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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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Population Growth

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2013
The state Department of Finance released population estimates for 2013 on December 12, 2013. Here are some of the key results relating to Bay Area growth.

Since 2010 the region has added 220,000 people including nearly 92,000 between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. Santa Clara County where Palo Alto is located added nearly 70,000 residents—the largest growth in the region. In each year the Bay Area led the state in percentage growth. During these three years Santa Clara County was the second fastest growing county in California and Alameda, San Francisco and San Mateo counties all ranked in the top ten.

The increasing population growth is directly tied to the region's above average job growth, outpacing the state and nation during this period. The largest change in population from year to year was in foreign immigration, which increased from 17,000 in 2011 to 44,000 in 2013. Moreover, the Bay Area was the only region in California where more people moved here from other parts of the country than vice versa.

It is likely that population growth could increase in the near term as these results came with 1) very low new births, 2) the U.S. recovery not at full strength, 3) regional job growth levels that are being exceeded this year and 4) no immigration reform, which should add to regional population when enacted.

Readers on Town Square have different opinions about the causes and desirability of job and population growth. But these numbers confirm the reality of growth and the need to plan to handle the increasing number of jobs and people. After all if we do nothing in the vain hope that this will discourage future growth, the only victims are ourselves. Yes, parking, traffic and infrastructure are challenges but that is even more of a reason to make the investments to meet the challenges.

One thing readers or council members should not do is repeat the denials of growth that even very intelligent members of the PA council recently aired and which the Weekly and other local press reported without bothering to check out what was actually happening.

In order to bolster local political arguments that Palo Alto was asked to plan for too much housing, council members and readers argued that the regional growth projections being used by ABAG, the regional planning association were too high. Two arguments were used—1) the decade of 2000-2010 had low population growth and 2) state Department of Finance projections anticipated less regional growth than the ABAG projections that I participated in.

Both arguments were and are foolish. Yes, population growth in the past decade was low—no kidding, there was the dot.com crash and a deep national and local recession. But the whole point of doing projections is to look at the future and decide how it might be different from recent trends. The recent regional population growth shows the wisdom of not assuming that the 2000s decade was typical, especially since when the projections were done, the Bay Area economy was recovering and population growth was already accelerating.

As far as the Department of Finance (DOF) projections, they were lower than the ABAG projections. BUT 1) the DOF projections did not take account of regional job growth and 2) DOF had already decided to update their projections in 2014 to more align with projected regional job growth as their published methodology requires.

Palo Altans can debate what local actions are appropriate amidst this very strong regional growth picture. But denying its reality is not a good place to start and undermines our credibility when we deal with regional and state agencies.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Maria, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

No new housing beyond what current zoning will allow. No more PCs, period. Withdraw from ABAG and fight them if they pick a fight.

Palo Alto is a great place to live but it's full. If there is so much unmet demand due to future population growth, the market will push property values up even more, until demand decreases and there is balance. It's worked for hundreds of years. The alternative: build build build, may remove the demand in the first place by making PA even more of a traffic-nightmare and a worse place to live.

Posted by Maria's right, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

Well said, Maria.

Posted by Jeff Rensch, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

Maria's comment is a bit dangerous. The state has an obligation to see its workers housed, presumably somewhere near their jobs. A city that refuses to help with this risks having some of its land use decision-making power taken away. That would be bad news for everyone.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

Jeff raises a great point - that we get these vaguely threatening comments when we say we're done with growth and need to fight the ABAG mandates - so we're lead to believe that state laws hold some teeth that would make this type of threat true (have also heard this in reference to some withholding of transportation funding, how Jeff says they can take away our land use decisions, have heard it phrased in other ways as well.

Then what we need to have is a city council that fights that for us, not one that relies on this type of threat as their excuse for rolling out the red carpets for the developers.

We need city council that can get very crystal clear with the public on what these threats are, where they are coming from, what the specific worst case scenarios would be for Palo Alto, and most important leadership on what we as citizen need to do to mount the fight against these laws, that are enabling the takeover of our towns.

