News

Palo Alto adopts plan to build more housing

Despite divisions over details, council backs plan to add about 300 units annually

Palo Alto's effort to triple its housing production got off to a promising start Monday night, when the City Council unanimously approved a work plan that includes more than a dozen policies aimed at spurring residential construction.

The Housing Work Plan, which the council adopted Monday after three public hearings, identifies a list of initiatives that city planners will be undertaking over the next two years to address one of the council's most urgent priorities. Its programs include changing the zoning code to provide more incentives for residential development; requiring housing projects to provide more below-market-rate units; and relaxing density requirements for housing projects in downtown, around California Avenue and along El Camino Real.

The goal of the plan is to produce about 300 units per year, thereby meeting the housing targets identified in the city's new Comprehensive Plan. The document, which the council finished updating last November, calls for between 3,545 and 4,420 units between 2015 and 2030.

But even as council members united in supporting the plan's broad goals, they squabbled over the details. Over the course of a wide-ranging and at times tense discussion, council members sparred over the best way to revise the city's "inclusionary zoning" laws; the merits of building housing on city-owned parking lots; and the need to find designated spaces for RVs to park in.

Council members made clear over the discussion that their support for new housing is by no means unconditional. One of the policies that the council removed upon urging from Vice Mayor Eric Filseth called for exploring opportunities for developing housing over parking on city-owned parking lots.

Filseth noted the breadth of the work plan, which he called "aspirational," and suggested that it take a more targeted approach toward housing, with a special focus on housing for low-income residents or those with special needs. Some policies, including the one targeting parking lots, go too far, he said.

"Once you build a building on top of it, it'll be there for the next 100 years," Filseth said.

Councilman Greg Scharff agreed and called public parking lots a valuable amenity that the city can ill afford to give up. He pointed to the city's decadeslong quest to find land for a new public-safety building -- a project that only became viable when the city agreed to use a public lot for the new facility.

"We can't buy land. We can't afford it," Scharff said.

Others vehemently disagreed. Councilman Cory Wolbach noted that the policy only calls for exploring new policies, not actually adopting them, and that housing will likely remain an important priority for decades to come.

"This is a multigenerational problem that we're trying to address and that we haven't addressed in several decades," Wolbach said.

Councilman Adrian Fine, who wrote the memo that spurred the creation of the Housing Work Plan, also argued in favor of keeping the policy. Leaving the parking lots as they are, Fine said, will both ensure that people continue to drive to the sites and preclude any opportunities to provide housing for needy populations.

"Do we want a great city to raise a car or a great city to raise a family?" Fine asked, moments before the council voted 6-3 to remove the policy (Wolbach and Mayor Liz Kniss joined him in dissent).

Another topic of contention was inclusionary zoning. The city currently requires market-rate developments to provide 15 percent of their units at below-market-rate levels. The work plan calls for increasing the percentage to 20 percent and to apply this rule to rental units (this is known as the "Palmer fix.")

Some council members said the city should consider an even higher percentage. Councilwomen Karen Holman and Lydia Kou both lobbied for 25 percent -- a proposal that ultimately passed by a 6-3 vote, with Fine, Filseth and Scharf dissenting. Those who opposed it argued that raising the requirement for subsidized housing may discourage development altogether.

Kou also argued that the Housing Work Plan should be complemented by a plan for measuring and enforcing "transportation-demand management" (TDM) plans that all major developments must now include. The plans typically include transit passes, bike service and other incentives for getting people out of cars.

She made a motion directing staff to identify clear guidelines and enforcement mechanisms for TDM plans. The motion passed by a 5-4 vote, with Kniss, Fine, Greg Tanaka and Wolbach dissenting.

Another narrow vote came over Councilman Tom DuBois' proposal to better define "affordable housing" and to set a quantifiable goal for below-market-rate units. That proposal fell by a 4-5 vote, with Filseth, Holman and Kou joining him.

The most contentious part of the discussion, however, involved a topic that wasn't in the work plan at all: recreational vehicles. Kou proposed exploring the use of a city-owned site for RV parking and recommended the Los Altos Treatment Plant site east of U.S. Highway 101 as a potential candidate. Wolbach blasted her proposal as an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" approach.

"Instead of creating a ghetto for these people, we should provide additional services for them," Wolbach said, a characterization that DuBois said he found offensive.

Holman was ultimately the only council member who joined DuBois and Kou in proposing new policies for RV dwellers.

These disagreements notwithstanding, the council ultimately voted 9-0 to adopt the new plan, which also calls for the city to explore residential uses at Stanford Research Park, Stanford University Medical Center and Stanford Shopping Center; to eliminate limits on housing-dwelling densities; and to create a new "coordinated area plan" in the Ventura neighborhood.

Many of the zoning changes proposed in the plan will now be crafted by staff and vetted by the Planning and Transportation Commission before returning to the council for possible adoption later this year.

What's in the plan?

Palo Alto's new Housing Work Plan, which the City Council approved on Monday, has set a goal for the construction of about 300 residences per year. This goal was determined by the city's Comprehensive Plan, a vision document updated and approved last fall, which calls for between 3,545 and 4,420 housing units to be built between 2015 and 2030.

The Housing Work Plan includes programs such as:

• changing the city's zoning code to provide more incentives for residential development.

• requiring housing projects to provide more below-market-rate units.

• relaxing density requirements for housing projects in downtown, around California Avenue and along El Camino Real.

Members of the council on Monday disagreed about several strategies, including:

• the best way to revise the city's "inclusionary zoning" laws for producing affordable housing.

• the merits of building housing on city-owned parking lots.

Other ideas in the plan for stimulating housing development include:

• exploring allowing residences at Stanford Research Park, Stanford University Medical Center and Stanford Shopping Center.

• eliminating limits on housing densities.

• creating a new "coordinated area plan" in the Ventura neighborhood.

City staff will now work to flesh out the strategies and return to the council with action steps later this year.

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Comments

33 people like this
Posted by Go Bigger on Housing
a resident of Addison School
on Feb 13, 2018 at 7:57 am

This is a great start, thank you council for finding the courage to begin implementing all the policy and programs from the Housing Element and Comp Plan. 300 units/year is important, hope this really happens.So many people in our city are housing insecure and need more affordable places to live. But the housing crisis is regional, and we are so behind. If other cities build much more housing, our 300/year won't be enough, housing will still be scarce in Palo Alto and prices will continue to go up. We may need to go much bigger on housing.


