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Endorsements reveal political split among Palo Alto City Council candidates

Original post made on Nov 2, 2022

With Election Day approaching, candidates for City Council are offering different approaches on housing, with some embracing state mandates for new development and others championing a more cautious approach.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 9:54 AM

Comments (39)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2022 at 10:16 am

Resident is a registered user.

Can you start calling them "smart growth" rather than slow growth? As Cormack says, "the devil in the details" which is why we need people who look at the details and who from experience that no one can wave a magic wand to make housing affordable for all who want to live here.
People should ask themselves whether they would truly be ok with a 4-unit building next door to their single family home because that is essentially what every candidate except Lauing and Summa and maybe Hamacheck have said they are in favor of happening. I believe "near transit" includes bus lines.

Don't get swept up in the hype without understanding the details.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 2, 2022 at 10:43 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The exception appears to be Vicki Veenker, who is attracting supporters from both camps. The attorney and mediator is one of three candidates, along with Lythcott-Haims and Forssell, whose campaigns are getting a boost from a candidate committee that is associated with Klein and housing advocate John Kelley. The committee has raised more than $8,976 for the three candidates as of Oct. 22, according to finance disclosures."

This ignores that Julie raised the most money in total and the most money from outsiders. It also ignores the spending for the saturation ad campaign by the no-name "Committee To Support Three Great candidates" that claims to have no relationship to the candidates and/or their campaigns and has yet to file campaign funding disclosures.

How much did the "Committee To Support" spend on their saturation ad campaign in all the local papers? Given the size and frequency of the ads, it was surely much "more than $8,976."

Why did they stop mentioning who's paying for all those ads after the first series of ads specifying they were paid for by Gail Price, John Kelley, Steve Levy etc. "and no one else"?? [Portion removed.]

See Doug Moran's excellent blog on the possible reasons. Web Link


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2022 at 10:57 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I for one like the fact that they disagree, in fact that is what I expect that they should have their own thoughts and reasons for their endorsements.

What we don't need is a council who all think the same, vote the same, and agree on everything. I want debate and when someone changes their mind that shows they are looking deeper and listening to what is going on. We have enough political sheep who do nothing other than repeat the same collective opinion without taking other ideas and views into consideration. There is no one right answer and everything is not black or white without any shades of gray.

I am hoping that we end up with a council of diverse opinions. I would like to think that disagreement is a positive as they debate and discuss issues. I would like to see council grow into their views and not afraid to admit mistakes or change their minds.

Our strength is in our differences, not in being identical. Our experiences make us see things from varying points of view. We want a strong council who can do that and are willing to listen and learn from each other.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2022 at 11:10 am

resident3 is a registered user.

“City leaders who in the past have supported "residentialist" policies such as lower limits on nonresidential development”

Thank you to the residentialists who worked to cap office development in Palo Alto. That was the right thing to do, and now with “the future of work,” this may save Palo Alto from being stuck with a bunch of empty office buildings which we probably unfortunately already have.

The office debate is done, and now we need people who are qualified to manage the city, the budget and not just be one-agenda people like Lythcott Haims with Housing. But the real problem is that we don’t have accountable government and with a simple majority in a group of 7 anything can happen. So, I’m voting for which side I trust more and that’s the residentialists who saved us from a glut of office buildings.


Posted by PaloAltoVoter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm

PaloAltoVoter is a registered user.

More than a difference on housing, it seems like the split is along the unfunded state mandates and developer giveaways. What I've heard during council debates is a lack of fiscal responsibility. Some candidates seem oblivous to the enormous expenses the unfunded state mandates burden a city with that could only be accomplished by almost total capitulation to allowing developers to do whatever they want. Versus some of the more knowledgeable candidates on the planning commission who understand the law as well as budget constraints. I think we'd be better served by the candidates with local planning experience, Ed Lauing and Doria Summa


Posted by Reid
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Reid is a registered user.

