EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) --East Palo Alto is short on water, so much so that the city council has officially put a stop to all new development.
The push is on to find new sources of water for the Peninsula city.
Seventy vacant acres in East Palo Alto must sit idle for now, putting jobs, affordable housing, and hopes and dreams on hold for at least two years.
East Palo Alto vice mayor Larry Moody says there are plenty of developers who want to build on much of the vacant property, but there simply isn't enough water to go around.
"This is an honest conversation that we're having and instead of us continuing to take applications for projects, we have to put a stop on it," Moody said.
East Palo Alto's water shortage has nothing to do with the drought. The city's water woes can be traced back to 1984. That's when East Palo Alto entered a contract with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
East Palo Alto was a newly incorporated city at the time and failed to negotiate a good deal, so now the city is doing what it can. It's looking to negotiate with other cities, enter a new deal with the SFPUC and drill for groundwater behind home depot.
"That's why I feel optimistic that this will give us a push to get that point in a couple of years, two to three years where we'll then have water," said East Palo Alto city council member Ruben Abrica.
Primary School, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, is among the private entities that'll help pay to identify new sources of water.
The school has an empty lot on Weeks Street, just one of several projects that hope to make East Palo Alto its permanent home.