City requires 300-foot setback from public schools for wireless equipment installations

June 18, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

On June 17, City Council took a first step in responding to community concerns about the public impacts of wireless cell equipment installations in the public right of way. Under time pressure from the Federal Communications Commission, in April 2019 the city adopted objective standards to regulate the design and location of wireless cell equipment installations on light and utility poles throughout the city. Recognizing strong interest in the community for tighter controls, City Council directed staff to return within a year with an updated ordinance that could reduce perceived impacts on nearby homes and schools. Staff are in the process of analyzing additional standards to meet that timeline. Meanwhile, due to the urgency of public demands for setbacks from public schools, on June 17, staff proposed an interim standard that would require wireless equipment installations to be located at least 300 feet from any land parcel containing a public school. Paragraph

Most public comments Monday night generally favored setback requirements but, citing standards in other communities, they sought a 1,500-foot setback from any school (not just public schools) as well as a 300-foot setback from residences. A motion by Councilmember Kou to require a 1,000-foot setback from any k-12 school and a 300-foot setback from residences failed for lack of a second and staff indicated that more research was necessary to determine the maximum setbacks that would be appropriate in Palo Alto. Ultimately council voted 6-1 (Kou dissenting) to adopt the staff-proposed 300-foot setback from public schools. Staff was encouraged to bring forward additional standards as they are identified rather than waiting for a complete package of new standards.

Council to weigh in on Mercedes/Audi Dealership adjacent to Baylands

June 18, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

On June 24, City Council is set to change the underlying zoning district and authorize demolition of the former Ming’s Restaurant and current Audi Dealership (located at 1700 and 1730 Embarcadero Road) to allow construction of a new two-story 84,900 square foot combined Mercedes/Audi auto dealership. The proposed project offers potential to increase the city’s sales tax revenues, but has traveled a bumpy road through the city’s commission review process.

On March 27 after lengthy deliberations, the Planning and Transportation Commission narrowly recommended approval of the project on a 4-3 vote (Lauing, Summa, Templeton dissenting). Cited concerns included ecological and traffic impacts due to proximity to the Baylands and the badly congested intersection of Embarcadero and East Bayshore Roads. In addition, multiple commissioners found the project incompatible with other development in the area and objected to the extension of perceived “spot zoning” at the Ming’s site (to accommodate a hotel that never came to fruition) to the adjacent Audi parcel.

The Architectural Review Board, despite having held three hearings on the project, has not yet offered a recommendation for approval and as recently as June 6 was unable to make a number of required “Findings” that would be necessary for an affirmative recommendation. Staff asserts that the ARB’s outstanding concerns do not have a significant impact on the overall building mass or design. Therefore, in the interest of streamlined review, staff has opted to advance the project to City Council with a condition of approval that would require return to the ARB to resolve the outstanding issues after council takes action on the application.

City just adopted new rules for disposable food ware and construction materials – Next up: refuse collection

June 18, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

Pursuant to Palo Alto’s Zero Waste Plan, City Council adopted new rules on June 10 to regulate the use of disposable food ware, including restricting the use of plastic straws, cutlery, beverage stirrers, etc., reducing printed receipts at food service establishments and limiting the retail use of plastic produce and meat bags, including at grocery stores and farmers markets. In addition, council approved new rules regarding management of deconstruction and construction materials to maximize the salvage for reuse, increase diversion of recyclable materials, and reduce the amount of landfilled waste.

On June 24 council will turn its attention to refuse disposal and collection with new rules related to the storage, sorting, collection and removal of refuse to make waste sorting more effective and facilitate monitoring. Some proposed changes include requiring commercial facilities to use clear bags for garbage, blue-tinted clear bags for recycling, and green-tinted clear, compostable bags for compost. All users (including residential) will be required to break down cardboard boxes, and containers may only stay in the public right-of-way for 24 hours before or after being serviced. 


The CASA Compact underlying SB-50

Touted as balanced compromise, Compact faces criticism from cities and offers no assurance of cohesive legislation

March 2, 2019 – Palo Alto Matters

SB-50 is perhaps the most prominent in a slew of proposed state legislation to implement an ambitious regional housing plan known as the CASA Compact. The Compact was designed as an interdependent package to address all three legs of the housing stool: production, preservation, and renter protection. Supporters describe the Compact as a necessary, if imperfect, compromise and they hope that controversial elements will have a better chance of passing if they all advance together to the state Capitol. However the Compact itself has been met with strong criticism and there is no certainty or commitment that every piece will move forward. 

