News

New housing zone could deliver Palo Alto's largest project in years

Sand Hill Property Company proposes 187-unit development at Stanford Research Park

A mixed-use project proposed by Sand Hill Property Company includes a five-story residential complex at 3300 El Camino Real with 187 apartments and a two-story office building. Courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Eager to spur more housing production, members of the Palo Alto City Council signaled their support Monday night for one of the most ambitious projects that the city has seen in many years: a mixed-use development that would bring 187 apartments to a site on the edge of Stanford Research Park.

The development proposed by Sand Hill Property Company would occupy a site at 3300 El Camino Real, just south of Hansen Way and The Fish Market. If it wins approval, it would be the first project to advance under the "planned home zone," a designation that the council recently created to provide incentives to residential developments. Modeled after the "planned community" zone of yesteryear, the new zone allows developers to exceed development standards in exchange for negotiated public benefits.

But while the "planned community" zone famously left open the question of what constitutes a "public benefit," the "planned home zone" offers a clear answer: housing. In February, the council authorized staff to use of the zoning tool to encourage more housing and to bring the city closer to the elusive goal of building more than 300 units per year.

The council's Monday discussion was a "pre-screening" hearing that allows members to give early feedback and enables applicants to modify their proposals before submitting a formal application.

Despite recent efforts by the council to encourage housing projects, Planning Director Jonathan Lait underscored on Monday that the city remains well short of its target.

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"We're still not there," Lait said, "We're still not meeting the goals of the council in the Comprehensive Plan and we're only barely meeting our above-market-rate housing numbers that we're expecting to make in order to meet the (Senate Bill) 35 standards that we adopted a couple of years ago."

While the council has yet to define the exact parameters of the new zoning district — including the affordable-housing requirements that qualifying projects must meet — members were mostly receptive to Sand Hill's tentative plan.

The proposed development would consist of a two-story office building just south of a five-story residential complex. Twenty percent of the housing units would be offered at below market rate.

Allison Koo, managing director for Sand Hill, said the proposed housing, with its proportion of affordable units, doesn't add any financial value to the project. Earlier this year, the company was considering moving ahead with a more typical Stanford Research Park proposal consisting of office and research-and-development space. That proposal would have been consistent with the zoning code and, as such, would not require a council review.

The company decided to add the housing component after the council agreed in February to create the new "planned home zone."

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"We're here tonight because we believe it's the right thing to do," Koo said. "This is the right place for housing to go."

The project, if approved, would be by far the largest housing project that the city has approved in more than a decade. Despite their repeated insistence that housing remains a top city priority, the council has only approved one significant multifamily development in the past two years: a 59-unit affordable-housing project called Wilton Court that is set to break ground later this year. The city also approved in 2018 a 57-unit development on El Camino and Page Mill Road with small apartments geared toward the workforce.

In discussing the Sand Hill proposal, council members found plenty to like in the housing component, though they were far less enthusiastic about the proposal to include 55,153 square feet office space.

"With COVID-19, I'm not really eager to approve more office. … I'm completely game for significant housing at this site. I'm not supportive of additional office space," Vice Mayor Tom DuBois said.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou was critical of the proposal, which she said doesn't include any amenities for the residents in the nearby neighborhoods of Ventura and Barron Park. She also said she has some concerns about partnering with Sand Hill, alluding to the city's ongoing dispute with the developer over the recently redeveloped Edgewood Plaza. The city and Sand Hill have been involved in numerous disputes over the plaza, stemming from the developer's demolition of a historic building that it was required to preserve and disagreements over the fine amount that the city imposed on Sand Hill over a prolonged vacancy in the plaza's grocery store.

She said she would like to see "more thinking for the community, rather than just for the developer."

"I do have concerns with this developer because there are other projects that we have — that we are not operating through in good faith at this time," Kou said. "I'd like to see some conditions imposed on the developer if we do go forward on this."

Others, however, suggested that the Sand Hill project is exactly the type of development that the city was hoping to see when it began soliciting proposals earlier this year.

"This is the first time we have seen something coming to us," Councilwoman Liz Kniss said. "I'm very enthused about the mixed use and think this is the ideal corner to do it."

Even supporters, however, acknowledged that the project could be better. Councilman Eric Filseth said that given the significant zoning concessions, the developer should provide more than 20% of the units at below market rate. Mayor Adrian Fine also acknowledged that the project isn't "perfect," but lauded it for including significant housing.

"Maybe this isn't the perfect project that we want, which is 100% housing, but it's playing catch-up and not making our problems worse," Fine said. "Overall, I'm pleased by this."

Residents who spoke at the meeting or who submitted letters were also largely enthusiastic about Sand Hill's proposal. Palo Alto Forward, a nonprofit that advocates for housing, submitted a letter expressing strong support for the Sand Hill Properties proposal, which it argued would increase housing choices for community members and help the city meet state requirements for new homes at all income levels.

"Meeting our community's housing needs will require more creative planning solutions, including converting underutilized commercial land to mixed-use, inclusive, walkable neighborhoods," the letter states. "If the City of Palo Alto intends to keep housing as a priority in 2020, we must move proposals forward that generate new homes."

Barron Park resident Art Liberman, who lives near the project sites, also noted that the neighborhood needs more homes. He and most of his neighbors support adding residences, he said, though they generally oppose new offices.

"Every day there are campers and RVs parked bumper-to-bumper on El Camino alone the side of the 3300 El Camino Real property," Liberman said. "These people need housing. But we, neighboring residents, think the entire 3300 El Camino Real site should be used for housing. Palo Alto does not need another office building."

Both Fine and Cormack noted, however, that the developer doesn't need the council's permission to build offices, which are already allowed in Stanford Research Park. The question is: should the city also get housing as part of this project.

"I'm grateful to the applicant for bringing this forward," Cormack said. "I think we have a pretty clear choice between an office building and parking, and an office building and housing."

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New housing zone could deliver Palo Alto's largest project in years

Sand Hill Property Company proposes 187-unit development at Stanford Research Park

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jun 23, 2020, 2:42 am

Eager to spur more housing production, members of the Palo Alto City Council signaled their support Monday night for one of the most ambitious projects that the city has seen in many years: a mixed-use development that would bring 187 apartments to a site on the edge of Stanford Research Park.

The development proposed by Sand Hill Property Company would occupy a site at 3300 El Camino Real, just south of Hansen Way and The Fish Market. If it wins approval, it would be the first project to advance under the "planned home zone," a designation that the council recently created to provide incentives to residential developments. Modeled after the "planned community" zone of yesteryear, the new zone allows developers to exceed development standards in exchange for negotiated public benefits.

But while the "planned community" zone famously left open the question of what constitutes a "public benefit," the "planned home zone" offers a clear answer: housing. In February, the council authorized staff to use of the zoning tool to encourage more housing and to bring the city closer to the elusive goal of building more than 300 units per year.

The council's Monday discussion was a "pre-screening" hearing that allows members to give early feedback and enables applicants to modify their proposals before submitting a formal application.

Despite recent efforts by the council to encourage housing projects, Planning Director Jonathan Lait underscored on Monday that the city remains well short of its target.

"We're still not there," Lait said, "We're still not meeting the goals of the council in the Comprehensive Plan and we're only barely meeting our above-market-rate housing numbers that we're expecting to make in order to meet the (Senate Bill) 35 standards that we adopted a couple of years ago."

