when NO ONE would because no one was there representing the neighborhoods (as "leaders" or not), they promised they just needed people FROM those different neighborhoods and they would establish representative relationships later, but they never did.

The meetings were not a "negotiation" between parties and neighbors made very clear they were representing themselves, not the neighborhood. If you watch the video of the City meeting in which Klein called the weekend discussion, the 3 houses were already on the table before the weekend. They were never in a position to drop the number of houses any more than that because the "in lieu" fees they get from the market-rate developer's density are written in to the ordinance as a result of the financing mechanism. Neighbors tried early on to get PAHC to reduce the number of market rate homes so the lots would meet existing zoning, but they wouldn't because of the financing setup.

Neighbors also wanted to discuss the City finally doing a safety analysis on Maybell and Arastradero, the impact of the traffic on the bikes and pedestrians, which was never done, but he took that off the table entirely and wouldn't talk about it.

As for the claim that "many" neighbors in Greenacres and Barron Park strongly support Measure D -- it's the same activist group as from the start, mainly friends in the League of Women voters who have officers who are also on the board of PAHC.

A long poll of neighbors in Greenacres found 94% AGAINST the rezoning (with a large percentage FOR senior housing under the existing zoning, so the Mayor was misportraying the neighbors there, too). A poll of all the BP Association members also found the majority against the rezoning.

As for traffic concerns - they were ongoing long before this rezoning. Neighbors spent SIX MONTHS working with Cal Trans and the City to come up with plans to improve Maybell in a six-figure improvement project completed with in the last 4 or 5 years. Maybell is as safe as it's going to get, and even Councilman Berman admitted after coming out here that it is NOT SAFE as it is, after all those improvements and without adding any more traffic.

The City's answer has been to blame the change in start times at Gunn for the traffic (which was actually advertised previously as improving the situation), and set the traffic department on re-evaluating Maybell. They came without any notes or employees from the recent improvement and told neighbors to start from scratch. One who had worked on the last improvements for months left the meeting.

Lastly, what will go there if voters vote AGAINST D will NOT be worse. It defies logic that a high-density market rate development at 3 times the existing zoning density and a high-density building at up to 8 times the existing zoning density, almost twice the height, and with only a third to a fourth of the parking would be better than a LOW-DENSITY existing zoning, which has limits to height, density, setbacks, parking, open space requirements, daylight plane, etc etc.

If the new owner wants to build there, they're going to have to subdivide the property (which, by the way, PAHC would have to do, too, if they are able to enact the ordinance), and there are legal protections under the Subdivision Map Act. Where the City could falsely claim that the ordinance met the comprehensive plan in a political battle where they held all the cards, in a subdivision battle, neighbors will have legal recourse, and even charter cities subdivisions have to be consistent with their general plans.

Lastly, if voters help the neighbors vote AGAINST D, the next day after the election, they will put forward a plan to save the heritage orchard, as the 2nd fully accessible place for disabled kids in Palo Alto to play without boundaries with all children. This is an appropriate place for it as the 100 fruit trees slated to be torn down with the development can be saved (and probably the 2 100-year-old oaks that conveniently couldn't be saved just in time for that development), and it's catty corner to the long-time programs for the most disabled children in Palo Alto at Juana Briones' OH program.

(Instead of having to look up at high-density homes they could never live in themselves like at Alma Plaza, and the overflow parking from the development, the disabled children would have an accessible park right across the street from school. Let's face it, the Mayor let 20 our of 24 fully-assisted senior BMR units at Moldaw go unfilled for THREE YEARS and did nothing to renegotiate them until this controversy. He and the rest of the City Council care even less about the needs of the disabled in Palo Alto.)

People in the neighborhood are not being swayed by the Mayor's misrepresentations, he is only causing us to mistrust him more because we know what he is saying is false. Will people in the rest of Palo Alto? The City Attorney wrote such a biased ballot. Please read the neighbors' concern about the biased ballot before making a decision:

Web Link


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

The City Council and staff have a track record of zero on a scale of 1 to 10 in protecting the quality of life,character of our city,
aesthetic values, safety of our streets. A "yes" vote is a vote
to ratify everything they have done and encourage more of the same.
I would walk ten miles if I had to in order to cast a "NO" vote on Measure D. All the unique qualities of Palo Alto are being flushed
down the toilet by a Council and staff who have no idea what they are doing and don't care as they serve special interests, developers and their own agendas.


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Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Again, as usual, the City Council continues supporting lowering the quality of life in Palo Alto, especially Barron Park. There are already too many people in Palo Alto and the Council has allowed endless new development of apartments and condominiums to provide even more traffic congestion.
The development is for retired people and they don't need to live in Palo Alto. Build this development in Gilroy or Hollister and don't deteriorate life in Palo Alto any more.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm

> The City Council was unanimous in its support of the project, and the council is rarely unanimous on controversial land-use decisions.

Well Mr. Scharff, this ignores the obvious twist to your logic. The Palo Alto Housing Corporation was founded by City Council in 1970. The City loaned PAHC $7.3 million for the purchase of the Maybell site, including an advance of $1.5 million of 'in lieu' fees from the development of the private homes. Might I politely suggest that this "unanimous" decision might have been slightly prejudiced by an obvious conflict of interest on the part of Palo Alto City Council?

> Right now there are hundreds of senior citizens on waiting lists for affordable homes in Palo Alto — people who want to live in the community where they have lived and/or worked for many years.

This is, at best, disingenuous. By law, PAHC cannot limit the rental of the senior housing units to Palo Alto residents. What you are really saying is that there are seniors in need of affordable housing. The fact is that it doesn't matter that these units are even built in Palo Alto, let alone at PAHC's Maybell site. The same demand would exist at any site in Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Mountain View (or the entire Bay Area).

VOTE AGAINST MEASURE D! Put a stop to this crazy pretzel logic that dense, non-conforming development in neighborhoods will make things better. That's simply nonsense.


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Posted by A neighbor voting NO
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm

PAHC/Scharff have been saying that there are hundreds of Palo Altans who are low income seniors with adult children who live in Palo Alto and who have to leave town because they can't afford their rents. I have lived here for nearly 2 decades. I should have met one of those seniors. Where are they?

I tried to talk to some senior residents in a PAHC facility here in Palo Alto. I randomly talked to four elderly folks. Three were from Russia and one was from Iran. None could speak any English. The Persian speaker told me(in Persian) that she has no connections to Palo Alto, she lives here because that is where the PAHC property is.

A former city planner told me that it used to be possible for an immigrant to put their relatives/friends names on the low income housing waiting list even before admission to the US. That loophole is closed now. But if you advertise subsidized rentals there will always be hundreds of takers from all around the Bay Area (or the world) who will take it. And by California Law PAHC can not make Palo Alto residency a requirement for putting someone on their waiting lists and eventually renting to them.

I have nothing against helping low income seniors from all around the world but as long as we divide the cost up equitably among all the residents of Palo Alto. The financing scheme used for Maybell forces that neighborhood to pay all the cost.


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Posted by No on Measure D
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Wow. "Measure D is about one thing and one thing only — if you agree or disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for our senior residents." With his statement, our mayor is clearly demonstrating that he has NOT listened to the concerns of Palo Alto residents.

With respect to traffic issues, I cringe every time someone says that "seniors don't drive". Well, I am a senior and I drive. I've also had kids go through the public schools here from K through 12, and have worked at Gunn. I know with certainty that there are students here who use a grandparent's or other family member's Palo Alto address to go to school here. These students and their parents DO drive to school, because they don't live here. Checking on this is not the City's job, and the school district doesn't have the resources to police this.


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Posted by Roy Moss
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I hope that when Measure D fails, Greg Scharff will take the message to heart and resign.


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Posted by Against Measure D for a reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

From a PA Planning Department meeting last Feb. 13th. They knew then that this was wrong for the neighborhood and they should know what could be built on Maybell:

"Commissioners Wednesday night marveled at the lack of opposition to the project, given the proposed senior complex's height and proximity to single-family homes. Alcheck told the applicants that the lack of opposition "speaks a lot about your reaching-out process." Tanaka was more skeptical and surmised that people didn't show up to criticize the project because they didn't know about it.

"I think if the people in the (neighborhood's single-family houses) really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there," Tanaka said."

