With the latest Megaproject coming to the Palo Alto Council under Planned Community Zoning, resident must be ready to verify and quantify the proposed “Community Benefit” or we will end up with future growth that causes us to shake our heads and say “How did this happen?”
We all know about the Comprehensive Plan sincerely tried to present a Shared Community Vision around growth.
However, our history is rich with anecdotal evidence that the Planned Community Zoning, has readily been hijacked. We can do better. We need to hold the City leaders’ feet to the fire and demand the following standards:
1. A clear and objective statement of growth that exceed the regular or historical standards and what that means for traffic, water use, sewage use, school utilization, and overall service increases.
2. A consistent and objective analysis of what that proportional infrastructure use will cost. Eventually new schools will have to be built and new sewage plants constructed. Future costs must get funded at approval time. Pay up on day one! -- don’t hand off the problem to the future.
3. Community benefits have to be objectively consistently quantified.
4. And did anyone ask the residents how they would prioritize the Community Benefits that might be offered by the developer? Yes, we need a Solution to our Public Safety facilities, but it that our top priority right now?
The process can be used for the greatest good, or it can be a currency used to achieve pet projects when it is inconvenient to adhere to a shared community vision. Just say no to these potential manipulations, or dealing out favors, and insist on an objective and consistent process that sets the gold standard for transparency and inclusiveness.