While the council has yet to define the exact parameters of the new zoning district — including the affordable-housing requirements that qualifying projects must meet — members were mostly receptive to Sand Hill's tentative plan.

The proposed development would consist of a two-story office building just south of a five-story residential complex. Twenty percent of the housing units would be offered at below market rate.

Allison Koo, managing director for Sand Hill, said the proposed housing, with its proportion of affordable units, doesn't add any financial value to the project. Earlier this year, the company was considering moving ahead with a more typical Stanford Research Park proposal consisting of office and research-and-development space. That proposal would have been consistent with the zoning code and, as such, would not require a council review.

The company decided to add the housing component after the council agreed in February to create the new "planned home zone."

"We're here tonight because we believe it's the right thing to do," Koo said. "This is the right place for housing to go."

The project, if approved, would be by far the largest housing project that the city has approved in more than a decade. Despite their repeated insistence that housing remains a top city priority, the council has only approved one significant multifamily development in the past two years: a 59-unit affordable-housing project called Wilton Court that is set to break ground later this year. The city also approved in 2018 a 57-unit development on El Camino and Page Mill Road with small apartments geared toward the workforce.

In discussing the Sand Hill proposal, council members found plenty to like in the housing component, though they were far less enthusiastic about the proposal to include 55,153 square feet office space.

"With COVID-19, I'm not really eager to approve more office. … I'm completely game for significant housing at this site. I'm not supportive of additional office space," Vice Mayor Tom DuBois said.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou was critical of the proposal, which she said doesn't include any amenities for the residents in the nearby neighborhoods of Ventura and Barron Park. She also said she has some concerns about partnering with Sand Hill, alluding to the city's ongoing dispute with the developer over the recently redeveloped Edgewood Plaza. The city and Sand Hill have been involved in numerous disputes over the plaza, stemming from the developer's demolition of a historic building that it was required to preserve and disagreements over the fine amount that the city imposed on Sand Hill over a prolonged vacancy in the plaza's grocery store.

She said she would like to see "more thinking for the community, rather than just for the developer."

"I do have concerns with this developer because there are other projects that we have — that we are not operating through in good faith at this time," Kou said. "I'd like to see some conditions imposed on the developer if we do go forward on this."

Others, however, suggested that the Sand Hill project is exactly the type of development that the city was hoping to see when it began soliciting proposals earlier this year.

"This is the first time we have seen something coming to us," Councilwoman Liz Kniss said. "I'm very enthused about the mixed use and think this is the ideal corner to do it."

Even supporters, however, acknowledged that the project could be better. Councilman Eric Filseth said that given the significant zoning concessions, the developer should provide more than 20% of the units at below market rate. Mayor Adrian Fine also acknowledged that the project isn't "perfect," but lauded it for including significant housing.

"Maybe this isn't the perfect project that we want, which is 100% housing, but it's playing catch-up and not making our problems worse," Fine said. "Overall, I'm pleased by this."

Residents who spoke at the meeting or who submitted letters were also largely enthusiastic about Sand Hill's proposal. Palo Alto Forward, a nonprofit that advocates for housing, submitted a letter expressing strong support for the Sand Hill Properties proposal, which it argued would increase housing choices for community members and help the city meet state requirements for new homes at all income levels.

"Meeting our community's housing needs will require more creative planning solutions, including converting underutilized commercial land to mixed-use, inclusive, walkable neighborhoods," the letter states. "If the City of Palo Alto intends to keep housing as a priority in 2020, we must move proposals forward that generate new homes."

Barron Park resident Art Liberman, who lives near the project sites, also noted that the neighborhood needs more homes. He and most of his neighbors support adding residences, he said, though they generally oppose new offices.

"Every day there are campers and RVs parked bumper-to-bumper on El Camino alone the side of the 3300 El Camino Real property," Liberman said. "These people need housing. But we, neighboring residents, think the entire 3300 El Camino Real site should be used for housing. Palo Alto does not need another office building."

Both Fine and Cormack noted, however, that the developer doesn't need the council's permission to build offices, which are already allowed in Stanford Research Park. The question is: should the city also get housing as part of this project.

"I'm grateful to the applicant for bringing this forward," Cormack said. "I think we have a pretty clear choice between an office building and parking, and an office building and housing."

Comments

stephen levy
University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:20 am
stephen levy, University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:20 am
21 people like this

Thank you council. This should be an easy choice. We can either have just office (it is legal) or office AND housing. This is the largest housing project to come before us in many years and it will help meet our Comp Plan and RHNA goals and show HCD that Palo Alto can be a can do city for housing. And hopefully encourage more housing proposals to come forward.


Marth
Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:55 am
Marth, Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:55 am
21 people like this

We don't need more high-density housing. Hasn't the COVID-19 thing convinced us of that? And the RHNA is a sham. I can't believe the City Counsil is even considering this. On second thought, given their track record, I can believe it.


Anon
Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:04 am
Anon, Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:04 am
22 people like this

So if housing is a priority why use special zoning tool to build office?
We will never build our way out of the Jobs housing imbalance by adding office.
new PHZ;planned housing zone
Really stands for zero Under this type of development.
A self defeating policy,
And a city council that cannot make adult choices ...or at least not make adult choices that protect the people that elected them in stead of throwing cash back at the developers that filled their campaign chests.




stephen levy
University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:50 am
stephen levy, University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:50 am
9 people like this

Anon

You are smart enough to know that council’s choice was between just office as legally zoned and office plus housing.

So council chose adding housing. Do you oppose adding housing given that the proposed office is legal?

As to protecting the people who elected them,

One I did not vote for anyone who opposes housing
Two I believe elected officials have a duty to the common good not just what their voters want. Our memory of voters wanting all sorts of illegal stuff has been heightened by recent events.

And 3 that sounds like what Trump would say.

So in this case I favor local control as to how best to meet our housing goal but not local control that opposes meeting those goals.

We have had enough losing lawsuits not to seek being sued over housing and get laughed out of court as the Cupertino NIMBYS were.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:03 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:03 am
18 people like this

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South

>> This should be an easy choice. We can either have just office (it is legal) or office AND housing.

Hold it a second. It isn't *easy*. The important question is, what does the overall project do to the jobs/housing imbalance? Does it actually improve it? If it doesn't, then, it is *hard*. Let's see the real jobs/housing numbers before we declare it "easy".

>> This is the largest housing project to come before us in many years and it will help meet our Comp Plan and RHNA goals and show HCD that Palo Alto can be a can do city for housing.

Will it keep the politicians in San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose off our backs? That's the main thing. Anyone else notice how San Francisco has been strongarming Brisbane for years over the "Baylands" mixed-use development. Web Link Massive non-housing space, 15000 new permanent jobs, and, 2200 housing units. Developers keep getting away with this fraud -- pretending something is "housing", when, actually, it adds far more jobs than housing. Just say no to drugs and office space.

>> And hopefully encourage more housing proposals to come forward.

Hopefully, it will encourage housing *only* proposals, but, it won't, because office space is what they really want to build, not housing. Don't be fooled.

Housing *only*, not "mixed use".


