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By Steve Levy

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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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My Home Was Built by a Developer

Uploaded: Feb 12, 2014
Town Square is full of angry comments about developers who have built office buildings recently in Palo Alto and council action with regard to these developments.

I believe that new developments should be required to provide or contribute to paying for parking and some past decisions about parking requirements have not helped the city.

On the other hand, I hope we can calm the language and anger by remembering a few points.

Our current home at Forest and Gilman is in a condo complex built by a developer. We are grateful that he went forward with the project and, by the way, it has sufficient underground parking. But our two previous homes in single family neighborhoods were also built by developers as were most of the homes in Palo Alto.

That's what developers do--build structures in demand by residents and businesses. I hope we can drop the "greedy" language and accusations unless posters want to call the folks who built their home by the same names.

There are, indeed, commercial structures in downtown that do not provide enough parking for their employees or customers.

But there are also homes in the downtown area that do not provide parking for any or all of their residents. And there are residents who have converted garages or, as we did a long time ago, bought properties where the garage was already converted to other uses.

I think two points are important here.

One, is that when the city finishes collecting data, we will find that not all "extra" parking in neighborhoods is the result of commercial building "under parking". Residential developers in some cases also did not provide enough parking and people moved in with full knowledge about this.

Two, is while some of the parking deficiency is the result of recent decisions as the city data show, much of the challenge is the result of what I will call "legacy parking deficiencies".

The apartment buildings surrounding our unit do not all have sufficient or any parking provided. Some were built long ago and I assume the parking that was not provided was legal at the time. Since then the neighborhood and surrounding commercial core has grown and what worked for parking decades ago does not work now.

The same is true for downtown. I have worked in four offices downtown-all built long ago. Three had parking, one did not. We bought permits for employees who needed them. But there are many buildings downtown built long ago, where the original owner and tenants are long gone. The Epiphany Hotel and Apple store are on the site of former tenants and owners as are many of the offices and stores downtown.

I don't know all of the rules about parking requirements when new uses take over a long ago built property. But much of the parking deficiencies that have come with growth have roots in "legacy parking deficiencies" where there is no recourse except to try and solve the problem today—no villains to castigate or compel payment from.

That is why I support the city goal of a three part solution—manage demand and existing capacity, evaluate additional capacity and work out neighborhood parking management programs.

I don't know the exact mix of these solutions or the mix of payment responsibilities. These merit calm discussion and evaluation of information about who is parking downtown and what the potential solutions are.

Comments

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I have fond memories of the Eichler that I grew up in! That was built by a developer too, right?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:14 pm

deleted


Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:20 pm

deleted


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 9:52 am

deleted


Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

This is a blog about the parking solutions for downtown and the responsibility for these solutions in light of the many reasons, current and historical, for crowded parking conditions. It also prompted readers to comment on who built the home they live in.

If you want to complain about development in Palo Alto, there are many blogs where that is appropriate but it does not help solve the current parking situation.

If posters want to make personal accusations, please provide proof.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Jay Park,

I did not see the connection of your last post to this thread. Were you talking about Mayor Shepard's talk. I am happy to put the post back up if you explain its connection to the parking discussion.

And, yes, Eichler was a developer and I think provided great satisfaction to a generation of residents though we never lived in an Eichler home.


Posted by Pointless, a resident of College Terrace,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

If you want this thread to be about parking, then say so in the title. Your title deals with developers and the first third of your post is about developers.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 11:35 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@pointless

I assume that interested readers will take the tine to read what I have written. This blog is intended to discuss serious issues facing the city.

If you don't have time to read what I have written beyond the title, perhaps responding is "pointless". And, of course, the second paragraph makes it clear that I am writing about parking.

And, yes, if you have something to say about who built your home or developers that adds to this discussion, that is perfectly appropriate. But that is not the same thing as complaining about the pace or kinds of developments in Palo Alto, which is not the subject of the blog as you see by reading it.

My opinion is that the repetitive negativity detracts from a discussion of serious issues facing the city, which is what I am trying for in this blog.


Posted by Good Points, a resident of another community,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:28 pm


I think you have made some good points about how we arrived at our current parking predicament. I think the part about existing residential and commercial buildings that were built to meet the code at the time, but that now have legal, but noncomplying parking facilities is particularly important to understand.

