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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Should Zoning Ever Change

Uploaded: Jan 3, 2014
My answer is yes just as it is for laws regarding civil rights when I was growing up in the 1950s or for laws regarding gay marriage or a women's right to choose. Conditions change and people should be able to adapt to new realities or new views about matters as long as no constitutional rights are voided.

So I would love to see zoning changes that permitted and facilitated so-called granny units or permitted small apartments if people change their views on how much living space is needed, Our valley was built on changes that allowed orchards to become homes and offices. Still, today there is excess land zoned for industrial uses in some areas and it is being converted to uses that are in demand.

Locally I can see zoning changes that facilitate better (and denser) use of properties along El Camino and I suspect growth pressures will slowly change zoning along parts of Alma and in additional streets as downtown expands.

I understand that many residents wish growth would go elsewhere, And how growth pressures are handled IS one of the primary functions of local government, But I do not agree that zoning is a promise written in stone and comparable to the Bill of Rights.

If you wish to respond to this blog, please start by answering two questions--

1) Do you think zoning should ever be changed in Palo Alto--why or why not. I am trying to uncover whether resident opposition to zoning changes depends on whether they like the proposed change or not or whether there is a principle involved and

2) If you think zoning is a promise that should never be changed, do you feel the same about public employee retirement benefits or the nation's long term possible Medicare or Social Security funding challenges--both of which to me involve more longstanding and significant "promises" on which people made important life decisions.

I think all of these are subject to change if the situation demands and will go better with feelings of trying to work together on complicated changes that need to be made.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center,
on Jan 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Happy new year Steve.

As usual, I agree with your thought process. If it is a requirement to post on this particular blog of yours my answer to both of your questions is "no."

I perceive some challenges for this affluent and built out community.

First, opportunistic developers try to shoe horn projects, both commercial, residential, or a blend, that do not account appropriately for community members. I am not sympathetic to the naysayers who want nothing to happen. And having served on the Parks and Recreation Commission for 9 years, I will assert that many developer proposed projects and the way they are presented came across to me as a bamboozle by those proposing, not a dialog.

Second, based on my own personal experience, any senior living complex in Palo Alto must be accessible by shuttle, by foot, not exclusively by car. My parents moved to a lovely retirement community, and it no longer was lovely when their physical status prevented them from driving. When they got to that point in their lives, their living situation failed. We should not present to Palo Alto seniors living situations that compromise their access to basic needs. Hence my opposition to the Maybell proposal.

Change is necessary, change is hard, and change is resisted. Courage and vision are scarce and called for. Change is necessary, and it is much more difficult to achieve it in the public sector than in the private sector in the States.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.


To see if I understand what you are saying, you are against zoning changes, at least those to increase density, because you think we are "built out" and not from a principle against change.

If so, what is your thought about where the 2 million new residents in the region will/shoulld live and work? What about the situations of the millions of Bay Area residents who are not seniors. And if Maybell was the "wrong place" are there any right places in Palo Alto?

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 7:04 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I would say Yes.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

> Q1: should zoning change

Given that nothing in this life is constant?then it stands to reason that zoning should be subject to change. But this is not a very interesting question. The more interesting question is: how, and why, should zoning change?

> Q2: ?..

Q2 starts off with a sort of follow-on to Q1, and then is complicated beyond belief by conflation of the on-going issues regarding pensions and the welfare state. Hence, only Q1 deserves discussion.

{portion deleted}

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

Interesting --

Steve Levy does not want to deal in reality .. just his own bubble.

Another reason not to take him seriously.

{portion deleted}

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Hi Joe,

Thanks for answering the first question.

Your answer to the first question eliminated the need to answer the second question, which is only for posters who believe zoning is a promise that should not be broken. So there was no need for your put down statement.

The portion that was deleted was disrespectful in general and continues the fascination of some posters with Chinese immigrants. 37% of Valley RESIDENTS are foreign born and the majority come from Asian countries. I will not allow these fellow residents to be disrespected on this blog.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Joe and others,

I am asked by the editors to leave derogatory statements about myself up on the blog, so I will let each poster do so once within reason.

The deleted portion alleged criminal activity by city officials without a single piece of evidence and by an anonymous poster. That is not appropriate for this blog.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I look at it this way. Majority of us beside the Native Americans are from someplace else. City, county, state, region, eastern seaboard or across the oceans. I am 5th generation native Californian who ethic background is a European milkshake.

Zoning needs to adapt, we don\'t even new land for new zoning in the Silcon Valley. Up or out.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm

deleted--disrespectful and non responsive to the blog post

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

{portion deleted}

If you are going to be so thin-skinned towards those who even slightly challenge your point of view, perhaps you should not be running a blog.

