Town Square

Portola Valley examines 'affordable housing'

Original post made on Jul 12, 2012

A team of Portola Valley officials spent two hours Wednesday night (July 11) fielding questions and comments from an audience of about 100. The goal of the evening: discuss the future of housing that would be affordable to people of moderate incomes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 12, 2012, 10:43 AM


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Posted by member
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

A good balanced report of what occurred.

One question I have is if the Town were to acquire the Al's Nursery site why would the zoning have to be changed if another "mixed" (housing/commercial)use development were done here.

All in all the Town could have handled this issue better.

The topic we need to deal with should be affordable housing, not the purchase and sale of a particular pieces of land.

It's clear the Town will suffer dramatically if we can't find a way to help plan for this growing need.

I fervently hope we can come together as a community and continue the dialog towards a solution.

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Posted by confused
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

One question that I have: all of the news articles talk about two Blue Oaks lots, but my reading of the town housing element indicates that 15% of new development lots (which includes a 10% density bonus to the developer) are to be set aside to support BMR housing. From what I know Blue Oaks is 26 lots, which would give 4 BMR lots, which as I understood where to be zoned for up to 2 units / parcel for a total of 8 units. All of the old news articles dating to when Blue Oaks was proposed talk about 4 lots.

Why/how did this eventually turn into 2 lots?

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Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Jul 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Dear Confused. Your confusion is justified. My mistake. There are four below-market-rate parcels that the town owns in Blue Oaks.

Thanks for pointing this out. I have made a correction to the story.

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Posted by Paul Cushman
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I find this reporting an inaccurate representation of the meeting. The objections were NOT over the fact I heard much support and many good suggestions.

The debate I heard was over the conduct of the Town Council in this matter and their lack of transparency. And, when provided with an opportunity to explain their actions, council members (Ann Wangert in particular) chose to completely avoid topics, such as:

1. Why does the Town HAVE to by this parcel? Requirements, as communicated in the meeting, are "to plan for" housing...not to be a property developer. That Blue Oaks will somehow pay for Al's was never explained, even when directly asked of Wangert.
2. Why the sudden rush. I feel this has something to do with foot dragging and failure over BlueOaks, the need to submit a new Planning Approach in 2014 and the councils desperate need to show that they have, actually, done something in order to get the next plan through
3. Why the lack of communication? A resident of Wyndam, next to Al's, complimented the Windmill team for open communication of plans and engagement in dialogue, and criticized the Town for doing the opposite.

I feel it is this last issue that was the cause of rancor in the hall, in residents losing trust in it's elected officials and not what the reporter incorrectly saw as a "not in my backyard" commentary.

I strongly recommend the reporter dig into this to investigate what is really going on here and why is the Town being so evasive in answering legitimate questions from the people they serve.

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Posted by Gottrocks
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Yessss....we can't have thooooose people among us. Our long noses would shrink.

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Posted by Staying Open Minded
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Did anyone count how many questions were raised for the town to address? And how many (including mine) were deferred by Steve Tobin to a later meeting and/or the Q&A to be posted because of the time limit last night?

I applaud the town for inviting us into the discussion early on, and giving us an overview of a complex issue. And they listened very closely to what we had to say. It's a great start.

Just because my question didn't get answered doesn't mean that the town was avoiding or hiding from me. There will be other meetings and online forums, I expect. As Tobin said at the start of the meeting, let's keep focused on the issues of affordable housing, and let's vigorously address the issues without impugning the motives of those who are working on them on our behalf.

Anyone interested in a solution here?

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Posted by local resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

why don't the lots in Blue Oaks be rezoned for more housing - since PV already has the land a perfect place to build the BMR's

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Posted by concerned
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

To hear in Wednesday's meeting that Council member Wangert was not truthful in her account of the timeline of the property negotiations was concerning to me. I want to fully support our Town Council and their decisions in regards to the best interests for the Town, but I find this very hard to do when Council members present information where facts are omitted or not presented honestly. I appreciated the need for a meeting time limit, but felt that not all questions and concerns were addressed. I think comments should have been timed to avoid "monologue" comments that took up precious time instead of giving everyone their opportunity to speak. Mr. Tobin told us that the Council members had given up their evening time to be there. With all due respect, this is not a courtesy, but part of your role as a Town official.

One audience member mentioned that there seemed to be a feeling of a "negative undercurrent" surrounding this project. I agree and I urge the Town Council to set the example and the tone for honesty and integrity in our Town.

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Posted by Wants furter info
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

A couple points on BMR housing I do not understand that someone out there does. Once built, I assume they are sold or are they apartments to re-rent once the person no longer works in PV. If they are sold units, when they are re-sold do they cap the price or the profit that the old owner can keep? If not, I'd assume they'd be bought and turned over for a much higher price due to the location/schools/etc and not really be BMR houses any more. Do you force someone to sell if they stop working in the town? If apartments, can you kick someone out if they no longer work in PV. Seems again like this is only a temporary help until a few tenants pass thru the units. When this issue first came up, I thought I remember some ways to grandfather some apartments (guest houses/pool houses) that rent on private homes. Finally, there are many rentals in PV, why not subsidize the rentals over 20 years to achieve the goals as opposed to building units that nobody seems to want.