I'm seeing a lot of hemming hawing about how affordable housing is difficult, that the devil is in the details, the state mandate is too aggressive, and how housing advocates are not grounded in the reality of what's possible. This is all misdirection. The limits on new housing construction are primarily legal and political, not physical. We could, in fact, hit our housing goals and make housing more affordable merely by granting permission to build. We can, in fact, make different choices. This isn't rocket science. I am a single family home owner who has shared a backyard with a 4-plex, and it was fine. The world did not end, we did not have a crisis of parking or traffic. I cannot deny that there will be growing pains when we start hitting these housing targets, but those will be far better than the current alternative of indefinite stagnation and the continued exclusion of future generations.


Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2022 at 2:29 pm

Norman Beamer is a registered user.

I actually have moved to NY, but please humor me by allowing me to comment in my capacity as former President of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Asscn. As far as I know, none of the new or old state laws regarding housing place any obligation whatsoever to build houses or apartments, whether for low, middle or high income. Rather, the laws require the city to provide through zoning an accommodation for developers or others to build or renovate to add more dwellings for more people. The recent hysteria over adding more housing is primarily a creation of developers and progressive academics and "magical thinking" elites. Palo Alto is already very densely populated, with a healthy combination of single family homes and apartments/condominiums. (Contrast: Atherton, Los Altos Hill, Hillsboro). Traffic and parking is already stretched to its limits. Yes, the prices are through the roof (I just cashed out) -- not because of a housing shortage, but because of excessive demand bordering on irrationality caused by over-zealous office development, "master-of-the-universe" high-tech start-up reputation, exaggerated notions about the quality of the schools, etc. None of the state laws or anything else have any chance of changing this -- there is an infinitely inelastic demand that will keep the prices up. Sure, try to get funding for low income housing (good luck). But the notion that it is good thing to allow someone to tear down their house, divide the lot in two, and then build three dwellings on each lot is utterly insane. It's high time for a citizen initiative to block such nonsense.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 2, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Resident is a registered user.

The kind of incremental mentality of working at a comfortable pace is what got us into the current mess. We need the urgency, the vision, and the commitment that we had post 1918 earthquake and post WWII to address the massive housing crisis we are in.

Forssell, L-H are supporting the existing mandates and laws. True, Palo Alto alone cannot build our way out of the housing crisis and into affordability, because nearby residents would move in if there is an imbalance in housing availability. But if the entire Bay Area and dare I say state did it, then there could be enough housing to let people live in dignity, that is why state mandates are necessary. We can either plan to meet state mandates in a way that makes sense for our community, or we can invite the state to come in and do it.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 2, 2022 at 2:42 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

That’s the very reason why I’ve supported Burt over all the years he’s served our city on CC. I also supported Filseth and Dubois for their two terms on CC. They did their homework and were able to support their positions on things that mattered most to ordinary citizens/residents of Palo Alto. They supported the right kind of housing in the right way and they helped get us out of the rut of building office space unchecked. The candidates who blindly accept the housing mandates don’t have open minds and are unwilling to investigate where the numbers came from or the fact that conditions have changed dramatically over the past few years. And “affordable housing” rolls off their tongues like it is really feasible for all income levels. It’s not going to happen unless we taxpayers make it happen. If we want our service providers and lower income professionals living near us we will have to subsidize their housing heavily. And as some astute commenters have pointed out why housing is so expensive in PA, “It’s the land, stupid”.


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

@Norman Beamer. Thanks for weighing in from New York. Your comment was terrific. The only reason we long-time residents of single-family homes are subjected to the NIMBY label is the irrational belief that somehow Palo Alto and Stanford are aspirational. If a business can start up in our town, it must be created by wildly creative people and a guaranteed success. And...so close to Stanford University and it's highly rated business school. Of course the people who work for these businesses would prefer not to commute. But this is supposed to be a town comprised of residents who value the quality of life here. I do. I love the public libraries, Lucie Stern events, Mitchell Park, the Chili Cook-Off, music in the parks, etc., etc. But the town is mostly built out. Almost any increase in housing would negatively affect the residents who already live her.

