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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Why don’t city officials love my car?

Uploaded: Oct 29, 2019
I love my little hybrid gas-sipping silver car, but it’s unrequited love. City officials don’t adore my car the same way I do. They’d prefer to see me walk or bike; they keep on spending transportation money on more bike lanes and narrower roads, and once streets go on a diet, their attitude seems to be “problem solved!” – when it really isn’t (think Charleston and Arastradero roads in Palo Alto where commute congestion clogs intersections daily).

What brought this to mind was a recent discussion the Palo Alto City Council held putting strict limits on train commuter parkers on residential streets near the Cal Ave train station. Resident commuters have been parking on these station-adjacent streets so far years, but now the situation has worsened and the streets are mostly filled all day with parked autos.

So the council decided that all households in a designated residential preferential parking area can get residential parking permits (RPPs) -- after they pay $50 annually for the privilege. They can purchase an additional five at $50 per permit to park all day, even all night. The rest of us who want to park in the area are limited to two-hour on-street parking, if we can find a space. Obviously, this impacts commuters.

The council spoke little about what effect this would have on commuters – there were hints (but no data) that the Cal Ave station parking was not always full, and mention that a new six-story parking garage under construction will be ready maybe in mid-2020. No consideration of what those commuters will do in the interim. Garage parking is three hours, so commuters will have to pay to park.

Yet these “commuters” are us – we, the residents – not some unwanted aliens. If a person who lives near 101 wants to take Caltrain to work, she has to park her car near the station. I was told the lots charge $5 a day, or about $750 a year, in addition to Caltrain costs.

Ironically, this is the very same city that is urging us to “use public transit” instead of driving our cars. Taking away parking from one of two train stations is not the way to encourage residents to use public transit.

This isn’t the only way city officials evidence a slight disdain for my car. They are talking about charging for parking downtown – like parking meters. But this time the pay box, from what I read, would be at corners, which means park and walk to pay. The revenues would, of course, go to the city, possibly for the Transportation Management Program.

Ka-ching, Ka-ching for city coffers.

Just this week the city council members met with State Assemblyman Marc Berman, a former council member himself. He broached the idea of charging tolls to get into the congested areas in the city during peak periods, akin to what London does and NYC is considering. Councilmember. Adrian Fine thought it was an interesting idea to pursue.

Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

Traffic is a mess in this area, and it’s getting worse. I know city officials are struggling with the problem, trying to figure out what to do. But, also ironically, they caused a large part of the problem by allowing more and more offices to be built the last decade, and lowering the requirements for the number of parking spaces needed. So inevitably this town is getting more people, more cars, more, more, more.

The idea of halting construction of office buildings appeals to me, but it’s not a solution because the traffic problem already exists.

So council members are diligently trying to alleviate congestion, and convince me not to drive my lovely little silver car around or downtown. Unfortunately, most of us have bonded with our cars for years, and it’s a love tie that is going to be very difficult to divorce.
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Comments

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 29, 2019 at 6:55 pm

Well said.

Additionally, all the parking for commuters and workers near Cal Ave is west of the tracks. To drive the congested Oregon Expressway (misnamed) underpass, a driver will be stuck in traffic, take an extra 15 minutes and probably miss a train.

If we are to use the trains, then make them easy to use. We need to be able to park and walk the pedestrian tunnel to get to the train, not sit in traffic making an already congested street even more congested.

And the trains are not just for commuters. How many of us will be using them for Sharks, Giants, Warriors, concerts, etc?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Oct 29, 2019 at 7:51 pm

There must not be enough jobs here if Palo Altans really need to commute out of town every day to find suitable employment.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Marc, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 29, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I live in midtown. If I want to take the train or use California ave I park on this side of Alma near the park and take the underpass.

Parking by the train station and Cal Ave is as bad as downtown. Staying on this side of Alma avoids El Camino, Oregon, Park Ave and other high traffic areas.

It is the same that when I need to go to PAMF I park by Whole Foods and take the underpass. I don't want to go near El Camino, Town & Country, etc.

The problem is that the city doesn't look at the problem in a realistic manner. The whole road diet approach believes that if the traffic isn't on "this" street it magically vanishes.

So recognize that there is a demand by people to stay away from Cal ave but use the train. Figure out a way to deal with it, not try to eliminate it.


/marc


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 5:01 am

There is unanimous agreement among local government, not just in Palo Alto, but regionally, that the ONLY way to alleviate traffic is to "get cars off the road". They talk about this endlessly. They are using a scorched-earth policy. They are hellbent on virtually terraforming the entire region into a dense, high-rise place with crowded buses and trains and bicycles everywhere, totally different from what it's always been.
Ironically, their plans repeatedly fail to "stop solo-commuting" -- no one switches to different modes of transportation, and the result is unspeakable congestion.
But the insulated city planners, who probably aren't the ones dealing with the results of their gambits, never give up. They keep removing lanes, trying in vain to incentivize mass transit and carpooling and bicycling, and to make driving unviable. It is wasteful, destructive to safety and people's personal schedules, and I think they ought to revert everything to how it was a decade ago (prioritize efficient traffic flow for CARS) and leave well enough alone.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

Online Name is a registered user.

It would be great if our oblivious city officials stood at the corner of Santa Rita and Middlefield and watched all the larger vehicles fail to navigate that turn because they made the turn lane too shallow, forcing cars to back up to let in the larger vans, buses etc.

What an expensive farce.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:03 am

The city doesn't love your car because you live here. If you commuted in from Danville, they would be happy for you to park in front of your house.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Chip, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:49 am

Diana said it very well.
Please, no more new office construction downtown. No more underparked hotels (looking at you, Larry E) & no more underparked residential construction. Require all new residential construction to have at least 1.5 parking spaces per unit.

Remove parking on University between Alma & Guinda. Cars backing out of a U Ave space block the single traffic lane & can cause a backup for a couple of blocks. Eliminating the street parking there would allow both a bike lane and a left turn lane.

Lengthen the median cut out @ the main driveway entrance to PAMF. The left lane of ECR southbound gets stopped because cars are waiting to enter left-turn cut out but can't enter until non-turning traffic moves forward. Work with Menlo or CalTrans to do the same at the Alma-El Camino left turn, which is always a mess. It can take 2 full signal cycles just to get into the left turn lane at both of these intersections which exacerbates our already horrible traffic.

Each downtown household should get 1 street parking permit free, with a maximum of 3 additional available @ $50 each a year.
No more tax incentives to lure commercial development anywhere in PA.

Marc in midtown is lucky that he's able to park "this side" of Alma (presumably east?) and use tunnels to get to CalTrain & PAMF. Not all residents are able to do this, though. Some have physical limitations (artificial hips, knees, arthritis or other conditions/diseases) which impair such mobility. Sanctimony is unbecoming & condescending to less able residents.

For bicyclists? Get CalTrain or whichever agency is responsible to clear the shrubbery & debris on the west side of Alma & expose what is supposed to be the bike lane. It's so overgrown that cyclists are forced into auto lanes.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 12:25 pm

"They are hellbent on virtually terraforming the entire region into a dense, high-rise place with crowded buses and trains and bicycles everywhere, totally different from what it's always been."

