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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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ABAG's housing demands for local cities are too much

Uploaded: Oct 28, 2020
NOTE: I am worried and upset about our coming election. I see voters around the country being deprived of their right to vote -- one drop box per county, a U.S. Post Office claiming it won't be able to deliver the ballots in time, the long 5-10-hour waits in lines people have to endure. Never before in recent times have these voting limitations occurred. Voting is a privilege and a right in our country, and that concept is being countermanded by all sorts of partisan legislatures and county boards in our country. Please vote, and try as hard as you can to have your vote counted. -- Diana


I don't know about you, but when I see ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) announce each year the number of new housing units some cities in the Bay Area need to provide to help balance the unbalanced jobs-housing ratio, I get upset. This week ABAG's executive board said that Palo Alto must provide an estimated 10,058 new housing units between 2023 and 2031. This town is 98 percent filled, and we have a population of about 65,000 people, so where will we put them? That's your problem, ABAG says. Mountain View, which is a larger city, has a housing quota of 11,381 for those eight years; Menlo Park's quota is 3,075 new homes; Los Altos gets away with 2,267.

I get angry because the whole set-up seems unfair to me. Palo Alto has more jobs within its boundaries (Stanford University, Stanford Hospital, Stanford Research Park, and Palintir, until recently). Menlo Park has fewer jobs (even with Facebook's expanding presence). Mountain View has Google, which is becoming a giant operation. More jobs means a city has to provide more housing, ABAG and the state declare, even though many of these companies, like Stanford Hospital, provide regional services.

I understand that these state housing demands are there to accommodate present and future workers, and the idea is to plan ahead. The state's Department of Housing and Community Development is telling the Bay Area to plan for 441,176 new housing units -- substantially up from the 187,000 they said were required from 2015 to 2023, according to ABAG. But that's why places like Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside, cities that have no major corporations, get few if any housing demands placed on them, although they have a lot of acreage.

ABAG is allocating 16 percent of the Bay Area quota to San Francisco, 11 percent to San Mateo County and 33 percent to Santa Clara County. Is that fair?

The 35-member ABAG executive committee is not elected. Cities appoint their own city council representatives to ABAG. Nevertheless, ABAG has previously stated its members are "elected." That's a stretch, I think. We can't vote them out if we don't like their decisions.

Nine Bay Area counties are under ABAG's jurisdiction -- some 100 cities. So with only a 35-member executive committee, which includes county supervisors among its appointees, cities have to take their "turn" to serve on the committee and have any influence.

Not every city has a representative -- this year only Mountain View has one. Los Altos, Palo Alto and Menlo Park have no representatives and no alternates. I often wonder if that's why so many housing demands are placed on Palo Alto.

I also suspect NIMBYism may be a factor in determining which cities should provide more housing. I mean if I were living in, say, Moraga, I certainly would vote that Palo Alto and Mountain View should be required to boost up their housing. People are people, and people want their own self-interests preserved.

But things happen, like the coronavirus. And more people are working at home and commuting less, and more people are moving away from California because of the dry weather conditions and increasing number of fires this state is experiencing. COVID 19 has resulted in things changing so fast around the world that we all don't know what to expect or how to plan for the future.

I understand the need for more housing, but I don't want things forced on me/us. I think we will try hard, but not intentionally overcrowd our communities for our children and grandchildren.

And a P.S. on another topic: Hooray for the Palo Alto City Council members! They rose to the occasion when they quickly decided to amend some critical parts of the staff-written proposed guidelines for board and commission members in this city. Instead of a proposed rule that interviews with the press "should generally be avoided," the council said commissioners can talk to the press if they clearly identify they are speaking for themselves and not their entire commission, and the council said members cannot be dismissed from their posts without any cause. The city council listened to the public and made these appropriate changes.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   30 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Diana,

You have a point but there is another side.

If the local area had been “producing" proportional amounts of affordable housing since the 1970s along with the Jobs push, we would not be here at all. In fact the only housing built by far was high priced and unaffordable housing. Why, because the private housing industry wanted to make more bucks with less work.

And on top of this, there are many units not being listed or rented or sold because the income they would collect are TOO LOW for the Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) to be secured. The fact is as long as they are NOT Rented or Sold below the expected MBS value, that “investment" is at least stable.

