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on Aug 8, 2013
> "This is the opposition's referendum so the project should not
> bear the burden of the delay," Gonzalez said. "It's best for
> us and the City to move forward."
Ms. Gonzalez' taking this position for her organization is understandable--but is she authorized to speak for what's good for the City too?
How reprehensible of Candice Gonzalez! She is clearly trying to push the project through before the 2014 election.
Ms. Gonzales could learn a lesson here: when you steamroll a neighborhood, they might not roll over and take it. She wouldn't be in this mess if she tried listening to neighbors (and, for example, done a traffic study that didn't pretend that bikes and kids do not exist on the school corridor) instead of steamrolling the neighborhood concerns and counting on a plaint city council to ram the project through. She's undoubtedly lobbying the council hard for another bailout in the form of a more expensive special election at the time of her choice.
PAHC should have to pay the difference instead of spending their money on political consultants.
Gonzalez sounds like someone that takes action, accomplishes projects and achieves goals. Gonzalez for City Council!
Gonzalez said: "If the council does not schedule an election for this year, the nonprofit would have to "explore all our options," Gonzalez said, which include withdrawing the application and selling the property. Existing zoning would allow construction of between 34 and 46 single-family homes on the property."
No more than 15 single-family homes on R-1 zone size lots (minimum 6,000sf) could be built on this property if developed that way - and we all need to be clear and understand that. The Maybell property is roughly 102,000-105,000sf so, after considering the sf needed for roadway(s), the math is clear. 2,300-3,000sf single-family home lots (at 46 or 34 home lots, respectively) are not permitted in Palo Alto.
It would be better for all of us if the PAHC did not mislead the public with inaccurate information.
"he Maybell property is roughly 102,000-105,000sf so, after considering the sf needed for roadway(s), the math is clear. 2,300-3,000sf single-family home lots (at 46 or 34 home lots, respectively) are not permitted in Palo Alto.
It would be better for all of us if the PAHC did not mislead the public with inaccurate information."
Joe--the PAHC is not the one saying that 34-46 can be built on this property.
This is from the city of palo alto website:
"Under the existing zoning (R‐2 and RM‐15) approximately 34 to‐46 homes could be built. "
So the information is correct and not misleading.
Why all this vitriol against Ms Gonzales?
If the petitioners did not want it on the ballot this year, then why the rush to gather and submit signatures?
Some of the comments by the petitioners are really ridiculous:
"Holding a special election this year would present a burden to the taxpayers for the sole benefit of a developer, he wrote."
""I encourage you to act in a responsible and prudent manner 'going forward' and not add to the burden of the taxpayers of Palo Alto, by trying to push this to a Special Election," Dufresne wrote."
Why are they trying to dump the potential cost of a special election that they are pushing for onto the city and the PAHC. They wanted a referendum. The collected signatures to comply with the date for putting it on the November 2013 ballot.
If it is such a "burden to the taxpayer" then why go this potential route?
Seems like these petitioners are speaking out of both sides of thier mouths
I will vote no on this referendum
With a lawsuit pending against the City for violations of CEQA regulations, which is not likely to be resolved before next spring, it is pointless to proceed with special election this November. Even if the election clears the rezoning the project can't proceed before the lawsuit is resolved. Chances are high that the Court will require that the City carry out further studies which means that the project will be delayed at least until the second half of 2014. So the 2013 November special election would be a clear waste of the taxpayers' money.
Imagine the construction traffic generated by the proposed project combined with kids on bikes on a so-called "safe route to school" during the school year, additional cars, not to mention the vehicle delivery trucks dropping off cars to the Volvo and McClaren dealerships to the already overburdened Maybell Avenue. If PAHC is so willing to look the other way with respect to these safety issues, then PAHC can in no way be speaking in the best interests of Palo Alto.
On Gonzales' part, this is some kind of heels dug in, I want what I want and don't confuse me with the facts attitude. Ask yourself Candice, even if you get your way, is this project worth the long-term damage you are doing to PAHC's reputation and PAHC's relationship with Palo Alto residents?
I agree with comments already stated that PAHC has steamrolled this project into our neighborhood against the legitimate opposition of most of the Barron Park and Green Acres residents as well as many residents all over Palo Alto. PAHC and the City Council have brought this divisive fiasco upon themselves by their actions. PAHC may be a "non profit" developer but they certainly are a developer with ample funds to hire politcal consultants and demand that Palo Alto taxpayers bear the financial burden for a costly special election. We are a diverse grassroots neighborhood group who have gone to great lengths to achieve significantly more than enough signatures on two petitions for referenda so that the taxpaying citizens of Palo Alto can have a choice in this matter.
