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As state reviews Palo Alto's housing plan, city moves closer to adoption

Original post made on Mar 9, 2023

Palo Alto is still likely months from having a compliant plan for adding more than 6,000 homes, but city officials indicated Wednesday that they could adopt their new Housing Element even before they get a green light from California.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 9, 2023, 9:44 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2023 at 9:52 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Interesting to note that there is no mention of how these residential units will get power, water and other utilities, parking problems, traffic and public transportation.

Are these units for people who will sleep, work, hibernate and never leave their homes? Actually, if they never leave their homes it would add to the water/electricity usage!

Can we have a better power supply for the residents already here before increasing the number of homes? Until our electricity is improved in efficiency and reliability, we don't need any more drains on it.

Posted by Jay
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2023 at 10:45 am

Jay is a registered user.

I am glad these lawsuits are coming. No city should be allowed to "Self-Certify" themselves. Its like a criminal "Self-Certifying" himself of any wrongdoings. Hopefully we will see more housing in the Bay Area sooner

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 9, 2023 at 11:02 am

Green Gables is a registered user.

Maybe the people who are building the gigantic houses in Palo Alto on the 8,000 square foot lots should take in some who want to live in this town. There is one behind me on Channing, two on Walnut, and another on Walter Hays. They build them to show that they have the money not because they have large families.

Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 9, 2023 at 11:31 am

JB is a registered user.

That was very disingenuous of the 2 members of Palo Alto Forward who said they were speaking as individuals, not for their group Palo Alto Forward. I knew something was wrong when they claimed that Palo Alto was “self-certifying “ their housing element instead of waiting for the response from the state on the city housing element’s plans already sent to the state. The Planning Commission was confused by the term “self-certified “ and asked the planning staff to explain this. The staff said there is no such thing as self-certification and that Palo Alto was not trying to get around state housing requirements by “self-certifying “. I resent this underhanded way that public commenters Scott and Mike tried to paint the city council and its housing element as a rogue “self-certifying” group. When you comment, be clear that you are speaking for Palo Alto Forward. Thank you.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 9, 2023 at 11:42 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

The YIMBY lawsuits are suing cities because the state is still reviewing their housing elements. What a joke.

Posted by bg
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 9, 2023 at 11:50 am

bg is a registered user.

High density housing is bad for both our mental and physical well-being.

Palo Alto Forward is destroying the quality of life and community that is and has been Palo Alto for over 100 years.

Instead of capitulating to these special interests we should be pushing back.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

"The most ambitious proposal, however, is the rezoning of industrial and commercial zones around San Antonio Road and Fabian Way to allow multifamily residential use. The Housing Element estimates that this could generate 2,141 new dwellings, more than a third of the city's total allocation." This grossly understates what's proposed for south Palo Alto because the vast majority of proposed housing sites (beyond those mentioned here) are in south Palo Alto.

The city and PAUSD have completely neglected community service/school facilities at Cubberley for this area. The accumulative maintenance failures are so severe, Cubberley gym is closed due to water intrusion that caused the floor to buckle. Pavement and slabs are heaving, roofs leak, mold and rats intrude. ---not only in the parking lot, but inside the campus. The buildings have not been painted in decades, so wood throughout the campus is peppered with dry rot. Randomly scattered prefab junk buildings accumulate to replace permanent space that no longer functions. The bathrooms are disgusting and unheated and so open to the public they feel unsafe. Fewer and fewer programs are offered in this part of town. No wonder. This year, only 31% (64) of total 204 city summer camp programs are planned south of Oregon Expressway. (That was before the gym closed and some programs were planned for the gym, so that number may now be less.) The city commits to add thousands of smaller, denser housing units in the vicinity of Cubberley with NO feasible plan that the public can see to make this community center functional again. We are already underserved. Where will the new residents in teeny tiny living spaces recreate? How will they safely walk or bike across San Antonio Road, a multi-lane, fast, major arterial, to nearby shopping and community services, schools and parks? It is a terrible place to walk or bike. What is being done to plan comprehensively for this growth, as the city did for SoFA and Ventura?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 9, 2023 at 12:17 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Both Palo Alto Forward and the various YIMBY groups and their candidates have always had a distant relationship from the truth, claims cities are in violation when the deadlines haven't even happened, claiming to be College Terrace residents who support a huge apartment complex when they live elsewhere... ALL so they can continue to raise campaign funds and membership fees to continue their lobbying efforts and then claim their candidates got the most votes -- all because people aren't paying attention to the details.

Maybe they could also mention that are barred for 8 -- EIGHT -- years from contesting the housing targets on the grounds that the economy has changed, that the jobs on which the housing targets are based aren't there any more, that the tech layoffs continue in the 6 figures in just the first 3 months of the year.... We're not even ALLOWED to consider factors like density that impedes emergency vehicles or drought where we don't have the water to serve all the new residents forget about existing residents.

And who benefits? Not the people who need truly affordable housing which is LEGALLY capped but highly paid folks who want more MARKET RATE housing. Note there's only a few hundred dollars rent difference between "affordable" units and market rate ones.

They sold us a bill of goods to finance their political aspirations while cynically virtue-signalling that they want a Peninsula For Everyone. Let them be honest about their goals.

Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 9, 2023 at 1:34 pm

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

“Palo Alto Forward had previously suggested that this strategy is unrealistic because it relies too much on sites that are currently not vacant”

Obviously there aren’t thousands of housing units’ worth of currently-vacant sites anywhere in Palo Alto; everybody knows that, including the activist groups. It seems more likely the Libertarian contingents of some of these groups are simply hoping to obstruct the entire process long enough for “Builder’s Remedy” --- eliminate zoning codes entirely, and turn over all development standards to private developers --- to kick in. However, infinite-deregulation, even in zoning, is likely a minority aspiration in Palo Alto.