I agree that the exaggerated reputation of our schools has helped create the insane prices. More than 20 years ago I rented out my house to a young couple while they shopped Palo Alto. I was spending a month out of the country. They were outbid on every offer they made during that time. It's the same old supply and demand equation. I simply don't believe adding more supply is going to make Palo Alto more affordable.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2022 at 3:02 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I think it would help if the State got a little more realistic about the housing numbers. Palo Alto's mandated number is 6,086. This # is based on jobs, which is a drastically changed situation due to the combination of Covid-induced Work From Home and companies leaving. Every mayor in CA should write CA legislators and demand that the RHNA numbers be revisited. I think there is also a "transit rich" supposition to the numbers. That is valid for cities that are transit rich. Palo Alto isn't even transit-middle. The city is transit lacking. Train tracks and a few bus stops qualify as transit rich only in the minds of theorists.

If Palo Alto had a realistic number to reach there would probably be a greater "WE CAN DO THIS" attitude toward the challenge. And successes have a way of compounding.

There should also be greater flexibility on the state's part regarding the plans that are submitted. Atherton's plan that involved lot splitting and ADUs was rejected. Sounds to me like the plan made sense for a city with land values that are extremely high. And if the state doesn't do this already, they should give extra credit for a plan that involves re-purposing a building that is already built. There should also be some accountability for vacancies. Count those! Why build build build residences if demand isn't sufficient to fill fill fill those residences?

I doubt real demand = 6,086 new renters and buyers in waiting - unless there are 6,086 people/households out there with very healthy incomes. Time to get real.


Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2022 at 4:20 pm

chris is a registered user.

Annette,

There were long waiting lists for affordable housing in Palo Alto last time I checked. Maybe Pao Alto Weekly can get you up-to-date information,

Other cities are complained about their RHNA numbers, but one by one they are accepting them.
Why do you think Palo Alto is so exceptional that it has the divine right to determine its own numbers. Who in the residentialist camp will agree to anything "reasonable".

Palo Alto has effectively stopped more office building. Now it is time for Palo Alto to make a good faith effort to build its share of housing.

Note that Summa's approach of nit-picking everything to death will result in more state control,
since the state will not accept no-growth results. What the state dictates will be far worse than
a fair and balanced, locally developed Housing Element that provides a realistic roadmap for creating housing.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2022 at 4:52 pm

felix is a registered user.

How very odd that Council Member Cormack says she has been influenced by Lythcott-Haim's teachings, particularly on issues relating to police reform.

From June 2020, through 2021 when intensive police reform discussion and policy reform took place in Palo Alto, Julie Lythcott-Haims did not participate - not in HRC or Council hearings where decisions that changed accountability standards for policing in Palo Alto were made. She seemingly had no interest and no voice in any of the major changes that took place.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 2, 2022 at 5:09 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"There were long waiting lists for affordable housing in Palo Alto last time I checked. Maybe Pao Alto Weekly can get you up-to-date information,"

Of course but what does this have to do with the current mandate when the vast majority of the 6,086 housing units are market rate? The law mandate that only 5% of those units are for very low income people.

Why is that? Because that's what the housing density lobbyists want. Why? Because it's more profitable, not because they care about affordable housing, not because they care about whether someone's kid can live, not because they care about grandma!

"Other cities are complained about their RHNA numbers, but one by one they are accepting them."

Why is that? Because the state rejects ANY and ALL appeals no matter how reasonable. Fires and access to escape routes don't matter. The historic drought doesn't matter. Ignore the fact that the rivers are drying up and that 1/3 of the trees in he Sierras are already dead.

The 7,000,000? residents of 3,500,000 new homes won't use a drop of water, won't flush their toilets! Trust us!

Want to build new WOODEN houses in areas previously destroyed by fire? Sure! No problem! Just ignore the fact that you can't get homeowners insurance because of fire risks!

I tell friends Back East about this and they're shocked at the insanity.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2022 at 6:57 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Chris - I don't doubt that there are long lists for affordable housing and I don't think that will change much even if the 6,086 mandated new homes are actually built. I don't think those we rely on to set housing policy (local decision makers) and those that mandate (the geniuses in Sacramento, if you will pardon a little sarcasm) know what demand is, what our inventory is, what the vacancy rate is, or what is needed. I'd like to see a graph chart that compares inventory with demand in several different categories such as above market, market, and below market. I think that would show fairly even columns for market and above market and ridiculously uneven columns for below-market demand and below-market inventory. This is not an original thought: what we have is an affordability problem. We are at the mercy of the "it doesn't pencil out" conundrum. I don't have the answers, but I am pretty sure adding housing not only will not fix the real problem, it will create other problems.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2022 at 12:48 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

It’s sad that we lost such a sane rational person, Norman Beamer, to NY. We’re left with a lot of zanies that I wish would leave and move to NY. Come back, come home, Norman!


