Town Square

Post a New Topic

Maybell project opponents race against deadlines

Original post made on Jul 10, 2013

Opponents of a recently approved development on Maybell Avenue are heading into crunch time in their drive to overturn a City Council decision to allow construction of 60 units of housing for low-income seniors and 12 homes on a former orchard site.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:51 AM

Comments (52)

Posted by mutti, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:43 am

Palo Alto needs more affordable housing. The NIMBY attitude so prevalent in this town has got to stop. I received a call about this project from a Poll Taker last week, who wouldn't tell me which side was sponsoring the call, but it was a long, involved survey -- not just a few questions on Survey Monkey. I told the pollster in no uncertain terms that this project should go through and be supported. Traffic and safety for students are just smokescreens for people who want Palo Alto to remain 'rural.' My house was built on a dirt road near Mitchell Park in 1947 -- when Middlefield literally ran down the middle of the fields between Alma and Bayshore (the 2 lane street, not the freeway.) Since the tract house builders came to Palo Alto in the 1950's the rural, small-town nature of the city has been long-gone.

Don't waste city time and money on an election that should fail.


Posted by Wilson, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

Good luck to the people collecting signatures.

This whole project reflects a very unhealthy relationship between the so-called Palo Alto Housing Corporation--which is increasingly looking like a front for some property developers.


Posted by Ray Bacchetti, a resident of University South
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

We know we're a built-up city, so balancing having an inclusive community and conserving cherished neighborhood qualities will require compromise. The Maybell project seems to me a good example of what can be done. City staff and the Palo Alto Housing Corporations planned well, listened to neighbors and made compromises, did the very difficult work of putting together funding for the project, and by using the project for low-income seniors created a much lower impact than would the 40-or-so single-family homes that are the alternative for that property.

Palo Alto needs to work with extra diligence to create low-income housing if we are to be an inclusive community. The Maybell project makes progress toward that goal in ways that are physically attractive, socially practical, and economically feasible. It's a project we can all be proud of, including the good people who live nearby and will have the opportunity to welcome low-income seniors to their neighborhood.


Posted by Wilson, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

This whole project reflects a very unhealthy relationship between the so-called Palo Alto Housing Corporation--which is increasingly looking like a front for some property developers--and the city of Palo Alto.


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

This article is nothing but an advertisement to get the referendums signed! There is no mention of strong support for the project in and outside council chamber, of the role affordable housing has to play in any healthy community, or anything else but where and when to sign the referendum.

I will keep this "service" in mind if I ever want to a petition signed - just tell the PA Weekly and they will advertise it for free. Wonderful service by the independent free press!

And I notice that the opponents of the maybell project keep only mentioning "72 units of housing, intentionally not tell potential signers that that includes 60 units of affordable senior housing - for shame.


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:52 am

@multi
This is NOT a NIMBY issue. The people of Barron Park support senior housing and we support affordable housing, especially for our police, fire and utility personnel who should live here so they can be here when we need them.
This project is the WRONG project in the WRONG place done in the WRONG way. PAHC proposed a 60-unit 4-story building with only 42 parking spaces ("seniors don't drive!") and 15 3-story townhomes built 'in your face' with no setback like Arbor Real, Alma Village and Monroe Place with 48 parking spaces on a residential street which is a congested bike route serving FOUR schools. Over 260 bicycles during the AM rush hour. I know because I counted every one of them in my videos. Web Link and Web Link.
Gee, in the final ordinance they reduced the number of townhomes to 12!
And what about the needs of the seniors. The nearest amenity is the Walgreen's Drug Store which is 1/4 mile away, the nearest bus stop is 1/3 mile away and the nearest supermarket is 1.3 miles away. And 'seniors don't drive'.
What Gennady Sheyner didn't mention in his article is that the second petition against the Comprehensive Plan Resolution became necessary because if the Referendum against the Zoning Ordinance was passed it would cause an "inconsistency" with the Comprehensive Plan. On this basis the court might invalidate the Referendum. If you follow this logic, then once the City Council passed the Resolution, they were put in a position where they HAD to pass the Zoning Ordinance, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE PUBLIC THOUGHT, or THEY would cause an inconsistency with the Comprehensive Plan. Just like they created a conflict of interest for themselves when they loaned the Palo Alto Housing Corporation $5.8 MILLION to buy the land in the first place and then had to pass the Ordinance or risk losing the city's money.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:53 am

Those who keep talking about this project as "high density" rezone are misleading residents into thinking that this project is equivalent to all the projects coming forward in designated transit corridors or near the Caltrain stops.

This 2.4 acres was never zoned as R-1 (single family residential) nor will it be. The proposed 12 single family homes and 60 units of senior low income housing (average square footage 600 sq feet) would have much less impact in terms of traffic generation (especially peak period in the morning), need for space in nearby schools than would any proposed development by a for profit developer under EXISTING zoning. Key point is that what would be built as a conforming to the previous zoning would have a much more significant impact than the PAHC project approved unanimously by the City Council. And there would be no discretionary zoning action needed.