Correct, because the entire Bay Area, Palo Alto included, is totally different from what it's always been. To simply do nothing is impractical. Sure, some people don't like change, but that is beside the point. Change has happened, so the question is how to best deal with it. This needs to be done with the understanding that the population will continue to increase. Development, increased office space, and an increased workforce are not simply going to go somewhere else. They already are "somewhere else", too.

It would be super nice if Palo Alto was the same as in the early 1970s, or even the early 1990s, but it just isn't and never will be again. The Palo Alto into which you were born or moved is long gone.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,

>> Correct, because the entire Bay Area, Palo Alto included, is totally different from what it's always been. To simply do nothing is impractical. Sure, some people don't like change, but that is beside the point. Change has happened, so the question is how to best deal with it.

One place that I've spent some holiday time in that I liked was Switzerland. Can I just move there because I like it? Will the Swiss accommodate me just because change has always happened? I hope you realize that you are not actually offering an "argument"?

There actually is no rational reason at all why we have to keep building more office space anywhere on either side of the Bay. We don't have to. We just have to decide to put the development somewhere else. My idea is to put it near Tracy, because, -that's where all the new housing is already being built-. So, obviously, -lots of people are willing to live there-. But, since I like almonds and almond trees, I would like to put the new office space uphill from I-5 and the two major aquaducts, where the new office space won't displace the fruit and nut trees.

Besides Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Sweden all have beautiful mountains and are very nice. If I can't get into Switzerland, can I just move to one of these other countries? After all, change happens?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by I WANT! GIMME!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 1:07 pm

I want to drive my car where and when I want without traffic or inconvenience, said the far too many people to fit onto the road.

What is the author doing to help herself? Why is the author insistent that Nanny Palo Alto fix this mess instead of finding a solution that fits her needs. It sounds like she's saying "I'm never ever ever going to stop driving my car for all trips, so start making it fast and convenient"
Good luck with that sort of thinking.

Doing things the way they've always been done is the best way to get fired in a job, especially when the environment changes.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Posted by I WANT! GIMME!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,

>> Doing things the way they've always been done is the best way to get fired in a job, especially when the environment changes.

IOW, money talks. We should all sit down and shut up and do what the plutocrats tell us to do.

"TBNT"


 +   9 people like this
Posted by I WANT! GIMME!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 1:50 pm

"We should all sit down and shut up and do what the plutocrats tell us to do."
No. We should not be locked in useless ways as the world changes and expect them to suddenly become useful. If people want things like they used to be their FIRST step should be explaining how we get the populations levels of PA and surrounding areas down to the 1970's levels.
That's step one. Nobody wants to admit that.

Asking you directly, what have YOU done to help yourself and free yourself from the Plutocrats.
Are you asking the plutocracy for help? That won't work.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 5:10 pm

It's a classic tragedy of the commons. Parking and roads are a limited resource. They're being destroyed by over-use, because no one feels any pricing signals.

As pointed out above, the ideal solution would be to reduce (or at least limit the growth of) population, but our government is bought and paid for by developers and big business, and that's never going to to happen. The remaining choices are rationing, or charging. Parking permits is a reasonable compromise.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Anyone who lives near a school gets parking in their street evenings, weekends, when there are school events.

Anyone who lives near a park gets parking their street evenings, weekends, for sports events, parties, community events.

Anyone who lives near a community center gets parking in their street whenever there is a community event, social event, etc.

Anyone who lives near a church, synagogue, temple, gets parking in their street Sunday mornings or whenever there is a meeting held, or for weddings, large memorial services, etc.

Those people have to put up with parking. So should those who knowingly bought a house beside any city amenity. A Caltrain station is an amenity for everyone. A tunnel is part of that amenity. Preventing people from using the tunnel to get to the station is refusing them use of that amenity.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 7:35 pm

"One place that I've spent some holiday time in that I liked was Switzerland. Can I just move there because I like it? Will the Swiss accommodate me just because change has always happened? I hope you realize that you are not actually offering an "argument"?"

It's not an argument, it is a statement of fact.

You can indeed move to Switzerland, as many others have done already. You will need to apply for a long term visa and a residence permit. If you are at least one-quarter Swiss, descended from your father's side of the family, they consider you to be a Swiss citizen.

"There actually is no rational reason at all why we have to keep building more office space anywhere on either side of the Bay. We don't have to. We just have to decide to put the development somewhere else."

Ah yes, the same old "tell them to go somewhere else" nonsense. You realize that NIMBYs elsewhere have said the same thing, making Palo Alto one of the "somewhere elses", right?

Restricting office space in Palo Alto has only made commercial rents go through the roof. That has had the effect of pushing many local retailers out. Remember Kimura Gallery, Prolific Oven, Congdon & Crome, University Art, Accent Arts, and many other stores and restaurants pushed out by high rents? How does losing those places maintain the quality of life in Palo Alto? Not at all, from what I have seen.

"My idea is to put it near Tracy, because, -that's where all the new housing is already being built-."

Their idea is to put it in Palo Alto, because it is in Silicon Valley. Throwing the problem over the fence works both ways.

"So, obviously, -lots of people are willing to live there-. But, since I like almonds and almond trees, I would like to put the new office space uphill from I-5 and the two major aquaducts, where the new office space won't displace the fruit and nut trees."

That area is not in the heart of Silicon Valley. Companies want to move here, where the action is, not there, but I think you know that.

"Besides Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Sweden all have beautiful mountains and are very nice. If I can't get into Switzerland, can I just move to one of these other countries? After all, change happens?"

Yes, you can. Those who dislike the current Palo Alto so intensely might be happier in one of those countries.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Healthy Lifestyle, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 11:51 pm

Healthy Lifestyle is a registered user.

Was it Marc in Midtown? Why are you driving to Pamf? Get some exercise and walk or ride a bike " or do you drive to a workout business to build your muscles, while polluting the air and causing traffic and parking problems? It would be about two miles to Pamf from midtown. That's a 30" lovely walk.
As for the city " let's get some cross town buses running.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 7:30 am

Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,

>> It's not an argument, it is a statement of fact.

Your subsequent string of non-sequiturs can be described as a "Gish Gallop": Web Link

>> Yes, you can. Those who dislike the current Palo Alto so intensely might be happier in one of those countries.

Actually, you are the one who dislikes the current Palo Alto and wants to re-make it into lower Manhattan. I like Palo Alto. I don't want it to become like lower Manhattan. Or Hong Kong. That is my -preference-. But, your statements that it is "impractical" to not build more office space are just an expression of your personal preference. It is not necessary to destroy Palo Alto. We just have to decide not to destroy it.



 +   10 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 10:27 am

@Kenny,
"Ah yes, the same old "tell them to go somewhere else" nonsense. You realize that NIMBYs elsewhere have said the same thing, making Palo Alto one of the "somewhere elses", right?

Once again. NIMBY is a social justice term. Your co-opting it to promote overdevelopment is a false use of the term, destroys its power for social justice, and in fact encourages exactly the opposite outcome the term was invented to foster.

A NIMBY is someone who claims they want something, like integrated neighborhoods or workforces, but when push comes to shove (actions), they don't really want African Americans near them (in their “backyard"). It is about hypocrisy and social justice. It doesn't apply to overdevelopment " I don't think senseless and destructive densification is good anywhere (nothing to do with backyards). Using it to bowl over traditional liberals to get rampant overdevelopment for the sake of big companies " who are bringing in mostly young, white highly-paid tech workers and wholesale pushing out people of color all across the Bay Area " is despicable. It both crassly distorts the meaning of the word, and takes away its power for social justice.