In downtown north in particular I can't help but wonder how many single family homes are deficient in required covered or uncovered parking. For example houses built 100 years ago likely didn't have any parking provided and may not even have a driveway or curb cut. Also there are a number of old boarding or rooming houses that may have 2-10+ units in what may appear to be a large single family home. While these legal noncomplying residences may fill a vital role in providing a variety of affordable housing downtown they are no doubt contributing to the perceived parking shortage in the area.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Also want to point out the.average family own more cars. Our family was guilty of that when I grew up in developer built house. 6 cars.

I personal know people who.purchased brand new developer built homes, instead of dealing.with remodels. Try driving in from Elk Grove to Fremont. The company relocated there.

Developers just don\'t becase they can, someone is leasing much needed space.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Too many of these comments focus on how a poster feels he or she is being wronged or inconvenienced by someone else and who to blame, rather than on what they can do to help solve a problem. In terms of parking, residential parking in particular, there are very easy solutions, and all they require is a certain level of personal responsibility:

If you're someone who has to drive, don't buy or rent a place without parking.
If you have two cars, try to avoid a place that only has parking for one car.
If your place has a garage, and you require a place to park, you may want to reconsider using that garage for storage of things other than a car.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

So lets get this straight. Levy writes about half an article defending developers, but says its really about parking, then refuses to allow discussion of developers greed in overdeveloping the city - as the root cause of the parking issue. The parking problem is overdevelopment in a constrained space. The #1 step is to stop the bleeding - moratorium on further development. Apparently Levy is a fan of one sided discussions where his side is presented, and not challenged.

Ok, Levy I'll bite. My solution to the "parking" problem would be to condemn all commercial buildings that do not carry their share of parking space for their occupancy, tear down and rebuild smaller buildings with correct parking ratios, and at same time put a moratorium on all future development in Palo Alto until a comprehensive traffic plan implemented in every corner of the city that gets traffic moving at 25mph minimum at every location. Rule - no car waits at a traffic light through more than one cycle.

Discuss.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@parent

Why don\'t you want to tear down ALL buildings that do not carry their fair share of parking?. What about apartment buildings in my neighborhood or homes that do not have adequate parking?

Please discuss who built your house and your neighbors homes? Do you believe Ill of only commercial developers or those without parking? Was Eichler a greedy developer? How about the CalTrain riders who park in the neighborhoods? Should new stores be torn down or only office buildings?

What about the increase in customers for stores and restaurants built long ago without parking? Should those buildings be torn down because their tenants got more popular?

How do you come off cAlling developers greedy? Which ones? What proof?

It must be fun for you to sling BS under the cover of anonymity.


Posted by Justin, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 13, 2014 at 11:19 pm

I still don't understand how we can be talking about a lack of parking when there is no metering and garages are often not at capacity. Mandatory parking minimums are terrible economic policy Web Link . More free parking will mean even more cars and more traffic.


Posted by Reality Check, a resident of another community,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 2:16 am

Interested readers ought to have a look at the writings of Professor Donald Shoup, author of "The High Cost of Free Parking"

Web Link


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:59 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

I agree that parking fees are one part of the solution. We already have permit fees.

Figuring out how better to use and expand parking fees, which could go up or down depending, is one of the things staff will look at.

It will be easier if all parties realize that "free" parking has a cost.

But I certainly do not know the best way to use fees without more thought about who is parking and what is fair plus what will actually fill the existing gRages better.

Posters have made suggestions that could end up in the final package.

I suspect one issue that will be controversial is why some residents living near downtown should get free street parking when others have paid for their home parking on their home price or rent.

I believe in shared causation and shared responsibility in finding solutions for the increase in parking demand that has crowded downtown streets.


Posted by SteveLevy-FYAH, a resident of Professorville,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 7:33 am

Deleted


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

If anyone wants to see what I have deleted or discuss the reasons, please email me with your name, phone number and real email address. I will check with the Weekly to see if it is appropriate to share deleted material.

The material that is deleted either violates the Weekly guidelines or is, in my opinion, not responsive to the blog. Some readers have re-posted more responsive items that remain up and disagree with what they perceive to be my position.

Disagreement is not a reason for deleting posts.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Much of the Bay Area's housing stock was built by developers, and that isn't new, either. My home town in the East Bay has thousands of little houses of a certain general design, built around 1921-1924 in successful speculative housing developments following the Great War. Part of the town even has all its streets named after California counties, part of an era when a large real-estate sales firm was promoting both housing development and a bid to move the state capitol (Yet Again!) to that neighborhood.