Posted by a reader, a resident of another community,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 7:13 pm


Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Posters, if you want to participate in this blog, please read my initial post and answer the questions I posed.

As to editing that is my responsibility as to what I think is respectful. It has nothing to do with disagreement and everything to do with name calling and put downs.

People are free to post their own blogs.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Zoning is just one piece of the planning puzzle, we can't expect to maintain a 50's way of thinking in what is a big economic growth area. We are talking shuttles but at the same time we ate still building 1950's type suburbs.

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Of course zoning is not unchangeable ... but the relevant question to ask is who should control when/how/why it changes. A better question for Steve to ask would be:

#1. Who should control changes to zoning:

A) local residents who are invested in the community both financially and by virtue of the fact that their daily quality of life is directly impacted by the zoning changes
B) state legislators who live far from impacts of zoning changes, developer/commercial interests whose investment in the community is purely financial, or "resident of another community" who might want to move here if the character of the city became more "exciting" or lower cost housing was available?

I think the Maybell referendum should start to send a clear answer, but some on the city council seem to be trying really hard not to listen because they don't like the message.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Zoning should be allowed to change.

But only by Local (community) vote, not by dictates from on high (Federal, State or Region). The only exception would be where the courts ordered because the current zoning specifically excluded INDIVIDUALS based upon Race or Religion or Age. Note that I did not include simple lack of $,$$$,$$$ as a form of discriminatory.
Obtaining a zoning change is a privilege, Not a automatic right.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Zoning is height, size, use, density and type of businesses. By having public vote will send it someplace else.

Look at Alma Plaza, couldn't get decent size grocery store. Other places have zoning against chain stores and etc. Even with proper zoning and the right project, still a battle to build anything.

Posted by Palo Verde Resident, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I went to a couple of planning meetings a couple of years ago about the Fabian/Charleston/East Meadow Circle area. There were several people from the city, some from a planning company and many residents.

Lots of issues were discussed including footbridge over 101 and other topics of particular interest to those who lived, have businesses (gas station) or worked in the area.

Apart from the footbridge idea, nothing discussed has come out of these meetings. The gas station could not even get permission to sell food/coffee/snacks - something that this area is sadly lacking. No proposal for public transit has since materialized.

However, this type of meeting is what should happen if and when zoning is proposed to be altered.

Have the meetings, find out what those affected want, then make the changes. Keep developers out of it.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Zoning is certainly not carved in stone. But my personal opinion is that zoning should be controlled at the local level. While I appreciate the need to streamline decisions via an elected body, I believe any zoning changes that directly affect a residential neighborhood - either the neighborhood itself or an area that is close in proximity - cannot happen without accounting for the majority opinion of the city.

We have several forces running into each other.. Urbanism, residential, open space, industrial, multi-unit/dense, height limits, traffic, parking, schools, etc.

I agree that PA is essentially built out. The schools are adding two story buildings and they are still going to be near capacity. The sewers, etc. are only so big. The roads are maxed out and there's no place to add more roads.

Steve proposes densification along ECR and perhaps Alma/Central. But with limited traffic capacity, limited rapid transit channels, maxed school space - I just don't see it happening without some radical changes to either a) the building skyline, b) Stanford's open space, c) the city taking land and converting Alma, Page Mill, Embarcadero and University into full-on expressways. Palo Alto will cease being Palo Alto.

Why does the growth have to happen here? Land is cheap in Stockton and the surrounding areas. Why can't there be a new economic center out there?

Posted by Disrespectful,moi?, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:01 am

Steve Levy ... might you want to get a photo that doesn't look like you were just roused from a 4 day bender with a hangover?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:17 am

>> My answer is yes just as it is for laws regarding civil rights when I was growing up in the 1950s or for laws regarding gay marriage or a women's right to choose.

Civil rights, gay marriage, abortion laws changed for a reason, not just for the sake of change or the passage of time as your wording implies. The question is in the facts and the circumstance.

>> Conditions change and people should be able to adapt to new realities or new views about matters as long as no constitutional rights are voided.

This area of private property at this level is something the Constitution does not directly address and has to be interpreted, which is a political mess these days because that just means a monetary scaffold of BS must be constructed to justify whatever, be it water boarding, or naming the President. It means a legal mess, and an expensive legal mess that allows powerful money interests to get their way. When I read articles from Steve Levy they always seem to have a subtext of supporting the power of wealth based on really loose and nebulous concepts but tied to the Constitution to make them sound rock solid. They are not, or they should not be portrayed as such.

