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With new zoning tool, Palo Alto looks to relieve housing drought

Original post made on Sep 18, 2020

As Palo Alto looks to revise its zoning code to encourage more affordable housing, the City Council remains split on a crucial question: Affordable for whom?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 17, 2020, 12:17 PM

Comments (16)

6 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2020 at 11:05 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

How many on the council who ran and won in 2016 promised to deliver on affordable housing? Zero. Now it’s the 11th hour scramble for re-election votes. Get them out! We need true progressive leaders and doers, not more smoke and mirrors.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 19, 2020 at 12:07 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I love the terms being thrown around now - "planning tool", "progressives". "smoke and mirrors". The problem of housing is actually more integrated with legislation which we have been discussing of late, and funding for specific types of housing which do not "pencil out" - like Fry's.

The Fry's location is the perfect place for the type of housing we are required to provide at this time for the teachers, city support people, etc. But is does not "pencil out" to build it. So what we need is for the legislators who promote this type of legislation - Weiner and Atkins - to include the funding source for the type of housing they are pushing. That includes the governor who has unleashed the legislature to carry out his agenda. That is where the disconnect is.

The next disconnect is some of the schemes they think up - duplexes in the middle of established housing tracts which denote a tearing down of the structure of cities which is counter productive to a healthy city. That is an opinion. That is not going got fly - and the people that promote it are not going to get elected.


11 people like this
Posted by Be accurate
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Be accurate is a registered user.

Resident -1,

Thank you. State subsidized housing, in some form, is the only way to go. Until that starts happening, it will not "pencil out". Developers will not be building cheap units if they can build expensive units. There are some city quotas but we see how that is helping.
One of the housing bills pushed through in Sacramento recently includes buildings with the number of units just under that where they would need to start adding "affordable" low budget units. It is pure travesty.

Housing subsidies have been thrown out of the budget when there was a shortfall but the Senate pro tem Atkins never put it back in once they got the budget surplus. She is married to a developer. Who knows - maybe that is the reason. Senator Weiner received more campaign donations from developers than any other legislator in CA. Until that is stopped by the voters it will not "pencil out".
The state is persistently shying off the issue of housing subsidies and is behaving as if they have no idea what more and more people are talking about.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:06 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Oprah lives in Montecito. Can I build a duplex in Montecito? How about Malibu? How about Atherton? Why are we twisting in the wind here? Why are we willing to be a target for this type of residential hoax when there are a lot of communities in this state that are unaffected by housing hoax's? Because OUR legislators are part of the cabal?

Are our legislators more concerned about their relationships with each other as opposed to the taxpayer residents they represent? Are our residents more concerned about their standing in the progressive group then the total effect on the city when it is dismantled? Do people who have a problem with our housing choices have a map that can take them to Mountain View? Sunnyvale? Santa Clara? Those are nice cities.
Just asking.


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Can I build a duplex in Montecito? How about Malibu? How about Atherton? Why are we twisting in the wind here? Why are we willing to be a target for this type of residential hoax when there are a lot of communities in this state that are unaffected by housing hoax's? Because OUR legislators are part of the cabal?"

Because of politicians supported by ABAG/MTC keep and candidates funded by the local, state and national YUMBY party keep worsening the jobs/housing imbalance that they've rigged to exempt those places you've listed. Palatir's Peter Thiel's made no secret of his desire to turn Silicon Valley into an office park with tiny "workforce housing" while he paid for all those Palantir employees to sit on the MTC, Palo Alto PTC, Palo Alto City Council and similar bodies in Menlo Park.

Be careful how you vote. Check for YIMBY backing check for Palo Alto (and Menlo Park and Redwood City) Forward affiliation.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 19, 2020 at 4:54 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So glad we are talking about this. There are obvious cabals in this state. Oprah and her buddies have a cabal and it does not include building duplexes where ever and whenever. BLM probably not visit her location. Bill and Melinda Gates just bought a house in Del Mar on the beach. Now they can be protected by a military site in that area. Enough of Washington State for them. So despite Mr. Gavin Newsom trying to sell a concept we know that the cabals for the rich and famous are protected. Suspect that Hillsborough and Los Altos Hills will not be seeing any duplexes in their residential areas zoned as r-1.