A vote Against Measure D will help the planning department and City make the right decision next time.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

@ Roy Moss,
Unfortunately, given the bias the City Attorney has written into the ballot question, and the lack of resources the neighbors have as a grassroots volunteer group to fight PAHC, it's very possible Measure D will prevail. And then neighbors will have to continue to fight on the other fronts.

We need help from everyone possible to help others outside of our neighborhood to understand what is at stake for all of Palo Alto here, and what is at stake for our neighborhood. The City Council and PAHC are rolling out this new way of financing affordable housing at Maybell, and it involves setting aside all zoning in residential neighborhoods, and getting away with it because of the affordable housing component even though a majority of the land goes to upzoned market-rate development.

Please vote AGAINST Measure D so the neighbors can turn their attention to
1) fighting the upzoning of the Buena Vista mobile home park, and
2) bringing forward an initiative to restrict the use of PC zoning in residential neighborhoods.

If Measure D passes, neighbors will still be bringing forward the PC zoning initiative, but they'll also still be fighting the Maybell battles. Help us, the neighborhood character you save may well be your own.


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Posted by Fox wants to build a new hen house
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 2:10 am

Mayor Scharff is a real estate attorney and developer. His arguments are sound bites without a basis in fact. Scharff is not honest with the voters or the press about where his loyalties rest. He masquerades as a simple, small town attorney with a sole practice on Cal Ave. In fact he is the former Director of Acquisitions for Prometheus Real Estate Group, the largest developers of multi-family real estate in Northern California. He served on the National Board of Directors for the National Association of Office and Industrial Park Developers and Owners. He is a licensed realtor and owner of several out-of-state housing developments. His loyalties and fortune rests with the developers and those who profit from growth and dense urban infill.

Unless you believe that the Fox is really interested in building a better hen house for the chickens to live out their lives in comfort, then there is no reason to believe any of Scharff's claims.

VOTE Against D


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:26 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

To understand "Vote AGAINST D, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood"'s wild swings from argument to argument over the months under various names but always with the same writing style you have to take her/him seriously any time the subject turns to saving the orchard.

The bottom line is keeping anything from being built on the property until the dream of a revitalized orchard and visitors center can become fact. We had a chance to see a draft of the vision when a large sketch of the center and orchard was posted on the City Council chambers wall during one of the meetings.

It didn't draw much attention. Just as the idea has not drawn much attention or support--even in the opposition campaign that AGAINST was a pioneer in organizing.

After months of attacks against the very notion of affordable senior housing at Maybell, often personalized and consistently defamatory of PAHC, No on D states "We support building affordable senior housing on the Maybell parcel within current zoning."

AGAINST doesn't agree, but appearing to favor affordable housing at Maybell offers a way to keep the orchard dream alive, so he/she has been inventive and tenacious in advancing arguments against Measure D.

Defeat of Measure D would slay one foe, the PAHC affordable senior housing project,. The next target would be whatever else was proposed, by PAHC or a commercial developer, for that property. And if Measure D passes, AGAINST has assured us that lawsuits, an initiative and changing city politics will guarantee that nothing happens there if it doesn't retain the orchard.

Most of the No on D leaders seem embarrassed by the orchard plan, which they know has little resonance in a city-wide election, and want to put it out of sight. They shouldn't get away with it.


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Posted by Vote "NO"
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

Drive around Palo Alto and see the complete destruction of the City and its neighborhoods, the ugliness and congestion everywhere, cars
squeezed into non-spaces at corners, cut-through commuters dodging bicyclists on narrow streets, and more huge under-parked office buildings under construction. Don't worry - we'll build some
garages. Where will they go, what impact on the streetscapes will they have, and who will pay for them? The problems are growing
faster than any potential solutions, any mitigations have their own
side effects and negative impacts as the various interest groups
fight it out.Mayor Scharff says Measure D is only about a senior
housing project. If that were the case vote "NO" for all the reasons given in previous posts. If you think it's both the project and a bigger issue vote "NO". If you think it's primarily a bigger issue
vote "NO". If there is still anybody out there who thinks they might
vote "yes" I suggest you rethink your position.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

Jerry,

I'm not sure I understand your complaint against someone wanting to preserve the Orchard. Whether or not its quixotic, its not a bad thing to want. People against measure D are just individuals, banding together, with varying viewpoints on what would be best to do with that location, and not a corporate entity like PAHC. The arguments against "D" are not based on contrasting it to an orchard there. PAHC and Mayor Scharff, on the other hand, present a hypothetical alternative of development on the site if this measure does not pass which you apparently take as the unquestioned truth. I think that alternative is a scare tactic by the developers and those who make money from them, and has not been validated by anyone I have talked to. I have looked at the zoning requirements, and I have talked to a few developers who build at that scale. The answer I got back was that they would expect, if the land were sold to a private developer, that 16 or so large single family houses would be built there, selling for close to $3 million each. This would maximize their return on investment.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

Palo Alto has absolutely, positively, no more space for any kind of expansion. There is absolutely no more room to squeeze in more people through schemes such as this. A vote for schemes like athis development mounts to a further destruction of this once wonderful city that has become ugly, congested, polluted, noisy and traffic chocked due to gross overdevelopment and lack of intelligent urban planning. Even a sardine can can hold only so many sardines before you just can't squeeze anymore sardines into it.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:39 am

@Jerry,
You still can't seem to wrap your brain around the fact that those who live near this property and see the conditions here are almost unanimously AGAINST rezoning, i.e., AGAINST Measure D, and that there is a huge grassroots move against it. You have in the past lumped me and other posters together.

The sketch of the orchard you just brought up? This is the first I have even heard of it. That's great! But now you've let me know there are other people in the neighborhood who need to join together, thanks. Can you please provide a link to the sketch? Or date for the meeting?

But you have one thing right. I do think that location is better off as a low-traffic use, and not contributing to the mess City Council has heaped on us here through development after development, the consequences of which they refused to study. I do think we should make an effort to preserve that last parcel of our agricultural heritage as all of the communities surrounding us have done. I do think the City Council owed the residents of the area equal consideration in what to do with that parcel at the getgo since so many millions of public money from both the City and County went into purchasing the property.

I do think the disabled kids in the long-time school programs across from there deserve more than just being ignored, and safety should take precedence in development, as our general plan promises.

We are even in this mess because City Council seems to have even more scorn for the will of the good people you live among than you apoarently do.

Despite all the scorn you and your small clatch have heaped on your neighbors, the internal polls show the majority think the best land use for that location is low traffic, and the preferred is a community orchard. At least in this post your disingenuousness previously claiming you would support saving the trees comes out. Neighbors do not want to put forward anything else while there is still a chance we may be able to get a development for seniors WITHIN existing zoning, because despite your caustic namecalling, they and I really do support that land use, if the neighborhood, safety, and the limitations of the infrastructure are respected.


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Posted by to boscoli
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

You may not think PA has room for more housing, but ABAG is requiring that it add 100s of more housing units to accommodate its local workforce. Adding small senior units will produce a loss less impact on the community than pretty much any other housing type. We need these new, small housing units, and the Maybell site has the space for them.


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Posted by pavoter
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

The mayor doesn't account for the fact that the city loaned millions to PAHC to purchase the Maybell site prior to the city vetting the project with traffic/environmental studies -- so the city was committed to this project no matter what. The city reduced lanes on Arastradero based mostly on the safety of children, but chooses to ignore the problem of safety issues on Maybell when in fact Maybell is getting more traffic due to the lane reductions on Arastradero. Maybell has almost no sidewalks and it is not a standard width. So the city's commitment to this project from the get go is a huge problem. That is not listening to the neighbors or even going through the proper process. And the upzoning behind closed doors sets another bad precedent.

If you vote "yes", then you are condoning these practices which are very questionable. That is certainly not transparent governance. And this will mean more high density in our R-1 neighborhoods.

I will vote NO!


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Posted by very strange
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

"You still can't seem to wrap your brain around the fact that those who live near this property and see the conditions here are almost unanimously AGAINST rezoning,"
That's not true!
Those in Tan Plaza are NOT against it. Those in Arastradero Apartments are NOT against it. Those in multi-family homes on the site are NOT against it. In fact, all those directly affected by it aren't aren't against it. You know, all those RIGHT NEXT DOOR aren't against it.
It is only those further afield in the neighborhood who seem to be against it.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Thanks Mayor Scharff and "very strange" for acknowledging that this neighborhood is split in its opinions about Measure D.