>PAHC can in no way be speaking in the best interests of Palo Alto.
It has never been in the best interest of Palo Alto.
Can anyone name one project that houses a significant number of essential jobs, like teachers/fire/police (as promised)? In fact, is there even one project that has ONE of these essential local workers?
It is time to get rid of PAHC.
Question for prior commenter (Joe Hirsch). The staff report for Maybell says that existing zoning is R-2 and RM-15, which, according to the report, if the "35% Density Bonus" is applied, accomodates 46 housing units. So what is your basis for asserting the R-1 applies, allowing only 15 homes?
@forked tongue," If the petitioners did not want it on the ballot this year, then why the rush to gather and submit signatures? Why are they trying to dump the potential cost of a special election that they are pushing for onto the city and the PAHC. They wanted a referendum. The collected signatures to comply with the date for putting it on the November 2013 ballot. If it is such a "burden to the taxpayer" then why go this potential route? Seems like these petitioners are speaking out of both sides of thier mouths"
To file a refendum you must get signatures within 30 days of the second reading from City Council's decision. This is the process. The signatures do not request a date nor require a date for being put on the ballot. The date for the voting is set by the City Council. They are the ones that make this decision. The City Council made the decision to up zone the property for developers profits and the neighbors would like to see how Palo Alto feels about this decision. The Council can decide when to have the voters decide.
no rezone--thanks for the clarification.
PAHC "is prepared to campaign "seriously and aggressively" for the development and has hired political consultants to assist with strategy." Wouldn't that money be better spent by PAHC on improving the road infrastructure to eliminate the traffic and safety concerns of residents?
It looks to me like PAHC is trying to position itself to blame the neighborhood, when they did not meet their funding application deadline.
The deadline, according to them, was July 3. City staff's own report says the rezoning isn't in effect until 31 days after the 2nd reading, which puts it around July 28. Having zoning in place is a basic requirement of the application per the regulations, so if PAHC is found to have misrepresented, it could be held against them in future applications.
The CIty has the right to take over this property because of their participation in buying it via loaning $7.3 million to PAHC, also clearly stated in by City staff in their report. (Excuse me, City staff say they loaned $5.8 million, but in the application, City staff say they loaned $7.3million, I do not know the reason for the discrepancy.)
So knowing how serious the safety problems have been, and the thick file on this property, the City has a responsibility to take over the property and do the safety analysis that should have been done rather than allowing PAHC to just sell it, if they think the result will be even less safe. If only to prevent the future liability to the City for failing to do the proper analysis to begin with, and systematically ignoring calls by the neighborhood for such analysis.
Then the City can place deed restrictions on the property to prevent any unsafe development. Or they could choose to save the 100 established trees there and allow the neighbors the chance to turn the property into a community orchard - which the Council actually considered before loaning the money to PAHC, and would be the best olive branch they could offer thousands of us after this mess.
PAHC is running the classic self-inflicted hardship gambit (which is often successful in Palo Alto).
They made a long string of unforced errors and are now pleading that they shouldn't be held accountable for those errors, and that the "remedy" is for the City to hold an expensive special election that would have been unnecessary except for PAHC's egregious (and intentional?) errors.
I wonder if PAHC disclosed all the consultant money they are planning to spend on their funding application... they are supposed to...
Oh wait, that money would be spent to fight for zoning that was supposed to be in place on July 3. And the zoning was supposed to be certified as consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, also not true on July 3....
In all the discussions of the referenda regarding development of the Maybell site by PAHC, I notice several consistent features:
1. Those who are in favor of the referenda and/or would like City of Palo Alto to rescind the zoning change are mostly from Barron Park and Greenacres, ie, the very residents whose children will be caught in the ensuing mess if the project goes forward. In contrast, those who are in favor of the project are from Midtown, on the other side of Alma, several miles away, and will not be affected.
2. The city can avoid election costs--the most fiscally responsible approach--by simply canceling the zoning changes.
3. Should the city decide to hold a vote, the most cost efficient time would be in November, 2014. PAHC is the cause of the problem, thus they should have no say on the timing of the election.
4. How many people throughout Palo Alto realize that there is a neighboring project proposed for the Buena Vista trailer park site? This new development will have 184 luxury apartments. Where are the below market rate and low income units in this high rise development?
