Aug 162015

The Palo Alto City Council will consider the possible reform of the Citizen’s Advisory Commission to the Comprehensive Plan as an agenda item at their August 17, 2015 meeting.

Join  Palo Alto residents who support reform of the CAC.  Sign our petition.

The following letter was sent to the City Council in support of CAC reform:


Dear City Council,

I thank you for considering my and many others’ concerns about the Comp Plan Citizens Advisory Committee and acknowledge that some changes have been made, such as assigning co-chairs and allowing the public to speak before the meeting.

However, I still have some serious concerns after reviewing the proceedings of the August 11 CAC meeting.

The staff report lists “an ambitious schedule of CAC meetings and City Council meetings which will only be possible if the Comprehensive Plan Update is truly just an update, and not a complete revision or rewrite of the current Comprehensive Plan.”  It also state that “Members of the CAC will be asked to review materials provided in advance of meetings, and will be primarily engaged in reviewing and commenting on (rather than writing) draft plan language.”

The August 11 meeting was devoted to the Community Services and Facilities Element, the statistics of which are:

  • 1998-2010 Community Services and Facilities Element had 32 policies and 27 programs
  • 88% of the existing policies and programs are being carried over to the amended element;
  • 10% of the existing policies and programs are deemed complete;
  • 63% of the old policies and programs were edited;
  • 25% of the old policies and programs were carried over with no change and
  • 21 new policies and 52 new programs were added

How can this possibly be considered just an update?  And how can 20 people in one meeting cover 21 new policies and 52 new programs?  The answer is they can’t and they didn’t.    There was no step-by-step discussion of the new policies and programs.  Who will ultimately vet these?  And what will happen when we get to the really critical transportation and land use issues?

Asking people to give general comments on proposed goals and policies doesn’t make the best use of the committee’s time.  If new and revised policies and programs are proposed to be included in the revised Comp Plan, the committee needs to specifically review them for appropriateness.

Some committee people don’t even actually know what the Comp Plan is or its purpose.  How can they make informed decisions?  And does every elected/appointed official need to be introduced at each meeting?

I again ask that full minutes be provided within a week of the meeting so the public can understand and comment on the points discussed and any decisions made.

I still support adding a few more people from South Palo Alto to better represent city-wide concerns, but it’s also obvious that the real problem is the disorganized and rushed schedule of meetings.  We’ve dawdled for many years over updating the Comp Plan and now we’re in the position of rushing through many extremely critical issues that impact this city’s future.

Would it not make more sense to divide the group into subcommittees to discuss specific elements and then have a larger discussion on how those elements interrelate?  That worked well with the Cubberley CAC.

I ask that you have a discussion about what you really want the CAC to accomplish and find the best way of doing so.  “We solicited public input” just isn’t sufficient for such a serious issue.

I’ve read the Comp Plan; most of its vision is fine.  We seem to think every new idea must be enshrined in it, when it should be a master plan, not a blueprint.

Please understand that I care deeply about the city I have lived in for 40 years, half of which I have been an active community participant – MRA (20 years), PAN (17 years), 2 Housing Element committees, the Cubberley CAC, the website design committee, several council campaigns and numerous emergency preparedness activities.  I am not anti-housing, -growth, -development.  To borrow from a PAN forum, “It’s a Question of Balance.”  And our city is way out of balance between development and quality of life.

So why am I not on the committee?  Because I foresaw the very issues I’ve mentioned and because my strength is detailed analysis of issues, something not likely to happen in these meetings.


Sheri Furman

Mar 262014

Regarding the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan, I have problems with supporting the Grand Boulevard concept and also the VTA.

The Grand Boulevard threatens to destroy neighborhoods on both sides of El Camino with “pack and stack” development as we heard at last week’s PASZ presentation. Supporting the VTA idea of taking out two lanes of El Camino just for buses is terrible for residents. In our town El Camino is how we get around. It is NOT just a transportation corridor.

Lastly, it sounds great to put “stack and pack” near Cal Train stations, but if you have University station in the north of town, Cal Ave in the middle of town and San Antonio in south of town and all just a couple of miles apart, you have just targeted all the neighborhoods between Cal train and El Camino for deconstruction with “stack and pack” replacement. It is the entire middle of our town.

Just my thoughts. Thanks.



 Posted by at 3:36 pm
Mar 152014

I have been a resident of Palo Alto for 12 years and a homeowner in Barron Park since 2005. My three kids attend Gunn and Terman, and I am a minister in a local church. I’m writing to strongly urge the city to step in and act on behalf of our neighbors and friends at Buena Vista mobile home park. I would ask the city to do all it can to encourage and persuade the owner to sell to the residents or a nonprofit developer for a fair price in order to preserve the low-cost housing in Palo Alto, and most importantly to allow people who are already thriving and part of our community to stay in their homes and schools.

I understand the need and right for the property owner to receive a fair price, but I believe a mutually beneficial solution can be found if all are willing. In addition I would ask the City to consider using the Maybell loan money to support the residents during this time of upheaval. It is incumbent on every member of the community to care for and care about every resident and the situation they are facing, especially when money and power are not on “their side.” This is a community issue and one we are all part of whether we are residents or not. I implore the council to act on the community’s behalf in this situation.

Liz Milner
Julie Court, Palo Alto

( This letter appeared in the March 14, 2014 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly )

Mar 152014

The 2013 appraisal of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, commissioned and paid for by the owner, Joe Jisser, claims that the appraised value as a mobile home park is the same as it was in 2012, and includes an estimated 3-6 months probable marketing time (this could be much shorter and simpler with ready buyers who have already made an offer). It also alleges that with the current RM-15 zoning and with the proposed increased RM-40 zoning it has exactly the same appraised value. The claim is that higher construction costs exactly offset the increase in value due to the proposed increase in density. If this were true, there would be no reason to apply for a zoning change. There is no update since 2013.


Mar 152014

I  have lived in Barron Park for 27 years, and I’ve come to know the residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in our neighborhood as hardworking people who know and care about each other and the neighborhood, and who are important constituents of Barron Park. I’m very concerned about the possibility that residents of Buena Vista will be dispossessed of the homes they own, their children’s schools, their extended families and community, and their livelihoods if they are forced to leave the area in search of affordable housing.

Closing Buena Vista would mean the loss of 108 units of affordable housing with no plan for replacement. This loss would affect not only the Buena Vista residents but our entire city. Where are the people we depend on to provide services, to staff our restaurants and shops, supposed to live? Do we really want a city where everyone who works here has to commute from a distance, causing us ever more traffic congestion and parking problems? In a city inhabited by several billionaires and many multimillionaires, a city which is projecting a tax income bonanza in the years ahead, can we not find a way to preserve this longstanding community in our midst instead of “scraping” it and replacing it with luxury apartments?

Surely we can and must do better than that.

Don Anderson
Alta Mesa Avenue, Palo Alto