Convened at 1:33pm outside the Ventura Community Center.
Attendees (and areas of interest):
Ken J. – California Avenue Concept plan; neighborhood resiliency in an emergency
Jonathan B. -quality of life issues; park committee; safety concerning biking to school
Rangu R. – increasing traffic city-wide; more development along Park/Ventura neighborhood; bicycle traffic: bikers should extend more courtesy to each other and to drivers because they ride very fast and it is just an accident waiting to happen
Angela D. – meeting moderator
Pearlin Y. – community togetherness
Gary – how city will develop and how city does not seem to take into the account the consequences of the development
Special Guest Tom DuBois: Currently lives in Barron Park (moved there about a year ago) but used to live in Midtown. He is the current council liaison to PACCC. Last year, the school district, who owns the Ventura School land, extended the PACCC lease for 7 more years to upgrade facilities. PACCC is one of the few affordable daycares in the city.
Tom’s impression is that City Council passed something regarding the AT&T land. As it is one of the worst city parks, they would like to see improvement.
On El Camino, where the Euromart is currently located, that land is a potential target for an affordable housing project. It would need to be fairly dense to receive funding and there is currently a two-story apartment complex behind it. Palo Alto Housing Corp already owns this property, and are looking to build a 5-story complex. Another possibility is to redevelop the affordable housing near the Cal Ave train station.
Tom is pretty involved with airplane noise.
He is also Chair of the Rail Committee this year. They are facing the challenge of grade separation of the roads and train tracks. Over 100 homes would be seized through eminent domain. On Saturday May 20 starting at 10am all day, they will have the first meeting for citizen input (improving bike tunnels, road closures, widening Embarcadero/Oregon, etc). Purpose of this first meeting is to define the problem.
VTA and Caltrain still working on a plan to try to protect grade separation funds from being used for electrification.
Putting train underground is most expensive option although it would help with noise and suicides.
Union Pacific agreed to have third-party operate freight. They are urging Union Pacific to get new operator to use electric trains. Electric trains can handle steeper tracks.
Tom has been involved with Sky Posse since a few years ago. It is a federal issue. Gone through this with FAA and hoping to get a response soon. Not really a city thing but we have funded more studies than any other cities.
Need to start planning for Fry’s site. Trying to wrap up Comp Plan and then Fry’s planning can get started.
Ken – How would we find about study group like for SOFA (South of Forest Ave)?
Tom – The way to start is the neighborhood association. So when process starts, city will reach out to the neighborhood association when forming the study group.
Angela – Who on council to reach out to about this?
Tom – Everyone.
VTA lot on corner of Page Mill and El Camino
Nothing has been approved yet. Nothing official filed yet.
Fiber to the Home
Google has pulled out of the market. There is some fiber in the ground. Most cities that do it end up with GB speed for about $50-70/month for subscribers. San Francisco is currently working on a new model for this. One option is to extend dark fiber more into neighborhoods and have a private company extend to the residences. Private company would provide customer support and service while City would own most of the network.
Jonathan Brown – It would be nice to get input for the new developments from the citizens that live further away but are still impacted. For example, Hotel Parmani architect came and heard our concerns and redesigned.
Ken – Would be happy if El Camino became more vibrant. Since he has moved into town, there are empty lots in the town that are still empty. One of the challenges is that those lots are very shallow and there are houses right behind them – it is a daylight plane issue. Most developers want to go as high and dense as possible but with a shallow lot, that is not very viable.
?? – Our neighborhood is at risk for gentrification.
Angela – How possible is it with developers to be involved with say the 5-story development? What would we need to do?
Tom – When they announce the development, invite the Palo Alto Housing Corp to a meeting.
Lots of controversy regarding Page Mill/Park intersection for bikers, pedestrians, and driver safety. Green path is a great idea but the intersection is risky.
A lot of jaywalking occurs.
Sidewalk over Oregon Expressway on Park Blvd is too narrow. Two people cannot walk side by side. So some pedestrians walk in the street.
Ken – Builders had to take over sidewalk on Hamilton, so developers built a covered walkway for the pedestrians. We went through about 2 years of development on Park Blvd without this covered walkway.
Tom – Planning and staff should be notified. Tell Council members.
Ken – Bike Blvd progress? Both Ross Rd and the Wilkie Way parts started together but now the Ross Rd part has progressed while the Wilkie Way has been stalled.
Tom – Not aware of this problem but could be a funding issue.
Susan – Our streets are being more densely parked during the day. It appears that people will park in our neighborhood and take their bikes off their cars and bike to Stanford.
Tom – there is an RPP process. Can be done anytime but needs to be submitted by March. It would take some time to get signatures. Ventura should consider applying. A certain percentage of people need to say “yes” to start the process. Each resident gets one permit for free then pays additional for more permits. Usually $50/year/permit.
Angela- Put it on agenda to talk about.
Airbnb / ADU
Angela – Message from Becky, Kirsten Flynn is concerned that any new regulations would make it difficult for her to operate her airbnb.