What is the CASA Compact?

The CASA Compact was created by the Committee to House the Bay Area, a coalition of developers, business leaders, elected officials, labor interests and tenant advocates convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Recently endorsed by the MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments, known as ABAG, the CASA Compact consists of an ambitious ten-point planto: 

  • Spur housing construction through minimum zoning near transit; streamlined approvals and exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act; property tax breaks for developers; use of public lands for affordable housing; and further incentives for accessory dwelling units. “Sensitive communities” with a high percentage of low income residents, would get a grace period of up to 5 years to propose community-driven alternatives to meet state performance standards (i.e., housing production goals).
  • Protect renters through just-cause eviction rules and relocation assistance; access to emergency rent assistance and legal help; and a temporary cap limiting the size of annual rent increases.

The Compact calls for $1.5 billion in local and regional “self-help” funding (through taxes, fees, bonds and revenue set-asides) to implement the plan including: $1 billion from taxpayers, property owners and local governments; $400 million from employers; and $400 million from developers. At least 60 percent of that funding would go towards housing production, ten percent would go towards renter protections, and 20 percent would go toward preservation. 

Notably, the CASA Compact also calls for state legislation to create an independent Regional Housing Enterprise board comprised of MTC and ABAG representatives and the stakeholder representatives who developed the Compact itself. The unelected RHE would have authority to collect and disburse fees, taxes, and other revenues, allocate funding, and issue debt.

Competing interests of small and big cities 

The Mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose were all on the CASA Steering Committee and voted to approve the final CASA Compact. However, numerous other cities and towns have been strongly critical and objected that the interests of their cities were not represented. The Cities Association of Santa Clara County, representing 15 cities, argued that the Compact’s one-size-fits-all solutions neglect the diversity of needs in each city and threaten to leave cities “without adequate funding for the infrastructure that makes our communities whole – schools, transportation, etc.” Similarly, they argued that the failure to engage cities of all sizes in the plan’s development could lead to significant unintended consequences both locally and regionally.

In addition to the Cities Association, the cities of Berkeley, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale all logged objections to the CASA Compact. Chief among their concerns were:

  • The intrusion on local land use decision-making (and the associated exclusion of community interests).
  • The diversion of property tax revenues that are vital to local General Funds and could result in cuts to core services in every Bay Area city; and the redistribution of those funds to counties (perceived as likely to benefit big cities at the expense of smaller cities with lesser voice in county decision-making).  
  • Undermining of effective and promising ongoing local strategies to confront jobs/housing imbalances and finance and support the availability of affordable housing.

Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks likened the proposed funding mechanisms and changes to land use authority to “a direct assault on cities” and Mayor Steven Scharf of Cupertino described the Compact as “a product that 97 percent of Bay Area cities think is a terrible idea.” Palo Alto’s then-Mayor Liz Kniss wrote that “[i]t would be problematic for MTC, as an organization representing local governments, to advocate the sweeping legislative proposals embodied in the CASA Compact without clear and robust engagement opportunities for Bay Area communities.”

Selective enactment could subvert the “compromise.”

Without legislative action toward all three goals of production, preservation, and protection, the so-called compromise embodied in the CASA Compact falls apart. Although SB-50 is a fairly fleshed out bill, not every Compact element has received as much attention. And there is no mechanism to ensure cohesion among the bills seeking to implement various elements of the Compact. While housing production incentives have picked up steam, both in Sacramento and locally, they focus mostly on “missing middle” populations earning up to 150 percent of medium income or more. Efforts to expand low-income housing, renter protections and anti-displacement policies have faired more poorly. 

Perhaps indicative of the fragile promise of the CASA Compact’s “compromise,” the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords and participated in the CASA planning process, has already said it “will oppose any [CASA Compact] related legislation aimed at implementing the rent control and just cause eviction elements.”