5. Residents should also know that if the senior project for Maybell is built, it will not give priority to displaced residents from the trailer park, now will it give priority to seniors who currently live in Palo Alto. It will include residents from ALL of Santa Clara County--from the Palo Alto border with Menlo Park to the far southern reaches of the county. Why build a project at the north end of a huge county if probably most of the potential residents will come from 20 or more miles away?
All of these issues and more need to be considered before issuing a permit to build on the Maybell site as planned. Let the developer of the trailer park site foot at least part of the bill.
The best way to avoid a costly and bitterly fought election is to rescind the voting change now.
Probably the best kept secret, buried at the end of one of the staff reports, is that the property doesn't even have to remain for seniors, there was no requirement under the PC zoning that it stay for seniors.
Council approves all projects with massive exceptions to zoning, granting huge financial gains to private parties and no public benefits. The public is told that if they do not like Council's decisions, they have the right to sue based on CEQA or bring it to a vote of the public thru referendum. When the public excercise this right, they are then blamed for the expenses the city must incur.
Tax payers will continue to bear the burden of this ridiculous process until we elect a City Council that believes that the zoning ordinances and Comprehensive Plan contain the regulations and guiding principles for development in Palo Alto.
This is not about Maybell
It is about Miki's
It is about destruction of the historical Eichler building at Edgewood
It is about the commercial development of downtown and parking
It is about El Camino and Embarcadero traffic
It is about the two lane cow path Arastradero got turned into which successfully slowed cars to a dead stop.
It is about the private construction yard on and blocking Alma
It is about the $24 million plus mausoleum for dead trees on Middlefield which is millions over budget and years behind schedule
It is about the slaughter of 500 trees for a new golf course we don't need
It is about a garbage factory in the baylands
It is about 27 University
Folks have had enough, let's vote. It is time to take our government back!
You are absolutely right, folks have had enough, and the Maybell situation is emblematic.
However, for the Maybell neighbors, this battle really IS about Maybell and the circumstances there. Folks in the neighborhood are fighting this on behalf of their children, because they understand and witness and live what City Council and PAHC don't seem willing to listen to.
Thank you Midtown, you are so right. This is about all of Palo Alto.
It is about up-zoning property for the benefit and gain of the developers.
And don't forget the misery that is the JCC fortress building butted up agains the street blocking sun and sky , oversized, ticky tacky, overheight, and bizarre. And, the list goes on...
Now, here the thing. Its really no business and no concern of PAHCs what does or doesn't go in to the maybell sight once they sell that land. The city basically owns that land right now anyway - by virtue of the being the lender. Just like the bank owns your home. When you sell your house you payoff the bank loan, and you move on. What gets done with 'your' house after you leave is no business of yours at that point. PAHC should 'sell' it to the city and move on.
NOw, am I misunderstanding something - or Is PAHC supposed to be non profit? Then what's their motivation for digging in so hard on this site?? Why do they care? To the point of having to hire political campaign consulting to get it done? Something doesn't wash - who's profiting so wildly at PAHC behind the scenes, (or standing to lose so much by dropping plans at this location) that they're willing to fund costly political consultants to force it through?
The vast majority of people I've spoken with in the affected neighborhoods, including myself, as well as all over the city in the course of circulating the petitions, are either in favor of low income Sr. housing or at least confortable with it, even as approved in this PC rezone. This despite the efforts by PC resoning proponents to protray the opposition as being "opposed to Sr. housing".
Many don't realize that there are two major parts to this PC rezone, and the one seldom mentioned by the proponents is the development, by a private for-profit developer, of 12 narrow, dense, single family homes with no provisions for either affordabile housing or Seniors (some 3-stories tall) and out of character with the neighborhood, to be sold at "market rate" (i.e. maximum profit, a huge "gift of zoning" by the City Council). This is to provide funding to PAHC for the Sr. project but imposes a big load on the neighborhood. When an alternative plan for fewer (7-8) but larger homes that in aggrate could be sold for just as much profit and thereby be worth as much to PAHC was proposed at the last minute negotiating session moderated by the mayor PAHC rejected it out of hand, though they acknowledged they hadn't revisited their finances or considered alternative approaches since much earlier in their planning. Reducing the number of homes would have reduced peak traffic and other impacts on the neighborhood and had this proposal been accepted it seems likely that the petitions could have been avoided and PAHC could have been on schedule - an opportunity missed by both PAHC as well as by the City Council who could have imposed it.
