Scharff: Not a cap, a halo

Two-term council member and mayor emeritus Hans Gregory Scharff gestures toward a barely perceptible glory or presence directly above his head and suggests it as a substitute for a "cap" apropos of downtown office buildings

Two-term council member and mayor emeritus Hans Gregory Scharff gestures toward a barely perceptible glory or presence directly above his head and suggests it as a substitute for a “cap” apropos of downtown office buildings


Live from 250 Hamilton, in real time:
Council members are taking five minutes each to tell us their latest thinking, on the downtown cap (meaning: LIMIT) which has been on the books since at least the 1998 Comp Plan, general plan, and was continued a matter of weeks.

It reminds me of a joke from my advertising days:
How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: does it have to be a light bulb?

Greg Scharff, the real estate lawyer, landlord and developer, now asks (like a push-poll) if the cap is meant to be permanent? Is it solid? Is it for real? Is it more, he seems to hope, like a polite suggestion, a hint. Billion dollar cartels are good at taking hint. He knows.

I think the word he is suggesting, the metaphor is more like “halo” than “cap”.

edit to add, the next day: maybe he is advocating if not a cap, a scarf. An ornament. I started my day Tuesday by referring to what is obviously and painfully missing from Breena Kerr’s story on this, the Downtown Cap, program L-8 on Page L-8 of the Comp Plan: Limit new non-residential development in the Downtown area to 350,000 square feet, or 10 percent above the amount of development existing or approved as of May, 1986. Reevaluate this limit when non-residential-development approvals reach 235,000 square feet of floor area. The point of this is that We The People thru our General Plan or Comp Plan promised ourselves to say “no” to the developers once they had 25 million square feet in the city. There’s also an additional Policy L-8, under sub-heading Commercial Growth Limits, after Maintian and Strengthen City Character in Goals Policies Programs Local Land Use and Growth Management Goal L-1 (a Well-designed compact City, providing residents and visitors with attractive neighborhoods…) “maintain a limit of 3,257,900 square feet” for new development in the nine planning areas.

Yesterday’s meeting was supposed to be The New Residentialist majority saying “ding dong the witch is dead” and we are regulating, as we have been promising for years, and five months after being elected, the real estate cartel, not um, gee, staff will find a magical way to soften the blow of us saying we do not have the courage to say no, or enact a moratorium. See also: we are gutting the Comp Plan, in favor of the developers and not updating or revising or improving it.

Breena’s story makes it sound like progress but I saw it as a sad defeat. Meanwhile I was somehow surfing the web and found Ben Page of Northwestern article co-written by a Princeton professor about how America is now more of an oligarchy than Democracy. And I have to admit I missed whatever it was that cleared the room (Doria Summa, Jeff Levinsky, Emily Rentzel) because I was bored and frustrated and was chatting up KZSU analyst Vince Larkin and doing a Marcel Marceau by putting on a cap, pulling it down over my head, down to my hips, wriggling it to my feet and stepping out of it. Maybe I will reprise that during the next 3 Minute Drill. I also shot a photograph of four open seats as a particular gadfly tried to address council. I will save that until after April 15.

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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