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.

Palo Alto may ease parking rules to spur housing

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

Three council members propose eliminating off-street parking requirements for ‘car-light’ projects

In the latest effort to combat Palo Alto’s housing crisis, three council members are proposing significant revisions to the city’s parking regulations, including eliminating parking requirements altogether for “car-light” developments that offer transit amenities to their tenants.

The proposals in the memo target a wide range of disparate regulations — including ones relating to floor area ratio (FAR), building heights and expanded “pedestrian transit-oriented development” zones, which give developers near transit nodes more flexibility on density and parking. One recommendation would establish “housing minimums” for new developments in residential zones so that a project would be required to provide at least 80 percent of the units that its land use designation can accommodate.

Commission pans parking meter plan

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / October 12, 2017

Proposal to overhaul downtown’s parking scheme criticized as premature

Downtown Palo Alto’s move toward parking meters hit an unexpected turn Wednesday night when the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission voted against implementation.

By a unanimous vote, the commission rejected all four options that were presented by transportation staff for overhauling downtown’s parking system. Citing uncertainty about the impacts of parking meters on downtown retail, the commission recommended that the council hold off on approving any plans, pending more outreach to area businesses.

Parking program shifts problem, again

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / September 29, 2017

Duveneck/St. Francis, East Palo Alto residents call for collaboration, changes

Call it what you will: whack-a-mole, a shell game, musical cars. Channing Avenue and Edgewood Drive are the latest streets to become parked up as drivers seek parking spots outside Palo Alto’s ever-expanding zone of prohibited overnight parking.

Contractor errs, sells too many parking permits

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / September 8, 2017

More downtown employees than intended bought permits in five residential areas closest to central downtown

An error in implementing downtown Palo Alto’s evolving Residential Preferential Parking program, which aims to eventually stop commuters from parking in residential neighborhoods, caused the exact opposite to happen this summer: Too many permits were sold to employees wanting to park their cars in five out the area’s 10 parking zones.

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.

New budget signals city’s shift on transportation

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / June 27, 2017

City Council supports sharp hikes to parking rates, more investment in car-less alternatives

Palo Alto fired a salvo Tuesday night in its war against traffic congestion when it approved a budget that dramatically increases the cost of parking in downtown and around California Avenue and invests nearly $500,000 in a new nonprofit charged with shifting drivers to other modes of transportation.

Rate hikes aim to shake up Palo Alto’s parking scene

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / June 23, 2017

Drivers face sharp fee increases for permits at downtown and California Avenue garages

The start of a new fiscal year rarely causes a stir in Palo Alto, where a healthy economy has helped the City Council invest in new bike boulevards, fire stations and garages without cutting any services.

But while residents are unlikely to see earth-shattering changes on July 1, when fiscal year 2018 begins, commuters to downtown and California Avenue could be in for an eye-popping shock.