Editorial: No on Measure D | October 18, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 18, 2013

Editorial: No on Measure D

Zoning changes approved by City Council to enable Maybell senior housing project strike wrong balance and should be overturned

It is never good when election campaigns become so heated and emotional that instead of issues becoming clearer as election day nears, they become more muddled and confused.

That is where most voters find themselves today with Measure D, a referendum on whether zoning changes requested by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation should be adopted so it can construct a four-story, 60-unit affordable-housing apartment complex for seniors.

The Weekly has provided extensive coverage on the issue and the disagreements, including a cover story last week, and we encourage readers to review those stories and past editorials for all the details. As we have previously stated, we believe this proposal was mishandled from the start by both the Housing Corporation and the city staff, prompting a neighborhood reaction that at times itself has been misguided and unproductive. And when finally debated under deadline time pressures by a City Council perceived by many as out of touch with its constituents on development issues, the resulting train wreck was almost inevitable.

The smart decision for the City Council would have been to rescind its approval when Measure D qualified for the ballot with more than 4,000 signatures back in August. That would have allowed for a fresh start and a chance for a modified proposal that would address the neighborhood's most legitimate concerns: the dense, market-rate housing. But under time pressure again, this time for getting the measure on the November ballot, the Council never considered alternatives.

Unfortunately, there is now so much inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation circulating about this issue that even an informed voter will struggle to get beyond a simple knee-jerk reaction based on their preconceived views on affordable housing, the Housing Corporation and overall development in our city.

The opponents have not helped themselves by slinging exaggerated accusations of fraud and deception, or impugning the motives of those in support of the project. Similarly, those supporters who disrespectfully resort to characterizing opponents as mere NIMBYs show they aren't listening or acknowledging legitimate concerns.

There are no villains here. It is possible to be a strong supporter of affordable housing and also believe this project is an overreach. And it is possible to sympathize with the neighbors but believe the need for this type of housing outweighs the problems of higher density development.

Peeling away all the acrimony, here are the basic facts, none in dispute:

* The Housing Corporation had a rare opportunity to buy 2.5 acres of land near the corner of Maybell and Clemo avenues, across the street from Briones Park and directly behind the eight-story Tan Apartments on Arastradero Road. A large orchard and four old ranch-style homes occupy the land, which along Maybell was zoned for single-family homes (with the ability for a small granny or cottage unit) and on the remainder of the property for 15 units per acre.

* The land was purchased in 2012 for $15.6 million, with the help of a $3.2 million loan from the city (later supplemented by another $2.6 million loan), which came before the project itself was approved, creating the appearance of a conflict.

* For the first time in its 43-year history, instead of relying entirely on the city's housing fund and other sources for funding, the Housing Corporation decided it would sell off about half the land to a developer for market-rate housing to help pay for the senior housing. It is this market-rate housing that is the key issue, in our opinion, not the senior apartments.

* To meet its financial goals, the Housing Corporation needed a change in zoning to allow for greater density and exceptions to other development rules that establish minimum lot sizes, setbacks, lot coverage and parking, and height limits. For example, instead of a minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet and side yard setbacks of 10 feet for the homes to be developed, the Housing Corporation asked, and received approval for, lot sizes of 3,200-3,600 feet and setbacks of just 5 feet.

* The City Council made some important modifications to the proposal in the face of neighborhood protests, including reducing the number of market-rate homes from 15 to 12, limiting the homes on Maybell to two stories (three on Clemo) and requiring varying front-yard setbacks on Maybell.

In essence, the Housing Corporation and the City Council opted to have the immediate neighborhood absorb the negative impacts of a dozen homes that exceed allowable density in order to subsidize the development of the apartment building for low-income seniors.

If Measure D passes, the City Council's zoning changes will take effect and the Housing Corporation will be able to proceed with its plans (subject to possible legal challenge by opponents).

If Measure D fails, the zoning will remain as it has been, and the Housing Corporation will need to decide whether to revise its concept or sell the entire property, presumably to a development company that would then either create a plan that meets the zoning or make its own attempt to obtain increased density by asking for approval of a planned community (PC) zone.

A critical and, oddly, contested question in the campaign is what actually could be developed on the property under the current zoning if Measure D fails.

In making its decision to place Measure D on the ballot, the City Council vociferously relied upon city staff assertions that the existing zoning allows for a more intense development than what is proposed by the Housing Corporation. One after another, council members expressed bewilderment that anyone would want that, and it was clearly the basis for the unanimous vote to back the project.

Remarkably, however, there remains disagreement on what can or would be built under the current zoning. And given the controversy on this point, the city planning staff could have helped immensely by producing examples of hypothetical plot plans and renderings that supported its conclusions and that could have then been critically evaluated by opponents and the public.

No one wants the outcome of this controversy to be the sale of the entire property to a developer who will maximize profits on the site, and we don't believe that is the likely outcome if Measure D fails.

With real estate values soaring since the land was purchased, we see no reason why the single-family homes cannot be developed more in conformance with the current zoning and yield most, if not all, of the $11 million proceeds the Housing Corporation says it needs. And if it doesn't, city housing funds can fund the shortfall.

We reject the notion that Measure D is a vote on whether the senior housing project should be developed on the property.

The Housing Corporation and the city made a miscalculation and asked for too much out of the market-rate portion of this development, mistakenly viewing it as an easy way to generate funding while only impacting the immediate neighborhood. That part of the project was wrong, is inconsistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan and in our opinion can be fixed without jeopardizing the viability of the senior housing.

Palo Alto can be proud of its record of providing subsidized affordable housing, and we support and applaud the Housing Corporation's continuing efforts to expand the supply. But this project missed the mark by overreaching and not meeting the neighborhood's concerns half-way.

There is a still a chance for a win-win with this project, but only through a fresh start after the defeat of Measure D.


Posted by Ellie, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

I read this opinion twice and still don't know what the writer is actually saying here. The conclusionary paragraphs are as mushy as a 5 day old avocado. I don't think the opinion writer knows what he or she is talking about which is the reason for the lack of specificity - how many market rate houses should be built?

Clearly the writer supports the market rate housing being built to help finance the 60 affordable housing apartments , so it's all about the number. Now it is 12 - opponents want it less even though the existing zoning allows for more according to the city. Let's, for sake of argument, go with 8 - a number that for sure can be built under current zoning along Maybell and Clemons - 8 homes.

So as mind- blowing as it is (this election is costing us over $800,000) for what - 4 homes. When all is said and done, this is all about 4 homes that will have negligible effect on anything or any one. What a waste of time and money which could have gone into reall land use reform based on facts. don't reinforce this insanity - vote YES on D.

Posted by If you have a hammer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:23 am


Maybe the folks opposing D were trying to be nice and compromise or something. I disagree that ANY market housing should be built, and that this deal is appropriate at all.

I am opposed to neighborhood zoning being used as currency.

I am opposed to City money being lent to PAHC in the name of a good cause in the absence of a transparent and planned decision of where taxpayers largess is going to. Money that may never get paid back.

I am opposed to career housing specialists (developers, real estate brokers, real estate lawyers) are behind the yes vote, using my tax dollars to advertise something so wrong on so many levels, that FOUR THOUSAND residents took the time to go an sign. Many of them seniors.

You know that old saying. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

PAHC and the City Hall - that is what they do. They have the power to put their hands into land, zoning, and use good causes as banners to do anything they want. If Maybell is an example, they hurt more than they help, but then again they just do what they know what to do.

I am opposing D.

Posted by If you have a hammer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

FOUR THOUSAND residents took the time to go an sign (THE PETITION AGAINST). Many of them seniors. From all over Palo Alto.

Posted by Erik, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

The writer of this editorial certainly knows what he/she is writing and is simply laying out and weighing the facts for both sides and finally making an objective conclusion.

Apparently, only the supporters of Measure D are intentionally or unintentionally ignoring the facts.

I am voting NO on D.

Posted by Monica McHenney, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

I agree with many of the points made in this well thought out analysis of the issues to consider when deciding how to vote on Measure D. But I take a different position. I will vote yes on Measure D. The Weekly underestimates the NIMBY issues underlying the No argument. I would point to the frequent complaint that South Palo Alto is disproportionately affected by development and the fear that this project is a Trojan horse for permitting more density. Palo Alto has a history of drawing out these battles. It is unlikely that there would be a smooth glide path from defeating Measure D to “happily ever after.” There were several adjustments made to the Maybell plan during the nine months of hearings. But some opponents who are driving this discussion will not be satisfied until that property is developed as a community center for the neighborhood. Those who are impugning the motives of supporters and crying fraud and deception are the same ones who have no intention of allowing any development on that property. I have followed this issue on the Barron Park list serve and in various other online posts. Going back to the original zoning will not reset the discussion.

Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:37 am


This referendum may be about Maybell alone but if we didn't have it, the city will keep shoving more rezoning and more high-density housing like Alma Plaza at us and we will suffer the consequences of congestion, traffic and the destruction of the suburban feel of Palo Alto. The developers are intent on turning all of the bay area into L.A. given a chance. We want to stop them early. Its already late if you look at all the high-density housing around Palo Alto and Mtn. View. It's well worth the $800,000 being spent, esp considering how the city wastes money - case in point $10,000 for a guy to go around Palo Alto, photographing the houses and calculate the "average" color of Palo Alto. Can you imagine wasting $10,000 on something this ridiculous! This referendum is well-worth the money.

Based on my past experience with Alma Plaza I do not believe the claims of the public benefit at all. The city has no mechanisms in place to guarantee the housing will go to local seniors. If they care about low-income senior housing, they should keep the Buena Vista park instead of tearing it down or build within the zoning and pass a parcel tax for the subsidy. That way, all residents pay for the subsidy, not just the neighbors and we avoid the consequences of high-density housing.

Posted by Ellen, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

Ellie, the vote against D people attempted to resolve this without a special election. They went to the city council to try to get them to rescind the decision and continue to negotiate to find a solution. They asked for a revised traffic survey that took into account bicycle traffic to the 4 neighborhood schools (Terman, Juana B, Gunn, Bowman) which was omitted from the original traffic study. That's absurd, especially since Maybell Ave. is designated as a safe route to school. The council didn't appear to be listening at that meeting. Their minds were already made up. And, in honesty, why shouldn't they be - they were protecting their own over $5 million investment. My parents are seniors.

I support low income senior housing. I oppose the rezoning in the way it was done.

I have already sent in my ballot to vote AGAINST Measure D.

Posted by AR, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

There are numerous reasons to vote NO on D, including that the senior housing cannot be set aside for Palo Alto's seniors. The campaign materials suggesting that local families can be together if D passes (e.g. the flier showing a grandfather feeding a baby or the one with ruby slippers) are really nothing more than an attempt to lure voters into voting Yes. I have already voted No on D and urge everyone to do the same.

Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

As an individual, and as a senior, I wish to thank the Palo Alto Weekly for listening to, and carefully considering our referendum to protect Palo Alto residents from the overreach of development deals that end up degrading our neighborhoods. I also wish to thank those of you who don't live in "our" neighborhood, and who have already voted AGAINST MEASURE D, because you understood early on that the outcome of this election will affect the future of Palo Alto. Those of us who gathered over 4000 signatures heard from Palo Altans that the shape, mass, and effects of the high density development trends are extremely disturbing, and that Palo Altans are offended by the rampant rezoning which violates our comprehensive plan. The Weekly clearly understands that this referendum has nothing to do with senior housing, and everything to do with what the future of Palo Alto will be. As a senior and as a longtime resident, I urge you to vote AGAINST MEASURE D.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

I found this article and the one by Dave Price at the Daily Post endorsing the vote Against Measure D to be two of the best, most balanced pieces of writing I've seen on the issue. There really are no villains here.

The biggest argument those that are "For" spot rezoning are making is a scare tactic - fear of what could possibly be built when Measure D is defeated. The article rightly points out that they over reached, more than doubling the current zoning. A more equitable development can be arranged. As a caring community, we don't HAVE to flip 12 market rate homes to pay for this.

It was also a great point that the City council could have realized the seriousness of the opposition and rescinded Measure D in August in order to consider a modified proposal, saving us all over $800,000.

Posted by Alternative, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

It is possible to build something like the proposed senior housing, but with more parking, and with only the market rate housing allowed by current zoning (R-2 along Maybell, and RM-15 behind). That possibility was never considered by the powers that be. Such a proposal would have less neighborhood impact that the proposed development. It should considered the viable alternative to Measure D's proposal, not a completely market rate development (plus the minimum Below Market Rate housing).

I wish the YES side would stop using a market rate development as the ONLY alternative. And I wish the NO side would suggest something that would support that is buildable and financially viable.

Remember, which the Palo Alto Housing Corp. first considered this project, houses in that area were over at least a quarter of a million dollars lower in value. So the project should now "pencil out" with a lot fewer housing units, precisely because the land they plan to allocate for market rate housing is now worth a lot more than when they bought it.

