We found which Bay Area cities aren’t pulling their weight on housing

Curbed San Francisco – by Scott Lucas / October 12, 2017

An exclusive analysis of regional jobs and housing with surprising conclusions

When you look at the data, the cities that score the worst in building enough housing units for their workers aren’t Palo Alto and similar cities. It’s our biggest cities, like San Francisco and San Jose, that really drive the problem.

Here’s what we found.

Google demands more office space, threatens to block North Bayshore housing

The Mercury News – by Ethan Baron / September 27, 2017

MOUNTAIN VIEW — In a standoff with city officials, Google is demanding more office space for its futuristic new “Charleston East” campus and is threatening to block nearly 10,000 units of critically needed housing if it doesn’t get its way.

The company’s move could derail a plan — given preliminary approval by the Mountain View City Council early Wednesday morning and which Google says it still supports — for construction of 9,850 homes in the North Bayshore development anchored by Charleston East. The Mountain View search giant had earlier told the city it would work with partners to have 9,600 housing units built on its property, said Vice-Mayor Lenny Siegel.

Editorial: The shriveling office cap

Palo Alto Weekly – by the Palo Alto Weekly editorial board / September 8, 2017

Council’s split over office cap will surely return as an election issue next year

The irony and hypocrisy of this is that the same majority that voted Tuesday to make more commercial development easier has been advocating repeatedly for more housing. If there is one documentable result of the current office-cap restrictions, it is that it has led to more housing projects where office development would have otherwise been likely.

It is not hard to imagine voters becoming cynical about candidates who say their focus is on increasing the supply of housing while voting to make new commercial development, the major driver in demand for housing, easier.

Palo Alto relaxes limit on office development

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / September 6, 2017

Split council votes to give developers more flexibility, scraps ‘beauty contest’

After two years of sluggish commercial growth, the Palo Alto City Council moved Tuesday to loosen the city’s cap on office development so as to give builders more flexibility.

The City Council largely agreed that the city’s cap on office and research-and-development projects has been largely successful — for some, a little too much so. Adopted in October 2015, the cap applied to three prominent commercial areas — downtown, the California Avenue business district and along El Camino Real — and limited new development in these areas to 50,000 square feet per year.

Planning commission unanimously recommends office-cap extension

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elinor Aspegren and Shawna Chen / July 27, 2017

The Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission supported the city staff’s recommendation to extend the 50,000 square foot office-cap ordinance on Wednesday. Despite concerns about its long-term effects, all five commissioners present passed the motion with little debate….

Facebook’s “Village” plan raises questions

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Emily Mibach / July 12, 2017

Facebook’s proposal to develop a 59-acre business park on Willow Road in Menlo Park into a “Village” with homes, stores and 1.75 million square feet of office space doesn’t answer some major questions about housing and traffic.

Facebook unveils plans for giant new development in Menlo Park

The Almanac – by Kate Bradshaw / July 10. 2017

Company plans to build 3.45 million square feet of housing, office and retail space

Facebook, which hit 2 billion users June 27, has announced plans for a major new office, residential and retail development near its headquarters at Willow Road and Bayfront Expressway in Menlo Park.

“Young guns” out of step with community – Editorial

Palo Alto Matters – May 13, 2017

Councilmembers Wolbach, Tanaka and Fine have stretched their wings as part of the new Council majority with policy proposals that would worsen the city’s jobs/housing imbalance and shift parking and traffic burdens to residents. Along the way, they have employed tactics that sidestep City staff, exclude public input and forego opportunities for compromise, undermining public trust and repeatedly raising widespread and vocal community concern.

City Council changes course on housing fees

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / March 28, 2017

Council members spar over best way to fund affordable housing

In an unusual move that reflected Palo Alto’s shifting political dynamics, the City Council reversed on Monday night its December decision to significantly raise the fees that office developers must contribute to support affordable housing.

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.