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 3, 2022 at 1:03 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

There was a good article in "The Economist" some time ago which is quite apropos here:

Web Link


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 5, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Nothing is “dirt cheap” in Palo Alto, including dirt! It’s supply and demand! It’s the major reason for the high cost of housing. Add to that the high cost of building materials and labor, and of course all parties that come into play to create housing want their 15-20% profit…landowners, developers, contractors, et al.


Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this topic, but having seen some recent material, I think I will.

In reality, the differences between what all these candidates will actually get done on Housing aren’t as big as some would argue. Everybody will execute the Housing Element. The Market-Rate target will be challenging but has a decent chance. The Affordable achievement level will depend on funding. It’s an election cycle so of course everybody wants to tell you they care the most. But the problem has a lot of constraints.

However: I do see at least one split worth pointing out. Everybody is trying to out “Affordable Housing” each other. But Market-Rate and Below-Market-Rate housing are quite different. The former can be stimulated by zoning. The latter can’t be built at scale without subsidies; even Plan Bay Area 2050 acknowledges this. The private sector will not build housing that doesn’t produce enough revenue to cover their costs, and their margins are thin. Things like height and parking limits change building costs incrementally, but even a little makes a real investment difference because these projects are highly leveraged (which is why Jerome Powell = horror movie). But rental revenue is a different story --- they remain extremely sensitive to that; that’s why 15% inclusion projects can pencil out when 20% ones don’t. And please do not try to sell us “trickle down.” The piper must be paid, alas.

Some candidates are talking about the practicalities of getting Affordable housing done, and how they will tackle the financing challenges. Others are reciting generic policies for Market-rate housing, and telling us it’s Affordable housing. This may just be Politicking, or perhaps they truly do not understand. Neither case inspires.

I would not vote for people who want to tell me that Market Rate Housing (ie $3,000+ for a new studio/1br in Palo Alto) is Affordable Housing. If they fib me on the campaign trail, they’ll fib me even more in office.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2022 at 9:25 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Eric Filseth. All those who have neglected the reality that catrostrophic thinking (living) has foisted a desperation on regular Bay Area'ians and who have completed 100 years of damage are largely responsible. Magical living in a SFH has not produced any more equity as far as one can throw an ADU at us (In fact the SFHowners have tossed the renter to the wind at the sake of living and share-holder dollars. It would be wise to refer to affordable as "low-income" or wage gap homes. It's an imperative that Palo Alto understand that its turning its back on the poor and the getting poorer by the hour. Our city is behaving in a vacuum or a suspension of (algorithm) disbelief. One side speaks of Climate change as the key to the Kingdom of the free market. Have you walked the talk? The ECR blight between Page Mill and El Camino Way? Have you? No one lower wage worker can manage commuting 45 mns across bridge(s) and freeways, hwys to get to a job that has seen none to little wage increase and could easily close at any minute. Data sets, experiments, algorithms, "opines" ain't nothing when those in power show no will to transform away from personal belief ("our constituents want") in a one side fits all philosophy of specious arguments & broad based assumptions. It's a sad day when a large percentage of our store fronts, commercial sites, empty lots lay fallow ... for the gain of what? So as you warm yourself by your hearth, sit with your pet at the foot of your armchair or computer interface while posting your comment "weighing in" . Try to open you heart to factual understanding of residents without and not a quick click of a key stroke. We need and deserve human faces, integration to legislate actual real work which must get done. Get real, get to work.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2022 at 10:40 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Eric Filseth Web Link
Re: Redlining and a systematic Real Estate kingdom of white superiority in Palo Alto history books. Quoted excerpt:
“Of course, there were groups in Palo Alto that condemned such attitudes and supported open housing. Throughout the 1950s, the Palo Alto Fair Play Committee pushed housing integration by showing documentary films, lobbying government to adopt new laws and helping to improve infrastructure and housing conditions in majority-black neighborhoods. In 1958, over 1,000 Palo Altans signed a petition for “open and unsegregated housing” that was backed by 12 area churches. The petition stated that “all persons are children of God and therefore to be treated as equals under God.”  And then there was Joe Eichler, the famed home builder who refused to abide by the standards and insisted that his homes were to be sold to anyone and everyone who had the money.”