Or alternatively, someone who will debunk and blow a hole through these threats.

If they're real, show us where they come from and how to fight them. That's what we need to expect of our Palo Alto city government now. NOT more the 'hey we have these vaguely threatening outcomes we need to watch out for, so here's an approval for another PC, another zoning waiver, another nasty multistory high rise in our faces.'

Posted by Ross, a resident of South of Midtown,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Steve, we need your good sense and wisdom in City Hall. Please run for Council.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Dec 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Steve is a mouthpiece of the ABAG/Developer interests, and we're SO done with that. Next city council election will see an adamant NO GROWTH, NO ABAG agenda winning whatever seats become available.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:46 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Maria has a right to her opinion but she is in error on some facts.

This obsession with leaving ABAG is misplaced for at least two reasons. First, the goals for 2014-2022 housing planning come from state law. ABAG is given the task of allocating the housing planning targets to local jurisdictions but the state would do the job if ABAG could not. The legal authority is at the state level.

Second, city elected and appointed officials and staff deal regularly with their counterparts in a variety of regional efforts and regional agencies in addition to ABAG. Creating ill will, particularly when the housing goals come from the state, seems like a poor policy at a human level unless residents see no need to participate in any regional activities.

Maria's ideas that high housing prices will impede growth has a superficial logic but is contradicted by the facts and by an even more powerful logic.

First, this strong job and population growth IS occurring even with the highest and fastest rising housing costs in California. Second, if you look at it from a property owner's perspective, these high prices make the development of their land for housing (or offices) even more profitable.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Maria and Parent have some opinions that I disagree with,

"Full" as in "Palo Alto is full" is an opinion. If Maria means there is little vacant land, that is surely true.

But UP is a way to be not full. And we see UP all around us and have for many years.

We now have schools that are not single story and parking lots that are not single story. On the street where we lived, Edgewood Drive, once there were virtually no two story homes and now there are many more.

And there were many fewer three to five story buildings downtown when I started working there in 1969 including the building where I now live, built in 1983.

Just this month more multi-story buildings are approved to replace smaller buildings downtown.

As I argue in most posts, it is time for residents to come together with solutions to parking and traffic that respond to the reality of growth at least in the hood where I live and work.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:01 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Parent raises the issue raised by many readers in the past--what are the penalties for not following the state's housing planning targets. I don't think there is a clear answer to that.

My puzzle is why anyone asks that question.

Would readers please clarify if they are arguing that if the penalties are small, it is ok to disregard the state law.

If so, what standards about the law do you teach your children or abide by yourself?

Do you tell your children to cheat on tests if they don't get caught? Do you tell your teenagers to calculate the costs and benefits of speeding when driving?

Would you underpay your taxes if you thought you could get away with it?

How come it is ok to blow off a state law just because you don't like the personal impacts?

Posted by enough, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

Your logic is flawed, Steve. Our country was founded on the principle that the legal system reflects the best interests of the people and is not imposed on them by an autocratic dictator. A law that requires residents to sacrifice their quality of life so that a few very rich people can become even richer is not a just law. And, in the spirit of this nation, we residents must push back.

There have been many bad laws that have been overturned because the public refused their imposition. Or am I to infer that you would have supported discrimination against members of minority groups "because it's the law."

Don't equate this amoral manifestation of crony capitalism to laws that maintain order in our society. It isn't. When the lawmakers make it very clear that they no longer care about the people they serve, we cannot remain silent. You should be ashamed to represent these neo-fascists.

Posted by Mickie Winkler, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I have the greatest respect for Steve Levy. And would like to ask him to discuss how a "real transportation system" that could bring workers in from suburbs--much as Westchester commuters get to NYC--could supplement or eliminate the need for more local housing.

From my persepctive, we have some 23 transit agencies in the bay area. 23! Twenty three elected boards and staff etc, making a coordinated transit system almost impossible. Alternatively the Chicago area has just one.