And land values for multifamily development wouldn't climb nearly as high if the developers didn't expect to overbuild with concessions from the city.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

The Vote Against D is also about another PC project that will be under parked. The 60 units of senior housing will have only 36 parking spaces for residents. PAHC claims that seniors don't have cars. The cars will overflow onto the neighboring streets. PAHC could use some of the land for parking instead of selling it off for a profit.

Posted by Enough Already!, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:10 am

How many out-of-town seniors will adjust their affairs to qualify for this housing, then bring their school-age grandchildren in to live with them during the week so they get Palo Alto schools without paying Palo Alto taxes?

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

You cannot build 8 homes where the 4 ranch houses are now under existing zoning. Didn't you read the Measure D story? The R-2 zoning allows 2 structures if the property meets a minimum size, which those properties don't, and the structures have to be owned by the same person, i.e., a home and an in-law unit, not two single-family homes packed on there without regard to height, setback, and other zoning restrictions.

The other 5 houses are 3-story structures, all of the 12 stack and pack stovepipe houses that no one in the neighborhood could build under the existing zoning.

There is also the matter of a 50 foot building where existing zoning limit is 30 feet, and 36 parking spots for residents, where existing zoning woud call for over 100.

Please read the previous discussions and don't keep repeating the same misleading stuff.

Posted by Debi, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

I'm very impressed with the author's dissection of a whole mess of emotions and opinions surrounding the initial process and passing of the rezoning. It's complicated, muddled, heated and emotional and I think this editorial successfully navigated through and exposed the brass tacks.

Fundamentally, I believe residents are standing up and saying NO to PC developments and the broader issue of feeling underrepresented and ignored by a development-hungry City Council. The status quo (Miki's on Alma, the old Palo Alto Bowl site) is being challenged and coming to a head under this project.

I'm proud to be voting NO on Measure D.

Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

Wow, I never would have thought that the Weekly would come out and vote no on D! This really surprises me, pleases me and impresses me. Thanks, Weekly.

I don't live in Barron Park and I probably won't be impacted by the Maybell project much personally. However, D is about much more than the Maybell project. It's about development and exemptions run amok in this city. It's about the review board allowing monstrosities (both relative to size and aesthetics) to be built.

We, Palo Alto citizens, need to take a stand and tell the city once and for all: STOP! Enough bungled boondoggles that only go to line the pockets of developers. Enough defacing our town. Keep Palo Alto livable.

Thanks weekly!!

Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

Thank you to the Weekly for the great editorial. If you would like to read another analysis from a College Terrace resident please go to the following link for his ten reasons to vote Against Measure D.

This article is very interesting and well worth the read. It has been posted at the following site:

Web Link

Posted by Jared Bernstein, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

I've already voted YES on this measure. I guess that I was tired of the hostage taking. The re-zoning process was followed correctly, but now a group of signatures forces us to spend a pile of money voting on whether or not to undo that process. OK; that's also part of the process. Maybell is a puzzling location for senior housing (not being near any walkable retail), but the property is right next to another much larger building. Seems OK to me.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

PAHC's senior housing waiting list draws from all of Santa Clara County. The population of the County is 1.84 million. The population of Palo Alto is 66,000, or a little less than 4% the population of the County.

PAHC does not release statistics for how many people on its list come which part of the County. However, I believe they are not allowed to favor wait-listers from one city over another, at least on an ongoing basis.

It certainly suggests that Measure D will mostly have Palo Alto residents subsidize people from other parts of the County to move to Palo Alto.

It would help if PAHC would make its waitlist more transparent.

Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:23 am

Sorry the web link did not work from my previous comment.

This article is very interesting and well worth the read. It has been posted at the following site:

Web Link

Posted by Judith, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:25 am

R-2 zoning from the code: The R-2 two-family residence district is intended to allow a second dwelling unit under the same ownership as the initial dwelling unit on appropriate sites in areas designated for single-family use by the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan, under regulations that preserve the essential character of single-family use. Community uses and facilities should be limited unless no net loss of housing would result.

Second dwelling units are allowed on R-2 or RMD lots that meet lot size requirements in Table 2 to accommodate two units on a lot. For R-2 zoned lots of 6,000 square feet or greater, but less than 7,500 square feet, a second dwelling unit of 450 square feet or less is permitted, subject to all other regulations of the R-1 chapter outlined in Section 18.12.070. Any second dwelling unit, and any airspace rights thereto, under different ownership from the initial dwelling unit, shall be prohibited in the R-2 and RMD districts.

From Table 2: Minimum site area 6000 sf, width 60 ft, depth 100 ft.

Posted by RHood, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

The PA Weekly supporting 'no' is not a surprise and this entire forum has been a watercooler for anti-Yes sentiment and the distribution and dissemenination of incorrect facts and information all along he way.

I would urge any undecided voters to explore more opinions and other forums this in order to make a proper, informed decision.

Regardless of all the finger-pointing about process, "persay" support of senior housing and this costly election process, eventually something will be built on these properties.

Makes sense that it have social value, in this case for seniors, rather than PAHC having to sell the entire property to a for-profit developer.In the case of an entire sale of property to a usual suspect developer, the outcome will have far greater density and school impacts that only derive profits for a private party. That's the bottom-line. Let's add value to the community, VOTE YES on D!

Posted by Stop the Insanity, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:41 am

Senior housing can be built at that location within existing code. This is not NIMBY. Why the request for a change? GREED.

More density equals more money for the developers at the expense of Palo Alto's quality of life.

This Ciry Council is not representing the community.


Posted by Jean Libby, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

Thank you for opposing Measure D. I agree that the issue is about furthering the overdevelopment of Palo Alto, and not about helping seniors. I am a senior who has lived in Palo Alto since 1964 and would qualify for this subsidized housing. I would be removed from my modest home where I have lived since 1968 to do so. That is what the realtors and City officials and developers want to do with us longtime resident seniors.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

Neighbors approached PAHC early and throughout this to ask them to build more consistent houses and a 3-story building. Do the traffic study, and it would have all been good. They utterly rejected any such compromises - in writing - saying there were other parties to the financing and the financing didnt allow it. Neighbors even brought a contractor neighbor to the so-called summit, who spoke about auctions to high end builders bringing in as much or more in sale. The trouble is that the City is also counting on the in lieu fee they get from the stack and pack high density, it's written into the ordinance. Larry Klein even said in one of the meetings that he had never seen so much stonewalling from an applicant.

Neighbors tried very hard to find a comromise, PAHC did not seem able to make one.

The other point I want to make is that PAHC bid and went into contract on the property first and asked the City for money weeks later after they got it. This is problem from the standpoint of Larry Klein's lawfirm having represented the seller. It's also troubling as PAHC has admitted the City told them to go after that property, and now as we know, has lied to the state and feds about the zoning. Before accusing neighbors of being overboard, those documents are obtainable by public record act and the zoning verification that allowed PAHC to apply is made under penalty of perjury and should be taken seriously.

Here, Candace Gonzales affirms that they have zoning for 54 units per acre, among other serious misrepresentations. As of today, nearly 4 months after their deadline for their application, they have never had that zoning, it is still RM-15 and R-2! But their misrepresentation and the City's have gotten them qualified for money they will be taking away from a project in another community that can build more housing for needier folks. FOR is FOR SHAME. This kind of unethical action should give Palo Altans reason to look more closely rather than just assuming they must be wrong because of PAHCs mission. Web Link

There are MANY many reasons to be aainst this rezoning, the editorial has touched on a few. Please vote against and send in ballots soon (you can use your stub to verify your vote arrived, and fill out a provisional ballot nov 5 if it ddnt. In such a small election, every vote counts!)

Posted by Wren, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

As a senior and a resident of Palo Alto for almost 50 years, I find the
trends disturbing on both sides of the Maybell issue.

Both sides of Measure D seem to agree that affordable senior housing is
a desirable and laudable goal. However, in the case of the Maybell
project, the financing of the project by selling off the 12 market-rate
lots and houses, seems to be driving the entire deal.

I remember 20-30 years ago, when the Palo Alto Unified School District
had excess school properties. They resorted to an public auction
process (overseen by Enshalla Development) to create, market, and
finance lot sales for single family homes to the public and other
interested parties. This process not only resulted in the lots
selling for considerably more than what a single developer would
have paid, but it also resulted in new communities with houses
designed and built by individuals and their contractors which
greatly augmented the existing neighborhoods.

If PAHC reduced the number of market-rate lots to 6-8, and used
a process similar to what the PAUSD used, they might realize more
from the sale of the 6-8 standard R-1 zone lots, than for the twelve
substandard PC zone lots. The math works out as:
($1.5M x 8 R1 Zone lots = $12M, vs $1.0M x 12 PC zone lots = $12M)

A large part of the neighborhood's reaction to the Maybell project
is the "hands off" approach that the PAHC has taken to the sale of
the 12 market-rate lots.

There is legitimate fear that twelve "cookie cutter" row houses
will be built on the 12 substandard lots by a developer who is
trying to maximize profits. When asked in PAHC presentations
(and in council meetings) who will build the houses, PAHC hedged
and backed off from any coherent answer.

PAHC insisted that they are not a developer. In a strict sense
this may be true, but they are using their position and political
clout to enable a developer to follow in their footsteps. This is
ingenuous at best, and PAHC should take responsibility for what
they are (have) enabled.

This has led the neighborhood to assume that PAHC does not know,
and worse, and does not care, about the look and feel of the 12
market-rate houses. The market-rate houses appear to be PAHC's
clever way to finance their project.

Shame on them....

Posted by a resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

Clear, concise to the point. Finally. Well said @RHood!

YES on D.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm

If PAHC decides not to build if they have to honor zoning, they shoud never have chosen to go after that location in a residentil area in the first place, they should have looked for a more appropriate location, which they never did (not with city and county loans totalling 15million+ either).

Don't vote for thinking you are protecting the neighbors who are fighting this TO protect the neighborhood. The same neighbors who qualified two referenda, one after only 10 days with far more signatures, will ensure it goes to a good land use. Don't worry, despite the scare tactics, we have recourse and will protect the neighborhood from such nightmare scenarios. If nothing else, because of this attempt at overdeveloping our neighborhod has created networks of neighbors who will not let such things happen. There s so much disclosure included in the file for that property, for one, what builder would be insane enough to try to build something questionable when they could make huge profits building consistent, large single family homes? Then there is the subdivision map act, which allows us to fight any land use inconsistent with the general plan (which neighbors can still do for this plan, too, as it must be subdivided whether for this plan or a market rate development) If City Council pushes it, neighbors may overturn the density bonus rule as Los Angeles residents did after similar abuses by developers.

Please do not be manipulated into worrying about something hypothetical that won't happen and not about the serious problems we are trying to prevent by protecting residential neighborhood zoning. Please vote against.

Posted by RogueTrader, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I've been going back and forth. This editorial is an excellent summary, and enough to convince me to vote NO.

Posted by Vote Yes on D, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

You need to vote yes if you want Palo Alto to be a diverse and inclusive community. If you believe in affordable senior housing, then you must vote YES. Do not penalize our seniors for your concerns about growth and traffic in the City when this project is a true benefit.

Very frustrated with this editorial and many comments that still has many facts wrong. First, PAHC is a nonprofit affordable housing agency and NOT a greedy developer. This is the kind of vitriol being spread by the opposition who has no respect for a reputable nonprofit. The 12 homes will fund the senior housing because the City (and state) has no affordable housing funds. Any extra money goes back to pay the City and County, not kept as profit.

Also, NO taxpayer dollars have funded this ...this City loan was funded from the City's affordable housing fund that is paid into by commercial developers and can only be used for affordable housing. On the other hand, the opposition caused this expensive election that the City is having to use taxpayer dollars for.

I agree with Ellie's comments. I've been following this closely since I live very close to the site. First, Bill Johnson is wrong that PAHC asked for a concession from the 10' side yard setback rule ...there is NO such rule. Single family homes now require 6 feet side yard setbacks (equal to 12 feet between the homes). Most homes in PA have only 5' side yard setbacks (10' between homes) and Maybell is in line here. Maybell will also have conventional front setbacks of 20-25'. Disappointing that the editorial board did not check their facts before perpetuating the misinformation.

Further, 34-46 multi-bedroom homes with more impacts to traffic and schools is clear and does not sound like a disagreement as this editorial claims. Look at the City's FAQ. It would be very easy to fit 46 apartments/condos on almost 2.5 acres. Why does the Weekly think that this site will not be sold if this project is not approved? Unless the neighborhood comes up with over $16 million to buy it (and they will have to bid on it), it will be sold to a developer who will maximize profits. No questions. The City has no money in its affordable housing fund to pay any shortfalls in financing schemes that this editorial and opponents are making up.

