October 2, 2016  Meeting of the Ventura Neighborhood Association

  • People Present + Interests, if desired to share
  • Becky – election – putting up election resources on the website
  • Jonathan – Traffic, Safe Routes to school
  • Rangu – High density housing, Leonard Ely supported massing residences around transit, like a European city.
  • Susan – Intersection on Park at Oregon, ways to improve preparedness in our community, up-zoning and variances.
  • Michelle
  • Angela

Ice Cream Social Wrap up – Ken and Pearlin, not present, sent it their report and said it was great.  250 people came.

  • * Park and Oregon intersection – Angela reported that we gathered names of people who are interested in hearing more about this intersection as things develop.  We also collected ideas ranging from a two-way bike lane on the east side of Park, to a round-about, to traffic lights that are sensitive to bikes.  Susan reminded us that it’s a question how pedestrians work.  Jonathan asks if there are any statistics about roundabouts anywhere. Also, regarding bi-directional bike lane – too many driveways intersect it.  Ellen Fletcher had collected a lot of information – where is it? Angela will make a page summarizing the ideas and thoughts that were suggested.
  • * Susan reported that city council candidates came to the social, too.
  • * Ken had a table at which he asked a lot of people what their concerns are.  He gathered information on the many people in the neighborhood who have a limited English ability.
  • * Ice cream truck was great.  Many thanks to Pearlin.

Parks Report from Jonathan:   Following up on adding amenities to Bouleware park, Jonathan did call ATT to find out who owns the land.  Sharon Church is the real estate manager with ATT in charge of selling that piece of land.  When the lot line is adjusted, it will be listed and competitively marketed

Jonathan emailed the city council members Pat Burt and Karen Holman, Peter Jensen; all said they’d follow up.  But the city is not so far actually following up.  What is the next best move?    Becky  knows a lawyer for Midpeninsula Regional Open Space and will speak with her.   Jonathan also knows someone who might help.  We need to figure out who is likely to take this on. The zoning ordinance and the PF says that piece of land should be prioritized for open space and to benefit the public.  We need someone in the city to say “I’m the point person.”

J. has contacted Parks and Rec, but to no effect.  Someone could attend a public meeting of the Parks and Rec to introduce the issue.  We could also go as a group.  (INSERT by Becky – two important dates:

  • October 25 at 7 pm City Hall – Parks and Rec Commission will discuss the Parks Master Plan.
  • November 1 at 6:30 – Community Meeting Adobe Room Mitchell Park to discuss Parks Master Plan

Creepy Shops on El Camino between Fernando and Margarita  Rangu found the door open on the restaurant supply store (which appears to be a storage space for Coupa Cafe).   It appears that  the retail aspect is only for show.  Has any one ever spoken with the owners of Coupa Cafe? Maybe they should actually put in an actual cafe right there.  Susan will do it.  The city has added one more enforcement officer for code enforcement.  We’ll see if that improves the situation. The vape shop is actually in compliance which is a bummer for us all who don’t want a head shop in our neighborhood but particularly for us with small kids.

Airbnb – If you are an owner-occupied host, you can have as many people coming as you want. There is an assumption that if you are the owner, you have a vested interest in keeping the place safe!  However, more and more people are absent owners who are renting their property out on airbnb and the parking/cars are becoming a much greater problem. Some homes appear to be rented out as a party venue. By law, if it’s not owner occupied, a minimum of a month stay is required. There have been stories of people using Airbnb to rent high density properties – 10-bedroom houses, each with 2 bunk beds in it, “Hacker Hotels”.  Our neighborhood is designated  R-1 except for Curtner and Ventura where they can have RM-40 units per acre, the highest density allowed in Palo Alto.  Some people want to change it to RM-80.  Parking is difficult already on Curtner.  We know of one homeowner on Fernando who says the next door neighbor’s have turned their place into an airbnb and do not live there..

Becky will look into where exactly the regulations she knows about come from.

The woman killed in Green Meadow was an Airbnb hostess (turns out this was not a factor).  Pattern of non-owner-occupied thieves using Airbnb to target their crimes.

Planning and Transportation Commission upcoming appointments.  The Commission meets several times a month.  Every new proposed development comes before them.  They are supposed to check to see if it meets code.  They don’t do that, and that’s why the council has these long meetings on what should be just a rubber stamp.  The commission will be making a total of 3 new appointments this week.  You can go (City of Palo Alto City Council Agenda, city government web page has links) online to listen to the interviews, you could write a letter to state your views.  Appointments being made on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  There are some clear conflicts of interest in some of the applicants.

City Council Election – Clear dividing line between residentialists (who want to uphold municipal code, zoning, etc) and builders.  The Palo Alto Neighborhood association sent a questionnaire out to all the candidates specifically on development and their answers are accessible online – Visit Http://paneighborhoods.org  for the questionnaire and to see links to election videos and other resources!  

Also, Propositions and School Board!  So much on the ballot this year.

Valley Transit Authority planning to cut the 88 and the 35 busses that run up and down El Camino.  Would leave us with almost no bus service, though we get taxed just like everyone else.  Arthur Keller has a petition to convince them not to do this.  Becky will forward that to everyone.  Rangu:If anything, the frequency should increase.  The assumption is that we are all really rich up here, which is not true.  Also, students use those busses.

Proposed Development at Page Mill and El Camino: Becky went to city council to disagree with the new development.  Developer bought something that’s been zoned PF (Public Facility) and they bet that they could get the council to change their zoning.  The council gave the nod to the variance they wanted, so this large development will go in.  Becky is continuing her fight, because they must get approval from the Planning Commission.  Why are we in R-1 tightly restricted, but the developers are not carefully restricted.  And there is resistance to making it serve public interest.  If it‘s not illegal to actually write in that these units would be reserved for public employees and for low income, let us do so.  And the ridiculous contention that “cars are going away soon” which is what some council members said in support of allowing the complex to be underparked, is frankly ridiculous.    

Meeting Adjourned.  Next meeting will be Sunday, November 6,  1:30

Respectfully submitted, by Angela D, our amanuensis par excellance.

Minutes from the VNA meeting of October 2, 2016

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