I would love to be a Caltrain commuter--even if I have to stand--but getting to the Caltrain station and hoping that parking will be available overcomes my urge to take the train. So what can we do to make public transportation an alternative?

One other thing. When we do build more housing, we often intensify local traffic. Workers don't live in walking distance of work. There is no public transportation to get to work. Workers change jobs. So housing is not a fix to local gridlock.

I am a proponent of Smart Growth. But to meet the ABAG mandate, we tend to stuff people wherever we can find empty space. Shouldn't we be focused on a public transportation program? And is there a model toward which we can strive?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Our state has grown to ways, birth rates and the most important one migration, either one has caused growth. Big reason for migration, the jobs that we have produced, so much so that the housing supply hasn't kept pace with demand.

Our state, country and local government hasn't really kept up with growth, look at our infrastructure, 23 transit agencies is a good start. Our crummy highway system, we need to spend big money.

We protected our open space to prevent from leapfrogging development but at the same time we allowed cities to grow so far from the rich job producing regions. Thousands and thousand of units are planned in the CV, we are going to need to the spend the money to support this brand new cities.

Posted by Chris, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

If the Problem is with ABAG and SB 375 we have a proposition system to solve this problem. (portion deleted)

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Steve - People want to know the penalties for ignoring the ABAG because they want to ignore the mandates. You feel strongly that we should follow ABAG, many (maybe even most) people do not.

I personally feel we are not dealing with the increase in jobs as a region, how many units of housing are Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside or East Palo Alto required to build? While they may not have jobs in their towns, they are bedroom communities that benefit from Palo Alto jobs and growth, they have the benefits of strong housing values, good schools funded by property taxes, etc. They should also share fairly in the consequences and need for support.

We are also not being realistic about the infrastructure required to increase our City's population by that many people. We have a pretty much non-working public transportation system unless you live and work within walking or biking distance of a Caltrain station. We do not have the school capacity or parking (just to mention a couple of other issues) nor do our laws allow us to take those issues into consideration. Unless we somehow come up with serious money to change both public transportation and other infrastructure issues, growth is simply detrimental to the current residents.

@Mickie Winkler brings up that public transportation problems also - Chicago has one transit agency, we have 23 (seriously??). If I fly to Chicago, I can arrive at the airport and take the train to the City. Once Downtown, I can get to almost everywhere I wish to go to visit family and friends using either the El or trains. Here in Palo Alto, to get to SFO I would need to walk to the bus, take the bus to Caltrain, take Caltrain to the Bart station and take a bus to the airport. Silly.

Posted by Mjane, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

A problem with ABAG numbers is that its impossible to vet them for reality and correctness. (portion deleted)

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.


Are you for real or just pulling my leg?

The housing laws and advocates you are calling neo-fascists in service of crony capitalists are the same people Craig calls advocates of welfare housing. The main backers of housing policies for housing, especially low income housing are anti-poverty advocates, environmental groups and unions?

And are you really equating the sacrifice and bravery of people who fought against discrimination with your too embarrassed even to put your name down sense of entitlement if the legislature or city council passes a law you don't like?

Our legal system does evolve over time (and there are fundamental constitutional rights) but it evolves for rather large changes in the real world and public opinion, not for casual inconvenience of people who want protection from the growth that is occurring around them. You do have recourse in city council elections.

Are you so sure you are not confusing the best interests of the public with what you think they should be?

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ palo alto resident.

The short term housing planning targets are the result of state law. ABAG (meaning a committee of elected official members) does the allocation to cities but the regional total comes from the state. So "ignoring" would be state law.

Please see my post earlier on the question of why would people advocate ignoring the law and respond.

Your points about infrastructure are good and I will try and answer you and Mickie below

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.


One point of the thread is to report recent population and job trends that show the "reality" of the ABAG projections in recent data with the Bay Area leading the state in both job and population growth.

If you have some evidence to support your deleted garhage post, please show readers.

Posted by SallyP, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Jeff, what do you mean by this comment?