Data on actual traffic counts at actual similar senior low income PAHC projects was presented at the hearings. Before those projects were built, opponents asserted that traffic would be "a nightmare" and that the city's estimates of traffic using adopted standard rates were not valid. Afterwords, the actual counts proved to be even lower than the city's projections!

Despite strong evidence that their assertions on traffic impacts are unfounded, opponents keep claiming that the traffic studies are wrong! Check the real facts before you sign.


Posted by Bravo, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Good work community. Can't wait to sign. The way the city and PAHC ran this project (deceptive representations, inadequate traffic and safety analysis, playing the "NIMBY" card at every turn) was disgraceful. This city council has redefined tone-deaf arrogance. I hope the neighbors file a CEQA suit too because the city and PAHC would get to play a game that isn't rigged and answer for thier misrepresentations.

Can't wait to remind the council that they serve the people and not the other way around!


Posted by Laszlo, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

In response to mutti: It has been clearly and repeatedly stated that the opposition is NOT against affordable or senior housing in the neighborhood, we have plenty of them as good neighbors, as long as it is done in compliance with existing zoning. What we object to is the rezoning of plots in a residential neighborhood to allow the construction of a massive 72-unit development which is incompatible with the neighborhood. We object the way PAHC and the City Council steamrolled this rezoning through against the strong opposition by the majority of the residents in the neighborhood and without even allowing for the generation of a valid traffic analysis on Maybell which would take into account pedestrian and bicycle traffic on a dedicated bicycle boulevard serving four schools in the neighborhood. Furthermore, the City's unacceptable traffic analysis didn't consider any projection for the anticipated future traffic growth on Maybell. We are aiming for the implementation of a democratic procedure where the residents of Palo Alto can express their opinion for or against the rezoning. The process by which the PAHC and the City Council pushed through this rezoning was objectionable and its ethics is questionable. We don't want to see such precedent setting arbitrary rezonings in residential neighborhoods which in this case is giving higher priority to the profitability of developers than to the safety of our children.




Posted by Roger, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

NIMBYs my sweet patootie! Start with Old Town, PA Hills, Crescent Park and tear down some structures and rezone...they'd reincarnate Johnny Cochran to fight that crap. Why is it taking so long to understand the politicos are on the dole?


Posted by norezone, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Could someone clarify for me is this Maybell senior low income housing designated only for residents of Palo Alto? Also, can the senior age requirement be changed sometime in the future?

I find it particularly wrong for the city to change the zoning without notifying the neighborhood first. This sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Palo Alto.

In addition, bowing to ABAG could mean more high density housing all along the El Camino corridor up to 1/4 mile in, even changing r-1 zoning to higher density zoning.

The city should not be able to change zoning willy nilly.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm

>We know we're a built-up city, so balancing having an inclusive community and conserving cherished neighborhood qualities will require compromise

Ray, why not move this welfare project to your own neighborhood? Of course, it would cost more, but at least you would have skin in the game, instead of dumping on Barron Park, and preaching from Mt. Olympus. Just use eminent domain to condemn some contiguous properties in University South (perhaps including your own property?), then convert them (or scrape them)for senior welfare dense housing. Care to walk your talk, Ray?


Posted by Lars, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

So much misinformation. Let me clarify -

Low income seniors that already live or work in palo alto have first preference. There are so many that if one doesn't live or work in palo alto, the chances you will get this housing is very slim to none. Once you are first screened to see if you qualify re: low enough income, etc. then you are put in a lottery and names are chosen from there. If you are then lucky, you get to live there. So yes, pretty much this housing is for palo alto people.

Re: Notification to neighbors. I can only groan when you infer than this wasn't done. Palo Alto is famous for its long process any development goes thru, particularly one that gets a zone change. So the whole town has known of the maybell proposal for at least a year. In that year, many news articles in local papers and online have been published about maybell. 3 city council meetings (2 with public hearings to get peoples input) were held, 2 Planning Commission meetings, 1 ARB meeting and 3 community meetings held by PA Housing Corp were held for neighbors. LOTS of notice over a long time. Neighbors just ignored it all.

And the City does not change zoning willy nilly. You may not always agree with the city decisions, but you can't accuse them of willy nilliness.




Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

>Low income seniors that already live or work in palo alto have first preference.

This is the same bait-and-switch argument used to force BMR units in PA. Remember, it was promised that such BMR units would be for essential city workers (police, fire, teachers, etc.). Surprise, surprise, it didn't work out that way, in fact such data is not even collected.

Lars's argument is meaningless, because it does not define his own terms. Senior move-ins can rent an apartment for a month, then claim to live in PA. Or they can have a part time job in PA, for a couple of months, then claim to work here.

Misinformation, indeed.


