News

Editorial: Nine years in, a citizens committee

After almost a decade of meandering work, a final push begins for a new Comprehensive Plan for Palo Alto

There is no better example of how Palo Alto gets tied up in knots trying to achieve delicate tasks that are anticipated to create controversy than the city's legally required and long overdue update of its Comprehensive Plan, the vision and road map for what kind of a community we all want for the future.

Launched with little enthusiasm, political direction or process in 2006, city staff and the planning commission, with some intermittent input from the City Council and public, have quietly worked on the plan as if it were an update to a technical manual that, with luck, could get done without too many people really noticing or needing to be involved.

The existing plan, adopted in 1998, had been the product of an exhausting six-year process, and part of its elegance was that advocates for almost any type of land use policy could find provisions in the plan that supported their viewpoints.

So when controversial proposals arose, such as the John Arrillaga plan for high-rise office buildings and a performing arts theater at 27 University Ave., proponents (including city staff) could point to policies in the plan that encouraged the expansion of cultural amenities and new development near transit corridors, while opponents could point to different policies in the same plan that sought to reduce traffic congestion, preserve the character of the community and, most certainly, not allow buildings substantially higher than the city's 50-foot height limit.

The aging plan, most agree, is not nearly in need of change as are the detailed zoning rules that are supposed to be guided by it. But the attorneys don't want the council to jump ahead to zoning changes until a new updated Comprehensive Plan is in place. Yet it is through zoning decisions that ambiguities such as the one described above get ironed out and molded into actual rules with which property owners and developers have to live.

The council and staff are determined to get this process done by the end of next year, and this week a recently appointed 20-member citizens committee held the first of what will be many monthly meetings that are intended to channel public opinion and advise the city's planning staff as it prepares a final draft of a new plan.

No sooner had the names of the new committee been released by City Manager Jim Keene last week than a spirited debate began over whether it was properly representative of Palo Alto, geographically and politically.

Were north, south and west Palo Alto equally represented? (No, 12 of the 17 voting members live in the north.)

Was the committee balanced between members known to lean toward stricter limits on development and those interested in encouraging "innovative" development, especially involving housing? (No, those favoring stricter limits have fewer members.)

Did Keene stack the committee to reflect his vision for Palo Alto? (Probably not, but impossible to know.)

Before rushing to criticize or marginalize this group of 20 citizens willing to devote a big chunk of time to a rather thankless task, it would be good to realize this group has no real power and whatever battles or impasses it encounters will wind their way to the council in due course.

So instant critics should stand down and focus on how to support and influence the process rather than attack it.

There are historical examples of similar citizens committees in Palo Alto that have worked, and some that haven't, and the key to the successful ones has been their ability to build enough trust and understanding of each other's motivations, concerns and desires that they are able to find common ground.

The process, which will be subject to the state open-meetings law and therefore should be fully transparent, may achieve little -- or it may result in the discovery that the opinions and values held by committee members aren't as divergent as it may seem today.

These particular 20 residents may not reflect the breadth of our community as much as we and others would like, but it is clearly diverse enough to ensure that robust discussion on the future of Palo Alto takes place. And whether or not they and the staff reach consensus on language to describe that future, it will all wind up back in the lap of the council anyway, where long and tedious review is virtually assured.

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Comments

5 people like this
Posted by norman beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

Strange that so many Palo Alto Forward members applied -- now because of Brown Act they can't talk to each other except in the meetings!


2 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:07 am

About a year ago the PSF website stated that with the upcoming council election and openings on the P&TC, and the opportunity to influence the comprehensive plan update which will guide the city's growth through 2030, it was imperative to focus their direction toward getting as many of their members (and like minded residents) elected or appointed to these influential positions. And they have been phenomaly at achieving their goal.


5 people like this
Posted by John Guislin
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:14 am

"So instant critics should stand down" On the contrary, the make-up of this committee is the foundation for an equitable and representative outcome. If Palo Altans do not feel fairly represented, all recommendations made lose any hope of becoming seen as a popular mandate. It just sets us up for many lengthy battles in the future.

As with building anything, getting a solid foundation in place is essential to support an outcome that will last.
This foundation is suspect from the start.


Like this comment
Posted by rhody
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:25 am

To Jane: What is PSF?


Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:36 am

"To Jane: What is PSF?"

Likely PAF, after a finger slip.


12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm

"Launched with little enthusiasm, political direction or process in 2006, city staff and the planning commission, with some intermittent input from the City Council and public, have quietly worked on the plan... ."

A familiar script. Staff writes the plan. Next they appoint a citizen committee to "comment on" the draft. Then staff fronts its creation to the city council as an exemplary outcome of local democracy in action, which the council dutifully adopts with fulsome praise for the Palo Alto process.

Let us hope our new council isn't as eagerly gullible as its predecessors have been.


8 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm

What is the role of Placeworks in all this, the consultant we paid close to $2 million to guide us thru this process?

Do their duties including helping craft pollyana editorials?


