Office Cap Initiative

Dear Palo Altans,

Thank you to each and all who supported the resident initiative to amend the 2030 Comprehensive Plan to reduce and limit net new office/R&D development to 850,000 square feet. It provides this City government an opportunity to focus on remedying the negative impacts that affects residents’ quality of life.

I want to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to former Vice Mayor Greg Schmid for bringing this initiative forward and his continued care for the well being of the community and Palo Alto residents. Also, to everyone who worked to make this a successful initiative…Thank you.

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What Traffic?

Dear Palo Altans,

I would like to share this email from a couple of Crescent Park residents with you. It was posted to the Crescent Park Neighborhood email list-serv.

Neighbors:

We listened carefully to the recording of Mayor Kniss at Council on Monday night where she essentially denied that we have traffic problems in Palo Alto. Astounding!

This appears to be willful ignorance of the many issues residents live with due to congested traffic. Her view might be considered a part of her support for commercial interests who want to continue growing commercial activity in and around downtown.

We think everyone in Crescent Park should be aware of the mayor’s views:

  • She states that traffic is not significant problem
  • Her view is in direct conflict with years of Citizens’ Survey results where traffic is rated a top concern
  • She trivializes the work of residents to address traffic congestion and safety issues near downtown
  • She recommends that drivers use residential streets like Channing if University is busy

The mayor did say that residents could email her if they find traffic to be a problem. May we suggest you let her know your views and help her understand that we expect our mayor to have a better grasp of the growing traffic impacts we face in Palo Alto.   Liz.kniss@cityofpaloalto.org

John Guislin & Greg Welch

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City Council Retreat

I want to wish you Happy New Year, and at the same time, I apologize for the late wishes. The holidays turned out to be a forced rest for us – our family had a family cold. We’re all recovered and rested. I hope you are all well.

Please put this date on your calendar and help inform City Council what you would consider a priority or priorities for 2018.

City of Palo Alto City Council Retreat
Saturday, February 3, 2019
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
El Palo Alto Room, Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Agenda https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/63222

This year, there is much to be aware of and for you to determine whether this is YOUR vision for YOUR city…a place that you decided to call home for your family, a place that you could feel safe in all aspects, a place that you thought you could find peace and quiet enjoyment.

There is an aggressive plan/priority to build housing by deregulating and providing flexibility by changing zoning and relaxing the City’s building codes. Much of the negative cumulative impacts are deflected by the rationale that it is a regional matter. Here is a link to the draft Housing Work Plan https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/63027. Page 27 will show all the deregulation. How will this impact your neighborhood and quality of life? The City is big on talking about “sustainability”, is this kind of growth sustainable? How will the City address parking? How will the City address the cut through traffic into our neighborhoods? How will the City fund all City services and infrastructure needs? The growth plan below is for the years 2018 – 2035.

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GUP Extension

Good news!

Santa Clara County Planning has extended the comment period for the Stanford University General Use Permit (GUP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to February 2, 2018.

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2017/11/30/county-extends-comment-period-for-stanford-expansion

I would like to suggest that we come together to each take a section of the GUP EIR, so it is not so overwhelming. Let me know your interest area and if you permit, I will connect you with others who are interested in the same interest area. Let’s divide and conquer.

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Stanford General Use Plan

Dear Palo Altans,

A couple of matters pertaining to the Stanford University General Use Permit (GUP) that I want to bring to your attention:

  1. An extension for the comment period with regard to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was formally requested by Palo Alto’s City Manager as reported in PA Weekly https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2017/11/29/cities-seek-more-time-to-vet-stanfords-proposed-expansion#comments. Stanford University has responded and is not supportive of the extension, but we are waiting for the response from the Santa Clara County office of Planning and Transportation. Please write in support for a 60 day extension, see the commenter in the PAOnline “Tired of Asspirations” for the email addresses.
  2. The period to make comments with regard to the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Stanford University’s 2018 General Use Permit (GUP) is coming to a close on December 4, 2017, if the extension is not approved.  Therefore, it is best to operate as if we will not be getting the extension.

Supervisor Joe Simitian will be hosting another public meeting to receive comments on the Draft EIR: 

  • November 30 (Thursday) from 7-9 p.m.

Palo Alto Arts Center Auditorium
1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto

(Special County Planning Commission meeting to receive public comments on the Draft EIR.)

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Two Meetings

Dear Palo Altans,

There are two significant projects that will be coming upon us that will require your attention.

Stanford University’s growth and expansion proposal

Supervisor Joe Simitian is hosting community meeting on Stanford University’s General Use permit associated Draft Environmental Impact Report. This community meeting held by Supervisor Simitian at Palo Alto City Hall will serve as an opportunity to hear about the proposed development and the process for reviewing it, including the opportunity for public engagement. It will also be a forum for the community to offer comments for consideration in the Final Environmental Impact Report.

Date:  Thursday, October 19, 2017
Time:  6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:  Council Chambers, Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto

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Stanford EIR

Dear Palo Altans,

Santa Clara County has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Stanford University’s 2018 General Use Permit (GUP).