Guest Commentary

Proposed City Law Threatens Housing and Renters

January 27, 2019 – From the Palo Alto Neighborhoods Committee on Development, Zoning, and Enforcement (PANCODZE)

All Palo Altans should urge the Planning and Transportation Commission to reject a controversial staff proposal that would make it easier for Downtown residences such as the President Hotel Apartments at 488 University to become hotels or offices.  Scheduled for discussion this Wednesday, January 30, the staff proposal would create a new waiver process that vastly favors owners and developers of Downtown buildings over tenants.

Under the proposed waiver process, City staff could cast aside or “adjust” existing laws that require oversized Downtown buildings, such as the six-floor President Hotel, to retain the same mix of uses they have at present.   So while the rule, known as the Grandfathered Facility Law, currently protecting the residences would remain in place, owners and developers would need only to “assert” in writing that it conflicts with some state or federal law.  Staff would then need only to find that the “assertion has merit” and could then immediately grant the waiver.

The proposed process does not require that tenants of the buildings, the press, or the public at large be notified when a waiver is being sought.  No public hearing will necessarily occur and no written legal opinion from the City Attorney citing relevant case law for public review would necessarily be issued. Although the waiver could in theory be appealed to the City Council, tenants and others may not even know a waiver has been granted until after the appeal deadline expires.  Renters might instead find out only once their leases expire and be too late to appeal.

Palo Alto requires a much more open process for other waivers. For example, the law that buildings cannot convert existing ground floor retail and similar uses into offices requires that an exemption request be accompanied by financial data and be approved by the City Council at a public hearing.  Such exemptions might only affect thousands of dollars of rental income a year, yet the waiver enabling the President Hotel residences to become a hotel might be worth tens of millions of dollars. So why shouldn’t the waivers be decided by the City Council too, in full public view?

And why is a waiver process even needed for the law protecting Downtown residences? The staff report for Wednesday’s meeting states a waiver would be granted when the law preserving residences would lead to “a violation of state or federal law (i.e.; Ellis Act).”  But preserving residences is legal and cities have long had the right to do so. Most of Palo Alto is already zoned to allow only residential and similar uses such as day-care facilities. Federal law allows cities to further restrict what is in buildings as long as some viable economic use remains.  Residential property in Palo Alto is surely viable, given that it often sells for over $2,000 a square foot. 

Staff has repeatedly cited the state’s Ellis Act to justify the need for a waiver process, as in the quote above.  Yet that law explicitly states the opposite of what staff claims, namely that it does not bar cities from controlling how properties are used.  The Ellis Act merely allows owners to cease renting out residences and instead have those become owner-occupied or company-owned housing if cities so allow.  If the Ellis Act actually required cities to allow residential buildings to convert to some other use contrary to local laws, apartment complexes in Palo Alto and all over the state would have long ago turned into office buildings. 

So why are senior City staff actually asking for the waiver process for this law and not for the hundreds of others in our municipal code?   Despite staff’s insistence that they are not favoring AJ Capital, the Chicago-based purchaser of the President Hotel, the waiver proposal seems crafted to allow AJ Capital to sidestep many City laws and replace the existing housing in the building with a hotel.

We urgently need to retain housing in Palo Alto.  We do not want tenants evicted and forced to find new places to live.  And we do not want staff to grant waivers worth perhaps tens of millions of dollars to developers when there’s no legal necessity and outside of public view.  Please email the Planning and Transportation Commission at Planning.Commission@CityofPaloAlto.org to urge them in your own words to reject the waiver process proposed by staff.  And please attend the Commission meeting if possible at 6 pm on Wednesday night at City Hall (250 Hamilton).  

Links:

Planning Commission Agenda for January 30, 2019 Meeting: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/68695

Staff Report on the Proposed Change in the Law https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/68694

Palo Alto Weekly December 7, 2018 Editorial Critical of Changing Laws to Help AJ Capital https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2018/12/07/editorial-a-stealth-agenda

Palo Alto Weekly Story on the December 10, 2018 City Council Action on the Waiver https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2018/12/11/proposed-law-would-prevent-president-hotel-conversion

Minutes of the December 10, 2018 City Council Meeting https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?t=52082.73&BlobID=68210

Palo Alto Weekly January 25, 2019 Update on the President Hotel

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/01/25/nonprofit-tries-to-get-reprieve-for-president-hotel-tenants

Do you have thoughts to share about goings on in local government? Palo Alto Matters welcomes guest opinion pieces and calls-to-action from the community. Email editor@paloaltomatters.org for further information.