Posted by Resident in, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Lars comments on Notification: When we complained about the lack of notification to the neighborhood, one Council member replied that by law the City is required to notify only residents in a few hundred feet. Yes, they may have complied with this regulation but without serving its intended purpose. In this radius the property is surrounded by PAHC's low income apartment house on north, PAHC's Tan House on north-east, fire department station on south-east, and Juana Briones park on south-west. The few responders for the meeting held last November in the PAHC's Tan Building were probably mostly residents in the PAHC's units. There were no other public announcements or meetings about this project and NOBODY in the neighborhood new about it until this April. And if you followed the City Council meetings since April, you probably heard that the Council was willing to discuss this project only in the framework of the rezoned property - this included the so-called two mediation sessions between the PAHC and neighborhood representatives organized by the Mayor.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "Lars" "So much misinformation. Let me clarify -"
This itself echoes the misinformation being put out by the advocates of the project. I was at the first public outreach meeting and all the current issues were raised by the neighbors. The meeting was inadequately advertised -- the same as for someone building a second-story addition.
"Neighbors just ignored it all": If a Council meeting where attendees overflowed into the lobby is "ignored", and if printed emails were several inches thick, what is paying attention??

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by baruch boxer, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The duplicitous, unfair, and self-serving addition, by the Council, on June 17, of a further hurdle to a referendum that could reflect community consensus points up the institutional weakness and suspicious opaqueness of PA governing bodies that have from the start procedurally undermined fair resolution of Maybell technical and cultural conflicts.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

As many people have pointed out, individual referendums are a horrible way to govern. What is needed is a Council that is in tune with the concerns of residents, and a Council that is willing to impress on Staff that Staff serves the residents, not the developers.

As someone who has been involved in various Council campaigns over the years, I know how hard this is to do. The typical resident finds it hard to invest time in this. However, small investments of time can have huge consequences. Don't just sign the petition, invest an hour or two getting signatures.

Taking the famous "Ground Game" of Obama's 2012 election as an illustrative example, people concerned about the general direction of the City's development policy can use signature gathering for this referendum as a first step. Going house-to-house among your friends and neighbors is a useful experience and additionally give you a chance to learn who has what concerns on a broader range of issues. It also allows you to meet more of your neighbors.

Repeating where you can get a copy of the petition: Web Link

FYI: Roughly 2300 signatures are needed to qualify the referendum. 8K-10K votes are typically needed to win a Council election.


Posted by Jan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Can we recall our out-of-touch, developer boot licking PA city council, too? And how do we overall the Architectural Review Board, that is not doing their job?


Posted by Barron park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Interest 60 units only 42 parking spaces. Even if senior do not drive that much if they have a car it will be sitting somewhere.


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

@Jan
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana). It happened in Palo Alto in 1967. It could happen again!
@Barron park resident
So now that they reduced the number of market-rate townhomes from 15 to 12, there are 42 parking spaces for the 60 senior apartments and 38 parking spaces for the 12 private homes. Bravo!
If you want to see what the 12 homes will look like, go look at Arbor Real or the new Monroe Place (where the old Palo Alto Bowl used to be).


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm

PAHC defines a senior as anyone 62 or over. How many people aged 62 don't drive/don't have a car? Also, other family members can live with the senior.

The city has to notify people within 600 feet of a development. That might make sense for a single-family home, where the immediate neighbors are most impacted. But it doesn't make sense for a project this size, which has a big impact on the entire street.


Posted by Vote no for the good of the city, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Wilson, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

> one Council member replied that by law the City is required
> to notify only residents in a few hundred feet

Does anyone know if the requirement to notify neighbors about a new project is a State law, or a City Ordinance?


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Ray Bacchetti - you didn't address any of the concerns raised - traffic.

And you write "Palo Alto needs to work with extra diligence to create low-income housing if we are to be an inclusive community"

- there are close to 1000 units of affordable rentals & below market rate ownership units - what is your target number so that we are an "inclusive" community.

- And why are most of these unit concentrated in a few neighborhoods? why can't neighborhoods like Old Palo Alto, Crescent Park be more inclusive?

- during the same time (2012) the $15 million was used to purchase the two parcels at Maybell/Clemo, there were several 20,000+ square foot parcels in Old Palo Alto & Crescent Park that could have been purchased, rezoned to high density housing and fit 60 units of senior housing + 12 units of market rate housing.

You also state "City staff and the Palo Alto Housing Corporations planned well, listened to neighbors and made compromises" - care to enumerate the compromises that staff & PAHC made? I don't recall of any. And what few modifications there were, was made by the City Council, not by staff or PAHC.

Please stop spinning, it only reinforces that the residents are not being listened to.


Posted by Sensible, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

@mutti,
The neighborhood in question already has more than one large affordable housing development. In fact, I think one of the reasons city council pushed for this neighborhood is that neighbors genuinely support affordable housing.

No other residential neighborhood in Palo Alto has nearly so much affordable housing development, except downtown, which is downtown, not residental, and more appropriate for the higher densities PAHC says it can't live without. Did you understand this when you made your comment? there are many neighborhoods that do not host affordable housing already - this is not one of them.