"The state has an obligation to see its workers housed, presumably somewhere near their jobs."

Since when does California have an obligation to house it's workers near their job? What about people that live in San Jose and have to commute to San Francisco for work everyday?

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

@Steve - To answer your question about why "people advocate ignoring the law" it is because those people think that the ABAG and its related state laws are unfair, unreasonable and will ruin what they value about Palo Alto.

You believe that the City should grow to "house all of its workers" a lot of people don't agree. I'm personally somewhere in the middle and would be more apt to back the ABAG requirements if they considered the whole peninsula as a "region" and spread the housing requirements though out ALL the cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara that benefit from job growth. City boundaries should not be the determining factor on housing allocations, drive/travel time to and from jobs should. if you view 280 as a transit zone and ran busses up and down the highway, you could accommodate many businesses, especially those located on Stanford land. What about building housing in Los Altos Hills, Woodside and Portola Valley to accommodate the many workers who are along Page Mill, at Stanford, in the Research Park, etc. There is plenty of land as compared to Palo Alto and a development along the lines of what is happening in San Mateo could house a lot of people without also causing undue traffic, etc. in an already pretty maxed-out City.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ palo alto resident

I will respond after dinner to the thrust of your post but you attributed to me a quote I have never made and which was made by Jeff Rensch in this thread. See either the post above by SallyP or Jeff's original post.

I do not believe PA should house all its workers and would appreciate a clarification from you that you misquoted.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm

@steve - sorry to attribute a quote to you that was not yours. Thanks for clarifying.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Transportation IS a regional and Peninsula challenge. That is one of the reasons this blog is called Invest or Die. I do argue that the practical approach is to invest to handle the impacts of the growth that is here and coming.

But Palo Alto is better situated in terms of highway and public transit access than many cities in the region, certainly more so than Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos and Cupertino to name a few.

Cal Train service expansion is a good idea as the service is attracting record and growing ridership and PA is second busiest station.

Our transporation sales tax dollars ARE expaning freeway caoacity.

BART expansion will be a help to commuters into the South Bay.

Private shuttles can play a growing role. The Stanford shuttles are wildly successful and as an occasional user very easy and frequent. Google shuttles can be an example for others.

We can test having parking by the freeway and shuttles into downtown and the research park. The bicycles downtown are a help.

Programs like Zipcar and other ways to share vehicles can play a role.

A positive attitude about coping with growth would help and an offer to participate in funding by residents would make these investments be implemented faster including more parking structures downtown.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@Palo Alto resident

Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

As a professional, I am fine with housing going in neighoring cities along highway and transit corridors. Housing IS a regional challenge.

As a resident I want PA to participate in building more housing but am fine professioally if PA wants to offer money or other incentives for neighboring cities to accept some of our housing planning targets as is allowed under ABAG rules.

You are right to think of housing as a regional and peninsula challenge.

But the fact are that the peninsula cities ARE sharing in the housing targets and that PA, despite having a comparatively high share of the county's jobs has been given only an average share of the housing target--roughly we are 3% of the county population and have 3% of the projected county housing target for 2014-2022.

Fairness or perceived fairness is discussed in the next post

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:25 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

I reject the residents claim of unfairness in the regional housing planning targets on both philosophical and practical grounds.

Disagreement or inconvenience is not the same as lack of fairness.

My sense of fairness comes from the work of John Rawks and his book Justice as Fairness. interested readers can look up his books and theories.

But the key point is that what is fair should be determined by looking as what would be fair without regard to your starting position. In other words consider what is fair not knowing if you will be rich or poor, gay or straight, and so forth.

I think posters here argue housing is unfair strictly on the basis of their current status. That to me is not "unfair", it is inconvenient and they would have a different take if they were poor or in need of housing assistance.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm

"What is fair should be determined by looking as what would be fair without regard to your starting position."

While philosophically defensible, that condition exists for no one. As a practical matter, fairness is necessarily in the eye of the beholder. What is fair for the farmer is an outrage to the pig.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.