Mr, Levy, if you want to avoid the distraction of drive-by irrelevant armchair grousing comments, just set the option limiting responses to registered users. That step is proven to promote more responsible posting. Anyone who wants to contribute can register, it takes only a moment.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:28 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I have to agree about pre WW2 housing
having little or no parking. The developers built around mass transit or by driving habits of the day.

Today entire developments are built around the cars, our driving habits changed since the 50's.

Most of the places that people work drive to big parking lots that on nights and weekends are empty.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm

@ Parent: "Ok, Levy I'll bite. My solution to the "parking" problem would be to condemn all commercial buildings that do not carry their share of parking space for their occupancy, tear down and rebuild smaller buildings with correct parking ratios, and at same time put a moratorium on all future development in Palo Alto until a comprehensive traffic plan implemented in every corner of the city that gets traffic moving at 25mph minimum at every location. Rule - no car waits at a traffic light through more than one cycle"

I want to make sure I understand your statement... You are advocating that we tear down buildings that house (for example) the following businesses because the buildings (some pre-WWII) don't have parking?
- The Creamery
- Shady Lane
- Osteria
- CVS
- Apple
- Tamarine
- Stanford Theater

If not, please clarify.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@CPD

I started to respond but see you are asking parent the same question I was.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I am fascinated that you cite your dwelling as an example of something desirable from a developer. I watched it come together in the seventies through several construction fits and starts. For long intervals it stood idle, a semi-finished eyesore. But today it serves a function, providing a contrast with the grace and style of its neighbors which were built in an earlier time. Enjoy.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:36 pm

@curmudgeon

Protip: those neighbors with "grace and style" were also built by developers!


Posted by Robert Cameron, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Mr. Levy,

Thank you for jump-starting the conversation vis-a-vis the parking situation in Palo Alto. NIMBYism, if you will, rules the day here. You\'re absolutely correct--not all developers are greedy. In fact, if one really understood the dynamics of development, it\'s really a game of high-stakes poker, not so much rooted in "Location, Location, Location", but rather "Timing, Timing, Timing". The Average Joe doesn\'t have the risk tolerance that is the developer--once "pregnant", there is no turning back on a project. For everyone who has made a dime in development, there are three more who have lost their respective shirt.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I wonder many of you shop in developer built space, work in developer built space, just Mr Levy lives in developer built space. We can always go back to where everyone built their own home, but I remember cutting up land into plots for building aren't really welcomed.



Posted by What is greed? Help for Levy, a resident of Community Center,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 12:05 am

Stephen, if you live where I think you do from your description, you are about a block away from 800 High Street.
Please take a look at the so-called public parking under the building and compare it to the area for the residents. Take note of the empty spaces in the public area and the dreary, dingy lighting. See if you can find the free public parking that was in the deal.
Than take a look at the "public plazas" on the corner of Homer and on the corner of Channing.
These and the "free public parking" were the Public Benefits for that huge PC.

I suggest this short exercise to help you understand why people call a developer greedy. He made millions and the public got close to nothing. Please let us know what you find.


Posted by Nice try., a resident of another community,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 8:00 am

Oh please. Sorry, they are driven by making as much money on a site as possible, as much as they can get away with, regardless of need or want by locals.
That's greed and i won't white wash it any other way even if I do hob nob with some of these developers. I've heard their own comments out of their own mouths. They view the citizenry as a roadblock to their own future wealth.
"If they want a promise, I'll promise them anything, as long as they don't ask for it in writing" said the owner of one of the more prominent development companies to me directly at a holiday party just a few months ago
Sorry, my reality is in conflict with your opinion.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

The results in Palo Alto tell you that these developers (not necessarily
all developers but these developers) have a value system based on self-interest and money. This is why we need responsible and effective
local government which we do not have. The developers have exploited
the combination of a strong market and a weak and actually complicit
government to the maximum extent possible.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Let's assume that Mr. Levy at one time was a PA homeowner who is now a senior citizen and has sold his home and moved in to a condo / apartment. His children are adults and now do not live with him. That defines a portion of the population with a specific point of view that says we should all live in apartments next to a transportation site. Mr Levy is paid to push that point of view.

That also may be good for young people who are just new in the job market, are in school, and just starting out.