Now that a pause has been achieved, I'd like to see all sides, PAHC, the neighborhoods, and the city engage in meaningful dialog and serious effort to achieve a compromise that gives all what they need, though perhaps not all that they want- affordable Sr. housing and protection of neighborhood safety and character. Scheduling a quicker, special, election will only serve to further polarize the situation as both sides gear up for battle. Rather than slowing things down, by either reversing the PC decision or waiting to the 2014 election cycle will help depressurize the atmosphere and provide more time for the various sides to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution. Shouldn't we be respecting and listening to each other rather than demonizing and doing battle? All sides play a role in this, but the City Council and PAHC have the most power to help us move forward.
The City of Palo Alto and its officials are not acting in the best interest of its citizens. That includes, but is not limited to, the Maybell project. The city council is failing to represent the will of the people. And they are not protecting us from rampant, massive over developoment. As a result, the people of Palo Alto are having to step in and take control, whether it be through special elections, referendums, etc. Our city leaders have failed us miserably.
I was wondering when the JCC would enter the picture-- it took about 6 hours of discussion before someone chimed in with the usual complaints. Let's remember where the JCC is and what it replaced . Not too many pedestrians alongbthatbpart of San Antonio and certainly no homeowners getting their sun and view blocked. So why does it come up over and over again? Maybe because it was not built in the eichler style ( cheaply built fire traps) or maybe it looks too 21st century. For some people in palo alto if the building does not look like the briones dump, a home in professorville or an Eichler abomination it is "tricky tacky".
You are mistaken Sunshine! There is a live and/or work in PA preference for maybell and all PAHC projects. Almost all residents are drawn from PA.
And - all of you - obviously PAHC will defend itself and maybell project. It would be stupid to not do so and probably a violation of it's boards fiduciary duty to not. I hope they come out swinging. You are doing more harm to this town than 10 pahc's could do.
There is a live/work preference for PAHC projects. But most of the working people who live in PAHC projects come from outside of Palo Alto - if they could afford to live here while working here, they'd already be living here. That makes sense, to keep people closer to their jobs. But it's different with seniors, who aren't working (according to PAHC). It makes no sense then to draw them from across the County. Most seniors in Palo Alto, even the very low-income ones, own their own homes and stay in them.
Sunshine is right, though. The County of Santa Clara actually made the biggest loan on the property.
And the staff report on the rezoning says that the PC zoning is granted without the property being restricted in the future to serving low-income seniors. We have no guarantees that low-income seniors, or even seniors at all, will live there in the future. This is relevant, given how the promise of seniors living there long-term has been used to sell the idea.
As much as this is about the neighborhood, who lives there and the everyday issues this really is about up-zoning property for the benefit and gain of the developers. This is happening all over Palo Alto and the City has a long list of future projects. This is not really about who lives on the property (seniors are welcome) but it is about the quality of their life and the sustainability of the neighborhood. We need a plan for Palo Alto as it grows with increased population at VMWare, Google, downtown, Stanford, the schools, etc. Right now the comprehensive plan and zoning needs to be followed. Palo Alto deserves a well thought out plan for the future. If the plan is not working then work needs to be done on changing it before these random acts of re-zoning continue.
"And - all of you - obviously PAHC will defend itself and maybell project. It would be stupid to not do so and probably a violation of it's boards fiduciary duty to not. I hope they come out swinging. You are doing more harm to this town than 10 pahc's could do."
It's just that kind of adversarial attitude on the part of PAHC planners that got us here. They assumed right off the bat that there would be no support for affordable housing and tried a typical strategy of sneak it through then NIMBY attack when that didn't work. Amazing considering there is so much affordable housing development in that neighborhood already, including their own project.
No diana, misplaced adversarial build up of this would be stupid and ultimately damaging not only to their own reputation, but also to the City Council and the relationship between thousands of residents and the City. PAHC's unethical tactics and aggressive ad hominem attacks of neighbors have cost them huge support in the the adjacent neighborhoods. Remember, they exist to do good in the community, and they're attacking the hand that feeds them. They could have tried, in good faith, to work with the community from the outset (instead of NOT and just saying so, a further insult to the neighborhood). That would have been the best course.
If they want to build on that property, within the existing zoning, they are welcome. At one time they would have gotten help and cooperation from the neighborhood to do so. But they treated neighbors as aggressively and disdainfully as you have just expressed, and now here we are.
PAHC will defend itself? If it indeed missed its funding application deadline, or misrepresented their zoning to the tax credit agency, its best defense is to begin re-establishing a positive relationship with the community, because they'll need charitable input in order to replace the funding they themselves have missed out on for failure to follow the rules. Given the damage they've done so far, they'd better start right away.
