135 plus 636 equals #@&^ in Palo Alto

So many dykes so few fingers

So many dykes so few fingers

I have a four-deep pile of issues I am compelled to dig into and then write about, on policy pe se, here in Palo Alto, on “Plastic Alto”, if you will. There’s also various voice-mails, text messages and e-mail trails — I am the General Petraeus of local blogger/activists in that I can’t seem to stick with one topic.

I posted on the Weekly (for no compensation — not that I get any of WordPress’s revenue stream either — I once made $300 per week doing this for the Worcester Telegram, back in the day) the following set of commentary on downtown parking and the developers:

I’m wondering about the significance of Gennady Sheyner cleaning up Chop Keenan’s quote slightly in graph #22. I heard him say “rule and regs” as in a jargon version of “rules and regulations”, what GS reported. I replayed the speech on my “tivo” because I was struck by the developer’s colorful language, replete with so many metaphors, the familiarity and casualness of it, like he was talking to his own staff, or they had been through this over and over again, and not in a public hearing.Maybe it’s a red herring, or it could be a tell. But it begs the question of how else the Weekly cleans up this somewhat complicated scenario so as to not make the developers look like the gluttons and philistines they seem to be.

Posted by Mark Weiss , a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:04 amAlso I completely agree with the report card posted above, adding that Scharff was interesting in that he sort of turned the tide after Holman and Schmid were so adamantly rebuffed by Klein, Sid, Nancy and Gail. Scharff pulled out a JJ. Hunsecker “don’t kid a kidder” in that he said, as a developer himself, he knows that Keenan has plenty of wiggle room at this point and does not have that strong an argument about the rules changing. Yeh gets a “B” for “brilliant” in that he effectively kicked the can past his lame duck tenure to the next council so as to not have the taste of this sordid affair in his mouth so to speak — and now I am talking like Chop by my mixed metaphors, the difference being of course I am not speaking in public for the record merely posting at 1 a.m.I wish Allen Drury were alive to see this drama!!

Posted by Mark Weiss , a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:36 amCome to think of it, Yeh’s brilliant “TDM” gambit is exactly what I said somewhat facetiously on these same pages, back in August:Web Link(I said let them build the under-parked structure on Hamilton but require builder to get a Clown College as a tenant in that clowns famously commute to work up to eight or ten of the little cute fellers crammed into a Mini-Cooper….)

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 5 minutes agoI was drawn to this speech because of his colorful use of language; I re-wound my device and took some notes and counted about a dozen metaphors or tropes. Whether Gennady consciously or merely unconsciously cleaned up the language, I think the Weekly’s readers would like more coverage of the real estate industry, who are the main players, why they are so successful, is it true that council is “too cozy” with them.Don’t get me wrong, I find the guy compelling. Here’s a transcript of his speech:Good evening, 700 Emerson. This is of course the pipeline question. I’ve been involved in this property, with this application, for about a-year-and-a-half and certainly if this moratorium per council-member Schmid’s argument, had there been a moratorium at that point, I wouldn’t have pursued it. But we spent a lot of time and money in reliance on your rules and regs, and I won’t use the word “bait-and-switch” but we’re on the one-yard-line, or whatever metaphor you want to use, and here we are. So is the 376 thousand dollars, which includes future interest, even though we are effectively paying off the principal, a acceptable number? The answer is, it’s a lot more than what we started out with, a couple years ago, but it’s a long way from an in lieu fee, and is — I know when to fold the cards.I think that staff’s recommendation is something we’ll swallow and absorb and the 150 thousand dollar downtown cap study we’ll address our success problem in downtown Palo Alto and the adjacent neighborhoods which are also having their own success issues.So I would just say that on the ground floor retail issue, I only have so many fingers to plug in dykes, but we worked hard on this, for a year and a half, two years ago, when we had over 15 per cent vacancy on University Avenue, there was a concern that — there was a safety valve – those might turn to offices. So we eliminated the safety valve, also allowed flexibility for retail or offices and adjacent streets, and particularly west of High Street, which has always been a problematic retail area, and that would be a fatal flaw, for this project, if we only had one way to go. Thank you.Council debated for about two hours on whether to give the applicant a $2.4 million tax break, on top of a $1.2 million “TDR” “transferable development right” tax break, or to merely, as staff suggested, charge him about $300,000 — although Scharff pointed out an obvious math flaw in the way that was calculated — plus another $110,000 or so to pay for a study, versus “kicking the can” which is what they opted to do.We have been using the figure of $60,000 per space as what it would cost to build a parking garage. The moratorium would eliminate his initial intention to under-park 135 Hamilton by 40 spaces, The 636 project is smaller, only 15 spaces (worth $900,000), exempted. Staff said they could treat the two projects differently.



About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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