Meanwhile the majority of people living in PA are here for the schools, live in homes, and have to take their children to soccer practice with a car full of equipment. My guess is that the majority of the population is in the middle age bracket with children.

That defines a whole set of responsibilities which are different for a person who lives in a condo vs a person living in a home. It also defines who is responsible for what - condo dwellers think someone else is suppose to take care of business, while a home owner is dealing with business one on one with the city, county, state, and federal government, and contractors for upgrades to the property.

In the future I will view everything that Mr. Levy says with a consideration as to what he as a condo owner is responsible for vs what a homeowner with children is responsible for.

Side note - some lady wrote into the SJ Mercury opinion page shredding her hanky over the horrible PA residents that want to live in single family homes. Obviously a senior citizen who never leaves her home to see all of the building on El Camino and else where - people sign up to a point of view that has no reflection on reality.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@resident 1

Only 1/3 of the households in PA have school age children. Our share of children is average but our share of seniors is one of the highest around.

A slight majority of homes are single family but we have a high share of multi family units and renters.

I posted a blog on our demographics and sent a memo to council.

Take a look if you don't mind finding out your "facts" are not right. No need for you to guess when the Census data is right there.

I have invited posters to provide evidence of personal accusations such as you made. These anonymous personal digs that posters make up are getting tiresome. My work is described in the intro to my blog section. That
is what I get paid to do.

I think people should have the choice to live where and how they want. Most new units up and down the peninsula are not single family homes. It has nothing to do with what I want and everything to do with what the market up is telling builders.

I do think that more multi family units would sell in Palo Alto if built and would meet the desires of many new households. Do you dispute that?

I favor a community of broad choice where no one group tries to impose its lifestyle on others.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

The school system is the biggest driver of the city - most of the people who come into the CC council cut their teeth in the school system as educators or concerned citizens. That is where they got their political credentials. What ever the makeup of the city the people who are involved are the parents of children either in the school system now or the children are now graduated. I have four new families on my block and it is all about the school system - 2 of the families are here from China so that their children can go to school here. One family is from Israel. Where I live it is the family with children in school.
I didn\'t disparage you - I merely pointed out that the priorities of people change over the aging process. I had in-laws in a well know senior home in PA that changed ownership a number of times which necessitated renegotiation of the contract each time - and their eventual movement to another facility when dementia set in - who handles what gets very clearly defined - and it is based on legal responsibility. Not a pretty picture for the seniors who leave their homes. I am very familiar with the trials and tribulations of aging people in PA. I have been through that whole process.
I am very familiar with the changes that people have to make as they age - that is well documented and a topic of continual reporting is the papers. That is why the city is petting on a set of classes on retirement.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Deleted


Posted by Palo Alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Stephen I agree with you that multi-family dwellings will sell in Palo Alto, but pretty much any housing in Palo Alto will sell. And while only 1/3 of residents have kids, the majority of people who move to PA move here for the schools - including people that don't have kids yet and those who kids are now grown.

I would personally like it if we stopped building office and built housin instead BUT only if we build more schools to educate the students that would accompany the housing. And multi family housing should include sufficient outdoor space and realistic parking for the residents.

In a perfect work, I would also greatly increase our expenditures on public transportation so using it would make sense . That would require one coordinated and sufficiently funded transit agency.


Posted by What is greed? Help for Levy, a resident of Community Center,
on Feb 15, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Deleted


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:33 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

I have reopened an old thread on rent, prices and "greed". Readers can direct comments there and not here on the parking responsibility thread.

In either place, disparaging comments about individuals, discussions of architectural style or the pace of development should go in the many Town Square threads on those topics.

At the top of this blog on parking responsibility I wrote my position that new developments of all kinds should have the legally required parking and that this has not always happened.

But there are many other causes of the current downtown parking situation and the point of this thread is to discuss solutions and responsibilities going forward.

In response to an earlier question I think public benefits in exchange for density is an appropriate public discussion and when promised benefits do not occur I would hope that the city would follow through and enforce them. It is understandable for residents to be frustrated if this does not happen. This is a general statement as I am not a lawyer and will not comment on specifics where I do not know the full story.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The discussion about schools and motivation for people moving here is interesting and I am happy to reopen an old thread on the topic.
.
Can you explain why you brought it up,here in a discussion of parking responsibility. Right now I am not seeing the connection.