People like me who became uneasy at the bombast and faulty reasoning behind some of the arguments against the proposal, felt intimidated about voicing their opinions online, either here on the Town Square or in the BPA news groups.

This was in part from not wishing to risk offending neighbors by supporting an unpopular position on a controversial subject. But it also had to do with the tone set by the dominant online voices.

Few people have the stomach to engage with someone who gratuitously tosses in lines like "City Council seems to have even more scorn for the will of the good people you live among than you apoarently do." So people didn't engage in the conversation and the community lost out on what could have been a good discussion that would not have left wounded feelings on all sides.

You and your allies took silence for agreement. To be fair, I shared that belief but felt it was important to raise facts that had not been considered. If you recall, I asked months ago for an open discussion within the Barron Park Association of the pros and cons of the amended project.

Too late. The BPA had committed $1000 to the referendum campaign and a membership survey had confirmed the popularity of that position. So here we are in Barron Park with a handicapped neighborhood association that used to be seen as a model throughout the city, and there you are, in Green Acres, calling the shots on what happens in our neighborhood.

Please, AGAINST, don't state again that you are closer to and more affected by this project than I am, and that I can't possibly understand how bad things are along Maybell unless you can prove it.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

To those arguing against it due to density, traffic, etc, have you read this article?

Web Link

Not allowing this and other projects doesn't address any of the issues you're bringing up. Regardless of what is allowed to be built, people can and will continue to move to Palo Alto, and density will increase (so long as residents don't try and pass measures controlling how many and who can live in your house or how many cars you can have).


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Posted by BP resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Thanks Jerry for pointing out the damage to the BPA that this has done. I'm stunned that my newsletter fees went to fund a referendum against affordable housing in Palo Alto. The level of vitriol that opponents have displayed is just way out of proportion to what is actually happening here, which is pretty benign given the range of alternatives.
The appeal to the idea of a permanent orchard in that spot is the strangest turn yet. Does anyone really believe that there are enough resources around to secure that site for an orchard? It seems like almost deliberate misdirection.
I'm voting YES to support PAHC, a valuable member of our community, and affordable housing.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Jerry,

I guess feelings run pretty high on both sides. And as you said in an earlier post, sometimes rhetoric and passion get the upper hand. I dislike bombast when it is directed at individuals here. I'm sorry if any has been directed your way. You sign your name, and try to move the conversation forward with logical arguments. I guess I react differently than you concerning the anger directed at the city council and staff, though. They say one thing and do another. Campaign on one platform and vote differently. Claim to represent the voters, then tell us "they know best". The anger is a signal they should be listening to.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

" if you agree or disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for our senior residents."

This is a whopper of a huge dimension. It is possible for one to believe Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for seniors (and I'd like to know who these houses would be given to and what the criterion is) and still not want rezoning of the parcel.


"The City Council and staff have a track record of zero on a scale of 1 to 10 in protecting the quality of life,character of our city, aesthetic values, safety of our streets"

You stated the issue perfectly. City and developers have got together and screwed the residents over and over by approving high density housing and not holding the developer to promises of "public benefits".

This is simply about current density vs higher density housing. Once a few high-density housing is approved, they will use that to justify more until palo alto looks like a concrete jungle. They're proposing higher density than is currently allowed.

NO!

Stick with the current zoning. Allowing rezoning will be the thin end of the wedge.




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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm


Based on how the developers have lied about "public benefits" and under-delivered in the past, I believe it is possible that the 60 high-density housing may even be sold at market rate by just changing some clause or the other right under the citizens' noses. If zoning can be changed willy-nilly they can change anything.

City hall is impotent in holding developers to their promises.

Developers and city hall have a big bag of tricks to push high-density housing and "affordable senior housing" is one of them. The other promise was "community center and park" at Alma plaza. Go take a look at what the citizens got- a small room above the grocery store, right on Alma and a small carpet sized patch of grass. THIS IS THE BENEFIT for allowing the monstrosity at Alma Plaza?


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

@Midtown Resident

It sounds like your contention isn't with the city council, but with the laws of physics. You can't build more housing in the city without increasing the city's density, its a physical impossibility.


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Posted by Palo Alto isn't Oz
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Measure D supporters just mailed out a glossy brochure to Palo Alto voters. The entire back cover is a large picture of red sequined shoes and the quote from the Wizard of Oz "There's no place like home..."

Seriously, home for Measure D supporters is a delusional fantasy! Is this a judicious and responsible way for PAHC to manage money entrusted to them?

Since they brought it up, let's keep the theme going. Who are the cast of characters? Is Candace Gonzalez the Wicked Witch of the East? Greg Scharff is the Tin Man who needs a heart. The Baron Park residents are the enslaved Munchkins. Nancy Shepherd is the scare crow who is desperately trying to find a brain. Who else?


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Posted by Vote Against D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm

@Robert,
There are places that are appropriate for density - such as along the El Camino corridor where many properties have come for sale and are being developed in recent years - and places that are not, such as in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

This financing scheme being pioneered at Maybell gives the City Council the ability in the future to put high-density developments into residential neighborhoods all over Palo Alto. None of us is that far from main roads, a tall building on the edge of somewhere that was built during the last era of overdevelopment in town, or even the freeway. Protecting neighborhood zoning is key to protecting the character of neighborhoods, a primary goal of the comprehensive plan.

If voters say yes at Maybell, this same scheme will be rolled out again -- the Mayor and PAHC made that clear in the City meetings leading up to the rezoning. The Mayor even apologized, saying this was the first time PAHC is doing this, and they'll do it better (meaning, more efficiently) next time. City Council justifies it by saying they do it this way in other communities. If voters greenlight it, there will be a next time. Neighborhood zoning will no longer be sacred. The lead planner at PAHC for this project was proud of having upzoned R-1 residential neighborhoods before coming here.

And since you are from another community, you should also realize that this financing mechanism allows PAHC to be more competitive in getting funding from the state and federal pots -- where it is in competition with less wealthy communities around Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties like Gilroy and San Jose.

We are a wealthy community that does not need to financing affordable housing this way. The neighbors are trying to be reasonable -- all they are asking for is for the City to build just the senior housing and within the existing zoning, with proper safety and environmental review, so that we don't have to have a 50 foot building and the parking provisions of the existing zoning will be respected, etc. The City is in essence saying it's not worth it to them if they can't get the neighborhood -- and poorer communities around us -- to make it cheaper for them. For shame.


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Posted by New flyer in mail
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

The first slick flyer in support of Measure D arrived in the mail today. It's titled "There's no place like home". It has the usual endorsements.It treats the project as an isolated event which has
no context - the rezoning, the visual impacts, the traffic impacts,
the City loan - none of this exists. It's just a simple project for
needy Palo Alto seniors, even though the seniors may be non-residents which it doesn't mention.

When they say "there's no place like home" I agree. And my home and
my neighborhood, and my City, have been seriously damaged by what the City has done. This is an easy vote - "NO" on Measure D. Don't
buy what they are selling. This project has context, in itself and Citywide.


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm

So who are all these "low income seniors". I am a Palo Alto "Senior" who has lived here 38 years. I am not qualified nor would I want to live in a 20 X 30 ft box without support facilities, no car and miles to a grocery store. I wager there is virtually no one who lives in Palo Alto who both qualifies and wants to live there. This being the case who are we building this for at great expense to the standard of living in Palo Alto? We have a Professional Commercial Developer as Mayor who wants to build high density housing, zoning to be ignored. I'm voting NO. I think every "PC" development should be voted on.


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Posted by Against Measure D for a reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Is this really true and if so how can Mayor Scharff be considered unbiased and allowed to vote or represent this issue at all?

Mayor Scharff is a real estate attorney and developer. His arguments are sound bites without a basis in fact. Scharff is not honest with the voters or the press about where his loyalties rest. He masquerades as a simple, small town attorney with a sole practice on Cal Ave. In fact he is the former Director of Acquisitions for Prometheus Real Estate Group, the largest developers of multi-family real estate in Northern California. He served on the National Board of Directors for the National Association of Office and Industrial Park Developers and Owners. He is a licensed realtor and owner of several out-of-state housing developments. His loyalties and fortune rests with the developers and those who profit from growth and dense urban infill.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Palo Alto has become a real estate development company masquerading as a City government. So typical government functions like
zoning,land use planning, design review are relegated to a perfunctory status and have no substance.