But once the system starts having to accept losses in Rental or Purchase prices, the MBS become unsecured or worse, the investors in them will sell them just to get away from them. This is what occurred in 2007-2009. It was the cause of the run on AIG which insured the MBS from losses because every INVESTOR bought the proper INSURANCE just in case the INVESTMENT failed. And since the AIG insured one property to MANY investors, it multiplied the losses.

So, there were 2 ways to reduce the impact of the ABAG RHNA deficits. Both were caused in effect by the private interests. Instead of constantly trying to put the blame only on the governments, the industry should finally fess up to contributing to the disaster and start fixing the problem.

But both are not done, and now we are stick with major STICKER SHOCK.


 +   33 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> "I often wonder if that's why so many housing demands are placed on Palo Alto."

^ Because for some bizarre reason/logic, everyone wants to reside in Palo Alto...even if they cannot afford to.

>"I mean if I were living in, say, Moraga..."

*ugh* And the same goes for Orinda, Walnut Creek & Danville (unless one is an upwardly mobile, white, conservative-leaning Republican who prefers minimum ethnic diversity...85% white & counting).

>"If the local area had been “producing" proportional amounts of affordable housing since the 1970s along with the Jobs push, we would not be here at all.

^ Hindsight is often 20/20 but if your residency vision had been fulfilled over 40 years ago, Palo Alto would have even become an even more UNDESIRABLE place to live...reminiscent of Campbell during the same timeframe.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by Ramone, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Ramone is a registered user.

> "Mountain View, which is a larger city"

Larger how? According to Wikipedia Palo Alto is 26 square miles with population of 66,000 . Mountain View is 12 square miles with a population of 83,000.

That might explain why they are looking for Palo Alto to do more. Mountain View has worked to add new housing units and increased density near transit centers which might explain why they are looking for slightly less from them.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Maybe because Palo Alto has not met their housing obligations for years. While. MV has been busy building housing for years.
The Palo Alto city council has a steady stream of council members that oppose housing - yoriko Kishimoto, Greg Schmidt Karen Holman, Lydia Kuo etc.
Not only that palo,alto gets upset when MV dares build housing near the border.


 +   28 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Ramone: Much of that area you quoted for Palo Alto is open space preserves, where construction is not allowed. When I checked the maps last January, the total area in Palo Alto where building of any kind is allowed was about 8.6 sq mi. Much of that is zoned commercial; Stanford Research Park alone is over a square mile. The residential areas of Palo Alto are roughly the same density as those in Mountain View.

@Ramone, @Victor: The important question isn't how much housing gets built, it's whether the jobs/housing imbalance gets better. Recently I checked the Redwood City planning site. For the projects listed there, the jobs/housing imbalance was about 4.3 to 1, so in Redwood City the housing situation is getting worse very rapidly despite building new housing. I'm not aware of any project in Mountain View that's required to have a jobs/housing balance except for Whisman, but I might not be up-to-date; you should check your planning department to see what the overall balance turns out to be. Your situation might also be getting worse.

Cities don't build housing; investors and developers do. Palo Alto met and even exceeded its zoning obligations for housing in the last RHNA round. Little housing is being built there because it's more profitable to build it elsewhere. That's just one of several fundamental problems with the RHNA process.


 +   24 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

In response to Ramone you wrote:

“That might explain why they are looking for Palo Alto to do more. Mountain View has worked to add new housing units and increased density near transit centers which might explain why they are looking for slightly less from them."

But still, this housing is not affordable, which is the critical deficit we have right now. But what is interesting is that the rental housing marketing is collapsing like it have never done so. The CPI changed in the last 6 years by plus 10% from the bureau of labor statistics found here (Web Link). This if any investment did not make a 10% improvement, it is not a good investment at all. Now, let's look at reality from Zumper found here (Web Link):

The rent for a studio apartment was $2199 on Nov 8, 2014 and today it is $1999. A loss of 10%. Since the minimum ROI just to keep up with the CPI was a gain of 10%, there is a loss of 20% here

The rent for a one bedroom apartment was $2260 on Nov 1, 2014 and today it is $2345. A gain of 3%. Since the minimum ROI just to keep up with the CPI was a gain of 10%, there is a loss of 7% here


The rent for a two bedroom apartment was $2897 on Nov 1, 2014 and today it is $3075. A gain of 2%. Since the minimum ROI just to keep up with the CPI was a gain of 10%, there is a loss of 8% here.