Many neighborhoods in Palo Alto have no affordable housing, and cost is not the limitation if the housing corp sets this precedent where they buy up a property with public money, peel off a portion to rezone for a private developer who gets to build incomatibe dense market rate housing (benefitting from the better neighborhood for his sales prices), and using the proceeds to build a high-density development next to it. Is that what you want in your residential neighborhood? Because if so, perhaps you would like to get together with your neighbors and invite the project to your neighborhood, it would solve a lot of problems. If not, you should help neighbors by signing the referendum. They and their children deserve at least as much consideration from the city as all the developers.

Furthermore, the reason they are doing this scheme, where they sell off part of the property to a market-rate develoer, rezoned to maximize the market developer's profit, wouldn't be necessary if the city simply paid the same per unit as the new affordable development on Alma. Instead, they are essentally forcing the neighborhood to bear the burden.

Coucilmember Schmid said the money loaned to purchase the property came from developers who were able to avoid putting those units on their buildings in much more appropriate locations, but he said, perhaps city council isn't asking enough in in lieu fees if they can't buy equivalent property and must essentially foist the cost on the nighborhood through this scheme.

Fix the in lieu fee situation as he suggested, and affordable housing can be planned that isn't so overwhelming and out of scale with the neighborhood. Stop this bad land use precedent at Maybell.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm

>In fact, I think one of the reasons city council pushed for this neighborhood is that neighbors genuinely support affordable housing.

If so, then you deserve what you get, because the elites that push it on your neighborhood will not accept it in their own neighborhoods.

If the issue of affordable/BMR housing was to be put to a vote in PA, do you think it would be supported by the majority of voters, if was evenly distributed, including the elite neighborhoods?


Posted by Sensuble, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm

@resident,
Wow, that's a really low blow.

That whole area is R-1. The only exceptions are things like schools and parks, and a few out of character properties like the massive Tan, that were built under county rules before those areas were incorporated. Tan was built in 1965; nearly the whole city council was recalled in '67 for overdevelopment.

The current zoning of the site IS in fact "low-density" - RM-15, which s "low-density multifamily residential" and R-2 which is "low-density residential" (according to the general plan). Those zoning designations not only limit the number of units, but hey also restrict setback, height, daylight plane, etc, which PC zoning does not.

More importantly, the only reason that parcel is zoned as it is is as a transition zone from the Tan to the surrounding R-1 region. It s against the zoning principles in the general plan to upzone that to make a large bloc of high density right in the middle if an all R-1 region. It also justifies an assault on the character of the neighborhood by such from the past. Shame on you and shame on the city council.

It's also simply not true that this is the least disruptive use. For one, neighbors have simply asked for the senior development to be built under existing zoning. How can you argue that wouldn't be less intrusive? Secondly, if you really think the project would be so safe, why stonewall over a traffic study? Neighbors simply want current data, and the impacts on bicyclists and pedestrians studied, as the development has no other routes in and out except via overcrowded school commute corridors. The city has a policy of heightened (not lesser, as here) scrutiny on school commute corridors.

Rather than trying to force neighbors to accept a story that doesn't jive with their experience of the area, why such avoidance of good data?

Finally, it turns out the city has the right, in the loan contract, to buy the property and avoid any unsafe scenarios you pose, unlike when a private owner holds a property the city ddn't loan millions to purchase. The city could do the appropriate traffic study and limit the land use to something closer to that resulting from the 100 trees there now (most of which will be torn down by PAHC for the development).


Posted by JTM, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Where are we going ? The PAHC I'd in bed with developers who can pay the city so they do not have to build low cost housing on their lands where the citizens would have much more freedom, places to shop, movies to see.what senior 62 is going to spend their day in a 600 square foot apartment. Is the PAHC really expecting that someone 62 years old will not drive. I am much older than that and I still drive every where.
It seems that this is easy for the council members and gets an issue off their back.
I have tried to talk to them and they are decided and will not and do not listen.this is not about not wanting to help seniors it is about where would they be most comfortable, have access to many amenities plus a ail able entertainment. It is a medical fact that someone who feels closed in,goes down hill mentally and physically fast. City council think about what would be the best for the seniors and not what seems to be your easiest solution. What if you were one of them? Where would you want your 600 square foot unit to be? Would you be comfortable in a place that afforded little access to senior activities. How could they get to Avenedis? The Stanford theater for an occasional movie. You are making a cruel decision not only because of the three schools, traffic to and from them and walkers and bikers. Who will be sued if someone is hurt. Think about it OPEN YOUR MINDS, please.


Posted by resident who pays attention, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm

resident of Barron Park states "NOBODY in the neighborhood new about it until this April."

Actually, this assertion is totally incorrect! The BPA e-news list provided notice to _hundreds_ of Barron Park residents on the first outreach meeting last September. Full text below. Note also that there's a heads up about the date of first City Council study session as well. And all the other meeting notices were also sent out to what I believe is a majority of the neighborhood.

And there have been dozens of articles in local papers as well as the legally required notices.

As for what's legally required for a discretionary zoning action, it's only 300 feet (state law, I believe). The City of Palo Alto started mailing to 600 feet from property line recently, but that is not at all common in other cities.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. And ignorance of the law is no excuse for the continued baseless denunciations of the uninformed or misinformed. Or the nasty ad hominem attacks.


