Palo Alto is a special place.
The city’s beautiful streets are naturally bikeable and walkable—indeed, over two-thirds of the city’s students bike to school on a daily basis, and Palo Alto consistently scores among the highest walkability indexes in America. The city has long been a center for innovation, having incubated HP, Google, Facebook, PayPal, eBay, Tesla, and many others. For a long time, it was a place that mixed university students, professors, and teachers with tech titans, garage-workshop inventors, and venture capitalists.
Those of us lucky enough to live here have benefited from the wise decisions of an earlier generation of Palo Altans. In the 1950s and 1960s, when many American cities were designing their streets and public spaces around the automobile, Palo Alto chose to stick with gridded narrow tree-lined streets, a fairly dense downtown built around a historic train station, and plentiful small neighborhood parks and schools.
The city is by many measures one of the loveliest and most desirable locations in the country, but the staunch opposition to all growth in Palo Alto, and in particular, more housing, threatens its character and vitality. The combination of a booming tech sector and highly restrictive housing policy has meant that our city has lost much of its diversity: the graduate students, police, city staff and teachers are largely gone, and with few affordable options, older residents are often forced to relocate away from life-long friends and grandchildren. Transportation dollars are often spent in ways that only incentivize more driving and more traffic: constructing more parking garages and widening roads. Much of our ground floor retail, which hosts some of the best restaurants and shops in the region, has turned into more office space as retail tenants are priced out and more companies seek to call Palo Alto their home.
Opposition to all growth only makes housing and retail more expensive, further crowding out non-millionaires, mom-and-pop shops, and start-ups. We are in danger of no longer being an innovative, vibrant, welcoming city, becoming instead a gated bedroom community for rich, middle-aged people, all from the same industries and backgrounds.
Palo Alto Forward is a collection of concerned citizens who want to move Palo Alto forward, towards a more proactive and inclusive way of planning for the future. We believe that a diversity of housing in the right places coupled with innovative transportation solutions is an important step toward preserving the opportunities that Palo Alto has offered for generations.
We believe that if we do this correctly, a host of benefits can be realized (more details are in Our Platform).
- Walkability and sustainability can be improved
- Traffic congestion and parking shortages can be alleviated
- Innovation can be encouraged
- Healthy local retail businesses can be supported
- School funding can be increased
- Neighborhoods can be strengthened
Over the coming months, we will be frequently publishing on these policies and the potential results, as well as informing the public on how they can help move Palo Alto forward! Thanks for coming along with us on this journey.
To sign up to learn more (or even to volunteer), Click HERE
We are a casual group of Palo Alto enthusiasts-- we will have regular meet-ups and opportunities to get together to help solve Palo Alto problems together!
Our first meet-up will be at 7pm on Monday, Sept 8 at Scotty’s Bar and Grill (548 Emerson, Palo Alto)... ALL are welcome to come have a drink with us!