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

The Staff report is posted here

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.

This interim ordinance has good intentions and can have meaningful results. Here are the options in the Staff report:

A. Boundaries of the area that should be subject to the annual limit (see map at the end of message)

1. Use the boundaries in the existing ordinance;

2. Make the ordinance apply citywide; or

3. Make the ordinance apply citywide, with the exception of the Stanford Research Park.

B. The quantitative annual limit

1. Continue to use 50,000 gross square feet (gsf) as the annual limit; or

2. Identify some other number of square feet as the annual limit.

C. The fate of unused annual allocations

1. Do not roll-over unused allocations to future years;

2. Roll-over unused allocations for up to three years before they expire (or some other timeframe);

3. Roll-over unused allocations up to a numeric limit, such as 100,000 gsf per year; or

4. Allow allocations to roll over indefinitely.


D. Uses that are exempt from the annual limit

1. Maintain the current list of exemptions for (a) office/R&D development less than 2,000 gsf; (b) medical office development less than 5,000 gsf; and (c) self-mitigating projects that propose sufficient housing to meet the housing demand of additional employment; or

2. Modify the current list of exemptions.


E. The process for reviewing projects subject to the annual limit

1. Continue the current competitive process;

2. Use a first-come first-served process; or

3. Use some alternate or modified process.

Palo Alto’s Chamber of Commerce, Stanford Research Park and its tenants and pro-development groups have submitted letters to Council and to the news media to disband the annual office cap. But, I would like to hear from you, residents of Palo Alto as to what you think about the interim ordinance imposing an annual limit on the growth of office/R&D development.

What is your priority and concerns? Write to Council [email protected] or come and speak during the Council meeting on Tuesday, September 5 at City Hall Council Chambers. This agenda item is scheduled to be heard at 6:30pm.

Map showing the current boundaries of the Office and R&D Annual Cap (outlined in red).

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