This is the question of the century, how development will proceed and what will drive it. There are a lot of factors here, and putting in place a process that does not take all the rights of everyone involved, and is put just in the hands of the wealthy and the politicians owned by they compounds the problems we already have - just for a start.

1) Of course, zoning should change, absolutely nothing in the human realm can stand up to the change of time. But that is a moot question.

2) The point of change is that theoretically and at some points in the past that were idealized and cherished, changes were either or both of democracy or driven by intelligent people with a societal motivation of advancement. We seem to have neither of those today, so the process of any change is put into the hands of those who have an agenda that mostly is secretive, mostly out of sight and not democratic, and mostly helps out those in the places of power ... that is a positive feedback loop that is out of control and incompetent to deal with problems past how do the rich and powerful get more money and power.

In the face of the problems of what is driving the changes, I have to say for the safety and protection of Palo Alto and its residents a moratorium on most changes should be exactly, and any change that rises to the level of being described as a high priority or emergency should be presented and debated to the residents and voted on - only to be overridden with a unanimous vote of the City Council against the public will.

Just my opinion.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:31 am

>> Why does the growth have to happen here? Land is cheap in Stockton and the surrounding areas. Why can't there be a new economic center out there?

Crescent Park Dad you raise a good point ... Palo Alto is built up and what is happening now is the death or metamorphosis of Palo Alto into an economic block run by a monied and powerful well connected elite. The city we used to have is dead, no doubt about it. People just live here for outward reasons, the schools, it is close to their work or Stanford and is a status symbol. There is still some of the outward signs of the city I was introduced to in 1969, but things change, and things change at light speed here in Silicon Valley after the momentum has built for 40 years. It's not going to slow down or stop.

Good point about a new economic center ... but we are not ready to think about doing anything intelligently. If we were we would have designed and built something along the lines of the High Speed Rail more in the shape of BART and connecting all the local areas prioritizing exactly what you are talking about. The East Bay was the first to start to be connected, but that connection long as it has been worked on is still a mess ... it takes hours to get around the bay and mucho dinero.

Why this country seems to have such a hatred of infrastructure is because we are so programmed and brainwashed to think that anything public, especially with a union or potential for blue collar workers is some kind of communist conspiracy that NO MONEY MUST BE INVESTED IN AT ANY COST!

Think if we have a multi-tracked rapid transit system that moved at the speeds of high-speed rail around the Bay Area how much faster, better and cheaper all of our lives would be and we would not have all these crunches in specific places like Palo Alto, San Fransisco, Cupertino or San Jose. That is where the infrastructure should be focused, not on some BS pie in the sky go to Disneyland ... although it would be nice to be able to go to LA faster and cheaper, that is not a low hanging fruit - except to the people who want to build and profit from this BS-boondoggle.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:47 am

Garret83 ... "Look at Alma Plaza, couldn't get decent size grocery store."

I now go often daily to the Fresh Market at Edgewood Plaza ... or whatever it's called now. There is what looks to me like a model for a successful decent sized grocery store on a par with the the Luckys/Albertson's that used to be there. You look at the size of the parking lot there, and then look at what they gave Miki's market ... that was never going to be or intended to be a decent sized grocery store ... and it was not planned or executed as such. What was that ... I wish the City Coucil could be put on Sodium Pentathol and would have to explain that to us Palo Alto residents!

Miki's could have been a neighborhood market, but it was so high-end that I think people just would have never got into the habit of going there for a small trip for needed groceries because not enough was there and properly priced - not to mention Piazzis and Safeway being so relatively close, and not to mention that it is a RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT and has to close down at 8 or 9pm or so because otherwise it would drive the people who live their crazy. The building and location are just problematic for anything that needs a lot of people to get in, transact business and get out.

This design was complete incompetence, which is now being followed up by desperately and nauseatingly complete incompetence, demonstrated by the City Council's bending over to allow oversize signs ... all over town now too.

All these little signals of "incompetence are just the City Council and whoever's behind them way of putting a finger in the eye of all Palo Alto residents ... treating us more as transients who will eventually get tired of it and leave while a business cartel comes on and does whatever they want with our lives and communities. Our city government does not represent us, nor does it represent any large scale order on the state or county level, it is just being used as a gate to funnel profits to a power elite that wants to use this model on the whole country. The rest of us don't seem to count ... that's my problem with all of this ... there is no more live and let live, it's just all out war, and war against the very people and city that made this place a nice place to live.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ disrespectful

Hahahaha--great idea to get a new photo. I just sent one to Bill Johnson. I agree this one is awful. Thanks for reminding me to get it changed.

