City braces for impacts of new housing laws

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / December 5, 2017

Palo Alto council members, planning staff say recently passed bills could reduce local control, spur major change

For Palo Alto’s housing advocates, the broad package of bills that Sacramento lawmakers signed into law this fall are exactly the type of disruption that the city needs after years of sluggish residential construction and a deepening crisis of affordable housing.

But for the Palo Alto City Council, which has made housing one of its top priorities for the year, the Sacramento-administered medicine comes with a host of unpredictable side effects. The new laws could upend the city’s policies on everything from parking requirements to architectural reviews. And with the new laws kicking in on Jan. 1, City Hall staff are scrambling to understand the implications and come up with new procedures and policies to address them.

City seeks more protection from Stanford expansion

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / December 1, 2017

Palo Alto officials, residents question university’s plans to manage anticipated traffic and housing problems

The City Council plans to approve on Monday night a comment letter on the project’s voluminous draft Environmental Impact Report, which assesses likely consequences of the expansion. The letter takes issues with Stanford’s assumptions about traffic, groundwater and fire-service demand, among many other things.

Palo Alto council splits over roof decks

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

For some members, decks are a sign of vitality; for others, a waste of staff time

The council didn’t take any votes on the proposal, which is still in a conceptual phase and which has not yet been the subject of a formal application. The pre-screening session was a chance for the council to either nip the project in the bud and avoid unnecessary expenditures or signal its support and suggest ways to improve the project.

The council did both of these things and, in doing so, sent a mixed message to the prospective applicant, building owner Thoits Brothers Inc. But given that the more pro-growth faction enjoys a narrow council majority, the Monday discussion means the application is likely to move ahead.

El Camino plan offers hope to Palo Alto’s housing advocates

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / August 29, 2017

City Council lauds development plan from Palo Alto Housing; considers rule changes to stimulate more housing

Palo Alto’s elected leaders found plenty to like on Monday in a new proposal to bring 61 units of desperately needed affordable housing to a transit-friendly site in the Ventura neighborhood.

There’s just one serious problem: it would violate the zoning code in more ways than they can count.

Keene: City to hold off on evictions of First Baptist groups

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elinor Aspegren, Shawna Chen and Jocelyn Dong / August 15, 2017

Pastors, others say allowing churches to rent space to various community groups should be allowed

Unhappy over the City of Palo Alto’s planned eviction of a dozen nonprofit organizations and businesses that have been using First Baptist Church in Palo Alto as their home, members of the groups and their supporters turned out in force on Monday to plead with the City Council to change zoning rules to allow them to stay.

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.

Editorial: Facebook’s proposed ‘village’

Palo Alto Weekly – by Palo Alto Weekly editorial board / July 14, 2017

Massive development proposal will only worsen housing, transportation problems

It’s hard to imagine a better example of how messed up our region’s planning processes and development policies are than Facebook’s latest proposal to build nine new office buildings totaling 1.75 million square feet, likely to be occupied by up to 10,000 new employees, while eventually constructing 1,500 rental apartment units.

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.

Plan for ‘car-light’ development on El Camino draws mixed reviews

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.

Facing sustained public outcry, Council reverses course

Palo Alto Matters – March 24, 2017

Moving quickly to assert itself, the new Council majority used a fast-track voting process to limit debate and sideline the Citizen Advisory Committee’s Land Use recommendations – only to retreat after two months of public backlash.