The plot thickens around the President Hotel

December 8, 2018 – Palo Alto Matters

Investigative reporting by the Palo Alto Weekly has shed troubling new light on behind the scenes interactions that may have led to the city’s surprise rush to enable the elimination of 75 housing units at the President Hotel Apartments. Communications secured through a Public Records Act request depicted an intensive lobbying campaign by AJ Capital Ventures, the new owners of the President Hotel building. AJ’s efforts included threat of litigation, side communications with a sitting council member, use of former senior-level city staff to gain access, a private agreement with tenants to silence their opposition to the project, and notably, a proposal to extend significant short term benefits to remaining tenants if the city acts, by a certain date, to make the zoning changes needed to enable conversion of the building to a hotel. 

Against the backdrop of overwhelming community support for preserving housing at the President, in late November, the city added two action items to its end-of-year calendar that could eliminate regulatory barriers to conversion of the building, just in time to meet the deadlines in AJ’s proposal. One of those is a “grandfathering” rule that will be taken up on December 10. The provision prevents remodeling of an oversized building associated with a change from its grandfathered use (e.g. housing to hotel). The agenda item makes no reference to the President Hotel and the staff report describes the code change as correction of a mere “administrative error,” yet contends that it must be made in advance of the normally required Planning Commission review in order to “preserve the public health, safety and welfare.”  

The appearance of behind closed door dealings, the city’s efforts to play down implications for the President building, and the prospect that the city may take affirmative action to facilitate reduction of housing stock while conveying multi-million dollar benefits to AJ Capital have raised substantial concern in the community. It stimulated both a scathing editorial by the Palo Alto Weekly, and a call to action from Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) opposing any change to the “grandfathered facilities” law without the normally required vetting by the Planning Commission and urging that “any revision should continue to prevent residential uses from changing to commercial ones so as to preserve Downtown housing and protect tenants from being displaced.”

City Council will vote on the “grandfathered facilities” provision on Monday, December 10.

Election 2018

Your vote is your voice!

We have city council vote trackers and a wealth of election 2018 resources to help you use it well.

As we enter the final days of campaign season, our mailboxes and local media are full of political ads with perfect pictures, simple messages, and high-profile or personal endorsements – whatever might catch our attention in a few short minutes and get our vote without making us think too hard. Makes sense. We’re all busy, the issues are complicated, and it’s hard to focus beyond the craziness of national politics.

But as you can imagine, we at Palo Alto Matters hope you won’t rely on a few short minutes standing over the recycling bin to decide how to vote. Scroll down for all the voter resources you need. And we hope you’ll keep the big picture in mind – all policy is interdependent at the local level. Together, we live, play, and shop here; work, raise families, and retire here; walk, bike, and drive here. Home is no place for single-issue or identity politics.

We know local matters matter to you.

From bite-sized to gulp-sized, you can find the info you need to make informed votes here.

Over the past two years Palo Alto Matters invested countless hours putting local headlines in context to help you understand and influence the decisions being made on your behalf here at home. Our diverse, growing, subscriber list from every neighborhood in town and your many gracious letters tell us that Palo Altans, community wide, care about what happens here. You’ve risen to the challenge, doing your homework, turning out at meetings, and reaching out to local officials in record numbers on a wide range of issues.

Now we’re here to help you recall what happened and connect you to a wealth of voter info created by local news media and nonprofits. Palo Alto Matters’ one-of-a-kind vote tracker compiles the voting record for our three incumbent City Council candidates on key issues we’ve covered over the past two years. In addition, we’re including links to other election resources available to the community – covering the City Council, School Board, and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Ward 5) races as well as local and state ballot measures.

We hope you’ll review and share these voter resources, encourage your friends, neighbors and colleagues to subscribe (free!) to Palo Alto Matters, and make the best ballot choices for the future of our community!

Palo Alto Matters’ City Council Vote Trackers

Palo Alto Matters pays attention to local policy debates and chatter and, as you know, we think the facts and details matter. We urge you to resist basing your vote on campaign rhetoric and instead look critically at the actual record. We’ve pulled it together for you below in what we hope is an easily digestible form. Yes, we know it’s not exciting to read a list of policy actions, (and, sorry, we don’t have the bandwidth to make it pretty or interactive for you) but voting records offer a much better indicator of where a candidate really stands than campaign messaging does. 

