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Council to rule on divisive senior-housing plan

Original post made on Jun 7, 2013

After two emotional public meetings, Palo Alto officials are preparing to make a major ruling tonight on a development that has stirred anxieties and stoked anger around south Palo Alto -- a project that includes 60 senior-housing units and 15 single-family homes near the intersection of Maybell and Clemo avenues.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 10, 2013, 9:20 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by PAmom33, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

As a newcomer to Palo Alto, I know little personally about this issue. However, from reading the comments of other PA residents on similar threads, I get the sense that 1) for some reason, PA must include a certain # of affordable housing units, 2) the easiest way to do this is to add senior housing (less impact on parking and schools than family housing), and 3) there is need for affordable family housing but not senior housing in PA as the current affordable senior housing remains unfilled. Is this a correct interpretation?


Posted by John, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm

>About 20 percent of seniors are living around the poverty level or slightly above it.

That is a meaningless statement, unless it defines who these seniors are. How long have they lived in Palo Alto? Where did they graduate from high school? What is their property ownership history? If long-time renters, then where, and what job did they work at? Or did they just game the system, and get on a list (like the BMR crowd does)?

Why should Palo Alto need to accept the burden of seniors from outside of Palo Alto?


Posted by Stan, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Yes, you have it right. Affordable senior housing is badly needed in Palo Alto. We all know there are a lot more than 60 or 100 seniors in town in need of this housing yet opponants are splitting hairs over how many are in need. Do they really think the apartments won't have elders aplenty that match the very low income requirements?

There are so many wrong assumptions and fears about this project - it is as if elders have become a pariah in Barron Park. Some people even say that more seniors are not welcome in the neighborhood cause their bad driving will injure children. I kid you not.

Finally opponents say they are not nimbeys, stating its a good project, just not right for their neighborhood - not realizing this is the definition of nimby: Not In My Back Yard.

It is a fine project and will be a good neighbor.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Stan, that is not correct. We don't know that there are "lot more than 60 or 100 seniors in town in need of this housing". The statement Mr Tim Wong gave to the Planning and Transportation Commission is based on a Kaiser study called "A State-by-State Snapshot of Poverty Among Seniors: Findings From Analysis of the Supplemental Poverty Measure". You can read about it here: Web Link The study basically talks about the 20% level as a aggregate over all of California, not Palo Alto.

The proposal building new low income senior housing in this area of Barron Park does not make any sense. The location is far from the amenities seniors need. There are already existing options for seniors that are not being utilized. If the city were truly interested in helping Palo Alto seniors, they would have taken part of the $5.8 million the city loaned PAHC and used to pay the "buy-in" at the Moldaw Residences in the JCC. The city then would be in position to help exactly the seniors they say need assistance in Palo Alto at an excellent existing local facility.

Instead, the PAHC insists on running their own show. They can't make the financials work for general low income housing at the site, so PAHC proposes selling off a chunk of the land for 15 single family homes. The combined project is far above anything permitted by current law, so the city and PAHC simply fabricated a "public benefit" to sell the project.

If the city's main motivation for the Maybell project is to address the problem identified by the Kaiser Foundation, then they're doing it all wrong. Why would anyone build new low income senior housing in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country? Food, medical care and transportation costs much more here than in almost any other place in the Bay Area. There's already an excess of supply and seniors are not filling the available slots.

The truth is that the Maybell project isn't about helping seniors as much as it is about helping developers. Building a large concentration of new low income housing by the PAHC takes the pressure off commercial developers to provide their own low income housing. Furthermore, the site is near another PAHC low income property and the large Tan apartment building. The back corner is not a great site for a commercial developer, but the 15 housing lots certainly are.

As Buena Vista shows, there's certainly a need in Palo Alto for affordable and low income housing. I'm sure the PAHC would love to build non-senior low income housing on the site. But, for a lot of reasons, that can't happen on Maybell. So, PAHC made a "square peg in a round hole" proposal. The only way they can make it work is through this crazy, convoluted imaginary "senior housing" demand and another all too clever scheme to award developers the rights to stuff more large houses onto tiny lots for private sale.

I think the real shame is the city is not listening to the neighborhood residents who know that this is simply the wrong type of project for this site.


