Council Listens to Residents on Housing Shortage

To the overwhelming number of residents who came to speak at City Council about the need to address the city's housing shortage - thank you! There were 45 pro-housing comments made at the Land Use Element, compared to only a handful of comments against. City Council listened to you. Council members Marc Berman, Pat Burt, and Cory Wolbach proposed motions that spoke directly to the need to increase housing supply in our downtown areas for all residents and specifically for Palo Alto's increasing population of seniors. These ideas were included in the Council's final direction for the Comprehensive Plan. Nevertheless, it is clear that achieving our goal of a Palo Alto that remains inclusive to residents of all incomes and all ages will be an continuing struggle. Your voice will be needed in the weeks and months ahead to make sure Council addresses the housing shortage with the same urgency that it has displayed for other important issues this year such as managing office growth and regulating downtown parking. Thanks again to all the residents who spoke or wrote in favor of housing - your voice is beginning to be heard!

Do Foreign Investors Drive High Housing Prices in Palo Alto?

  A ghost home owned by a foreign buyer? Attrib: sanfranman59 on Wikipedia. Foreign investment seems to be on everyone’s mind these days with stories about unoccupied “ghost” homes making the headlines. Many people are saying that foreign investment is the cause of Palo Alto’s sky-high housing prices.  Others say that the foreign investment trend is a reason for Palo Alto to not build more housing.  But how much do foreign buyers increase home prices, and what can Palo Alto do about it? Read more

Housing as Transportation Solution?

Palo Alto has the highest in-commuting rate in the region and the second highest in the country after Manhattan.  Downtown areas are busy and it’s hard to find parking. On Tuesday, the Comprehensive Plan Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) will be discussing talking about the policies and programs to help address the city’s transportation challenges. As we think about the future of transportation, here are some thoughts for the committee to consider…   Read more

Ideas for the Next 20 Years of Palo Alto Transportation

Palo Alto is updating the city’s Comprehensive Plan, setting guidelines for the coming decades.  You can share your ideas about the future of transportation in Palo Alto on this city website.  This is your chance to provide comment on Palo Alto's Transportation Element, and you can do it in 5 minutes or less. Please respond before September 3rd to have your comments incorporated as part of the recommendations of the CAC! Share your ideas now, or check out our food for thought as you consider your suggestions. Read more

The Unintended Consequences of Subsidized Parking in Palo Alto

If I were to ask you whether or not the city should pay commuters to drive to work in Palo Alto, I imagine you’d scoff at the idea. Who me? Subsidize vehicle traffic? Encourage employee parking on neighborhood streets? No way. Many Palo Altans are acutely aware of parking shortages downtown and challenging commute-hour traffic. Some are complaining about the lack of parking on neighborhood streets due to employee parking. However many people don’t realize that subsidizing commuters is in fact what the City of Palo Alto is doing today. Read more

New Palo Alto Downtown Commute Survey Shows 55% Drivealone Rate

The first employer survey for the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association shows a 55% drivealone commute rate, with 45% of commuters traveling to work in some other way. 17% of downtown commuters used Caltrain, and 15% of commuters walked or biked to work. The TMA plans to use the survey data help plan investments to further reduce driving into Palo Alto downtown, where car parking is experienced as scarce, and traffic makes driving inconvenient. Read more

Making Stone Soup - Affordable Housing at Buena Vista

Palo Alto Forward's Steering Committee Letter to City of Palo Alto Council June 29th, 2015   Dear Mayor Holman and Palo Alto City Council Members: Palo Alto Forward is a resident-led, community-based group interested in crafting a vision for the future of Palo Alto that is focused on creating quality, opportunity and choice in housing and transportation. Like you, we are concerned about the proposed closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, potential eviction of 400 residents and the loss of an existing, yet scarce source of affordable housing in our community.   Read more

Parking Management for Thriving Places

On Tuesday June 23, we heard from Richard Willson, a funny and engaging speaker, who explained that parking policy is the intersection of transportation, economic development, sustainability/social justice, urban design goals.  Two years ago, he wrote Parking Reform made Easy, which advocated for setting correct prices to regulate parking (a la Don Shoup, author of the High Cost of Free Parking and Willson’s PhD advisor).  His follow up book, Parking Management for Smart Growth was born from the fact most cities can't use pricing as a regulatory mechanism because they have not implemented other parking management tools first.  Palo Alto has certainly experienced this in recent years, as the economy has taken off and parking has become a scarce resource in some places. Read more

How Can We Encourage More Housing?

Palo Alto has a severe housing shortage: a very low rate of home construction over the last fifty years combined with the booming tech economy has given Palo Alto the highest rents in the entire United States. We’ve talked a little bit about WHY we have a housing shortage, ideas for WHERE we can place new housing, and that brings us to HOW we can encourage more housing stock. There are a lot of opaque policies and rules that govern our built environment and shape the amount of housing that we can build. For Palo Alto's last Comprehensive Plan and Housing Element, the community already came together to design new pro-housing policies. Unfortunately, they were never implemented by the City Council into new zoning rules that would allow this new housing to be built. As such, there are a number of programs from our current plans that we should consider for our new Comprehensive Plan to encourage additional housing. Read more

Where Can Palo Alto Add New Homes?

Palo Alto has a severe housing shortage: a very low rate of home construction over the last fifty years combined with the booming tech economy has given Palo Alto the highest rents in the entire United States. So what are the realistic options for Palo Alto to expand its housing supply? 40% of Palo Alto is open space in the foothills and baylands, another 19% is parks, and most of Palo Alto's remaining land is zoned for single-family homes. Surprisingly, Palo Alto has room to build thousands of new homes over the next fifteen years without changing the character of existing residential neighborhoods - if you know where to look. Let’s look at a few places where more homes could be built. Read more

Ask City Council to Make Housing a Priority!


get updates