Palo Alto Matters – Guest Commentary by Eric Filseth / June 11, 2017
Palo Alto City Council Member, Finance Committee Chair
Outlandish as it sounds, there’s actually a line of thinking for this.
Sales taxes are many cities’ largest revenue source, and they’re a major contributor in Palo Alto as well: normally about 15% of our General Fund, with the Stanford Shopping Center usually being our largest single contributor, last year about $5.5 million.
But in Palo Alto, our lead revenue source is actually property taxes, at about 20% of our General Fund. Most of our property tax revenue – about 75%, or $30 million for FY2018 – is residential. This is partly because our commercial base stays low (basically loopholes in Prop 13), but mostly because Palo Alto residential property values are high; and residential property values are influenced by school districts.
“Is PAUSD the City’s Single Top Revenue Source?” Read More
Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / June 19, 2017
Palo Alto officials support having housing on busy intersection but wary of parking impacts
Few projects epitomize the hopes of Palo Alto’s housing advocates and the anxieties of the city’s land-use watchdogs as clearly as 2755 El Camino Real, a four-story housing project proposed for the busy intersection of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real.
Palo Alto Matters – May 13, 2017
Maintaining the quality of schools and the sufficiency of local infrastructure to support them are of paramount importance to the Palo Alto community. Nevertheless, the current City Council has shown little interest in either planning to ensure that schools can support Palo Alto’s rate of growth or regulating land uses to accommodate future school expansions.
Instead, the Council majority frequently cites PAUSD’s current decline in elementary enrollment as excuse not to worry about how city growth will impact schools in the future. On May 1, Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine went further, opposing a longstanding City policy to consider school enrollment impacts in land use planning. They argued that school impacts should not be considered at all in the City’s land use decision-making, regardless of current or future enrollment, because doing so could restrain development, making Palo Alto “unwelcoming” to newcomers.
“Wolbach and Fine oppose planning for school impacts from city growth” Read More
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.
““Young guns” out of step with community – Editorial” Read More
Palo Alto Matters – April 24, 2017
Last month, in a last minute policy shift, a divided City Council voted to allow the construction of second homes (known as accessory dwelling units or ADUs) on any property in single family neighborhoods, within six feet of side and rear property lines and with no on-site parking or design review requirements.
In doing so, Council rejected a publicly vetted and broadly supported staff recommendation in favor of a final hour proposal that reduces privacy protections and creates additional parking impacts. Most residents, including those objecting to portions of the new ordinance, support more ADUs. But many thought abandoning the compromise recommendation amounted to bait and switch policy-making that invalidated years of public participation.
“Hundreds protest bait and switch tactics on “granny units”” Read More
Compare City Council’s April 17 Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU/JADU) ordinance to pre-existing City rules, State law, and staff’s publicly vetted compromise recommendation.
ADU Policy Matrix
The Mercury News – by George Avalos, Bay Area News Group / March 30, 2017
“It turns out that we were wrong about millennial preferences, the stories were wrong that millennials wanted to live in a hyper-urban environment and that it would be OK to raise families in a condo,” said Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute. “Millennials are putting off family formation, but when they have a family, they want what their parents had: a house on a nice lot pretty close to work.”
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.
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:
- Boundaries of the areas that should be subject to an annual cap;
- The quantitative limit – should it be 50,000 sf or something different;
- Whether unused annual allocations should be “rolled over” to raise the cap in subsequent years;
- Whether current exemptions to the limit should be continued or modified; and
- 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 email@example.com.