For a one-stop overview of what’s going on and what’s coming up, check out our Newsletters. In each issue, you’ll find commentary detailing what the latest fuss is about and a quick wrap-up of recent news and developments.
The controversial statewide housing mandates in Senate Bill 50 are in a race against the clock. Here at home, polling and analysis has been proceeding apace for a possible business tax on this year’s ballot. Meanwhile, though perhaps not as high profile, there are strong community rumblings about recent developments related to the College Terrace grocery, cuts to bus service, airplane noise and more.
Long-awaited standards for wireless cell equipment installations and a potentially controversial change to the city’s independent police auditor contract are on the docket for this Monday. Also, get up to speed on emergency renter protections, pilot programs for non-resident access to Foothills Park and for vehicle dwellers, as well as a ban on sale of e-cigarettes, potential overhaul of the boards and commissions system, and the withholding of funds for the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan.
Hold onto your hats folks. With Thanksgiving break looming, the next seven days promise lots of city action, including a 76-year regional agreement on wastewater reuse, a proposal to open Foothills Park to non-residents, an urgency ordinance to prevent rent gouging and evictions in advance of state-wide rent caps that take effect in January, redesign of the San Antonio/East Charleston intersection, and next steps on a safe parking program for vehicle dwellers.
Stanford abruptly withdraws application for 3.5 million square foot expansion. Also, recent developments related to parking, the President Hotel, and rail grade separation planning.
Stanford GUP debate enters final stages. Should we sell our wastewater for potable reuse? And updates on affordable housing, Cubberley, Foothills Park, and pensions.
On September 23, City Council will consider a Colleagues’ Memo by Councilmembers DuBois and Kou asking council to prioritize outstanding HWP affordable housing items as well as additional strategies to “produce affordability within the extremely low (0-30 percent Area Median Income), very low (31-50 percent AMI), and low (51-80 percent AMI) income limits.”
Featured in this issue:
Council to decide about new rail committee; Mixed-use project on San Antonio Road seeks expansion of Housing Incentive Program; Business tax favored to fund “transportation and/or affordable housing” investments; Want to keep your underground utilities? Reach for your wallet.
Has the grade separations saga started to lose your attention? Council may decide next week to appoint a new, more strategic and political committee to help push the process forward and the Finance Committee is looking harder at a potential tax ballot measure. Meanwhile, costs for the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan are mounting just as the Sobrato organization’s interest in redeveloping the Fry’s Electronics property wanes.
Ahh, back in the saddle as City Council returns from summer recess on Monday, August 5! There are no action items on the council’s agenda in their first and second weeks back, but there’s still plenty to get up to speed on as we dust off our public oversight hats over the next few weeks. Perhaps most notably, public hearings will begin on the impact analysis for Castilleja’s redevelopment plan.
Before you hit the beach for a well deserved break from city politics, get up to speed on the latest drama and developments regarding wireless equipment installations, Cubberley, the Stanford GUP, and the city budget. Then tune in for council’s pre-recess wrap up.
As Sacramento seeks to supplant local housing efforts with wide-reaching state mandates, a last minute twist in the Cubberley Master Plan, strains on our transportation department, and a potential clash of interests regarding the Stanford GUP reveal the local challenges and trade-offs associated with a growing daytime and resident population.
Residents call for citizen action regarding wireless cell antennas and the President Hotel Apartments. Planning Commission okays “massive” Mercedes/Audi dealership in the Baylands area. County staff puts cards on the table for negotiations on Stanford Expansion.
Some will welcome a new look and feel for the city. Others will hate it. But don’t be fooled into thinking that “this could never happen in Palo Alto.” Here’s the story on Senate Bill 50 and the CASA Compact.
The City Council is poised to repeal the Downtown Commercial Cap in Monday, February 11. With the profit margin for commercial space well above that for most housing, the right combination of commercial controls and housing incentives could be key to tilting our jobs/housing imbalance.
After celebrating approval of a new, 58-unit affordable housing project, city officials face continued pressure to preserve housing at the President Hotel and prepare to complete action on a far-reaching housing ordinance. As if that’s not enough, in the next few weeks they’ll also address the State’s 2019 legislative agenda, Stanford’s expansion, wireless cell equipment appeals and, possibly, the Downtown Commercial Cap.
January kicks off with new council leadership and approval of the Wilton Court 100% affordable housing project. Other carry-overs from 2018 getting airtime in January include the Downtown Cap on non-residential development, wireless cell equipment and the Stanford GUP.
Controversial housing issues dominate the public agenda in an end-of-year push by policy-makers — from new state housing mandates that could target every residential and mixed-use property in Palo Alto, to a seemingly trivial zoning provision with big implications for the President Hotel Apartments, to a city-wide overhaul of local development standards.