==============
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 07:05:49 -0700
Subject: [bpa-news: 1142] Meeting on Proposed Housing for Clemo/Maybell Corner Parcel


The Palo Alto Housing Corporation will hold a meeting on September 12 at 7:15 p.m. to present their proposal for redeveloping the property at the corner of Clemo and Maybell with a mix of 60 rental housing units for low income seniors and 15 single-family homes.

The meeting will be at the Arastradero Park Apartments, 574 Arastradero Road at the Community Room. On-site parking is limited to the tenants and their guests. They encourage walking or biking but there is parking on Arastradero and Maybell.

The City Council will hold a study session on the project on September 18 and this is an opportunity for the community to be introduced to the Housing Corporation's proposal for the site. The rest of this message was prepared by the Housing Corporation.

Maybell Project Description:

Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC), a nonprofit affordable housing developer, proposes to build a rental apartment building with approximately 60 apartments affordable to extremely-low to low income senior households and 15 for sale, market rate single family homes. The project site is comprised of two parcels (APN # 137-25-109 and -108) located at the corner of Maybell and Clemo Avenues. The total lot size is approximately 107,422 sq. ft. (2.46 acres). The larger parcel (93,654 sq. ft.) and the smaller parcel (13,768 sq. ft.) are zoned RM15 and R2, respectively. Both parcels are within ¼ of a mile from El Camino Real with easy access to VTA bus routes/lines.

PAHC plans to subdivide the property and apply for the rezoning of the 2.46-acre property. The affordable rental apartments will include (59) 1-bedroom apartments and (1) 2-bedroom apartment for the onsite manager, common areas such as a community room with computer lab, laundry room, manager's office, a resident services office, as well as outdoor common area space to enjoy. The affordable apartments will have an average size of 600 square feet and be affordable to households earning 30-60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

PAHC has been developing and managing affordable housing in Palo Alto since 1970. PAHC's mission has always been to foster, develop, acquire and manage affordable housing in Palo Alto. PAHC manages over 600 units of affordable housing in Palo Alto. In addition to PAHC's in-house property management staff, PAHC has Resident Services Program staff to meet the needs of our tenants as well.


Posted by resident who pays attention, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

JTM, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, "Is the PAHC really expecting that someone 62 years old will not drive. I am much older than that and I still drive every where."

I'll wager that JTM's household income is considerably higher than 30-60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) which is what the residents of these units will have. Those folks don't have the disposable income to keep an auto fueled and running. And they don't have to. Assistance is provided for getting to medical appointments, shopping and other necessities. Solid data on the traffic actually generated and the number of parking spaces actually needed, based on comparable PAHC projects in Palo Alto, was presented at the hearings. It's part of the public record, should JTM choose to become informed.

FYI, I have no association with PAHC whatsover, but I am tired of the armchair commentators who keep making unsupported assertions based on nothing but their own assumptions. Repeating such assertions as JTM and others keep doing doesn't make them true.

Too bad the referendum supporters are unable to see the difference between the PAHC projects and actual track record at fitting in with a neigbhorhood versus the real for profit developers!


Posted by Ann, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

There is an attitude in these comments that affordable housing is undesirable and therefore should be spread around among neighborhoods. This totally puts the lie to all the phony "support" for affordable housing.

You know who else doesn't like affordable housing in Barron park and green acres? The real estate agents on the Barron park assoc board who are leading the referendum effort because they want single family houses built there that will provide business ($$$$) to them sooner or later and keep "comparables" high when pricing the properties they are handling. While affordable housing has no impact on nearby housing values, the senior units won't allow these agents to line their pockets.


No one believes you support anything but your own privilege.


Posted by Anne with an E, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:28 am

Ann,

Your conclusion is totally wrong.

"There is an attitude in these comments that affordable housing is undesirable and therefore should be spread around among neighborhoods. This totally puts the lie to all the phony "support" for affordable housing."

The argument that affordable housing should be spread around is a point that is made repeatedly by BP and GA residents IN RESPONSE TO ACCUSATIONS OF NIMBYISM FROM RESIDENTS OF NEIGHBORHOODS WITH NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS. Do you see the difference? This is a huge oversight on your part.

BP and GA residents have an inclusive track record that belies any NIMBY claims. Having their traffic and safety concerns dismissed as NIMBYism is an insult.

TKgGV


Posted by George, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2013 at 8:34 am

At least one poster has pointed out that Palo Alto has a fairly large number of "affordable" housing units. The City, at one time, actually listed all of the units in Palo Alto on its web-site. Could easily have been about 2,500 at the time. So—before anyone starts claiming that Palo Alto is not "inclusive", that person should provide some basic stats about the housing stock.

There are public costs to everything—including "affordable housing". Often, these sites are granted tax exemption—meaning that the high cost of Palo Alto's government (~$2,500/person) is shifted to single family homes, and businesses.

