Divided council beefs up parking requirements
Original post made
on Dec 11, 2012
With downtown residents up in arms about a dearth of parking in their neighborhoods, Palo Alto officials agreed on Monday to suspend for one-year a zoning exemption that lowered the parking requirements for new developments downtown.
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posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 12:34 AM
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm
I was drawn to this speech because of his colorful use of language; I re-wound my device and took some notes and counted about a dozen metaphors or tropes. Whether Gennady consciously or merely unconsciously cleaned up the language, I think the Weekly's readers would like more coverage of the real estate industry, who are the main players, why they are so successful, is it true that council is "too cozy" with them.
Don't get me wrong, I find the guy compelling. Here's a transcript of his speech:
Good evening, 700 Emerson. This is of course the pipeline question. I've been involved in this property, with this application, for about a-year-and-a-half and certainly if this moratorium per council-member Schmid's argument, had there been a moratorium at that point, I wouldn't have pursued it. But we spent a lot of time and money in reliance on your rules and regs, and I won't use the word "bait-and-switch" but we're on the one-yard-line, or whatever metaphor you want to use, and here we are. So is the 376 thousand dollars, which includes future interest, even though we are effectively paying off the principal, a acceptable number? The answer is, it's a lot more than what we started out with, a couple years ago, but it's a long way from an in lieu fee, and is -- I know when to fold the cards.
I think that staff's recommendation is something we'll swallow and absorb and the 150 thousand dollar downtown cap study we'll address our success problem in downtown Palo Alto and the adjacent neighborhoods which are also having their own success issues.
So I would just say that on the ground floor retail issue, I only have so many fingers to plug in dykes, but we worked hard on this, for a year and a half, two years ago, when we had over 15 per cent vacancy on University Avenue, there was a concern that --- there was a safety valve those might turn to offices. So we eliminated the safety valve, also allowed flexibility for retail or offices and adjacent streets, and particularly west of High Street, which has always been a problematic retail area, and that would be a fatal flaw, for this project, if we only had one way to go. Thank you.
Council debated for about two hours on whether to give the applicant a $2.4 million tax break, on top of a $1.2 million "TDR" "transferable development right" tax break, or to merely, as staff suggested, charge him about $300,000 -- although Scharff pointed out an obvious math flaw in the way that was calculated -- plus another $110,000 or so to pay for a study, versus "kicking the can" which is what they opted to do.
We have been using the figure of $60,000 per space as what it would cost to build a parking garage. The moratorium would eliminate his initial intention to under-park 135 Hamilton by 40 spaces, The 636 project is smaller, only 15 spaces (worth $900,000), exempted. Staff said they could treat the two projects differently.