After a fairly quiet election season on the city policy front, the final month of the legislative year is packed with council action and community meetings. City Council will dive into the lame duck session with two huge land use decisions. In addition, council will consider a 5-year operating and revenue sharing agreement to outsource management of the Rinconada pool and a final agreement and approval of facility funding for Pets in Need to take over the Animal Shelter.
Palo Alto Matters pays attention to local policy debates and scuttlebutt 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! In addition, we’re including links to a wealth of 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.
The largely neglected third leg of the housing policy stool, protection from displacement, is now taking center stage – stimulated by the upcoming eviction of every resident in the 75-unit Hotel President Apartments on University Avenue.
Widespread community concern about the loss of 75 rental units at the downtown President Hotel Apartments is broadening the housing discussion (beyond how we can build more housing faster) to include long-overdue debate about what the city can do to prevent the loss of existing housing stock and an appropriate city role in protecting renters from displacement and unfair evictions.
Summer is blissfully upon us, but somehow newsworthy stuff keeps happening. In the final days of July you have a chance to weigh in on retaining the downtown development cap law, the Stanford GUP, and the city’s response to citizens’ initiative to control office growth. Take a break from the beach and speak up.
Should Stanford meet the housing demand it creates? Hint: the answer isn’t simple. Find out how it would impact Palo Alto and get up to speed on how the city is handling other complicated challenges related to the downtown permit parking program and railway grade separations.
Citizen initiatives force Council action; hotel tax moves forward; reductions sought for FY2019 Budget; workforce housing “pilot” approved; and more.
Despite a growing budget, housing, infrastructure and transportation needs outpace resources. With resident satisfaction on the decline, City eyes hotel and sugary drink taxes and residents launch ballot initiative to constrain citywide office growth.
April 9 promises impassioned public comment as affordable housing and airplane noise take center stage at City Council. On other fronts, community voices recently prompted city response on traffic patrol, controversial bike boulevard design elements, and employee parking permits in the downtown RPP. Get up to speed on what the city is up to and make sure your opinion is part of the mix.
Train tunnel deemed “practically unworkable.” Affordable housing ordinance delayed; City supports transparency in labor negotiations; Eichler design guidelines move forward; and controversy brews over Cool Blocks, Ross Road and PTC ethics.
Multi-family housing near transit: Sounds good, right? Well here it comes. Is this what you expected? Get the run-down on a newly proposed state-mandate, SB-827. And stay up to speed with local action on traffic and parking, housing and more.
It’s easy to say yes, I’m pro-housing, or anti-traffic. But as with all public policy, the devil is in the details. How will the City advance its priorities and how it will impact our daily lives? Will residents have an influential voice? Get a heads up on the hard questions ahead for Palo Alto.
At the close of this action packed and tumultuous year, Palo Alto ends up right back where it started – debating ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) policies. Though City Council has finished its work for the year, the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) will get a first look at possible revisions to the 2017 ADU ordinance tonight.
Residents bristle at a lack of timely City leadership and communication regarding Stanford’s growth plans, grade separations, and new State housing laws, and they are again disappointed by a lack of transparency, productive civic engagement, and public deliberation.
As Comprehensive Plan Update approaches final vote, worrisome Stanford expansion impacts come to light and Fine/Kniss/Wolbach advocate parking reductions and zoning changes for new housing.
Monday, October 23 offers the last best chance for resident input to influence the Comp Plan Update that will set city land use policy for the next 15 years. This newsletter issue offers a quick primer on what’s at stake.
What’s sexy about code enforcement? Public trust … Get up to speed on renter protection proposal, campaign finance violations, office cap and PAUSD controversies, and climb aboard for rail planning.
Two new housing projects and 8th hotel on South El Camino Real enter the review pipeline. Council to adopt rail corridor design process and moves to preserve animal shelter. PTC gets first look at Environmental Impact Analysis for Stanford expansion.
Seeing the forest through the trees – big picture questions about where we’re headed, bottom line numbers, and specific issues of concern in the alignment of values and strategies.
Comp plan wraps up; rail, code enforcement, sustainability, and parks and rec on deck for City Council. Residents air worries about hotels, Castilleja’s expansion and proposed micro-housing project.
Public trust wanes under new City Council. PAUSD makes painful budget cuts and City dithers on heeding school enrollment impacts.
Council rejects compromise on “granny units” despite community uproar and grapples with parking and transportation challenges
Council’s First 100 Days: New City Council charges ahead on housing, retail, parking and more amid community unease and campaign finance investigations.