@Kenny,
"Restricting office space in Palo Alto has only made commercial rents go through the roof. That has had the effect of pushing many local retailers out." Um, no.

This area has been horrendously expensive, with all the same arguments and observations of how it “used to be better" (not), and yet those businesses thrived.

What's different this time is the large companies taking over, putting in cafeterias and gyms in retail spaces in our downtowns, taking and taking what the public built without any sense for the destruction they cause, making whole parts of town into hotel monocultures, etc. They are who is pushing out ordinary people, people of color, and along with the destruction of the rest of ordinary civic life, pushing out small businesses who had survived all the other booms before.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 10:27 am

@Kenny
"To simply do nothing is impractical."
Impractical for whom? For developers trying to exploit the area? Companies who really should consider moving to grow rather than bulldozing the lives of people who spent decades scrabbling to put down roots here?

Actually no one is talking about “doing nothing" " what Palo Alto citizens like @Chip should be doing is rising up and demanding a more holistic planning, that accounts for safety, the disabled, and actual facts (like that density doesn't allow people to live near their work). Strictly enforcing zoning (making exceptions for low-income housing) will stop the wholesale giveaway to big companies and developers, who will be doing this region and our state (or nation) a favor by getting together to multiply the number of job centers rather than treating the Bay Area like some kind of tech clown car.

Kenny is basically declaring war on you who live here, and crafting false justifications, misusing and destroying the power of social justice terms " it's downright sociopathic.

@Kenny's excuse?
"Companies want to move here, where the action is,"
Then move the action, sociopaths. It's a lot easier and more logical than destroying the region for your selfish whims. Bill Gates moved to Seattle and lo and behold, that also became a hot job center. Your companies are much better positioned to make this happen. You clearly don't like this place and have no compunction about bulldozing everything and making it to your liking. Choose one or two places like Gates did, and have at it.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Wishful thinking, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 11:17 am

Single family homes and vehicles are what people want. Stop smearing and terrorizing those of us who simply are working hard and trying to keep our heads above water. Vehicles are becoming emission free.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by My My My, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 11:57 am

"Stop smearing and terrorizing..."
Really? Terrorizing? Wow, ok, if you really feel that way I can't argue against it. I'm sorry you feel terrorized. It must be difficult.

Anyway, what people all want and what is physically possible are two different things.
So EVERYONE wants single homes and free flowing traffic so the city should provide it?
Everyone wants to drive without traffic so there's a way to break the laws of physics and make the over population of cars move faster?

What are your ideas, other than someone should do something about this, as if there is some magical spell that will fix things without removing any vehicles from the road.
Do tell, because cities all over the globe will want to hear how traffic congestion was fixed without reducing the number of cars on the road.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 12:26 pm

@My My
Yes, it is difficult when people lose their livelihoods and businesses because the traffic becomes untenable because of too much office overdevelopment, when people who had peace and stability that they worked decades for, putting off families and living in seriously substandard conditions, then are overwhelmed by constant noise and pollution, and unable to participate in any of the ordinary aspects of civic life they did before. It's difficult when people are under constant threat of their neighborhoods adjacent to fire areas are losing any egress in the event of any number of completely foreseeable disasters here. It's difficult when people lose hundreds of hours every month that they could have spent with their children growing up just trying to get to their homes, when they worked so hard to try to live close enough to their work that it wasn't a problem. It's terrorizing for corporate shills to constantly demean and attack people's lives and livelihoods, and their attempts to save the civic life that made this a community.

If you can't argue against it, then stop it. If you want ideas, start listening. For what amounts to a rounding error for many of these companies, they could identify a few towns in California (or out) where that investment would completely revive the viability and attractiveness of the place, and figure out how to create a few more Silicon Valleys/Seattles/SanAntonios, etc, because this place does not have endless capacity.

It's going to happen at some point anyway, because no place has endless capacity. Whether it's going to happen at maximum destructiveness to livability here and to ordinary people around here, or if the companies are going to remember, oh, not to be evil, is the question.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm

At some point, we citizens are going to have to realize that no one is going to do this for us, while we still can.

Look at what Uber did to the taxi drivers in San Francisco (and a lot of other places). They called it "rideshare" but really what they did was create a lot of freelance taxis by circumventing regulations. This left taxi drivers who had sacrificed their whole lives to buy their medallions literally holding the bag. There were suicides, whole generations of families financially devastated. What's more, the big companies made specious arguments about how "rideshare" was better for the environment, when the actual result has meant way more cars circulating in downtown and CREATING a large percentage of the traffic (and emissions) and gridlock.

No one ever fixed this, the city of SF just rolled over for the big tech companies. The tech companies continue to make slick, false arguments to get their way (density, etc). This is just one example how, yes, people are being terrorized by these big companies' actions.

About 10% of the population has mobility limitations, and it's not just old people. Housing development and planning already seriously discriminates against them. The overt attempt by the state (Governor Schwarzenegger) to make it hard for cars has seriously devastating daily life for a lot of people. Contrary to @Lifestyle's nasty judgmentalism, not everyone has alternatives, and not everyone who could use alternatives, could without seriously destroying their livelihoods or family life.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 12:40 pm

I just wonder what the lack of a reliable power supply will do to the Californian economy? Will the fact that places like the nearer the Bay areas that didn't lose power become more popular for companies to situate themselves, or will they give up on California as a state and move elsewhere.

The Californian economy has been hit by these rounds of power shutoffs and businesses are going to be thinking seriously about the future if this continues every fall.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by If we stop building right now, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:13 pm

How much will traffic improve if we halted ALL building all over PA?
Post the percentage of vehicles that will no longer be on the road.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by False Narrative Alert, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Cars made it hard for cars. The idea that there is some war on cars is delusional and paranoid.

Why is 101 congested? That's 100% for car infrastructure, totally focused on motor vehicles, not pedestrian, not bikes, 100% motor vehicles.
Why is it congested and what war has been waged on our freeways like the congested 280?






 +   3 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,

>> I just wonder what the lack of a reliable power supply will do to the Californian economy? Will the fact that places like the nearer the Bay areas that didn't lose power become more popular for companies to situate themselves, or will they give up on California as a state and move elsewhere.

If you are thinking that Facebook may move away because of this-- dream on. All these companies locate their infrastructure in "cloud" locations -- what we used to call "server farms" -- all over the country. For example, one location that Facebook likes to locate servers is central Oregon: Web Link

I guess we will have to discourage these huge companies some other way -- like capping the amount of office space that can be constructed.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 3:21 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

City officials are absolutely enamored with non residents cars coming in. They go out of their way to attract them to drive into Palo Alto. it is the cars of Palo Alto residents they are so hostile to.

It his an interesting phenomenon where pro development city officials are convinced they should represent only those who don't live in Palo Alto.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Part of the solution or problem?, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 4:37 pm

Once we reduce the number of cars, traffic will flow.
What are people doing to help, or is everyone expecting the other guy to help and you do nothing?
Hmmm.

Here's what I did today: I needed to go to the atm at the store so instead of driving, I took my dog for a walk in that direction and popped in to the atm while over there.
Just now I had to buy some pumpkin candles so I hopped on my bike and breezed over and back to cvs without issue.