FYI, since I don't drink, do you think eating too much ice cream could cause a "bender look"?

To the rest of you, thanks for the recent posts. I will get back to you when I can. Let's see if we can agree to disagree on some parts and clarify some other parts of the discussion.

Posted by ok, but to a point, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Zoning should be changeable, but it seems like this city uses zoning variances to extract favors from developers. It all seems really piecemeal with no real plan. I'd cite examples, but I am afraid that might cause this thread to rat hole.

Posted by Phil Farrell, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jan 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I believe that zoning should evolve over time to meet changing needs, but that this should be an infrequent occurrence based on a broad planning effort. I am opposed to "ad hoc" zoning changes to accomodate specific development proposals. Almost every "Planned Community" proposal falls into that category, in my opinion, and should thus be disallowed.

For example, if you believe that densification of the El Camino corridor is a good idea, then that should be incorporated into a broad planning effort for that corridor as a whole, or as part of the citywide comprehensive plan. That might identify a zoning change that should be applied to all or part of the corridor to promote a change in use, but it needs broad community acceptance.

Palo Alto is a desirable place to live and work. This means that someone can always make a buck by trying to exploit that desirability. It also means - and this is very important - that you can also make money by developing within the existing zoning! The purpose of thoughtful zoning is to preserve and improve the desirable characteristics of the community. It seems to me that most developers see Palo Alto's zoning as simply a hurdle to be overcome on their way to increased profits, not as a binding requirement to respect the community.

I would like to see this process for zoning changes. First, eliminate the Planned Community zoning. Next, consider zoning changes only at fixed intervals, say once every three years. Anyone who wants a zoning change during that interval puts in his request before a specified deadline. If he misses the deadline, he has to wait for the next three year interval. Then all requests for the current interval are evaluated in a single environmental study and public hearings, and the council finally decides which changes to grant in one go. That way, everyone can see the cumulative impacts and knows they have a chance to influence the overall development of the city.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I think Phil brings an excellent points to the discussion - zoning: how it fits with the long-term plan and PC zoning doesn't fit with any plan on record, haphazard and chaotic at best.

We see Menlo Park going through a similar process right now. The Stanford properties on ECR and what can/cannot be built and at what density. Filtering the arguments - the key point is that MP needs to stick to its comprehensive plan...that the citizens have a say in that plan, the plan is clear/concise and that the plan doesn't waiver on major impact decisions, such as density, zoning, etc.

Certainly politicians, ad hoc committees, review boards, etc. dislike limits imposed by the residents - but without them, we will get more Measure D's.

Posted by annono, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Well quite frankly it would be great if they built more housing, even high density rental housing in Palo Alto, then perhaps there would be less demand for rentals and the price would go down. The increase in rents in this over the last 10 years is simply crippling

Posted by who to thank, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm


Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Thanks for all the recent posts. I started this thread because some, not all, of the Prop D opponents were arguing that zoning was a promise to residents and I wanted to explore the concept of promises.

No one on this thread has argued for that position so either those posters are on extended vacation or have chosen not to try and defend the "zoning is a promise that should not be changed" argument.

Readers have offered a variety of thoughts on when and how zoning could be changed and I will address these below.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 11:42 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

The majority of posters argue for local control of zoning at least that is how I read the comments above.

I believe there IS local control of zoning as is appropriate and perhaps some posters are really arguing that they do not like how the city council, ARB and planning commission are exercising local control rather than that it does not exist.

There are NO state or regional mandates for non residential development as I think most readers know. All of these developments are completely under local control.

We know this as a matter of law but also as a matter of practice as the city has seen vigorous debates and appeals of recent office developments--all decided by city officials.

The fact that residents may not like the decisions does not negate the fact that local control exists.

There ARE short term planning targets for housing for Palo Alto and other cities in the state as a result of state law. We can discuss these separately if readers want although there has been a lot of discussion already.

One point there I would note is that in 1970 residents decided to protect the foothills from development in exchange for focusing development in other areas of the city. While no one in 1970 could anticipate the conditions of 2013, it was a decision that suggests a commitment to planning for housing in the flat portions of the city.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 11:44 am

Steve Levy is a registered user.

There are many suggestions that zoning should reflect long-term planning. I agree completely although I suspect I will have different thoughts than many posters on what the long-term vision for PA should be.

Ad hoc planning is not a great solution except when developing a comprehensive plan vision is elusive.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm


As to Zoning is a promise which should never be changed, I think it is worth discussing this more.

I am not a Barron Park resident but know the area a little and considered buying a property there. The reason we did not buy was because we didn't like the fact that there were no sidewalks, cars seemed to park anywhere there was space and since we like to walk around the neighborhood and we have children who ride bikes, we felt that living there would have been an accident waiting to happen, particularly when the children started driving.