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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm

A fact that was brought up earlier, but is worth bringing to the fore again, is that every time the council approves additional commercial/office development, the ABAG rquirements on Palo Alto for more housing increases. If true, this means additional commercial development will drive pressure for increased housing density to meet the ABAG requirements.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

@Robert

"It sounds like your contention isn't with the city council, but with the laws of physics. You can't build more housing in the city without increasing the city's density, its a physical impossibility."

I'm not talking about the density of the city as a whole, just the density of the housing in a parcel.

Zoning rules are based on the capacity of the available infrastructure. Violating them puts pressure on the infrastructure. I have visited cities where traffic cannot go faster than 10mph. Some of the major arteries like Alma are on their way to this kind of gridlock.

People who want to support measure D as a way to ensure affordable housing mean well and I understand your concern but please open your eyes to what the developers are doing. They keep pushing high-density housing with a variety of excuses - "senior housing", "affordable housing" "community center" "park" .... they rarely deliver. These are just excuses to build more housing within the parcel, since palo alto real-estate is so valuable. Once they build the tall houses packed together tightly, blocking sunlight and views, they go off to their leafy neighborhoods with sprawling single-story homes on a 2 acre lot in los altos hills and let us deal with the consequences.

We're getting shafted by moneyed interests that circumvent democracy. Does Alma Plaza look good to you? Its an abomination..Most palo altans did not want it but the city council pushed it thru anyway.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2013 at 6:17 am

There is a line in a movie in which the protagonist, played by Brad Pitt, says:'America is not a country, it's a business'. We can paraphrase it: toThe :Palo Alto city council) is not a city council, it's a real estate development company'.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

> A private developer building under the existing zoning would likely construct 46 residences, all of which could be three- to four-bedroom homes.

So, what Mr Scharff is really saying is: "We have to destroy our neigborhoods in order to save them."

No thanks Mr Sharff, I'm voting against Measure D.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

I'm shocked by the revelation that Mr Sharff is a real-estate attorney and was a developer. This is a clear conflict of interest as far as I'm concerned although you could argue that that was his past history.

How did we make this terrible mistake of electing him? Was his history not publicized? We need to ensure this does not happen next election.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

@"Will for congress"

"This made me laugh! The opponents are so like the current GOP. "We're willing to negotiate, just give us everything we want!".

What are you talking about?

Measure D opponents want the current law (zoning) to be enforced unlike the republicans who do not like the current law and like little kids want to take their bat and go home if the law is not changed.

Measure D supporters want the law changed because they do not like it.



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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:20 am

@Midtown Resdent,
Following NINE MONTHS of public hearings, discussions and negotiations, the Palo Alto City Council voted unanimously to approve the 60 units of affordable senior housing and 12 single family homes at Maybell and Clemo.


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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

Mayor Scharff used to be PAHC Board Member.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

Anyone can see, the response that suggest there are more "appropriate" places for development is completely disingenuous; the same group of people have and will give the same objection to any and all new developments. I'm fairly certain the core goal would be absolutely no new development, and yet the residents of Palo Alto aren't ready to accept the consequences of that decision either.

If this isn't the case, where would you like to see it? Do you have any kind of realistic plan on handling the ever increasing demand for housing, senior or otherwise?


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Posted by Kazu
a resident of University South
on Oct 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm

"Right now there are hundreds of senior citizens on waiting lists for affordable homes in Palo Alto — people who want to live in the community where they have lived and/or worked for many years."

That alone is enough for me to vote yes on Measure D. I consider it immoral to do otherwise.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Robert

Actually, I am very willing to accept the consequences of no additional development, if it means increased density (as opposed to replacing like by like). Legally, however, folks can build, for commercial or residential, to what the zoning provides. I think that is all people as asking for - stop making exceptions to the zoning. Why do you think residents of Palo Alto wouldn't want that? Have you surveyed them? That seems the majority sentiment expressed here.


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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm

No one has questioned the need for affordable senior housing in Palo Alto - not even the opponents. It's critical that everyone supports Measure D to ensure local seniors are able to stay close to their children and grandchildren.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm

@Steven

Why would you think that no additional development means no increase in density? Do you not believe that as housing prices continue to squeeze, more people will not move in, many to a house, as has happened before in every single city where this is an issue? As homeowners die or move out, who do you think is going to move in when prices are far beyond the reach of those who live and grew up here?


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Posted by didn't work in Vegas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm

The Wizard of Oz theme didn't work when the MGM Hotel/Casino opened on the Las Vegas strip and they removed the display from the entry lobby. Palo Alto Measure D supporters are going Las Vegas strip in their approach to a serious issue here and it won't work here.

The glitzy "There's no place like home" flyer they mailed out quotes Scharff and Holman that this is "not about City-wide zoning issues". That's quite a stretch and hope on their part because that is a key issue here and is an integral and enabling factor in this project.

But it's more than loose to non-existent zoning compliance when convenient. It's about the entire culture in City Hall which favors developers at the expense of residents, their neighborhoods, their quality of life, their aesthetic values and is carried out through lack of adherence to the Single-Family Individual Review guidelines; allowing dewatering for basements with short-term and potentially long-term effects in order to construct 6+ bedrooms houses in already overcrowded schools with one car garages; no regard for street aesthetics; an ARB which believes its mandate is to approve anything a developer submits.




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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Opponents maintain that increased density would be inconsistent with the surrounding density and would deteriorate the quality of life in the area. However, the project is adjacent to the Tan Plaza Apartments, which by comparison is a 61 unit development on 2 acres, with a height of approximately 100 feet. The project is also adjacent to the Arastradero Park Apartments, a 66-unit affordable housing family development with 1-4 bedroom units, also owned by the PAHC. Only one side of the project (across Maybell) is characterized by single-family development. The "high density" senior portion of the site is set well back (more than 100 feet) from homes along Maybell, abutting the 8-story Tan Plaza. The result is a logical step-down and transition from Arastradero Road and the Tan Apartments, to the new senior project and the adjacent Arastradero Park Apartments to the new single-family homes, then across Maybell to the existing homes in the neighborhoods.


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Posted by Against Measure D for a reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

From Palo Alto Planning meeting, February 13, 2013 (they know what can be built on Maybell and they knew in Feb. that this project is wrong):

"Commissioners Wednesday night marveled at the lack of opposition to the project, given the proposed senior complex's height and proximity to single-family homes. Alcheck told the applicants that the lack of opposition "speaks a lot about your reaching-out process." Tanaka was more skeptical and surmised that people didn't show up to criticize the project because they didn't know about it.

"I think if the people in the (neighborhood's single-family houses) really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there," Tanaka said."

The senior portion would be allowed to go from the logical step-down zoning of 30' to an increase to 50' which is extreme and then the new single-family homes would be allowed to be three stories instead of the two stories from the original zoning. Anyway you look at it the original zoning was the step-down to the neighborhood and the Planning Dept and the Council decided that they wanted to "supersize" and overdevelop the property. 13 single family homes and 60 apartments that can have multiple people living in them in just over two acres. Seems Tanaka from the Planning Dept was right when he said there would be an outcry.

PAHC intends to sell off more than half of the site to a for-profit developer for 12 single-family, market-rate homes on small, substandard lots leaving just 1 acre for the 50-foot high, four-story 60-unit senior building with only 0.6 resident parking space per unit. PAHC is thus creating an RM-60 zone, one that doesn't exist in the municipal code.


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Posted by midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2013 at 10:55 pm

@PP "Following NINE MONTHS of public hearings, discussions and negotiations, the Palo Alto City Council voted unanimously to approve the 60 units of affordable senior housing and 12 single family homes at Maybell and Clemo."

PP, Issues aside for the moment, its a question of trust.

You're right if you assume the City Council is unbiased and represents the people of Palo Alto honestly. Unfortunately, based on past experience, I believe that the city is beholden to developers. They are supposed to represent us and if most citizens oppose the project, they have no business passing it.

I was involved in, and saw what happened to Alma Plaza. There was massive opposition to the plan but the city passed it anyway turning yet another parcel into densely packed housing with a grocery store on Alma with zero setback. In that case too the project was pushed with a public benefit of a park and community center. Go take a look at the "park" and the "community center".

For every zoning exception, the developers cleverly come up with an ostensible public benefit as a reason to pass the exception. Once the project is done, we find the benefit has been wildly exaggerated.