The person who introduced this idea into this discussion is a well-known big-government type—who has managed to insinuate himself into many public policy decisions over the years. Such people often end up living in these tax-exempt housing projects—paying no property tax, while advocating higher taxes on those whole live in single-family homes.

The City knows very well how many "affordable" units there are in town. It should document that information. It's very likely that we have about 10% of the housing stock dedicated to this purpose now. How does increasing the number of non-tax-paying units make Palo Alto more financially sustainable?


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

@sensuble, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood"

"out of character properties like the massive Tan, that were built under county rules"

You are making the same misstatement of fact that "resident, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood" posted on July 7. I corrected that, citing as a source the expert on the topic, Bob Moss. He said that it was done by the city. I don't know if "neighbor, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood" who often posts on this topic also believes that the Tan Apartments were zoned by the county. If any of you can support the claim that it was done under the county, please correct. Otherwise, please don't make this claim again. Busy readers can't fact check every assertion and shouldn't have to.


Posted by Michael Stein, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:42 am

Typical hypocriticism (The word does exist)
Yes we are so nice and open minded, but when it comes to our neighborhood, well then we are just back to be mean self-serving individuals. (as we blame all "bad guys")
NIMBY (not in my back yard) NIMBY
"60 units of housing for low-income seniors and 12 homes on a former orchard site"
And here is my personal angle:
On Maybell lived for almost 20 years two ladies that worked at Stanford , they lived in a rental small house, once they retired they couldn't anymore afford the rent on Maybell and HAD to relocate (they did so to Florida where they hardly knew any nobody). They (really she - because one passed away) is "dying" to come back but cannot afford it.
I understand that their life and rights, as the life of similar seniors, are inferior to the potential "traffic conjunctions" (a'la- Manhattan style) that some extra houses for low income seniors will course to all the Kids biking to school between 7.45 and 8.10, which as you know , btw, so many of them come from families that live in PA just few years , right, that makes full sense, lets kick out the old local seniors that lived here all their life, and built this community, to make place for the new comers from all over the world, very compassionate and considering!! (I am an immigrant as well)
Now last point, what if the original residence of Barron park, let's say those who lived here 75 years ago, would have had the same attitude, (i.e. not to sub-divide the farmland) would we have even been living here now?


Posted by Just Build It Already!, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

What a waste of time, money, and effort! Just build it already!


Posted by Sensible, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

@Jerry,
Just because a fact disrupts your made up worldview does not mean it's wrong. There's a book published by the Palo Alto Historical society, streets of Palo Alto, that shows when some of these segments of GA and BP were incorporated, as it was done piecemeal. If that's not good enough for you, you are welcome to spend an afternoon with county records.

In this case, I disagree with Bob. But it really doesn't matter to my point. Whether the Tan was allowed under county rules, or by the City Council that was shortly thereafter almost entirely recalled because of intrusive overdevelopment (including the Tan), either way, Tan was built completely out of character with the surrounding region of R-1 and should not be used as an excuse to turn that residential area into a dense area like downtown now. It's called adding insult to injury.

Neighbors support Greg Schmid's proposal to fix the in lieu fee situation so that PAHC can afford to put the senior housing in a better location for seniors and density, or in that location under existing zoning (provided a traffic study enlightens how to solve problems).

PAHC is going to miss their funding deadline of July 3 anyway, as their application requires the zoning to be in place by the deadline, and certifiable. Technically, the zoning is not in place for 30 days after the 2nd reading, and if PAHC instead represented it as a done deal in their application, they face being docked negative points now and in future applications too for misrepresenting.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

What I have heard about The Tan from people in the neighborhood. The height limits and zoning were changed for one day which allowed the builder to submit their plans.

Don't know if this was true but heard the story from different sources and it was in the 70's.


Posted by jerry underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:29 am

jerry underdal is a registered user.

@Sensible, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

Thank you for sourcing your information. i note that you haven't yourself checked country records so as of now it's Bob Moss's expertise vs. the Palo Alto Historical Society's book, Streets of Palo Alto.

This doesn't disrupt my worldview at all.

Could you source your assertions in the last paragraph of your post?


Posted by homeowner, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

I support the referendum(s) to not rezone for high density the Maybell site or any other pocket within any current area of single family homes.

While I was out today a green notice was left at my house which included mis-statement of facts/inferences. While it is the right of the opposition to circulate and advertise their position, I do object to the fact that they taped the notice in a prominent position on my front door - private property - that looks like a sign that I am not supporting this referendum.

I was placed high on the doorway with tape that damaged my freshly painted door.


Posted by Sensible, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm

You still haven't stated your connection with PAHC or people who have conflicts of interest. It was a sad day to see League of Women Voters unquestioningly take up the charge for their VP who is also on PAHC's board. Are you one of the friends she got to push her agenda?


Posted by Sensible, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Oops, that post was to Jerry.

One of the casualties of PAHC's unethical tactics has been the respect of many neighbors, including mine. I couldn't be more disgusted with what the LWV people did too because of their VP's conflicts of interest. Usually that's the kind of stuff they speak out against.