Other facts: yes, it is a PC zone but the PC restricts it to affordable senior housing forever; the impacts of this project equals a DOWN ZONING (even bike safety leaders support it); there will be a live/work preference for seniors that already live or work in Palo Alto; lower income seniors cannot afford cars so the 47 parking spaces will be more than enough; this site was zoned R2 and RM15, not single family.

I expect that the newspapers get their facts straight and am disappointed here. Please vote yes and pay respect to our seniors who deserve affordable housing.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Being against violating all zoning - wanting to protect neighborhood zoning and character which is the first and most overarching goal of the comprehensive plan - does not make you a NIMBY. Please stop pulling the NIMBY-card. I have witnessed people involved in all this effort, and they are good people who genuinely care about affordable housing. They also care about the character of the neighbrhood and children's safety, among much else that recommends an against vote.

PAHC and the Mayor and City Council have all indicated publicly that if this flies at Maybell, they will use this financing mechanism in the future, which allows them to put in affordable housing at much less cost to them by violating neighborhood zoning. This is what the staff report says, that they are doing this to get a discount and they want to do it in the future. That's not a Trojan Horse, it's an open plan to ignore neighborhood zoning if they get away with it at Maybell.

Posted by question, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Would PAHC still be able to build 62 units of senior housing given the existing zoning even if they were able to raise sufficient funds by selling off upgraded ranch homes?

Posted by Barron Park resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Thank you for writing this great article. Something else that everyone should know is that PAHC does not have any rules regarding the residency of tenants. We Palo Alto citizens are already paying for PAHC senior housing residents who do not speak a word of English; they simply moved to the US because an opportunity for cheap housing presented itself. Try visiting Arastradero Park for yourself. Should we, as Palo Alto residents, really be financing these people as well as the numerous folks who come from other cities?

PAHC also seems to make no effort to stop people from using their senior properties as an anchor to get their grandchildren into Palo Alto schools. Their Sheridan Apartments senior facility is full of bikes and bike racks. I find it highly unlikely that the 62+ crowd there is responsible for even half of those.

I recognize that we need low-income senior housing, and that we cannot perfectly identify who should qualify for that housing. It is easy for prospective residents to hide their finances to help themselves qualify. However, PAHC has not even tried to disqualify individuals who clearly should not be subsidized by Palo Alto taxpayers. It makes me wonder if PAHC is opening their doors to everyone simply for the sake of growing their business. Larger waiting lists make it easier to justify additional properties, and "non-profit" doesn't mean salaries are limited :)

Posted by Sanna, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Kudos to the editorial staff for listening careully to both sides,analyzing the truth and the deceptive statements, and coming to a convincing position. Very impressive writing and analysis. Voting AGAINST D is the clear choice. For those trying to decide you put the facts out clearly and should convince those who care both about senior housing and the quality of development in Palo Alto to vote AGAINST. Bravo.

Posted by A neighbor, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Thank you PA Weekly for your analysis.
Many of us are still puzzling over why the city council at every step of the way ignored the neighborhood opposition. So many questions were left unanswered. The city council and the staff seemed to have joined together to approve this project as fast as they could. They did not criticize it a bit until the screams of the neighborhood people went through the roof and then the reduced the number of the houses by 3 and asked us to shut up.

City council:

- never raised the issue of parking, 36 spots, allocated for over 100 residents.

-never wondered why the PAHC traffic report didn't include the pedestrians and bicycling children.

-never asked for hard data from PAHC on the alleged long PAHC waiting lists of Palo Alto seniors they claim they have.

-never asked PAHC to produce alternative configurations for the market rate houses in order to build in conformance with the neighborhood.

-never questioned the suitability of the site for seniors who will be renting in that apt. complex.

This lack of analytical thinking among the council members is breath taking. It seems that they don't have time to study the issues they vote on. Whatever the developer and the staff tells them they accept as facts. It is so against the Silicon Valley culture to be so uninformed and so opinionated. How can our beloved Palo Alto be run like this?

Please vote against Measure D and then find some intelligent conscientious individuals to run our city. We desrve better than this.

Posted by Eric F, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

RHood is falling squarely into the "second-guess the statistics" trap.

One side says the alternative for the space is higher density, and measure it in "bedrooms" because the numbers work better that way. The other says the alternative is lower density, and they have numbers as well. There's no agreement on how many seniors drive cars. Etc, etc. Whose numbers do you like? RHood likes the developer's numbers. Others like the others.

Fortunately there is better way to resolve this than second guessing the numbers:


The whole point of zoning is to set guidelines for this kind of thing. The argument about what would go there instead is basically people individually trying to second-guess the numbers, and the zoning code, for everybody else's neighborhood.

Well, Palo Alto is all our neighborhood now. Zoning codes may not be perfect, but they're generally reasonable, and changing them ought to be done thoughtfully, transparently and broadly. In other words, the opposite of how Palo Alto does it now: one parcel at a time, by a few special-interest insiders, with only a slapdash analysis of the impacts, and too often in pursuit of controversial and divisive objectives.

The argument about what would be built on Maybell instead is a piece of misdirection: hey look over here at my left hand ... while my right one actually palms the card.

When in doubt, follow the bloody zoning code.

Posted by pavoter, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I notice that the "yes on D" folks comments here keep saying that there is nothing wrong with this project. But your stance doesn't make sense to me because:

1. The city lent money (millions) to the PAHC long before vetting the project. While that may be legal, it's a bad precedent. Your "yes" vote says the council can continue on this path.

2. Proper traffic studies are lacking. Especially at this school biking corridor, this is essential.

3. The city upzoned without informing the neighborhood. Another bad precedent. This should concern all Palo Altans.

4. The funding method used is to sell off part of the land and upzone it, so that a developer can build stack and pack homes that would not otherwise be allowed. Another precedent that should concern all Palo Altans.

5. The "yes on D" campaign insists that this is only about senior housing but ignore the concerns of many Palo Altans about the PC benefits. Alma's Miki's fiasco is one of the latest poorly designed PC benefit give away to developers.

6. A better location could be sought for senior housing. What about Rancho San Antonio's new development? There will be a second phase which will be even closer to Cal Train transit, not to mention all the stores nearby. Since senior housing is for the county and cannot be limited to Palo Altans, this seems like a good location, still close to Palo Alto but with far more amenities for seniors. And, senior housing can be build at Maybell under the current zoning. No upzoning.

I will vote No!

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

@vote y in Barron Park,
That's quite a twisting of facts considering you are calling for fact checking. Starting with your claim that there will be 47 parking spots for residents. Look at the plan. There will be 36 parking spots for residents of 60-units (up to 120 residents), plus 5 spots for employees and the remainder set aside for visitors and maybe disabled. Not 47 spots for residents, but even that would be inadequate, too. The number of spots was determined by the space they had left after shoehorning in all the upzoned for-profit housing which takes up more than half the property. They didn't want to put in more parking, as they themselves admitted, because of cost.

The cost of the units, if they don't use the financing scheme with the for-profit housing, is approximately the same as at 801 Alma - they are using the for-profit part to reduce the cost to them and to the City, that's what staff report admits. If PAHC can't afford to build if they have to respect zonng laws, the City should have worked with a low-income developer who could, as they did at 801 Alma.

Much of the money came from the Stanford funds, and as the Council has suggested spending it on a bike bridge over 101, you are wrong that it must only go to affordable housing. The City's own documents say the purpose of the market-rate portion is to also make PAHC more cometitive for state and federal funds, where they are competing against less wealthy communities who could build more housing for needier people with the same money. FOR stands for FOR SHAME. We have never had to build affordabke housing this way, and don't have to now. If this was about affordable housing, PAHC would have come in with a proposal closer to existing zonng and would be bulding now, as I know even one of the residents who spearheaded the referendum asked them in April. This was, by the City's own admission, about using this "creative" way of financing to reduce their costs, by making neighborhoods shoulder the burdens, and they have publicly stated an intent to do this as the new norm for affordable housing development if they get the greenlight at Maybell.

As for other low-traffic plans - we don't know what the best land use there should be because the City and PAHC steadfastly refused to do the traffic safety analysis, and with current data. There were $15 million in public funds dedicated to that purpose without any prior public discussion, and yes, perhaps it cant support a large development. We the people bought that property. Those were public funds. Greg Schmid pointed out that developers pay those fees to avoid putting in the legally required low-income housing in their developments. If it doesnt provide enough money to build the housing rlsewhere under existing zoning, thry should fix those fees or the rule, not make neighborhoods pay for it.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Woodside
on Oct 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Please let's support and vote Yes on D on Nov. 5th.

Yes on Measure D for Senior Housing.

Yes on Measure D for Senior Housing.

Yes on Measure D for Senior Housing.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

In other words, "any tiny amount of senior housing is worth any price no matter what or who pays it"

Posted by Floyd, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I lived in the Greenacres area for 55 years until just recently. In defense of our neighborhood, I became active in the community from almost the first day that I moved in. As always (except for a short time in the 60s and 70s) we were presented with done deals to accept. This generation of council members is no different. City staff moves to the sounds of a different drummer than the residents who they usually ignore.
Does anyone remember the Cabana Hotel attempt to bring us World Class Tennis under the lights and a heliport. and there was the closed course car racing event in their parking lot that actually happened...once.
And the Terman working group that was formed to straighten out that done deal.
This senior has already voted no.

Posted by Two Cents, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I'm voting No on D because in principle I don't think we should be foisting something on a neighborhood that they don't want. I can only imagine what it would feel like it everyone in the city voted to do something to my neighborhood.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

> Other facts: yes, it is a PC zone but the PC restricts it to affordable senior housing forever;

What happens if the property were to be sold?

> there will be a live/work preference for seniors that already live or work in Palo Alto;

Given that there are State/Federal tax credits involved, restricting the occupancy to people living in Palo Alto seems a stretch. Any proof that the State/Feds actually approve such a restriction today, and will continue to do so in the future, if the restriction is actually legal?

> lower income seniors cannot afford cars so the 47 parking spaces

This is the most bizarre bit of logic. Since this housing project is all about FAMILY (or at least the last PAHC flier makes that claim), then what happens when their children given them a car? Or what about bying a car for less than $2,000?

The following web-site gives you some idea about how easily it is to buy a $2,000 car from the Internet.

Web Link

There is simply no way for someone to make claims that for the next hundred years, or so, the elderly (who will be living longer in the future) will not be able to afford cars, or that 47 parking spots will be enough for possibly 75 occupants, in the immediate future, and forward a hundred years, or more.

> I expect that the newspapers get their facts straight and am disappointed here.

Given how many variables are in play, and how little certainty is involved, and given people like this one who seems to not be able to recognize fact from fancy, this is most certainly a difficult issue to put before the voters.

Voting NO myself.

Posted by Eric F, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

My mother in law, who would certainly qualify, is 85 and has three cars. One of them she drives all over the place, and the other two stay in her driveway.

Posted by Zayda, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Bravo! The Weekly has shown that the 4th estate is still alive and well; that it can objectively analyze a situation and draw a reasoned conclusion.
The two sides in this issue have never disagreed on the need for affordable senior housing. True, there have been many questions raised as to WHO those seniors would be (Web Link) or whether the planned housing would meet their needs (Web Link). But never on the need for housing.
The real questions have been on the issues of mismanagement of the whole project by PAHC and our elected officials and their city staff. From the very beginning the lack of transparency permeated the air with an odor of deception (WOW! a mixed metaphor). The early loan(s) by the City before any real public review of the project and the apparent dismissal of the arguments by hundreds of residents at PAHC, Planning Commission and City Council meetings (Web Link) clearly led to the perceived feeling that this was a 'done deal' from the beginning. The statement by City Manager Keene that 'the findings in the staff reports tend to support the particular staff recommendation rather than represent all views' (Web Link) suggested that the decision was 'fait accompli.' Rather than walking in the ruby shoes down the yellow brick road, we were being led down the primrose path. The refusal of the city to enforce existing ordinances to protect the safety our children riding to school on bikes did not inspire confidence. And protests by the Mayor that 'the city would never take private land to build a sidewalk' while his Chief Transportation Officer was proclaiming that 'although eminent domain is expensive, it is not impossible' seemed hollow. Who is the 'wizard' behind the green curtain?
The overwhelming response of the entire city to the petition(s) against both the PC Zoning Ordinance (and the accompanying Comprehensive Plan Resolution) clearly indicated that this was not a 'NIMBY' issue. This was a rapidly growing resentment by the residents to the overwhelming greed of developers building more and more commercial projects, destroying the heritage and character of Palo Alto and exacerbating the problems of lack of housing, traffic and parking in every neighborhood in the city. The 'bastille' at 801 Alma was fueling the cries of 'to the barricades.' Has the mayor forgotten his declarations that 'the PC process in Palo Alto is broken' (Web Link) and that 'once a neighborhood shopping center is lost, it is gone forever'? What about the neighborhood itself?
'D' is for developers, 'D' is for density, 'D' is for 'done deal'.
Vote Against D

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I would be a huge mistake by those planning on voting Yes on D to think of this development as a separate and isolated issue standing on its own. This is actually about how Palo Alto and the entire Bay area will look in the future. The developers and the politicians who enable them plan, out of sheer greed, due to the fact that local real estate are among the most expensive in the entire world, and without any consideration to the special attributes of this area vis-a-vis its environment, geography, eco-system, and unique culture and tradition, into another greater Los Angeles. This is a precedent that if allowed will open the floodgates to destructive overdevelopment that will forever change the character of this city and bring in heavy traffic, density, noise, pollution and a possible catastrophic overuse of energy and water.