I'm extremely sceptical of the numbers provided by city hall and I'm sceptical that local needy seniors will actually get these apartments. I believe anyone from anywhere can apply for senior housing in P.A. It may even be sold at market rate for all I know. Who's going to keep these guys honest?

Changing zoning sets a dangerous precedent. Palo Alto is quickly getting taller and denser while we helplessly look on. Please help stop this trend.

Build senior housing under the existing zoning.

No rezoning.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm

@kazu

you mean well I understand but please do not blindly believe the reasons the developers and the city put forward for the project - Ask them for the list of these seniors and whether they are people who worked and lived in palo alto.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

@PP,
Your post is disingenuous, as I already answered you on the Vote No thread about the Tan. All you are doing in bringing up the Tan is making it more obvious to the neighbors that their plans to continue to fight this on all possible fronts should they fail to stop this with the referendum is critical, or the City will then use this development as an excuse to further densify the neighborhood every chance it gets.

Here's what I answered:

The EXISTING zoning is only RM-15 to R-2 because of the Tan apartments, which are a historic exception built during the last round of overdevelopment. At least it's on Arastradero. Otherwise, that parcel would be R-1. The RM-15 is the appropriate zoning given the adjacency to both the surrounding R-1 single-family neighborhood, which is the dominant land use, and the apartment. The City attorney inappropriately made it seem like the apartments were the dominant land use back in the residential neighborhood, and they are not.

But the main building is zoned up to EIGHT TIMES what would be appropriate under existing zoning. And it's a 50-foot building where the existing zoning limits height to 30 feet.

There are only 36 parking spots for residents of a 60 unit building. We have limited parking in this neighborhood. It's also catty corner to the part of the school used by 3 programs for disabled families, and parking is already a challenge at many times during the day. This is not a neighborhood that can absorb excess parking.

The design of this property was controlled more by the financing setup and then was served up to the neighbors as a done deal, with a few deck chairs rearranged later for show.

As Bob Moss said recently: People need to appreciate is that this development drops in a very high densty building, almost 60 units/acre or 50% more than the highest normal density next to the lowest density residentail zone, R-1.  This has never been done in Palo Alto.  Mayor Scharff stated that if this project goes forward similar projects with  mix of high density apartments and large market rate homes on subsized lots will be inserted elsewhere in Palo Alto. 


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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 6:53 am

The site on Clemo and Maybell Avenues is an excellent choice for local seniors – it is adjacent to Juana Briones Park, public transportation and close to businesses and services, including just blocks from Walgreens and less than a quarter mile from El Camino Real. It is also adjacent to Arastradero Park Apartments, a PAHC multi-family apartment community, where PAHC provides services to its residents, which could also serve the residents of this development. This site was always meant to serve as a transition site from the taller, larger apartments to the single-family neighborhood. PAHC respected this concept in its site plan.

PAHC acknowledges that the site is not perfect, but no site is. In fact, in their analysis, City of Palo Alto staff noted that obtaining and financing low income senior housing in Palo Alto and the greater Bay Area is arduous and extremely challenging. Sites are not readily available for PAHC or other affordable housing developers to choose from.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:04 am

"I'm fairly certain the core goal would be absolutely no new development, and yet the residents of Palo Alto aren't ready to accept the consequences of that decision either."

No new development would be the best thing that could possibly happen to our city with fantastic consequences. If the residents of Palo Alto stopped for a moment (despite their ultra busy life style) to contemplate how no new development might save their city from becoming the next Hong Kong or Abu Dabhi, I believe they would support it wholeheartedly.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

@PP

You wrote, "This site was always meant to serve as a transition site from the taller, larger apartments to the single-family neighborhood. "

Whoah, Nellie! That's quite a revisionist history you have there! The Tan Apartments are a historic exception that not only came with a huge controversy of its own, it helped usher in the residentialists who fought the overdevelopment of that time.

The "transition" as you put it IS the RM-15 to R-2 "low density" zoning! In fact, when the transition zone was originally put in place, it was RM-1, which was even lower density than RM-15! If PAHC wanted to respect that transition, they would build under the existing zoning, which was the envisioned transition. The main building they have proposed here, by contrast, is the equivalent of RM-60, higher than the highest density we even have in Palo Alto in a residential area, which is RM-40. The whole point of the ordinance was because PAHC had to violate RM-40.

You are forgetting that on the other side of the apartments and in a sea all around this island is R-1, single family residential, which is the dominant land use. Upzoning the transition zone like that seriously violates the comprehensive plan. This development puts the highest density project next to a residential R-1 area that has ever been done in Palo Alto.

The adjacency factors are not as rosy as you portray. There is no straight shot to Walgreens from the location on a sidewalk. Many of us have seen elderly people from the neighborhood and the existing Arastradero Apts walk right in the middle of the road to reach it by foot. As has been pointed out many times, Maybell is a substandard street with no room on either side for a full-width, straight, or continuous sidewalk or bike lane.

Give me a break about the choosing of that site, those excuses don't hold up. Larry Klein's law firm represented the seller. PAHC reps told the neighborhood it was the City who told them to go after that site. There have been many sites to go for sale along El Camino - the old Compadres property was vacant and for sale for years, and it is on a transit corridor. Besides, if they get the greenlight on this financing scheme, they can pretty much turn any large residential parcel into high density housing all over Palo Alto.

Lastly, the location next to the Arastradero Apts is another good point to discuss. The rule of thumb after decades of research, as well as HUD policy, is NOT to concentrate affordable housing in one place. The traditional argument for it is as you have stated, it is convenient for the operators and it saves operational costs. But research shows it's not so good for the residents. Affordable housing works best when it is spread out in a community. This development would create a concentration of low-income properties, the significant implications to affordable housing in Palo Alto of which were never even discussed.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

@PP,
If this is really about getting those units of senior apartments, then you should vote AGAINST Measure D, too,and I'll tell you why.

Because the same neighbors who showed up at City Hall in historic numbers, and who managed to qualify not one, but two referenda, the first in over 10 years in Palo Alto — one in just 10 days, for something as dry as removing a rezoning provision for the property from the general plan — those same neighbors have proceeded by the motto: Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst.

The neighbors are well aware that the deck in the referendum is stacked heavily against, them, especially given the nasty, false things they have been accused of from the start, and the highly biased and leading way the City Attorney structured the ballot question: Shall we rezone from X (no description of what it entails) to Y, for this GREAT thing you get with Y?! In other words, for Maybell, it was written to essentially say, Senior Housing, YES?!! The "impartial" analysis is even more biased and leading. The City did this with the High Street referendum, it's a miracle it was even as close as it was.

If the neighbors lose at the ballot, they will pursue every other avenue of recourse they have available to them, some of which are frankly more likely to be successful than the referendum, they just aren't the first thing you do in a situation like this. If you don't understand why neighbors will continue to fight, and how hard they will fight, take a look again at the reasons the neighbors have given and realize they are sincere and dead serious, especially about the safety issues at that location.

If PAHC loses this referendum, it will dust itself off and try again, only this time it will have learned two very important lessons:
1) Work with the neighbors rather than try to sneak something through just because the City tells you to do something, and
2) Look for properties on corridors where density is considered appropriate.

If PAHC loses the referendum, frankly, they won't be able to use a financing mechanism that allowed them to be more competitive in getting funds over considerably less wealthy communities, communities where they can provide far more housing for less money for people in far greater need. We have always been able to afford to putting in affordable housing without having to take money from less wealthy communities. This situation is about PAHC -- PAHC getting into the low-income developer game and the City saving money doing it. It's not about affordable housing, which could be built without inflicting this high-density and lack of parking, lack of safety review, etc., on the neighborhood. Because Eden Housing managed to build 801 Alma without having to resort to this financing scheme that involves selling off the zoning, by spending 3 or 4 times the amount per unit.

But if PAHC wins, the neighbors still have a lot of recourse at Maybell, and the conflict will continue for as long as it takes, this you can count on. That is an unsafe and unsuitable place for a high-density development, and those who live here know the problems in ways they probably will never be able to adequately convey to others, because they are just neighbors.

It took Mark Berman a month of coming out here and studying to traffic to finally pronounce: It may be a Safe Route to School, but it's not a safe route to school. Even though he was here during one of the best times of the year (lower traffic than height of rainy season in school year). If he and the rest of them really understood the situation here (and assuming they had ethics/consciences in there somewhere), they'd be working with the community to come up with ways to turn it into low-traffic parkland of one variety or other.