Under your definition "fairness" loses any meaning. It just means I don't like it. As in, its unfair I have to pay so much in taxes or its unfair my child did not get into Stanford or its unfair that the Giants didn't win the World Series this year.

I prefer a definition that can be seen as fair by everyone, even those who would have preferred a different outcome.

Then fairness means something more than "I don't like the result".

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree, Steve.

Fairness is an opinion, not an objective fact. Even if the vast majority of people share an opinion doesn't make it fair. You don't have to look very hard to find examples of large numbers of people who want to take advantage of a select few... especially when that majority doesn't have to pay the price.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Of course we can disagree.

Try looking up the definition of fairness and it will have justice or without discrimination.

It is not the same as disagreement or just what people think.

Fairness as an opinion is not something I would teach my children. How about you?

Posted by David, a resident of another community,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm

All these projections are just so much hand waving as the times have been and will continue to be unprecedented in history. There are many issues that can be seen to factor into the future that are not accounted for by this model. For one thing, while Santa Clara County has grown by 70,000 out of the 92,000 overall Bay Area growth over the last year, it is unreasonable to expect that this predominance will continue. (Portion deleted)

Posted by SRB, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm

If the value of land is higher in Palo Alto than other Bay area communities and Palo Alto is more built out than other Bay are communities (thus imposing greater costs of disruption), doesn't each unit of housing built in Palo Alto cost more than a comparable housing unit built in another community? Are these additional costs taken into account when ABAG calculates the housing allocation requirements?

Posted by Steve Raney, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Steve, thanks so much for your polite responses. Compared to growth without planning, the state and region are very lucky to have a regional planning process that reduces traffic and GHG.

I would be very enthusiastic for the city to develop a planning scenario to meet the ABAG RNHA housing targets while very creatively mitigating the impact. I believe that conversation is missing, even though the SB375 (climate) sustainable communities strategy provides wise direction on how cities should grow smartly.

Goals of a maximally mitigated planning scenario:
A. Preserve Palo Alto?s existing single family home residential neighborhoods. Stop approving major new auto-centered residential development in South Palo Alto.
B. Stretch beyond best practices to minimize traffic/driving created by new residents. New residents should generate less than half of the VMT (vehicle miles traveled, a measure of total driving) that current residents generate. i) Intensify residential development near Caltrain stations. Reduce retail/recreational driving by putting more people within walking distance of CA Ave and University Ave activities. ii) Implement policies to encourage incoming 2-car families to transform into 1-car families. iii) Price parking to reduce driving.
C. Ensure that new housing has a neutral or positive impact on city and PAUSD budgets (for example, 800 High generates a PAUSD surplus). In pursuit of this fiscal objective, maximize new market rate senior housing as well as "micro units."
D. Acknowledging that Palo Altans are compassionate, maximize affordable housing production
E. Create an implementable plan that is deemed feasible by developers (those evil and greedy capitalists)

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ Steve Raney and others trying to work out realistic solutions.

Thanks and keep constructive ideas and questions coming.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.


Yes, housing does cost more in PA as you say.

The local area allocations by ABAG take account of current and future job growth, current housing levels and transportation access as well as local input. They do not allocate less housing to high cost areas.

For the subsidized housing portion of the planning targets, the methodology adopted by members tries to spread the housing around the region.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ David

Try and stay on the topic.

All regional agencies, utilities, and most large companies do projections. They try and assess the future as best they can for planning purposes.

The origin and funding for most regional projections like the ones I did for ABAG comes as a result of 1) federal, state and local requirements for transportation planning and funding.

Many local school districts including Palo Alto do enrollment projections for planning purposes. So do big utilities like PG&E.

Are you arguing that all these agencies are just wasting money or are you blinded by a desire to avoid participating in housing residents in PA? What would you have the school district do--wait until it is too late or try and plan ahead?

Be careful with your numbers. Santa Clara County added 90,000 out of 220,000 regional residents if you go back and read the blog. I expect the long term ratio to be closer to 30% of the regional total, not 40%.