Posted by pares, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

@Stan -- there is a serious problem with how the city is trying to ignore zoning codes and change them to suit their purposes. It's not "nimby" for neighbors to want the city to adhere to current city zoning codes. If the city abides by the current zoning regulations, then there is no opposition. The zoning codes are there for a reason.

City leaders seem to want to have more high density projects, especially in south Palo Alto. Building straight up from the sidewalk is ugly and does not fit in with R-1 housing nearby. There are serious issues with traffic on Maybell due to the width of Maybell and its designation as a bicycle way. This is not "nimby" -- this is the city trying to change the zoning codes willy-nilly.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2013 at 11:06 am

I am not a NIMBY since I don't live in the area and although my kids ride bikes to school they do not use this route.

I can't speak for the "need" for low income or senior housing. However, I can speak as a parent of kids who ride bikes to school and what I have seen of the youtube video and knowing the street as having had my kids visit friends on Maybell, this is not a good place to increase density. Density will increase traffic in a street which is not suitable. It is impossible to put in sidewalks without narrowing the street or eminent domain as property lines presently end at the street.

I seriously doubt that this development will not affect traffic. I seriously doubt that this development will be seniors only as I can see that they will "import" grandchildren to attend our schools.

I may be a whiner about this, but I am also a realist.


Posted by No more room, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

The problem with this development is neither low-end or high-end, it is streets that are too narrow to be widened to accommodate the extra traffic that will be added to small area. Even if the seniors do not drive, cars and buses come to pick them up! Not all of the housing in this plan is senior housing, either.


Posted by Soroor, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

My problem with this development is how it changes the neighborhood as a result of building those 15 houses. 12 of these houses will be skinny 3 story houses. Where there are now 3 houses on Maybell we will have 9 tall skinny ones with very little space in between. This is very much unlike the rest of the housing in the neighborhood. The folks who live nearby will be paying the price of the city's obligations to the county or state. But why is that fair?

If this obligation is at all serious then every resident of Palo Alto must pick up a part of the cost for this. Here is how it can be done; PAHC claims that they need to build the 15 market rate houses due to financial need for building the senior housing. If the city of Palo Alto hands PAHC a few million dollars for this project then PAHC can do with say 6 of the market rate houses they demand to build instead of the 15.
I honestly don't think the proposed location is a good one for seniors that we are told don't have cars. There is no grocery store or much that is very useful nearby. But I welcome the senior housing, I just don't think that PAHC's proposal for 15 tall houses packed like a sardine can is a good idea.


Posted by parent , a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jun 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Lots of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread by the opponents. Yes, there is existing vehicle congestion on Maybell from 8:00 to 8:20. But that's being caused by increased enrollment and all the people driving kids to Briones, Terman and Gunn which all start within 15 minutes of each other! That's an existing condition caused by the PAUSD, not a problem caused by this project.

What about the fear of traffic impacts? Guess what, people, there's good local trip generation data on low income, extremely small (600 sq ft) units for seniors. Only 10 trips would be added in the peak a.m. hour by the proposed project on Maybell -- and only TWO vehicles would be in the peak direction (turning left from the shared driveway, away from El Camino and toward the schools). The project would also remove the 4 driveways on Maybell as well as create a continuous sidewalk on the south side. These are real safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Looks like the opponents also didn't hear the planning commissioners patiently explaining to them that the alternative many were advocating, "develop the parcel with existing zoning" would mean at 34 market rate single family homes with much higher traffic impacts and no need for discretionary zoning approval.

Instead of listening to NIMBYs sharing their opinions without benefit of facts, readers (and reporters) might want to check out the first 10 pages of this document plus the minutes from the PTC meeting here: Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2013 at 9:31 am

Parent

I am interested as to why you say the alternative is worse.

I don't see any reason why this privately owned land needs zillions of homes.

If zillions of homes are needed, then transfer some abandoned office space in one of the uglier parts of town which in fact would improve that area of the city. There are areas on Bayshore, which could definitely do with some improvement as well as on Charleston opposite OSH to name but two. Established residential neighborhoods are not the place to impose high density modern tract buildings.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm

parent: If you believe what you read in staff reports and traffic studies, I have a bridge to sell you.

From the document you reference, 567 Maybell Council PC Rezone , at Web Link
"However, traffic data demonstrates that the amount of traffic generated from this development will be negligible and will not impact Maybell Avenue."