78 people like this
Posted by Kudos to Kou
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2018 at 7:57 am

The article points out that Councilmember Kou called for measuring and enforcing "transportation-demand management" (TDM) plans, which are supposed to reduce cars. Thank goodness someone is finally doing this, as TDM plans have been massively abused by local developers. The city has never lifted a finger to verify that car trips and cars parked are actually being reduced under the TDMs that let developers provide sub-standard parking. With traffic and parking being huge and ever-growing problems, fitting all these new homes into our town requires very aggressive new enforcement measures.

Why any councilmember would vote against that, as apparently the ones known for taking developer campaign donations did, speaks volumes about whose side they're on.


26 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:03 am

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

To "Kudos"
I agree we should measure and enforce our TDM plans. Council directed staff to do that just last year. Though it was well-meaning, I didn't support the amendment last night because it seemed both redundant and out of place.

P.S. I didn't take developer donations in my campaign. I'm on the side of moving forward and not rehashing work we've already recently completed.


68 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:25 am

If this is going to happen, then the phrase make this a great place to raise a family takes a lot more than providing a stack and pack place for them to sleep.

A family needs some space outside the sleeping place. A family needs places to go to shop for affordable family needs in an immediate fashion, places to go throw/kick a ball, places to exercise the family dog, places to go for a birthday party or a family picnic, places to go to see a dentist, tax preparer, legal help, places to go to have fun at the weekend or a holiday from school, places to go to get exercise, places to go to see a family movie, places to go have an affordable family meal out, places to do kids sports, places to store camping equipment, bikes, sports equipment, places to swing a cat. On top of that a family needs to be able to visit grandma, the beach, Costco, and probably do those things in a car.

Living in Palo Alto means much more than having a place to sleep. Living in Palo Alto means having a life and to do that more space, more infrastructure and more recreation is going to be paramount.

Unfortunately, building 300 living units (not even calling them homes now it seems) is not going to provide a life for these proposed new residents.


69 people like this
Posted by It's about public confidence
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:53 am

It's about public confidence is a registered user.

So tired of wolbach's distinctly uncivil rhetoric in the dais that has persisted since the current majority took leadership. And followed, when called out for it, with weak attempts to change the subject.

Re: TDMs, EVERYONE knows there's a lot of concern in the community about the impacts of growth, particularly regarding parking and traffic. The Kou motion was a reasonable and responsible call for making sure we get what's promised out of TDMs.

No one at Council seemed to know what was actually done about strengthening TDMs last year, including Wolbach (and staff).

Motion that wolbach, fine and kniss opposed merely called for ensuring guidelines, monitoring and enforcement IF it isn't already required.

Hardly redundant, certainly relevant to smart housing plans, and vital to public trust.


23 people like this
Posted by Gina Dalma
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

About time that we all start acting like we are in a housing crisis where most of us are housing burdened - and finding solutions to increase supply significantly. Kuddos to Kniss, Wolbach and Fine.


27 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:44 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Thanks to the council for their unanimous vote to move forward on eliminating barriers to housing and to members Fine, Kniss and Wolbach for their memo that got the momentum going forward again.

And thanks to all the (nearly unanimous) council members who voted to support housing last year on two El Camino sites.

The work plan is a step toward implementing policies already adopted by council in our Comp Plan and Housing Element.

I hope we can all agree with council member Scharff that developments should neither be under parked but also not over parked and that we should facts to determine parking adequacy.

[Portion removed.]

I live on the 5th floor of a downtown condo and find it a great place to live, shop, find nearby parks and services.

We have five families with children living here about the same percentage as families with children city wide. One family moved in last week precisely because their kids could walk or bike to school and the mom who works at Stanford can get their without driving and they have the amenities of living downtown. All of the families with children here chose the location and seem happy.

Obviously we still have posters who like to tell other people how to live and know what other people want but that is sad in a city like Palo Alto that cherishes personal freedom, choice and diversity.


28 people like this
Posted by Good news!
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

It's great news to see City Council moving forward on this. Palo Alto was a great place to raise a family when I first moved here. Now it's increasingly impossible because the cost of living is so high. And, contra Resident, we are not short on parks or dentists or any amenities - I have no problem visiting parks with my kids or having my pick of dentists for them.

We are short on homes, and that shortage is forcing people out who just ten years ago would have been our neighbors.


72 people like this
Posted by Mvresident2003
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2018 at 9:53 am

Mvresident2003 is a registered user.

@stephen levy; I find it fascinating that you're pointing fingers, accusing others of "telling people how to live". Isn't that exactly what you and the big growth people are doing? You're telling everyone who was HERE FIRST, evryone who invested in a certain style of community, basically everyone who purchased a very specific commodity....YOU'RE the one telling them how to live! You're the one forcing this growth down their throats, making them watch the very community they built and love being completely and utterly changed, and in their eyes, yes, ruined.

It's just fascinating that you point that finger.


19 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 10:13 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Actually i wrote congratulations to the unanimous council vote to move forward on housing policies to achieve goals already adopted unanimously or nearly unanimously by the city council.

I understand if you would not like more people to live here but I am hardly telling other people how to live unless, of course you think the housing goals adopted by the city council are telling people how to live as opposed to removing barriers to achieve city priority goals.

If you want to get into who was here first, i came here in 1963 but then we should probably go back to when there were missions and before then explorers.

Do you apply "I was here first" as a basis for supporting racial, religious or sexual orientation discrimination?

I think probably not. We probably both agree that the rule of law and the common good trump self interest and power? So where does that leave "I was here first'?


53 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 10:52 am

This vote might not trigger a recall, but the residents who don't want their neighborhoods see multi-unit buildings replace single-family homes need to think long and hard about returning any/all of those current council members to the dais come the next couple elections.

There is no reason this goal of cramming thousands of new homes into our tiny little town cannot be reversed by future councils.


21 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:07 am

Annette is a registered user.

One of the above posts is typically defensive w/a trace of sanctimony.


55 people like this
Posted by Rude Cory Wolbach
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:12 am

It was very rude and not civil at all for Councilmember Cory Wolbach to say that everything that Councilmember Tom Dubois said was wrong. And that from someone who campaigned on bringing civility to the Council.

And Councilmember Wolbach also referred to setting aside land for RVs to park along with providing bathrooms as creating a ghetto. He would rather that they continue to park on the street.

From the Council majority votes against RVs and against goals for below market rate housing, it is clear that Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine and Mayor Kniss care about providing market rate housing for tech workers and are uninterested in providing low income housing for people who serve us in restaurants, grocery stores, and who clean our schools. Their idea of workforce housing of a limited amount of housing for people making over $100,000 with the rest charging what the market will bear.