The rent for a three bedroom apartment was $4188 on Nov 8, 2014 and today it is $4195. A gain of 1%. Since the minimum ROI just to keep up with the CPI was a gain of 10%, there is a loss of 9% here.

Look at what poor investing the private housing sector has resulted in?

So when Victor Bishop wrote:

“Maybe because Palo Alto has not met their housing obligations for years. While. MV has been busy building housing for years."

Not making any progress regarding affordable housing at all however. And it even looks like the private housing industry has set itself up to be heavily challenged given that COVID and AB5 is moving people out of the area. Reddit, just announced it will not have people working in the office and it WILL NOT reduce the workers pay if they move away. So when you said:

“Not only that palo,alto gets upset when MV dares build housing near the border."

Given that most developers are seeing the data I just produced, do you really think that these developers or landlords will actually succeed? Realize that many of the current projects are going to be stopped or aren't started at all given the information I presented. And the current owners/investors are in a significant risk of going out of business.

In response to Allen Akin you wrote:

“Cities don't build housing; investors and developers do. Palo Alto met and even exceeded its zoning obligations for housing in the last RHNA round. Little housing is being built there because it's more profitable to build it elsewhere. That's just one of several fundamental problems with the RHNA process."

Given that Cities did not manage their ABAG RHNA needs at all, and that the proof of how poorly the future looks regarding the ROI on housing in the long run here, it really looks like the Private Housing industry is going to cease all activities and in many cases the owners/landlords are in a serous threat of going out of business.

I wish this wasn't happening, but the Private Housing industry set this situation in motion a long time back HOPING that the current situation WOULD NEVER happen. But it is now and again the “STICKER SHOCK" of loss and cost to equalize the market is VERY HIGH.


 +   31 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 7:18 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Inflation + supply & demand + presumed area prestige + an incessant desire to reside where one cannot afford = the housing issue/problem in Palo Alto...and one that cannot be resolved by building more 'Legoland' highrises, apartment/multi-plexes or ADUs.

When push comes to shove, probably best to consider residing somewhere else... where it's more affordable.

In retrospect, we once rented a three bedroom Brown & Kaufman in Midtown back in the 1990s for $1400.00/month. When the landlord passed away, his son sold the house for $800K & became an instant 'tycoon' (in his own dellusional mind). Today that crappy-looking flat-top house goes for well over $2M.

Fortunately we had been saving for a home of our own & an opportunity presented itself for our current domicile.

If this hadn't been the case, a small rental dwelling in Mountain View or Sunnyvale would have sufficed.

The point is...it's often best to not be overly picky. Life is transitional & we are little more than human hermit crabs in search of a workable & replacable shell... for the time being.

Lastly...while I'd prefer to reside in Malibu or Pacific Palisades, I'm certainly not going to complain about the current housing costs just because I cannot afford to live there.

Actually I'd be willing to settle for a trailer or RV parked along Zuma Beach... but the other half wouldn't go for it.

As a result...still stuck here along Edgewood Drive & counting our blessings.


 +   29 people like this
Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 7:40 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

Agree with your basic point, Diana. Jobs/housing balance is the basic and crucial metric in the background here. Private firms expand hiring where they choose, serving their private interests; the UN-elected "public" agency ABAG then arbitrarily assigns the onus to the cities to accommodate that. ABAG addresses only one side of the jobs/housing imbalance and it's not the side that initiates the imbalance!

Also, heads-up: Your blog is getting attention from Steven Goldstein, a commenter banned, I think, from PA-Weekly Town Square, but he still posts on blogs. For background, see Steve Levy's recent blog -- Web Link -- and the comment just before it by Levy. (Currently the last two comments of 34 on that blog.) Goldstein compulsively over-posts until he's banned.


 +   31 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 28, 2020 at 9:01 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

In response to Common sense, a resident of Mountain View, you wrote:

“Agree with your basic point, Diana. Jobs/housing balance is the basic and crucial metric in the background here. Private firms expand hiring where they choose, serving their private interests; the UN-elected "public" agency ABAG then arbitrarily assigns the onus to the cities to accommodate that. ABAG addresses only one side of the jobs/housing imbalance and it's not the side that initiates the imbalance!"