Mary O'Kicki
Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:25 am
Mary O'Kicki, Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:25 am
10 people like this

Steve Levy has it right. As noted in the article, because the area is already designated for commercial use, Sand Hill Properties doesn't need the Council's approval to build more office space. "Earlier this year, the company was considering moving ahead with a more typical Stanford Research Park proposal consisting of office and research-and-development space. That proposal would have been consistent with the zoning code and, as such, would not require a council review."

Therefore, the Council has to choose between approving additional housing or not approving additional housing. They don't get to review the proposal if Sand Hill Properties decides to move forward with just office space.

Yes, a new residential complex would be welcome. But who is going to pay for it? Below market rate housing does not generate revenue for the developer.


Thank you Lydia and Tom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:40 am
Thank you Lydia and Tom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:40 am
37 people like this

Thank you Lydia for pushing back on working with Sand Hill. They have been absolutely derelict in their duty wrt Edgewood. The City needs to be pickier about who we let design and build our City. If we've learned only one thing from this presidency, it is that Character Matters.

Thank you also to Tom for pushing on reducing the amount of office space and increasing the amount of affordable housing. We DO NOT NEED office space and we DO NOT NEED high-end housing. If the zoning is the problem, then let's fix the zoning to address that.

I don't believe for one second that Sand Hill is doing this because "it's the right thing to do". They have no track record of that. I don't think we should work with them at all. At minimum, let's get more affordable housing, otherwise this uses valuable land and zoning exemption is for insufficient benefit, which unfortunately is our track record.


stephen levy
University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:46 am
stephen levy, University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:46 am
7 people like this

Anon,

SHP will either build just office or office and housing.

Pick one. Housing only is not being offered.

And most housing in the Valley now is part of mixed use projects that pencil out.

The council understands their choice and, perhaps reluctantly for some, that housing has to pencil or it does not get built.

A group of Palo Altan’s who are complying pretty well with restrictions for safety re COVID, should easily understand the law, the common good and being realistic.


anon
Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:50 am
anon, Evergreen Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:50 am
5 people like this


A true pro housing Council would have used the special boutique zone, PHZ, instead of the regular zone Research Park. RP, fir an all housing project.
Btw housing is already an allowed use in the research park.
Free washing virtue signaling and payback to developers


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:20 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:20 am
11 people like this

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South

>> SHP will either build just office or office and housing.
>> Pick one. Housing only is not being offered.

IOW, as Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." We have no choice, and yet, we must "approve" or the outcome will be worse. Thank you for clarifying.

>> And most housing in the Valley now is part of mixed use projects that pencil out.

Believe me, I get it. We're screwed either way. Please stop rationalizing the building of more office space as a positive thing. It isn't. Sand Hill has the power, and residents/voters don't. I get it.


Not so fast, Lydia and Tom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:51 am
Not so fast, Lydia and Tom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 11:51 am
5 people like this

Not so fast, No “thanks to Lydia and Tom”.

- On “We DO NOT NEED office”
The project is to replace existing office space.

- On “we DO NOT NEED high-end housing“
Where in the proposal did you see high-end housing?

- On ‘I don't believe for one second that Sand Hill is doing this because "it's the right thing to do"‘
Sand Hill has an easy choice to build office without having to go through council approval but choose the route to build office PLUS housing and asks for council’s approval.

- On “ let's get more affordable housing”
Yes! The choice before the council and before the public is either Office or Office plus Housing! So Thanks for Sand Hill for bringing the proposal forward that shows we locals know how to exercise local controls.

Lydia and Tom are wrong for opposing the proposal considering they are holding affordable housing banner!


Another Giveaway
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:12 pm
Another Giveaway, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:12 pm
41 people like this

Sand Hill's record of deceptive business practices should disqualify them from doing ANY development in Palo Alto.

Palo Alto's land use policies are a mess. Palo Alto has spent the last decade building office where it should have housing and now to fix that problem, Palo Alto wants to build residential in an office park?

One big problem is the influence of wealthy developers who are blinded by their lust for huge profits. Another problem is Palo Alto has lost sovereignty over its own land use. Palo Alto and other Peninsula cities have effectively been colonized by San Francisco political elites who set policy for the Peninsula to benefit San Francisco County at the expense of Peninsula cities.

San Francisco is using the Peninsula to compensate for its own failures to deal with the problems of out of control growth and density within its own borders.






Conflict of interest
Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Conflict of interest, Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:30 pm
36 people like this

>Palo Alto Forward, a nonprofit that advocates for housing, submitted a letter expressing strong support <

The head of Palo Alto Forward owns a construction company.

Any questions?


Anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:31 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:31 pm
20 people like this

If I’m not mistaken, aside from our nice neighborhood (Duveneck) and the City’s difficulties with Sand Hill Properties over Edgewood Shopping Center redevelopment, they have had major pushback in Cupertino from residents there! I don’t know the latest on the long running Vallco Shopping Center redevelopment proposals. Nevertheless, I recollect residents - the people who live there - organizing vs. Sand Hill....worth being aware of if I’m accurate. We may have additional difficulties with compliance, performance, agreements -


fred
University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:39 pm
fred, University South
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:39 pm
3 people like this

The city could get "better" developers if it were easier to work with. The Lydia Kou/Anon faction by their actions show they do not really want any developers at all. They prefer the status quo. If their ideas made sense, developers would be happy to build them.


No more growth
Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm
No more growth, Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm
29 people like this

We don't need anymore office space to bring more workers to Palo Alto. This development needs to stop. Further this is a massive, oppressive housing complex that comes with no funds for schools, parks, infrastructure, and the common good of the people who will live there and the overcrowding they will bring to the area.

When are we going to shut the developers and growthers down and say we are full, we are crowded and getting sick with disease from the crowding, we are destroying the environment more each year from the glut of people. Say no to all growth and learn to live with limits!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:02 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:02 pm
3 people like this

Posted by fred, a resident of University South

>> The Lydia Kou/Anon faction by their actions show they do not really want any developers at all.

^developers^office-space-developers

>> They prefer the status quo.

Not true. I want to convert some existing office space to housing

>> If their ideas made sense, developers would be happy to build them.

Circular argument. If developers don't want to build housing-only, then, housing-only doesn't make sense (to developers).

-Just say no to drugs and office space-


Maria
Palo Alto High School
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm
Maria, Palo Alto High School
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm
Like this comment

I need información
please

María Heredia


Mayfield Child
Mayfield
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm
Mayfield Child, Mayfield
on Jun 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm
3 people like this

To house or not to house....Nothing better than blackmailing....


Allen Akin
Professorville
on Jun 23, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
on Jun 23, 2020 at 3:41 pm
11 people like this

As a rough estimate, this project would make Palo Alto's jobs/housing ratio better by about 0.86%, while adding about 558 commuting round-trips to and from the city.*

Steve's correct that an office-only project would be worse still, but what always goes unstated in that argument is that it assumes unlimited growth: Nothing ever gets smaller, and you have no choice over whether something new is going to be built, you just have some choice over what it will be.

As several people have pointed out, there are reasons not to accept that assumption. But that's a separate discussion.


* As of 2017, 94647 workers commute into Palo Alto, 22739 commute out, 7431 work in the city. So the total number of workers in the city is (94646+7431), or 102077, and the number of workers living in the city is (22739+7431), or 30170. The ratio of jobs to resident workers is 102077/30170, or 3.383. The fraction of residents working locally is 7431/30170, or 0.246.

