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Housing Moratorium and the Willow Village Project

From: domainremoved <Brad>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:29:23 -0700

Ms. Taylor, Ms. Carlton, Ms. Nash, Mr. Combs, and Mr. Mueller,

To avoid this letter being perceived as some sort of form letter that I am sending to all of individually and now collectively, I have already sent the same letter below to Ms. Taylor. Ms. Taylor is the Council member who represents the district closest to my community of East Palo Alto, so I thought she would be the member most concerned with my views on the topic. That being said, Mayor Ray Mueller you might remember me as one of the speakers at the Teacher Housing Summit that you hosted at Sequoia High School. I spoke about the difficulty I found in my efforts to buy a home in the Sequoia Union High School District, and my eventual luck in finding my current home in East Palo Alto. At that summit, I first discussed the plan that I am detailing below with Maya Perkins from Facebook. I doubt that you overheard our conversation, but I would say that the plan came from the “outside the box” thinking that you yourself and Senator Simitian were advocating during the summit.

Let me start my letter off with probably the most important qualifier for any letter that you read, I am not a resident of Menlo Park. So I am not able to vote for you, or against you in any citywide elections. That being said though, I am a proud resident of East Palo Alto who lives on Newbridge Street about 800 yards from Willow Road, so I am someone who will be affected by your upcoming decision to implement a 2 year moratorium on any housing development over 100 units in Menlo Park. Specifically the Willow Village Project, which is slated to be built east of my home along the very thoroughfare my family uses to get to work and to family activities running and biking along the Bayfront Trail.

At this point if you are still reading, I would like to start with an acknowledgement, and partial agreement with many of the arguments that have caused a moratorium to be brought up in your Council. Here on the Peninsula we are seeing ever increasing traffic and burdens on commuters even though each new project in Redwood City, San Carlos, and San Mateo have claimed that they would reduce it. In fact, I would agree with arguments that each project has seemingly only exasperated the problem even though they were built on promises of relief. When I ride my bike to my job (teacher at Sequoia High School) residents in your district seem to be especially burdened by the congestion on Willow as they try to get to it using Newbridge Street on a daily basis. The Willow Village would seem to only add this burden, especially based on the failure to relieve rate of other projects along the Peninsula.

Another concern that I would assume is very much tied into the proposed moratorium would be the ever increasing cost of living. Almost all of the school districts along the Peninsula can attest to the fact that the added housing has not brought more families in, or made things more affordable for the families already here. In fact, I have seen more families leave the area for financial reasons than at any point in my 20 year teaching career in San Jose and here along the Peninsula. In addition to the families and students leaving, we lose between 5-10 teachers and school staff per year moving to places where they can afford to buy a home for their family. New housing could solve this, or it could cause an even more aggressive effort by investors to buy family homes while new construction focuses on building apartments for contract workers.

With all of this being said, I could still be a supporter of the Willow Project if it could be used to address the problems that we are having keeping teachers/school staff in our local community, and in turn address some of the issues with traffic around our local schools. The ideas I have for both follow...

1. Get Signature Development (and Facebook) to work with local school districts to offer at least 100 units to local school districts for teacher/staff housing. Maybe working with the local districts (SUHSD, MPCSD, RSD, LPSD, RCSD) and your Council, you could come up with an even larger number of units to offer to the schools and their staffs. Then, divide up the units to the districts based on need. The benefit of this would be giving the districts a greater ability to retain current teachers, bring in new teachers, and have teachers live in and interact with the local communities that they teach in. This is an often overlooked benefit that I get every time I go out and see students and parents in daily life. These interactions pay tremendous benefits in the classroom and school.

2. To address issues with traffic, once those units are established, Signature Development could work with the districts so that the districts could provide bussing for employees to their schools and district sites from the Willow Village. Bikes could also be ridden from the Willow Village to schools in the Ravenswood, Menlo Park, and Sequoia districts. With this step and plan, as many as (or more than) 100 cars could be taken off of 101 and the bridges leading to the Peninsula on daily basis during the heaviest traffic periods on local roads.

I have spoken about this idea with Eric Morley of Signature Development and Maya Perkins of Facebook, both were receptive to the idea, but I think the leverage your Council could place on them with the proposed moratorium might be the leverage needed to get those ideas put into effect.

If you think speaking about this at your Council meeting tomorrow could start a movement to make these ideas a necessary part of project approval, please let me know and I will come and speak.

Thank you,
Brad Ramezane (408) 966-8016

Sent from my iPad
Received on Tue Jun 11 2019 - 10:23:40 PDT

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