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 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.

Hotel plan draws opposition in south Palo Alto

Residents concerned about building’s density, traffic impacts

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 9, 2018

For Palo Alto’s elected leaders, the hotel boom that is transforming south El Camino Real is a trend to be embraced: a welcome boost to the city’s revenue stream at a time of rising infrastructure costs and growing pension obligations. The City Council signaled as much last year, when it voted to explore allowing greater density for new hotels, particularly in the downtown area.

But for residents of Palo Alto Redwoods, the promise of new riches comes at a high cost. On Dec. 21, a group from the 117-unit condominium complex came to City Hall to protest the latest entry into the crowded field: a 90-room hotel proposed for 4256 El Camino Real, site of Su Hong restaurant. From their point of view, the new project will cause traffic havoc, threaten the health of area redwoods and create parking problems.

If approved, the new hotel would occupy a stretch of El Camino that has become a magnet for hotels, big and small. These include two recently constructed hotels — Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites — as well as Crowne Plaza Cabana, Palo Alto Inn, Americas Best Value Inn, Oak Motel and Dinah’s Garden Hotel.

Planned Cambridge Avenue development meets opposition

Residents and business owners raise concerns about proposed three-story building

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

Karen Price, a massage therapist with a practice on Cambridge Avenue, believes the three-story building on her block won’t just change the character of the surrounding area.

It will also, she said Thursday, threaten the character of the city by accelerating the displacement of small, community-serving businesses like her own by tech companies with a global clientele.

Price was part of a group, which included area businesses and residents, who attended the Dec. 21 meeting of the Architectural Review Board to speak out against the project in the California Avenue Business District.

New housing laws roil officials in Burlingame

State’s loosened development standards costing local control raise eyebrows on the City Council

San Mateo Daily Journal – by Austin Walsh / December 7, 2017

New state housing laws requiring city governments to cede a substantial portion of their local control alarmed Burlingame officials who fear the regulations may bring unintended consequences.

Officials raised concerns the legislation will invite development of boilerplate, cookie-cutter plans by sapping officials authority to enforce design driven decisions.

“Burlingame for many years has worked very hard to develop guidelines, but many of those guidelines have to deal with neighborhood consistency, so all of that goes out the door with this,” said Keighran.


In Crescent Park, a push to end traffic gridlock

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / December 1, 2017

Residents to seek solutions for the daily line of cars on neighborhood streets

Fed up with the daily traffic gridlock on their neighborhood’s streets, Crescent Park residents are banding together to get the city of Palo Alto’s attention.

For hours each day, Crescent Park residents are plagued by the hundreds of vehicles that jam the streets within blocks of University Avenue, from Middlefield Road to East Crescent Drive. They say they battle just to get in and out of their driveways on weekday afternoons.

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.