I was interested to learn that the residents at one time were promised that there would never be sidewalks. This promise must have been made before children biking and riding to Gunn and Terman was an issue. I can't see that a promise like this is worth keeping.

If the local residents still want no sidewalks then they are of a completely different mindset to us.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Some posters argue that PA is "built out" and also that growth could/should go to places like Stockton, particularly if transportation infrastructure were improved.

There are several practical problems with this "solution".

First, everyone is now free to locate in Stockton or Modesto or Salinas or points in between. The only prohibitions would be local growth limiting ordinances in these places.

The fact is that businesses want to locate here despite the high rents and prices. Are posters arguing that somehow we should force firms to move and how would we do that and why?

Isn't it a bit inconsistent for posters to argue against mandates when it suits their personal interests and for coercion when IT suits their interests.

Second, it is VERY expensive to build transportation infrastructure to allow residents to live outside the region and commute in. I am not opposed on principle as long as posters are ready to raise sales or gas taxes to pay for this.

Also I do not think Palo Alto is "built out". I think better use of El Camino properties is possible along with parts of Alma and the downtown and CA Ave areas. I know there is disagreement here but built out is a matter of opinion.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

@ resident.

Thanks for the post on sidewalks. I did not know this and wonder how readers will respond.

Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Yes, it is true that more development of any kind will initially increase traffic as it will wherever it is built in the region.

This is one basis for the blog title Invest or Die

We have concluded that lots of development will occur under existing zoning and plausible changes.

We need to invest in the transportation and parking solutions and not pretend that small changes in future development will have much impact.

I argue for solving problems not fighting the future.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I think zoning should absolutely change to reflect the needs of the community. BUT I think the zoning in our City has two major issues. One, zoning changes are reactive and not proactive. The City responds to developers or even State mandates instead of proactively planning for smart growth. Smart growth would include the affect of new housing on schools, parks, infrastructure, transportation, etc. Two - our City Council has allowed Downtown Palo Alto to turn into an office park with lots of restaurants and insufficient parking instead a mix of housing, service, retail, restaurants and offices (with offices being last of that mix).

If we are going to change our zoning, we first need to preserve our services. If we want people to walk and bike, we need to preserve the places (beside offices) they wish to patronize. If that means changing zoning to eliminate new ground floor offices and preserve retail downtown, on Cal ave and in Midtown, then doing changes are appropriate.

Any zoning changes should be reflective of both the needs of residents, the needs of businesses and the desires of the State.

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Resident is generally correct about sidewalks in Barron Park. When the neighborhood negotiated the terms of incorporation into the city in the mid 1970s there was a determination to maintain its semi-rural feel.

As I understand it, Barron Park residents could not be compelled to put in sidewalks or curbs and gutters. The curbs and gutters issue has been rendered moot by the city\'s putting in valley gutters as streets are repaved. There\'s been little opposition to that encroachment on the rural theme.

But sidewalks are a different matter.

This was a local (neighborhood) issue in the Measure D campaign. Part of the package that the City Council approved was $200,000 for street safety improvements on Maybell, including a stretch of sidewalk to make it safer for students to get to and from school.

Arguments in favor: 1) improved traffic safety, 2) an assured funding source with a timetable--all street work had to be completed before construction could begin. Arguments against: 1). the city made a commitment four decades ago not to push sidewalks on Barron Park, 2) reluctant landowners might face eminent domain proceedings if they refused to sell the strip needed to complete the sidewalk.

This is a very different neighborhood from 40 years ago. Will new residents be as eager as old hands to insist on commitments made 40 years ago? Or should there be some flexibility in light of changed circumstances? I love this neighborhood\'s sidewalk-free streets, yet I think safety for student cyclists and pedestrians should take priority on Maybell.

To my mind, the arguments here are analogous to those on the issue of changing zoning. There are times when flexibility makes good sense. The Maybell/Clemo planned community zoning changes were, INMO, an instance of wise use of zoning flexibility, while setting aside zoning restraints to enable the Jay Paul project or the downtown Arrillaga project to go forward as requested would have been foolish.

Posted by Ban PC, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jan 12, 2014 at 3:17 pm

If you want more density, the fair way to achieve it is to change entire zoning codes, IE all R1 citywide is modified to allow 2 units per lot instead of 1. This way the neighborhoods where the council members live get the same deal as the neighborhoods that the council tries to stuff all of the density into.

No spot zoning or zoning at the council\'s discretion should ever be allowed (PC).

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