Most of all, if PAHC wins, it will embolden this already sickeningly insular City Council to think they can do whatever they want, especially when it comes to their developer friends (remember that more than half the Maybell development will be for-profit market-rate) regardless of what the residents of Palo Alto want.

If you want PAHC to provide more housing, help them move onto the next project, even in the same neighborhood such as at Buena Vista, where there efforts might actually be welcomed, lead to housing, and not just lead to further conflict. Because make no mistake, if Measure D wins, it will mean ratcheted up conflict.

City Council has no idea what is coming, they didn't think in a million years neighbors would referend. When putting Measure D to vote in an expensive special election, , Larry Klein is quoted as saying, "It's hard for me to understand why the neighborhood objects." (Because they decided on this thing with $7.3 million in loans to PAHC and a rigid financial setup before ever taking public input, they have never tried to understand!)

There are several efforts that I know of the neighbors will pursue if they lose, and probably ones I don't. Remember, 70 unpaid neighborhood grassroots volunteers collected 8,000 signatures between the 2 referenda, and this is a broad grassroots effort with a lot of smart and dedicated people. Palo Alto is beginning to wake up politically, too, and neighbors are awakening to broader, related issues they want to address as well.

And remember, the neighbors are not against putting a senior housing development there, if zoning rules and city policies are even mostly respected. If PAHC isn't going to build there, maybe the City will bring in a different low-income developer who has the resources to finance the development without having to resort to the abusive financing scheme they rolled out here. We've never had to finance affordable housing like that before in Palo Alto, and we shouldn't let City Hall use it as a lever to set aside residential zoning protections.


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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

PAHC has agreed to spend up to $200k on expedited improvements on Maybell for bike and pedestrian safety.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

@boscoli,
If you feel that way, then you should help neighbors defeat Measure D. They understand like no one else that this City Council is going to do incredible damage to this town by giving us a new general plan that envisions a hugely different, urban, denser Palo Alto in the future.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

@PP,
"PAHC has agreed to spend up to $200k on expedited improvements on Maybell for bike and pedestrian safety."

Isn't it the City spending the money? It's $200k of pure advertising for the consumption of people outside the neighborhood who don't know better.

Interestingly, the $200k still does not include studying the safety/impact of the high-density development on the thousands of children who use Arastradero and Maybell to go to the 4 schools in that neighborhood, nearly half by foot/bike, even though the development has no other way in and out than those streets.

Maybell already went through a major six-figure improvement process within the last few years. Neighbors spent 6 months working on the plans, pushing Cal Trans and the City to do more than they wanted to make Maybell as safe as it's going to get. When the City held their first meeting recently, they STILL came without a plan to assess the impact of this high-density development on pedestrians and cyclists — in fact said they couldn't — and they told neighbors who participated in the recent improvements that they had no personnel or records, so they wanted neighbors to start from scratch! One of the most effective neighborhood volunteers from the improvements walked out.

Maybell is seriously substandard, and there are limits to the infrastructure. There is an R-1 neighborhood between that development and El Camino, with unusually short front yards. The City does not have right of way to put a sidewalk there, and eminent domain — which they have threatened to use — will be hugely expensive, far more than $200k, and further damaging to our community.


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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

During the planning process with the City, an independent study was undertaken to determine the impact on local traffic from the project. The study recognized that this project would have an insignificant impact on neighborhood traffic – and this impact would be much less than what would occur with any other realistic development under the current R-2 and RM-15 zoning.

The study analyzed the addition of vehicles belonging to the senior residents (many of whom would not drive or own cars) and residents of the 12 single-family homes, concluding they would not have a significant impact on local traffic. The project will generate only about 9 new morning peak hour trips on Maybell, and all but two of those are expected to turn right onto Maybell, away from school traffic – hardly enough to cause additional gridlock on neighborhood streets.


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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Palo Alto Real Estate is one of the most valuable in the world. Developers are drooling over parcels imagining how money they can make if they cram lots of houses in it so they can go buy a 2 acre lot in los altos hills with a sprawling single-story home and a view unobstructed by high-rises. They do not give a damn about the quality of life of the residents of palo alto.

City hall is being influenced by this money and the developers talent in placing developers into key posts - read Mayor. Once the development is approved city hall does nothing to hold developers to their (dubious) promises of a "public benefit" to get the rezoning. As ordinary citizens it is almost impossible for us to know the tricks being played and keep track of what city hall and the developers are actually doing. For them, its easy, its their daily job. The only way to ensure our quality of life is to not allow any rezoning. Even with this there are risks as he ABAG law shows but that's another story

No rezoning.

I don't believe any promise of "Public Benefit" anymore. I used to, but not after the outrage at Alma Plaza


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Sorry, I need to clarify what I wrote:

Maybell already went through a major six-figure improvement process within the last few years. Neighbors spent 6 months working on the plans, pushing Cal Trans and the City to do more than they wanted to make Maybell as safe as it's going to get. When the City held their first meeting recently, they STILL came without a plan to assess the impact of this high-density development on pedestrians and cyclists — in fact said they couldn't — and they told neighbors who participated in the recent improvements that they had no personnel or records from that recent improvement available, so they wanted neighbors to start from scratch! One of the most effective neighborhood volunteers from the improvements walked out.

Here, you can read some about the long multi-year process of improving safety on Maybell that was only recently completed. Please note the problem of vehicles frequently crashing into stop signs continued after that report. Web Link

Here you can see that $138,000 was already spent in 2005/2006 by the state/feds to "Construct Pedestrian Pathway" on Maybell between El Camino Real and Coulomb. That pathetic little ribbon we HAVE now on Maybell IS the culmination of years of planning and over $200,000 already spent between the city and state and federal governments to try to improve Maybell.
Web Link

The money you mention is just a big slap in the face to the neighborhood, so the City Council could give themselves some cover for approving this high-density development without ever doing the heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute routes that their own City policy demands. If you make an attempt to understand where the neighbors are coming from, you will see why they will only fight this harder if Measure D succeeds in the high-density rezoning of their neighborhood.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

@PP,
The traffic engineer for the development admitted they never studied the safety impact of the high-density development to the bicyclists. The City is who specified what the traffic people studied, and they wanted this to go through. Therefore, they never studied the safety impact to the thousands of children who take those to school commute corridors to school every day, even though almost half go by bike or foot, and those are the only two routes in and out of the complex.

This is the same City that won't take responsibility to revisit the Arastradero restriping, and blames the traffic problems on Arastradero today on the change in the Gunn start times (which if you'll recall, were actually supposed to improve the traffic - now the City has made arguably false representations about what has happened in order to shift blame, as if all of our traffic problems could just be solved if Gunn would only send its students to school earlier again).

Your justifying all of this by saying the City traffic people proclaimed no impact for the project the City staff have all been directed to put through is not helping. There happens to be disagreement about that in the form of a CEQA lawsuit right now.

City Policy calls for "heightened scrutiny" of developments of school commute routes. That was NEVER DONE. The fact that it was never done, and the City has been involved in so much obfuscation and misinformation in pushing this thing through should make every Palo Altan reject this plan, and frankly, reject this City Council.

Please vote Against Measure D.


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Posted by PP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm

The City's traffic study carefully analyzed the potential impacts of this project and found most trips by these low-income, retired seniors will not be during peak traffic hours. Studies show that many of the seniors will not even own a car. Do the opponents of Measure D really expect us to believe that the City Council would unanimously approve a project that puts local school children at risk?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Midtown resident is exactly right. The residents do not have
a grasp of what is taking place in City Hall to aid developers
at the expense of residents. The collateral damage makes no difference.


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Posted by A neighbor voting against D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

@PP

Which studies have shown that seniors will not drive? What is your source?

Here are a few facts from the CDC web site:

Between 60 and 70 percent of people over the age of 70 identify themselves as drivers.The upward trend in the number of senior drivers reflects the upward trend in longevity and a longer active or working life. In 2009, there were 33 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States. Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent


There are nowhere near enough parking spots planned for this apartment complex. If a senior is so old and can't drive s/he will need medical care+ food as well as many other amenities that a rental apartment in such a location will not be able to provide.