Posted by Katie, a resident of University South
on Oct 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I will vote no on measure D, mainly to make a statement to the City and the developers that they need to start looking at "smart growth" instead of "greed growth". Three years ago the City could have considered senior housing at 801 Alma, but the developer wanted family housing there instead, even though the schools were impacted in that neighborhood, and parking was a major issue. At 801 Alma, seniors could have easily existed without cars (and would therefore need less parking), since they could walk or take public transportation to grocery shopping, medical care, social events at Avenida's, the library, etc. However, senior housing was not considered.

Another interesting note is that Palo Alto Commons (very near the Maybell project) will be offering 40+ new senior units early next year, so there will be additional senior housing in that area.

When do our City leaders start thinking about the bigger picture and consider smart growth over growth as desired by the developers? No on measure D will hopefully help them pause long enough to start thinking more creatively and more like members of the communities their decisions effect.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Thank you, Two Cents from Southgate. We will return the favor by ensuring PC zoning is restricted in its use in residential neighborhoods when this is over. No one should have to go through this to ensure the zoning is respected, and that neighborhood character is maintained, as is the "prime directive" in the general plan.

Posted by Prove fewer homes won't work, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

If PAHC claims it needs 12 pack-and-stack homes to finance this project, show us your pro forma so we all can verify that. If the numbers are true, it would get more yes votes. If you don't publish the numbers, we can only think PAHC has something to hide.

Posted by JerryL, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Good clear editorial, Weekly. You didn't seem to give enough weight
to the big issue for me. But your conclusion was the same.
For me, the pitifully low allocation of parking for the proposed 60 unit
senior building made me plan to vote NO. Many Seniors drive well into their 80's. I am 75 and I plan to keep our two cars for quite some time. My wife
and I both drive and sometimes want to go our separate ways. The parking plan
makes insufficient allowance for residents cars, insufficient allowance for employee parking and insufficient allowance for visitor parking. This lack, along with the excessive height of the building convinces me to vote NO.

Posted by Definite No on D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Taking away the emotions of supporting "senior housing" or not, a vote against D is more about...

1) preserving Palo Alto as a suburban city that promotes residential neighborhoods with a sense of tranquility yet encourages innovative creativity. Urbanization, meaning allowing dense land use will kill half of what Palo Alto (means tall tress, not tall building)is about. Having lived in a NYC suburb that, due to inadequate city officials, the neighborhood turned into a hodgepodge of tall apartment buildings mixed with residential house. The community is forever lost. (and yes, traffic and crime went up while real estate value of the houses went down.)

2) helping our elected city official understands that they have to run our city with a great degree of transparency and integrity. Loaning money (regardless of which bucket it is coming out of) without having a clear definition of the project, is irresponsible, especially when the money belongs to the greater community. As a result, our city officials, in despair to get the money repaid, are supporting the rezoning just so the project can move along. Analogy: would you or should you give/loan your contractor $3M (substitute any amount you want) upfront without knowing what the contractor is going to do for you??

3) not brushing the dense development debate aside because there is already a 8-story building in the vicinity. It is no big deal, some say. As my mom told me, "just because your friend jumped off the cliff, it does not mean that you should do it too, dummy!"

4) questioning PAHC's transparency. The organization was founded in 1970 with help from City of Palo Alto to address affordable housing issues. This says, affordable housing issue did not just come up in the last 10 years or so that we need to change our established zoning to address the issue. PAHC has been building affordable houses and maintaining the established zoning guidelines which Palo Altans support since 1972 when the first affordable housing project was built. PAHC is supposed to work with the neighborhoods and take into account all the regulations of the community. It is not until the recent years that we find developers (private or PAHC) asking for rezoning. Why? It is all about money. The more you build, the more profits you get. In this case, the private developer needs to build more dense houses to make more money, thus, rezoning is the only way. The PAHC Board comprise of 15 members, 4 of them are in property development business and 2 of them are in real estate business. Yes, PAHC is not-for-profit but...

5) not falling victim to a misused good cause. Senior Housing is a very good cause...we all have aging parents. More so, we will all become seniors one day. However, not taking the time to understand the facts behind the objection and just voting for "senior housing, senior housing..." is no different from donating to every single commercials/advertisements that blaster little children or animal pictures to strike up sympathy. You have to do your homework so that your resources (money or voice) are effectively used. Example in case, read the recent Charity Navigator article about non-profits whose CEOs taking home over $1M salaries...that is money from donations!!

6) not bending rules and guidelines so nonchalantly to fit one's desire. Today's excuse is "senior housing". What about tomorrow when another non-profit comes in and asks for a bend in the rules? Where should our city officials draw the line? And if they cannot draw the line for whatever hidden reasons, as voters, we have the power to hit the "pause" button and draw the line on behalf of the city. Bad behavior happens but bad behavior also has to be corrected quickly.

Posted by Joe Hirsch, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

To RHood and Yes on D from Barron Park: Planned Community rezoning is used by developers to negotiate higher density with City Hall. It is wrong for PAHC (and its supporters) to say that, if Measure D fails, development under existing zoning by a private developer would have a greater impact on the neighborhood. If existing zoning permitted such high-density, PAHC would not have had to apply for rezoning.

PAHC’s proposal will have 103 bedrooms as it states in its "The Choice is Clear" flyer. That number is accurate based upon the 60-unit senior housing and the 12 large single-family homes proposal approved by City Council.

However, they go on to state that development under existing zoning would have 161 bedrooms. That simply is not true.

Here are the facts:

existing zoning on the R-2 portion of the Maybell site allows, as now, 4 homes, 3.5 bedrooms on the average in each (that is the City's number) = 14 bedrooms;

existing zoning on the RM-15 portion, limited by (a) the applicable 50% floor area ratio and (b) the need to allocate about 20% of any building to non-living space for lobbies, hallways, community rooms (if any), laundry rooms, garbage rooms, utility rooms, etc. would permit a maximum of 41 units with a maximum of 63 bedrooms (at 1.5 bedrooms/unit on the average). Why? Because the balance (called, in the trade, net rental space) limited by (a) and (b) will permit only very small units (roughly 763sf), none large enough to have 3- or 4-bedrooms as asserted by PAHC.

That’s it. A total of 77 bedrooms (14 + 63) under existing zoning, not the 161 as claimed by PAHC, the proponents of rezoning. Other parameters they have cited would be reduced accordingly.

That's a huge gap between the reality-based zoning regulations all of us live with, and the ruby slipper fantasy land of PAHC.

Don’t be misled by PAHC’s effort to mislead. I and others would not be urging you to vote AGAINST Measure D if we felt that the outcome would be worse for our neighborhood and therefore all of Palo Alto. It won’t be!

To me, "The Choice is Clear". I urge you to vote AGAINST D (as I have already done) and add your voice to others who are telling City Hall to stop approving high-density rezoning in residential neighborhoods.

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

This comment is pretty general, no new facts or response to a particular post, just a perspective

The vote on Measure D is a test of whether Palo Alto’s strong support for affordable housing can be sustained when people are worried about rapid change.

“No on D” feels obligated to present itself as favoring affordable housing “done right” to overcome support for giving PAHC a chance to compete with commercial developers for property to build on.

The ballot argument for “No on D” says, “We support building affordable senior housing on the Maybell parcel within current zoning.” How is it being supported if it’s impossible to finance?

Palo Altans for Responsible Zoning wants to eliminate all Planned Community zoning due to abuse of the process. They have attacked PAHC as if it were Jay Paul Corporation, which wants PC zoning for a huge complex near California Avenue. Yet PAHC is a non-profit whose sole goal is to build and maintain affordable housing. There is a difference.

“No on D” calls for sympathy from the rest of the city for Maybell if the project is approved. Well, save the sympathy.

The normal process of getting community input, revising plans and then submitting them to the Planning Commission brought major improvements. Political pressure got further adjustments in density and appearance, as well as bicycle and pedestrian safety measures on Maybell. This is a good deal.

I have lived in Barron Park, a block from the Maybell site, for 38 years and would welcome this project.

Please vote “Yes on D.” (www.yesondpaloalto.com)

Posted by Archie, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

As a resident of Crescent Park in north Palo Alto, this issue seemed
remote. I watched (with some amusement) the growing tide of opposition.
When asked to sign the referendum petitions that led to Measure D, I
refused and remained on the fence.

Thank you Palo Alto Weekly, for helping me understand more about
this important issue, and to get off the fence.

Today, I mailed my ballot, with an AGAINST vote on Measure D.

Like me, you should get off the fence, and vote AGAINST Measure D.

Posted by Joe Hirsch, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm

To Judith who quoted portions of our Zoning Code regulations regarding a second dwelling unit in the R-2 zone: you unfortunately told only part of the story.

Yes, minimum lot size in the R-2 residential zone is 6,000sf, as it is in our R-1 residential zone. But to have a second dwelling unit as a matter of right on a lot in the R-2 zone, the lot size must be at least 7,500sf (see Table 2 in Section 18.10.40 Development Standards). The sentence you quoted regarding lots from 6,000sf to 7,500sf pertains to instances where a property owner asks for a variance to permit the second dwelling unit. It confirms that the lot must be at least 6,000sf and limits the size of the second dwelling unit to 450sf IF the variance is granted. However, the variance does NOT have to be granted by the City.

In both instances, the principal dwelling and the second dwelling unit must be in common ownership as your quoted material notes. Therefore, private for-profit developers building spec homes do not build second dwelling units on R-2 lots as that dramatically cuts down on the number of potential purchasers.

Accordingly, any future development in the R-2 zone on the Maybell site would be limited, as a matter of right, to one single-family home on each of four lots.

So, "now you know the rest of the story" (with appropriate credit to Paul Harvey for those of us old enough to remember him saying that on the radio - and I am old enough).

Posted by If you have a hammer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm

To anyone who may know about voting issues,

I don't want to be paranoid but if PAHC has influence among the residents in their high density properties in Palo Alto, how do our votes as single property owners "stack" up? And if there are no limits to how many adults can live in these properties, maybe there could be dozens of people per apartment?

Would anyone have an estimate of how many votes are within PAHC influence?

As an average previously trusting resident, I feel this possibility must be considered, and would not put it past some CIty Council members counting on this type of influence, not only for this ballot but for their own elections in the future.

As I said, I was previously a trusting resident but seeing how the plight of millionaire seniors has been used to unleash my taxes and other public money to construct a developer's Palo Alto dream deal, I would think this Monopoly game is not over.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Vote "NO"!
The Weekly editorial is very welcome but it should have come a couple
weeks earlier when the ballots were mailed out. The Weekly is right to
recommend a "NO" vote for the substantive reasons they list, but the
editorial does try to put too nice a face on this when it says there
are "exagerated accusations of fraud and deception" and "no villains".

Posted by on the fence, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm

What would be the financial consequences for the City of Palo Alto if Prop D fails? What about for PAHC? Can 60 units of senior housing be built at Mayfield under the current zoning if Prop Z fails?

Posted by Thunderbolt, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

@Jared Bernstein - did you vote YES on D b/c the proposed site is next to a large building? Really? Also, the only hostages I see in this are the single family home owners that want to preserve their neighborhood . . . as is GUARANTEED in Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan.

Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I drove over to the location for this project and even without the housing it is limited in space. I can see the senior housing here but there is no room for the houses. If no on D passes I do not believe that the property will be abandoned back for sale - that is a baseless threat. The developer also has a large project in Redwood City building high rises where the Malibu race car concession was next to 101. He is very busy - do not worry about him. The senior housing will be built within the zone limits.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm

The City is becoming an ugly office park smothered in traffic and
over-flow parking. It is losing all its character. If you want more of
this vote "yes" and give a thumbs-up to the Council,ARB, and staff
as they pop the corks on election night. If you want to take the first
step toward trying to stop the destruction of the City and its
neighborhoods vote "NO". We need an overwhelming "NO" vote to send
a strong message here.

Posted by No Rezoning, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm

My considered opposition is because -

1. In spite of there being no guarantees that Palo Alto seniors would occupy this housing, the city keeps pushing that lie.

2. The techniques used by the City and PAHC are slimy - just look at the flier and the ballot language

3. Based on my experience with Alma Plaza, I now understand how the collusion between city and developers work and I have no trust in the city anymore.