Let's look back at some other claims staff has made about traffic:

1. Arastradero Road Diet

PA Weekly 7/27/12 Commission approves Arastradero traffic plan: Ö traffic volume rose in three areas within the Barron Park neighborhood: Maybell Avenue and Maybell Court; Maybell Avenue and Pena Court; and Matadero Avenue at Josina Court. The traffic count at Maybell and Pena rose significantly from 2,700 vehicles to 3,348 daily since the trial changes, according to the study." Web Link

That's a 24% increase, not 5% as Mr. Rodriguez claimed. Yet the denial continued:

Palo Alto Weekly, 10/1/12: "According to the city's Transportation Division, there has not been a significant change in traffic volumes as a result of the change. Nor was there the significant diversion of traffic onto adjacent streets, as some opponents of the new configuration had feared." Web Link

2. CA Ave. traffic study

Conclusion of CA Ave traffic study done in 2010: "The roadway segment LOS analyses also show no significant impact from the proposed lane reduction along California Avenue." www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=25743

Of course that was because the staff didn't think it necessary to include developments that it knew were coming up in the area, e.g., the enormous Hohbach project, the Jay Paul projects, Stanford Maybell Housing, the potential for a police building on Park Boulevard or the fact that CA Ave. was to become a PDA (Priority Development Area).

Staff claims none of those projects were "foreseeable" according to CEQA law. But a land use attorney I consulted has a different view and thinks "foreseeable" includes projects that are not yet applied for but which knowledgeable people believe will be built.

I guess you just have to decide which people are knowledgeable and which ones you trust.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the video of Maybell traffic must be worth a million: Web Link


Posted by Trainspotting, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

After reading about this issue for the past several weeks, I decided to drive down Maybell Avenue today to see for myself (from El Camino). The road is narrow with lots of cars parked on the side of the road. I can only imagine the congestion during school hours along with pedestrian and bicyclist traffic as there's not much room for buffering on either side.

There are two main themes that have been evident for quite some time: 1) city council ignoring the residents' development feedback and input ; and 2) city council's egregious will to rezone in favor of developers (over and over).

I like Resident's suggestion to rezone the commercial area on Charleston Ave opposite of OSH. It will enable the development of a new neighborhood that is "badly needed" in Palo Alto. Having said that, I can't think of any rezoning of commercial areas to residential north of Oregon?


Posted by wondering, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm

What would be wrong with simply adding 34 market-rate single family homes to this parcel, especially if the city has no strong need for additional low-income senior housing?


Posted by Me too, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Bill said
"Why would anyone build new low income senior housing in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country? Food, medical care and transportation costs much more here than in almost any other place in the Bay Area."
Right. I made the same commonsense statement to the city council when PAHC was planning the awful building now on the corner of Alma and High. Council member Judy Kleinberg responded, said I was elitist. Council people don't usually insult citizens but Ms K. didn't like people getting in the way of her housing developer friends.


Posted by Long-time resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I want to correct a serious misrepresentation by those trying to push through this development at Maybell.

The neighbors in Greenacres and Barron Park opposed to the rezoning of Maybell are NOT opposed to senior housing. We're not opposed to low-income housing. We're not even opposed to having a low-income senior housing development in that spot, in our neighborhood.

What we are opposed to, and have always been opposed to, is the size and scale of the project, and the fact that PAHC has threatened to make it all-or-nothing unless they can rezone part of the property on Maybell and Clemo, residential streets with 4 perfectly good ranch houses there now, and sell the rezoned property to a for-profit developer for his benefit to put 15 tall, skinny 3-story houses with almost no setback, and completely out of scale with the residential neighborhood, on Maybell, a pastoral neighborhood by Juana Briones Park with mostly ranch homes.

The neighborhood has been asking all along for the following important compromises:
1) Build the houses on Maybell/Clemo within existing zoning. This is a residential neighborhood, and those tall 3-story houses are completely out of character with a pastoral neighborhood of mostly ranch homes. The market-rate developer would be taking advantage of the rezoning for the benefit of his own profit, that's not a good reason to rezone.

2) Build the senior development within the existing zoning. The existing zoning would allow 40 units with a density bonus. If the other 20 spaces are needed, as of last month, there were 20 senior BMR units at Moldaw that had gone unfilled for 3 years. With the publicity from this rezoning controversy, PAHC seems to have filled 8 of those, and the City is finally renegotiating the terms to make the rest attainable for PAHC's actual clientele. Such a compromise would make the scale of the Maybell senior project more appropriate for the neighborhood, and provide just as many low-income senior units as was originally proposed.