The point of the blog was to point out that growth is running ahead of the regional projections. The projection that the Bay Area will grow slightly faster than the nation is not hand waving. It is based on an assessment of relative strength for future job growth and the conclusion is shared by UCLA, the folks who do projections for Caltrans and by the national firms that do long term projections.

That you don't like one set of implications is not a justification for the put down of this work, which is done by many people and organizations who believe in planning for the future.

Posted by another res, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Steve Levy,

why does a city creating jobs get penalized instead of getting credit?

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ another res

What do you mean penalized?

Also I am not sure what you mean by the city " creates " jobs.

The city does approve land use decisions that can allow more jobs to be located by private companies . Is that what you mean?

But many new jobs have nothing to do with city approvals.

Please clarify

Posted by Ivy Douglas, a resident of St. Claire Gardens,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 6:25 am

We need to stop further growth in the Bay Area and start moving people to other areas of the state with open spaces. We should begin by taxing all new residents who want to move here and encouraging them with special incentives to go to other places. Keep the Bay Area what it is today, and prevent it from becoming another Manhattan cesspool.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 6:30 am

Think of Palo Alto as a can of sardines. There are only so many sardines you can squeeze into a can. Palo Alto is full, and there is no more room for anymore people, it's that simple. The same goes for large developments. This small city has been grossly overdeveloped and this can't go on anymore either.

Posted by Peter R., a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

It\'s sad to me that people think Palo Alto is "full" even though we have a lower population density than a sprawling suburb like Pleasanton. Better public transportation is necessary but new development can help fund that. Perhaps some apartments near California Ave would allow some younger people to move in and add a little more life to the bars and restaurants around there.

Also where do people live in Palo Alto that parking is an issue? Maybe requiring people to park in their driveways and garages would help.

Posted by Peter R., a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 9:42 am

Ivy Douglas - Manhattan is nearly 30 times as dense as Palo Alto. Building out instead of up means paving over more of the natural beauty that CA is known for. It also means longer commutes and more congestion which means more pollution and health problems.

Posted by Mark Michael, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

Steve, thank you for posting the information on your blog about the Dept. of Finance population estimates and for stimulating a lively and contentious discussion about the implications and choices. Residents have come to recent meetings of the Council and Planning & Transportation Commission with the request for better use of data in making decisions that are important to the community. Some progress has been and will be made in collecting relevant data regarding traffic congestion, parking deficit and the big issue of Palo Alto's imbalance between jobs and housing. I applaud your knowledgeable and insightful focus on the data and willingness to think about what it may mean and the consequence of our choices. With attention to data, careful analysis, vigorous debate then hopefully a balance can be struck between desire for progress and preservation of neighborhood character.

Posted by enough, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

Deleted--this is not a blog for trash talk.

Posted by i doubt it, a resident of another community,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 10:56 am

> we (Palo Alto) have a lower population density than a sprawling suburb like Pleasanton

This statement is deceptive. It does not account for the fact that Palo Alto has about 3700 acres more open space than the city of Pleasanton, 1400 of which are in Foothill Park, alone. If you subtract out this open space difference of almost 5.8 square miles, Palo Alto ends up with a population density of 3219/sq mile versus Pleasanton's 2896/sq mile.

Similarly, this also ignores the much larger lot sizes as Palo Alto stretches out into the hills.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

For those people who think Palo Alto is "full", please define "full" in some objective way other than your personal convenience.

I live in a five story condo downtown on Forest. There are similar buildings around and downtown is getting more three and four story office and residential buildings.

My building offers me a choice at independence and convenience as well as environmental benefits that my wife and I treasure. The same is true for my neighbors who include younger tech workers, foreign-born families with young children, older active couples and others.

Should we have been excluded? Taxed? Asked to move out to other areas?

Where do personal freedom and property rights fit in?

Besides the obvious point that companies can "move out" and have chosen to locate here, why does growth elsewhere make sense, especially if here is where people want to live--in the region or in Palo Alto.