This is just an apartment rental place not a continued care facility. This place will serve the younger seniors who have cars and will drive as much as any of us. 100+ residents will need a lot more parking than 42 spots.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

PP

You do an excellent job of repeating the inaccurate & misleading soundbites PAHC has put out on their flyer, to fool people. They/you keep saying Measure D is about supporting senior housing. This is factually incorrect - the measure is literally about changing the zoning to support a much larger development in a single family neighborhood than is allowed. It has nothing to do with senior housing in Palo Alto or on that site. The vast majority of opponents have said they would accept 41 units of senior housing at the current zoning. The banner of "affordable senior housing" does not mean anything should be accepted in order to build it. And it certainly does not mean that whatever PAHC wants to do should get automatic approval because its for a "good cause", regardless of the impact on the neighborhood, or whether they are actually the right non-profit to do the development.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

@PP,
The City's own manager admitted the City staff cherry-pick through the comprehensive plan and City policies for the things that will support what they want, they don't even bother to bring up the things that contradict what they want.

The fact is, prior to any public input, and prior to almost anyone on the City Council even knowing anything about the neighborhood, the City Council committed $7.3 million in loans to PAHC to purchase the property, and helped put in place a very complicated and rigid financing mechanism that essentially meant there was no room to make substantial compromise.

This financing mechanism, involving selling more than half the property as market-rate for-profit housing, all upzoned for the benefit of a for-profit developer in the middle of a residential neighborhood where such density hurts the neighborhood character and cohesion, not only is being rolled out at Maybell to be used again and again if it works there, but it will allow PAHC to be more competitive in winning funding against less-wealthy communities with far more need. We have never had to fund affordable housing this way in Palo Alto; it is a Trojan Horse by the City Council that will give developers a way of putting high-density houses in residential neighborhoods wherever they want.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

PP,

" Do the opponents of Measure D really expect us to believe that the City Council would unanimously approve a project that puts local school children at risk? "

The answer is a strong yes! The city council approved a traffic study that was told not to take pedestrians, (ie. school children), bicyclists (i.e. school children, and projected increases in children going to school using Maybell based on already approved developments, into account. You tell me how you can rationalize that.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm


@PP,
You wrote:
"PAHC acknowledges that the site is not perfect, but no site is. .... Sites are not readily available for PAHC or other affordable housing developers to choose from."

Oh? Please list for all of us all the sites of 1.1 acres (the size of the property where this affordable apartments will go at Maybell) or more that have been on the market in residential and all other areas of Palo Alto in the last 10 years. It's a long list, please take your time.

Please then list for us which ones of those PAHC tried to purchase. Of those, please list for us the ones they went to purchase with $7.3 million in loans from the City of Palo Alto, and over $8 million in loans from the County of Santa Clara.

What are the odds that last list is more than Zero properties?

PAHC was upset that the City gave the 801 Alma project to Eden Housing, as well they should have, because regardless of how anyone feels about the aesthetics of the building, Eden had the resources to develop the property by paying for it themselves. Imagine the nightmare if they had done the same thing there as they are doing at Maybell: selling off more than half for a for-profit developer who gets to put 3 or 4 times the density that existing zoning allows (think of a building 3 times higher there on half the property), and then shoehorning the affordable housing in at up to 8 times the existing zoning limit (now imagine THAT highrise on the rest of the 801 Alma property). The cost of the units at 801 Alma was 3 or 4 times what is being paid at Maybell, as a result of the financing scheme that gives the City and PAHC a discount while making the neighborhood pay for it essentially through so severely violating the zoning, and getting the in lieu fees out of the developer because of it, too.

This is not about "affordable housing", because we don't have to do it this way. This is about PAHC's professional ambitions and wanting to remain the main affordable housing organization in Palo Alto since Eden got 801 Alma.

Please do not let the City Council know that they can do anything they want to Palo Alto neighborhoods, so long as they wave around some public benefit they know some people will fall for based on ideology.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

@ PP,
Oh, I almost forgot. Of the properties PAHC tried to purchase in the last 10 years, and that they had over $15 million in loans from the City and County to help purchase, please first list the ones they tried to purchase with the express purpose of putting in senior housing.

Because that list doesn't even include Maybell. They did not have a plan for senior housing at Maybell until they realized it was politically easier to get what they wanted.

I will wait for your list. If you can't provide one, I suggest you rethink the spurious claim that City has to so seriously violate the residential zoning at Maybell because it has tried (hasn't) to secure a better location for density.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST Measure D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

@ Robert,
"Anyone can see, the response that suggest there are more "appropriate" places for development is completely disingenuous; the same group of people have and will give the same objection to any and all new developments. "

This is also a spurious argument by the City that has no legitimate reason to be upzoning neighborhoods like this when there have been many properties along El Camino and transit corridors to go for sale within the last decade.

There is a new senior center adjacent to this same neighborhood building a large, tall building on El Camino Way and El Camino about a third of a mile from the Maybell site. (That property was empty for YEARS, by the way.)

There was NO opposition move by the same neighbors to that plan.

Please argue the actual facts and stopping trotting out these tired and baseless accusations about good people who live in the neighborhood. If you fall for this, think of how you will feel when the City rolls out the same against your neighborhood, if it sees it can get away with upzoning the residential Maybell neighborhood using an affordable housing component as cover.


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Posted by No on D
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

So far I have not heard anything to change My No on D vote.

PP just keeps Parroting the Party line without adding any substance or logic which the No of D responds have done.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.


Here's my prioritized list of outcomes for that property.

1. Keep the orchard and revitalize it and keep the 4 homes. Implement programs that will awaken us all to the importance of agriculture, environmental awareness, and the mosaic of cultures that have made this area what it is.

2. PAHC's already approved project for housing for low income seniors, which meets a social need of the city overall, and 12 tastefully done private homes around the periphery which will give an R-1 feel despite having small back yards. These will not be homes for home gardeners. But they'll have ready access to Briones park.

3. Some lower density version of affordable housing that meets the current zoning requirements. Likely to create more traffic and school issues than #2, and also likely to be much less attractive. No R-1 look, likely to be a mix of single family, duplex, and condominium or apartment units.

4. Development by a commercial developer who could build to the maximum allowed by current zoning without the encumbrance of community in-put on on items like appearance and traffic flow. Just needs to meet code and get past the Architectural Review Board.

What are the probabilities of each?

1. Low to impossibly small. If you can't raise $3500 to pay for a legal challenge to the city attorney's impartial analysis of the ballot measure, how can you get $16M to buy the property and the additional millions needed to revitalize the orchard, repair the buildings and fund the programs.

2. Moderately good. City Council's 9-0 vote couldn't be clearer, nor could its decision to put up $600,000 to defend the project at the ballot box at the earliest date possible. Abundant good will in the community for affordable housing despite changing values and economic conditions.

But, as AGAINST has pointed out, "No on D" will do everything possible to stave off implementation of the project even if it prevails at the polls. I believe it.

3. Not likely. PAHC and the city have shown that it's not possible to finance the low income project even with the maximum number of units allowed under current zoning. Besides, who would push for such a project if not PAHC, who would be responsible for carrying it out?

4. Quite likely. If D fails, PAHC sells the land to a developer. If D passes, PAHC has the land but can't build on it until every legal, financial and political hurdle has been overcome. It may just not be worth it to chase an uncertain outcome, in which case PAHC sells the land to a developer.

So in my judgement, the choice is likely to come down to either #2, PAHC's project, or #4, a commercial developer's vision of what will maximize profit. I think #2 would be the better outcome.

That's why I'll vote "Yes on D" even though I'd like to keep the orchard.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

PP,

Thanks for injecting some new information into this discussion. And to others willing to wade into the turbulent waters of online discussion of PAHC's affordable housing for low income seniors at Maybell/Clemo.

We need your voices to break the myth of unified neighborhood opposition and challenge misinformation poured across the screen, much of it by a single anonymous poster using multiple identities from thread to thread, to block construction of 60 badly needed single bedroom apartments for low income seniors.


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Posted by Yes on No
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

"Measure D is about one thing and one thing only — if you agree or disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing for our senior residents"

This one statement from Greg was enough to convince me not to value anything he said later. What a devious misleading statement that is! It reminds me of those tacky ads on late night TV telling you "the hardest part is making that phone call. Just pick up that phone and call!"

Who in their right minds would disagree that Palo Alto needs more affordable housing? But is that the bone of contention here? Of course not! By spinning measure D as being about this one issue, Greg has proven that he will say anything at all to get measure D passed.


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Posted by AR
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2013 at 7:40 am

Where can I donate to NO on D?