4. Even if the original zoning results in higher density, I will vote NO so the city gets the overall message to not rezone.

5. I'm sick of sitting in traffic for hours and watching high-rises spring up all over the place including surrounding cities, as if the infrastructure capacity is unlimited.

Did I say I don't trust the city anymore after Alma Plaza?

Posted by 18 year resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Regardless of the Measure D outcome, without a recall of the current city council members, more PC rezoning will be coming down the road.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

@no rezoning
It's not just Alma Plaza and the other grand projects that reflect the
under-belly of the Palo Alto process. It's everything! It's in the
culture of City Hall. The staff works for the developers, special
interests and their own agendas. The City is becoming unrecognizable
in its spreading mediocrity and general low-grade appearance, and massive over-development. The new Lytton Gateway with its massive sheer glass facade
facing west reflects the sun this time of year creating a strong glare. Check it out. Another grand debacle in Palo Alto is taking shape.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I hope voters are able to get information to realize the tactic the City Attorney used in writing the ballot. It led to a discussion with the kids today about leading and biased language.

So, we want to go out to eat, but Dad really wants Restaurant Apples rather than Restaurant Oranges. So he asks, "Do you want to go to Restaurant Oranges, or to Restaurant Apples, FOR SOME ICE CREAM?!" Basically, the question is, DO YOU WANT SOME ICE CREAM?!

The City has done the same with the ballot question in Measure D: Should we have Zoning X (not described) or Zoning Y, FOR THIS REALLY GREAT THING AND FOR FREE?!!

In other words, the question the City Attorney wrote was blatantly intended to produce one outcome (which is, by the way, illegal advocacy in a ballot): Do you want Senior Housing, Yes? No mention at all of what it really is about, ZONING, and that the housing could have been built in so many ways if the City and PAHC had been less over the top. Or if they had been just willing to man up and spend the same amount for the units as Eden Housing paid for the units at 801 Alma (despite the aesthetics, they originally proposed something much more dense and tall, but ultimately agreed to build under the existing zoning because the neighbors complained -- btw, can you imagine if that thing was like twice as big as it is now?)

That's another lesson we teach the kids. The greedy monkey who puts his hand in a jar and grabs so many peanuts, he can't pull his hand out, and he won't let go of even a little bit of it in order to get his hand out and eat the peanuts.

We should have an impartial ballot committee like San Francisco, who writes the ballot in a public process that includes both sides. It's completely wrong for the City Attorney to have the right to write ballots (the "analysis" and ballot question) for referenda and initiatives, when referenda and initiatives are supposed to be a check and balance to City power.

I hope Palo Also voters read all the information, talk to their friends over here. Here's the letter about the ballot bias. The City Attorney wouldn't even correct the improper labeling of RM-15 as mulifamily residential, when the City Code calls it "low density" multifamily residential. The neighbors didn't miss that the City Attorney deliberately omitted the word "low density" from the RM-15 descriptor in the ballot question.

Web Link
Please read, and please vote AGAINST D

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I voted NO! First I am am a senior who has lived 38 years in PA and raised a family here. You could not pay me to live in a 20x30 box with 59 of my closest friends only a fart away and no support when I get frail and food miles away. The facility is a poor design. The PC stack and pack is an abomination. To our Mayor who is a professional developer it probably seemed like a great idea.

Posted by green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:29 am

The City Council and the City of Palo Alto staff will not be satisfied until every single inch of land in Palo Alto has been built on. When Stanford University says jump, the City asks how hight. The traffic has increased because of all the building, and the traffic where the senior housing etc., is to be built is already a mess even in the afternoon when I am a volunteer driver for Avenidas' door-to-door. I know because I pick up clients in that area of the proposed senior housing.

Posted by what happened?, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

What happened to Greg? I'd vote for the guy in the article but its as if aliens as abducted him and swapped him for someone else. Web Link

Posted by Not surprised, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

This editorial is muddled and disappointing but not surprising. The publisher fetishizes process over substance. He says the city faults the city for failing to take account of neighbors concerns but then acknowledges that the city and PAHC did make many modifications to the plan in response to those concerns. The PACC represents the entire city not only one neighborhood. Giving one area veto power over a democratically elected council (all of whose members were endorsed by the publisher including Liz Kniss (!) who really is one of the most self-serving and out of touch public officials ever but YOU endorsed her) is a terrible idea and it is indeed what is meant by NIMBY politics. Regrettably that is what the publisher is now endorsing -- anarchy and government by mob. We have a republican form of government and plebiscites that overrule decisions in order to avoid local change are anti-democratic. This measure D like prop 13 is bad governance. Whatever the procedural flaws of the loan (and it was a loan not a gift and entirely procedurally legal) it is nothing compared to the heartless NIMBY universe you are now midwifing. The publisher is smart but not as much as he thinks and tends to outsmart himself. This is another instance though one with high stakes for the future of low income support in PA. But what shall we expect from someone who also endorsed the vehicle dwelling ban.

The world has change as an element. PA has to change too. The days of your youth here are over. The intense wealth generated by the industry has trade offs and most thinking people would say that they are worth it. What we can't have is all the benefits (money jobs schools) without the costs (need to find ways to provide affordable housing, increased density). Wealth creates demand and PA can't stay the same as well as receive the benefits of development . This is obvious and honestly bill you are either obtuse or pandering. I'll vote for the latter and it at least leaves you a shred of dignity.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 9:41 am

Well written response, not surprised, to a muddled anonymous editorial.
This must have been a tough decision for the editor-- does he support the city council, whom the weekly worships and curries favor with at every chance they get ( and whom, as not surprised pointed out, we're heartily endorsed by the weekly) or the self-appointed guardians of palo alto, including many of the big noise makers In town ( bob moss, Doug Moran etc) .
Which endorsement will generate the greatest amount of ad revenue for the weekly was probably the deciding factor.
I am surprised that anyone takes anything the weekly endorses seriously, since their goal is their own bottom line-- increasing profits.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

@not surprised,
You know very well the so-called "compromises" PAHC made were insubstantial window dressing and already on the table. They never made compromises. I have an email that was passed around from Jessica de Wit where they overtly admit they can't compromise because the financing setup doesn't allow it. Larry Klein even said he'd never seen so much "stonewalling" from an applicant. (Look up "stonewalling" in the dictionary.)

They designed the project to their discount. If this were about affordable housing, they would have proposed something more appropriate - respecting the 30 foot height limit of the existing zoning, providing enough parking, and just paying for it. If they didn't have the market-rate portion, the units would cost almost the same as was paid at 801 Alma by Eden Housing, which decided to build under existing zoning - and now they have the building. People may not like the architecture, but imagine if it had been built twice that big, violating existing zoning! Instead of just doing that to build the housing, PAHC chose like you to just pull the NIMBY-card on the neighbors and make this an ugly battle rather than working with people. It really is about money for them, because they really don't have the resources to compete with Eden Housing.

I would think residents would want the City to work with low-income providers who know how to work with the community and existing zoning and have the resources to do that, like Eden did. PAHC is not the only low-income housing provider locally, and they frankly mostly just manage units -- which we should all take a look at a little more closely since they let 20 out of 24 senior BMR units at Moldaw go completely empty until this spring, when they finally got the City to renegotiate the terms to fill some of them (demonstrating that they could have done so if they had felt the need anytime in the previous 3 years).

As far as your characterizing the initiative and referendum process as "anarchy and government by mob" -- they are an important part of the election code, and checks and balances on concentrations of power are an essential aspect of a well-functioning democracy.

The California LWV just finished a study of referendum and initiative and in summary "support citizens' right of direct legislation through the initiative and referendum process." Web Link

You should read the link, it has such gems as recommending "The ballot label and ballot pamphlet should clearly indicate the effect of a yes vote and a no vote." Something that wasn't done for Measure D, as the City Attorney thought it was appropriate to campaign for the Measure instead of providing voters an "impartial" analysis. Web Link

Our local League would do well to understand the CA League's recommendations, too, but then, if they thought about the goals of the League, they would have considered the undue influence of PAHC board members who also serve as officers and recused themselves from this election, but instead, they got outside help only for moderating the debate and refused to do that for anything else.

Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

Unlike some of my neighbors, I would have been perfectly fine with the housing project IF traffic had been routed onto Arastradero and not on to Maybell. But city council would not consider this as they imposed a road diet on Arastradero in 2010 using a deeply flawed traffic study which incorrectly claimed that a road diet would not force traffic on to nearby streets like Maybell.

Since the road diet, traffic on Maybell has been an absolute misery when school in session or when it rains. Maybell is a narrow street and unsafe for the children who use it to get to school today. However, throughout the process--and I attended several city council meetings regarding the Maybell project before it came to a referendum--city council members were in denial regarding the traffic safety evidence presented by residents. It was stunning at times, that they just would not listen.

I'm voting no on D, and I will also vote against every sitting city council member in their next elections. Shame on the lot of them.

Posted by If you have a hammer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

Not and Not,

The goals of affordable housing have gone wacko in Palo Alto.

Do you realize how insane it is to build 1 unit of "affordable" senior housing for nearly $1,000,000?

If you had real bleeding hearts, you could do better with this money.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

@ Not an issue,
The Weekly editorial board appears to have made the decision, it's not an "anonymous editorial".

You are doing to the Weekly exactly what the proponents of the rezoning did to residents who stood in the way of their doing whatever they wanted wherever they wanted: attacking and smearing good people in lieu of productive discourse. Bob Moss and Doug Moran have done a great deal of hard work as citizens that has contributed greatly to everyone's quality of life.

For those who don't know Bob Moss, here is an article about him from years and years ago: "Simply put, Moss keeps 'em honest."
Web Link He is one reason we have the 50-foot height limit on the tallest buildings in Palo Alto.

Note also that Bob has a pro affordable housing background, and one of the reasons we have the 92-unit affordable Terman Apartments a few blocks away from the Maybell property. (Being against a BAD PlAN -one which has over half the land that is FOR-PROFIT and not affordable -- does not make one against affordable housing!!)

People should vote Against Measure D just to show that citizens in this town actually can provide checks and balances to City Hall, and that City Hall should remember this is a democracy where the citizens are not beside the point. The City Attorney structured the ballot question identically in this election to what was done at High Street, which narrowly lost, I believe, because of such a seriously leading question and ballot bias (refer to my comment above: Do you want to go to Restaurant A, or Restaurant B FOR ICE CREAM! FREE!??!!!) Web Link

Showing that Palo Altans are not misled by such illegal advocacy in election materials by the City Attorney is reason enough to vote Against D.

People who want affordable housing should vote Against D and ask the City the next day to re-direct the funds to save Buena Vista residents from being evicted. That is over 400 low-income residents in the same neighborhood.

Posted by SRL, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

SRL is a registered user.

I have read the balanced and informative article on Measure D, and was glad to learn so much. I still have a question and wonder if anyone could answer it for me:
Some of the pro-Measure D statements argue that we want to provide for "Palo Alto Seniors" (for example, to let them stay close to their families), and include estimates of what percent of seniors are in low-income categories.
However, as I read the text of Measure D, I don't see where it says anything about seniors from Palo Alto being preferred. The measure establishes age (at least 62) and income level (30-60% of median) for renters, but it isn't obvious how this is specific for seniors already in Palo Alto. Would someone explain that?
I'll note in passing that providing for seniors is an important goal no matter where they come from; I just want to know how to evaluate the pro-Measure D statements about the benefits to Palo Alto itself.

Posted by Not surprised, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 11:39 am

Publisher please amend your editorial to explain what PAHC is supposed to do about the state funding that will expire, and the debt service that has to be paid. You love to fantasize that you are the sole voice of reason. In your desire to side seat drive a complex project you state that everyone can just go on back to the drawing board. But you omit any mention of state funds and deadlines to break ground or of how loans will be serviced without selling the land. You try to argue that the city can just conjure this money out of thin air -- convenient. Perhaps you will spearhead the "no on measure E" campaign when the taxpayer revolt for over that one.

The land will be sold and I hope whatever goes there is huge and hideous. We can name if Nimbyville Condos.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

According to this editorial the high density senior housing and the increased traffic that will result are not the issue; the problems with the Maybell project are the reduced lot sizes, height limits and yard setbacks for the dozen market rate homes. This conclusion is counter to everything that the opponents of Maybell have been asserting which is that the high density senior housing will create too much traffic in the neighborhood, thus exposing the Weekly’s obfuscatory tactic.

In response to this and the Post’s Editorial regarding the same matter:

It is time to for the people of the bay area to wake up to the fact that the character of the communities will have to evolve over the next twenty to thirty years to accommodate 2 million more residents. Palo Alto and neighboring cities enjoy all of the benefits of muli-billion dollar businesses and the jobs and revenues that these businesses provide yet without providing for housing for all of those workers. The population of Palo Alto increases by 50,000 people every day due to people commuting here for work.