This is in fact correct. But if the Private Housing sector produced enough affordable housing keeping pace since the 1970s we would not be in this mess would we? You went on to write:

“Also, heads-up: Your blog is getting attention from Steven Goldstein, a commenter banned, I think, from PA-Weekly Town Square, but he still posts on blogs."

This is nothing but an “kill the messenger" post and in fact is not even accurate. Since I can post to both the Palo Alto and the Mountain View Voice town squares, I never got “banned" by the publishers ever You write:

“For background, see Steve Levy's recent blog -- Web Link-- and the comment just before it by Levy."

Steven Levy has the power to censor the content of his BLOG unfortunately because there is no BINDING code of conduct yet established for BLOGGERS. So, he has the right to do it. Is it justified, maybe, but what I did do is indicated that some of his original commentary wasn't supported by the facts, and he took offense of it? You wrote:

(Currently the last two comments of 34 on that blog.) Goldstein compulsively over-posts until he's banned.

Again, I am not banned by the Embarcadero Media group, and so far I have had less than a dozen posts either classified as “offensive" or “over repetitious". And in fact many others were banned by the Embarcadero group for “cyberstalking" me

Please do not try to misinform the readers here? Otherwise it could be grounds for a LIBEL complaint?


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Duveneck School,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 9:32 am

Resident is a registered user.

Everyone is talking about the onerous new goal whose timeframe starts in 2023. What happens to the shortfall of new builds from the current goal that expires in 2023? Are those unbuilt houses added to the new goal, or do they just disappear?


 +   26 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 10:33 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Resident,

Of course that is added to the new RHNA totals, that number doesn't disappear.

Typically the current "outpacing " of lack of affordable housing, which is measured is added to the deficit of the prior record, UNLESS production actually increased and there were more affordable units built in the interim.

Then the "INTERIM" surplus of affordable housing is subtracted from the previous totals.

This is how the deficit got so big, the failure of the local governments to be able to walk (Build office and commercial spaces) and chew gum (build residential units to accommodate the spectrum of housing needs) at the same time.


 +   24 people like this
Posted by Samuel Jackson, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 11:36 am

Samuel Jackson is a registered user.

I'm sure commenting into the void is bad for my mental health, but... I'll go for it anyhow.

"I understand the need for more housing, but I don't want things forced on me/us." You put your finger directly on the problem: if it isn't forced on you, how will it happen? It hasn't happened on its own. If it had, the externally imposed requirements that you do not want, would not be required.

As much as a community can want to "stay static" (in size, in character, or sometimes sadly, in color...) it often cannot do so without causing a ripple effect elsewhere. Palo Alto is not an island, and its choices both affect and are affected by the broader communities it is a part of (Peninsula, Bay Area, California, USA). While this same logic means Palo Alto is not 100% responsible for the problems it finds itself facing, it's uniquely culpable because it has - through its own decisions! - become a jobs-rich area and an especially housing-poor one. And it makes a ton of sense to have more people live where they work! OR to help make their work accessible to where they live. SPUR and others have great templates for how the Bay Area needs to change transport to help, but housing is part of this.

I appreciate a difference of opinion on these subjects but please be careful in how value judgments are presented. "Intentionally overcrowd our communities" is an opinion cast as fact, with two embedded assumptions. The first, that "overcrowding" is a special type of risk; the second, that any given community is the exclusive preserve not just of those already there ("our") but those with the most privilege and invested economic rights within those places. This excludes a host of folks who either are not "bought in" to the system (not homeowners for example, or without early Prop 13 benefits) as well as those who cannot live there at all because they cannot afford it.

The author could do more to recognize that "self-interests" often come at the expense of others, and this isn't just between Community A and Community B, but within those communities. Personally, I want to live in a vibrant and inclusive community. I like having a diverse community of people from different backgrounds and think that it makes for a nicer place to live. I know that I CAN'T have that if a community becomes unaffordably expensive. This can be in conflict with other things someone may value!

