Measure D fails to pass

Eric Lu, Author

Voting on Palo Alto’s Measure D, which proposed to build 60 new affordable homes for seniors and 12 single family residences along Maybell and Clemo Avenues, took place on Tuesday at Palo Alto High School’s Tower Building, among other locations around the city. The majority of the voting community rejected the measure, with about 56% against the ordinance. Photo by Eric Lu.
Voting on Palo Alto’s Measure D, which proposed to build 60 new affordable homes for seniors and 12 single family residences along Maybell and Clemo Avenues, took place on Tuesday at Palo Alto High School’s Tower Building, among other locations around the city. The majority of the voting community rejected the measure, with about 56% against the ordinance. Photo by Eric Lu.

After much public debate over Measure D’s proposed affordable senior and family housing plan, Palo Alto residents flattened the ordinance Tuesday night at the voting polls, cutting short the planned development’s future.

The unofficial, semi-final results reported a tally of 6,330 for and 8,210 against the Measure D ordinance. These results translate into a 56.46% majority vote against the measure, according to Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters site.

Measure D, the only issue on the voting ballot, was the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation’s proposal that gained City Council’s approval last June and offered to build 60 new affordable homes for seniors and 12 single family residences along Maybell and Clemo Avenues. In addition, the measure required a minimum of 42 parking stalls, five reserve spaces and a shuttle service for senior residents, according to the measure’s resolution.

Some voters expressed their satisfaction with the voting results, believing the housing developments lacked proper planning.

“The plan wasn’t very well thought out to begin with,” a voter said. “They were only supplying 60 units; that’s not very many. That’s not going to make a dent in the waiting list [of seniors]. Sixty is not going to do diddly squat.”

However, other voters were not content with the outcome of the vote.

“I am disappointed that there isn’t going to be senior housing that is going to be affordable,” another voter said. “On the other hand, having read both sides of the story, I find both sides very credible.  But on the face of it, I really would like to see more affordable housing for seniors.”

Others felt that the community’s opinion had been disregarded when the measure was created and were happy that residents had the opportunity to assert their opinions.

“I’m glad [about the results],” one voter said. “It just felt like the whole [developmental] process seemed to come about without community input, and now the community’s voice has been heard.”

Before all 32 precincts’ votes had been counted, there had been some debate surrounding the measure.  Some voters had issues with the proposed design plans of the buildings, especially regarding its parking area.

“They [the Palo Alto Housing Corporation] [believes that] seniors don’t drive,” one voter said. “That’s not true.… They [the seniors] also have visitors, and they have people who come in cars who come to help them to take them grocery shopping, to clean, to take care of them, so where are those cars supposed to park?”

Others believed the plans could have been better suited to senior residents.

“There’s certainly a need for better urban planning,” another voter said. “I don’t think where they want to situate the senior housing is the best location; it’s not a particularly walkable community. There aren’t shops or markets within an easy distance, and my idea of a senior-friendly or non-car-friendly community is a village where you can walk.”

Other voters, though, felt that the advantages of the senior housing outweighed the design plan flaws.

“If the circumstances were such that another park could be made or [there could be more] open space, I’d much prefer that,” one voter said. “But those are not the circumstances … so this is the next best alternative.”

Some were in favor of Measure D particularly because of its reasonable pricing.

“We have a serious need for affordable senior housing in Palo Alto,” voter Jamie Beckett said. “I do understand the zoning change issues, but the city makes zoning changes for all sorts of things. Usually, they’re commercial developments or things that will benefit developers, but this will benefit senior citizens.”

However, some people were not willing to compromise for a less than ideal plan.

“I’m against it [Measure D],” another voter said. “Without going into great detail, I think it’s unnecessary. I think other solutions can be found for the proposed problem.”

Yet despite these differing views on the measure, many voters value the importance of voting and political efficacy for multiple reasons, including being a role model for the community’s youth.

“It’s important to vote on measures, especially on ones that directly affect people in this community — measures that will have a direct impact on what’ll happen,” one voter said. “I have two children in the Palo Alto Unified [School] District, and it sets a good example to them as future citizens to be proactive.”