Neither the Post nor the Weekly puts forth any solutions as to where these 50,000 Palo Alto workers should live or where the 2 million new residents will reside.
Web Link

Web Link

If the city of Palo Alto doesn’t want to build living wage housing for the people who work in the city then the city should place a moratorium on the building of office and retail space to force businesses to move to Modesto.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

The Daily Post and the opponents of the Maybell Project have asserted that the senior housing Maybell project will result in greater traffic problems than a typicial development of 34 to 46 residences under current zoning regulations. The Post claims that there will be fewer cars on the road from typical family residences than senior housing because the residences will have kids and not adults.

The Post’s logic is flawed.

Most families have at least two cars and when the kids hit sixteen that increase to three and four cars.

Prior to driving those kids will be riding their bicycles increasing the congestion on the already overcycle streets. Look at the illustration provided by the "Vote No On 'D'" coalition, pg. 9 of 10/18/13 Daily Post, and here:
Web Link

The Preserve Neighborhood Zoning Group in acutality is making the argument against against 34 to 46 family residences and the 70 to 100 or more kids on bikes riding to school every day.

Most seniors use one car whether it is a couple or a single person. Assuming one car per apartment and three cars per single family home that equates to 126 cars for the Maybell Project and 102 to 138 cars for typical single family residences resulting in very little difference between the two projects.

Posted by If you have a hammer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm


"If the city of Palo Alto doesn't want to build living wage housing for the people who work in the city then the city should place a moratorium on the building of office and retail space to force businesses to move to Modesto. "

What a snob!

Yes, at some point reality needs to set in - Bay area growth can and should happen in Modesto. It enjoys the same California sunshine, it is not that far from major cities.

Why are we depriving businesses from bringing jobs, growth and prosperity to places like Modesto?

But what about "living wage housing for the people who work in the city"?

Nobody controls that. Environmentally there should be more of a connection between affordable housing and people who work here, so that you don't have everybody who works here commuting.

The only thing I agree with you is that we need to wake up.

Posted by midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

@"Not surprised"

Its clear now that you work for the city or PAHC.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

> The population of Palo Alto increases by 50,000 people every day
> due to people commuting here for work.

> Neither the Post nor the Weekly puts forth any solutions as
> to where these 50,000 Palo Alto workers should live

The underlying premise that perhaps all of these 50,000 workers, and maybe tens of thousands more, should live in Palo Alto needs a little discussion. The City has performed, per State law, at least one Nexis study, which is necessary before imposing various impact fees. It's not surprising that people who live, and work, in the same city are in the 14%-19% range. Why? Well, that's because here in the US people have a birthright to the freedom to live, and work, where they want to. The idea that we are obligated to some modern day "Hadrian's Law" that forces people to work in the same town where they live has not yet come to pass.

As long as freedom, liberty, and personal achievement are still honored by US citizens, they will continue to want to work in places where they find work, and living in places that they can afford, and where there sense of enjoyment can be maximized.

It's not the Post's, or the Weekly's, job to come up with plans for housing for Palo Alto's workers. That job belongs to each of us, and no one else.

where the 2 million new residents will reside.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

At the current pace we are moving toward a Palo Alto where every available inch is developed and built on. Less trees and open space and more asphalt, ever larger houses, apartments and ever increasing population density. Since greed is irresistible and nearly unstoppable, we will resemble places like Hong Kong in a couple of decades. Stopping this terrible project presents a rare opportunity to put the breaks on unbridled overdevelopment. If you want Palo Alto to resemble a sardine can, vote Yes on D. If you hope to preserve what's left of its character, vote NO.

Posted by Not surprised, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

No I don't work for the city or PAHC. [Portion removed.]

I'm sure we'll be able to count on the Weekly to come up with a plan to handle the state funding that is lost and the debt service to be paid once your plan to "teach the council a lesson" is enacted. Or is that the extent of your plan?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Vote against :
"The Weekly editorial board appears to have made the decision, it's not an "anonymous editorial". "
There is no name to,it-- it is anonymous. Obviously someone from the weekly wrote it, but they refuse to put their name to it

"You are doing to the Weekly exactly what the proponents of the rezoning did to residents who stood in the way of their doing whatever they wanted wherever they wanted: attacking and smearing good people in lieu of productive discourse."
You mean expressing my opinion? Or like the smears directed at the PAHC board, city council and LWV with claims of law breaking, bribery corruption like your folks are doing.

"Bob Moss and Doug Moran have done a great deal of hard work as citizens that has contributed greatly to everyone's quality of life. "
That is a matter of opinion also.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Look up the Weekly masthead, the editors are listed there. I'm sure if you call them, they will tell you about their editorial board.

You are expressing an ad hominem opinion, and that is a smear. Neighbors calling attention to serious irregularities in regards to the behavior of public officials and the expenditure of public money where millions of dollars are concerned is hardly the same thing.

You forget that neighbors brought actual documents with them to City meetings, showing that our City staff have submitted demonstrably FALSE verifications of the PC zoning to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Projects have to have their zoning to qualify for funding, in this round, by July 3. The CTCAC asked the City to verify PAHC's claims of rezoning, which Tim Wong did in writing more than once.

To this day, nearly 4 months after their deadline, PAHC still does not have the PC zoning for that property, but the state believes they do, because PAHC falsely said they did, and the City submitted a blatantly false verification. These documents are submitted under penalty of perjury. They are competing with other worthy projects, usually in less wealthy communities where the same money would provide more housing for needier people.

You can check out the electronic application here:
Web Link

Go to page 11 - under "Project and Site Information". They have listed the "Current Land Use Designation" as "PC(Planned Community) Zone and "Currently Zoning and Maximum Density" as "54.5 units/ acre" and "50 foot maximum height". This is demonstrably false. The current zoning is still RM-15 and R-2, with a 30 foot maximum height and 8-15 units per acre maximum in RM-15.

Note also that they give themselves points for being within 1/2 mile of a qualified medical clinic for seniors (not just a doctor's office) - Planned Parenthood.

This zoning claim is demonstrably a lie. The City knows it's a lie, our city code shows it's a lie, and their own staff reports show that they know the law, which is that the property has never been rezoned as of today. If it is no big deal, why is there a clause saying the application is made under penalty of perjury, and why not just tell the truth?

Can you provide evidence that PAHC or the City retracted these false verifications, as they had the opportunity to do without penalty by August?

Just because the truth is ugly, doesn't mean it's a smear.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm

@not an issue - editorials are often written by multiple people and it is common not to use specific names.

@Joe - I agree, there is no reason that additional workers need to live in Palo Alto, there is also no need for us to have 50,000 more people working here. It makes a lot of sense for some businesses to start to locate where the workers live, rather than the other way around.

Most of my neighbors don't work in Palo Alto, they work elsewhere. It also seems to be a not uncommon practice for a company to start in Palo Alto and outgrow it. That is actually just fine.

As far as affordable housing goes, the project that Eden Housing built on Alma gave first preference to people
"currently living or working in Palo Alto". The proposed senior housing has no such preference.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Better to deal with the actual Measure at issue.

Proponents of rezoning want you to believe that if they don't get their way in putting in this extremely high-density development, what could be put in under the existing "low-density" zoning would be far much worse.

This is like being assaulted and having the police tell you you'd better like it or you'll get worse.

Only in this case, it completely defies all credibility. Existing zoning has limits on minimum lot size, maximum height, setback, daylight plane, maximum density, minimum parking spots, etc. The PC zone proposed violates all of those in excess of RM-40, the City's high-density zoning, and is the equivalent of RM-60, a zoning designation that doesn't even exist in Palo Alto code. The main building is up to EIGHT TIMES the density allowed under existing zoning (for a market-rate development on the whole thing), and almost TWICE the height allowed under existing zoning.

Existing zoning is the Goldilocks rule for building: not too small, not too big, just right for what's there already.

The City and PAHC haven't produced a real plan because what they envision isn't possible. It's as if they want to park a TANK where only COMPACT CARS should go, so they have found a way to tell you it will be SO much worse if someone else puts a compact car there. [Portion removed.]
If you want evidence of it, go take a drive over to the Glenbrook extension, in Greenacres I (same neighborhood, a few blocks from the proposed development). The City tried to put a street there from El Camino to Arastradero. Much of that land was zoned RM-15, too. Neighbors fought the City and won. When neighbors are involved, they can actually make sure the lot sizes at least meet a minimum, and no one in their right mind is going to build 750 square foot units in this neighborhood (with all those extra bathrooms and kitchens that cost money) when they can build 2500 sq ft homes that will bring in $2-3million each.

As you make your way up the Glenbrook extension, please remember that the large buildings on the end are single-family homes, not apartment buildings.

If you are still having trouble understanding the lie of that many units, remember that under existing zoning, there is a HEIGHT and DENSITY limit. Now take a look at the satellite photo of the site:
Web Link
See those 4 ranch houses to the left of the orchard? Do you think you could put 10 more rows of homes there, with backyards, setbacks, internal lanes (with minimum width for lanes) and parking?
(The roofs to the north are not homes, but covers to parking spots.)

If the City could have produced a map to make their point that would have held up to scrutiny, they would have. PAHC actually did in the beginning produce something with 30 units, but it didn't hold up to scrutiny when all the zoning restrictions were applied.

Please Vote AGAINST D. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Vote against:
You are so afraid of those that disagree with you on the measure that you resort to smears yourself.

"You are expressing an ad hominem opinion, and that is a smear"
Very funny

". Neighbors calling attention to serious irregularities in regards to the behavior of public officials and the expenditure of public money where millions of dollars are concerned is hardly the same thing. "
These neighbors were accusing the PAHC board, the council and the LWV of serious offenses, without any proof. That is the definition of a smear. That is the tactics that some opponents of D have been using. You seem to approve of such tactics since you employ them yourself.

Palo alto resident-- or maybe they do not want to go on record as being the author f the editorial. They claim they want everyone to post using their real names, but the editors things anonymously and post editorials anonymously.

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

"without proof"

Go to page 11 of the link I gave you. [Portion removed.] The property is currently NOT zoned for the PC zoning, as of today, it never has been. You can read our own city code to understand that, or the staff reports. You can call the CTCAC to get the hardcopies of all the documents via public records act,or you can ask them yourself: Do you think the Maybell property is a PC zone or RM-15/R-2 as of today? They think it's a PC zone, because the City submitted false verification, which I and many people have seen with our own eyes, and which you too can obtain via public records act request. That is what neighbors brought to the City Council meeting, and that too, is PROOF. [Portion removed.]

Posted by This Land is My Land, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm

"@Joe - I agree, there is no reason that additional workers need to live in Palo Alto, there is also no need for us to have 50,000 more people working here."

But please, people, continue to leave your money here. No crowds, no jobs, no annoying old people or service workers -- they can just shove the heck off to wherever. Literally, wherever. We don't care as long as we retain our same uncrowded, idyllic feel, though with a lot of Teslas and Porsches. You can just mail it to us. Stanford, you especially owe it to us to give us some money. And no limiting parking at the Dish with that "private property" thing. Tech industry, you too.
[Portion removed.]

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm

[Post removed due to excess repetitiveness.]

Posted by senior longtime resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm


PAHC maintains that Palo Alto seniors will move into their proposed affordable senior apartments on the Maybell/Clemo site. I haven't seen one posting by a Palo Alto senior on this or any other online comment stating that they are planning to apply for these apartments. There are many seniors in Barron Park and Greenacres, in fact all over Palo Alto who plan to stay in their homes for as long as they possibly can. If they can't manage, they will need to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home, NOT A 600 SQUARE FOOT APARTMENT with no ammenities within walking distance except a drugstore. PAHC made no great effort to accommodate seniors who need care into the Moldaw. They let 20 of their apartments remain vacant for three years!

The VAST MAJORITY of seniors want to stay in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their communities. The concept of AGING IN PLACE is prevalent all over the country. In Palo Alto we have the great advantage of Avenidas Village with a wonderful staff and 24/7 access to help if we need it. The "village" concept for seniors is growing in many parts of the country.

So who are these Palo Alto seniors that PAHC is trying to convince us need these apartments?

Posted by Vote AGAINST , a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

@This Land is My Land,

You obviously are not familiar at all with the neighborhood in question, which has a lot more affordable housing development than Adobe Meadows. Perhaps you would like to show that you really care about affordable housing and help us vote Down D and get the money re-directed to saving the residents at Buena Vista Mobile home park, there are over 400 low-income residents, existing low-income residents, most of them long-time Palo Altans. The "nimbys" you are screaming about are mostly not rich people over here, and they want to save BV.

Perhaps you would like to get back to us about where you and your un-NIMBY neighbors would like to trade land for it in Adobe meadows so this high-density can go there instead? No UPzoning in my backyard. Low-income residents welcome - please respect the neighborhood. That is the prime directive of the City's comprehensive plan.

