On Tuesday, September 28, the East Palo Alto City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint study session to consider whether to more than triple the size of the Ravenswood Specific Plan, an already-enormous office proposal along the Bay shoreline. Doing this will harm the wetlands, and cause terrible traffic jams, gentrification and displacement. Please email the City Council and Planning Commission and tell them not to expand the plan!
The Ravenswood Specific Plan Already Allows Massive Office Development
In 2013, East Palo Alto approved the Ravenswood Specific Plan to allow 1.2 million square feet of office development at the eastern end of Bay Road. This is already a huge amount of office space, especially in a mostly-undeveloped area that’s sandwiched between quiet residential streets and the Bay wetlands. Now, although that 1.2 million square feet hasn’t even been built yet, the City is being asked by the developers to more than triple the size of the Ravenswood Specific Plan, to 4.1 million square feet. That’s nine times the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid!
Increased Traffic, Harm to Wetlands, Gentrification and Displacement
Everyone agrees that traffic through East Palo Alto is a terrible problem. If we add 4.1 million square feet of office space, there will be thousands of additional cars all trying to drive to the dead-end of Bay Road. There will be 8-story-tall buildings right next to the Bay wetlands — resulting in bird deaths from collisions with the 8-story glass-fronted buildings, whose shadows during the day and artificial light at night will disrupt the sensitive wetland ecology. But if the buildings are moved farther away from the wetlands, there will be 8-story towers right next to people’s homes! This development is just too big and too tall for East Palo Alto.
In addition, those thousands of new office workers will all be looking for someplace to live nearby. This will cause gentrification and displacement of existing East Palo Alto residents. When more people are trying to find housing, rents go up until only highly paid tech workers can afford to live there. It’s not exaggerating to say that the future of the city of East Palo Alto is on the line.
Tell the City Not to Expand the Plan
Why is the City of East Palo Alto considering expanding the already-huge Ravenswood Specific Plan? Because four developers all want to build office projects that are far larger than the current plan will allow. But none of the community benefits the developers are promising are worth the traffic, harm to the wetlands, and gentrification and displacement that will result.
The final City Council vote on this decision will be in November, but Tuesday’s study session is when the City Council and Planning Commission will give feedback to their consultants on how to proceed. Please tell them not to increase the size of the Ravenswood Specific Plan at the whim of developers.