Furthermore, deregulation and social benefit don’t necessarily go together. As the Mercury News reported this week, nearly 100 Sacramento housing laws over the past decade have not delivered any measurable overall impact on housing affordability, homelessness or inequality Web Link .

The 2/3 of sites that =aren’t= in the San Antonio/Fabian corridor, even by themselves, represent nearly triple the housing growth rate that Palo Alto has experienced for decades, and that includes a step function in Year 1. To hit an even higher rate without sweeping action in that area is farfetched. In fact, the San Antonio rezone is the opposite of obstruction: it’s an indication that the City really means to hit the State Mandates. The yimby lawsuits only show that activist groups can be just as silly as “mountain lion refuge” etc.

Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2023 at 2:18 pm

toransu is a registered user.

I love how we always have a dedicated group hemming and hawing about utilities whenever housing is built. I guarantee you that they'd be doing the same thing if the city tried to improve those utilities because they don't need it/it's a waste of money/etc. Just be honest and admit it's because you don't want housing to be built.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2023 at 4:01 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

There's a battle ahead, and unfortunately, and sadly, i live on the front lines of that battlefield. We moved into our home in a quiet, peaceful, friendly neighborhood on Ross Road in 1963. The neighborhood of those days doesn't exist here anymore. I've written stories about it for my Life Stories writing class. I'll be happy to share them, upon requests.

I've been watching PACC meetings for many years and I've always had the feeling that any decisions they made that affected certain areas and neighborhoods in town, always. favored the Northenders, over us commoners and middle class citizens living in SPA. I might have been wrong, but the current movement to push all (okay...most) of the new housing to meet our Housing Element requirement, is focused in my area. I think Online Name got it right. Fake

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Sorry, I clicked "send" too soon! I meant to add...YIMBIES, wolves hiding under sheep's clothes/skins. Let's hear it from the Northenders who were in favor of ADU's. How many of them built them on their half or one acre properties and rented them out at below market rates? And how many of those who did build ADU's on their property build them for 'granny' or any other family members?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 9, 2023 at 5:00 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

If the pro-density folks really cared more about housing than their deep-pocketed backers they'd be supporting all of the proposals now surfacing to convert empty offices and hotels into housing, esp. since the State has proposed that they'll kick in some money for the conversion.

Let's hear it for our "leaders" who rushed to put all our economic eggs in the Business Travel and Office Commuter basket as if they've never experienced economic downturn.

And let's hear it for our newly elected City Council member gloating on the front page o the other newspaper that housing prices are declining "because no one "deserves" to live in multi-million-dollar homes while being seemingly oblivious to the fact that housing COST rose because interest rates have almost doubled!

Let's hear it for the compassion shown for the pain suffered by all the tech workers who've been laid off and/or seen their stock options and all of us who've seen our portfolios decimated.

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 10, 2023 at 11:53 am

Amie is a registered user.

I think high-density housing is the answer to our biggest problems.

- Declining enrollment and looming school closures
- Lack of housing for the folks that make our community GREAT (teachers, firefighters, nurses, retail and service workers, police)
- Poor performance of our Cal Ave and University retail corridorrs (the City's own report said more residents and foot traffic is the solution)
- Climate change as CO2 emissions are reduced when you have more residents in smaller units near jobs, Caltrain, and services
- Park and utility fees are like $50,000 a unit, so with 6,000 new units = $300 million in fees, plus the increase in property tax revinue would go a long way in infrastructure upgrades and improvements at our parks, community centers, and bike trails

I just don't see the gloom and doom of more housing. Most of the recent high-density projects near me look pretty nice. To me it is more fine folks and neighbors making our community stronger and better.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 10, 2023 at 11:56 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

I oppose the state destroying single family housing. It is bizarre. Palo Alto is punished for being a successful jobs center. Ridiculous.
Coherent planning and zoning makes a lot of sense. The El Camino Real corridor does make sense for adding density and vibrancy.
I don’t agree with Palo Alto Forward.

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 10, 2023 at 12:38 pm

Amie is a registered user.

Hey Anonymous,

I think you actually do agree with Palo Alto Forward, who wants smart planning to put the density we need where it should be (near transit, jobs, businesses, and services - El Camino is an ideal place for this). It is our lack of planning that results in haphazard, one-off development in places where it isn't smart.

You should join and make your voice heard that you want smart, coordinated planning with housing where it makes sense! Only by working together can we make Palo Alto the best it can be. There are great ideas everywhere, we just need to come together and plan. Let's tell developers what we want and where with specific plans - before the state does it for us.....

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2023 at 12:08 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Does anyone read the Real Estate Section of the Sunday papers? It tells you what the local homes are being sold for by address. Then there is the new housing section of where the major builders in this state are providing "planned communities". People can move to a planned community - get a new home for less than $1M, have a community center with all of the toys. Does any of this apply to them?

We live in a community where the homes start at $2M and the SF legal people want to break down and destroy the community structure and organizations. And their own city of SF is not meeting any goals. The SF Chronicle tells every day that they - the city of SF is failing to reach any goals. The state is failing to reach any goals in managing the infrastructure. Why are we being roped into these crazy schemes? Because they are not going to fund us? They have no money to fund us. Can we please get real here.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 17, 2023 at 10:48 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

All of those low cost homes in south PA are being torn down and replaced with new two story homes that have every bell and whistle. That is putting new county property tax into the system. There is more turn over in the South PA locations than the North PA section. The property tax is based on the last turn over in ownership and the sales price. Do not believe that the owners who paid $3M+ are going to roll over in this situation.
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