In the meanwhile, they are not interested in protecting current renters from dramatic rent increases. Nor are they interested in saving existing inexpensive housing from being torn down and replaced by expensive housing, such as condos for sale.

Councilmember Cory Wolbach above said," I didn't take developer donations in my campaign." The question remains open whether he is pledging not to take developer donations in his campaign for re-election this year.


12 people like this
Posted by JG
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:15 am

@Annette, strange, I found that the exact same post you're referring to answered an implicit question while correcting somewhat malignant misinformation.

I guess it all depends on what preconceived notions one has of the author in question (as manifested by the use of the word "typically").


66 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:19 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Actually Steve Levy has been telling residents how to live for many years now and counting, by relentlessly using his position and connections to push for incessant urbanization and sardine can densification of Palo Alto, which is diametrically opposite to the reasons the overwhelming majority of residents chose to buy houses in this town. He and his fellow travelers are responsible for the steady deterioration of quality of life and the steady vulgarization of this once wonderful town.

There isn't one person who keeps telling others how to live more than Steve Levy, who never met a housing and commercial development he did not like [portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:30 am

Rude,

TDM was not on the agenda last night. Neither were RV's

When somebody makes a misstatement, should you let it pass or call it out?

I think your assessment of what is going on is very biased. Housing is a major priority and if you fight it unthinkingly, you will be very counterproductive.


10 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:46 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@ Kudos to Kou

Absolutely an important measure to take. I've argued strongly for that in the case of the Page Mill Rd/El Camino Real corner project. Let's track it and get some real facts on tenants' proclivities for transportation modes, and parking needs. 'Enforcement' of rules set for 'car light' developments is a whole other issue.

Is 2018 year #1 of the 300 housing units per year goal? If we miss it by 200 units does that carry over so there would need to be 500 units built next year?

Terms and definitions, so many of them, and many that are never really understood: ABAG has their set for 'very low' income, 'low' income, 'moderate' income, and 'above moderate' income. PA does not do well at all, abysmal results, in fact, in the bottom two categories.

Then we have our own definition of 'affordable'. Actually, that term is loosely tossed around by high density housing proponents because it sounds so good, and, well, just so affordable. We recently learned that 'affordable' can mean housing for those making from 120% to 150% of the median income (another word in the housing vocabulary) in our region. How big is the region?

@ Resident

Thanks for exposing the truth. All of the housing units that will result from the new plan will be small units...nothing of any size that could accommodate families. They will be micro, studio, 1 bdrm, and maybe a few 2 bdrm apartments. They will satisfy higher income residents, singles and couples, with the majority being local tech workers.

@ Stephen Levy

You've mentioned before about your condo and how much you love it and it's location. I'm happy for you. The developers of new housing projects in newly rezoned areas won't be building condos. It's already been defined that they will be high density projects. I am guessing that a condo in your facility rents for $5K-$6K per month, or if for purchase, $1.5M-$2.3M. Where does 'affordable', and BMR fit into that situation? It doesn't.

I have been a supporter of this type of housing for some time, and I always had in mind the benefit of having local workers living near their places of employment, thus eliminating long commutes. I supposed it would be for young singles and couples, and that it would not be for the bottom three categories of ABAG's mandated housing. Let it go forward with the BMR unit % requirements and let's see what happens.


29 people like this
Posted by It's about public confidence
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm

It's about public confidence is a registered user.

@chris

Actually, TDM's were on the agenda: Housing Work Plan item 2.4.5.


49 people like this
Posted by Developr Shill
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Kou and Keller tried to tell Palo Altans during the campaign in 2016 that Adrian Fine would give the keys to Palo Alto to the developers.


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South

>> I understand if you would not like more people to live here

(I know it wasn't directed at me personally, but:) Sorry to keep interjecting this, but, the following distinction is not sticking.

I don't object to more -people- living here. I do object to their -cars-.

We are maxed out on -cars-. We're at the limit on traffic, and, in the neighborhood identified on the maps for more development, parking. We already have too many cars. We also have too many people diverting off of arterial streets due to heavy stop and go traffic, and, speeding through residential areas at 15-20 mph faster than safe speed, turning right at stop signs and red lights while barely slowing down, and blowing past pedestrians and bicycles without a thought to safety. To keep talking about "people" is a deflection. The problem is "cars".

>> but I am hardly telling other people how to live unless, of course you think the housing goals adopted by the city council are telling people how to live as opposed to removing barriers to achieve city priority goals.

The issues with cars-- parking, traffic, speeding, stop-and-go, etc., -are- affect how us other people live.

>>> ... supporting racial, religious or sexual orientation discrimination ... agree that the rule of law and the common good trump self interest and power? So where does that leave "I was here first'?

These are all straw-man arguments. Sure, anybody who isn't a Costanoan is an interloper, therefore, we're all equal citizens. But, the city government is still responsible for protecting the interests of the people who live here.


18 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Thank you for your decisive (and collaborative action). Although Fine, Wolbach and Kniss need to be held up for considerable praise for drafting the colleague's memo that got this particular ball rolling, Council as a whole acted together to make this happen.

Staff used the colleague's memo to create a practical workplan for the next couple of years that directly addresses many of our glaring issues with housing formation. Their workplan also works well with our Comprehensive Plan that was recently adopted. I'm encouraged on a personal level. As an officer of Palo Alto Forward (a group advocating for housing and transportation solutions for our community), I'm also very happy.

Council is showing real leadership and functioning collaboratively (even if there are some reasonable disagreements around some individual items). That is a great combination.


22 people like this
Posted by Straight Talk
a resident of University South
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:42 pm

OMG @Eric Rosenblun, your post is far too polite, rational, and coherent. Where is the seething anger? I worry that you may break the Palo Alto Online forum.


35 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re real leadership, I'm still waiting for all the city council members, planning and transportation city staff and consultants, planning and traffic commissioners to give up their parking spaces and get out of their cars so they can practice what they're preaching to the rest of us.

Yes, I know city employees are guaranteed parking (and commuting benefits and transportation expenses) as part of their compensation which seems the height of hypocrisy.


21 people like this
Posted by Downtown dweller
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Glad to see we are finally making some effort to meet minimal housing requirements. We are severely behind regionally and by our own history - Y/Y housing growth has actually declined in the past several years in PA.
Not sure why we’re so obsessed w TDMs, and parking for the whopping 300 new units. It’s a pleasure to drive on the weekends - so this proves to me its the cars coming in/out for work that causes our traffic/parking problems. I guess I prefer to have a great city to raise a family vs raising a car - great line, Fine!
Thank you Wolbach, Fine & Kniss!! You obviously care about housing - because it’s a basic human necessity. Shame on those who play the developers-interests card for political gain.
Do you live in a house? Guess what- it was built by a developer.