Are u so thrilled about Eichler remnants in 21st Century? His famed Eichler Swim & Sport only allows Eichler home owners access, no poor people allowed!
I, for one am related to a wealthy white woman who devoted her late life to Palo Alto Fair Play housing! In the late 1920’s She actually encountered Adolph Hitler in a luxury hotel in Germany. And she was sickened by his large cadre of 3rd Rike revelers . Maybe it was this encounter or an awakening to Palo Alto segregation that drove her forward to inclusion . I am proud of her work. Archived at the Bankcroft Livrary, no doubt. Will your life’s work, Mr. Filseth, be honored in such a way. Make it true, make it so, make it for many and not just a few. It appears the walls which protect our financial assets are the high bar. Not our children, not our faith in humanity, not in social good, or personal responsibility. In a nation and Valley of riches, kings cry poor! Total hype. Unless of course you equate PA on the level of Oroville Calif. it appears that’s were we b le land of Silicon putty.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2022 at 11:07 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@paloaltoonlinecoments Call it what it is : the rich housing “market rate” and the poor housing “BMR”. There is little middle ground “dirt” @Gale Johnson. And this enclave has dug itself in. The middle ground is inclusion and make it equitable at any cost not just dollars, “material”. We are the richest Nation on earth, please! Innovators her!? It’s nuts bolts, ideas which move us beyond the “we just can’t pencil it out! Speak is nonsense! It’s here. Make it so, make it happen for reels. Talk is cheap. Dirt is real . No more mumbling, grumbling. Move a few feet over. Plenty of there be land. Do the work to turn the dirt. Pull the weeds. Pull the boards from abandoned storefronts, two story @for lease” the wheels will move w true innovators, leaders who can shine through the shallowness of nay sayers. It’s all right here, for the believers, the doers. CC you can fight the fear, be true to social responsibility. Fight site planes, height limitations, sidewalk depth is all talk all the way out of town. Open our borders to those who serve the rich. We belong here as much as you do. We work too. Maybe w a differing outcome, yet we sweat too, and grieve, and laugh and want to play too. Simply give, so others can give, simply.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2022 at 11:21 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Eric Filseth

"In reality, the differences between what all these candidates will actually get done on Housing aren’t as big as some would argue. Everybody will execute the Housing Element. The Market-Rate target will be challenging but has a decent chance. The Affordable achievement level will depend on funding. It’s an election cycle so of course everybody wants to tell you they care the most. But the problem has a lot of constraints."

Thank you for sharing your appreciation, after eight years of council experience dealing with these issues, of how vexing it is to build affordable housing, even in Palo Alto, which historically has been a leader in this field, in the absence of significant federal and state government funding sources to tap into.

In 2013, city government and Palo Alto Housing Corporation came up with a plan to build badly needed affordable housing for low- and very low-income seniors-on Maybell despite the lack of funding sources. The entire city council, including residentialists, backed it despite some discomfort with aspects of the funding. That project was overturned by a citizens' referendum, the only case I'm aware of in which an affordable housing project gained unanimous support from the city council only to see it rejected by voters who had elected the council in the first place. The property was subsequently developed into 16 single family homes that sold in the $4-5 Million range.

The heat generated by the Maybell campaign has dissipated over the years. But I'm not sure what lessons leaders and the community at large take from it as we move into this period of intense urgency about getting housing built. The new council should take time early on to have a dialogue about their perceptions of the Maybell controversy to enable productive debate later on about how to "execute the Housing Element."


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2022 at 12:28 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Jerry Underdal Excuse me Jerry. There was a massive 2013 Measure D referendum that cost Palo Alto tax payers millions. I hope you made phone calls to say no to D during that underhanded campaign. Because I did . 2 hours a night for weeks. CC backed down like beaten Alaskan sled dogs from their initial support.

Residentialists absolutely opposed the development using every dumb argument in the political book, scaring SFH residents to near hospitalization.