Susan – Kirsten’s is owner occupied. The other airbnb neighbor lives on the East Coast and has an airbnb right next to a single female occupant home. So it is a bigger concern.
Tom – Taking a lot of housing off the market to turn into hotel stays. A lot of cities are passing codes regarding airbnb. Enforcement is an issue. Recently Tom saw a business document about how to maximize profits for airbnb- how to get around city regulations, turning homes into hotels. We have ~900 airbnb units in Palo Alto. This is the equivalent of building a large housing complex. Technically short-term is not allowed but city cannot enforce. So technically, airbnb is not allowed in Palo Alto.
Angela – What is the situation with City Council about ADUs? Are the rules clear?
Tom – Much more liberal rules had passed. Complying with the state law. No parking requirements under new laws. Final reading happens tomorrow night after a few changes had been made – height limit, minimum lot size. Larger setbacks for certain residential zones. Limited to single story ADUs.
Tom – Anyone happy about what City is doing?
Gary – Glad that city has taken an interest in the Boulware Park/AT&T land
Jonathan – Working with Friends of Palo Alto Parks about the AT&T lot
Jonathan- Likes the parks, like Foothill Park; both farmer’s markets. Moonlight Run.
Angela – Redwood City invited dance instructors to their city square and people would go out dancing – polka, waltz. Got cancelled it a few years ago.
Tom – Our summer concerts?
Angela – Would like someone to teach how to dance, and to dance.
Angela – appreciate that Palo Alto does invite the views of the residences for large developments. Working groups of both businesses and residences to work with developers.
Ken – Mitchell Park library.
Jonathan – “No overnight parking” signs on Ash and Chestnut. It has helped but there are definitely people parking there overnight and making it their primary living space. Got an email last week that neighbors are still afraid of bringing their young kids to park because of the strange vehicles parked there.
Ken – We cannot pretend that there are no vehicle dwellers. Can we do a zoning for them?
Tom – There was a state-level case that ruled people can park overnight which is why City backed off from banning overnight vehicles. Santa Monica has a person who manages the vehicle dweller distribution in church parking lots. The parking spaces are assigned and the vehicles need to vacate by 7am.
Angela – Would like to figure out a solution for this not getting rid of them. Likes the Santa Monica program.
Tom – They have pretty strict rules.
Ken – There should be a geometric progression of rental of public facility like for Palantir’s case. The longer you rent, the more you pay exponentially.
Jonathan – Received the notice the day-of that kids’ soccer practice had moved. In this case, you cannot notify kids who don’t have cell phones. They showed up for practice and there were fields roped off and diesel generators running.
Ken – In part of the“Being Different Together” program, one question they asked is “What makes a healthy community?” Ken’s response was “heterogeneity”. Curtner Ave has so many different apartment complexes that is high density and in dire need to sprucing up. Is there a proactive way to manage this?
Tom – You want different diversity of housing to have a diversity of residences. Rest of the country is more self-regulation but we are in a heated economy.
Gary – My Cal Ave Chiropractor had to wait two years for his parking permit. His staff had to park out in the neighborhoods.
Tom DuBois leaves
Ken – We had our first Fry’s development sub-committee meeting. Trying to get our ideas together. Trying to brainstorm what we would want at Fry’s if we could control it. We’ll carry our stuff over to whatever city group gets formed.
Gary – retail history park of Fry’s.
Ken – Encourage everyone to go to the May 20 rail meeting
Angela – We can always write an email to the rail committee if not available for the meeting
Gary – Saw a really nice TV presentation about what Japan does for their 250mph trains which are all elevated. They keep the noise down by doing subtle things. Some are easy to do such as putting up a wall along side the tracks just higher than the wheels, thus greatly reducing the noise factor. If people don’t understand that other countries have done, we’re stuck with NIMBY stuff. We should really learn from what other countries are doing successfully instead of starting from ground zero.
Angela – How do we get the people running it to care about noise/sound mitigation?
Gary – You would have to provide it to them – the problem and solution.
Susan – Agreed to help Gary write up noise mitigation solutions
Ken – Bring to a VNA meeting and send it off from the association rather from an individual
Rangu – 40 years ago when they started the BART project, they decided to lay down a non-standard track. So the cars are extra expensive because they are wider than standard cars.
Susan – Excited about more service. More service = more usage = fewer cars. There are already longer trains than a year ago. IF they are more frequent, then the gates will be going up and down more often.
Rangu – Electrification is very important. Less pollution too.
Gary – Way less noise if using electrification. If they are over grade or under grade, no more tooting.
Rangu – Raising up to possibly 20 feet high.
Ken – There was a huge discussion about raising tracks on Nextdoor. In San Carlos, the raised tracks are not in a residential area whereas ours is in residential.
Rangu – BART underground funded by extra sales tax.
Angela – Lots of trenching in London.
Pearlin – Asked for ice cream social feedback. Next one will be Sunday afternoon in September, either 17th or 24th.