I'd be interested in hearing how others are doing their part.
If many others were to do little things like this as common place, the trips we _have_ to make in a car would be less "clogged".

Commute will still be tough, simply too many cars trying to get in, out and through coupled with all those school kids being driven.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 6:25 pm

@False,
"Cars made it hard for cars."

You're being overly simplistic on purpose. Speaking of false framing.

Big companies brought in way too many workers, and despite the many ordinary people and people of color they have already pushed out, the large number of employees they attracted and the overdevelopment they pushed/enabled have made more cars.

This area was metropolitan before the big crowd-out by the big tech companies, and traffic mostly flowed fine. Traffic circulation is, after all, an important element the state requires of local comprehensive plans. Or at least did forever until companies came with their false claims about how, if they were just allowed to keep crowding their employees in and taking over, everything would get better.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Esther Clark Park,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I agree with Actual Environmentalist but I don't get why you have to keep throwing in the phrase "people of color". So meaningless and racist


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:11 pm

@Resident,
As a biracial person myself, I'm sorry if I have offended you or anyone else. I'm not sure what other term I should be using.

The overdevelopment of the last few years/changing economy in the Bay Area have pushed out...people of color. Here's an article that covers "a pushing of low-income people and people of color out of the Bay Area" resulting from the tech overdevelopment influx:
Web Link

Is that now a racist term? What would you use in its place?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:31 pm

@ Diana,
I found an article recently about how the state started an initiative under Schwarzenegger to make driving inconvenient in a misguided effort to increase other kinds of transportation, but I can't find it now. I am interested in collecting evidence that this campaign to make car ridership harder is purposeful.

Our area has been pushing policies that make life way harder for people with various disabilities that affect mobility and energy. Most of the new housing approved in Palo Alto and a lot in Mountain View is not just inaccessible for the disabled to live, but even to visit. These senseless road-congestion-increasing initiatives assume that everyone can take other forms of transportation, which again, discriminates against quite a lot of people.

I remember all the grumbling when it came to businesses putting in handicapped stalls, but sometimes as a society we just have to do what's right. We do have inclusionary housing rules in Palo Alto, it's just that developers now think they are there as a way for them to circumvent zoning, nevermind including the disabled.

The problem with making it harder for people to get around by car is that a lot of people have no other choice because of either a physical disability or other circumstances. And, the City has utterly failed to create walkable amenities in parts of town that need them. Plus, you can't magically expand and shrink infrastructure like in a Harry Potter story. This area is built up and ill-suited for more density.

That said, I do think the powers that be should bite the bullet and underground the train, and claim the throughway that results for a bikeway and/or small motorized vehicle way across the whole town. It would change everything if people could basically take a bikebahn from one end of town to the other, with virtually no stopping and no dealing with dumb, dangerous intersection designs. Yes, this will be expensive. I think big companies caused the problems, they should step up to fix it. Besides, they can afford it way better than the people least able to afford it whose taxes went way up while the wealthiests' went way down.

Except in very specific circumstances, driving is more efficient for individuals' time and productivity, esp since the city has no plans to create more local walkable amenities (e.g. the opportunity to make Fry's civic space). Even HK, the richest (and only the richest) still drive, because of time.

Why can the City treat your car like they hate it? Because no one has stepped up to sue them for how it discriminates against a large swath of the population with mobility problems, for one.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Esther Clark Park,
on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:59 pm

There is no need to refer to skin color, you could say "low-income" people. For example many rich Indians have settled in the area, I've seen them living in extravagant mansions in Los Altos Hills, aren't they also "people of color"? It's a meaningless term and these days people shouldn't have a victim complex based on the color of their skin because that perpetuates racism. I'm so tired of identity politics.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 2:20 am

@Resident,
The many articles I have read, including the one I gave you the link for, refer to "a pushing of low-income people and people of color out of the Bay Area." We have to agree to disagree, because to me, conflating "low income" with any race as if it's always the same thing is what's racist.

Discussing the impact on demographics is a factual conversation, and social justice concerns remain real. What is your discomfort with being made aware of the fact that PEOPLE OF COLOR, including (but not limited to) BLACK people, are being pushed out of communities up and down the Bay Area, including communities that have traditionally had a higher proportion than the general population. That's simply a fact and something of concern. Avoiding demographic discussions and economic injustice because you think it unnecessarily gives people a "victim complex" seems way more racist to me.

The article I linked to didn't deal with every person of color in the world, certainly not rich people in Los Altos. What has that got to do with anything?

Save your preaching and squeamishness about racism for someone who hasn't actually experienced it.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 2:31 am

@Resident,
Another reason not to shy away from demographic discussions that include race when we're talking about overdevelopment, is the way the new tech economy is disproportionately favoring young, white males. That, too, is a fact.

Many a young, white, male tech CEO has been known to insult the intelligence of anyone who wasn't a young, white male, too, despite the fact that a 50-year-old startup founder is almost twice as likely to create a successful startup as a 30-year-old founder. (In a rigorous study that looked at 2.7 million company founders, economists at MIT, the US Census Bureau, and Northwestern University.) Web Link

I have noticed on these discussions that few people shy away from using disparaging language when discussing older residents, definitely a lot of ageism here in Silicon Valley, too. IMHO, shutting down anyone willing to name it is the prejudiced behavior.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Esther Clark Park,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 6:26 am

I am hardly a "white male" and posting anonymously, I'm not going to reveal my heritage. Needless to say, my ancestors weren't exactly privileged.
But I'm not gonna play the identity politics game and pretend to have a chip on my shoulder because of my lineage. We are going on a tangent unrelated to the main topic (cars, lol) but racism is not a problem anymore, IMHO. We have reached quite an egalitarian mainstream and that's a very good thing. The problem is politicians pitting people against each other by still using the phrase "people of color" and anyone who declares they are fighting for "social justice" makes me cringe. Social justice means vengeance which is actually a dangerous concept.
I look at individuals. I'm not in favor of arbitrary labels and its judgmental and yes, racist to imply that black people are poor and low-income. You are perpetuating stereotypes when you say that. Low-income includes many, many white people and people of any race. In our modern era it's become quite irrelevant to keep dividing groups based on skin color because it's so much more detailed than that. I take one individual at a time without making an inference based on their outward appearance, and that's the opposite of racism.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Esther Clark Park,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 6:35 am

I forgot to mention, talking about all the tech CEO's being "young white males" like its a problem is blatant racism. It cuts both ways, brother.
And then you can't get enough of labeling, so you also have to throw age into it. It's like you're absolutely drunk on identity politics.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 9:45 am

Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,

>> City officials are absolutely enamored with non residents cars coming in. They go out of their way to attract them to drive into Palo Alto. it is the cars of Palo Alto residents they are so hostile to.

I know. One poster refers to us residents "doing our part" -- well, I'm happy to do my part walking and riding my bike and limiting unnecessary car trips-- for the benefit of my fellow residents. I'm not willing to do it so that Corporations X, Y, and Z can add one more job for one more person commuting from Tracy-- who would rather work near Tracy, BTW. (Yes, I actually know someone who, BTW, did find a tech job closer to Tracy-- good for him).

>> It his an interesting phenomenon where pro development city officials are convinced they should represent only those who don't live in Palo Alto.

