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RE: [ALPA_Forum] today's Daily - Alma Plaza petition for wider streets, more parking, fewer homes

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  • slevy@ccsce.com
    To me this seems exactly the kind of issue we should speak out on. _____ From: ALPA_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ALPA_Forum@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 11, 2009
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      To me this seems exactly the kind of issue we should speak out on.


      From: ALPA_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto: ALPA_Forum@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of irvin dawid
      Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2009 6:36 PM
      To: ALPA Forum
      Subject: [ALPA_Forum] today's Daily - Alma Plaza petition for wider streets, more parking, fewer homes


      Is there an opportunity for ALPA to play a role?

      Petition calls for increased parking

       Petition calls for increased parking
       Measure would reduce number of homes


        It’s the planning battle that just won’t die.

        The 4.2-acre Alma Plaza development, approved by the Palo Alto City Council in January after 10 years of stops, starts, tweaks and do-overs, could be up in the air once more.

        On Friday, neighborhood activist Bob Moss began circulating a petition to qualify a November ballot measure that would change the terms of the city council’s approval. It would require wider private streets, more parking and a larger community room, while reducing the number and size of the planned single-family homes.

        It would also set minimum widths for private streets in all future developments in the city.

        To get the measure on the ballot, supporters will need to collect a number of signatures equal to 6 percent of the local voter registration roll in the last municipal election. The exact figure wasn’t immediately available Friday, but Moss said City Clerk Donna Grider pegged it at close to 2,000.

      Moss said the initiative is needed to address a growing problem in the city: new housing complexes that don’t include enough parking spots. He cited the Arbor Real project on the old Hyatt Rickey’s hotel site, saying its residents have been parking on the street in the surrounding neighborhood.

        Developer John McNellis said the new rules, if approved, could kill the project entirely.

      Plans for Alma Plaza call for a grocery store, shops, a small park, 37 single-family homes, 14 below-market- rate apartments and a small community room to replace a vacant shopping center built in the 1950s. The homes would be arranged along private streets too narrow for on-street parking, so residents would be expected to park in their garages or driveways.

        Moss predicted many will instead spill over onto nearby public streets.

        “It’s going to be awful,” he said. “It’ll look like downtown San Francisco .”

        McNellis disagreed, saying Moss’ initiative is just the latest bid by a small group of neighbors to reduce the density of his project. The 37 houses, he said, are needed to pay for the grocery store and the below market-rate housing, which residents and city officials have clamored for.

        “It’s an attack on smart growth,” he said. “It’s like that old saw — everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Everybody wants smart growth, everybody wants density and the benefits it brings, like a vibrant street scene,” but no one wants the density to be near them.

        “I’m hopeful the people of Palo Alto after 20 years will say enough is enough,” McNellis added. “This project has been vetted and vetted and vetted.”

        Council Member Pat Burt, who voiced reservations about the scarcity of parking on the site before voting to approve the plan in January, said he hasn’t yet read the initiative carefully enough to decide whether he’ll support it.

        “I think there’s some consensus that we need to revisit this issue” of parking on private streets, he said.

        “What people will be divided on is whether you go back on a project that’s been approved and apply it to that.”


      Irvin Dawid
      650-283-6534/ mobile

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