There are solid reasons in terms of water, energy and transportation why pushing more people outward who want to work by the coast is not a good idea.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Mark Michael

Thanks and I appreciate your willingness to put in the time to serve our community.


Posted by Peter R., a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

@i doubt it - I think my overall point still stands even if we are slightly more dense than Pleasanton + a huge park.

Posted by enough, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm

The fact that Levy chooses to delete a post that links directly to his own speech -- and calls it trash talk! -- should tell everyone everything they need to know about the author's intentions.

Levy endorses censorship. He is opposed to self-governance. And he appears to serve primarily as a mouthpiece for big $$$ special interest groups. Nuff said.

Posted by We the People, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Dec 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

@Enough - I find your comments valuable, and I wish I could have seen the ones that were deleted.

Folks, it's important to understand that Mr. Levy is proprietor of a small local business that he calls by the snappy name "Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy". This business makes its money selling reports and consulting services to potential investors in California, mainly in real estate and land development. Hence, he has a strong financial incentive to oppose local opposition to growth. The arguments he makes about fairness (scroll up) as a reason to accept unwanted growth are merely talking points. We the People should decide if and how much we want to grow. If what we decide conflicts with state law, we need to change those laws. Arguments about "fairness" are beside the point.

Mr. Levy's blog could better be called "Invest or I Die". :-)

Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Dec 22, 2013 at 11:36 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

On Friday the latest job growth estimates were published, the Bay Area added 63,500 jobs in the past 12 months (when the estimates are revised the growth will be much higher) of which 26,700 were in Santa Clara County.

The unemployment rate while still higher than we hope for is below 6% for the peninsula taken together.

These numbers and the continuing approval of legal developments in PA AND neighboring cities should encourage us to plan for the growth that is coming while debating those few projects where there is controversy and cities have discretion.

The surging ridership on Caltrain and PA's position as the second largest ridership station should remind us that PA is connected to the regional economy whether individual residents are happy with the results or not. It is a reality.

Posted by David, a resident of another community,
on Dec 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The original blog doesn't say then how many of the 70,000 jobs added in Santa Clara County occurred during the last 12 months ending June 30, 2013. I imagine it is about half.

My feeling is that we are in an inflection point and it is difficult to extrapolate the curve going forward from where we are now. The portion you deleted illustrated some of that--how people have been choosing to live far away from their jobs in some cases, working in Mountain View and living in San Francisco. It's very hard to tell if this will or will not continue. Mass transit use especially private buses has increased as a result of this but I don't know that this is a more desirable situation than working locally even with bus rides to and from the City. We aren't talking trivial numbers here either as it has been a noticeable trend to date. There is some public opposition to these busses now and that may bring about change. There is a perception that they serve to bring in rich people to bid up housing costs. Conversely Mountain View is hoping/expecting that a higher fraction of Google workers will live there rather than bussing off at night, because they are trying very hard to add even more housing than the Plan Bay Area forecasts call for, and this kind of new expensive housing will drive up housing costs here in my opinion, because of the scale involved and the number of tear downs of older units.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

stephen levy is a registered user.


You have put down the work I do as hand waving. I suspect you have no consistent beliefs about long term projections and base the hand waving claim on the fact that you don\\\'t like the implications of the ABAG projections.

Do you believe in any long term projections, say about climate change or public employee pension costs or Medicare solvency?

Or the PA city budget? Or PAUSD enrollment?

There are people who claim there is no need now to reduce the federal deficit because we are at an inflection point and those challenges plus city pension projections are overstated.

Try to articulate a consistent position because most long term projections have a similar methodological approach.

Then we can discuss your commuting comments.

Posted by David, a resident of another community,
on Jan 2, 2014 at 1:44 am


Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.


You made a serious and unsubstantiated claim about the work that I and others do to help institutions plan for the future.

You apparently chose to disregard my request for you to respond to my questions about the "handwaving" claim before we continue any conversation.

As a result I deleted your post.

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