The Draft EIR and referenced documents are available for review at the following locations:

Two public meetings will be held on the Draft EIR:

  • October 12 (Thursday) from 7-9 p.m.

Lucie Stern Community Center Ballroom
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

(Presentation by County Staff of Draft EIR and public comment process)

  • November 30 (Thursday) from 7-9 p.m.

Palo Alto Arts Center Auditorium
1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto

(Special County Planning Commission meeting to receive public comments on the Draft EIR.)

The proposed 2018 General Use Permit would authorize Stanford campus growth and land use development, anticipated to take place over a period extending from approximately 2018 through 2035:

  • 2,275,000 net new square feet of academic and academic support facilities;
  • 3,150 net new housing units/beds (550 units would be available for faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and medical residents); and
  • Stanford University proposes that the 2018 General Use Permit include an option to allow Stanford to construct a 2,000-space parking supply reserve, subject to Planning Commission review and approval, if any one of the following conditions apply:
    • 1) Stanford is achieving its No Net New Commute Trip goal;
    • 2) such parking would not result in a substantial increase in peak-hour commute trips; or
    • 3) unforeseen circumstances occur due to changes in background conditions would require provision of additional parking.

 

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Emergency Prep

Last night, Mexico experienced an 8.2 magnitude earthquake which was felt more than 500 miles away and by over 90 million people.  There are tsunami warnings for the Hawaiian Islands and Guam. Sadly, there are also casualties. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/americas/mexico-earthquake-live-updates/index.html

In the last two weeks, there has been Hurricane Harvey which has devastating results in Texas and some of the nearby states, now Hurricane Irma which is leaving devastation in its pathway. Not far behind is Hurricane Jose, almost on the same path of Irma. Now, this 8.2mag earthquake in Mexico.

September is National Preparedness Month and 2017’s overarching theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” It is more evident than ever we have to take our well-being into our own hands.  Let’s take this time to be prepared.

We can depend on our first responders to take care of us, but let’s be realistic. Let’s look at Texas, the first responders are overwhelmed and many states and cities have sent mutual aid. But, there will be more need with Irma and Jose. While Palo Alto has a phenomenal police and fire department, we do have to also rely on ourselves and our neighbors. To do that we ourselves must be self sufficient and prepared. Here is how http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/services/public_safety/emergency_preparedness/default.asp

Also, sign up for AlertSCC to get alerts from Santa Clara County http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/services/public_safety/emergency_preparedness/alertscc.asp

Please share/forward this to your neighbor, family and friends.

Thank you!

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Office Cap

On Tuesday, September 5th , the City Council will be holding a public hearing on the Adoption of an Ordinance for an Extension of the Interim Ordinance imposing an Annual Limit of 50,000 net square feet of Office/R&D Uses in Designated Areas of the City to June 30, 2018 and direction regarding a replacement ordinance.

The Agenda is posted here http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/59265

The Staff report is posted here http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/59270

This ordinance was put in place in 2015 to slow the growth of office and Research & Development space while the City leadership tried to focus on how to resolve affordability issues, displacement of our residents and of community serving businesses which were pushed out due to rent increases, traffic congestion and parking shortages. Putting policies in place in the short two years between 2015 and 2016 is not enough, there are the implementation, evaluation and refinement which take longer.

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SB35

Dear Palo Altans 

I want to bring your attention to the proposed Senate Bill 35 (SB 35), which would pre-empt local discretionary land use authority. It would provide approvals of multifamily developments that meet inadequate criteria by using “ministerial” actions, bypassing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and public input.

I urge you to write to our Senator Jerry Hill and Palo Alto City Council. (See below for a sample letter provided by the California League of Cities, which is officially opposing this bill.) Please write ASAP.

While SB 35 is made out to address the state’s housing needs, it would nevertheless be virtually impossible to build affordable housing because SB 35 requires that all housing built under this mandate must ensure that the “prevailing wage” requirement is included in all contracts, including subcontractors, for the performance of the work. Low-cost housing will not be low cost to build.

On average, “affordable housing” costs approximately $500,000 - $600,000 per unit to build around the Peninsula. Requiring affordable housing to be built exclusively by union workers will mean that the units will not be “affordable” without taxpayer subsidies. Taxpayers = we residents mostly. The ramifications due to these developments will be huge, including traffic congestion; parking issues; overburdened city services such as the use of public parks and open space, schools and so much more.

SB 35 will have significant impacts on our communities and many other communities in California.  The author of the bill redefines the geographic terms “suburban” and “urban” in order to subject communities to fast-track “by-right rule,” fostering high-density housing. Under his definition, even a village is an “urban cluster” which could mean that even cities such as Los Gatos, Saratoga, Woodside and Portola Valley could be designated as “urban”, thereby allowing big-time developers to build without the pesky environmental review or public engagement and input. Palo Alto, under the leadership of the past and present pro-development Council majority, has made certain that Palo Alto fits under the “urban” criteria.

Former San Francisco Supervisor, now Senator, Scott Wiener, is the author of SB 35 and is strongly supported by construction trades unions. SB 35 is one of many bills trying to exploit the affordable housing crisis to the benefit of the author’s financial supporters at the expense of residents.

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