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City of Palo Alto Rezoning of Maybell Avenue, Measure D (November 2013)

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A City of Palo Alto Rezoning of Maybell Avenue, Measure D ballot question was on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Palo Alto in Santa Clara County, which is in California. It was defeated.[1]

The 567-595 Maybell parcel in question consisted of a 2.46-acre area. The longtime owners of the parcel had put it up for sale and it was purchased by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC), which requested the city council to change the zoning to allow their proposed project. But those opposed to the new project completed a successful referendum petition, putting Measure D on the ballot and allowing voters to reject the zoning change that was approved by the city council.[2]

A yes vote would have allowed the city ordinance to remain law and allows the development to go forward.

A no vote vetoed the city ordinance, maintaining the current residential zoning and putting a stop to the planned development.

Petitioners wanted voters to say "no" and reject the city ordinance.

Election results

Measure D
Defeatedd No8,47656.45%
Yes 6,538 43.55%
These final, certified results are from the Santa Clara County elections office.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure D:

Shall the Palo Alto Municipal Code be amended to rezone the property located at 567-595 Maybell Avenue from R-2 Low Density Residential and RM-15 Multiple Family Residential to Planned Community Overlay Zone to include 12 single family units and 60 units of affordable senior housing?[1][3]



The following list of people signed the official arguments in favor of Measure D:

  • Mary Alice Thornton, President, League of Women Voters of Palo Alto
  • Ray Bacchetti, Board of Trustees Member, Channing House Senior Residence
  • Lynnie Melena, Past President, Barron Park Neighborhood Association
  • Robert Neff, Chair, Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • Liz Kniss, Member, Palo Alto City Council
  • Karen Holman, Member, Palo Alto City Council
  • Bill Reller, Founder, Palo Alto Commons Senior Residence
  • Judith Steiner, Former Executive Director, Hidden Villa Environmental Non-Profit Educational Organization
  • Barbara Gross, Past President, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
  • Sidney Abel Espinosa, Former Mayor, City of Palo Alto

State officials


  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) – Palo Alto Branch
  • Avenidas – Resources and Programs for Positive Aging
  • Community Working Group
  • Democratic Activists for Women Now (DAWN)
  • Eden Housing – Quality Affordable Housing Communities
  • Greenbelt Alliance
  • Jewish Family and Children’s Services
  • Housing Action Coalition of Santa Clara County
  • League of Women Voters of Palo Alto
  • Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH)
  • Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters
  • Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS (SILVAR)
  • Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Santa Clara Democratic Party[4]

A full list of officials, organizations and individuals that supported Measure D can be found on the Yes on D campaign website.[5]

Arguments in favor

Official arguments for Measure D included:

  • Housing costs over the last 10 years have doubled, making it harder and harder to Palo Alto residents on fixed incomes.
  • There are hundreds of seniors in Palo Alto on wait lists for low-income senior housing and hundreds more who are looking for affordable living situations.
  • If Measure D is rejected, a developer will likely by the property and, using the current zoning, use it to build the maximum number of allowed units.
  • A city traffic study analyzed the effects of the Measure D zoning and development proposal showed little or now negative impact as many seniors are retired and will not be driving during rush hours or will simply not own cars.[2]




Below is the list of those who signed the official arguments in opposition to Measure D:[2]

  • Emily M. Renzel, Councilmember 1979-1991
  • Tim Gray, Palo Alto Resident
  • Cheryl Lilienstein, Physical Therapist
  • C. Neilson S. Buchanan, Downtown North Neighborhood Activist
  • Joseph I. Hirsch, Palo Alto Planning Commissioner 1983-1991
  • Enid Pearson, Council Member 1965-1975
  • Arthur D. Liberman, President, Barron Park Association
  • Stephanie Grossman, Community Center Resident
  • Warren Kirsch, Green Acres 2 Resident
  • Eric Filseth, Downtown North Neighborhood

A full list of the more than 4,000 residents of Palo Alto that signed the referendum petition putting Measure D on the ballot is available on the No on Measure D campaign website.[6]

Arguments against

The official arguments against Measure D included:[2]

  • The voters should send the city a message that its careless approval of zoning changes and development projects is not going to be tolerated by the voters.
  • Affordable senior housing should be built on the Maybell Parcel according to the current zoning regulations.
  • The planned community zoning removes site regulations which protect residential neighborhoods. This would result in projects with insufficient parking, safety and aesthetics and increases traffic congestion.
  • Miki's on Alma, the Gateway buildings at Lytton/Alma, Arbor Real on the former Rickey's Hyatt site, and the current construction on the former Palo Alto Bowl site are examples of developments using city approved zoning changes.
  • More than half of the parcel will be sold to a developer to build market-rate houses for a profit.
  • These new houses will be large and completely out of scale with other houses in the region.
  • The city's traffic study fails to sufficiently address pedestrian/cyclist traffic on Maybell.

Path to the ballot

A summary of the events leading to Measure D was included in the City Attorney analysis of Measure D. This summary is below:

On June 28, 2013, the City Council adopted an ordinance amending the Municipal Code to change the zoning at 567-595 Maybell Avenue to permit the property owner to build 60 affordable senior housing units and 12 market rate single family homes. As the result of a referendum petition, the ordinance has been placed on the ballot. This measure asks the voters to approve or reject the ordinance.[2][3]

A full list of the more than 4,000 residents of Palo Alto that signed the referendum petition putting Measure D on the ballot is available on the No on Measure D campaign website.[7]

Zoning changes

Current zoning

The 567-595 Maybell parcel in question consisted of a 2.46-acre area. The zoning was and still is divided as follows:

  • about 75% zoned RM-15 - up to 15 multi-family units per acre
  • the remaining 25% zoned R2 - single family homes, allowing for a second dwelling on the lot.

Proposed zoning

In order to make their proposed project legal, PAHC asked the city to approve an ordinance changing the zoning of the parcel to a "Planned Community" Zone, allowing a big 60 unit building and 12 single family homes proposed by the development company.[2]

The proposed project

How it is now

The area in question had four single family homes with driveways on Maybell, and an abandoned orchard. The property was bordered by Juana Briones Park, apartment buildings that are 2, 3 and 8 stories tall, and a neighborhood of single family homes.

The plan

The development project proposed by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation and rejected by voters proposed to remove the existing houses and orchard and construct in their place a 60-unit building for very low income seniors and 12 market-rate houses for single families.

Affordable Senior Housing:

  • A 4-story, 6O-foot high building with units rented only to seniors 62 years or older, earning between 30%-60% of Santa Clara County Area Median Income.
  • Community room with computer lab, laundry rooms on each floor, rooftop photovoltaic water heating and electric systems, a resident services office, exercise room, roof terrace, outdoor common areas, 42 parking spaces.

Single Family Homes:

  • 7 single family homes along Maybell, 5 on Clemo. 2-car garages.
  • Maybell homes limited to two stories, with specified lot widths, separation between residences, and front setbacks. Clemo homes to three stories. No driveways on Maybell.

Environmental analysis

According to the city's environmental analysis the project would not cause significant environmental impacts as long as certain mitigation measures were taken.

See also

External links

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