I know. Getting a city council who will represent the actual residents of the city. Seems like it should be a normal thing, but, it isn't.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Make everyone go away, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 9:52 am

There, I just fixed traffic.
I'm an effin genius!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 10:29 am

@Resident
You wrote'"but racism is not a problem anymore, IMHO. We have reached quite an egalitarian mainstream and that's a very good thing."
" talking about all the tech CEO's being "young white males" like its a problem is blatant racism."

I have been having a frank demographic discussion about how density is disproportionately impacting PEOPLE OF COLOR. You are the one veering into the racist view that talking about race is some kind of taboo that is racist just by talking about it. Maybe you should take it up with the Northeast Regional editor of USA today, who welcomes feedback with this recent article Web Link
"Pretending racism doesn't exist is not working. It's time to talk about race candidly."

At any rate, talking about the push for densification and its relationship to making it impossible to drive here (while the City does nothing at all to bring in walkable amenities), as well as the related social justice issues (the way densification is pushing out people of color), including that the war on cars is related to the tech industry taking over -- all that is on topic.

What's not on topic is hangups about talking about race. I take back my apology, *I'm* not the one who should be apologizing here. How about we talk about the subject at hand?


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 10:47 am

To Kenny, who think "doing nothing" is impractical.

All the new hires who came here bright eyed and bushy tailed thinking they are coming to where the action is, the bright lights of Silicon Valley, without their employer having informed them of the expensive housing market here -- they can get together and ask their employers to start spinning off into cities with good affordable housing and a good quality of life. Maybe even get together with other tech companies to make joint investments in civic amenities. Lots of medium-sized cities would love this.

Residents of the area like @ mauricio could get together and put forward an initiative that requires companies to inform their prospective employees moving here of the cost of living here, a kind of warning label like on the side of a pack of cigarettes. The employees get here and want to do all kinds of damaging things to existing residents because the place is not like their college urban setting and not citified enough for them. Employers should be required to be up front about what that salary really means here.

Bestplaces [dot] net and other websites have a cost of living calculator. They give the salary you need for an equivalent lifestyle.
Web Link

So for example, if you live in San Diego and make $150,000/yr, your salary should increase to almost $520,000 in Palo Alto (not even taking childcare or taxes into account, it's actually worse since 2017).

By contrast, if you start with a $150,000 salary in Palo Alto, your salary could decrease to $29,600 in Stockton, and $26,000 in Boise Id for the same standard of living.

Residents who are being bulldozed by companies taking over could simply require some kind of standard notice for prospective employees who might move here, as part of any recruitment package.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Stop building now, Traffic to improve in 20 years, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 11:07 am

Once we complete the transition to shift Silicon Valley to Tracey and the Central valley (A TOTALLY doable prospect in my imagination)
Traffic will begin to improve. You all will just need to wait until that transition is done, but once it's done, oooowee, we'll be driving totally unfettered with minimal traffic if any.
I'm an effin genius.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by CarolS, a resident of St. Claire Gardens,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 11:52 am

I locked my bike up at the California Ave Caltrain station once when I used to commute by train. The lock was cut and my bike was stolen. I decided parking by the station was the better option. I could have taken my bike on the train but there was not a good bike route to the office where I worked.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by @CarolS, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Yes, sadly you can't lock your bike all day outside anywhere and expect it to be there or intact when you get back. I lost mine outside Safeway in Los Altos once after being inside for 10 mins. The bike lockers at Caltrain are what most use. They may need more due to popularity though.

Its evident to hear you don't ride from the train because the route is no good. You could be the poster child for why many are working to improve bike routes.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Divorce from your car?, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 1, 2019 at 2:35 pm

God no, you don't need to come anywhere near having to divorce your car. You should just have a fling with your bike now and then. It'll make you feel young and will put a guaranteed bounce in your step.
You might even find yourself humming and smiling for no reason during your day ;)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 2, 2019 at 6:40 pm

I suspect this bike obsession has a lot to do with the willingness of bicycling organizations to award gaudy framed plaques suitable for hanging on a trophy wall in the office, and the reluctance of automobile advocates to do likewise. In city planning, the shiniest objects rule.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Rational or Irrational, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 3, 2019 at 6:18 am

Knowing that for every bike you see, it could instead be a car in front of you, adding to traffic, is it rational or irrational to want more people on bikes if your intent is to drive a car?
Bikes are indeed PART of the solution, but there is no single fix.
Other that moving Silicon Valley to Tracy, I haven't seen many other ideas for a fix, and more people doing short trips on bikes actually seems doable compared to moving everyone to Tracy.

What other ideas to people have for getting the number of cars on the road educed. If you want to drive, that should be your goal, supporting any efforts that will reduce the number of cars on the roads so the "all the time drivers" can have less traffic.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm

"Single family homes and vehicles are what people want. Stop smearing and terrorizing those of us who simply are working hard and trying to keep our heads above water. Vehicles are becoming emission free."

So if anyone has the temerity to disagree with NIMBYs they are terrorists? That is just plain silly. Also, not everyone in Palo Alto wants single family homes, especially if it forces prices ever higher. Not everyone wants Monaco By The Bay.

Electric vehicles might be emissions-free, but that does not always apply to the power stations that generate that electricity. Public transit is more efficient anyway, so growth should be encouraged along mass transit corridors. We can't build out, so that means building up.

"Actually, you are the one who dislikes the current Palo Alto and wants to re-make it into lower Manhattan."

I'm not the one who is constantly complaining about changes in Palo Alto. If I didn't like it here, I would have moved long ago. I like Palo Alto a lot, including its ongoing progress and development. Claiming that development will lead directly to Palo Alto becoming Manhattan is a pretty disingenous argument. Thousand foot skyscrapers are not what anyone is proposing, but I think you knew that.

"But, your statements that it is "impractical" to not build more office space are just an expression of your personal preference."

Limiting growth in the face of a rapidly increasing population is untenable. Telling them to go elsewhere is pointless, and has never worked. People need homes to live in and offices to work in. Housing and jobs are important. You chose to live in the world's largest scientific-industrial complex. Did anyone expect growth to suddenly stop after they arrived?

"It is not necessary to destroy Palo Alto. We just have to decide not to destroy it."

Then why do the zero-growthers seek to hobble Palo Alto by freezing or greatly limiting development? Pretending it is workable won't make it so.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 3, 2019 at 2:05 pm

"NIMBY is a social justice term."

No, it's not. NIMBY simply means someone who is opposed to development or change near them.

"A NIMBY is someone who claims they want something, like integrated neighborhoods or workforces, but when push comes to shove (actions), they don't really want African Americans near them (in their “backyard"). It is about hypocrisy and social justice."

That is a limousine liberal, an Ayn Rand-esque outlook combined with elitism, all behind a facade of political correctness. And yes, it does seem very hypocritical. A NIMBY is someone who claims they don't want something near them. They usually do not make any pretense of wanting change, and social justice has nothing to do with their position. Why are you trying to drag African Americans into this? It is not about any particular race or ethnic group.

"It doesn't apply to overdevelopment. I don't think senseless and destructive densification is good anywhere (nothing to do with backyards)."

I also don't think senseless and destructive development is good. Not all development is senseless and destructive, in fact much of what is going on now is quite necessary. More needs to be done. The notion that restricting housing and office space is good, and that those who cannot afford sky high rents and mortgages should leave is prevalent. Using let-them-eat-cake "logic" to restrict growth has already caused harm to the area, and would cause even more harm if it is allowed to continue.

