PAN’S LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY regarding the NVCAP2 Community Survey

April 16, 2020


Dear Neighbors:

In the “North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan (NVCAP) Community Survey” that is circulating online, the City’s Planning Department asks you to opine on three flawed design proposals for the redevelopment of the North Ventura neighborhood with the Fry’s site as its nexus.  The survey closes Monday, April 20.

The three proposals are the product of the City’s consultants and not of the Council-appointed NVCAP working group which has yet to have the opportunity to discuss the three proposals or propose their own.

We are inviting you to join us and others, as you fill out the survey, to register your displeasure with this process by protesting this survey. The reasons for protesting are listed at the bottom of this email. 

On behalf of the Palo Alto Neighborhoods Executive Committee, we ask you to do the following:

  1. Answer the survey (, at least up to item 6, which reads:

“6. Do you have additional goals or priorities for the area? (1000 character limit)”

In space allotted, please cut and paste the following verbiage or create a message of your own:

None of these proposals are what the community wants. The proposals overrun Ventura with density, traffic, congestion, and more commercial development while not providing housing for our neediest as well as forgoing community amenities such as adequate parkland and other livability standards. The working group has not been provided an opportunity to discuss these proposals, nor to present their own designs to the community. The community should have a chance to review the proposals of the working group rather than being forced to choose between the three flawed proposals foisted on it. Please allow the working group to do its job.

  1. Then fill out the rest of the survey, or alternatively, you may scroll to the bottom of each survey page, click the NEXT button until you reach the end of the survey and click the SUBMIT button.
  2. Send an email to, and please cc: Becky Sanders, if you would. Please use your own words, but if you are pressed for time, simply say:

Dear Mayor Fine and Council Members:

I protest the current NVCAP online survey as none of the proposals reflect what the community wants and would negatively impact the people already living in Ventura. The community should have the opportunity to review the proposals of the working group, which have not been included in this survey, rather than being forced to choose between the three flawed proposals prepared by the city’s consultants.

<your name>

Reasons to Join the Survey Protest

Survey Design

  • The survey is riddled with errors. We found more than 16 mistakes in just one map and dozens of problems elsewhere.  Many questions are biased and do not offer a “no” vote.  Links don’t work.  Plans are mislabeled.
  • None of the plans reflect the lofty goals with which the City Council charged the working group.
  • This survey represents a failure of the City staff to empower and effectively utilize the NVCAP Working Group the City Council appointed.
  • The railway side of Park Boulevard is part of the Plan Area but is not addressed in any of the three designs. Why is that?  Not including the other side of Park in the design plan is a missed opportunity for more housing and additional community amenities.
  • The survey is open to all Palo Alto residents, many of whom may have little familiarity with the NVCAP process. Making zoning and design decisions based on such results may not be well-informed.

Zoning vs Architecture

  • None of the proposed plans comply with our existing zoning code, including other existing coordinated area plans.
  • What should be a land use and zoning discussion is reduced to commenting on architectural design.
  • Respondents are being asked to identify styles and lighting preferences of buildings and of their interiors, which is irrelevant to a coordinated area plan zoning update. 
  • Alternatives 2 and 3 violate City Zoning by exceeding 50 feet in height.  There might be good reasons for additional height (such as allowing additional open space) but adding such a significant change into the designs without any discussion seems inappropriate.
  • Every alternative includes office space at the Fry’s site even though the site is zoned residential and office space is a non-conforming use.  Housing should be a higher priority than office space throughout the area.
  • The proposals favor higher-priced units for sale over more affordable rentals and do virtually nothing to create affordable housing.  Instead, they maximize developer profits.

Traffic & Parking

  • All alternatives violate City Zoning by having only 1 parking spot per unit. Without mitigation, this lack of parking will overwhelm the neighborhood with spillover parking.
  • None of the proposals analyze the traffic patterns or rely on any traffic data whatsoever.
  • No circulation, parking or traffic studies have been done. No new or existing zones are proposed with corresponding development standards.


  • The proposals would vastly increase the population of Ventura but provide little to no community amenities. At the community meeting in February at Gunn High School, the expected number of residents for each of the three alternatives was shown, but those figures were not in the survey.
  • There is inadequate parkland for the number of new residents, as required by the Quimby Act.  “Greenways” between apartment buildings do not constitute open space or park land.
  • Terms are used incorrectly. Park and open space have legal definitions and are applied willy-nilly to small grassy spots between buildings and rooftop gardens, for instance.
  • Alternative 1 does not, as it claims, meet the “Minimum as per Comprehensive Plan” because it does not add the *dedicated* parkland that the Comprehensive Plan requires. Neither do any of the other alternatives presented.

Thank you one and all for considering this request. Ventura really needs our support right now.  You can and do make a difference.


Sheri Furman, Co-Chair, Palo Alto Neighborhoods 

Becky Sanders, Co-Chair, Palo Alto Neighborhoods  & Ventura Resident