But I would ask the author, what is it that you truly fear when you say "overcrowding"? If you hate traffic, let's find ways to get people out of their cars, since they're bad for the planet anyways. If you are worried about not enough room in schools, good news, that's something that can be changed. If you believe that all children must grow up in a certain housing stock, I would ask, (a) what evidence do you have for this belief, and (b) do those children deserve to be impoverished (mentally, morally, and otherwise) by living in a community which deprives them of the company of people who can't afford to be there?
What is it that you think is an existential problem by allowing more people to live here? What new problems can't be solved by a smart community with a good dose of civic esprit de corps?


 +   29 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 1:31 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

@Samuel, what your post doesn't acknowledge, and what absolutely no pro-housing advocate will acknowledge or even attempt to answer is the lack of resources needed to support this increase in housing. We already have water rationing, electricity blackouts.

We are increasingly unable to handle the “load" we have now, how do you justify more housing?


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Maybe the City Council should have approved as many large commercial office buildings to be built in the City. There have been periods of time with caps on commercial office space that could be built over a particular time period, but the current Council keeps removing those caps. When you find yourself in a hole, it might be a good idea to stop digging.

I don't know if anyone has done a study of whether those who work in Palo Alto -- bringing a lot of commuter traffic to our streets -- actually want to live in Palo Alto. A lot of younger tech workers seem to prefer to live in San Francisco, or at least they did until COVID-19. I do know that not that many people who live next to the train stations take the train to work.

Expecting private developers to build much affordable housing on their own seems like a pipe dream no matter how many breaks you give them on density, parking requirements, etc. We need a different model.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Maybe the City Council should have approved as many large commercial office buildings to be built in the City. There have been periods of time with caps on commercial office space that could be built over a particular time period, but the current Council keeps removing those caps. When you find yourself in a hole, it might be a good idea to stop digging.

I don't know if anyone has done a study of whether those who work in Palo Alto -- bringing a lot of commuter traffic to our streets -- actually want to live in Palo Alto. A lot of younger tech workers seem to prefer to live in San Francisco, or at least they did until COVID-19. I do know that not that many people who live next to the train stations take the train to work.

Expecting private developers to build much affordable housing on their own seems like a pipe dream no matter how many breaks you give them on density, parking requirements, etc. We need a different model.


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Someone pointing out the size of PA vs the size of other cities - PA has a hill section that is limited as to building. Look at a map and you can see how much of PA is in the hills. Then you have the section east of 101 that is commercial and nature preserve. We are in a 100 year flood zone. Number of square miles has to be qualified by buildable space. Also MV is anchored by Moffett which provides a flood zone protective wall.


 +   22 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

It is true the amount of land in the cities is deceptive. There are good portions that are unusable.

But.

The proportion of industrial and commercial lands versus residential is going to force more dense residential use. Unless some commercial or industrial land is converted to residential.

Again this was a slow boil, now the are the frog in superheated water because the pot is air tight and now has reached 150 degrees Celsius.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Oct 29, 2020 at 8:18 pm

chris is a registered user.

MV resident,

MV is building thousands of units. Water and electricity is not the problem you think it is. New housing will be much more efficient than existing houses. Building housing closer to jobs will reduce needs for gas and electricity and reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 2:44 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Chris,
Building housing near jobs does not reduce commutes. Experience is that for every in-bound commute to Palo Alto, two out-bound commutes are created.
1. Families will locate to Palo Alto for the schools, even though both parents work elsewhere.
2. One member of a couple may work in Palo Alto and the other elsewhere.
3. Your job in Palo Alto may move to another city, for example, Cupertino or even south San Jose.

The notion of housing close to jobs is a remnant of a long-ago time of life-time employment in the same location and one outside-the-home job per household.