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Posted by Please read
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

For information on Against Measure D or to donate to the cause please go to VoteAgainstD.com or the link:

Web Link


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Posted by Krutch
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

@No on D,
"PP just keeps Parroting the Party line without adding any substance or logic which the No of D responds have done."

The wonderful thing about facts is that they are true even if you don't believe them.
However, logic is simply the art of going wrong with confidence.
This is the difference between the Yes and No camps.


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Posted by SL
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

Having read the pros and cons over the past several months. I've come to the conclusion that voting for Measure D is the right thing to do. It may not be a perfect solution-most things seldom are. I have not entered into this verbal fray before, because of the mudslinging, but I guess I'm ready to endure it now.


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Posted by Steven - against Measure D
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Krutch,

I'm glad to see you agree with the "vote no on D" folks. As we've pointed out, just saying something is so, again and again, doesn't make it a true fact. Glad to see you agree with us, and recognize the untruths proposed as "facts" by the measure D supporters.


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm

@ SL,
If your reason for voting for Measure D come down to ignoring all the neighbors' concerns for getting those units, I just want you to know that neighbors will continue to fight for the things this is about: children's safety, the character of their neighborhood, and protecting neighborhood zoning in Palo Alto, and the referendum was only the first step in the battle against this rezoning. If Measure D passes, there will be ongoing legal battles, this I know for sure.

If you care about affordable housing, vote Against D and free the neighbors up to put the same energy into passing an initiative to restrict PC zoning in Palo Alto. The same neighbors will have the time to also help in the effort to keep the over 400 residents at the Buena Vista mobile home park - near Maybell, in the same neighborhood - from being evicted by the City, whose promise to upzone that property for a high-density market-rate development makes the property worth so much.

If you care about affordable housing, vote Against Measure D, so that development won't be financed in a way that takes illegitimately (through City staff shamelessly and shamefully submitting false information) from less-wealthy communities who could build more housing for needier residents.

If you value affordable housing, vote AGAINST D and free PAHC to move on to work on affordable housing after November, with some valuable lessons, rather than spending more money battling over what is arguably a bad site. If D passes, there are still a number of ways the neighbors can stop the development at Maybell and they WILL pursue them, I know of more than one different effort. Neighbors talked about the referendum even as they went to City Hall in historic numbers, and they were preparing even then for what came after if they lost. They have no illusions about what they are up against, but they know better than anyone the safety issues in this neighborhood, and care about the neighborhood character, and will continue to fight. City Hall, having dismissed neighborhoods concerns offhand because of the millions they loaned to purchase the property and setting up the rigid and complicated financing mechanism before taking any public input, does not seem to realize the commitment with which neighbors will pursue this.

These are neighbors who otherwise support affordable housing, including in the same neighborhood, just at better locations for density. (And support the affordable housing in that location, just under the existing zoning and with proper safety study.)


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Posted by Vote AGAINST D
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

@Jeff from Duveneck/St. Francis,

As someone who lives in the Maybell neighborhood, thank you so much for voting Against D! Please talk to your friends, as this is the only way the neighbors can hope to win.

I just saw this, though. Your wrote:
"I have a simple distrust about why a zoning change to create 12 + 60 homes will create a more peaceful residential area than the allowed 48 homes."

I just wanted to clarify something. The zoning change is from RM-15 and R-2 to PC zoning which allows about 3 times the allowed density on the market-rate portion (which is about 55% of the property) and up to 8 times the allowed density on the rest. The main building will be the equivalent of RM-60, a zoning designation so dense it doesn't even exist in Palo Alto code, and exceeds RM-45, which is inappropriate for residential neighborhoods per the City's own general plan.

If someone were to build senior affordable housing under the existing zoning, it appears they could build 41 units. That's because there is a density bonus when people build affordable housing, but also because neighbors DO support affordable housing and wouldn't quibble over the fact that this assumed building the maximum under the range specified for RM-15 in the zoning code, which isn't actual consistent with the comprehensive plan.

A market-rate development under the existing zoning would not and could not put in 46 units. That's just a scare tactic used by the Mayor and City council, which has only increased the distrust of residents. Here's why that many houses would never be built there under a market rate scenario:

1) If someone were to put a market-rate development there, they would have to subdivide. And in order to subdivide, they would have to comply with the Subdivision Map Act, which means even charter cities have to comply with the comprehensive plan. Our comprehensive plan says that RM-15 is 8-15 units per acre, and should be on the lower end of that range next to R-1 residential neighborhoods, which this property is, which means 8 units per acre. And other restrictions. If it were a market-rate development, neighbors would be pursuing this in court to enforce the SMA, as they will be if they have to fight this rezoning. If the property had to comply with the comprehensive plan, that means 16-20 homes.

The most recent major development in the neighborhood, the Glenbrook extension in Greenacres I, has larger lots, probably because of all the involvement of the neighbors who also had to rebuff the City from making a road from El Camino right through their neighborhood to Arastradero. There are some homes back there that are larger than 9,000 sq ft. (I mean the HOMES.)

2) According to a statement by former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner Joe Hirsch Monday night, if someone were to try to build 46 homes on that property, and applying existing restrictions of the existing zoning (and not even applying the restrictions of the exact geometry, but assuming it could be optimized), you would end up with 4 normal homes plus 42 homes of 600 square feet each with one bedroom at most. No intelligent private developer is going to build that when they can get $2.5 - over $3million for large new homes on decent-sized lots and optimize their profits.

3) If this rezoning does not go through, and no one wants to build an affordable complex under existing zoning, the City has the right to assume title to the property and does not have to let it be sold. This is because of the $7.3million in loans to PAHC, and City fingerprints all over the loan. This also means residents have the power to get that property turned into parkland - hopefully, a heritage orchard for which they could get grant money. There are 100 established fruit trees and a dozen giant 100-year-old oaks on the property. It faces the hills. It's the last piece of our agricultural past here in Palo Alto; that area used to be all apricot orchards in living memory. All the communities around us have preserved at least some part of heritage orchard. If the properties of the 4 existing ranch houses were expanded and auctioned, they could bring in $2.5-3million each (depending on how large and assuming an orchard goes in behind them), leaving a doable amount for the neighbors to raise. There are neighbors who will put forward an initiative for an orchard if it comes to it, which the City has the power to make happen (or to be made to make happen, as the case may be).

4) The City also has the power, by the way, to simply take over the property and place restrictions on it for safety before reselling it -- if they think 46 homes could be built there, and such a bad outcome, they have a responsibility first to safety and would have a duty to prevent that outcome, which would be well within their power. Under this scenario, all residents of Palo Alto should demand they do their duty, if only to avoid the liability they would incur given all the disclosure about safety at that location.

5) Take a look at the property using Google satellite. 567-595 Maybell are the existing 4 ranch houses. the orchard to the right. Does it look to you like you could put 45 homes there? Looks to me like 16-18, which is what Bob Moss has said, too.

You could point out to anyone tempted to fall for the City's scare tactic, that it makes no sense to ignore the neighbors' efforts to protect the children, to protect their neighborhood cohesion and character, to protect their neighborhood from being upzoned more in the future should this development bisect it through the heart with a line of high-density, and then vote against them with a claim that it is to protect them. It's a real sham to claim that a high-density development more dense than any residential building in Palo Alto (the main building) would have less of an impact than building under the existing "low density" zoning. These people who qualified a referendum for in 10 days of signature gathering for something as boring as removing a rezoning from the comprehensive plan -- they know the scare scenario isn't real, and that they can prevent it if it somehow remotely threatens to be.

Thanks so much for the support of your fellow residents over here, and your vote Against D.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Vote Against D

Your campaign arguments and general opinions are clearly important to this debate. Yet I don't see a lot of this in the public campaign, outside the Town Square. This is frustrating because I believe if people outside Town Square saw more of the reasoning behind the Maybell Action Group--Palo Altans for Responsible Zoning--No on D position you would lose rather than gain support.

Is there any way you could submit a Letter to the Editor, or even better an Op-Ed piece to any or all of the local print options: the Weekly, the Daily Post, and the Daily Review? Maybe this would be a good opportunity to step from behind the screen and openly engage in a truly public discussion.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

Start a "Palo Altans against D" on Facebook. This may get the word out.


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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

If you are Against Measure D, please like our Facebook page at
Web Link

We are being way outspent by a corporation. If you can, please donate time or money at Web Link

Any amount is appreciated


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