Thanks.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 11:37 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Developers and the city must come up with ways to solve the parking.question, not all properties will be able to support parking. Parking Assessment Fee needs to be applied, or develop a plan. Offsite parking, shuttled parking, or private developer share based parking garages. No free parking.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Stephen - my comment about schools and motivation for moving hear was a response to yours that only 1/3 of the households in PA have school age children.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@par

Thanks. Got it.


Posted by Michael, a resident of University South,
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

>I think public benefits in exchange for density is an appropriate public discussion and when promised benefits do not occur I would hope that the city would follow through and enforce them. It is understandable for residents to be frustrated if this does not happen. This is a general statement as I am not a lawyer and will not comment on specifics where I do not know the full story.<

The city cannot "follow through and enforce [PC public benefits]" because the ordinances that enable each PC development have no enforcement clauses to guarantee the promised benefits will occur. Instead, they read as advocacy pieces for the purported benefits, like the developers had helpfully written them for city staff to lighten their labors (yet another element of our developers' civic mindedness). One need not be an attorney; an economist should be able to see this on the most casual reading.

No savvy private individual would sign a contract without a performance warranty, but our city government does it routinely. Why?


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

2/3s of the people chose or had children, developers are creatures of market trends. We have huge group of people aging, we have a high number of college educated people taking jobs. More wealth, less people having babies, same sex couples, more people choosing to go without car or finding alternatives to the suburban family lifestyle. Yet all one thing in common, be close to work and not suffer the choice of really long commute.


Posted by Bernard Zaslav, a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

It's too late; the horse is out of the barn and that very barn has been sold to"developers" (read, the 1/10th of the 1%.) As an ex- New Yorker, now a retired Stanford faculty member and living on campus; the new El Camino Royal is as slow as my old Broadway and 42nd. Do we want Palo Alto to look like the new Columbus Circle?
Whether or not, we're now well on the way We love to park and dine downtown but it looks like that will be a thing of the past in short order. Sad and pointless; where is our local governmental bureau intended to watch the barn?


Posted by Bernard Zaslav, a resident of Stanford,
on Feb 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm

It's too late; the horse is out of the barn and that very barn has been sold to"developers" (read, the 1/10th of the 1%.) As an ex- New Yorker, now a retired Stanford faculty member and living on campus, the new El Camino Royale is as slow as my old Broadway and 42nd. Do we want Palo Alto to look like the new Columbus Circle?
Whether or not, we're now well on the way. I love to park and dine downtown but it looks like that will be a thing of the past in short order. Sad and pointless; where is our local governmental bureau intended to watch the barn?


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

El Camino Real is really not that bad, yes traffic is heavy. If it is maybe time go build a few more freeways or expressways

Private individuals keeping starting companies that developers.built their offices, they hire.employees who need developer built housing and developer built retail space. Either here or there, developers have built most of post war California.

The state hasn't done much in transportation development.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

Yes - developers built single family homes in Palo Alto - Eichlers, etc.. Then people buy the homes from the developers. The purchase usually is in conjunction with a loan supported by a financial institution. At some point the developer has made their money - completed their part of the transaction - then moves on. Assume the homes were built within code at the time. However we all know that building codes change with time. It then becomes the responsibility of the homeowner to follow through with any improvements within existing current codes.

Multi-developed units follow a different financial path. The developer is following a set of requirements provided by the buyer - financial institution. Exacting updates on codes to existing parking garages in multi-unit buildings or business buildings after the fact is not a goal and is not feasible. Establishing the proper code at the time the building takes place - approved by the city planning commission - is the only time at which the whole package can be approved within existing codes at the time of approval.
Bottom line is the city needs to make sure that any new development is consistent with the current requirements for the type of building and establishes building codes so that any planning that takes place is in conformance with existing codes.
We are wasting time on "deals" which are inconsistent with current building codes and no recourse to remedy the situation after the fact. The city has control over this process and needs to enforce it. If considerations are published for public benefits then the city has started the whole process with no clear guidelines and is open to financial maneuvering at its own disadvantage.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I know that it is highly unlikely to know the answer --- of the 1/3 "senior" residents of Palo Alto, how many are parents and had children while living in this city?

Not hard to assume that there is a decent percentage that would fall under this category. And not hard to assume that one of the reasons they chose to live in PA was for the schools (please let\'s not go on the PAUSD issues - plenty of threads for that).

