Drupes Not Dupes


When I listened to the public hearing I heard people I respected on both sides of the argument, making reasonable statements for and against the proposal. When council approved the project, I shrugged it off and turned my attention to the two or three (or fifty) other local policy projects that I had been tracking or am concerned with.

Then I was pretty dang psyched to hear that neighbors of Maybell had petitioned for a referendum. When Ken Scholz rang our buzzer I spoke with him for about 20 minutes on this, and the overall context to which many posters here refer, whether or not leadership — council, commissioners and staff — listen to the special interests — developers — more than we their neighbors, or we who pay their salaries, and have been that way for years, increasingly.

I was also moved by a side initiative suggested by (SOMEONE), in a “Town Square” post somewhere on this site — that reminded us that the site itself might be the last workable orchard in Palo Alto, and perhaps historic or valuable as a heritage asset or education asset (albeit a very costly one). Actually I might have chuckled in ignorance if one or two people mentioned the apricots during the public hearing, before I thought it through.

STICKY NOT SLIMY, I suggested as a campaign slogan for (SOMEONE)’s initiative — although (THEY) vehemently told me that those three words DO NOT represent (THEIR) views — (THEIR) 1,500 word essay is significantly more eloquent and politique, I admit (and yeah, spending a little bit of time in ad agencies can do more harm than good! My second slogan, slightly less crass but more obscure: DRUPES NOT DUPES).

I agree with the posters who suggest we the people (probably completely independent of PAHC, which should probably disband if AGAINST D prevails) should look into subsidized housing based on merit, for public safety workers and teachers; perhaps the reality is that “low income” per se here is a ship that has long since sailed, port side out. A better question might be: what can we do for the middle class? And, why?

I also wonder or worry about the relationship between the Maybell Referendum and the nearby Buena Vista Mobile Home threat, if you excuse the digression. At least two people I know are trying to save the 100 plus families and 100 or so PAUSD school-kids at the park but are “YES ON D” — I find that the consistency is to assume that greed has sullied our policy efforts on both sites and fight to save status quo or preserve the zoning on both cases, to enforce the covenant at BV and vote AGAINST D. I certainly would not advocate saving a million-dollar apricot orchard but letting 100 children two blocks away be displaced from their best chance for a proper education.

As far as helping seniors, if we do it all, we can do better. So, I’m AGAINST D.

I worry that with the status quo leadership and more money against the referendum, the project will proceed — despite that AGAINST D seems to be prevailing by about a 10-to-1 ratio here. A silver lining would be to lose the battle but make residentialist gains in the November 2014 elections. Maybe more strategic would be an initiative to outlaw PC zoning and or target the weakest pro-developer council members before, during and after the election, or for a recall. AGAINST D has provided an opportunity for residentialists from all over town to meet and learn to work together.

Thanks to GS and the Weekly for such a thorough and non-developer-biased breakdown here. (And I also like that Sue Fineberg and one other pointed out that we could discuss these policy issues within a wider historical context than is typical: but it’s up to we the people to bring that to the table…)

(I posted this on PA Weekly website under their breakdown of Measure D, a referendum to block Palo Alto City Council’s unanimous vote to permit the Palo Alto Housing Corporation via a zoning change to build a combination of senior housing and market rate homes on a lot in Barron Park at Maybell and Clemo).

EDIT TO ADD: Actually this is a draft of a post that I have not posted. I redacted the name of the author of the eloquent pro-orchard letter from the previous version of this, speaking of sticky and slimy.

edit to add, 2.0: what I eventually just posted, to Weekly:


Regardless of outcome, the referendum shows that people are losing confidence in leadership and ready and willing to take back Democracy here, if that is not over-stating or over-generalizing.

It’s still an uphill battle because the real estate industry is a billon-dollar industry locally and people like myself who go to meetings and post on blogs and try to make a difference are acting our conscience more than our self-interests, and certainly not doing this for the money. (Although in this case I am not affiliated or working on the referendum, just following along and now taking sides, or chiming in my two bytes worth).

One error I noted in the debate is Greg Scharff said the money the City gave PAHC was earmarked for housing yet I believe the staff report says half the money came from SUMC (what Stanford gave us to offset problems from the hospital expansion) which I would think is discretionary or moreover supposed to be about traffic mitigation per se.

I also am wondering about people’s views on Maybell compared to Buena Vista Mobile Home proposal: to me consistency would be to reject leadership’s position on each, arguing that the people’s views are in both cases compromised by the will of the industry. Council should broker the deal for the residents to buy out their landlord, for a fair profit, and not acquiesce to his greed by upzoning, if you excuse the digression. (The fact that the two parcels are so close together and in play simultaneously is remarkable).

To my mind, anything over 3,000 votes AGAINST D shows that there is serious opposition mounting and hope for the pendulum to swing back soon to the residents.

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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