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

Why A Housing Shortage Hurts Everyone

Palo Alto is facing an extraordinary housing shortage that has driven rents and home prices to new heights.  The median home in Palo Alto costs $2 million, and Palo Alto now has the highest median rent of any city in the United States. Under the current combination of restrained construction and a booming economy, these trends are likely to push rents and home prices even higher, pricing out new and current residents alike. If you care about the high cost of housing in Palo Alto, please sign this petition today and ask City Council to address the housing crisis. In fact, the entire Bay Area is experiencing a decades long housing shortage. As a region, our population is growing, but our housing supply is failing to keep up. What happens in a market where a housing shortage drives up prices? Take a look: Read more

Should the drought affect growth in Palo Alto?

We're all aware, by now, that we live on a planet of finite resources. As Californians, we're especially feeling the pinch when it comes to water. Given the LA Times's recent proclamation that California has only one year of water left, do we have enough water to permit more people to live in Palo Alto? In short, the answer is yes. Letting more people live in Palo Alto is one of the most valuable things we can do with our water - and it may actually save water for California as a whole. Read more

Considering Building a Secondary Unit in Palo Alto?

                  Secondary units or homes, often referred to as “granny units” or “in-law units” can be an excellent way of allowing people to age in place. They can serve as a home for family or a caregiver or they can serve as an income stream during retirement, providing a relatively affordable rental option for students or young adults. Secondary homes can also be a terrific way of safeguarding against mobility issues in the future: they can be built as a single floor with no-step entries, extra wide hallways and doors, and switches and outlets reachable at any height. It can often be much cheaper to build a secondary home in this manner than to retrofit an existing home or to find another home to purchase, so many people choose to move into the secondary home themselves and let their children live in the main home.   Read more

Sustainability Climate Action Plan Study Session

On Monday, April 20, Palo Alto's Chief Sustainability Officer, Gil Friend, will lead a study session with the City Council on the Sustainability/Carbon Action Plan (S/CAP).  The S/CAP is "Palo Alto’s ambitious plan to create a prosperous, resilient city for all residents. It supports Palo Alto’s leadership position on climate protection and shows how the City will meet or exceed, state requirements for GHG emission reductions."  Read more

Tactical Urbanism

With Island Press and City of Palo Alto Library, we had a unique opportunity to host Mike Lydon, author of Tactical Urbanism, for an event in Palo Alto.  Mike provided inspiration to almost sixty participants.   Read more

Palo Alto Forward Steering Committee Endorses Measure A to Support Palo Alto Schools

We at Palo Alto Forward believe Palo Alto is strengthened by having more housing and transportation options as well as the infrastructure that supports it, including PAUSD’s wonderful schools. We thank the Measure A  Campaign Team for their hard work in ensuring it gets passed in May and thank them for their guest blog post below. Read more

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