Jan 222014

Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) announced their new focus on zoning and density across all of Palo Alto. Originally organized to combat a high density development in the Baron Park/Green Acres residential neighborhood, the group is now focused on a vision of Palo Alto as a family-oriented town with excellent schools, parks and infrastructure.

“It became clear as we talked to residents about Measure D that a great number of residents from all parts of town are extremely concerned about the pace and density of development throughout Palo Alto,” said Cheryl Lilienstein, President of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning.  “Since the resounding defeat of Measure D, we have been discussing how we can help create policies that define the kind of development we want in our city”. On Jan 13th, the group was successful in getting city council to improve two zoning ordinances.  One clause that empowered the city council to sweep away ALL zoning regulations for 100% low income developments was deleted.   Another ordinance which up zoned properties across town passed but the city agreed to explore ways to limit total volume of development.

Focus on Quality of Life

PASZ’s goals are to improve the quality of life for residents by ensuring that sensible long-term choices balance the insatiable demand for development with the limited supply of land available in Palo Alto and neighboring mid-peninsula communities. Tom DuBois, PASZ Vice President said “We want broad community participation in the Comprehensive Plan Update, we want our city to gather timely data on population and traffic on which to base decisions, and we want city staff to produce transparent and objective reports that offer resident centered alternatives.    Many of these issues are quite complicated so PASZ will also focus on community outreach and education”.

Several Specific Programs Identified

To meet those goals, the group is advocating for several things including:

  1. Enforcement of zoning regulations in a consistent and predictable manner
  2. Reduction of overall volume in zoning definitions so that when state density mandates are applied, the resulting building mass matches the mass allowed by existing zoning
  3. A business registry so that key population and traffic data can be used to guide decisions and evaluate the impact of new developments.
  4. A moratorium on major projects until a comprehensive land use and transportation plan is in place

“We were gratified by the City Council meeting on Jan. 13th”, said Joe Hirsch, another leader of the group. “Several important changes were made to new zoning ordinances in the meeting, although it remains to be seen how those changes will be applied in the future in meeting the group’s objectives.  The Council agreed to explore using reduced Floor Area Ratios (FAR) to control the total volume of future developments, which, we believe, would be beneficial”. Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) is a political action committee dedicated to sensible zoning and land use in Palo Alto.  A complete description of the group’s goals can be found in the Mission Statement.  Interested residents can also subscribe to our newsletter or register on their website to learn of upcoming events by the group.

UPDATE: Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning now has its own website


  One Response to “PASZ Announces New Focus”

  1. The Lucy Burns Institute offers a free document on Local ballot Initiatives that can be used to reform zoning codes.

    the 30 page booklet explains the city initiative process reflecting on research that looked at all 50 states.
    The doc can be downloaded and copies can be had at no cost.
    http://www.lucyburns.org/press-releases/lucy-burns-institute-releases-citizens-guide-to-local-ballot-initiatives/ Note pages 11 and 12.

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