3) Regardless, the City must conduct a good quality traffic study before rezoning. Their own consultant admitted their study did not include the impact on the bicycles and pedestrians, nor traffic from the last 2 years or future developments in the pipeline. The proposed development can ONLY outlet onto two safe routes to school, Arastradero and Maybell, traveled by over a thousand children on foot and bike every school day. Because of the schools, peak travel times happen throughout the day, not just rush hour. Updated data show their projected number of trips per day are far too low. (See the professional review of the traffic study, linked to on www.paloaltoville.com ) In addition, Arastradero is an important east-west corridor, and the new Vmware campus will double the business traffic. The City's study didn't include traffic patterns of the last two years, the bicyclists and pedestrians, or any future developments already planned.

The neighborhood would actually prefer for PAHC to build a senior complex within existing zoning to a market-rate development.* PAHC planners are threatening if they don't get their way in rezoning to put this completely out-of-scale proposal in this residential neighborhood, they won't build the project at all, as a way of getting housing proponents on their side against the neighborhoods.

This claim is completely untrue. The financing scheme, where they sell off a portion of the land to a market-rate developer and promise to rezone it so the developer can maximize his profits — it's not essential to the low-income development. There are other developers who would be able to renovate those 4 existing ranch houses and put a house or two on Clemo, and make them almost as much money. What the existing proposal does is make the low-income development cheaper per unit, which is great, except that in doing so, they are making the neighborhood pay for it, rather than the City accepting the actual cost.

If the City wants affordable housing, the City should be willing to pay the cost of it, not ask a residential neighborhood to bear the cost. The City paid the full cost of the units at the new development on Alma near University, they should do so at Maybell, too. At the new Alma development downtown they could have, too, peeled off 20% of the land and allowed a developer to put up a for-profit high-rise of 15- to 18-stories high (whatever 3 times the scale of the neighborhood is) for the market-rate developer's benefit, in order to finance the rest of the project. Anyone could see that would be ridiculous. Yet if they rezone Maybell to allow this, they would be allowing the equivalent of that in the middle of our residential neighborhood.

The neighbors would actually support PAHC to ask the City to pay the cost of the complex rather than putting the cost onto the neighborhood, but so far attempts by people in the neighborhood to offer compromises have been rejected because of the above financing scheme.

Please reject the financing scheme and the rezoning. It's bad for the neighborhood, and a bad precedent for Palo Alto. PAHC owns that property, if they don't get the rezoning, it's not the end for putting a senior complex there. They can work with the City and come back with a proposal that fits the neighborhood, where they've done a proper traffic study, and they won't see any of this opposition from the neighborhood (opposition that will continue if they rezone).

I'm personally for a low-traffic use of that site, to convert it to a community orchard with the Julia Morgan building relocated there from 27 University (John Arrillaga will move it there at his expense). Senior housing would be better as part of the 27 University public benefit, because that location is so walkable and adjacent to everything seniors need. But my next favorite option is to have a senior development at Maybell, within the existing zoning, and would support it. Most of my neighbors feel the same way. I very much doubt the above posters are from Greenacres -- more likely proponents trying to characterize the neighborhood negatively to get their way.
----


*The City's claims about what a market developer would build there are exaggerated — using setbacks within the existing zoning, it would mean homes of less than 1400 sq ft (confirmed by Tim Wong), which no developer would do at that location because larger homes are far more desirable with higher resale per sq ft.


Posted by Longtme resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

See www.paloaltoville.com for a professional review of the traffic study done by the planners, which they admit didn't include the bikes and pedestrians, and mostly included old data.

Peak times for school children happen throughout the day because of the schools, not just for a few minutes in the morning and evening. The City's study didn't look at the bike and pedestrian traffic anyway.

Do you really think 15 market rate homes with probably 30 adults, possibly teenagers, and 60 apartments with up to 120 people, is only going to add 10 trips? There will be more than that from just the 15 for-profit market-rate homes as people go to work. The professional traffic engineer who reviewed the project says the low estimate is based on old data anyway, and assumptions of a much narrower time for peak than actually happens.