I haven't seen hard data on the project's assumptions about the number of employees or about the sizes of the apartment units. But using common averages, 55153 sq ft office space @ 150 sq ft per employee implies offices for 368 employees. 187 units @ 2 workers/unit implies housing for 374 employees.

The overall jobs ratio becomes (102077+368)/(30170+374), or 3.354. So this project would make the jobs imbalance better by about 0.029, which works out to 0.86%. 0.246*374, or 92, residents would work locally, so 374-92, or 282, would be commuting out. The balance of the new jobs would be filled by people living outside Palo Alto, so 368-92, or 276, would be commuting in. Total added commute round-trips: 282+276, or 558.

Apologies in advance for any errors.

The worker numbers I used above came from the Census. For an introduction to using it, see Web Link


We are here, we are here, we are HERE!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:40 pm
We are here, we are here, we are HERE!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 10:40 pm
12 people like this

5 story anything on El Camino there will change the land use of the whole area. Don't do it. Have people forgotten how completely packed El Camino has gotten all hours of the day?

What is the existing zoning height cap there?

This perspective is all so pre-pandemic. We need to start thinking less density, not more. We need to look at how we can convert office space to housing to create balance. Not continue to overbuild for the infrastructure.

We have experienced so much overbuilding, it's time for encouraging more holistic civic services and businesses for existing residents, not continuing down the rabbit hutch path.

If businesses are willing to house workers on the Stanford Research Park lawns and expanses, I'd be okay with a 5-story housing complex enough off El Camino that it doesn't change the predominant land use or low-rise character of the area.

Why don't the majority city council put these higher sun-blotting monstrosities that they love so much across from their own homes on the north side of town? Snobs. Nimbys. A NIMBY is someone who is okay with something in principle so long as it's near someone else, like the people on the south side of town at whom they look down their noses, not near them. (It is does not nor has it ever meant someone who cares/doesn't care for over development.)

Yes to housing. Make it 3 stories of less, or move it back from El Camino.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:11 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:11 am
9 people like this

People need to remember that zoning is not just some immutable thing that just is, and that we al must conform to.

Palo Alto City Council creates zoning. Palo Alto City Council can change zoning. If Palo Alto City Council does not start exercising the rights it has to convert office zoning to residential-only zoning, the State of California is going to come in to Palo Alto and make those decisions for Palo Alto.

We need to stop believing the propaganda from Sand Hill Properties and other commercial developers who have been exploiting our community for decades and have transformed what was once a town of beautiful rolling hills to a town of Superfund Sites and expanded office parks. They are lying.

Palo Alto needs to do what each and every one of our neighbor cities is doing - and virtually every other city in the country - we need to TAX real estate investors, our biggest landlords, and our city's biggest employers. Palo Alto tax policy has created a situation where there is hardly a more profitable venture than putting an office building in Palo Alto, and then we wonder why we are overrun by office buildings. Once we implement a genuine tax - a big tax - commercial developers either will pay their taxes or they will leave.

With the money we receive in tax revenues from those who pay their taxes, we can buy the properties from the developers who leave. And then we make sure we NEVER ever let ourselves get into this hole again.

We MUST change our tax policy. We must change our land use policy. We must do this urgently. We cannot allow one more square foot of office space in our city. We need to stop selling our rolling hills to the first billionaire we see. We need to start prioritizing residents over real estate investors.

If we disallow all commercial office development, we will see that all of a sudden residential development will be attractive to developers. Developers are going to develop, but we are the boss of them.


Startup CEO
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 4:15 am
Startup CEO, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 4:15 am
Like this comment

It's rare to see any good news about potential housing, so l encourage the Palo Alto City Council to push for mixed-use developments and go taller and bolder.

* Housing / Go Taller - everyone knows there is a housing crisis, so why are we not going taller? 10 story building and 5 story building take the SAME land footprint, but double the space for housing. Yes, I know many NIMBYS want El Camino, Palo Alto, Bay Area and the world to stay in the 20th century, but once again, we have a HOUSING CRISIS. We should make 5 stories the MINIMUM for any development, not the maximum. Worried about parking? Add it underground or add in the building, but make use of the limited available land.

* Office / Mixed-Use - with or without COVID, we have an office space crisis, especially for startups and small business that can't afford the insane rates and costs in this area. Even if more people work at home, there is still a need for some to have offices, so while I would prefer new office space be targeted toward startups and small business, the reality is that every additional office space helps alleviate the intense pressure elsewhere. Having office and housing in the same place is a strong incentive. My startup would love to be in such a place so we have zero commute. Mixed-use should everywhere, including converting more offices to allow for housing.

* COVID - for the NIMBYS who don't understand what is happening, there are startups and tech fleeing places like Palo Alto, taking jobs and economic activity elsewhere. Some are heading to east bay or leaving California all together. This may make some NIMBY's happy until you realize that the percentage of your bill for the enormous cost of living, from taxes to services, then increases. NIMBYs who want to see everyone leave will end up paying more, but seeing their children and grandkids flee, too.

Let's make this project an example of doing things right for a change. Ideally, let's make it bigger, bolder, more space, more creative and a model for transforming the region.

Don't blow this opportunity to add significant housing, mixed-use, tall and common sense.


Penny kazi
Ventura
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:53 am
Penny kazi, Ventura
on Jun 24, 2020 at 6:53 am
16 people like this

Housing “crisis” is propaganda to build office space without enough parking. Remember, covid-19, it’s going to take a long time for people to trust public transportation.

Steven Levy is a consultant for ABAG “This is the largest housing project to come before us in many years and it will help meet our Comp Plan and RHNA goals and show HCD that Palo Alto can be a can do city for housing.” Note his post says nothing of the 52,500 square foot office space. In a later post, he says that Palo Alto should allow the office project because its the only way to get housing. Yes indeed, blackmail.

The mayor, Adrian Fine’s designer zoning makes land values higher and creates an “affordabilty” crisis.

Racism, systemic racism.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 8:52 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 8:52 am
3 people like this

>> Steven Levy is a consultant for ABAG “This is the largest housing project to come before us in many years and it will help meet our Comp Plan and RHNA goals

@Stephen Levy:

Please explain what the change (that is, delta) will be in housing goals after this project is completed.


stephen levy
University South
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm
stephen levy, University South
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm
1 person likes this

@Penny

Yes I am a consultant to public agencies in California including ABAG.

Yes I mentioned the office space. Try actually reading my posts.

The office is legal, The choice is office or office and housing.

It is not blackmail. You lie just like Trump.

I choose office and housing rather than just office.


stephen levy
University South
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:24 pm
stephen levy, University South
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:24 pm
1 person likes this

@Anon

See the above post.

It is not blackmail. Office is legal. I did not say you need to allow office to get housing.

I said the choice is just office or office and housing,

Obviously housing and office is better than just office.

Sorry if you do not like the choices allowed by the law.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:27 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2020 at 2:27 pm
12 people like this

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South

>> It is not blackmail. You lie just like Trump.

Don't embarrass yourself. You are the expert. Explaining things to us ordinary residents is your job. But, please be aware that whatever legal right there is to build the office space, there is no moral right, nor does it benefit us residents to build more office space here. We don't want it, we don't need it, legal or not. Maybe you can't legislate morality, but, please don't assert that because something is legal, it must be moral.