Good list. It's about the destruction of the aesthetic qualities
and character of the City by a Council/ARB/staff who have other
priorities, agendas, and a different value system in a complete
disconnect with what Palo Alto used to represent. Palo Alto is
undergoing a grotesque transformation. What is happening to this
City is awful and beyond the concern or understanding of the Council and staff.
So let me understand - PAHC is exempt from property taxes because they are non-profit, so they don't contribute to the schools despite having a number of kids renting in their properties, they don't contribute to the city revenues, the county social programs.
they can hire political consultants and wage a political campaign costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Alas, not for us...I think we are already decided to head to Saratoga or Los Gatos. We've had over 30 wonderful years. Our kids graduated from great schools, a quiet safe neighborhood and lots of community services and harmony.
Now, the density, the stop lights on every corner and over crowding are just too much. I grew up in the Mission district in SF at a time (late 50s) when we didn't lock our doors at night and all the neighbors greeted one another. Palo Alto was like that for most of the time we lived here and really a 'heaven on earth' living experience.
The politicians and the puppet master developers who manage them do not have your better interest at heart. I only hope it's not too late.
"NOw, am I misunderstanding something - or Is PAHC supposed to be non profit? Then what's their motivation for digging in so hard on this site?? Why do they care? "
Errr...because they're a non-profit trying to provide low income housing. You might not care but at least they do!
Not an issue - ugly is ugly. And why - Didn't have to be that way - except for greed.
"Palo Alto is undergoing a grotesque transformation" - I could not agree more! Some of the new construction (see the new Monroe Place condos) is so out of place with existing buildings, its hard not to wince at the sheer incongruity and ugliness of it.
It's been 10 years since PA residents successfully brought a referendum, let alone filed a lawsuit. Doesn't the CC understand just how furious and determined BP residents are after having their safety concerns on Maybell completely ignored? Even Marc Berman, a member of the CC & the only member to come down to BP and see the traffic mess for himself, admitted in open session that Maybell is unsafe for kids today.
If the sense of community that once made people want to live in PA is lost, eventually the city's reputation will suffer and developers, having destroyed all that mattered here will move on to their next victim, leaving the rest of us holding the bag.
I keep trying to watch the live streaming and it keeps crashing. I just saw a snippet of Nancy Shephard - I just had to delete what I said so PA Weekly won't.
Tone Deaf. They have destroyed all trust.
Pat Burt [expletive deleted]
Why did I vote for these people? Can I vote to recall them?
They keep rehashing the argument that a developer could put all these things on there under the "low-density" pre-existing zoning.
If a developer has to live with HEIGHT, SETBACK, DAYLIGHT PLANE, PARKING and other restrictions, they are not going to build AS MANY units as they can, they are going to maximize their PROFITS, which is a completely different issue. If you have to honor existing zoning, you are going to build the houses that will get you the most money, which is NOT the obelisks someone would have to build to put in more than 15 houses. A developer - and there have been builders in the neighborhood and a former planning commissioner look at this - would maximize their profits with about 15 homes under the existing zoning, because anything over 2,000 sq ft in this neighborhood goes at a premium.
And they DO have the ability to control the property if PAHC decides to sell it. The nerve in telling us they would have no control, when their own staff report says they do. A liability attorney looking at those documents should the worst happen to a child because of their negligence is not going to give them the same pass they give themselves with the truth.
They don't know the neighborhood, but they obviously still think it's okay to treat us like we're dumb as nails.
You are not alone, deep throat. It appears that the Media Center has switched as of August 1 to a new method of live transmission. However, the new live video stream continually fails for me on a Mac run Mac OS or Windows via virtualization. On Monday, I had the workaround of KZSU radio, but apparently they do not broadcast when the council does not meet on a Monday.
Once posted to the archives, the videos run OK. One new curiosity, however, is that whenever council members speak all you see is a long shot of the dais. They might as well use a still photo. You do still get close-ups of staff and the public at the podium.
Ain't as interesting anymore. What gives?
No, parent. Ugly is an opinion. What you think is ugly may not be to others. Time to Getty over the JCC.
Why are people throwing out NIMBY as though it is a dirty word? Of course no one wants perceived excessive development in their own back yards. There is nothing wrong with NIMBY when the issue is about the local neighborhood.
But - I have looked at both the traffic study and the Massing model of the development, as well as a current Satellite view of the current orchard to be developed. It really looks reasonable to me.
So they are putting a 4 story building up. Adjacent to an existing 8 story.
The opposition to this project have an uphill battle to get my vote.
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