Barron Park NA was vehemently opposed to low income housing in thier neighborhood and they build the PAN Palo Alto Nieghbors in power force against new low income housing today. Get your facts straight. Now we have low income PA seniors unhoused and waiting in the rain to get a lunch on a city sidewalk. Your quote is here:

“In 2013, city government and Palo Alto Housing Corporation came up with a plan to build badly needed affordable housing for low- and very low-income seniors-on Maybell despite the lack of funding sources. The entire city council, including residentialists, backed it despite some discomfort with aspects of the funding. That project was overturned by a citizens' referendum, the only case I'm aware of in which an affordable housing project gained unanimous support from the city council only to see it rejected by voters who had elected the council in the first place. The property was subsequently developed into 16 single family homes that sold in the $4-5 Million range. “ Wrong. What we have is Relate Mayfield Place agreement. 71 low bottom apartments w rats, electrical outages, poorly constructed, leaks, pipe bursting, wiring surges. The “community” room closed to residents day one of opening April 1 2017. In fact Filseth and DuBois were on the council then as now. These two have done next to zero to advance quality housing for the poor. If PA Housing Corp (Alta) was not the historic go-to for all the poor the city would be crumb out of luck. This was and is a terrible time to attempt a weak promotion of housing in a historically SFHowner redlined boundary.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2022 at 1:03 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2022 at 1:48 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay
Clearly you worked hard to prevent the referendum from succeeding, as did I. But I give more credit than you do to the city council at the time for sticking with their support for the project despite the threat of a disruptive campaign to qualify a referendum for the ballot and a costly election to let voters decide the matter.

I live a block away from the Maybell site and actually enjoyed watching construction of the 16-home project over a period of many months. It’s an attractive addition to the neighborhood, but Palo Alto Housing Corp.’s project would have been attractive as well as useful in addressing our housing needs. I think you may be conflating the Maybell project in Barron Park with the later Mayfield Place apartments project near California Avenue that you describe as poorly designed and cheaply built.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2022 at 1:32 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Jerry The Related Mayfield Agreement seems to have been the trade off for Maybell. Mayfield is cheaply built, w out regard to human value, a powerful trade between City & Stanford. Where as Maybell would have mixed home-owners residing w senior renters. So sorely missing now . What @Eric Filseth’s void in his post is the mixing of all income level homes, in a single designating parcel 4 new housing. Right now there is a bord’ing hoarding going on. PANs , Stanford, The City & yes PAUSD r staking their ground.

Related Mayfield was compromised for City soccer field. Stanford got upscale Stanford only units, up the hill we get trapped .

It’s property shell game. Right now there r great interior parcels (transit rich) that our city is squandering for its dirt value: University Transit Center and Fryi (Foon) for higher billionaire bids. Fry’s 15 acres all RM30 residentially zoned! How miraculous is this! 30 years ago PA CC zoned it so. Yes. Sabroto “owns” it. Yet this is unprecedented.

Where else does PA have 15 acres RM30 zone parcel?? Sabroto is asking to downzone RM30 for RMD ! Breaking apart an entirely home zoned parcel!!! It’s a shell game. Yes.

Transit center has historic value and Fry’s has historic value. Why not incorporate this value into housing for all income levels?? Instead these once in a Century parcels will be squandered away... University cite to Stanford and Fry’s to Sabroto. Biggest dollars win. I am not secure at all, the game of high stakes real estate. My city is supposed to fight tooth & nail 2 secure homes 4 people off all income levels, on transit rich cites. Especially RM30 . Not 2 downzone precious property like fry’s.
The hype is up zoning ROLM/COM/INDUST where there is NO infrastructure for residents!!! In reality the transit rich cites are really for the wealthy and not produce housing or homes for those who really badly need it nor for a city who has to provide housing to support yes, the labor market who serve


Posted by PaloAltoVoter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2022 at 7:56 am

PaloAltoVoter is a registered user.