Maybe at Stevenson House, where there is a grocery store across the street, and a community center with classes and a library just steps away from that, it's reasonable. There are no such amenities nearby the Maybell property, people will be driving, including the people in those 15 market rate homes. If even half of them have teenagers going to Gunn, and they all just leave and come back once a day without running errands or doing anything else, that's 46 trips just from the people in the proposed market rate homes, at peak times.

It doesn't matter whether any of this is the development's fault, they are required to look at the environmental conditions. (By the way, check the school enrollment numbers - in the last few years, Juana Briones and I think Gunn have seen a temporary dip, probably because of the recession. It's not true schools are the reason for the increase. Even if it were, it doesn't reduce the responsibility of heightened review of school transit corridors for any changes affecting them. One of the above posters may not like it, but seniors do statistically have a far higher rate of collision with bikes and pedestrians, and if proponents going to use the number of trips to try to say there is no problem, they should have to look at risk per trip, too. Places where driveways and roads cross other roads are, according to the Stanford study, where the majority of fatalities in Palo Alto happen in bike/car collisions, and those same places are also the most likely places for seniors to have fatal collisions. The dismissiveness of safety concerns when thousands of children are using those routes in that location to go to school is really ugly and uncalled for.


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:12 am

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate posting:

It's a shame that the first complaints in a case like this always stink of NIMBY. I would like to thank those who spoke up for this project. I wonder if the naysayers would like to see neighborhoods with no diversity (as in, no senior population), and have a reservation where they'd like to see the seniors lodged, far away from the the rest of the population. Better get rid of the teenage drivers, too - they're pretty irresponsible. I think more people should practice compassion. The PA Housing Corp. has done a lot for people who would not otherwise be able to live in Palo Alto. It's become a city for rich people - not at all what it was like when I grew up there in the 50's and 60's. It was diverse, and people cared about each other. Try it.

posted by stretch Jun 10, 2013 at 10:29 am


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

For those wanting to contact the City Council--urging a "NO" Vote:

city_council@cityofpaloalto.org


Posted by seriously, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Stretch,
NIMBY does not work here so you better check your facts as to what that really means. There are low income housing projects that are embraced all around this neighborhood and in fact there is a fight to keep the trailer park which houses more low income housing than this new PC. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

There are a lot of issues here that the paper did not cover like 15 three story homes, with no setbacks that a developer stands to profit from on Maybell that are packaged with this plan. This should not happen in any neighborhood. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

It is a shame that this town doesn't understand the basic laws of physics. Streets, especially tiny winding ones, can only carry so many cars. School traffic already has the street at a standstill. More cars simply can't be added. It has nothing to do with any other consideration.


Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 10, 2013 at 11:32 am

Wayne Martin, here is my letter I just sent:
Dear City Council,

Please vote no on rezoning this parcel. The tiny, winding street of Maybell is already overloaded at commute and school times. I am speaking to you on this as the parent of a Gunn graduate who drove a carpool to school. It is at a standstill. By the laws of physics, you simply cannot add any more cars. Period. There is no room for them.

I am in favor of low income senior housing in Palo Alto, just not at this already imperiled and dangerous road. Why not choose one of the many abandoned and derelict areas to develop?

Thank you,

Let's get some more letters sent!!!


Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Do you understand that this neighborhood IS ALREADY A MAJORITY SENIORS? Do you understand that people in this neighborhood tend to stay in their homes until they die, and that their homes become their affordable housing because they may live on a fixed, low income with a low/no mortgage and low property taxes, and they would never qualify for such housing if they sold their home? No one in the neighborhood will be able to live there, it will only be there for people who come from other parts of the City or elsewhere. This is a City benefit; the City should be willing to pay the cost and not foist the cost on the neighborhood via that financing scheme involving the 15 for-profit tall, skinny houses being rezoned for the sake of the developer. Don't rezone, put in the housing under the existing zoning (be willing to pay the actual cost here as they did downtown), and the opposition goes away.

It's really a shame when a good organization like PAHC has to stoop to making ugly, boilerplate accusations against neighbors rather than answer to the specifics of any given project.

You're speaking like just another person who doesn't know the neighborhood, trying to put something there instead of in your own backyard. We have several low-income developments right in this small neighborhood already. We have welcomed PAHC to build within the existing zoning. NIMBY is just an ugly way people have gotten used to getting their way no matter the merits of a project, and the neighbors here do not deserve to be treated that way.