I can\'t remember the name of the CPA planner (a couple of years ago now) who wanted to put high-rise senior housing along Alma, near downtown. I posted on that thread that he did not get it and had no insight to our local seniors. My counter-argument (drawing from my own parents) is that our local seniors love their homes and don\'t want to leave them unless absolutely necessary. My Mom (now a widow) lives in a 4/2 single story home on a beautiful and quiet street. She\'s active (at 81), volunteers, etc. Her home has a wonderful yard and she loves to cook in her kitchen, make floral arrangements using the flowers from her garden.

When we first were married, we lived in a condo that was conveniently located between SF and Silicon Valley. It worked for our job locations and how busy we were. But did buy a house and did have children. Maybe I\'m a bit disconnected here, recognizing budget is always the driving factor, it is hard for me to believe that most people would rather raise their children in a condo over a home with a yard, near a school, etc.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community,
on Feb 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

@Crescent Park Dad

Most people probably wouldn\\\'t prefer to raise their children in a condo. However, look at salaries, especially for soon to be or recent graduates, vs. housing prices. The last thing we should be doing is limiting people\\\'s options.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I think this thread is getting confusing. Mr. Levy started with his own experience starting from a single family home to a multi-living unit. Single family home parking is well defined - don't see the issue. Why are we talking about it?

Multi-unit developments - that is a thorny issue but a person knows that going into the unit. They know what they are buying into and can make that choice. The city should be looking at the parking planned for the multi-development during the approval process.

How those topics are addressed is totally separate from a business
development which has to go through a separate approval process and meet separate requirements. Those requirements are sometimes imposed by the businesses that will lease the spaces.

Lumping all of these categories into a single discussion is a disservice.

Why are people from other communities lecturing us on this topic?

Robert - do you work in PA and are stressed out about parking at your job?
If you live in another community what is it? How are they handling this problem?

Garrett83 - where do you live - what is your experience within the city you live in?

We have out-of-city responders who want to lecture everyone on this topic and typically come from areas with single family homes like Atherton. Or Menlo Park which has a huge undeveloped section along El Camino - closed auto dealers - that should have been converted to something useful ages ago.
Like a huge parking lot or park and ride.

It would be nice if people from other communities would volunteer what is happening in their community and how is it working.
If in fact they represent the developers then say what the plans are.



Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:02 pm

The weekend papers are full of real estate information - new housing areas by named developers with maps, and existing homes for sale throughout the bay area. New developments are very popular with homes built to current code; while existing homes up for sale have usually been updated to current code. The housing choices are unlimited. There is no lack of available housing. There are continual realtor signs for open houses throughout the bay area and in PA to visit.

If you look at newsstands there is a whole set of publications that discuss the joys of the house - House Beautiful, etc. That is a goal of comfort and joy - home ownership. Number of children is not the point here. Age is not the point here. Discussion of stats interesting but probably irrelevant on this topic.

Commercial realtors have available buildings with available parking in PA. Go down East Bayshore in the area of Embarcadero. Question would be why these buildings are continually changing hands and are up for lease. There is available parking on the street and on the lots.
I think we need more input as to why PA has so many available commercial properties that do have parking. Are we so special that we are charging too much for the lease?

There is some other element at play here in the commercial market that has not been discussed - I think the city needs to publish where the available commercial buildings are so that they are not sitting empty. If empty for long periods then maybe candidates for replacement with more desirable features - like hotel, restaurants, housing, etc. If we have greedy developers then point them in the right direction and clean up the areas that are not producing value. Todays developers have to meet city code - the city controls that.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

I am news hound, I like to read the local papers, I use to read the old Palo Alto paper, I grew up in Mountain View because my parents didn't want to buy a home by a certain developer.

I live in the North Bay because housing costs are so dang high, even tried to start a company in the area, but the commute was killing me, so I just gave up. I felt like how can anyone get anything done when you spend 3 hours on the road in rush hour traffic.

I am for building housing, any kind of housing, but Palo Alto like a lot of cities have no room to grow out, hillside growth restrictions is one big part. Jobs over housing has been kind of the idea for years, let someone else deal with the housing.

So developers do what they do best, the buy open land, they building single family homes, low rise apartment building and strip. You build it they will come, they come, they drive on over taxed roads. We need roads, we need to build big new freeways.