Posted by senior longtime resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I too arrived home to find that green notice very prominently taped to my front door. As the above commentator stated, it was "full of mis-statements of facts/inferences". For example, the flyer states "THE PROJECT IS LOW-RISE, DESIGNED TO FIT IN WITH THE EXISTING HOMES IN THE AREA.........". Since when are two and three story homes LOW-RISE? There are other examples as well. PAHC has stated such falsehoods many times while trying to aggressively push this project through.

Those of us who oppose the Maybell rezone are well aware of these tactics!


Posted by Sensible, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Please send a message to the City Council that it's not okay to just run roughshod over residents. They are supposed to serve the interests of residents, not just developers.

Residents in Greenacres and BP already host more affordable developments than any other residential neighborhoods (except downtown where density is more appropriate). We have had terrible traffic problems here in the last few years, and already one expensive attempt to fix Maybell (where traffic signs get mowed down an average once per month). The city is not listening to what we need here for the safety of our kids while they have conflicts of interest in wanting that property developed at high density.

We need the help of our neighbors across Palo Alto. PAHC has us outgunned (by the way, that survey is in no way related to the neighbors, who are totally grassroots on a shoestring, nor was it the city's, according to councilman Schmid - he says such surveys are very expensive, the only party left here is PAHC or their developer friends). More tactics costing them the respect and support of neighbors. Thankfully, there are other affordable housing operators in town!


Posted by Rena Allison, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 4:08 am

Rena Allison is a registered user.

Hey PAHC....really? You can't even leave fliers at our doorsteps without making us mad. How dare you tape/tack your fliers on our front doors (private property). You guys really wanted to "drive it home" with your notices boldly hanging there on our doors like some kind of condemnation notice. I took it down and read the untruths you put in there....unbelievable. No sir, I don't take kindly to you or your soliciting ways.

Say "NO" to PAHC's [pack and stack] in our neighborhoods!


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

This comment has been moved from a duplicate post:

Posted by Jim, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 1 hour ago

This article reads more like an infomercial than an unbiased article reflecting critical thinking or analysis.

An obvious question not asked or answered is what effect does starting a second referendum part way into the signature gathering campaign on a first referendum say about the ultimate chance of success of either in this effort to stop a good affordable senior housing project?

The need to address issues presented by having two referendums seems obvious. Why were not the two issues recognized before jumping off the campaign cliff, and not simply included in a single referendum from the start? Not doing so points to a level of ignorance and incompetence that has been a hallmark of this entire effort.

Never has so much outrage been expended on such a benign project. Given the very serious potential consequences to our efforts to increase affordable housing opportunity in town, this article should have delved into how this happened.

Whether this stuff gets on the ballot or not, it is costing all of us right now in our reputation as a caring community that strives to keep our low income seniors here. If these measures get on the ballot, the city and taxpayers will be forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a special election - like having to pay for the bullets to shoot yourself in the foot. And we may lose 60 units of good low income housing.

What a waste - both the referendums and this article. Do not sign these petitions, but rather, support this affordable senior housing.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

As a Barron Park resident living just off Maybell concerned about street hazards for bicycling students I was initially skeptical about the Maybell/Clemo project. So I informed myself about the project and did my own informal study with photos, videos and bicycling in student commute traffic myself.

First, Maybell must become a true bicycle boulevard, carrying more students, not fewer, than now. Current conditions, even with no changes on that property--4 houses and an orchard--are irresponsible and don't speak well of city or school district. Second: bicycling conditions are better as a result of work done in the past few years, we just have more to do. Previous efforts were not a failure, they were just incomplete.

Then, about this project, I saw that PAHC was making concession after adjustment after concession to keep the project viable and respond to neighborhood concerns. The first flier posted around Barron Park and Green Acres complained that there were no setbacks, no height limits, too many private market homes, no way for seniors to access services, massive scale, and catastrophic impacts on traffic. Legitimate concerns, and all addressed over the months of meetings and debate before the council's 9-0 vote for the project.

Please, before you sign the petition, inform yourself about what has been approved, not what the initial proposal was.

If PAHC had not bought this property it would already be a construction zone, built to the limits of existing zoning (R-2 and R-15) by a developer whose challenge would to fit in as many homes as possible. No review by the Planning and Transportation Commission, no review by the City Council. No one to answer to for the additional traffic problems it would generate. Thank you PAHC for intercepting that outcome and coming up with a project that fits with the neighborhood and gives Palo Alto much-needed housing for low-income seniors.


Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Donya is a registered user.

Dear readers,

Here is a rebuttal of the points made by PAHC's flyer.

False Claim #1 - a referendum will lead to a costly election.

*** If a referendum obtains the requisite number of signatures, then the measure can be put on the ballot on the next local election cycle. The City and PAHC will make it costly if it holds a special election, which is not mandated by law. See Referendum Brochure 2013 page 4 section (5) Web Link

False Claim #2 - a referendum overturns the City Council's vote.

