Impacts of growth

I have lived here since 1983. So many new office buildings in the last 7-10 years or so. El Camino Real seems like it is solid concrete; block like buildings with little setback crowd the street. Traffic is so congested; need to time trips to stores, post office and other areas to avoid long delays. No bookstores downtown or on California Ave. Trees are dying and incorrectly pruned. What happened?

– resident of Crescent Park

Balance and transparency

I am concerned that very powerful development entities (regardless of whether they are private, institutional or governmental) are subverting the democratic processes of local government, sacrificing a more balanced and open process that has been a cornerstone of local decision making that we have cherished and protected in the past.

– resident of College Terrace

Culture change

It is distressing to see how widespread ostentatious wealth has become. The inflated cost of real estate caused by the big money from the tech industry and also many imported cash buyers. Every block has construction vehicles demolishing, remodelling, rebuilding.  The wealthy drag along the merely well-to-do. Young families are highly competitive, seeing one another at their children’s schools, measuring their homes and cars against one another. The competition is fierce, polluting the human atmosphere.
 – resident of University South

Critical services

“This year the water district failed to install the Matadero Creek Floodgates in a timely manner. I live next to the creek, and happened to notice this right before the supposedly biggest storm of the half-century, and alerted the city. The WD immediately came out and installed them (all 3 sets). However I have not been able to get a satisfactory response from them about why they “forgot” to do this, nor what they, and the city, have put into place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

This could have been our mini-version of the Oroville dam.”

– resident of South Palo Alto

Submitted by Adobe Meadows resident: Tell the Palo Alto City Council to support strengthened Renter Protection

Tonight at 7:15pm (or so), the Palo Alto City Council will consider a colleagues memo from Councilmembers DuBois, Holman, and Kou to strengthen renter protection for Palo Alto residents.  See http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/59776

The Rental Housing Problem

Rental housing cost in Palo Alto and the region has exploded in recent years as the pace of job growth has tripled compared to the rate of housing growth. Housing that is being built is predominantly high-end along with small amounts of subsidized, low-income housing. The needs of moderate-income workers and families have been ignored, undermining our social and economic balance. Vital members of our community, teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, utility workers, shopkeepers, social workers and others are all being driven away.

Although big growth in the tech economy has been a boon to many, it has caused negative disruptions to our region including a huge growth in housing demand that has harmed affordability with many long-term renters being driven out or forced to pay more than they can afford. Since 2011, the average rent in Palo Alto has increased 50% while the county median income has grown at less than1/10 that rate. Palo Alto needs to provide renters with the sort of reasonable protections already provided by Mountain View and San Jose.

By the council acting on this problem through a city ordinance, Palo Alto avoids the likelihood of a more restrictive and less balanced citizen initiative like in Mountain View which cannot not be modified except through a future vote of the electorate.

Renter Protection Goals

  • Support retention of a healthy, diverse community and local economy;
  • Moderate the rate of rent increases;
  • Provide protections from unjust evictions that are fair to both renters and landlords;
  • Continue topromote construction of new multi-unit rental developments.

Recommendations

  • An annual percentage cap on rent increases for multi-unit residences built before 1995, thereby continuing to encourage new housing construction.
  • Protections against tenant terminations without just cause while protecting the fair rights of property owners.
  • A city council ordinance rather than a voter initiative that will allow needed adjustments over time.

Here’s what you can do

  • Write to the Palo Alto City Council today at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org requesting they support the Colleagues Memo (agenda item 13).  Please write in your own words, and you may use the talking points above.
  • Come speak to the City Council tonight.  Arrive by 7:15pm.  Fill out a comment card requesting to speak to agenda item 13.  You will have two or maybe three minutes to speak.  It is best to prepare your remarks in advance, either word-for-word or in outline or note form.  You can make a short statement, simply to say something like, “I support the goals of recommendations of the colleagues memo.  Thank you.”

Jobs/housing: Tell Council your thoughts on office growth – September 5, 2017

On September 5, City Council will define its vision for future limits on the pace of growth for office and research and development (R&D) square footage in Palo Alto.

In this first step toward developing a permanent annual limit on office/R&D development, Council will direct staff regarding the following details of a possible ordinance:

  1. Boundaries of the areas that should be subject to an annual cap;
  2. The quantitative limit – should it be 50,000 sf or something different;
  3. Whether unused annual allocations should be “rolled over” to raise the cap in subsequent years;
  4. Whether current exemptions to the limit should be continued or modified; and
  5. How projects should be reviewed – competitive, first-come first-serve, or some other process.

Many Palo Altans see managing the pace of jobs growth as a vital piece of the puzzle to address our jobs/housing imbalance, while others worry that constraints on a strong office market will impair Palo Alto’s economic vitality.

Tell City Council where you stand on office growth limits. Speak up at City Council on September 5 at 6pm (City Hall) or send an email to the full Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org.