"Using it to bowl over traditional liberals to get rampant overdevelopment for the sake of big companies who are bringing in mostly young, white highly-paid tech workers and wholesale pushing out people of color all across the Bay Area is despicable. It both crassly distorts the meaning of the word, and takes away its power for social justice."

Is restricting the supply of housing, including affordable housing, so that rents go sky high social justice? Being anti-development isn't necessarily linked to conservatism or liberalism.

Housing and commercial costs are subject to supply vs. demand. Limit supply and costs go up. The NIMBY solution is to limit demand by telling people they have no right to live in the area if they can't afford it. Does that sound like social justice or common sense to you? Not to mention that each city in the Bay Area is on the hook to provide sufficient very low, low, moderate and above moderate income housing (Ref. Web Link). Those are minimums, cities can always build more.

You rail against white high-tech workers. You do realize that the tech workforce is far from being all white, right? There are many, many Asians, Indians, as well as people of other ethnicities working in tech. Development is not a race or social justice issue, so it is unclear why you are bringing that into the convo. People of all races need jobs and a place to live, and hopefully a commute that is less than 100 miles each way.

"Kenny is basically declaring war on you who live here, and crafting false justifications, misusing and destroying the power of social justice terms it's downright sociopathic."

No, it is those who are seeking to hamstring progress and modernisation who are declaring war.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Nov 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

" Limit supply and costs go up."

Simply not true. There are many examples, look at Hong Kong and London, where sharp increase in supply actually raised prices and made housing and construction costs higher. The old supply and demand meme might work when demand is finite and can be met and satisfied. it hardly ever works in highly desirable areas with infinite demand for housing.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 3, 2019 at 4:31 pm

The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose conurbation is not Hong Kong or London. That a lack of new housing construction is harmful is supported by this study:

Silicon Valley's Housing Crisis:
How did we get here, and what can we do about it?
Policy brief prepared by Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy (CCSCE)
May 2017
Web Link

From the study:

"One of the reasons that housing costs are so high is that housing production has been limited. For example, Silicon Valley added 344,149 residents between 2007 and 2016. To keep pace with this population growth and maintain household size at the 2007 level, an estimated 130,094 units of new housing would have been needed in the region. However, only 69,503 units were issued building permits. "

and

"There are many reasons why more housing is not being built in California and in Silicon Valley. Local governments do not issue permits to build enough housing to meet their needs because they face a number of barriers and constraints throughout the development process. These include community opposition, lengthy development review, incentives to approve sales-tax generating development (such as retail stores) rather than residential development and market conditions, such as limited access to predevelopment financing and high land construction costs."

"Community opposition" refers in part to the Not In My Backyard crowd, although they are not the sole problem. One of the solutions identified is to "increase density and incentivize affordable development through density bonuses".

Silicon Valley isn't going away. Pretending that it might is fighting a war that is already over on a battlefield that no longer exists.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 4, 2019 at 9:23 pm

If the city wanted to fix the parking problem -- and I mean REALLY fix the parking problem -- then they would ban street parking for non-residents (meaning people who do not actually LIVE in Palo Alto). Everyone else could be forced to use parking garages.

Employers could buy a certain number of permits to those parking garages -- but with a hefty fee attached to large businesses. Street parking would be one-hour only (or two-hours for medical workers). All Palo Alto residents would be exempt for cars registered to residencies in Palo Alto.

Private lots on location, of course, would be restricted to whoever the lot owner decides.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2019 at 11:25 pm

" Telling them to go elsewhere is pointless, and has never worked. "

Sure it has. Bill Gates decided to settle in Seattle. Austin didn't used to be a major tech job center. These places have not been able to absorb the growth.

The people who have scrabbled to make a life here, sacrificing for decades in what has long been a high priced area (even during the low in the business cycle) do not deserve to have everything they worked for wiped away by companies that could decide to move tomorrow. The fact is that limitless growth is what is impractical. This place doesn't need 100 foot skyscrapers to be destroyed, it is already at carrying capacity. We all had to make huge sacrifices in the last drought, yet the cities allowed companies to keep growing and bringing in water users.

The big companies have caused these problems. Dense job centers like Hong Kong and Manhattan demonstrate that building up in an in-demand job center does NOT create affordability or stabilize demand. It will only ruin this place more than their overcrowding and overdevelopment already has.

I'm not going to argue over your gross misuse of the word NIMBY to promote overdevelopment. NIMBYism is about hypocrisy -- people who claim to be all for something far away but not near them. Your attempts to destroy the power of the word for social justice aside, it's simply not the right word -- I think senseless overdevelopment of a nice place is inappropriate anywhere.

Companies can develop some civicmindedness and grow where they are not going to crush thousands of lives of ordinary people who sacrificed for decades to make a life in that place. This is a vast nation with many places that could become the next IT place. This place was a bunch of orchards not that long ago. Take the party where your utter selfishness is not so destructive.

San Francisco really is becoming like Hong Kong, and if you look at how Hong Kong went from a pretty low-rise place to the high rise concrete jungle it is today, it happened over a similarly short period of time. SF already looks more like Hong Kong than it does like SF before this boom cycle.

More to the point, people used all the EXACT same arguments in Hong Kong. If only they built more around transit. If only they built more microunits. If only people could live near their jobs. Hong Kong is the end result of all those arguments, and demonstrate that they NEVER achieve those results. They only make overdevelopment easier. Hong Kong has the best transit in the world, with extremely high usage rates. Yet people still can't live near their jobs. When things get really dense, people stopped walking, not the opposite. (duh) Really really dense housing, so small they're called coffins, never made things affordable. Hong Kong simply densified, remained expensive, and continued to have all the same exact problems the developer class is arguing will be solved if only they can keep densifying.

If's false, wrong, and selfish for you to keep arguing these things. Especially when it is so in companies' power to decide to grow where they aren't selfishly destroying a place that was vibrant and inhabited. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Hewlett and Packard -- they started in GARAGES, because of the space and freedom. How many "coffins" where people can't even sit up or live with their families spur such innovation?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2019 at 11:36 pm

It's all your fault for not anticipating our growth! said the selfish cuckoo birds to the parents of the baby birds they pushed out of the nest...

Why should anyone have anticipated this growth? Or that San Francisco (which was all lawyers for the longest time) would become the darling roost of all the techie cuckoo birds to commute from?

Again, the premise that more dwellings would reduce costs is simply FALSE. If your company wants more easy dwellings, there are many places in this nation, nice places, that have them in abundance. Have at it. It is far easier for companies to branch out -- and use some of that alleged technology -- than it is for Stanford or communities to move.




 +   8 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2019 at 11:40 pm

>>Kenny is basically declaring war on you who live here, and crafting false justifications, misusing and destroying the power of social justice terms it's downright sociopathic."

>No, it is those who are seeking to hamstring progress and modernisation who are declaring war.

No Kenny, it is you who is objectively waging war on the lives of people who sacrificed to put down roots here. It is you who are dismissing and falsely maligning the communities that are here. It is you who want to wipe away all that people have worked for, and you who are the cause of people's seriously degraded quality of life. Every day of their lives for the last decade plus.