>> I choose office and housing rather than just office.

I "choose" housing-only. "They" just ignored my choice.

Please explain what the change (that is, delta) will be in housing goals after this project is completed.


Rich
Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2020 at 6:29 pm
Rich, Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2020 at 6:29 pm
9 people like this

The 'planned community' model was a complete failure for everyone except developers. That it is cited as the example says it all. PA city council has learned absolutely nothing over the years. Sand Hill's Edgewood plaza is just one of many examples of the 'planned community' well known problems. Oops, the bulldozer accident destroyed that building we promised to preserve. Nah, we should not have to pay the very high fine we negotiated for the time the grocery store space was vacant. Complicit in this is a coin operated city council. And yet, not so many months later here we are; another city council eager to be conned again by Sand Hill, except for Lidia Kou.


A reliable no vote
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 7:10 pm
A reliable no vote , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 7:10 pm
4 people like this

Naturally kou is against this. And I find it ironic that she wants more retail, given her recent efforts to close local businesses (I.e. Macs).


Resident2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:37 pm
Resident2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2020 at 11:37 pm
18 people like this

@Startup CEO
I can understand the selfish naval-gazing distorted cooption of the term NIMBY at other times, but I would hope for better awareness now.

NIMBY is a social justice term, intended to call out the hypocrisy of people who claim they are for something, like African American families integrating white neighborhoods, but in reality they only want those things to happen somewhere else. The term NIMBY, used to tag anyone who is against overdevelopment, is an offensive cooption of a powerful social justice term for the sake of developer greed. Shame on you.

Most residents are against overdeveloped which by the way, is ratcheting up prices and pushing people of color out of the Bay Area. You can’t be a NIMBY by definition of you are against overdevelopment anywhere, and this misuse of a social justice term to push overdevelopment is an affront.



Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:54 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:54 am
2 people like this

"If we disallow all commercial office development, we will see that all of a sudden residential development will be attractive to developers. Developers are going to develop, but we are the boss of them."

Do you know anything about construction? Or business? All these restrictions on building in Palo Alto makes it uneconomic to build residential housing. Developers are not going to develop when projects don't pencil out. And adding requirements like BMRs just makes the project more expensive, which means that anyone buying "market-rate" housing will be subsidizing the BMRs.

Yes, that's right. Developers don't eat costs at all. They are like every other business out there - they pass costs to the end consumer. And if the market can't support the increased price, the project doesn't work.

Why do you think there's a standoff with Sobrato re:Fry's site? They clearly don't think a residential project will pencil out. Just zoning it as residential is not enough.

If you're running for office, I highly suggest you actually understand how business works. Additional costs -- minimum wages, taxes, etc. -- are always passed to buyers. That's what they teach you in Econ 101 - end consumers always end up paying all taxes. There's no such thing as a "business only" cost or tax.

You won't see more residential housing. You just won't see anything.

And maybe, I wonder, if that's what you really want.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:02 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:02 am
13 people like this

I am for conversion of existing office space to housing. Given what we know about the current pandemic and density, though, zoning such density of housing that is so out of keeping with the surrounding area no less, seems an attempt to get a foot in the door the continue building in an unhealthy way as soon as the pandemic ends. This project is a clear attempt to change land use in that area. Interesting that Palo Alto is all about social justice out if one side of their mouths but refuse to see the handwriting on the wall about what this does to the fate of nearby neighborhoods with the last remaining black-owned homes. Shame on you all, especially the supposed housing advocates who have used the need for affordable housing to push redevelopment and overdevelopment that pushes up prices and pushes out people of color. Shame on you for ignoring the ACTUAL consequences of overdevelopment in cities all around us, and for ignoring the real problems of people having to work from home and socially distance in packed housing.

This was an unwise decision that is bad for an area of Palo Alto that the majority of city council don’t live in and look down their noses at.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:12 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:12 am
15 people like this

We also need to stop making the climate in our town so unfriendly to residents and resident-serving businesses. Continuing the corporation / corporate dormitory-rabbit hutch model for Palo Alto, as this does, only increases our vulnerability to volatile sources of tax revenue like hotels which don’t really serve residents either and dominate a whole side of town.

Residents, you should be bothered that all the businesses we rely on and venues for youth have been pushed out for something like 20 hotels up and down El Camino. This five-story dense bloc will open the door for more urban canyon development on El Camino which we do not need more of.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:19 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 10:19 am
2 people like this

"Most residents are against overdeveloped which by the way, is ratcheting up prices and pushing people of color out of the Bay Area. "

I don't think it means what you think it means.

Someone needs a lesson in supply-and-demand. Development is happening because of demand. If there were no additional development, more money would be chasing the same number of goods, causing prices to rise.

Which is what is happening in housing (and until recently, office space).

More money, same number of houses.

That's what's "ratcheting up prices." Not "overdevelopment."

In fact, without any development, prices would be even higher, which would have pushed people of color out even earlier.

People were moving to the Bay Area because of economic opportunity, not overdevelopment. "If you build it, they will come" only works in the movies. It doesn't work in the real world.

This concept is so basic, it makes me wonder what the motivation really is behind throwing out this kind of misinformation.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:53 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:53 pm
15 people like this

@ Me 2
You are making exactly the argument that is causing the kind of OVERdelopment that is pushing out people of color.

In an in-demand job center, the redevelopment and overdevelopment, made with the false and misleading and overly simplistic to the point of being wrong arguments about supply and demand, are what is pushing up prices and pushing out people of color.

Let's use a local example. Developers getting the chance to upzone are what interested a large developer in getting into contract with the owner of Buena Vista Mobile home park. They were going to evict close to 500 low-income Palo Altans. Many of that crowd continued to argue that if they were just able to upzone, then they could make a large dense complex with a sprinkling of "below market rate" units.

The problem with that reasoning is:
1)This is not housing for the 500 evicted low-income residents, most of whom would have to move away, being displaced by the development
2) If a developer knows they can upzone the properties around it, because of land use changing, that ratchets up the value of of the surrounding land because developers will then compete with each other for property they otherwise wouldn't want to evict existing residents to redevelop. This ratchets up the cost of all real estate.
3) New housing stock that comes on line will ratchet up costs, especially here, because there is an inexhaustible supply of highly paid workers willing to take the housing and pay top dollar for it. This ratchets up average rents, as demand is not limited to just those units, but others associated with those new highly paid residents.
4) The "below-market-rate" housing that replaced the low-income housing is typically not affordable to ANYONE displaced by the redevelopment/overdevelopment.

The LIE to your FALSE perspective is demonstrated by the very fact that all the development in SF, the East Bay, even Oakland has had the effect of....Massively pushing out people of color in those communities, shuttering regular businesses, and desertifying civic life.

The thing you are leaving out of your equation is that the driving force has been demand by tech companies who do not care what damage they do to existing residents and to the quality of life here. Look at Palantir, who destroyed downtown Palo Alto while it's CEO worked from some nice rural farm in New England.

Overdevelopment IS the main force (along with unbridled demand) driving up prices. When people decided to move away during the pandemic, it dropped rents pretty fast in SF. Note that even with a lot of occupancy, SF will never get what most people would consider cheap. Same has been with Palo Alto for a really, really long time.