Vote Tracker - Narrow VotesTo help you differentiate between the three incumbent Palo Alto City Council Members seeking re-election in 2018, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, and Cory Wolbach, we’ve compiled a table showing where they’ve disagreed in controversial council decisions over the past two years. We think we’ve captured the bulk of them, but if we’ve missed something important (or gotten something wrong!), please let us know. We’re happy to update the on-line version of our vote trackers.

A useful companion to our vote tracker, and in addition to their election guide below, the Palo Alto Weekly has compiled it’s editorials on city issues from the past two years that flesh out some of the controversies that have swept the community. The Weekly’s editorials on school issues is also well worth review to put the candidate debates in context.

Vote Tracker - HousingFor the Housing Vote Tracker we included all adopted housing-related policies. Contrary to popular rhetoric, there was “across the aisle” agreement among the incumbent city council members seeking re-election in 2018 on nearly every housing action over the past two years. Where housing motions passed or failed it was typically by at least a two-thirds margin. Thus we thought the full list of adopted policies offered the benefit of showing where incumbent candidates diverged while also presenting the big picture of what’s happened on housing.

 

Unfortunately, without a voting record, it’s harder to assess how newcomers Alison Cormack and Pat Boone would perform if elected. But our local news media and nonprofits have done their best to nail them down on specifics. Take advantage of their good work by reviewing the resources below.

Additional Resources for Election Information

The Palo Alto Weekly, Palo Alto Daily Post, League of Women Voters of Palo Alto, Palo Alto Neighborhoods, and Midpen Media Center have done yeoman’s work to help you make informed votes. From candidate interviews, questionnaires, and debates, to side-by-side position summaries, to pros-cons forums, to reasoned endorsements – you can find them below.

To get up to speed on the state-wide ballot, we highly recommend CALMatters.org. CALmatters (a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters) has everything from 1-minute videos along with in-depth looks at statewide ballot measures, to candidate profiles, to issue briefs and news stories related to California’s politics and November ballot. Their coverage throughout the year is astute and informative, we recommend you subscribe (free) and support their work.

Click here for the Palo Alto Weekly’s “Election 2018: Complete coverage of Palo Alto races, measures.”

Click here for the Palo Alto Daily Post’s “Readers’ guide to local elections.”

Click here for the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto’s 2018 Election Guide

Click here for Palo Alto Neighborhoods’ 2018 City Council Candidates Questionnaire and Palo Alto City Council Candidates Forum

Click here for Midpen Media Center’s video coverage of the Palo Alto City Council, PAUSD Board of Education, Midpeninsula Open Space District (Ward 5), and County Sheriff races, along with pro-con arguments for local ballot measures.

Click here for the CalMatters.org state-wide “2018 Voter Guide.”

Protect your voice in negotiations with Stanford

Stanford asks for development agreement that would preempt new affordable housing requirements.

County to consider offer and negotiations process on October 16.

Over the past year, we’ve all studied up on Stanford’s expansion plans and the potential impacts of the 2.3 million square foot academic expansion proposed in Stanford’s 2018 General Use Permit application (2018 GUP) and weighed in on the adequacy of draft mitigations. In addition, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has looked closely at the affordable housing demand that Stanford’s expansion will create and passed new ordinances to raise housing impact fees and require more affordable housing.

Now Stanford is hoping to preempt a Final Environmental Impact Report (and associated, transparent conditions of approval for their 2018 GUP application) and go behind closed doors to negotiate an alternative that will supersede imposition of the County’s new affordable housing ordinances, prevent imposition of additional mitigation requirements, and freeze the County’s authority to regulate land use in the Stanford Community Plan Area until completion of the full expansion or for 30 years, whichever comes sooner.

Stanford seeks to negotiate a development agreement in exchange for “community benefits” in the form of proposed affordable housing commitments and investments, but county staff says Stanford’s affordable housing proposal doesn’t go as far as current law.

This Tuesday, October 16, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to discuss whether Stanford’s proposed development agreement warrants further discussion and negotiation and if so, what the negotiation process should entail. Public comment is welcome in person and via email (referencing “agenda item #9”) to boardoperations@cob.sccgov.org.