-----
The notion of perpetual improvements in efficiency of water & power usage that is assumed in many of these discussions have households producing more water and power than they consume, of agriculture producing far less food for an increasing population, and increasing unemployment because various industries don't have the water (solvent) and power to operate.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

NYMBISM is alive and well right here ALL PA's zips. The damage Prop 13 almost 50 years ago has created will tale another Century to undue. A resident would have to make $50 an hour to meet the rental cost of a less than amenable place to live. Insane. Normal amenities like a like ceiling fans, a dish washer or in unit wash/dry add on another $1000 to the rent cost price tag. The cost of rent is calculated at square inches not square feet. I just saw a PA aparment rental posted at 3,500 at 800 square feet and it was a make shift 2B ADU w no oven or stove in which to cook. Criminal. Renters UNITE. 46% residents rent here and PA does not even have a proper housing department. Vote yes on 15 !!! PA must be held accountable for its lack of planning. Tech boom started in 1980 and that's where affordable new multi housing ended. Meet the challenge. The same a-bore new housing are the same who cry traffic, and then stick a BLM sign in their yards. Hypocrisy at umpteenth degree.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Fair?, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Fair? is a registered user.

Diana " Your attitude is exactly why we are having the State step in because of the self entitled “not fair to me" crowd. What is fair is that like health and school and jobs is that housing is fair. Unchecked individualism is what got us, we, you and me to this mess .


 +   25 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"The damage Prop 13 almost 50 years ago has created will take another Century to undue."

The Jarvis-Gann Act was enacted to protect residents (i.e. eventual seniors on limited/fixed incomes) from having to endure increasing property taxes due to inflation & GOVERNMENT WASTE.

It is 'grandfathered' in & the only way Prop 13 can be passed on is through a direct & timely inheritance.

Nothing wrong with that.

On the other hand, commercial properties raking in mega-bucks via inflated rents over the past 4+ decades is another story.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by ALB, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 2:21 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Why would we need to keep building more offices and increase housing when the pandemic has impacted demand. I am for more low-income and moderate-income housing. The numbers imposed by ABAG are outrageous.


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Prop 13 “grandfathered in" ? This massive tax break to homeowners must be abolished and turned over by the voters. BS and has only accelerated our growing crisis in Calif property prices. It plummeted 98% of Californian downward. Because this tax loop protects a few does not make it fair!


 +   28 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 5:19 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Prop 13 “grandfathered in" ? This massive tax break to homeowners must be abolished and turned over by the voters."

All things eventually pass & so will the remnants of homeowner-applicable Prop 13 property tax benefits.

In our neighborhood, we have some older neighbors who are paying around $750.00 per year in property taxes while many of the newer residents are paying $40-$50K+.

So what? No one is keeping score & many here are grateful that their property tax dollars aren't being frivolously & flagrantly wasted even more by local politicians who have little or no regard for fiscal restraint.

All things considered & in regards to the municipal 'benefits' we actually receive in return, our property tax shouldn't be more than $2500 annually at best.

There is no 'value-added' when it comes to property taxes & for those who cannot 'pay to play'...perhaps consider residing somewhere else where the homes & property tax base are cheaper.

Vote YES on Prop 19.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 30, 2020 at 6:30 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

In response to Chris you wrote:

" MV is building thousands of units. Water and electricity is not the problem you think it is. New housing will be much more efficient than existing houses. Building housing closer to jobs will reduce needs for gas and electricity and reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality."

I hope so, but most of that housing is NOT affordable, the developers paid a “affordable housing" fee that exempted them from providing “INCLUSIONARY" housing. Please provide us with a list of all the housing projects and projected units, I think you over estimated the numbers. From what I have observed, there may be only as much as 1000 tops currently approved and are in production.

And there have been a lot of APPROVED housing projects, but they aren't BUILT yet.

And many of them may stop, never continue, or get outright cancelled, as long as the California Bay Area exodus continues to get worse due to COVID and AB5.

Don't count your chickens until their hatched.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by David, a resident of Gemello,
on Nov 1, 2020 at 9:26 am

David is a registered user.

"I understand the need for more housing, but I don't want things forced on me/us."

If you support limitations on the amount of housing that gets built, it is you who are forcing things on others, not the other way around.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 1, 2020 at 10:44 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"If you support limitations on the amount of housing that gets built, it is you who are forcing things on others, not the other way around."

^ Not necessarily...there are alternatives (aka migration and/or seeking housing in other more affordable areas).

The last time I checked...no one owes anyone a 'green light' to reside in a locale they cannot afford.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 1, 2020 at 7:16 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

In response to Lee Forrest you wrote:

“The last time I checked...no one owes anyone a 'green light' to reside in a locale they cannot afford."