Just saying here that we do not need to buy into the progressive hype with a promise of political mayhem if we don't. In fact that threat to a contrarian is like waving a red flag. Threats don't work. ABAG people can go do their own residential streets and make a mess - bigger than the mess that is already there. We do not have to ruin our city when we know that is the intent of the people pushing the hoax.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

How many big offices/jobs/stores are there in the places you mentioned? Few to none.

Even the Marin politician supporting Weiner's densification bills managed to get his town exempted.

The hypocrisy and evasion are staggering.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:15 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Dan Walters- CalMatters opinion piece in the SJM today - "High Housing Costs are Keeping California Poor". - Good information on the attempts to build low cost housing across the state with specifics on the cost of doing so. Turns out it is more expensive to build multi-unit living than single family homes. Given that the criteria is BMV units then you are really in a no-win situation for the builder.

The problem is on the table is cost. That spins out to the type of legislation that only addresses part of the problem. ABAG cannot legally tell us to go forth and produce more housing when they have not addressed how that is paid for.

By definition only high end cities that have a large tax base from residential housing - like Montecito can afford to foot the bill for this. When all is said and done it is the tax base of the location that comes into play. And in high end areas that is what you are dealing with. In locations that have a lot of business the offset is the cost of supporting all of that activity from the tax base - police, fire, sanitation, water and energy production. Lots of business activity equates to outlay of lot of money for support. So ABAG has it backwards - their criteria is not legally supported. Just saying to do it does not make it so.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 21, 2020 at 8:57 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Further on ABAG - the local reps sit in the city of SF. How is SF doing? The sewer system is collapsing allowing flooding in the city, the port system is dealing with piers that have seen their best days, and tent cities all over the place. The infrastructure of the city is collapsing. That is on the city to fix. Multi-unit residential units are owned by corporations - and we know that the property tax on those building is probably very low.

ABAG can sit up there on taxpayer money and dictate housing with no accountability. The state can try and pass legislation which breaks down the suburban housing that drew people to the state in the first place. That is corporations that are putting in the multi-unit housing - not single house property owners.

The residential tax base is the major contributor to a cities operating cost. That and local taxes against corporations. That is your business tax issue currently under discussion. That leaves us with pundits and "opinion" pieces telling us we are all in this together. Meanwhile we are looking at the increasing tide level that can inundate the low lying areas.

The city needs to determine where it's operating cost funding is coming from and where the outlays are in that funding. And if outside agencies are attempting to undermine the base of the funding through their legislative activities then we all need to make sure that we are on top of the activity and call it out as it is being floated out for vote.


10 people like this
Posted by Here SInce 1979
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2020 at 11:36 am

Here SInce 1979 is a registered user.

I get the discussions about affordable housing and businesses need to flourish, but I haven't seen this discussed ... where are we going to get all the water needed for those new people and businesses? I have lived through 3 major droughts and each one was equal to or worse than the one before. Water is essential for life, not buildings. We can have water contracts out of state etc, but with global warming they may need the water too and then where are we? We are constantly battling So Cal about shipping water to them. Will we be squeezed out with extra people?
Quit the greed and come up with a better way of helping the people already here. I realize that the developers have already made deals with the city and major money is at play, but go back to the basics people, it's all about the water.


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 21, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, ABAG also bases its housing targets on the number of jobs in each city which is why so many pro-growthers keep pushing for more offices / jobs.