No one is hamstringing progress. This is a vast nation, and companies do not HAVE to grow mindlessly and limitlessly in the same place without regard to the damage they are doing like a cancer. The fact that people are waking up to your waging war on their lives and communities is about time.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:50 am

Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South, on Nov 3, 2019 at 4:31 pm

>> Silicon Valley isn't going away. Pretending that it might is fighting a war that is already over on a battlefield that no longer exists.

Your appeal to "progress" is sort of amusing. Reminds me of my childhood when any kind of environmental destruction could be excused by invoking the word "progress". Nowadays, some of us like to see objective evidence, reasoning, and numbers. Show me -anywhere- in the world where an abundance of affordable housing occurred via building high-rises. You are simply ignoring the real-world economics of housing development.

BTW, we do have somewhat semi-affordable housing at certain places right here in Palo Alto. Hint: it isn't -new-, and it isn't high-rises. Older, not-ver-deluxe, multifamily buildings still exist, although some folks are champing at the bit to redevelop them into much more expensive housing. I hesitate to mention it, because, developers will demand that I post addresses so they can accelerate their destructive activities. Please start reading Jane Jacobs and move forward from there if you want to understand how it actually works in the real world.

If you insist on very nice new semi-affordable housing, well, that exists, too. In, e.g. certain Central Valley towns east of Livermore, where several co-workers, neighbors, etc. moved, and began commuting from.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2019 at 9:07 am

New term: i-NIMBY:
People who invent tech tools for telecommuting and teleconferencing that are only good enough for OTHER people, not themselves....


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:30 pm

"If you insist on very nice new semi-affordable housing, well, that exists, too. In, e.g. certain Central Valley towns east of Livermore, where several co-workers, neighbors, etc. moved, and began commuting from."

It also exists parked along El Camino and in various side streets. So the solution is to tell all non-native Palo Altans to leave?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:54 pm

"This place doesn't need 100 foot skyscrapers to be destroyed, it is already at carrying capacity."

It's not even close. New development will fix the problem. The question is do we want low-rise development spreading out into the neighborhoods or high-rise development concentrated near the transit corridors? There are many places in Palo Alto, especially Downtown, where beautiful single family homes are being replaced with two no-yard townhouses with only one parking space each. It is not just a few of them, and they are replacing the existing matrix wherever they go. Don't you think it better if these neighborhoods are preserved as is? We cannot do so and meet our ABAG housing goals unless we build way up somewhere. Near transit corridors is the best option.

"If's false, wrong, and selfish for you to keep arguing these things."

It's false, wrong and selfish for the NIMBYs to tell others go away when they are unwilling to take their own good advice.

The anti-development crowd can holler and stamp their feet all they want. It is not going to change anything. Development is going on right now and will continue to do so. It is an inexorable process of urbanization, something that has been going on in Palo Alto since the end of WWII.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm

"It's not even close. New development will fix the problem."

No, Kenny, new development is responsible for “the problem" " meaning, too much pollution, congestion where there didn't used to be congestion, unsafe development that will kill thousands of people BECAUSE OF the density WHEN the next disaster hits, not enough water to take unlimited development.

Saying "[development] is an inexorable process of urbanization"is like telling someone being assaulted that they can't do anything about it so they may as well sit back and enjoy it. NO. There are many thousands of people here whose lives THEY had to scrabble to put together because of extreme housing costs for many decades (that development makes WORSE NOT BETTER), and spend decades of their lives doing almost nothing else but focusing on keeping a roof over their heads and food on their plates, only to be maligned falsely by people like you who just want to take it all and crush it instead of erecting your gigantic buildings anyplace else in this VAST nation.


"We cannot do so and meet our ABAG housing goals unless we build way up somewhere."
We wouldn't have these senseless ABAG mandates if developers hadn't overdeveloped office space here. That can and should be reversed. It could be reversed in a matter of weeks. Codes preventing businesses from taking over the downtown areas, which are a public/civic center, should be enforced. (No company should be able to take over retail store fronts as their cafeterias, for example.)



 +   2 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm

"It's false, wrong and selfish for the [misapplied slur for local residents] to tell others go away when they are unwilling to take their own good advice."

Okay, Kenny, you get those companies to give me a few hundreds of billions of dollars, and I would be happy to invest in civic assets in a few towns that want the growth, and move my kids school and my entire community. No? It is the companies who can and DO move their operations when it meets their needs. It is the companies who are creating these problems, for no better reason than that they want to have everything where the “action" is. They want to completely destroy and rebuild the area, crushing the lives that thousands of people worked their whole lives to build. They have the money to multiply the job centers, which is even a less risky business strategy anyway. They are the ones who don't like the area the way it is " so why don't they build where the building is wanted and won't crush so many lives that don't want it or ruin a beautiful place????

Multiplying job centers is what will create more affordable housing, a more sustainable growth situation for a burgeoning tech industry, and it's the only only option that doesn't senselessly destroy this place. People made longterm civic investments that enabled those companies to become successful here. The companies have a responsibility not to destroy everything so they can selfishly avoid thinking about the negative consequences of their overgrowth.

The people who live here built this place via civic investments, their own years and time, and for most, it was HARD. Single-family homes are not a “problem" to be fixed, they are what was built here for the people who want this kind of town.

A single-family home isn't “less efficient" for a college town. It allows you to have a solar system that covers the occupants' entire energy needs without having to draw lossy power from far away (I know this, because I have). A high-density dweller can't do that. It allows you to have a cistern to water the plants during drought. It allows you to have plants, a garden, which you can grow enough food to live on (have done that, too). It allows the kids to have some contact with the natural world in the ordinary course of their lives. It allows people to have a home office so they can stay home with a sick child or keep their elderly parents. It allows you to have disabled friends visit you (except the newly developed townhouse which mostly a disabled person couldn't even visit) or adapt for disabled grandparents. It allows hobbies that restore the soul or become businesses (Jobs and Wozniak, Hewlett and Packard, and numerous others did in their garages).

You are speaking completely from the wants of companies that are growing too big for the area, and ignoring your victims. It's not even a good financial risk to concentrate all operations in a drought-prone, earthquake prone area in which density will increase the risk of loss of life and property because of inevitable fires afterwards which cannot be reached because of the density, and cannot slow on their own because of the density.

There was a period of really rapid growth in Palo Alto in which the “residentialists" did rise up and stop the overgrowth (that's when we got those tall buildings). Residents can and should do the same before the good of this place cannot be saved. Look at how Stanford is having to curtail their expansion because of the overdevelopment. If they had not been such eager facilitators of the overgrowth themselves, they might be getting a much easier reception to their plans now (as they did in the past). It's much harder for Stanford to move than the companies, too.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 6, 2019 at 6:06 pm

The other major point that no one is addressing is that companies' diversifying and NOT concentrating in one place is also better for their own safety and security, as well as the safety and security of area residents, and less risky in light of disaster. Certainly, the development these companies are pushing is NOT being subjected to safety constraints for the people of the region.

If you read about catastrophe's waiting to happen:
Charles Perrow, The Next Catastrophe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007)
Web Link
"Perrow argues that rather than laying exclusive emphasis on protecting targets, we should reduce their size to minimize damage and diminish their attractiveness to terrorists. He focuses on three causes of disaster?"?natural, organizational, and deliberate?"?and shows that our best hope lies in the deconcentration of high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures such as electric energy, computer systems, and the chemical and food industries. "

Another well-researched book:
Web Link
The updated new edition confronts a further ten years of ever more expensive and deadly disasters and discusses disaster not as an aberration, but as a signal failure of mainstream 'development'.