Read on for more info about Stanford’s housing offer and county staff’s analysis and recommendation.

What is a development agreement?

A development agreement is a voluntary contract with a local jurisdiction (Santa Clara County) in which a property owner (Stanford) is granted new entitlements or exceptions to existing rules in exchange for providing community benefits that otherwise would be difficult for the jurisdiction to obtain. In contrast to the transparent 2018 GUP analysis and review process, negotiators typically bargain over the trade-offs in private. In Santa Clara County only a single public hearing is required. The public and affiliated government entities, like the City of Palo Alto and the PAUSD, do not have a seat at the table and might only be informed of the details after the parameters of a deal have been struck. 

Stanford’s offer of affordable housing investments as a “community benefit” falls well short of housing funds due under current law.

The primary community benefit cited in Stanford’s development agreement application is affordable housing commitments and investments. However, according to the county staff report,

“As currently offered, Stanford University’s housing proposal does not constitute community benefits in that the proposal does not offer affordable housing beyond a level that can be obtained through existing regulations [and county authority].”

Indeed, the staff analysis indicates that Stanford’s proposed development agreement would produce an affordable housing subsidy value of $89 million less than Stanford would be required to contribute under the county’s new impact fee and inclusionary housing ordinances. Stanford emphasizes the timely value of up-front housing funds in its development agreement application, but even adjusting for net present value, their proposal falls short of current law by $75 million.

By county staff’s estimate, applying current requirements to Stanford’s GUP would produce a total of 663 new and converted affordable units, while the total under Stanford’s proposed development agreement would range from 314 to 455 affordable units.

County analysis of affordable housing benefit

County staff recommends pre-conditions to negotiation, integration with the ongoing GUP review process, and additional public engagement.

Given the lack of community benefits in Stanford’s development agreement proposal, county staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors only enter development agreement negotiations if Stanford first agrees in writing to:

  • Increase its affordable housing proposal to exceed what current housing ordinances would require.
  • Express a willingness to include other benefits, such as school site dedication and/or ongoing funding and other benefits relating to transportation and traffic mitigation, sustainability, open space, etc.
  • Accept an extension of the 2018 GUP application timeline to allow for negotiations with a concurrent community engagement and communication process.
  • Reconsider its demand that mitigations be limited to those proposed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the 2018 GUP; and
  • Express a willingness to reduce the scope of applicable county rules to be held constant during the life of the development agreement.

Stanford seeks to condition its community benefits offer on limiting environmental mitigations to those already proposed in the Draft EIR. However, if the Board of Supervisors chooses to move forward with development agreement negotiations, staff recommends finalization of the Environmental Impact Report and staff preparation of conditions of approval for the 2018 GUP (targeted for late 2018) before the parties begin negotiations. Staff asserts that this will “provide a stable regulatory baseline for negotiations and ensure integration and consistency” with the 2018 GUP application review process. The Development Agreement would then be included in the Final EIR along with conditions of approval and monitoring and reporting requirements for Board of Supervisors’ consideration in 2019.  

County staff also proposes additional public outreach, (to both the general public and staff and elected officials representing public agencies and cities near Stanford) to inform the negotiations and obtain input on terms and desired community benefits at three stages in the process:

  • within the first few weeks of starting negotiations.
  • at the point in negotiations at which proposed community benefits are identified.
  • at the conclusion of development agreement negotiations but prior to Planning  Commission public hearings on the 2018 GUP in 2019.

Process matters. Let the Board of Supervisors know what you think.

Are you surprised that Stanford’s development agreement application promises less affordable housing than the county’s newly passed impact fee and inclusionary ordinances would produce? Do you support negotiation of a development agreement with Stanford or prefer to rely only on the in-progress 2018 GUP process? Is it premature to begin negotiating a development agreement before the Final EIR is available to the public and/or reviewed by the county Planning Commission? Do you support staff’s recommendation to make entering negotiations contingent on certain expectations? Did they identify the right contingencies? What do you think about the proposed outreach process?

You can offer comments in person on Tuesday October 16 at 10:00 am or send an email with “agenda item #9” in the subject line to boardoperations@cob.sccgov.org.

The public hearing will be held on the first floor of the County Government Center located at 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose and will begin no earlier than 10:00 am. (There is some free, marked 2-hour public parking on the side of the building parallel to San Pedro Street; there are parking meters in the general area; and there is a lot where parking can be purchased at 171 W. Hedding that is also open to the public.