*** A referendum is a democratic process available for citizens to collect signatures so that a matter can be put on a ballot to be voted upon by citizens. Palo Alto citizens get a choice. The Maybell referendum petitions do not "overturn" anything.

Misleading Claim #3 - The project is a low rise.

*** The 60-unit apartment complex from top to bottom is 50 feet. Existing zoning allows for only 30 feet. The homes on Clemo are 3 stories, which exceed existing zoning height maximum of 30 feet. There are no 3 story homes in Barron Park and Greenacres Up to 120 tenants can live in the apartment complex, but only 47 onsite parking spaces.

Misleading Claim #4 - the current site is zoned for up to 47 homes.

*** PAHC previously claimed that it was zoned for 34 homes in its May 22, 2013 letter to the Planning and Transportation Commission (attached). PAHC threatens the neighborhood that it will sell the property to a private developer to build the maximum number of units on the property if the neighborhood does not accept PAHC's rezone to 72 housing units. The City has the option to purchase the property from PAHC. See page 9 of the June 10 Staff Report: Web Link

The City Council should exercise its civic duty to its constituency and disallow a developer to create a worse traffic situation that would endanger the lives of hundreds of school children walking and biking on Maybell Avenue, a street with no bike lanes or continuous sidewalks and a street substandard in width, which is designated as a bicycle boulevard, a "safe route to school," and a school corridor to Gunn High School, Terman Middle School, Juana Briones Elementary School, and Bowman International School. The traffic report conducted by PAHC did not analyze the traffic impact on bicycles and pedestrians and did not analyze the cumulative traffic impact of the many construction developments underway near Maybell.

The neighborhood wholeheartedly supports affordable senior housing provided for under existing zoning. The neighborhood hosts several low-income complexes, including the Arastradero Park Apartments, Terman Apartments, Treehouse, Oak Manor, and the Trailer Park.


Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Donya is a registered user.

Dear readers,

Here is a rebuttal of the points made by PAHC's flyer.

False Claim #1 - a referendum will lead to a costly election.

*** If a referendum obtains the requisite number of signatures, then the measure can be put on the ballot on the next local election cycle. The City and PAHC will make it costly if it holds a special election, which is not mandated by law. See Referendum Brochure 2013 page 4 section (5) Web Link

False Claim #2 - a referendum overturns the City Council's vote.

*** A referendum is a democratic process available for citizens to collect signatures so that a matter can be put on a ballot to be voted upon by citizens. Palo Alto citizens get a choice. The Maybell referendum petitions do not "overturn" anything.

Misleading Claim #3 - The project is a low rise.

*** The 60-unit apartment complex from top to bottom is 50 feet. Existing zoning allows for only 30 feet. The homes on Clemo are 3 stories, which exceed existing zoning height maximum of 30 feet. There are no 3 story homes in Barron Park and Greenacres Up to 120 tenants can live in the apartment complex, but only 47 onsite parking spaces.

Misleading Claim #4 - the current site is zoned for up to 47 homes.

*** PAHC previously claimed that it was zoned for 34 homes in its May 22, 2013 letter to the Planning and Transportation Commission (attached). PAHC threatens the neighborhood that it will sell the property to a private developer to build the maximum number of units on the property if the neighborhood does not accept PAHC's rezone to 72 housing units. The City has the option to purchase the property from PAHC. See page 9 of the June 10 Staff Report: Web Link

The City Council should exercise its civic duty to its constituency and disallow a developer to create a worse traffic situation that would endanger the lives of hundreds of school children walking and biking on Maybell Avenue, a street with no bike lanes or continuous sidewalks and a street substandard in width, which is designated as a bicycle boulevard, a "safe route to school," and a school corridor to Gunn High School, Terman Middle School, Juana Briones Elementary School, and Bowman International School. The traffic report conducted by PAHC did not analyze the traffic impact on bicycles and pedestrians and did not analyze the cumulative traffic impact of the many construction developments underway near Maybell.

The neighborhood wholeheartedly supports affordable senior housing provided for under existing zoning. The neighborhood hosts several low-income complexes, including the Arastradero Park Apartments, Terman Apartments, Treehouse, Oak Manor, and the Trailer Park.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

pat is a registered user.

> "You know who else doesn't like affordable housing in Barron park and green acres? The real estate agents on the Barron park assoc board who are leading the referendum effort because they want single family houses built there that will provide business ($$$$) to them sooner or later and keep "comparables" high…"

How about the developers and realtors on the board of PAHC? Web Link

> "The City knows very well how many "affordable" units there are in town."

See a list at Web Link


Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Zayda is a registered user.

@Donya,
You missed a couple of other distortions. For the complete FACT CHECK go to Web Link.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to login

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Scott’s Seafood Mountain View to close, reopen as new concept
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 4,029 views

Richard Linklater's Masterpiece "Boyhood"
By Anita Felicelli | 5 comments | 1,388 views

How Bad Policy Happens
By Douglas Moran | 21 comments | 1,370 views

The life of Zarf
By Sally Torbey | 8 comments | 1,026 views

When Grandparents Visit
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 712 views