Palo Alto: Southgate parking permit trial already under fire

Mercury News – by Kevin Kelly / February 1, 2018

Southgate residents want office employees off their streets, while city looks to add permits to El Camino

Some Southgate neighborhood residents are upset that Palo Alto officials are already talking about changing an experiment designed to make it easier for them to find street parking in front of their homes.

But the council unanimously decided to revisit the trial in June. If Caltrans, which owns and operates El Camino Real, meanwhile agrees to allow permitted parking on the west side, the council indicated it will issue the additional 15 permits to businesses with the intention that they park on El Camino.

On Monday, the council is to consider modifying a parking permit program in the adjacent Evergreen Park/Mayfield neighborhoods. Staff is suggesting that the trial phase there be made permanent.

North Palo Alto residents ramp up traffic battle

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / January 26, 2018

Neighborhood warms to new and creative activism to unclog residential streets

Riled by daily traffic snarls on their residential streets, about 70 Crescent Park residents met with Palo Alto police and transportation officials on Jan. 18 to discuss how to end commuters’ occupation of their neighborhood.

Greg Welch, a Center Drive resident, spearheaded the neighborhood advocacy.

“As our next steps, we will have almost weekly meetings and will be coordinating (with the city),” he said, noting they plan to form a stakeholder group to develop a pilot traffic-management program. The group would work with Palo Alto’s transportation department on creating the program.

The meeting, just the latest movement in a wave of neighborhood activism, covered the expected discussion of pavement markings, traffic circles and stop signs — but also ventured into the realm of politics, with residents talking about potential candidates to support during this year’s City Council election.

Rising costs won’t shrink California Avenue garage

Despite escalating budget, City Council votes to stick with the plan for a six-level garage

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner, January 23, 2018

California Avenue merchants scored a political victory Monday night when Palo Alto officials reaffirmed their plan to construct a garage with two basement levels and more than 600 parking stalls on a Sherman Avenue lot.

By an 8-1 vote, with Adrian Fine dissenting, the City Council voted to reject a staff recommendation to eliminate one of the basement levels as part of a strategy to contain the project’s rapidly rising costs.

California Avenue merchants called the proposed reduction “nothing less than a breach of faith with the business community that has worked collaboratively with the City for so many years on this project.”

D.C. residents take their battle over airplane noise to federal court

Washington Post – by Lori Aretani / January 22, 2018

The three-year battle between residents in Northwest Washington and the Federal Aviation Administration over noise from flights at Reagan National Airport is now in the hands of a federal appeals court.

The two sides presented their case to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week. A ruling, which could take several months, will be closely watched by communities across the country grappling with similar issues tied to the FAA’s efforts to modernize the nation’s air traffic system.

Combo parking structure and theater likely to move up on Menlo Park’s priority list

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Emily Mibach / January 18, 2018

A parking garage with an entertainment center — such as a movie theater — may be catapulted up the Menlo Park City Council’s to do list.

Polling released to the city on Tuesday revealed that 74% of polled residents would support seeing a three-story “multi-use parking structure” downtown. City Councilman Ray Mueller, has been calling for a structure like this since 2014 and said he was excited to see the poll results.

Meeting set for Tuesday on Stanford expansion

Public comment period winding down for university’s large-scale expansion plan

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 18, 2018

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will host a public meeting on Tuesday regarding Stanford University’s 2018 General Use Permit (GUP) application. As the public comment period is ending Feb. 2, the meeting will be one of the last opportunities for residents to make verbal public comments regarding the GUP.

If the permit is approved, the permit will allow Stanford University to build up to 2.275 million square feet in academic space, 3,150 housing units and 40,000 square feet of child care space and other supporting facilities between 2018 and 2035.

Palo Alto prepares for massive downtown ‘upgrade’

City’s plan to replace utility and water mains, add street improvements to launch this spring

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 18, 2018

The streets of downtown Palo Alto will transform into a hive of construction activity this spring, when the city launches an ambitious, yearslong plan to replace utility pipes, upgrade traffic equipment, widen sidewalks and expand its fiber-optics network.

The construction frenzy is set to launch in April and May and crawl block-by-block along University Avenue and surrounding streets, where roads will be torn up to accommodate new pipes, cables and equipment relating to traffic signals and utilities.

San Mateo: Citizens group urging height, density limits before measure ends

San Mateo City Council asked for ballot measure ahead of general plan update

The Daily Journal – by Samantha Weigel / January 15, 2018

As communities across the Bay Area strive to balance disparate viewpoints while navigating the effects of growth, the impassioned debate over height and density restrictions in San Mateo may reach a critical point sooner than some anticipated.

A citizens group that originally spurred San Mateo’s voter-approved limits more than 25 years ago has returned. Members are now urging the City Council to place a measure on the ballot that would keep in place 5-story height limits in most parts of the city, and restrict how dense housing and commercial developers can build.

While the city is about to initiate an extensive community outreach effort for its General Plan update — the most comprehensive land use and zoning document in San Mateo — concerns have arisen about Measure P sunsetting at the end of 2020.

Cupertino: Citizens group fears new laws could open door for Vallco developer

Mercury News – by Keith Menconi / January 12, 2018

As Cupertino begins a new planning round for the 58-acre Vallco Shopping Mall site, some residents are warning that the state’s recently enacted housing legislation could lead to a skirting of city reviews and pave the way for “massive development.”

A Change.org petition by citizen advocacy group Better Cupertino, which has collected more than 1,000 signatures, calls on the city to examine the consequences of the new laws and create “clearer objective standards” for the city’s General Plan.

The new laws aim to tackle the state’s housing crisis, in part by limiting the ability of local governments to reject housing development applications–including projects that are mixed with non-residential uses–that comply with all “objective” local standards, according to a legal analysis prepared for the city by attorneys from Goldfarb & Lipman LLP.

City finds new way to dig basements

Palo Alto sees uptick in cutoff walls to curb groundwater pumping

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 12, 2018

On a single block of Webster Street in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, a tale of two basements is unfolding — one that illustrates the city’s evolving debate over groundwater.

The use of cutoff walls in Palo Alto can be attributed in large part to a citizens group called Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater, formed in 2015 to protest the growing number of dewatering projects and to promote new restrictions. Their advocacy prompted the city to gradually add requirements for projects that require groundwater pumping.