47 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm

> I guess I prefer to have a great city to raise a family vs
> raising a car - great line, Fine!

This is the kind of absurd thinking we have always had to deal with when housing advocates have managed to gain control of the Council. How do you get to work without a car? Or to the doctor's office? Or to the grocery store without a vehicle?

The idea that every one of the likely 100,000 residents of the "new Palo Alto" will be able to walk to work is beyond delusional. Fewer than 25% of the town's working residents will ever be able to live close enough to their work to be able to walk or bike.

Cars are a necessity in the US--including virtually all of the Bay Area. People who don't want a car should move to a highly densified city like NYC, and give that "urban experience" a try.

It's time for the Residential "movement" to regroup and be prepared to vote out those supporting this craziness.


11 people like this
Posted by JG
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Joe, so you're basically advocating for PA being a city that is hostile to seniors? They're projected to be one out of five Santa Clara County residents in the next couple of decades.

Designing cities to support pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit, and not just being "car-friendly" is a necessary requirement for a city being senior-friendly. Designing a city that assumes cars are a necessity is equivalent to designing a city that is hostile to seniors.


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Convert to housing all office buildings built on Hamilton and Lytton in the past 30 years. Problem solved. Done.


13 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 2:58 pm

> Joe, so you're basically advocating for PA being a city that is hostile to seniors?

Where in anything that was posted can you find the slightest “anti-senior” sentiment?

> They're projected to be one out of five Santa Clara County residents
> in the next couple of decades.

OK .. that’s totally possible. But that estimated percentage does not mean that seniors will not be able to take care of themselves, own their own homes, or condos, shop for themselves, use their computers, continue to work (if they wish), etc. (BTW--technology advances like self-driving cars, and home assistants like "Alexa" will make it easier for seniors to maintain their independence in the future than is possible today.)

> Designing cities to support pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit,
> and not just being "car-friendly" is a necessary requirement for a
> city being senior-friendly.

Utter balderdash! There only “requirement” one can glean from this bizarre view of the future is that it’s time to shut down “urban planning” departments that espouse this silliness.

> Designing a city that assumes cars are a necessity is equivalent to
> designing a city that is hostile to seniors.

Having a government full of “social engineers” that assumes that seniors must become wards of the state. (BTW—at what age does one become a “senior”?) Moreover, nuclear families have been written out of the “modern city” template. There is no reason that seniors cannot live with their children, should all concerned see that as beneficial.

Lastly, seniors do not need to live in highly densified urban centers. If they like the idea of having a garden, or sitting on the front porch and not being harassed by gangs of uncivilized youths--theey can move to smaller towns, and get along just fine.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> This is the kind of absurd thinking we have always had to deal with when housing advocates have managed to gain control of the Council. How do you get to work without a car? Or to the doctor's office? Or to the grocery store without a vehicle?

I prefer to be realistic. While I agree with you that most people right now will use cars-- that is realistic-- I also think there are alternatives which will catch on as time goes on. First of all, we are looking at about 3 miles from the average job location to the average south ECR location being discussed. That is about an hours walk for a lot of people, or, a 20 minute bike ride. Many people could make that choice, especially if other people are. Others can hop on the 22 bus.

Here is some interesting reading regarding Devin Thorpe's (Forbes contributor) experience with going carless:

Web Link

Web Link

>> The idea that every one of the likely 100,000 residents of the "new Palo Alto" will be able to walk to work is beyond delusional. Fewer than 25% of the town's working residents will ever be able to live close enough to their work to be able to walk or bike.

See above. In a bicycle-friendly world, 3 miles is reasonable.

>> Cars are a necessity in the US--including virtually all of the Bay Area. People who don't want a car should move to a highly densified city like NYC, and give that "urban experience" a try.

Cars are a nuisance in a dense environment like Manhattan, and, a necessity in rural areas. Palo Alto is somewhere in between for the near future, and, that is awkward. We need to find a configuration that can drain off more of that car traffic than we are now.


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Excerpt from the recent message from the mayor: "During our Council reorganization meeting, I shared that housing and traffic are my personal priorities . . ."

Last night action was taken on the first of her priorities. As for the traffic priority, per the article the mayor cast a dissenting vote on Kou's TDM motion. I missed the meeting so didn't hear the discussion, but that seems like a disconnect to me. To those who attended: was there an explanation for that vote against her own priority?


7 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:40 pm

> we are looking at about 3 miles from the average job location
> to the average south ECR location being discussed.

Huh? What “average job" are you aware of that makes this true? Are you suggesting that only people working in these undefined “average jobs" will be allowed to live in any these new housing units?

> That is about an hours walk for a lot of people, or, a 20-minute bike ride.
> Many people could make that choice, especially if other people are.
> Others can hop on the 22 bus.

Sounds like a lot of elitist “you can do this and that because I say so”. Not a lot of personal choice in your world, is there? (BTW--have you spent a lot of time on the 22 Bus, ever?)


> See above. In a bicycle-friendly world, 3 miles is reasonable.

Fantasies are not the basis for realistic policy discussions. When companies move (like HP and Roche) then this “three-mile” claim becomes null and void. The City has had a number of "Nexis" studies conducted over the years. For the most part, the number of people who both live and work in Palo Alto has been less than 25%. (This is true of other, larger, cities, too.)

> Cars are a nuisance in a dense environment like Manhattan.

Manhattan’s population density is about 67,000/sq. mi. Palo Alto pop. Density is about 2,500/sq. mi. Oh, and Palo Alto is not remotely like Manhattan—except in some people’s dreams.

> Palo Alto is somewhere in between for the near future ..

Clearly, this is the battle that has been going on for a long time—keeping Palo Alto as a family-oriented city that has nothing in common with New York City out of the hands of people who want nothing more than to make it like NYC.


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 3:52 pm

"... was there an explanation for that vote against her [Kniss'] own priority?"

Yes. $$. Same thing the FPPC is investigating her for.


49 people like this
Posted by No more growth
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Do you people really know what 300 units looks like. Assuming they aren't 200 sq ft micro units, we are looking at 3 building the size of the giant high rise on the corner of Alma and Palo Alto Ave.

And this city council wants 300 units a year. Imagine 30 of these giant high rise buildings in the next 10 years.

The "growthers", paid for by the developers are trying to destroy what makes cities worth living in. They will slowly destroy the city and drive out people who hate it while packing it full of 24/7 workers who stare at screen and have no life outside of their high rise.

