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Critique: Palo Alto’s Housing Element and RHNA wrestling

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  • steveraneyc21
    Sep 21, 2012 Expand Messages
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      The main insights in this critique come from an anonymous source.

      The fact that staff got Council to adopt RHNA numbers (and avoid a lawsuit for an out-of-compliance housing element) deserves an A.

      Features of the plan: Targets major transportation hubs for growth. Protects single-family residential neighborhoods. Probably break the 50' limit. Smaller units and senior housing will yield fewer kids resulting in a larger positive fiscal new housing impact from high property taxes with low service draw. Compatible with SB375 SCS.

      Council is majority slow-growth and is infamous for factually-challenged anti-RHNA and anti-ABAG comments. Staff fought an uphill battle that seemed doomed, but eventually reversed Council's anti-climate and "I've got mine, you can't have yours" proclivities. During the process, it appeared that haphazard growth would occur, as there did not seem to be a coherent, overarching vision. It now seems as though staff may have had a vision the entire time, they just couldn't air it out in public.

      The process deserves an F for tardiness, although staff might have cleverly employed some schedule brinksmanship to win the day. The adoption of a Housing Element where the total housing opportunities identified do not add up to the RHNA goal, with the instigation of an additional study to find new housing sites is appallingly slow.

      Overall, a much, much better-than-expected outcome, although still nothing to brag about.

      See July 13 Weakly: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=17193

      What do you think?
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