Redevelopment plan chosen for Ventura neighborhood, but will it get built? | September 24, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 24, 2021

Redevelopment plan chosen for Ventura neighborhood, but will it get built?

City Council favors least aggressive coordinated-area plan and rejects proposal for new commercial development

by Gennady Sheyner

After more than two years of planning for change in the dynamic but underserved Ventura neighborhood, Palo Alto officials struggled on Monday to reconcile the community's vision for the planning area with the wishes of the two biggest property owners.

This story contains 1349 words.

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Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2021 at 7:19 am

felix is a registered user.

It’s good to know that the the Council dog wagged the tail of developers on this, rather than allowing developers and their allies to be tails that did the wagging of the dog.

The decision allows a whole lot of housing but not so much as to overwhelm the neighborhood with unmitigated impacts.

Local paid Yimby staff and adherents insist
new housing not all be crammed together in an area but dispersed through town - you got it! Celebrate!

I was happy to hear three statements from Council (I paraphrase):
First - It’s not the job of Council to maximize the profit of developers.
Second - Staff using 350 square feet per employee was highly questionable, so were asked to rework it using perhaps a more realistic 150 SF.
Third - Good for the pass on J. Paul’s fantasy project. I assume it was a strategic move so his next offering, which likely will also exceed limits, will seem more reasonable in contrast. Eye-roll.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2021 at 9:34 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Relocate the cannery bldg to Cubberly for city use there. Plant good, safe well incorporated affordable housing where cannery was. Use the relocated cannery for pickle ball courts and such at Cubbetey . Ridiculous is as ridiculous does. Shame on city for not supporting housing for all ages, incomes, abilities and yes, all people of color . It’ll be a mostly white highest income area .

Posted by Chris
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 21, 2021 at 11:52 am

Chris is a registered user.

Did the city implement some kind of racist policy in your eyes? I guess we should destroy the environment and live in cancerous concrete skyscrapers
Relocating a building? That's ridiculous

Posted by Paul Brophy
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 21, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Paul Brophy is a registered user.

Kudos to the Council for resisting the idea of allowing more office space in a community that has already imposed fiscal and transportation burdens elsewhere in the Bay Area by permitting far more jobs than housing units over the past couple of generations. At the same time, the Council wishes to impose conditions for the development of new housing that makes it totally unfeasible for that to ever occur.

City policies that guarantee that no major housing projects will ever be built include demands for restricted density, developer funded parks and other public amenities, preserving large parts of a 70 year old industrial building in the case of Fry's, and above all, the expectation that the builder of market rate housing must also fund affordable units. To give you an idea of what this entails, the affordable housing project at 801 Alma built in 2011 required subsidies equal to $600,000 per unit. At today's costs, we're talking north of $1 million. You don't need to be a whiz with spreadsheets to recognize that rents or sales prices of market rate homes have to be far higher just to cover this expense, one that is not caused by their project but rather to serve an existing community wide need.

I have no doubt that many residents are perfectly happy to have an outcome where new units are theoretically allowed but none built. However, large employers represented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Bay Area Council are politically influential in Sacramento and they desperately want more housing built near jobs. Elected officials from East Bay cities are angry at the jobs/housing disparity continuing to get worse as more office buildings go up on our side of the Bay. If you think poorly thought through actions like SB 9 and 10 are bad, wait until you see what's coming down the road. If Palo Alto or any other city with a huge jobs/housing imbalance continues to make it impossible for an improvement in this condition, do not be surprised what follows.

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm

chris is a registered user.

Cormack is going to have to work with Palo Alto Forward to put up a block against City Council until the Housing Element Committee is done. The city needs to figure out where the 6K housing units can be built before they waste so much space in Ventura on so few units.

I see a lot of law suits in the City's future.

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2021 at 3:14 pm

tmp is a registered user.

Good for the city council to tell developers NO to more jobs. We are in the mess we are in now (city and state wide) from building too many jobs and no housing. Second we should not overwhelm this site with too many people. We live in the most polluted state, don't have good sources of water, and the environment is a mess. Why make it worse?

Just a reminder - the city owes the residents of this city 100s of acres of park space under the comprehensive plan of 4 acres per 1000 residents. They have added many thousands of people and virtually no park space. This spot is a prime area for a large community center and park. They are woefully underserved. We need a dedicated funding source to purchase park space for the community. It is not being adequately addressed by the council.

So cheers for keeping the density reasonable and not adding more jobs. Please work on parks/ open space and not overwhelming our city infrastructure and environment.

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm

mjh is a registered user.

Unfortunately, within the last decade or two, Palo Alto's existing office space has doubled if not trebled the number of employees that occupy office space previously occupied by only one employee. An issue not foreseen when the city last revisited Palo Alto's land use designations decades ago.

It is past time for Palo Alto to revisit our zoning designations and redress our outdated imbalance of land use. Especially since the percentage of commercial vs residential property tax generated has dropped from approximately 50-50 at the time of Prop 13 to approximately 25-75, on a continuing downward trajectory due to loopholes for commercial properties. In addition, most office use does not generate sales tax revenue.

Time for Palo Alto to sunset commercial land use designations where it now makes more sense to now build housing and reduce the jobs-housing imbalance.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:59 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

We get demands from the SV groups for more housing. However they are not putting employees in their buildings. The employees are working from home. Reading the Real Estate pages in the papers a lot of our commecial properties are being bought up by out-of-state companies at bargain prices. Further - most of the companies are buying up property in other states and moving work to states that have better cost of living index. The Cost of living Index is government manufactured and is used in bidding for new jobs. You have to bid the location of where work will be performed and use that in your proposal pricing. Behind the hype the facts do not support the argument by SV companies. Cities need to do what makes sense for them within the avaiable resources which at this time are deminishing.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2021 at 11:48 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Council Member Tanaka, if you believe what you say, "what we're trying to do is we're trying to merge the desire of the community with the desire of the property together somehow...," what have you done to bring people together for problem-solving to make that happen? What have you done to lead toward this goal?

Posted by Tecsi
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Tecsi is a registered user.

CAYIMBY is not supporting more housing and fewer offices? Hmmm?

Don't more offices than housing make our housing situation worse?