Please keep fighting them and in the next election hopefully we will get some non-growthers to run and help reverse the mess that is the current city council.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> > we are looking at about 3 miles from the average job location
>> > to the average south ECR location being discussed.

>> Huh? What “average job" are you aware of that makes this true? Are you suggesting that only people working in these undefined “average jobs" will be allowed to live in any these new housing units?

We agree on quite a bit. Why not avoid splitting hairs? Can we agree that most jobs in Palo Alto are somewhere in Palo Alto? ;-) Most jobs and housing in Palo Alto are within a 3-mile radius of Page Mill and Alma, including Stanford (SLAC excluded). A 1-1/2 mile radius circle from Stanford Ave and ECR covers most of Stanford, most of downtown, most of Stanford Industrial Park, and most of the south end of ECR in Palo Alto.

>> > That is about an hours walk for a lot of people, or, a 20-minute bike ride.
>> > Many people could make that choice, especially if other people are.
>> > Others can hop on the 22 bus.

>> Sounds like a lot of elitist “you can do this and that because I say so”. Not a lot of personal choice in your world, is there? (BTW--have you spent a lot of time on the 22 Bus, ever?)

I don't consider it "elitist" to walk 3 miles, but, even less so a half-mile (to, e.g., the 22 bus). I have posted before on how far people actually walk to buses and commuter rail. Yes, I have ridden the 22 bus; it isn't great. It never goes faster than rush hour traffic, by definition. In fact, personally, I would generally rather walk! But, I do think that eventually ECR could have a light rail alternative. Eventually.

>> > See above. In a bicycle-friendly world, 3 miles is reasonable.

>> Fantasies are not the basis for realistic policy discussions.

A 3-mile bicycle ride isn't a fantasy. Lots of people bicycle that far when they have a good safe bike corridor.

>> When companies move (like HP and Roche) then this “three-mile” claim becomes null and void.

When companies move to other cities, and countries, that falls into a different category of discussion. I'm not sure what your point is?

>> The City has had a number of "Nexis" studies conducted over the years. For the most part, the number of people who both live and work in Palo Alto has been less than 25%. (This is true of other, larger, cities, too.)

You know what? I agree with you. I've posted similar things before myself. and, if you look at couples, one of the two is -very- likely working outside Palo Alto. Even if they both start out here, people are not tied to one job over their lifetimes. The "jobs/housing imbalance" they keep talking about is actually just too many jobs in Palo Alto. (That number will drop in the next bust.)

>> Manhattan’s population density is about 67,000/sq. mi. Palo Alto pop. Density is about 2,500/sq. mi. Oh, and Palo Alto is not remotely like Manhattan—except in some people’s dreams.

Yes, I've made the same point several times, but, note that most Palo Alto residents live in about 10 square miles. So, the built-up area density is higher. But, hardly Manhattan.

>> Clearly, this is the battle that has been going on for a long time—keeping Palo Alto as a family-oriented city that has nothing in common with New York City out of the hands of people who want nothing more than to make it like NYC.

I don't want Palo Alto to be like Manhattan, either. But, if Palo Alto does end up with the density of Manhattan, it is going to be with a subway system like Manhattan, because you can't move all those people inside SOV's. It is crazy to keep adding jobs in Palo Alto and expect people to commute by SOV to those jobs. The arithmetic just doesn't add up.


12 people like this
Posted by Haha
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

"And this city council wants 300 units a year. Imagine 30 of these giant high rise buildings in the next 10 years."

God yes. More please! We shouldn't have to cram into expensive shared bedrooms just because you don't like tall buildings. Go live in the rust belt if you want a permanent suburb to live in.


33 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Some people are under the impression that building more housing closer to jobs will reduce traffic. It's worth keeping in mind that if jobs increase at a greater rate than housing, even if *everyone* in new housing is able to get by without *ever* using a car, then traffic will continue to get worse. All that changes is the *rate* at which traffic gets worse. Unfortunately, this is the situation that the Comprehensive Plan describes.

The least-expensive and fairest solution is to create incentives for corporations to expand elsewhere, to reduce the rate of job growth locally and provide opportunities over a wider area. (Maybe efforts like Rise of the Rest will do this in the private sector.) A more-expensive solution is to create transit systems that are good enough to attract large numbers of riders who'd otherwise use cars. But building housing, alone, won't improve traffic.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:19 pm

A lot of Palo Alto residents who moved here say 20 years ago bought their homes while working for Sun Microsystems, HP, etc. Where are these companies now? Where are those residents working now?


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Is the city planning on staffing up to ensure that workers always live near their jobs, that they never change jobs, that they never buy or lease cars, that they're evicted from car-light / employee-oriented housing as soon as they lose / leave their jobs?

If not, then the live-near-your-job policies are just more feel-good, unrealistic, unenforceable fairy tales designed to help the developers.


38 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm

stephen levy wrote:

"I live on the 5th floor of a downtown condo and find it a great place to live, shop, find nearby parks and services.

We have five families with children living here about the same percentage as families with children city wide. One family moved in last week precisely because their kids could walk or bike to school and the mom who works at Stanford can get their without driving and they have the amenities of living downtown. All of the families with children here chose the location and seem happy."

----------

Any social scientist, including Mr. Levy, should know that personal descriptions of the happy families living in his condominium building are what we call "anecdotes". Anecdotes are useful for illustrating a robust set of data, but, by themselves, are completely meaningless in terms of drawing any conclusions about a larger group of people.

In previous posts, Mr. Levy has told us that his apartment is 1700 sq. ft., with 3 BD, 2 BA, and 2 parking spaces. Mr. Levy must realize that his spacious accommodations are not at all representative of the far more modest dwellings anticipated for Palo Alto, which may not be quite so desirable to families.

And, of course, Mr. Levy surely understands that families might not find Palo Alto such a great place to "live, shop, find nearby parks and services" if these amenities -- along with transportation and parking -- do not expand sufficiently to keep pace with a growing population and we end up with more people competing for the same resources.

As an ordinary citizen, Mr. Levy would be entitled to express his opinions in the absence of valid supporting facts and statistics.

Mr. Levy, however, is not merely an ordinary citizen. He makes his living as a consultant who provides government agencies and non-profits with economic and demographic forecasts. This includes policy-making organizations -- such as ABAG -- which directly impact our daily lives. As such, we must hold Mr. Levy to a high standard.

My feeling is that Mr. Levy's writings, including his Palo Alto Online blog and Town Square posts, repeatedly demonstrate clear pro-growth bias and misuse of data to justify his positions. In my opinion, it appears his passion for growth has overwhelmed his ability to be objective.