Please stop with the false framing and manipulated interpretation of supply and demand, which has led to a lot of development that has pushed out people of color from the Bay Area. We were not a desert before Google Facebook, etc, overran these places, we were vibrant communities and cities. They should take the lesson of this pandemic and develop satellites. It's safer for their workers, and better for the communities they have been harming.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm
20 people like this

Read the work of MIT economist David Autor on this very issue. The "gravity" of these new tech economies draws a seemingly inexhaustible demand of highly paid workers to one place. THIS is the main cause of prices going up. Building rabbit hutch housing for this only does harm to the communities for the profits of already rich developers.

Enough.

The "opportunity" doesn't have to all be here anymore. Please stop with the crushing sweeping away of existing communities. And the false arguments you are making, @Me2.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 3:00 pm
19 people like this

PS - I say "opportunity" because, according to Autor, the cities that were once opportunities for low-skilled and lesser-paid workers are actually HURTING their opportuntiies now.

They're great for highly paid workers, who we have all seen can often do their work elsewhere, with lower-cost housing. If they moved away to corporate satellites, as we have already seen, this is a quick solution to everyone's problems. Rents go down. Everyone wins. Stops ruining this place for the sake of greedy developers who are already rich enough.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 8:33 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2020 at 8:33 pm
2 people like this

So much noise. Not many factual statements.

First of all, there aren't 500 low income residents in Buena Vista. There are 93 households, and not all of them are "low income." Furthermore. it's a mobile home park and no, you can't average more than 5 people in each mobile home there.

That effort to buy was a complete waste of money and really stupid. If we really cared about low income housing, that whole place should have been torn down and redeveloped to house 5-10x the number of low income residents that it could hold. But the residentialist mindset shot that down.

The ossification of Buena Vista is a disaster from a low income housing policy perspective.

"The thing you are leaving out of your equation is that the driving force has been demand by tech companies who do not care what damage they do to existing residents and to the quality of life here. "

Then build more housing for them. Just sitting on your hands and crying about it has made the situation 1000x worse - people are coming for economic opportunity. Not building housing has made you a rich person in property, but has been the driver for gentrification across the Bay Area.

And I find this anti-tech mindset ridiculous. What do you want this place to be, Detroit?

"The LIE to your FALSE perspective is demonstrated by the very fact that all the development in SF, the East Bay, even Oakland has had the effect of....Massively pushing out people of color in those communities, shuttering regular businesses, and desertifying civic life."

You need to read up on your history. SF pushed out its African-American residents a long time ago thanks to a GOVERNMENT AGENCY, not developers. Look up the history of Justin Herman before you start making up facts.

Seriously, your lack of grasping basic economic fundamentals is really troubling coming from a fellow Palo Alto resident. I thought we considered ourselves smarter-than-average.

If you're looking for a "LIE," I think you're looking in the wrong direction.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:36 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:36 pm
16 people like this

Here's a good article:
Web Link

The bay area is being ruined by tech companies who won't leave.

It's not "tech companies" per se, but their wanting to crowd into only a few places with absolutely no civicmindedness AT ALL. Again, read the work of MIT economist David Autor on the subject.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:53 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2020 at 9:53 pm
12 people like this

Somehow my post disappeared and I will have to write it again.

I am the only one providing facts here. You are simply engaging in ad hominem to distract from the fact that you are providing nothing except looking way into the past and overlooking the extreme gentrificaiton that has happened directly because of TECH company overcrowding in the Bay Area the last 10-15 years.

The one thing I got wrong was typing in 500 BV residents, it's 400 (small keyboard, sorry). Buena Visa had over 400 Palo Alto residents living there, who would have been displaced by the overdevelopment, because of a developer who was only interested if they could upzone. Upzoning this development will bring in more of them, and accelerate the gentrification of those parts of Palo Alto, no accident that it is right across from the only historically African American neighborhood in town. And it accelerates COSTS, because developers then compete for those properties.

If Buena Vista had been redeveloped, the existing 400+ residents and the cohesive community they have would have been scattered to the winds, replaced by dense luxury units with a smattering of below-market rate units that none of the previous residents could actually afford.

There are over a half a million tech and IT companies in this country. There were over 45,000 startups in 2018 alone. There are just a handful of tech-centered hot spots and Silicon Valley is the mother ship for them. The largest companies employ what represents basically a limitless supply of people who could live here, and Apple, Google, and Facebook now own an appreciable portion of land around the Bay Area.

Trying to come up with misleading and false arguments for doing more of the overdevelopment that has pushed people of color and low-income people out of the Bay Area is outrageous, especially in this time of pandemic and social justice awakening. People of color have been pushed out in very large percentages from San Francisco and Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area in the last 10-15 years -- the majority who were living here for decades, had housing, and were part of their respective communities, because of the tech overcrowding.

The problem is almost completely on the demand side, which can be essentially limitless in jacking up costs and is far more fluid to both cause and solve the problem.

As the pandemic has progressed and tech workers have moved out of SF, rents have dropped (though they will not become affordable, just as they never did through previous recessions even when there was lots of vacancies -- they became less expensive, never affordable, in decades since this has been a tech center). But building more for them when they moved in did NOT cause rents to drop, rents increased.

This problem can ONLY be solved from the demand side, by getting tech companies to do a better job distributing their workforces in satellite locations, where their workers are happier anyway.

We are in the midst of a pandemic, and the world and old assumptions are changing. The City Council should focus on halting new office growth, converting existing offices to housing, and NOT enabling overdevelopment like this that is intended to alter surrounding land use. Shame on them and shame on you for continuing the distorted and false arguments that have pushed out a huge percentage of low-income and people of color from the Bay area in the last 10-15 years.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:07 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:07 pm
Like this comment

Slip of the finger, or exaggeration to push your point?

"People of color have been pushed out in very large percentages from San Francisco and Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area in the last 10-15 years -- the majority who were living here for decades, had housing, and were part of their respective communities, because of the tech overcrowding."

The "overcrowding" was from *lack* of development, not overdevelopment. I still find it amusing that you believe that increasing supply will increase prices.

You keep citing these stories without backing it up with facts. I guess this is the internet, so you can say whatever you want without sourcing.

But you know who really has been pushed out?

The middle class of all colors - white, brown, yellow, purple, etc.

That's the tragedy of people like you pushing for lack of development. And the band aid has always been BMRs or low income housing. So what happens is the affluent can always pay for jacked up prices because of lack of supply, and the BMRs/low income housing go to their nannies and house cleaners.

Meanwhile, the middle class that can't afford $1MM+ houses and don't qualify for BMRs have to move to Manteca and Mountain House.

And that places like EPA are getting gentrified.

As for your anti-tech rant and they need to do a "better job" - sounds easy for someone who is on the outside and doesn't understand the concept of educated workforce and pool of workers. If you want to make this place less attractive to tech (and be like 2000s Detroit), tell Stanford and Cal to go somewhere else while you're at it.

What this really sounds like is someone who feels entitled for being a long time resident who doesn't want change to happen.

And honestly, I'm ok with this mindset. People can have different opinions and desires.