The fact is, the City could be working with an affordable housing developer who could afford to do the affordable housing -- which you conveniently ignore that neighbors have said they WELCOME -- without rezoning, or getting the same number of units but closer to existing zoning, without the market rate development. Neighbors tried to get them to do that, but they wouldn't. If they did that, they would have room to put in the units without overburdening the neighborhood. But you keep calling names, because you can't defend the fact that this all boils down to the City trying to get a discount at the neighbors' expense, and appease PAHC who is upset that the City gave 801 Alma to Eden Housing and wants to be top dog in the housing game in Palo Alto again.

Please Vote AGAINST D.

Posted by This Land is My Land, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm

[Portion removed.]

I know very well how much low-income housing is in Green Acres and Barron Park. And I also am SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK and tired of reading the un-edited conspiracy gibberish about PAHC and Candice and the city attorney and everyone else.

Measure D isn't about teaching anyone a lesson. It isn't about process. It's about low income senior housing. If you want low income senior housing, vote for D. [Portion removed.]

Despite this crazy editorial, it's very simple. If you are for subsidized housing, vote for Measure D. If you are against low-income housing, vote against it.

Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Pre-Senior, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Vote against-- continue your non-stop attacks against those that disagree with you. This is what has been on since day 1 -- personal attacks and vilification of the PAHC board, the city council and LWV and anyone who dos not march in lock step with you

Posted by Pre-Senior, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

>it's very simple. If you are for subsidized housing, vote for Measure D. If you are against low-income housing, vote against it.

Finally, a simple statement about the underlying issue. Welfare housing is driving the current government housing process in PA. Of course, it is rarely in their own elite neighborhoods. None of this nonsense would have occurred, except for PAHC-driven welfare projects.

The only way to determine what a neighborhood really wants is to put it to a secret ballot in that neighborhood. If that neighborhood actually wants welfare housing, then it will need to live with it. I hope that "D" fails, for a variety of reason, but I am a proud NIMBY that does NOT want welfare housing projects in PA. I think a good portion of the anti-D vote will be for this reason, whether PA liberals want to admit it or not. Limo libs have a very difficult time admitting what they really are willing to stand up for....

Bottom line, no matter the reason: Vote NO on D.

Posted by Not surprised, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Posted by Vote AGAINST, a resident of Green Acres
37 minutes ago
[Post removed due to excess repetitiveness]

Praise be to God. What happened to alert you to this? And after only several weeks.

I think Barron Parker made a excellent point for which you have no ready answer (perhaps explaining the deletion) which is that you are quite willing to lose the bird in the hand while pointing at the one in the bush. How is the weekly so glib about the prospects for low income housing if D loses? Every low income housing advocate in the peninsula sees this as life or death. Whence comes your confidence or are you whistling in the wind?

Posted by EveryDayOnMaybell, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 19, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I will never allow my kids to bike to school because of the already terrible traffic on Maybell, all the parked cars on the street, etc. I won't even let them walk. We tried to walk, but we regularly got nearly run over at the crosswalk when crossing Maybell by cyclists who don't stop at the stop signs and drivers frustrated by those cyclists and the huge line of backed-up traffic. Adding in more cars--moving or parked--will be a disaster. (I now drive my kids every day, the back way. Not happy about that.) Voting AGAINST D.

Posted by Vote AGAINST , a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm

@This Land is My Land,

My post was removed due to excessive repetitiveness, which wouldn't be necessary if rezoning proponents didn't keep repeating the same misleading stuff no matter how often it is proven false.

I think a lot of us are wondering what over $100,000 has bought PAHC for this campaign.

If you are sick of hearing of the misdeeds of the City Council, PAHC, and the LWV in this, then please encourage them to act with a higher ethical standard. The City Council and PAHC should correct the misrepresentations in PAHC's application, and LWV should turn over their materials to a League in another City that doesn't have officers that are also PAHC board members. The City Council and PAHC should call everything off and agree to do the traffic safety study the City's own policy demands for developments on Safe Routes to School. And in the City should adopt a policy for future elections that requires a ballot impartiality committee such as in San Francisco, rather than writing a biased and leading ballot such as they did here, which engaged in illegal advocacy for the side they wish to win Web Link

This is a test case for affordable housing only from the standpoint of PAHC rolling out this "creative" way of financing it, by getting public money to buy property, upzone half or more for the benefit of a market-rate developer, then squeeze the affordable component in a seriously high-density rest of it.

It would be one thing if there really wasn't enough money to put in any affordable housing without such a scheme, but that's simply not true. The City staff report SAYS it's so the City can save money, and to make PAHC more competitive against other communities in funding competition.

Eden Housing just put in 801 Alma without having to upzone - if PAHC paid the same amount per unit as Eden did, they could afford to put in just the senior housing. If they had, as neighbors have asked many times over the months, simply made a more reasonable senior development - just the senior affordable development - and paid the actual cost rather than expecting to get whatever zoning exception they wanted in a residential neighborhood to make the neighborhood pay for it, they would be building now.

The discount was more important to them than the seniors housing. The ability to see if they could get away with seriously violating the zoning of a residential neighborhood seems to be a generalizable issue for them here. Stop abusing the NIMBY card, neighbors tried very hard to get the City and PAHC to just build the housing. No one should have to go through what they have in order to expect zoning laws in a residential neighborhood to be respected.

Thank you for your vote Against Measure D, and thank you for your honesty. I can only go by what I have seen, and I see a great many neighbors in this area who are genuinely supportive of affordable housing. Many of the same neighbors Against D are responsible for the Terman Working Group, out of which came the Terman Apartments, 92 units of low-income housing in the same neighborhood. Many of these same neighbors participated in the 6 months of hard work to try to improve the safety of Maybell with Caltrans and the City within the last 5 years, and know it's as safe as it's going to get, while traffic has spiked dramatically in the last two years. Contrary to what zoning proponents who don't live here say about just 2 peak times, the traffic spikes throughout the day and is much worse when the weather is bad (much of the school year usually).

Posted by Vote AGAINST , a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My post was removed due to excessive repetitiveness, which wouldn't be necessary if rezoning proponents didn't keep repeating the same misleading stuff no matter how often it is proven false."

Vote against admits he is repeating the same thing over and over and over again.
What he is also saying he would not have to,repeat the same thing over And over again if people would stop expressing their opinions, which goes against vote againsts dogma. If only people that honestly support D and feel that officials have been endlessly vilified would just shut up, then vote against would not have to repeat things

Posted by If all you have is a hammer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

This Land,

".... We don't care as long as we retain our same uncrowded, idyllic feel, though with a lot of Teslas and Porsches. You can just mail it to us. Stanford, you especially owe it to us to give us some money. And no limiting parking at the Dish with that "private property" thing. Tech industry, you too.

You can address it:

Rich Entitled NIMBies
Palo Alto CA

If you are old or poor, please just slip it under the door and get the hell out of here."

This is pretty strong stuff, and you may even be my neighbor.

[Portion removed.] I can tell you that without knowing any of the players personally, I have reacted to this project because of the outrageous cost.

You could feed a poor country with this amount of money!

I have a different reason to say "not in my back yard." It's dumb to build in my back yard and pay millions of dollars to house 60 relatively rich seniors. They may be "low income", but some may have just sold their million dollar homes. I would rather house the homeless. In case you didn't notice, Maybell is not really for the poor, it's just for the poorer than Zuckerberg.

Many Palo Alto residents leave as soon as their job is done with, or their kids have finished school, or all their friends have died and they need to afford care elsewhere. Or they simply cannot afford to live here.

How on earth do you expect 66,000 residents to pay for housing the 50,000 new ones you mentioned, every year?

Somebody had this very bad idea to sell other people's zoning (illegal in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and most anywhere) for a good cause, and forgot. They just forgot it's wrong.

I think City Hall failed everyone. They needed to stop it, they were wrong. This ballot is about correcting the wrong that City Council caused.

The Weekly was being delicate!

Posted by Phil, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Vote against D

a). You frequently talk of abandoning efforts to put affordable housing at Maybell/Clemo, pretty close to where you live by your account. Instead PAHC, the City Council and the citizenry should follow your lead and push for affordable housing to be built at the Buena Vista site.

For the record, it should be noted that Buena Vista trailer park is quite a distance from the part of Green Acres where you live.

b.) You also frequently talk as though PAHC and Eden Housing are hot competitors. I can't figure out if your enthusiasm for Eden is that of a fan, or if you're looking to see which to throw your affordable housing patronage to. You might consider going with Midpeninsula Housing, which also does affordable housing.

Could you explain the model you have in mind? Is it mild competition or a desperate struggle for survival and relevance in the non-profit world?

c.) You frequently bring Moldaw Residences into the discussion. Do you blame PAHC for shortcomings at Moldaw, which Exec. Dir Candice Gonzales says is neither owned nor managed by PAHC. Readers should look at the Weekly article "Plenty of room in senior community", in the Real Estate section of the Oct. 11, 2011 edition for a more nuanced description of Moldaw's problems.

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 20, 2013 at 12:06 am

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

@ Jerry,

c) I and many other people have mentioned the Moldaw BMR units, because PAHC manages them and allowed 20 our of 24 units to go empty for 3 years, in a new senior center with many services where there is age-in-place and assisted living -- where Maybell will just be apartments that people will have to leave when they need help, just when they most need the connections and familiarity.

You said "Candice [sic] Gonzales says [PAHC] neither owned nor managed" the Moldaw BMR units.

But the PAHC website, which clearly states that PAHC manages the "Moldaw Residences (24 BMR Units/Studio - 1 BD) For Individuals and couples 62 years of age and over"
Web Link

With 20 units, PAHC could have housed up to 40 seniors in a new senior center with many services and assisted living when they get frail. But they let those units go empty for 3 years, until they and the City were so embarrassed by those revelations, the City renegotiated the terms and fixed the problems, showing they could have all along. Because Jessica de Wit said they filled 12 of them then, but they are tight-lipped about whether they have filled all of the remaining 12 vacant ones.

I have never heard Candace Gonzales say they don't manage the Moldaw senior BMR units. I have heard her make various excuses about why they let them go empty for 3 years that don't fly, then move on to others when others catch on, but I've never heard her disavow management of them.

By the way, there are also empty units at Barron Square, I've heard.

b) Eden Housing is a low-income developer, that's what they do. PAHC, as they themselves have said, are not historically developers. I have heard from people close to the City that PAHC was very unhappy that Eden Housing got 801 Alma (I cannot disclose what I have heard publicly). Comparing what Eden was able to do at 801 Alma is illustrative, because they agreed to build within existing zoning and thus have a building now. Regardless of how you feel about the aesthetics of the building, I think few in Palo Alto would dispute that it would be far worse at twice the height and massiveness as now.

PAHC's own funding application states that the units at Maybell cost roughly the same as the units did at 801 Alma. So they are using the market rate portion and the upzoning of the neighborhood to reduce that cost to them, to finance the development, rather than leveraging their own considerable assets. Eden decided to play by the rules and now has a building for low-income families. PAHC decided to violate the rules at the neighborhood's expense rather than just paying for the housing and building. So from that standpoint, Eden would have been a better choice, because they would probably be building now.

Will you do this? Will you contact the CTCAC and make a public records act request to find out which low-income projects in which areas lost out because PAHC and the City falsified the zoning in order to qualify PAHC for this round? Please report back. I will check your honesty. Do you really care so little about low-income residents in other communities where they could build more housing for the same money? We have never had to finance affordable housing this way. Meanwhile, City Council votes itself a $2.1 million beautification of already beautiful City Council chambers.

a) Ummm, Jerry, the Buena Vista site is in Barron Park, closer to me in Greenacres (a small neighborhood) than the Maybell site is to many in Barron Park, even though Maybell is described as being in Barron Park. When I speak of the neighborhood, I tend to include Greenacres I, Greenacres II, and Barron Park on this side, because that's my neighborhood. As you might someday absorb, all the people back there in Greenacres II exit the neighborhood to El Camino via Maybell and Arastradero, there is no way out in the other directions, so most of us pass BV daily and consider it part of the neighborhood. One of our teacher friends lived there and biked to work at Juana Briones, considering it part of the neighborhood. Wow, who are you to tell people what they consider their neighborhood? I think the more relevant question is: Why is the City trying to shove the Maybell rezoning down the throats of the neighbors, when the same amount of money added instead to what the BV residents have come up with, would make a competitive offer for that property? Why is the City giving away rezoning that makes developers so anxious to buy up the park? There are 4 acres at BV - the residents are long-time Palo Altans. It's the last true affordable housing in this town. Where are our City's priorities?!!

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.


Thank you for clarifying some points. Some follow-up.

a.) You are correct to say that far as you are from Buena Vista you are still closer than many in Barron Park are to the Maybell site. The Maybell side of Barron Park is quite far and quite different from the portion on the other side of Los Robles. They have no need to even drive by the Maybell/Clemo site much less be concerned about how it affects them directly.

b.) Different programs have different models. Eden and Midpeninsula operate over much broader areas of the Bay Area and have different funding mechanisms. PAHC funding constraints and opportunities differ from Eden's. There may well be competition at times to develop a property, but that doesn't mean that they are at odds or that we need to choose sides between them.