Give his influence we must insist Mr. Levy provide credible third-party references for his assertions

BTW, Mr. Levy, who is also a leader of Palo Alto Forward (PAF), describes himself as the "Director" of the "Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy (CCSCE)".

Despite what this name suggests, a visit to the CCCSE web site -- see Web Link -- shows that this is *not* a government or non-profit agency and is *not* affiliated with any university. Rather, it is a private business. It is not clear whether or not there are any employees besides Mr. Levy.


18 people like this
Posted by @Online Name
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 13, 2018 at 6:22 pm

"If not, then the live-near-your-job policies are just more feel-good, unrealistic, unenforceable fairy tales designed to help the developers."

There is no "if", they are, they always were.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"- Upton Sinclair.

It is fascinating why non-developer folk are ecstatic over this. Do they not get it that to move the needle there has to be three times more housing built? Long before this city will be gridlocked; it already is now. How long will it take them to figure that out ...
There is nothing serious in those plans about public transportation infrastructure which is the only way how people can be squeezed out of their cars.


4 people like this
Posted by @@OnlineName
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm

"It is fascinating why non-developer folk are ecstatic over this. Do they not get it that to move the needle there has to be three times more housing built?"

Let's do it.


13 people like this
Posted by @@@ stephen levy
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 13, 2018 at 10:10 pm

Editor,

Why are posters allowed to put an "@" in front of someone else's online moniker and use that as a name?

Co-opting another poster's online moniker clearly violates the spirit of Town Square's terms of use and is an obvious attempt to frustrate and confuse reader cognition with a "mockingbird" strategy.


21 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 13, 2018 at 10:36 pm

@@@@ stephen levy: It's posters who don't know how to post properly who do that. The @ is supposed to go in this section, not in the name.

How I yearn for the days of the early 80s where we could cross Embarcadero Rd. from Paly to T&C and rarely have to wait for a car to pass. And no one was cutting through Churchill Rd. Biking was safe then.

When do the pro-development City Council members finish their terms? Can the new members revoke the agreements? This developing is insane and developers donated to their campaigns. Next, airbnbs and granny houses will fill our neighborhoods. We will be a run-down little S.F.

Does everyone realize that those RV dwellers are simply stubborn? See PA Online story. They don't NEED to live in Palo Alto and some perfectly capable ones refuse to be employed. They just stay here because the city is safe and doesn't kick them out.

Also, the low-income housing at Lytton Gardens is filled with residents who are committing fraud. They move here via chain migration (child's H1B1 Visa) and cannot speak English so they are unemployed. Thus, they pay $200-$400/month to live in downtown Palo Alto! Yes, two-hundred to four-hundred! When there are people who commute two hours to PA. City Council is aware of this but doesn't want to enforce the rules because they don't care; they are fulfilling the low-income housing requirement.


35 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2018 at 8:38 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I have been saying for a very long time that Steve Levy keeps misrepresenting himself. He keeps presenting himself as a not for profit academic type who provides unbiased economic data to various governmental agencies.

In fact he is a for-profit consultant who provides heavily pro development policy ideas to agencies with a heavily pro development bias. Combine it with being a leader of PAF, a strongly pro housing and commercial development group, practically a PAC, which his strongly linked, and in my opinion indistinguishable from Palantir, and it's obvious that Steve Levy is the exact opposite of what he claims to be. He is in essence a lobbyist for mega development, and he gets paid for it. In spite of all that, Palo Alto Online has provided him with a blog, while the anti development side has not been provided with one.


27 people like this
Posted by Ryan Li
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:01 am

Palo Alto actually needs LESS housing, not more. We need to REDUCE housing. Traffic is horrible, pollution is horrible, more housing makes quality of living worse. There is too much development in Palo Alto, too many new homes being built.


26 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:20 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Yes, Palo Alto needs to decrease its population, not increase it. In Palo Alto there is a fundamental lack of understanding of what being a city council member is all about. it is, and should ALWAYS be only about serving EXISTING residents. it is only about doing everything possible to increase their quality of life, safety and enjoyment of their town. It is never about fulfilling the desires of wannabe residents or enabling the greed of the real estate development sector. Increasing their quality of life and safety means keeping population density low(this is suburbia, not a metropolis), reducing traffic, noise and air pollution. This council is not doing all of this, they are doing everything to diminish their constituency's quality of life and serve non residents and the real estate development sector. They have betrayed their constituency.

It his absolutely imperative for city council members to NOT engage in social entering, and I'm saying this as a politically progressive person who is to the left of the Democratic party. It his also imperative that they don't subscribe to the absurd notion that every person who presently works in Palo Alto should be enabled to live in P.A.


9 people like this
Posted by @mauricio
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:28 am

"Yes, Palo Alto needs to decrease its population, not increase it."

After you.


13 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:32 am


So sayeth another master of the tautology.

> Most jobs and housing in Palo Alto are within a 3-mile radius of
> Page Mill and Alma, including Stanford (SLAC excluded).
> A 1-1/2 mile radius circle from Stanford Ave and ECR covers
> most of Stanford, most of downtown, most of Stanford Industrial Park,
> and most of the south end of ECR in Palo Alto.

OK, this is true—but so what? Most jobs in the US are likely to be close to some sort of arterial, or roadway system so that employees can get to work, and the business can obtain the materials and services it needs to function, as well as ship out its products to its customers.

The point of talking about this is not that most of the people working in the roughly 90,000 jobs here in Palo Alto don’t live in Palo Alto. There is little evidence that people who work in place X want to live within 3 miles of their job site. Particularly if that means that they would have to live in a high rise.

The City has had a number of Nexis studies performed prior to increase so-called “impact fees”. A major Nexis study was conducted about ten years ago that revealed that only 19% of the city’s residents worked here in Palo Alto. That means that the remaining 81% need to commute to another place to work, and the vast majority of people living in the Bay Area (assuming similar results for Nexis studies in their towns) have to commute.

Public transportation is a joke—given how ineffectively it is managed. Moreover, given the low population densities in California (in general), mass transit is not a viable option. Besides the costs being ruinous (as we are seeing with the so-called HSR between SF and LA), the number of people who could use such transportation could never pay the construction and maintenance costs—requiring neverending public subsidies.)

> HP and Roche leaving---so what?

For employees of these companies who also live in Palo Alto, they can no longer walk/bike to work. That’s “so what”.