But at the same time, if there is REDLINING which has occurred in the valley like it has, it can be ordered by a court as well as the law to REQUIRE inclusionary housing. And the ABAG RHNA numbers can be used to REQUIRE at least 50% of the new housing to be priced to be affordable to those in either the 0-50% AMI standard (VERY LOW INCOME) and the 50%to 80% (LOW INCOME) groups.

I am in favor of this kind of mandate until the ABAG RHNA goals are achieved. If that means that PRIVATE housing production is stopped due to the PRIVATE housing industry refuses to build, SO BE IT.

Given that it looks like we are about to get another long term lockdown due to COVID, and that there is no more COVID life support, MANY current projects and private housing business will fall apart. Just also understand this:

CNBC recently published a report titled “Earnings for apartment owners show the pain of urban flight". The report indicated the NO ON 21 funders are in real trouble now. These groups are Essex Property Trust and Affiliated Entities; Equity Residential; and AvalonBay Communities.

Equity Residential, stock is down about 43% year to date. Occupancy and average rent rates fell and will likely drop further in the coming quarters. AvalonBay, stock is about 35% year to date. Essex Property Trust is a private company. But it is reported here (Web Link) they have lost Significant income from $239M income in the 2019 3rd qtr to $194M in the last 3rd qtr. That is a loss of $45M and it makes a percentage loss of 18.8%.

What kind of reputation these groups have?. The Equity Residential apartments in Mountain View found here (Web Link) are rated only 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is just a passing grade if you count a star as 20% in grades. Avalon Bay has only an average between 3 to 3.5 star on Yelp. They have multiple buildings in the city feel free to look it up on Yelp. Essex Property Trust has a 2.5 star rating and the comments are not good seen here (Web Link).

Some landlords aren't in yelp at all because they are too small. I simply ask this question, WHAT PROOF DO YOU HAVE OF EXCELLING IN YOUR HOUSING SERVICES? So many times, these people claim to be such GREAT service providers, but they offer no PROOF of it.

I would like these groups to declare bankruptcy, then the state work on funding non profit housing NGOs that will get these properties for pennies on the dollar and identify what vacant units they have and make them INCLUSIONARY units accordingly.

It is up to the PRIVATE housing industry, cooperate or DIE.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Nov 2, 2020 at 10:56 am

Common sense is a registered user.

The Goldstein person's over-posting has been relatively restrained in this comment train so far ("only" a quarter of all comments, not half), albeit again I perceive a compulsion to rebut everyone else, especially comments responding to his own. (If he refrains from reflexively responding to this one of mine, it'll be a historic first.) Ever rationalizing -- even rationalizing his comments that led Steve Levy to ban him, see the last few (not the last two, my error above) comments before the one I linked earlier: Web Link As I mentioned above, I *thought* Goldstein was banned from the whole Weekly website, based on Levy's mention of a ban from a "main blog" beyond his own (and since that WAS my assumption, my prior comment above is factual, therefore unrelated to "libel," another of various terms Goldstein deploys rhetorically despite evincing limited understanding of them).

On the MV-Voice comments pages that some people now find unusable owing to Goldstein (another demonstrable reality!), his comments routinely received no "Like" votes until he learned how to game that feature. Now, you'll spot his comments suddently receiving dozens of them artificially, in a moment. The impulse to fake-up congratulations like that contributes to my impression of Goldstein's commenting.

Sorry to have to dwell on another commenter like this, but it affects the whole nature of the online comments threads.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Steven Goldstein, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 2, 2020 at 11:37 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

In response to Common sense you wrote:

“The Goldstein person's over-posting has been relatively restrained in this comment train so far ("only" a quarter of all comments, not half), albeit again I perceive a compulsion to rebut everyone else, especially comments responding to his own. (If he refrains from reflexively responding to this one of mine, it'll be a historic first.) Ever rationalizing -- even rationalizing his comments that led Steve Levy to ban him, see the last few (not the last two, my error above) comments before the one I linked earlier: Web Link As I mentioned above, I *thought* Goldstein was banned from the whole Weekly website, based on Levy's mention of a ban from a "main blog" beyond his own (and since that WAS my assumption, my prior comment above is factual, therefore unrelated to "libel," another of various terms Goldstein deploys rhetorically despite evincing limited understanding of them)."