Getting all the mailers and seeing the online ads only one candidate has been creating boogiepeople. Lycott-Haimes seems like she has to create controversy. Whether it’s splitting us between north and south or political leanings (for a non-partisan office) or questioning peoples motives, time and time again she walks right up to the line of indecency before backing off and proclaiming the need for unity. We don’t need this form of divise politics. It may work but we need to be vigilant against it and say no. We need a council that can function, not the disfunction we are seeing at other levels of government. With so many good candidates this season I will not be voting for the disruptive chaos that Julie seems to thrive on.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@PaloAltoVoter…so you noticed that too? I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. Pity the poor mayor if she gets elected, and I think there’s a good chance that she will be. Trying to lead a council meeting would be very challenging.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2022 at 12:23 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Every time the current CC say anything like "Thanks B that plan for MFH is far from our R1zones" or "Lot splits will allow large apartment complex' in R1zones and that's not what WE want" or "this project is not far enough away from our R1zones" is not only divisive, it's dismissive, and discordant of anyone else who lives here like renters or low-income. Get the facts straight. This council is divisive to anyone or anything who think differently, live differently . This council votes along party lines for their view only. Separate and not equal representation of all.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2022 at 8:38 am

resident3 is a registered user.

@Native,

“or "this project is not far enough away from our R1zones" is not only divisive, it's dismissive, and discordant of anyone else who lives here like renters or low-income. “

Renters in the Bay Area can be very high income, so you’re mixing up renting with the problem that neither the state, or cities can build homes for low income -with zoning alone. My guess is that you are relying on neighbors to work on this problem but that’s a dead end if you hate your neighbors.

IMHO divisiveness comes from judging people and dismissing each other’s concerns be it parking or unsafe traffic conditions. The Maybell project is an example of how the Council at the time dismissed neighbor concerns, that’s my recollection. Your exclusionary arguments sound like JL Haimes’ campaign. By canvassing her supporters with Jim Crow, she drew divisions- to have what you call “we” vs them. Reality is that we’re all individuals and it’s like playing whack a mole if you think that neighbors are all acting in some evil organization. It’s counterproductive and probably helpful to those who don’t want more housing.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2022 at 10:08 am

Annette is a registered user.

I hope Palo Alto voters are independent thinkers who mark their ballot based on the merits of a candidate and candidate positions on issues, not endorsements. Any candidate can line up a list of like-minded people to endorse their candidacy. That's a given. And anyone who has lived here through two or more elections can predict who will endorse certain candidates. Ditto the newspapers and the Sierra Club. Frankly, endorsements are often most useful as an indicator of who to NOT vote for.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2022 at 11:40 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@resident3. I disagree. It's not whack a mole. It's a private property / shell game. And yes the ranker is alive and well. Those in power are dismissive of renters or fairness or anything that might shine through. Palo Alto "Jim Crow" redlining goes all the way back to 1920's here in PA. How long did it take to free slaves? How long did it take women to get the vote? How long did it take to get any type of healthcare for all? Now it's housing!! Next it will be education (Student Loan forgiveness has been halted). I so disagree. "traffic". Since the horse buggy days "traffic has been an issue". It just got so much worse when the auto went into mass production. Buy less, help more. Simply give, so other can give, simply. Obviously you have not read the link I posted about the history of descrimination (sp) housing practices in Palo Alto. Goes way back. Maybe since Karen Holman and the PA History Association got 12million from HUD for a museum there will better transparence about said redlining here. It'd be worthy of an opening show since, after all they got a bulk of this money from Housing and Urban Development. Too, Federal HUD works all housing mortgages and subsidized. I am not posting to change your mind, I am posting for others, who may not be aware of our racist ties to shameful real estate prejudice. It's real. Residentialists are really protectionists for their own property material value over social value for humans to thrive. It's not pretty yet its a responsibility.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay, Almost half of Palo Alto residents are renters and many of the rentals have long been single family homes with multiple people, mainly techies, sharing the cost of the rental. They're called Hacker Hotels, among other nicknames.

The housing problem is a national issue all across the country. It is NOT limited to Palo Alto. There was an article in the New York Times in the last few days showing how much the cost of housing has risen everywhere.

I love how you blame everything on "residentialists" while ignoring the corporations who've systematically outsourced American jobs for decades, the Uber/Lyfts who underpay their gig workers and all of the jobs being eliminated -- millions of truck drivers by self-driving trucks, cashiers by self-checkout, manufacturinf jobs by robotics..


Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2022 at 2:32 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Native to the Bay,

If I understand parts of your posts correctly, you are alleging that substandard conditions are present at Mayfield Place, the 70-unit below market rate (BMR) housing component of the 2005 Mayfield Development Agreement between the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University and where construction of the BMR housing was completed in 2017. This is a serious allegation.

Under the multi-faceted development agreement, Stanford was required to build 250 units of housing across two sites, with at least 20%, i.e., 50 units, earmarked as BMR. However, and again under the agreement, if Stanford chose to build more BMR units, up to 70, which they did, not only would the number of units increase, but the income levels to qualify would drop.

On the other hand, under the 70-unit option all the BMR housing would be built on a 1.2 acre site on El Camino Real as opposed to interspersing them across that site and a second much larger, 17-acre site at the “top” of California Avenue abutting College Terrace. During the time of the development agreement’s approval process and for many years until building plans were released, there was much speculation as to who would or could live there as Stanford did not decide upon or reveal that the 17-acre site would be only for Stanford faculty.

Certainly we do not want a dual standard for development or maintenance of BMR housing in Palo Alto. So please verify your allegations, and if they hold up, document them and then file a complaint with the city or contact the press.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Fred Balen. Yes rats. Floors r buckling, concrete in hallways have significant fissure cracks, counters are coming away from walls. Electrical surging throughout grid in unit. Main pipes burst at least 3 times this year causing long water shut offs and floods, electric boilers frequently go out, Seque Construction built Mayfield. As such Seque in Berkeley 2015 massive balcony fail caused injury and death with many young people when Mayfield was being constructed. That was tragic!

David Baker & Assoc. designed the exterior of MP. It "looks" really nice on the outside. Yet the sinking of the building into ECR, doors and windows don't close or lock properly. Recycling over-flows 4 months at a time & r not emptied.

In 2016/17 Mayfield near did not open (partly due 2 Seque). Tenants were delayed by one month after being green lighted 2 movein because of emergency time over runs & lawsuit. Families had to find emergency shelter & keep kids in school too. We've had 4 property managers in the five years it's been open We don't have an apartment association & of our "sister" upscale Stanford Terrace apts up Calif r entirely individually run, no help there.

MP has no posted management hours on the office or regular open hours. I have documented these health and safety with Stanford and the city & all has been deferred back 2 Related Calif lease aggreament.

Lastly. We are supposed to have access to a community room. This room has been closed & locked day 1 NO resident has access computers, printers, resume writing, job applications as a dedicated separate space from our units.

Most of the equipment in there is out of date or broken. As residents we have to have good access to this residents have dedicated space 2 build job skills & apply 4 & secure better job opportunities. It's my understanding Mayfield gets federal, state tax credits 2 supply such amenities to rent paying residents, yet we don't have critical quality residential amenities to move & out of poverty


Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2022 at 4:22 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Hmmmm.
Does the ground floor garage use the puzzle-parking system? If so, is that working out?


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2022 at 11:11 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Fred Balin. No the robotic parking is NOT working out. When city grid goes down so does the puzzle. There are always issues with it breaking. Also small utility vehicles do not fit in there. Most if not all of us work here in jobs like, on-call plumbers, pool service, house cleaners, salons, healthcare. child care drivers. Because the lift does not fit larger utility vehicles, vans or pick-up trucks that does not work. Puzzle are not residential parking. Puzzles are for long term parking like a model car or antique car. Not for busy, working families on the go. Plus it's not safe. There have been several water pipe bursts in there flooding everything. And could not imagine being in there if a mid sized earthquake took place. It's erector set like construction. So about 6 cars get stored in there for long term purposes. When it's out one can't get a car in or out of it. For residents in wheelchairs or walkers or with small children it's especially not safe.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2022 at 10:22 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"Certainly we do not want a dual standard for development or maintenance of BMR housing in Palo Alto. So please verify your allegations, and if they hold up, document them and then file a complaint with the city or contact the press."

Thank you, Fred, for taking seriously Native to the Bay's allegations about conditions at the Mayfield Place project. For months, Native to the Bay has been consistent in drawing attention on Town Square to conditions that, if accurately described, require official action by the city to remediate shortcomings to improve the quality of life for residents there.


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