> But, if Palo Alto does end up with the density of Manhattan, it is
> going to be with a subway system like Manhattan,

How delusional can people be who even dream ideas like this one. The City has been leaning towards “trenching” the useless Caltrain system in order to provide safe passage for motorists and pedestrians over the tracks that separate Palo Alto. The back-of-the-envelope costs have been estimated at more than one billion dollars. The city’s infrastructure upgrade/refurbishment costs have been estimated at over $500M at various times in the past. Pension obligations have been estimated at upwards of one billion dollars by a Council Member. No one knows where all of the money necessary to address the known/possible obligations will come from. So where in the world would Palo Alto find the untold billions to construct a “subway”?


2 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

Resources are scarce. There's not even enough money to take care of the truly needy who need housing now or they can die. Middle class subsidies are on their way out. The U.S. government is on paper bankrupt. California's state government is insolvent (Gov. Brown: We may not be able to pay for government pensions). With the Buena Vista trailer park (Hispanic vote) the city council has an albatross hanging around their neck, but they did get it right about the Weiner Bill. Right now there are about 100 billion dollars of apartment houses that can be built in San Jose if the market is deregulated (property controls including rent controls without any government (taxpayer) financing. I'm the only one around town trying to do anything about California's housing mess: The San Jose Property Rights Initiative. But now . . . a statewide initiative for rent control which will devastate the the housing construction business. Stay tuned.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Posted by george drysdale, a resident of Professorville

>> The U.S. government is on paper bankrupt.

That isn't how Federal Government finance works. The Government has the power to tax to support its debt burden.

Anyway, I have some questions about the following:

>> Right now there are about 100 billion dollars of apartment houses that can be built in San Jose if the market is deregulated

Can you be more specific about this? Are there actually 100 billion dollars waiting on something (what?) and, does this account for current construction costs, land costs, etc. Where is the land, how many acres, how many units per acre, what kind of units, expected costs per square foot, expected rent, etc?

>> (property controls including rent controls without any government (taxpayer) financing. I'm the only one around town trying to do anything about California's housing mess: The San Jose Property Rights Initiative. But now . . . a statewide initiative for rent control which will devastate the the housing construction business. Stay tuned.


3 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

@mauricio, I have left Palo Alto. You are welcome to follow my example.


9 people like this
Posted by @mauricio
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm

"@mauricio, I have left Palo Alto. You are welcome to follow my example."

I commend you for taking your own advice and moving elsewhere when you felt the area was growing past what you enjoyed. I have no need to follow your example though since I don't have a problem with cities growing, as they're want to do.


11 people like this
Posted by Why does he continue?
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Mauricio- since you state above that you have left Palo Alto, why do you continue to make posting as if you are still a resident. You have no say in local matters, no voting rights here.


3 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 14, 2018 at 3:38 pm

"Mauricio- since you state above that you have left Palo Alto, why do you continue to make posting as if you are still a resident. You have no say in local matters, no voting rights here."

I think he is entertaining, but that is just me. And how do we know any of the people posting here are residents - or not? Some of the things I have read on here just don't correlate with what I have observed in real life in Palo Alto. Best to take things said here with a grain of salt until the forum is updated and fixed.


8 people like this
Posted by Stir the pot
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2018 at 3:58 pm

[Post removed due to factual inaccuracy.]


15 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2018 at 4:10 pm

More housing? How many is Kniss proposing? 10,000? 50,000? Those would quickly fill up. In the meantime, all of the transit, congestion, infrastructure and cost of governance issues would go from disaster to extra-crispy disaster. Calling for more housing, by itself, doesn't fix anything. Government in California, which has so far and of late, been much too driven by poorly considered promises needs to get serious. Kniss is just more of the same problem.


15 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2018 at 4:14 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Since I own a home in Palo Alto(meaning I pay property taxes here) and haven't changed my voting registration yet, so I still vote in SC County, I think I'm good posting here, unlike "residents of another community'" who keep posting here, demanding everything from increased density, housing that would fit their budget and calling on longtime residents to move out.

Just so you know.


2 people like this
Posted by @mauricio
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Instead you're just keeping an appreciating asset around that you pay a subsidized tax rate on assured that it will continue to accrue value while fighting against any added supply that might help others also afford some property around here.


16 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2018 at 4:45 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Added supply just makes property values go up, mostly because they will be gobbled up by foreign buyers who will outbid all other potential buyers and set higher bench marks for housing. These properties will be rented out at top dollar or left sitting empty, and will do nothing to meet the demand for housing. We already know that adding housing just makes this market even more expensive.

The only thing that might slow down the appreciation, marginally, is for companies to move to areas that actually need them and stop bringing in more people without housing into this area, and to find ways to keeping foreign investors and money launderers from buying properties in the Bay area and use them as bank accounts.


Posted by @mauricio
a resident of Crescent Park

on Feb 14, 2018 at 5:05 pm


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Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 14, 2018 at 5:05 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Feb 14, 2018 at 5:09 pm

"Posted by @mauricio
a resident of Crescent Park

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login."

Shame on you, moderator, for that censorship. This place is useless and anti-Palo Alto. Goodbye.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

The Housing Work Plan is an encouraging follow-on to the newly completed Comprehensive Plan. What a contrast to November 2013, when an opportunity to provide 60 units of housing affordable to low-income seniors fell victim, despite unanimous city council approval, to a movement to fight threats to Palo Alto's historic suburban character.

Congratulations to successive city councils and mayors since the 2014 elections for bringing us to a point where extreme positions of hyperdevelopment on one side and no growth on the other have been sidelined as guidelines for making development decisions for the city going forward.


6 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2018 at 5:54 pm

"Added supply just makes property values go up,"

Someone was sleeping in Economics class, I see.


13 people like this
Posted by Kool aid drinker
a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 15, 2018 at 1:00 am

@Me 2

You too have been drinking the kool aid.

Has the housing prices in San Francisco, New York or even HongKong decreased with all their massive high density buildouts?

No!


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 15, 2018 at 6:14 am

mauricio is a registered user.

San Jose can't build housing fast enough, and the more they build, the more housing prices go up. The same is true for numerous places around the world. NYC, S.F, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, etc, etc, etc.

Supply and demand theory might work in theory, all things being equal, but not in real life situations, definitely not when the demand would always be greater than the ability to meet it.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Feb 15, 2018 at 9:03 am


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24 people like this
Posted by Whazzup
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2018 at 12:54 pm

@Rude Cory Wolbach - you got it right! What's going on with Mr Wolbach? Just watched the video of the council meeting, and he just seemed to lose it. Accusing other Council members opinions of being wrong and attacking them when they bring up the homeless during a housing discussion? Seems like he's locked in to one solution which involves building as much new construction as possible, at market rates

When people talk about the "housing crisis" they aren't talking about homelessness. We do have a need to house people who have no homes. There should be a focus on low income housing and helping those who live in vehicles get back on their feet.