The neighbors would actually support PAHC to ask the City to pay the cost of the complex rather than putting the cost onto the neighborhood, but so far attempts by people in the neighborhood to offer compromises have been rejected because of the financing setup. PAHC planners have been threatening if they don't get their way in rezoning to put this completely out-of-scale proposal in this residential neighborhood, they won't build the project at all, as a way of getting housing proponents on their side against the neighborhood's. If that really is the choice, all or nothing, with no chance of compromising because of circumstances, safety, or neighbors' concerns, PAHC had no business proposing this in the first place.

Please reject that and the rezoning. It's bad for the neighborhood, and a bad precedent for Palo Alto. If the City rejects the rezoning, it's not the end of the world, and it's not even the end of putting a senior complex there. There are other developers who would jump at the chance of renovating those 4 ranch houses and putting up 2 more like them on Clemo — in case you haven't looked lately, renovated houses over 2,000 sq ft in this neighborhood are $2.5+ million houses. Maybe it's not as much as giving a developer carte blanche to do whatever they want, but it makes back the cost of the property, and I promise you, if PAHC came back with a proposal for low-income senior housing within the zoning, worked with neighbors on their concerns over parking etc., did a good quality traffic study identifying problems and how to solve them, City Hall will see a much different, more positive side from this neighborhood. (The boilerplate NIMBYism attack, though, has seriously damaged trust of PAHC and the City, and they would have to work at repairing trust.)

I'm personally for a low-traffic use of that site, as I wrote earlier, to convert it to a community orchard with the Julia Morgan building relocated there from 27 University (John Arrillaga is willing to do that at his expense). The neighborhood has had a poll, and community orchard is far and above the preferred use of that location. Senior housing would be better as part of the 27 University public benefit, because that location is so walkable and adjacent to everything seniors need, including medical and Avenidas. If some low-income senior housing were included on that project, it would also result in more support from the community and some relaxation of the rules on THAT location, where density is far more appropriate than in a residential neighborhood.


Posted by Richard C. Placone, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I just mailed this letter to our city council re the Maybell project.

Council members:

I'm beginning to wonder what kind of city government we have. Consider this if you will:

The council "loaned" the PAHC, a private developer, $5,000,000 to purchase a site on Maybell Avenue, before making the project known to the community, before allowing the proposed project to be vetted by local residents, before undertaking a complete traffic-bike-pedestrian study on this roadway that serves four schools, to determine if the project as proposed is even feasible, then included the project in its quota list for ABAG, and finally ignored the huge and continuing protest from the residents in the neighborhood, with the so called planning commission approving the project as is.

Continuing: When residents took the position, and rightly so IMHO, that including the project in the ABAG quota list is paramount to approving the project, council responded saying that this does not mean it will approve the project or that it has to approve the project. So the council has chosen to lie in its response to ABAG? I will be surprised if someone doesn't notify ABAG of this bit of chicanery.

Further: I daresay there is not a single person on the current council who would allow this project, with its lack of normal setbacks, inadequate parking, three story "chimney" houses and potential for adding even more traffic to a roadway that is already dangerously overcrowded, TO EXIST WHERE THEY NOW LIVE. Shades of Marie Antoinette!

Finally: The current residents of the Maybell community are not being obstreperous
in their opposition to the project - they have offered positive and workable solutions to providing good senior housing on the site as well as some market rate housing. These have been totally ignored, judging from the council's response.

Given this situation, I have to wonder what level of foresight exists on the council. Does anyone look beyond their own selfish prejudices to consider the desires and needs of the residents who elected them in the first place? The evidence suggests not. The one fact that the council loaned a private developer $5,000,000 for a project that had not been accepted by the community, and now is faced with unprecedented opposition to the project, and thus finds itself in the embarrassing position of having made what may be a very bad loan, illustrates the lack of foresight on this council.

Believe it or not, I HATE to write letters like this, but the city's recent actions (27 University Avenue, California Avenue, for example) leave me no choice but to call foul to a council that seems to have lost its way. You were elected to serve the people, not the other way around. Start doing your job. I've lived in this town since 1962, and have made heavy investments in my own home property and in the past have worked hard to bring benefits to this town. The current situation is the worst it has ever been, again IMHO!

Sincerely,

Richard C. Placone


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