Ask East Palo Alto To Delay Decision on Massive Office Development

Aerial photo of Ravenswood area in East Palo Alto by Craig Howell

Lea la versión en español aquí.

On November 18, the East Palo Alto City Council will decide whether to study a plan to allow 8-story office buildings right next to quiet residential neighborhoods and the sensitive Bay wetlands. Very few community members are even aware that this decision is happening. Please email the City Council and ask them to delay this decision until they have heard from the community!

Developers Asking to Triple Size of Ravenswood Plan to Over 4 Million Square Feet

In 2013, East Palo Alto approved the Ravenswood Business District Specific Plan to allow 1.2 million square feet of office development at the eastern end of Bay Road — in other words, in a mostly undeveloped area sandwiched between quiet residential streets and the Bay wetlands.

Although the 1.2 million square feet hasn’t even been built yet, developers are asking the City to more than triple the size to 4.1 million square feet. This would include fifteen 8-story buildings and nine 6- and 7-story buildings, as well as several other 4- and 5-story buildings.

Expanded Plan Would Bring Massive Traffic, Harm to Wetlands, Gentrification and Displacement

Traffic through East Palo Alto is already a terrible problem. The expanded plan would add thousands of additional cars all trying to drive to the dead-end of Bay Road.

The 8-story-tall buildings right next to the Bay wetlands will result in bird deaths from collisions with these buildings’ windows, and disruption of the sensitive marshland ecology from shading and artificial light from the buildings. If the buildings are moved farther away from the wetlands, the 8-story towers will be right next to people’s homes! This development is just too big and too tall for East Palo Alto.

The expanded plan would bring thousands of new office workers who will be looking for someplace to live nearby. This will cause gentrification and displacement of existing East Palo Alto residents, with rents rising until only highly paid tech workers can afford to live there.

City Council Should Delay Decision on Ravenswood Plan to Perform Better Outreach to Residents

In spite of all these impacts on the East Palo Alto community, very few residents are aware that this decision is happening. The City needs to delay this decision in order to perform better outreach to residents so that they can voice their opinions on the Ravenswood Plan. They should also wait until they can hold in-person meetings in order to hear from people who can’t participate online.

Although the November 18 decision will not be the final vote on the Ravenswood Plan, it’s still a very important decision. Once the City Council has indicated that they are willing to consider the 4.1 million square feet scenario, it will be hard for them to vote for a smaller size option later on in the process. That’s why it’s so critical for the City Council to hear from residents now.

The City Council has the option of keeping the Ravenswood Plan at its current size of 1.2 million square feet, which is already a huge amount of office space. Considering that the Ravenswood Plan was approved in 2013 and the 1.2 million square feet hasn’t even been built yet, the City Council should wait to see the impacts from what they’ve already approved before deciding to more than triple its size.

Ask the City Council to Delay This Decision: The Future of East Palo Alto is at Stake

Please email the City Council and ask them to delay the decision on the maximum size of the Ravenswood Plan until they have performed adequate outreach to the East Palo Alto residents. If they do decide to move forward on this decision, please ask them to shrink the plan down to a size that fits East Palo Alto.

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