Urban Fold

Affluent Community Torn By Housing Allocation Numbers

In Palo Alto, California, -- one of the country's most affluent and least affordable cities -- the City Council and residents are now wrestling with a regional housing allocation assigned by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

"Many residents argued that Palo Alto, as an affluent community, must commit to regional housing planning and build its fair share of housing if it intends to live up to its environmental goals."

"The region is trying to house more of its workers, current and future, within the region," said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

"Minimizing the distance between work, home and social activities will help reduce family energy consumption, said Palo Alto resident Steve Raney. "Pro 2,860 (units) means pro-climate," Raney said.

"And showing unusual ire, Council Member John Barton said while difficult, embracing the housing guidelines is necessary."

"We can't talk about being green and sustainable and do it with a few LEED-certified buildings," he said, referring to the U.S. Green Building Council's design guidelines.

But other community members countered this statement with equal fervor.

"As much as we want to be green, we have to be realistic," said Council Member Jack Morton, who called the housing situation "an impossible problem."

"Council Member Bern Beecham said the debate over the allocation is pointless."

"It doesn't matter because this won't happen," he said. "This community will never support these numbers."

"But not giving in to regional demands may carry a price, he warned. Palo Alto's unwillingness to build more housing may represent its "signature failure" in the fight against global warming."

Thanks to Steve Raney

Full Story: Housing requirement creates schism; City divided over growth guidelines

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