"BUT AS A SIGNAL FAILURE OF MAINSTREAM 'DEVELOPMENT'"

This area will continue to be seismically active and will be impacted by global warming on many fronts (literally). There is NO GOOD REASON that is should be developed more, it is already developed to unsafe levels. Luckily, this is not an island like Hong Kong, and densifying is neither necessary nor wise.



 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm

"No, Kenny, new development is responsible for “the problem" meaning, too much pollution, congestion where there didn't used to be congestion, unsafe development that will kill thousands of people BECAUSE OF the density WHEN the next disaster hits, not enough water to take unlimited development."

Disaster? Yeah, right. Development in Palo Alto will cause terrorist attacks. That is just being silly and grasping at straws. People are used to earthquakes in this area, and most households have emergency supplies on hand. Besides, any new development will be at least as earthquake safe as existing buildings.

Northern California has plenty of water. If we need more, then we can build an additional dam or two. Urbanization isn't going to make people drop dead. Having people live close to where they work decreases carbon emissions and traffic congestion. That is why ABAG mandates housing be built.

"We wouldn't have these senseless ABAG mandates if developers hadn't overdeveloped office space here."

That is irrelevant. We still have to meet the ABAG mandates. It would not be an issue if we had developed the housing along with the office space. Unfortunately, building height limits were imposed in the 1970s so that high-rise housing could not be developed. It is time to change that now.

"The people who live here built this place via civic investments, their own years and time, and for most, it was HARD. Single-family homes are not a “problem" to be fixed, they are what was built here for the people who want this kind of town."

They built this place by bulldozing orchards and pastures, putting up houses in their place. My parents still grouse about how they trashed the beautiful, idyllic Palo Alto they knew, and how they wish those people had not been allowed in. What you are saying is no different, and equally unrealistic.

"There was a period of really rapid growth in Palo Alto in which the “residentialists" did rise up and stop the overgrowth"

What they did was to stymie development, which led to the problems we have today. The "Residentialists" (what a misnomer) did pull off a Pearl Harbor of sorts with the Maybell debacle. It woke people up, and the result is the backlash we are seeing now.

"You are speaking completely from the wants of companies that are growing too big for the area, and ignoring your victims."

Playing the victim? The victims are the people living in motorhomes because they can no longer afford housing. Those who blocked housing development are the ones responsible. Companies are good, they provide jobs. Companies in Palo Alto are better because that means we don't have to commute to Timbuktu.

The "solution" of telling people and an immense infrastructure to scram, all to please a some grumpy homeowners, is unfeasible. SB330 removes barriers to development, and suspends local restrictions for 5 years. AB68 allows homeowners to build granny flats, effectively ending single-family zoning statewide. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Actual environmentalist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 7, 2019 at 12:13 pm

@Kenny,
I wrote: "unsafe development that will kill thousands of people BECAUSE OF the density WHEN the next disaster hits,"

To which you wrote: "Disaster? Yeah, right. Development in Palo Alto will cause terrorist attacks. That is just being silly and grasping at straws. People are used to earthquakes in this area, and most households have emergency supplies on hand. Besides, any new development will be at least as earthquake safe as existing buildings."


It's one thing for you to be completely ignorant and manipulative in your false claims and false framing, it's quite another for you to be dismissive of very real risks and ignore them because

Palo Alto has a head of emergency services who also deals with terrorism, who is quoted recently in the Weekly as pointing out that ""Palo Alto is different from some other places because we are much more dense ... a 7.1 earthquake would be very dangerous in our area and most likely not result in zero injures and deaths."

Density after an earthquake is dangerous, because the main risk is FIRE. Much of Palo Alto is in a liquifaction hazard zone, too. We are building too densely here -- our own director of emergency services has told us that the EXISTING density will result in injuries and deaths -- and building without natural fire breaks, and without ingress for emergency vehicles and egress for evacuations.

The point of the well-researched sources I quoted above is that companies concentrating all their operations in one place, especially a place prone to disaster, creates risks -- including terrorism -- to the entire operation of the company in the very likely event of a major disaster or terrorism. It's just one more of MANY reasons that companies should be looking to avoid concentrating everything in one place, and instead multiplying the number of job centers.

Pretty much everything you've said is wrong, unsupported by any facts, and just twisted delusions to support your bulldoze the lives of everyone who worked HARD to put down roots here so you can be where the "action is".

If you were at all concerned about the people living in motorhomes, you would read the economics research, such as by David Autor of MIT, that shows that this exact kind of tech economy produces terrible jobs for unskilled labor that used to do well in cities -- the very tech corporate monoculture is the CAUSE of these cities no longer being good job markets for anyone who isn't a techie, because of the push for density that is THE cause of the skyrocketing prices.

Nobody should have been expected to plan for sensless overcrowding for the infrastructure and taking over of their town by companies that are too big -- in the past, companies were better citizens, without such dishonest justifications.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 8, 2019 at 8:42 am

Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,, on Nov 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm

>> Northern California has plenty of water. If we need more, then we can build an additional dam or two.

Kenny, I really don't know how to say this. But, where are you from? If you grew up west of the Mississippi, then, you must not have been paying attention during geography class. You can start by reading the book "Cadillac Desert". It is a great book, and, mostly good from the point of view of history, but, please don't stop there. Hopefully the book will increase your thirst for knowledge on the subject, because there is vastly more out there than in that one (very important for its time) book.

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,
on Nov 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

""Palo Alto is different from some other places because we are much more dense ... a 7.1 earthquake would be very dangerous in our area and most likely not result in zero injures and deaths."

Density after an earthquake is dangerous, because the main risk is FIRE."

I don't recall Palo Alto burning down after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

"Pretty much everything you've said is wrong, unsupported by any facts, and just twisted delusions to support your bulldoze the lives of everyone who worked HARD to put down roots here so you can be where the "action is"."

Hard work? Welcome to the club. Pretty much everyone who lives in the Bay Area has to work hard to afford housing. I already had roots here, am a native, and had to work hard to stay here. It's all good, hard work is a virtue.

"Kenny, I really don't know how to say this. But, where are you from?"

I am a third generation Palo Altan. And you?

"If you were at all concerned about the people living in motorhomes"

I am not the one saying they should be booted out, it is the NIMBYs who want that. I think the motorhome dwellers should be welcomed and accepted. Just curious, but have you ever met or talked to any of these people? Some of them are pretty nice, not the freakazoids imagined by the narrow minded.

You do realize that the development is going to move forward with or without you, right? The NIMBYs are now outnumbered and outvoted by the YIMBYs. Why don't you join us in moving Palo Alto and the Bay Area forward into a great future?

TL;DR

NIMBYs: Shoo, scram everybody but me go away!
Everybody else: No.

And that is pretty much it, and has been for 40 years. We should welcome new residents and plan for their arrival.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

Posted by Kenny, a resident of University South,

>> I am a third generation Palo Altan. And you?

Do you stand by the statement, "Northern California has plenty of water. If we need more, then we can build an additional dam or two."

This is the most monumentally uninformed statement I've seen you make. There is a whole library of books out there if you want to inform yourself regarding water in the West.



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