Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto office cap slams Planning Commission

Original post made by Guy_Fawkes, Old Palo Alto, on Aug 20, 2015

When the annual office cap goes into place, it will do so despite the activist Planning Commission which continues to show no understanding of its role as an advisory body to City council. Ignoring City Council's unanimous passage of an annual office cap, which included a process to select the highest quality developments, the PTC instead argued against Council's policy. The PTC is NOT a policy making body, they are serving at the will of council to help implement city policies. Instead, the PTC seems to be putting out a big sign “We dare you to remove us” in a bald political challenge to the integrity of our elected officials.

In order to be effective, local government needs to rely on its board and commissions to follow policy guidance and vet implementation details. That is NOT happening and the PTC is clogging up the works, making our local government ineffectual. Council must open up all PTC seats for new applications and seat a new commission. Allow current members to reapply, but there needs to be a clear signal that this volunteering is not a forum for political theater. City business needs to be completed which takes mature, competent, and considered commissioners who understand what their role is and what it is not.

Comments (5)

Posted by Check it out
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Video of recent PTC meeting discussion office cap can be found here

Web Link

Posted by Where in the Video?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm

At what point in the video do they discuss the office cap? It's a three hour meeting...

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

"...the PTC is clogging up the works, making our local government ineffectual."

It's wasting time bloviating, but that's all. The council can summarily ignore the PTC and often does.

Posted by Where in the Video?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:23 pm

I just listened/watched the PTC meeting. Saturday Night Live could not write better material! The office cap discussion starts at 1:20 (1 hour 20 minutes), and goes until about 2:53 or so. The last 15 minutes or so is hilarious as they take turns making motions, not voting for their own motions, getting confused about what their own motions were, and completely failing to move on from the issue without repeated suggestions from Hilary Gittelmann on what to do.

The whole thing was like watching a high school mock city council meeting.

Bloviating is an understatement. These people went on about everything from the poor developers losing sleep at night to why this cap wouldn't solve any problems at all.

Kate Downing probably had the least intelligent things to say, arguing:
- a cap just delays the inevitable. Just because you only allow 50K square feet a year, you're eventually going to get the same growth. (Let's see, 50,000 sq ft * 2 years = 100,00 sq. ft. 200,000 sq. ft. x 2 years = 400,000 sq. ft. Math must not have been her best subject.)

- adding 1% more people to existing office space adds more workers than anything, so a cap on new office space is useless. (Because, obviously, if we allow unrestricted growth of new office space, the existing offices will not keep adding density to their over-priced offices. Yeah, dream on.)

- Our real quality of life problems are traffic, parking, etc etc. This cap doesn't help that because we still have those problems. (So, continuing to add more to the problem is no worse than restricting adding to the problem?)

The only two points that made sense to me were:

1) That this cap should apply to the whole city, not just a select few. As Bob Moss pointed out, the city is like a balloon - if you restrict only a part of it the other part will bulge out. We don't need all the development going into other parts of Palo ALto either (San Antonio, East Meadow Circle, Midtown, etc).

2) There should be no exceptions to the cap.

3) The project approval should be simple - first come first served, not some subject competition for which projects are best. Our city staff can't handle simple things, let's not make it more complicated.

Posted by Yes_Pat_Burt
a resident of University South
on Aug 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

Did anyone see Pat Burt question the PTC last night? Finally! He pressed them on completely ignoring Council's direction in proposing PC zoning changes that were the opposite of what the community and council asked them to do. No good responces from PTC but at least someone on council started asking the right questions.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 2,600 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,303 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,702 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.