First, you know what it is like when you “ASSUME" or make ASSUMTPTIONS? Why do you persist to try to change the subject? PLEASE stick to the topic? If you have any information to contribute other than trolling or harassing people, then why not discuss the subject? You wrote

“On the MV-Voice comments pages that some people now find unusable owing to Goldstein (another demonstrable reality!), his comments routinely received no "Like" votes until he learned how to game that feature. Now, you'll spot his comments suddently receiving dozens of them artificially, in a moment. The impulse to fake-up congratulations like that contributes to my impression of Goldstein's commenting."

Unusable? Interesting term, maybe because I fact check and rebut the many false claims made by anonymous posters that make claims that turn out to backfire if you take the time to do so. All I do is present fact corrections and dispel misinformation. But the you go on to say:

“Sorry to have to dwell on another commenter like this, but it affects the whole nature of the online comments threads."

Why not DISCUSS the TOPIC? Do you have anything to contribute regarding it?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Renters Unite. Palo Alto does not have a housing department. Sub standard rental housing along Alma etc forces many members of one family to sleep triple high in two bedrooms and in living rooms and "walk in" closets. Real estate associations are not conducting biz pithing HUD and Fair housing laws. Up selling their tiny less than fully equipped apartments with things like a ceiling fan, a working refrigerator or newly installed carpets !!! What a sham. These are normal wear and tear responsibilities of property owners to provide and not a up market sell! Criminal. Should a renter log a complain they are retaliated agains by an eviction. Sub standard 800 square foot apartment where renters are carrying the massive tax burden property owners. Not single family home owners. There needs to be an ivenstigation. Landlords withhold 100% of deposits for minor wear and tear fixes. Yes. Up sell close to schools and transit. But absurd some of these rentals don't even have a stove in which to cook from and up sell for having hot plates and microwaves. Yes on Prop 15 No on Prop 19. Rent prices are based on the square footage cost of the sale price not on what's provided. ABSURDITY through and through.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Much ADU, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 2, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Much ADU is a registered user.

Multi Family rental management and realtors are desperate for renters, in the moment, since so many families are fleeing having lost their jobs. Rents "appear" to be lower in PA right now because of lack of sudden vacancies, rent payments, fear flight. Yet these same owners give you current "lower" prices based on signing a 12 month lease. One has to sign a contract that you agree that the rent will be raised by $600 to $1000 after one year . That's a 12-30% rent increase hidden in some lease document. Be prepared for the "real" cost to the renter, later. Another way to redline and discriminate based on income, race, family size and cultural make-up. These private property owners will stop at nothing to make a buck. Rents should not be based on whether one has a ceiling fan, solar panel, or an outside stoop in which to sit in a chair outside, like the above poster has pointed out. Pretty soon these multi family condo "townhouse" property owners are going to base their rents on that it's COVID free and one can physically distance outside in a 8X8 balcony space. What a joke if it were not for real lives at stake. COVID deaths to those unhoused right now in the Valley has risen 40% since the Pandemic began for all sorts of underlying conditions have or not have been exposed to CoV2 but become unhoused based on losing a job or having to pay for healthcare etc. The transient tax is alive and well for renters all along ALMA based on the Total Price of the property not based on FMR Fair Market Rents for the area. At this rate NO-ONE but those making $100 plus an hour are able to exist, thrive, sustain a family with a "normal" wage of $20 an hour. Even for a substandard 800 square foot 1B 1/2B . Yet ironically, if one can afford to pay $6000 a month in rent for a single family home with updated appliances and "granite" counter tops you get 3 X the space for less money per square foot. Again the burden of how skewed the rental market is, is based on the the most rundown places have to pay the most in rent. Yeah its what it is. A transient tax on the renter.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Iris, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Nov 12, 2020 at 10:28 am

Iris is a registered user.

First, the best way to address housing affordability is to focus on improving wages so more can be afforded by more people.

COVID has changed, arguably forever, patterns of where people live and work. The fundamental assumptions underlying Plan Bay Area and RHNA are currently extremely flawed because they assume the current propensity to physically commute to work.

The RHNA model should take into more consideration where transit hubs are. Those hubs are extremely unlikely to change.

At some point, the area should really consider how much jobs growth is healthy.


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