Calendar Update November 11, 2019

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.

The Parks and Recreation Commission will vote Tuesday night, November 12, on whether to recommend council action on a one-year pilot program to allow daily non-resident access to Foothills Park. Up to 50 non-resident passes per day would be available via online reservation for a fee of $6 per pass. Each pass would allow entry for up to eight people per vehicle or up to eight people in a bicycle group (historically, the average number of people per vehicle entering on weekends has been about 2.7). The proposal, put forth by an ad hoc committee of PRC Commissioners, also seeks to formalize and promote city-authorized school field trip programs to the park and waive the residency requirement for co-curricular field trips. 

Also on November 12, the Policy and Services Committee is expected to advance plans to allow vehicle dwellers to park safely overnight at religious congregations and institutions. Policy and Services will also recommend updating the legislative priorities offered as guidelines to the city’s lobbyist for state and federal legislation. The guidelines outline “foundational principles” at the core of the city’s policy agenda. Notable proposed revisions address housing (recognize local autonomy in housing and land use policies) and health (prevent minors from buying or using vaping and tobacco products). SkyPosse Palo Alto, a grassroots group seeking reduction of airplane noise, hopes to move airplane noise and emissions from the environmental category to the health advocacy area and seeks expanded resources at the state and federal level to “include experts who can advocate this issue as a matter of health.”

The next day, the Planning and Transportation Commission will take up a traffic safety project at the San Antonio Road and East Charleston Road intersection and consider designating a new Priority Development Area (planned areas for future housing and job growth) including parts of Downtown, the South of Forest Area (SOFA) and Stanford Shopping Center. According to the staff report, the designation will give the city access to competitive grant funding for planning or implementation activities within the PDA, but will not diminish local land use control. The PTC will also consider designating the Foothills and Baylands as Priority Conservation Areas to help the city access to conservation grant funding, including for such things as sea level rise studies and open space preservation.

In its last pre-Thanksgiving meeting, on November 18 the City Council is poised to approve a multi-decade agreement with Valley Water (formerly the Santa Clara Valley Water District) and the City of Mountain View to increase wastewater reuse in the county. Under the plan, Palo Alto would have up to 13 years to build a salt-removal facility in the Baylands near its Regional Water Quality Control Plant. The desalination is expected to improve the quality of the RWQCP’s recycled water for city landscaping and commercial “purple pipe” customers in both cities. At Valley Water’s option, the RWQCP would commit for 63 years to ship about half its effluent (most currently gets discharged to the bay) to Valley Water for further purification and anticipated use as both potable and non-potable recycled water south of Mountain View. Valley Water would contribute $16 million toward the desalination plant project and Palo Alto and Mountain View would split the remaining $4 million cost. Valley Water will also pay $1 million/year for shipped effluent (split proportionally between Palo Alto and Mountain View) and create a near-term option for Palo Alto and Mountain View to request a future, “at cost” potable or non-potable water supply from Valley Water.

Also on council’s November 18 agenda is a proposal by Councilmembers Kou and DuBois to prevent rent gouging and impose an emergency, temporary moratorium on no fault evictions for the remainder of the year. Kou and DuBois report “a surge of calls and inquiries from community advocates and tenants facing steep rent increases… and evictions” as landlords gird for statewide rent caps effective in January 2020 under recently enacted State Assembly Bill 1482. The proposed urgency ordinance requires five votes to pass and would take effect immediately. The draft ordinance will be available November 14, added as a late packet memo to the council’s agenda. In the meantime, you can read the Colleagues’ Memo here.

Notable Upcoming Action

November 12, 2019 

Non-resident access to Foothills Park: The Parks and Recreation Commission will vote to recommend council adoption of a one-year pilot program to allow daily non-resident access to Foothills Park. Beginning at 7:00 pm (City Hall). Click here for ad hoc committee proposal.

Update of policy guidance for city’s lobbyist: The Council Policy and Services Committee will vote to recommend changes to guidelines outlining the city’s legislative priorities vis a vis state and federal legislation. Meeting begins at 6:00 pm (Community Meeting Room, City Hall). Click here for staff report and draft revised guidelines. 

Safe Parking for vehicle dwellers: The Council Policy and Services Committee will consider details of a proposed Tier 1 safe parking pilot program (to allow overnight parking for up to four vehicles at a time on private property at religious congregations and institutions) and direct staff to draft accompanying regulations and code changes. Meeting begins at 6:00 pm (Community Meeting Room, City Hall). Click here for staff report.

November 13, 2019

The Planning and Transportation Commission will hold a study session on co-housing and co-living with presentations from owners and operators; hold a hearing on an application at 4115 El Camino Real to subdivide a .36 acre parcel into seven residential condos, two commercial, and two office condos; discuss concept plan alternatives for improving the San Antonio Road and East Charleston Road intersection, and consider recommending that council designate a new Priority Development Area in Downtown Palo Alto and Priority Conservation Areas in the Foothills and Baylands. Meeting begins at 6:00 pm (City Hall). Click here for agenda and staff reports.

November 18, 2019 

Wastewater reuse agreement: City Council will approve and addendum to the 2015 Environmental Impact Report for the city’s Recycled Water Program and vote on a resolution approving a partnership between Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Valley Water to advance water reuse programs. The agreement includes construction of a desalination facility on or near Palo Alto’s Regional Water Quality Control Plant, long-term transfer of RWQCP effluent Valley Water and an option for Palo Alto and Mountain View to supplement/diversify their future water supply with water from Valley Water. Beginning at 7:35 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.

Highway 101 bicycle/pedestrian overpass: City Council will vote to approve $15.5 million in construction contracts and a grant agreement with Santa Clara County for construction of the bike/ped overcrossing. Beginning at 8:35 pm (City Hall). Click here for staff report.

Urgency Ordinance to prevent rent gouging and renter harassment: City Council will consider a Colleagues’ Memo from Councilmembers Kou and DuBois to provide a temporary moratorium on no-fault evictions and prevent prohibitive rent increases until State Assembly Bill 1482 takes effect, and inform tenants and landlords of their rights and obligations. Beginning at 9:45 pm (City Hall). Click here for Colleagues’ Memo.

December 2, 2019 – (Tentative)

Council is tentatively scheduled to consider potential changes to the cross town shuttle contract as well as a grant agreement with Midpeninsula Community Media Center, Inc.; accept the GreenWaste of Palo Alto Environmental Report; and consider the contract for the city’s independent Police Auditor.

December 3, 2019 – (Tentative)

The Council Finance Committee is tentatively scheduled to discuss and recommend a 2020 tax ballot measure for City Council consideration and approve the FY 2021-2030 Long Range Financial Report.

December 9, 2019 – (Tentative)

City Council is tentatively scheduled to hold a study session with Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian and vote on the Roth Building Option and Lease Agreement for the Palo Alto History Museum.