Just be honest with yourself and to the rest of us. Embrace your beliefs and desires instead of trying to convince yourself that your approach helps people of color. It might help a small number who already have a residence here, but to the overall group of people of color? It completely hurts them.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm
10 people like this

@Me2,

The exact number of residents at Buena Vista, by all accounts in the Weekly, are between 400 and 500, so my typing error may be the closer actual number. I don't remember if the number is closer to 400 or 500 anyway, especially if all residents (including in the apartments that would have been leveled) are included. Either way, you tried to distract by talking about the number of households and saying no way are there that many residents, as if that justified their being evicted for the sake of a lot of market-rate dense luxury housing. You were wrong (factually and morally) on all counts.

No, the tech corporate overcrowding was because lots of companies got really big, and they all thought they needed to be in Silicon Valley. The region does not have to overbuild so that they can all treat Silicon Valley like their personal clown car (MIT economist David Autor calls it "black hole").

The people those companies brought in have been mainly rich people, who have pushed out people of color, and low-income, and yes, the middle class. Sounds like you aren't a member of any of those groups, whereas I am of two. Speaking also as someone who had to commute from very far away for many years to a job in Silicon Valley. Houses were not affordable to the middle class then either, even during the recession.

You keep trying to re-establish an overly simplistic and WRONG economic model, when it is patently obvious that the massive development in San Francisco simply encouraged tech companies to concentrate there even more, which jacked up priced and pushed out people of color, and the poor and middle class.

The only way this gets solved is by the DEMAND side of the equation understanding that they are the cause of the problem, and that they can quickly solve it, as we are seeing with their workers starting to move out of SF and within a few months, rents dropping. Whereas building more DIDN'T drop rents, because building more simply enabled more companies moving in more workers and displacing existing residents.

All adults in this household are in tech, there is nothing anti-tech about saying they need to distribute their workforces better. In fact, Bloomberg actually split their operations when they saw the pandemic coming, so they could keep operating if the pandemic hit New York hard. A better distributed work force is better for the companies, better for Silicon Valley, and better for our nation as a whole, and it's better for the companies' workforces.

The only people who benefit from the overdevelopment are the already rich developers, and they have done enough damage. We should say NO.

It's interesting that you once again spent all your verbiage making up false stuff to attack me and have zero substance. This has been effective in the past and is why we have suffered such damage to our civic fabric from the overdevelopment. But with Covid, those damaging arguments are laid bare.

While you bring up Stanford and Cal, that's another reason we do not have to fear tech companies finding green pastures, especially the tech whales. When Facebook wanted to leave Palo Alto, there was lots of Sky-is-falling-handwringing, but both parties were better off for it. If Stanford had understood that it was competing with these companies for limited carrying capacity in the area, they might have worked harder at dealing with the issue of overdevelopment honestly from an academic standpoint.

In this area, we do not have to fear companies leaving, because Stanford and Cal are such job generators. In fact, the tech whales leaving will make it safe for startups again. I don't expect them to leave, but our region would be less susceptible to big disruptions with a much more diverse economic base, including a more diverse tech base.

We would all be better off if they would start acknowledging the damage their overcrowding here does/has done, the limits of the area (that include drought, seismic and fire safety considerations), and if they would start looking at how to develop satellite locations so their workforces don't just scatter (if they care about that) during the pandemic.

In the meantime, we shouldn't be allowing this kind of zone busting on El Camino in an area where it is grossly out of proportion with the surrounding neighborhoods. It will ratchet up prices and displacement, as developers see a gold rush there and compete to transform that stretch to another sunless urban canyon. Again, no accident that it's right across from the only remaining historic African American neighborhood in Palo Alto. There isn't even any justification for that kind of density when we face lockdowns and a still uncontained pandemic. The City Council should be seriously rethinking the densification of our town right now, not letting a developer get in a last hurrah that is SO agaisnt our values in so many ways.

We should be focusing instead on capping office growth, converting office space to housing, and accepting a very different set of underlying assumptions more based on reality and the well-being of Palo Alto residents. City Council should vote against this monstrosity. The only ones who liked it don't live anywhere near it (most of them).



Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 4:12 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 4:12 pm
1 person likes this

Like I said - I'm fine with you not wanting any development and wanting to ossify Palo Alto. What's hilarious is your nonsensical and circular arguments against it. Just admit to yourself that you want Palo Alto the way it was when you moved here, damn the societal and economic consequences.

Blame companies all you want -- it's a free country, after all -- but you are making it worse.

You'd rather have the Bay Area economy crash to make sure no one else moves here. You must be overjoyed with the economic impact of COVID-19.

By the way, driving up and down 280 (or just drive down Page Mill Road or maybe visit the Dish) shows that your claim of overdevelopment is on shaky ground.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:49 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 12:49 am
6 people like this

@Me 2
Once again, you simply make stuff up and attack me with false suppositions.

People like me would like Palo Alto to restore a healthy and diverse civic life. For the sake of corporations overcrowding, we have a hotel monoculture up and down El Camino on the South side of town that has notably pushed out services and recreation for youth, among other longtime resident-serving businesses. The Weekly did an article about how residents were paying for large corporations' devleopment applications.

You are the one who seems not to care about the consequences of your false developer-serving arguments about overdevelopment. It's pushing out people of color, jacking up costs, ruining quality of life, hurting people because of all the additional pollution, robbing people of family time because of the traffic jams, hurting noise, daylight plane. I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal tonight that in Houston they're trying to figure out how to use their high rise buildings again and had to stop. The elevator bottleneck is a pandemic nightmare they can't figure out how to get around. These proposed buildings aren't high rises but they are 5 stories and will have to have elevators. Once again, Palo Alto thinks inclusionary zoning is code for developer profits, and forgets that it should include the disabled.

Again, the tech overdevelopment came lockstep with the following ills:
1) dramatic displacement of people of color, low- and middle-income people from San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area like Oakland, etc.
2) dramatic increase in costs as the developer money pouring in to cash in on this influx of highly paid workers
3) dramatic increase in pollution, traffic, commute times even locally,
4) loss of our downtown area taken over by tech companies like Palantir
5) loss of many resident-serving businesses that survived many other booms and busts in the past
6) companies not really paying their fair share because of prop 13

The corporations that think they can endlessly crowd in here and densify as if there aren't limits on space, infrastructure, water, capacity to pollute, safety, and the natural environment, are who are causing these problems, and you trying to continue the lies that enabled it are making it worse. Just stop it.

Notice, unlike you, that I am not wildly and obviously wrongly speculating about your intent. I don't know you anymore than you know me, but I do know that you aren't making any points except to attack on basely made up speculations. In contrast, I have been pointing out the negatives of trickle-down housing. If only we build enough luxury units for a limitless number of workers, somehow everything will magically become affordable? Because no one wants to live here anymore -- that's what's happening in SF, tech workers leaving because it's not the funky fun place it once was, because of THEIR overrunning it. (Easy to find lots of articles about that, too.)

So, you are unfamiliar with our protection of the foothills, including the reservoir along 280, which is sacrosanct to people who live here. That has nothing at all to do with overdevelopment ruining quality of life in Palo Alto and causing unsafe overbuilding of high rises in San Francisco. If you are eyeing the foothills for development, there are a few issues like high fire danger, the reservoirs, infrastructure, and the fact that too many people will come down on your head like a ton of bricks if you try.