Also, Palo Alto is the only community in the region that hasn't yet gotten its act together to implement a business tax when it could have easily started taxing big businesses with more than, say, 40 employees but of course the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups wouldn't like that.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 21, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The big businesses are having everyone work from home. That reduces their facility cost for water, heat, energy, trash pick-up. Working from home works out for them. So the company says it has x number of employees. Get that business tax fast before they think up some reason they do not have to pay it. The city is still on the hook for water, energy, sanitation, trash pickup, police, firemen. Hurry up - the opportunity zone for this is closing.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2020 at 8:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In the SFC today it notes that the Gov has authorized funding for homeless housing. Mountain View has received $12.3M to buy land for 100 manufactured homes that will provide temporary housing and support services until residents can move into permanent housing. This is the Homekey Grants. Given that Mountain View is now built out where would this all take place? This will be interesting to see where the land they are using is located. My guess is the south of San Antonio location that is now a combination of small businesses that look like they are living on a thread.

Note that the tax base for the City of Mountain View is totally different than the tax base for Palo Alto. Google is home based in Mountain View and now has a lot of RV'S parked in the winding streets surrounding their buildings. Google teeters on the bay lands and has some potential flooding issues.

Next question is regardless of the size of the homes they will require sewage systems, electrical systems, water systems, fire protection, police protection, etc. It is not clear as to how much of those facility costs are shared with PA. If that is the case then the shared systems will be over-taxed, and over-used. Need to follow this story because I have not seen any homeless encampments in that city of any great numbers. Most are further down in San Jose.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

IAW the SFC the location of the Mountain View homes will be on Leghorn - "on the border with Palo Alto". I wonder how the Marriott hotel will like that. So how did a Mountain View project end up on the border with PA? That removes the impact of the homeless project away from downtown Mountain View and pushes it next to PA's residential area, as well as the new Marriott hotel. So the impact will be on PA - not Mountain View - and they will get the credit for fulfilling their "requirement" to the state". That has an impact on the Oshman Center. That has an impact on the location of Ace Hardware - that property has been ought by developers. It will be across the street from the condominiums on San Antonio.

I am sure that this will create a new push on the Cubberley site. Be very careful there - more people means more children means more school requirement and more use of the playing fields. That location now has a high need to remain in the control of the school system.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2020 at 11:43 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

After looking at the Debate the subject of housing at Cubberley was addressed.

Cautionary note here:

SFC - "Controller says that Neru solicited donations". Neru is a high level Public Works Director for the city of SF. The method of soliciting donations took the form of people "donating" to a "Friends of - name of city activity". In one case the SF Airport concessions to friends. It goes on to discuss the method of stacking the deck regarding the awarding of lucrative contracts via an indirect route. The "friends" of organizations provide philanthropic support in many cases.

We appear to have a "Friends of Cubberley" group - and we know that the question of lucrative contracts for building and construction is a main goal here.

So we - the city and members pf the PACC - have ventured into what is a questionable legal activity which is getting a lot of press right now. As to SF - Mr. Neru and his friends - including the mayor - are on the hot seat. They have a Proposition B which is to exert effective oversite of a Department that is clearly out of control.

So now that the subject is on the table suggest that the PACC members who are involved in this activity back-off pending legal action. Being on a city council while decisions are in process regarding the award of construction contracts will be investigated.

Luckily there was a difference of opinion regarding the fate of Cubberely since it partially owned by the school district. The school district should consider using that facility for a whole program of special needs children. Consolidate that educational requirements at one location in the city to maximize the trained teachers who work in that specialty.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2020 at 10:22 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

ABAG's thought process and algorithms are flawed. Someone needs to investigate that taxpayer fed organization. Is anyone contributing to that organization? If taxpayer funded how is that money being spent. The state has an excellent auditor who just uncovered a major problem at the UC campus - one of many she finds there. This one involved the senator's husband.

ABAG appears to be working at the behest of the developers. That suggests money changing hands and people being promoted in the political world to jobs which support their agenda. Possible influence peddling.

If you have any government organization within the state that has a direct impact on development and construction then you have a lot to look at. Any pronouncements from them need to be challenged as to how they derived those "facts". Don't just roll-over.

One of the heads of ABAG had legal issues when he used taxpayer funds for his own use to buy multiple properties for his own use. Obviously no oversite of that organization.


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