As to your rhetorical request, you go ahead and file the inquiry because it seems to be of great concern to you. We have needs in Palo Alto, let's take care of them.

c.) Candice Gonzalez has said that PAHC does not own or manage Moldaw's program. I looked at your web link. It says that PAHC administers the BMR rental program but directs inquiries to the Manager of Moldaw. Sounds like they've stepped in to help administer a floundering program (not their own) without taking over management of it, which would be a major burden. I think you already know far more about the details of this than I do.

By the way, It is Candice with an "i", not Candace with an "a." At the Stanford Women's basketball showdown against Tennessee at Maples a few years ago, a great slogan was "Our Candice (Wiggins) is better than your Candace (Parker). Helps me remember to check the spelling.

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

@ Jerry,

c) You fundamentally seem to not understand the BMR program in Palo Alto. Please look it up. Here's a link that should help. "The City, with PAHC, has been administering the BMR Program and its inventory of units for roughly 30 years." Web Link

The reason PAHC has the 24 BMR units at Moldaw on their website is that PAHC administers the BMR program and the 24 units at Moldaw were provided through the BMR program out of their 193-units of senior care housing for independent and assisted living.

PAHC has been claiming they need to violate the neighborhood zoning so greatly for these apartments at Maybell - for which they never did a market study, and which don't have any assisted living, they are just apartments for seniors that they'll have to vacate when they need care - is because the need for seniors is so urgent.

They also claim they have waiting lists for all their properties. Yet they were administering these senior BMR units for 3 years and let 20 of them go unfilled all that time without doing anything at all about it! When the City finally did amend the agreement on March 6,2013, because of the Maybell controversy, PAHC was asked for their input. They filled 8 more units almost immediately, showing that they could have if they had made any more to do this in the 3 years prior. (PAHC got the City to loan them $7.3 million to buy Maybell, and the City amended the agreement when the empty Moldaw units became an embarrassment - don't tell me PAHC couldn't have told the City to do this before.)

Candace Gonzales is correct that Moldaw is not a PAHC development. I think that's probably what you heard and you misunderstood. But you are incorrect to infer that PAHC doesn't administer those senior BMR units at Moldaw that they let go unfilled for 3 years. PAHC does administer the senior BMR units at Moldaw, as you can clearly see from PAHC's website and any number of city documents. I hope that clarifies it for you.

My point: We can develop affordable housing in Palo Alto in a sane and thoughtful way. The justification for the extreme upzoning has been this need that has been portrayed as urgent, but is somehow never made specific, and PAHC has been administering BMR senior units in a real senior care facility that it let go empty for 3 years. As you can see from the consultant report I linked to, when they have wished to, they have advertised to increase their waiting lists for other properties. If they felt the need was so urgent for seniors, they could have done so to fill those units at Moldaw, too.

b) The project at Maybell was clearly designed to the funding application and funding mechanism, and neighbors' concerns have been dismissed. That's why we are in this debate. If you do not understand this, you will continue with the pro-rezone side to miss opportunities for affordable housing after Measure D is done, regardless of the outcome. My request to you was not rhetorical, it was a genuine request. Despite all the accusations leveled at neighbors, they have deliberately (yet) not outed PAHC and the City to the government, hoping they would do the right thing. Don't you care about affordable housing enough to find out if this funding mechanism is helping PAHC take money away from a more worthy project for needier people, in a less wealthy community? Sure, we have needs in Palo Alto, but we've never had to fund affordable housing here before this way, and Eden Housing didn't have to do it at 801 Alma either.

The UPzoning, which is the subject of the referendum (not the senior housing which could be built there under existing zoning), would not be necessary if the financing mechanism were not used there involving the upzoned market-rate housing on Maybell. Other housing providers are clearly capable of it. The upzoning should not be forced on the neighborhood because of the inadequacies of one company.

Please consider answering the very earnest question I asked -- and if you find the truth, please share it. I'd like to understand that this IS a bad plan, and the overall interests of affordable housing would be better served if you vote AGAINST D, too. If you understand that your neighbors are earnest in the reasons for their opposition, and do not dismiss them, you will appreciate where there is common ground after the election should Measure D be voted down. (Should it pass, there will be ongoing legal battles and little hope for common ground.)

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

Sorry, I meant:

I"d like you to understand that this IS a bad plan...

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

The Weekly endorsement/recommendation of No on Measure D is the right answer. The housing can still be built if AGAINST wins, and neighbors have signaled a willingness to do so and work with the City. Voting for it is just voting for lawsuits.

The Daily Post also endorsed Against Measure D.

Posted by Concerned About Traffic, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Concerned About Traffic is a registered user.

The article left out one important point.

The traffic in and around Arastradero/Maybell/El Camino is heavily congested, particularly during school and rush hour. With four schools along this corridor, increasing the volume of traffic poses a safety risk to kids and families who bike or walk to school. Maybell is designated as a Safe Route to School. Surprisingly, the traffic study conducted by the city did not factor this into their consideration.

With all of the other development projects happening along El Camino, who is looking at the overall impact on traffic? Is the safety of kids less important than the welfare of seniors? We need to find a more thought out plan that benefits the community at large.

Market rate developers will only look after maximizing their profit. They will build as much as they can and move on to the next project, leaving the residents (new and existing) to pick up the pieces.

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

Now all three local papers endorse AGAINST D!!
Web Link

Everyone, please remember to vote!

Posted by Donya, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Donya is a registered user.

All 3 Palo Alto papers have now endorsed "Against Measure D."

We who object to this upzoning are not against low income senior housing. We are just asking that the new construction be within the current zoning. We welcome a facility that provides a reasonable number of parking spaces, some green space area for the residents and no stack and pack for profit houses. As a reminder, this facility which will have over 100 younger seniors has 36 parking spots for them. I say younger seniors because to live in that location, where there are no amenities nearby, can not be easy or even possible for most older seniors.

PAHC has convinced some good hearted people that their design is the only answer for a senior housing building. We disagree. We can find a win-win solution for building this facility. It could have been done if PAHC wasn't absolutely set on getting the tax credits during this round. As a result PAHC at every step bulldozed over our objections and never budged until the last minute when they reduced the number of the houses by 3 which isn't much given that they wanted to build 15 houses to start with.

The city council supports PAHC because, as someone else aptly said, they are going to the ATM with someone else's card. The stack and pack for profit houses will bring in lots of cash for the senior building and only the neighborhood has to pay for it.

Also, state and federal tax credit dollars for low income housing have shrunk a lot in recent years. Few people realize that if PAHC gets these tax credits another low income project loses. Looking at the long list of applicants for this pot of money it is almost embarrassing to think that PAHC, on behalf of the very rich city of Palo Alto, would be taking funds away from proposed projects in much poorer and deserving cities.

Please vote AGAINST D.

Posted by Margaret Fruth, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 2, 2013 at 10:49 am

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

Maybell Middle Ground

Everyone agrees that the Maybell site is an excellent site for senior housing, which could be the start of working toward consensus. No one wants to see the land sold to a for-profit developer, but an alternative to the rezoning overdevelopment will not emerge unless Measure D fails to pass.

The corporation backing Measure D, the proponent of rezoning, claims that they cannot obtain all of the grants & loans with just a 41-unit apartment building at Maybell. But they can build the 60-unit building they want to build, without any modifications to to the existing design, through a density transfer from the rest of the land. They also claim that their budget will not balance without the twelve luxury homes planned for two-thirds of the land. I have been attempting to obtain evidence which prove or refute this claim since July, 2013; when and if I receive any I'll get back to you.

If Measure D fails, the financial issues can be put on hold while the neighbors & the corporation negotiate a solution everyone can live with. Preferably directly, without the City Council playing emperor. If a compromise is reached, the pending lawsuits will disappear before the next City Council election. Otherwise the discord will continue to be expensive for all in both time, money, & additional damage to the social fabric of the community. This much-needed reconciliation will not happen unless Measure D fails, so please vote NO on Measure D.

Posted by JustMyOpinion, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

JustMyOpinion is a registered user.

Quotes that are very telling about the Palo Alto process:

When the Planning Commission voted to initiate a "planned community" zone change, allowing developers to break zoning rules in exchange for "public benefits." Commissioner Tanaka marveled at the lack of people attending the meeting and surmised that neighbors were unaware. "I think if the people really knew what was being built across the street, there would be more of an outcry there." (Feb '13)

What is allowed at Maybell was critical in the council's decision on whether to approve the zone change. The R-2 zone allows a second unit but requires a 6,000' ft lot. The R-2 site is 14,000' ft with four homes, meaning the lot sizes are nowhere near 6,000' ft minimum. That calls into question the city's calculation for two residences on each lot. When asked about staff reports, City Manager Keene emphasized the limitations, "The findings in the staff reports tend to support the particular staff recommendation rather than represent all views"(Jul '13)

Mayor Scharff (against PCs when running for council) now says "PC zones are not springing up in your local neighborhood." (Oct '13) The council has approved three PC projects ( Lytton Gateway, Edgewood Plaza and Maybell ) since Scharff joined the council in January 2010.
This has become divisive for a neighborhood that has embraced low income housing. The process is flawed and the outcome is a flawed development with no winners. Maybell should not be rezoned. It makes perfect sense to start over with unbiased information and work within current zoning.

Check out: AgainstMeasureD.com

Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Bob Moss is a registered user.

Proponents of the development at Maybell have been blowing smoke about how it is all about housing poor Palo Alto seniors. Actually it is about cramming high density housing into low density residential areas with big impacts on traffic, parking, and a huge push from ABAG to build dense projects here.

Senior occupants can’t be limited to Palo Altans, so many will be from out of town, since there are far more lower income seniors living elsewhere than here. Income levels required are well above the $11,040 poverty level. Single occupants must earn $26,700 to $53,400 based on Census data showing median Santa Clara County income is $89,020/year.

The site is ¼ mile from El Camino zoned for single family and low density housing, exactly the area ABAG identified as ideal for high density housing. Staff and the Council objected saying they would never allow high density housing to replace single family, but Measure D does it. If Yes on D wins ABAG will require many thousands of new residences atop the 2860 current requirement since Measure D up-zones low density housing sites.

Claims that current zoning will generate more trips than the project are false. Thisis based on te false claim that mny of the seniors atteMaybell apartments won't have cars or drive. The nearest grocery and shopping are is more than 1.5 miles away, at California Ave. or San Antonio. Taking the bus there and dragging bags of groceries back at least 1/4 mile to the apartment won't happen. They will almost all have cars and drive. Professional traffic engineers presented real data showing seniors driving frequency. Itis more than twice what was assumed in the PAHC traffic study.Total trips from the seniors plus the twelve homes can be 18% to 27% more than existing zoning might generate if built to the maximum allowed 41 units. There also will be lots of spill-over parking, not just on Clemo but on Maybell, Amaranta, and Culombe.

If Measure D passes soon there will be another proposal for high density housing in low density residential areas. Better Vote Against Measure D.

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

The plan is a developer giveaway. Only the money from the upzoned land are going to the affordable side, the profits from the sale of the houses on almost 60% of the property, millions of dollars, are going into the pocket of a for-profit developer who could never build houses like that in the neighborhood otherwise.

Please say No to this. If you don't, developers are going to dogpile on this. Think of how your neighborhood will fare -- we at least have a defense against people pulling the NIMBY card since we have so much affordable housing development here already. Most neighborhoods in Palo Alto don't. You will have no defense when they want to put a high-rise across from your home and they're screaming about what NIMBYs you are when you're just asking them to bring the height down closer to the zoning rule. If you have a church, or a club, or anything on a larger piece of land, live near a main road like Middlefield or Alma, beware.

If we want to build affordable housing, we should build affordable housing. We should not let developers use the PC zoning process to MOSTLY build dense market-rate homes like at Miki's Market in the middle of residential neighborhoods, for their own profit, so long as some affordable housing is built. We have never had to do things that way before and don't have to now.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

It's now too late to mail in your ballot - drop it off signed at your polling place or vote in person on Tuesday!

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

Anyone who has mailed in their ballot can check to see if the ballot was counted already by going to:
Web Link

All you have to do is input your address and birth date, and it will tell you whether your ballot was received and counted. If not, please go to the polling place and ask for a provisional ballot, which will be counted if your regular ballot didn't arrive or was lost.

[Portion removed] you can drop off your ballot early in San Jose at the Registrar of Voters, tomorrow, November 4, from 8am-5pm, 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2, San Jose.

On November 5, election day, polls will be open from 7am to 8pm. Check your registration status and polling place here: Web Link

Your neighbors are counting on your help, please vote! All 3 local newspapers have endorsed voting AGAINST Measure D.

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