 

Standing Rock Legal Update and Call to Action

Dear climate activists and Standing Rock supporters,

You’re invited to a special event in Sunnyvale next Wed (9/6) at 7 PM with attorneys Chase Iron Eyes and Daniel Sheehan of the Lakota People’s Law Project. The day after speaking at Google, Chase and Danny will join us at the Congregational Church of Sunnyvale for a local event that is free and open to the public.

Chase Iron Eyes is a citizen of Standing Rock and a leading spokesperson for the NoDAPL movement. In February, following intense surveillance by militarized security forces, he was arrested and charged with two felonies by North Dakota law enforcement.


Daniel Sheehan is president of the Romero Institute and a renowned constitutional attorney. As chief defense counsel for Chase Iron Eyes, his legal strategy will expose the collusion between government, industry and militarized security to suppress Native populations and the right of all Americans to peacefully demonstrate.

I attended their talk in Berkeley last week and thought it was a perfect blend of information and inspiration–from the opening video to the legal defense and offense, from Danny’s deep knowledge of constitutional rights to Chase’s ability to connect and ground us to our common humanity, from updates on individual water protectors to the petition to #DropDAPLCharges, from the call to divest to the push for public banking–they covered it all.

If they can do the same or similar in Sunnyvale, I don’t think anyone who supported the Standing Rock movement will regret going. I was really glad I went.

Tickets are free to attend, but Pastor Ron has graciously donated space for this event and we’d love to channel support for the Congregational Church’s Homeless Services where donations of ready-to-eat meals and toilet paper are needed and welcome.

Doors open at 7:00 PM for seating, tabling with local groups and interaction. Speakers begin at 7:30 PM. Please join us next Wednesday and help us get the word out!

With gratitude,
Melanie Liu
Defund Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

Submitted by Adobe Meadows resident: Tell the Palo Alto City Council to support strengthened Renter Protection

Tonight at 7:15pm (or so), the Palo Alto City Council will consider a colleagues memo from Councilmembers DuBois, Holman, and Kou to strengthen renter protection for Palo Alto residents.  See http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/59776

The Rental Housing Problem

Rental housing cost in Palo Alto and the region has exploded in recent years as the pace of job growth has tripled compared to the rate of housing growth. Housing that is being built is predominantly high-end along with small amounts of subsidized, low-income housing. The needs of moderate-income workers and families have been ignored, undermining our social and economic balance. Vital members of our community, teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, utility workers, shopkeepers, social workers and others are all being driven away.

Although big growth in the tech economy has been a boon to many, it has caused negative disruptions to our region including a huge growth in housing demand that has harmed affordability with many long-term renters being driven out or forced to pay more than they can afford. Since 2011, the average rent in Palo Alto has increased 50% while the county median income has grown at less than1/10 that rate. Palo Alto needs to provide renters with the sort of reasonable protections already provided by Mountain View and San Jose.

By the council acting on this problem through a city ordinance, Palo Alto avoids the likelihood of a more restrictive and less balanced citizen initiative like in Mountain View which cannot not be modified except through a future vote of the electorate.

Renter Protection Goals

  • Support retention of a healthy, diverse community and local economy;
  • Moderate the rate of rent increases;
  • Provide protections from unjust evictions that are fair to both renters and landlords;
  • Continue topromote construction of new multi-unit rental developments.

Recommendations

  • An annual percentage cap on rent increases for multi-unit residences built before 1995, thereby continuing to encourage new housing construction.
  • Protections against tenant terminations without just cause while protecting the fair rights of property owners.
  • A city council ordinance rather than a voter initiative that will allow needed adjustments over time.

Here’s what you can do

  • Write to the Palo Alto City Council today at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org requesting they support the Colleagues Memo (agenda item 13).  Please write in your own words, and you may use the talking points above.
  • Come speak to the City Council tonight.  Arrive by 7:15pm.  Fill out a comment card requesting to speak to agenda item 13.  You will have two or maybe three minutes to speak.  It is best to prepare your remarks in advance, either word-for-word or in outline or note form.  You can make a short statement, simply to say something like, “I support the goals of recommendations of the colleagues memo.  Thank you.”