You're just a one-trick pony who can only make up false smears against others because you have zero ground to stand on. I have suggested nothing that would make the Bay area economy crash -- the Bay Area economy did just fine before this horrendous distortion from tech companies thinking it was okay to treat the area like some kind of clown car with infinite capacity. Our economy was doing just fine --- part of why so many wanted to be here -- when the traffic on El Camino and other throughways was reasonable.

It's tech companies overbuilding that has made this area more vulnerable to distortions like the next earthquake with the new highrises in SF found to not necessarily be structurally safe. Our own emergency czar in Palo Alto has said the density we already have will be the cause of loss of life in foreseeable disasters we are prone to here. We do not need more.

We need a focus on civic life again. Restoring the diversity and vibrancy of civic life is the opposite of ossifying -- ossifying is companies building too many dense tall expensive rabbit hutches for people who do not contribute to the community, and pushing all the different small businesses, youth opportunities and recreation, and residents out.

The demand side -- the corporations mindlessly crowding in -- is the cause of the problem, and as we have seen with the pandemic, they can rapidly and even beneficially-to-them, solve it. It simply takes their recognizing that developers are rich enough, and that their steamrolling over Silicon Valley is causing damage to the area. It's also making the communities and economies fragile to disruptions like Covid and disasters.

Your trickle-down housing false framing and constantly attacking and denigrating others who show you up for it are what is damaging our town. The City Council should not fall for it. Well, Fine and Kniss and that ilk who never met a dense development for the other side of town from where they live that they didn't like will. But the rest of us should not.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:03 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:03 am
11 people like this

Good article about how Texas tried reopening, and found all the things that the overdevelopment of Silicon Valley depends on fall like a stack of cards in the face of the pandemic (and it won't be the last), mainly related to density.

We need to start thinking about how we can thrive without these tenuous and unsafe conditions. People are naturally starting to move away -- we should be thinking about how we optimize on a more distributed and less highly concentrated tech bubble.

Density comes with all kinds of compromises to health, safety, quality of life, and robustness in the face of forseeable disruptions, and the pandemic has made it clear it was always easy for the corporations CAUSING the problems to solve it. Something as vapid as their preferences for their short-term convenience caused all these problems, and the pandemic showed they could change the dynamic literally overnight. Some developer realized they were going to miss out and proposed this. We should just say no. That's just not a healthy direction for our community, it never was.

We should be completely halting office growth, focusing on how to convert office space to housing as the pandemic grinds on, and vote in Councilmembers who will remember the people who actually live in this town.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:06 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:06 am
12 people like this

Here's the link
Web Link

Notice all the things that get offered as solutions for shoehorning in more density are all things that don't work when you have to consider a pandemic. We have to stop treating this like it's a one-time deal, too. Density comes with many inherent problems that lucky we aren't stuck with because this is a truly vast nation with large expanses that could handle an addition medium-sized city or two and many towns that would love to see an influx of jobs and people and development money.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 8:10 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 8:10 am
10 people like this

Another good article : ‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed

Web Link
“San Franciscans have long complained that tech workers ruined their city, driving up rents and homelessness and eliminating diversity. Now even the tech workers agree“

Prioritizing vibrant civic life is not ossifying. This area was nicer and more vibrant, and had plenty of high paying tech jobs (you know “Silicon Valley”) prior to the last 20-15 years. It’s why tech wanted to all crowd in here like some limitless clown car. The response has been unhealthy, and even many tech workers agree. Maybe people like CEOs who worked from nice farms inNew England for the past 15 years while taking over and destroying downtown don’t get it, but lots of workers do.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 8:13 am
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 8:13 am
5 people like this

I meant, prior to the last 10-15 years


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2020 at 11:03 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2020 at 11:03 am
Like this comment

Blah blah blah.

TL;DR

Just embrace your inner Residentialist. You'll be happier that way.


Resident 2
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 6:13 pm
Resident 2, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 6:13 pm
4 people like this

@Me 2

Residentialists are the politicians who remember that they work for residents and the city planning needs to be holistic and include such things as safety (fire, drought, earthquake, etc, and yes, epidemic), education, the environment, city services, etc.

While I am not a politician, I take that as a compliment.

You wrote "TL;DR" (too long didn't read, not surprised that you still had nothing constructive to say or any factual support of your biases). Yes, I realize you are doing very little reading of anything you don't agree with, or anything complex, especially if it doesn't agree with your preformed opinion/interests, and especially if it's one of the many things written about how tech overcrowding and overdevelopment have ratcheted up costs in the Bay Area (not just Palo Alto) and displaced people of modest incomes and people of color on a large scale in the last 10-15 years.

We need to start taking a stand against the kinds of manipulative and misleading arguments of those like @Me2 that have done a lot of harm and nothing beneficial for the Bay Area, and are really for the very non-essential desires of tech companies to crowd into one space regardless of the many ills it causes.

Their employees finding that they can telecommute has rapidly started to reduce housing costs, but will not undo the many other ills as those buildings are permanent and remaining residents left holding the bag. While they may have found greener pastures on a dime, we are stuck with the unsafe seismic situation of many of the new skyscrapers in SF, and other safety circumstances related to density in our immediate area that our emergency czar said WOULD lead to loss of life because of the density in foreseeable disasters.

Given how quickly Covid could change everything, leaders should be putting much, much more focus on the essential functions of civic life which have been neglected because of the selfish and demanding haranguing of the developers/those who want to treat this area like some kind of clown car of unlimited capacity.

They should reject any developments of this size and look to a new normal in which we will be dealing with a pandemic for years, and probably future pandemics down the road.

How is it going with Palantir vacating downtown, by the way? I thought the CEO threatened to leave and I have heard no more good news about it actually happening since. Make downtown safe for retail, residents, restaurants, and startups again!


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:17 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:17 am
Like this comment

The reason for TL;DR is that you rehash the same nonsensical anti-development screed. And you do it in a wordy manner. But I do see that you are embracing COVID-19 as a positive effect. Like I said, you want our economy to crash to get what you want.

Stop trying to rationalize your beliefs and embrace your inner Residentialism, which is basically pretend that you wish away growth and halt change.

It's not 1985 anymore. Heck it's not even 2019 anymore.

Change happens, regardless of what you want.

What you do with it is up to you.

But all I ask is that you be true to your beliefs and stop wasting time trying to pretend that you're doing society a good thing when people like you are the reason why we have no middle class left in the Bay Area.

Stop it.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 12:40 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2020 at 12:40 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Me 2, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> The reason for TL;DR is that you rehash the same nonsensical anti-development screed.

Here's what you refuse to acknowledge: there is no *moral* imperative for hyper-gentrification. If *we* refuse to allow it, that's OK. It can always go somewhere else, because, it can happen anywhere. All it needs is for "everybody" to decide that, you know, Manhattan or all of New York or San Francisco are *it*.

ttps://www.governing.com/topics/urban/gov-gentrification-local-business-extinction.html

You seem to be worried that all the super-rich will pick up their marbles and go play somewhere else. If only.

"hypergentrification, defined as a mature stage in the gentrification process when merely affluent residents are displaced by the truly rich, and when commercial real estate properties reach a market value that makes it difficult for anyone but a national or global corporation to pay the asking price."

Residentialist? I'm happy to own that, to wear that. I even knew several of the original residentialists (sad to say, most have passed on). You mentioned Justin Herman earlier. Yep, the evil "younger brother" to Robert Moses.


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