Instead we have a "commuter crisis" people who are living in homes but don't want to commute so far. This isn't a housing crisis. It's a jobs imbalance that will sort itself out as jobs move closer to where people live.

We absolutely need to make sure our TDM programs work before taking a leap that car light doesn't just mean neighborhood parking heavy.

And Mr Wolbach needs to sign up for anger management and show some empathy for the unhoused.


30 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Please remember that Mr. Wolbach was the one who never expected people to mention the parking problems with ADUs and then advocated having people park on front lawns!

In addition to signing up for anger management and manners courses, he needs to sign
up for some courses in common sense. What a shame he and his buddies have so little respect for the community they're in such a rush to destroy,


Posted by Wolbachinator
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Feb 19, 2018 at 9:34 am


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4 people like this
Posted by Tim Buck II
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

"Someone was sleeping in Economics class, I see."

It's an excellent place to catch up on sleep and not miss anything useful.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2018 at 1:29 pm

-> Posted by Me 2, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> >> "Added supply just makes property values go up,"

>> Someone was sleeping in Economics class, I see.


-> Posted by Kool aid drinker, a resident of Monroe Park

>> @Me 2

>> Has the housing prices in San Francisco, New York or even HongKong decreased with all their massive high density buildouts? No!

This isn't as mysterious as it seems. High-rise construction costs are greater than 2.5 times as expensive per square foot as (optimal) three story wood frame construction.

And, as it turns out, high-rises are not necessary to achieve very high densities.


9 people like this
Posted by Econ 201
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

An investment of capital often increases the economic utility of an asset.

The cost of housing in Palo Alto is primarily influenced by property values. When capital is invested, that is, when more dense housing is created, property values go up. And housing costs follow.

Even if housing costs for those buying the new, dense housing were lower (and they are not), neighboring housing prices go up, and the cost of housing in the city goes up absolutely.

If you look at the housing quality or simply square footage to price ratio, this is amplified.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 19, 2018 at 8:19 pm

"And, as it turns out, high-rises are not necessary to achieve very high densities."

The push to allow high rise construction is an obvious stalking horse to bust the fifty foot ceiling and enable much greater commercial (surprise!) density on a given lot.


2 people like this
Posted by Housing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:51 am

Building tall buildings may make adjacent property values go up, but regional property values stabilize as that high density core begins to soak up demand. To say that added supply just continues to increase housing costs though is a malicious fabrication. If you cut out 10% of the housing in Hong Kong, prices are going to go up as people compete over the reduced supply of housing. Seattle is on a building spree and rent increases are starting to slow down.


6 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 20, 2018 at 10:40 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Housing: Your comments assume that housing supply is increasing faster than demand. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case either in Palo Alto or in the Bay Area as a whole.

Our Comp Plan anticipates Palo Alto will gain more new employees than new residents.

On a larger scale, a UCLA study ( Web Link ) shows that it would take a 20% increase in housing to roll back prices by even 10%. Even that would hardly make them affordable, and at the accelerated construction rates currently predicted, we're still looking at decades to hit that target.

Yet office construction continues. 20K more jobs at Google Village, with another 20K at developments nearby. Just to offset those will require about 20K units. And if they're not ALL at walking/biking distance to transit, traffic is going to increase as well.


14 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2018 at 1:44 pm

The primary driver of housing "crisis" is a laissez faire attitude toward corporate growth while making all the consequences like traffic circulation, pollution, housing, safety, a public problem. Building more for the short term desires of companies that really should move where they can expand will not bring down prices, it will only exacerbate the situate as those companies expand rather than moving. Stanford needs to expand and that should be the priority, but no company has a right or need to take over downtown Palo Alto, for example. They can more easily move, like Facebook did, and we must develop policies to ensure this is a safe place for startups again but that companies know they must and will move when they grow, rather than transforming the city into a dense urban congested mess for their selfish purposes.

This has to be codified. We limit the size of grocery stores, we can limit the size of companies to prevent this from happening again.

It's breathtaking that anyone would claim that they know all the answers about creating affordability in Hong Kong when they struggle with these same issues and have been building 4X6 "coffin" homes and still people can't afford them. They have the best transit system in the world with like ninety percent utilization rate and yet still they have a "housing crisis". The problem is created because it is a center of commerce and that's where the jobs are. HK an island and has no choice but density. The US by contrast is vast and could even benefit from new towns being created, designed well from the get go.

We have a glut of companies and too many employees problem. I would like to see that addressed.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2018 at 4:43 pm

"Seattle is on a building spree and rent increases are starting to slow down."

OK, there's an apartment building in the 400 block Forest about to open. Watch those PA rents drop.


7 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2018 at 8:03 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Can we agree we have a commuter “crisis” not a housing crisis? These people are housed. Just further away than they’d like to be. It’s a challenge and we need to decide if key types of workers should be housed closer to Palo Alto. Given the expense though it can not be a few very needed types of housing. Teachers may be one of these categories in order to build a good community.

The comments about limiting office sizes are good. That’s the only way outnof this mess.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 9:14 am

In the UK there are schemes for housing that are part mortgage, part rental. When one of these homes are purchased, the owner puts down a deposit and gets a mortgage for as much as the size of the deposit allows, say 40% of the market value. Then the remaining 60% has rent attached to it. Yes, the homeowner has both a mortgage and rent each month, but is aware of the overall size of each out front. As the time goes by and the homeowner gets more able to put in more equity or able to increase the mortgage payment, the size of the ownership is adjusted and the rent goes down. When the homeowner wants to sell he receives back the equity in his home as a downpayment on next home and the new buyer can receive the same type of shared ownership scheme.

Innovative solutions do exist. They just need to be looked into.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 22, 2018 at 4:55 pm

"Can we agree we have a commuter “crisis” not a housing crisis? These people are housed. Just further away than they’d like to be."

The solution is simple: Require everybody to reside in the town where they work. No exceptions. Evict the 50+% who live in Palo Alto but work elsewhere to make room for an equivalent number who work in Palo Alto but live elsewhere. Done.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North

>> The solution is simple: Require everybody to reside in the town where they work. No exceptions. Evict the 50+% who live in Palo Alto but work elsewhere to make room for an equivalent number who work in Palo Alto but live elsewhere. Done.

(Raises hand.). Umm. What if one of a couple works in Palo Alto and one commutes to Mtn. View?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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