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Behind the Headlines: Planning for housing

Original post made on Oct 5, 2017

Eric Rosenblum, member of Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission, joins Weekly journalists to discuss the city's affordable-housing crisis and the Comprehensive Plan update.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, September 30, 2017, 2:37 PM

Comments (1)

Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2017 at 1:56 pm

While Mr. Rosenblum seems sincere in his beliefs, I find his perspectives about traffic and parking overly optimistic. Two examples:

-- Public Transport --

Mr. Rosenblum suggests additional shuttles as a primary means of getting people out of their cars.

Certainly, shuttles have the advantage of being directly controllable by the city and do serve some people some of the time. Still, it is hard to imagine shuttles would prove to be an adequate car substitute for more than a small portion of resident, worker, and visitor trips.

City shuttles are essentially mini-buses. Accordingly, they travel on surface roads, meaning they get stuck in traffic, are slow due to multiple stops, often do not take passengers near enough destinations, and seldom cross city or county lines.

-- Parking --

Mr. Rosenblum seems confident that multi-unit housing does not require the amount of parking currently required by city zoning code. To his credit, he suggests conducting research, though I would not rely on self-report data.

My home, directly across from the transit station in the heart of downtown, has 44 units and 44 parking spaces in a private garage. Parking spaces are assigned by deed, with one spot for each unit. Yes, some residents bike to Stanford, take the train to the city, etc. But, this does not replace the need for cars and parking.

Very rarely, no more than once per year on average, a resident offers to rent their parking spot. These are immediately scooped up by other residents because most units occupied by more than one person have more than one car. The typical arrangement is to rent space in an adjoining public garage for parking the second car.

Also, one of the sticking points concerning a possible construction project is that the vendors require four (presumably adjacent) parking spots for about one or two months and the HOA does not have a feasible plan for freeing up the space.

-- Summary --

Without truly extensive, inexpensive, frequent, and fast public transit, our city is simply not prepared to accommodate any sizeable increase in population.

Even if such transportation were available, we would face significant challenges in terms of water, schools, parks, markets, etc.

Personally, I would support converting existing office space to new housing, but I have never heard mention of this idea from City Hall.

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