From what I read in the comment sections, new freeways are out, hillside development is out, bay fill is out, high speed it out, mass transit is out, in fill development is out. When will producing jobs be out.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:10 am

Thank you for the update. Many state and government agencies that previously owned and occupied buildings in downtown San Francisco are selling those buildings because they have depreciated beyond their useful life and cost to retrofit for new earthquake standards is prohibitive. Many of those agencies are moving to smaller cities in the tri-valley area and leasing facilities so they can write-off the lease expense. Vacaville, Pleasanton, etc are experiencing a lot of growth and the younger employees can buy a house and have a relatively easier commute.
Franklin Funds has all of their computing staff in Rancho Cordova, as do many insurance companies. They need their computers out of the earthquake zone.
There is major growth in the corridor going to Sacramento which is where you see a lot of new home divisions being built.
The builders are looking at the trends and the trends are there.
Yes - we are built out on the peninsula in general.

Any vision that we ground zero for future growth is a narrative for the purposes of pushing specific agendas - MTA, etc. That is why BART is focused on growth in the area moving east. There area lot of jobs in the tri-valley area.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:24 am

@resident 1

Are you suggesting that the only push for new housing within the bay area core (such as Palo Alto) is coming from MTA, ABAG, etc?


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:29 am

There is a need for housing everywhere. People are continually moving, selling, and buying. The real estate market is very fluid. I am suggesting that major corporations are putting newer satellite subsidiaries in lower cost areas so their younger employees can buy homes.I am suggesting that the world does not spin on the peninsula.

My push is to bring BART down the west side of the peninsula through San Mateo, RWC, Menlo Park, Palo Alto - Stanford side, Mountain View Los Altos, Cupertino to San Jose. If we could close the loop on transportation than we could help support more housing throughout the peninsula. Palo Alto and other small cities on the peninsula are limited in their transportation choices to Cal train and the freeway. If someone is going to use that as a reason to create more density on the peninsula than we will be in trouble.

I think we should be knocking on Atherton's door to look at their ABAG requirements and how they plan on meeting them. Also Menlo Park.

Palo Alto is NOT ground zero for ABAG, HSR, or any other schemes which requires the use of eminent domain to confiscate private property. Assume that HSR is dead in the water if I am reading today's paper correctly.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Vacaville, Fairfield, Pleasanton, Tracy, Livermore and Vallejo, all have some sort of growth restrictions in new housing, but building office buildings and industrial units are fine. Plenty of space for jobs

Residential has to move further east beyond MTA, BART and other transit agencies.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"The housing choices are unlimited. There is no lack of available housing. There are continual realtor signs for open houses throughout the bay area and in PA"

Complaints of a shortage of inventory in the places people want to buy have dominated discussion of residential real estate for months. Real Estate firms have been filling their full page ads with pictures and descriptions of property they have already sold. Ken DeLeon has been promoting services to help people get ready to sell instead of pushing actual properties.

Unsolicited letters arrive from people who claim to be desperate to buy in Palo Alto and offer very attractive terms. I used to disregard these as scams but now I'm not so sure since a large share of sales in Palo Alto and elsewhere on the Peninsula have been all cash. Heaven help the family looking to buy with what used to be a significant twenty percent down payment.

All of which I take as indicators that there is, in fact, a shortage of available housing.


Posted by Resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm

The local real estate people want to make money. There is a whole other process going on in which private parties are buying houses outside of the standard process and side-stepping the real estate firms. I think there is a minor war going on between the established real estate people and the private buyers - thanks to the internet which makes information more available. Also, many people want to avoid real estate people so they are not paying additional costs if they already have a buyer.

I think there are further complications in that banks subsidized mortgages beyond the ability of the home buyer to pay, especially if they lost their jobs. There are many complications out there right now which prohibit the transfer of property in a straight forward manner.

It is a narrative - just like HSR - a drum beat. People talk up a point of view to generate newspaper copy. Check out your Sunday paper, go visit an open house, look for yourself. I really don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t need people to parrot back what my impressions are - you will have to produce your own impressions. I have relatives in the bay area who are involved in property across the bay area and can see trends as well as anyone else who takes the time to look.

Side note - a woman wrote into the papers that she used to be on the ABAG board and was so proud of what they accomplished to date. She is now retired and living in Fort Bragg!! Of course ABAG has no impact on Fort Bragg.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Feb 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I knew someone in Mountain View who had 3x5 card taped above his doorbell. Not selling, Do not disturb.

He did sell, his job left California, so along he went


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