6 people like this
Posted by pacsailor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I noticed that some of the people selected to this committee had checked whatever boxes they liked about their affiliation, not necessarily they are actually affiliated. Shouldn't people who incorrectly claimed affiliation be disqualified?


8 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2015 at 2:11 pm

To pacsailor:

True. Only 1 person who indicated they are affiliated with PAN actually is, though Arthur Keller was a member before he joined the PTC. Seems that for such an important task, brief candidate interviews might have been in order...


9 people like this
Posted by litebug
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2015 at 2:34 pm

What a stark difference I found when I moved from Palo Alto to McMinnville, OR! Things actually get DONE here, and PROMPTLY! It's been an amazing thing to witness these 8 years, after 38 years in Palo Alto, where it was always nearly impossible to get ANYTHING done (unless you're a developer, that is). After getting 2nd place for "Best Downtown" in a national contest run by Parade Magazine, even more renovation is being done downtown. There is an active redevelopment area formerly used for grain storage, next to the railroad tracks, from where it was formerly shipped. Now there are businesses, restaurants, permanent and Sat. market areas, and events are held in the big open area there. It was decided that Head start was indeed a valuable thing so, no more than it was decided, a new county Head Start building was built. Same with a county transit terminal and county food bank building. One no more than hears about them before they're built and operating, whether county (Mac is the county seat) or City. Many events happen downtown, people are always walking around, as it is people FRIENDLY, with sheltered "main" street crossings mid-block in every block downtown. Except in winter, there are huge baskets of flowers hanging from every street light post in tree-lined downtown area and with many businesses too. The baskets are a local tradition. Traffic actually stops for pedestrians here! The police station, library addition, fire department, and City meeting hall are all new, or relatively new, attractive and totally modern. Imagine THAT! (Still waiting for the new P.A.P.D. building down there? How about the flood threat? (We were flooded out of our house by 2 feet of water in 2/3/1998 and I went to meetings about it for 10 years before we moved but nothing had changed.) Maybe Palo Alto should send an emissary to Mac to learn how to get things done.


17 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 17, 2015 at 2:57 pm

The one big issue that needs dealing with is this misguided adventure into urbanization. It was this concept at the last comprehensive plan decision time that got those overwhelming apartments on El Camino built just 5 feet back from the sidwalk. When we requested that similar apartments in the future should be built with a much bigger setback say 15 ft or 20 ft back we were told that could only be done when the comprehensive plan was renegotiated - now's the time, get a much bigger setback, please.

Also, I remember after many meetings to discuss the comprehensive plan some 20 years ago, the citizen's committee came up with many good recommendations; all of which were rejected by the City Council except to put opaque windows at the side of two storey homes, so they couldn't overlook their single storey neighbors.


Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Earlier post was meant to be "PAF" (not PSF) and also last sentence should read, ""And they have been phenomaly at successful at achieving their goal."


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2015 at 10:28 am

mauricio is a registered user.

PAF has been phenominally successful at squeezing into any panel and commission involved in mapping Palo Alto's future not only because they are phenomenally aggressive, but because the same alliance that has been shaping this town for the last few decades, namely, council members, city managers and stuffers who are cozy with the developers, have enabled their appointment. This is not random, this is a collaborative effort by the pro growth, pro urbanization lobby.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2015 at 1:02 pm

"This is not random, this is a collaborative effort by the pro growth, pro urbanization lobby."

True, and a characteristically effective effort. These people tightly focus on their goal-- wealth--and organize capably for the long term. Their opponents are invariably fragmented and disorganized, crippled by conflicts over personal power and a variety of inflexible ideologies, structurally unable to put up an effective sustained fight.


6 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

@mauricio

If that is the case, why haven't we been seeing development levels anywhere close to what the market can bear? Last time I checked residential rents in Palo Alto were highest in the nation and commercial rents were up there too. If these people are so aggressive and so effective, shouldn't we be seeing a downtown and city teeming with cranes?


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm

The staff will monitor Brown Act violations like they enforce other codes i.e., not at all.
When the committee selected major Architect Daniel Garber as its chair the outcome of its deliberations is predictable. He is an active member of PAForward, and he worked on the Arrillaga project for the city where he had a major conflict of interest on that project (the "public benefit" was a big theater for TheatreWorks, where he was on its board).
At a recent Council meeting Garber identified himself as "a small businessman." You know you are about to be snookered when the head of a major architectural firm does that.
Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2015 at 2:09 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

@Robert, PAF is a very new group. It would take time for their influence to be translated, assuming they are not opposed, into a major urbanization wave which involves financing, architecture design, reviews, permits, etc.

I also want to disabuse you of the notion that if we just allow a huge housing development push, rents and housing prices would go down. There are literally millions of people work-wide who desire to live in Palo Alto, so the competition for every unit would be fierce, as it is already now. Multi bidding, often as cash offers, which keep pushing housing prices higher and higher, are now the norm, almost without exception. A house on my street that was bought for 900,000 dollars in 1998, sold recently for over 6 million dollars, significantly over the asking price with a foreign buyer outbidding all the many offers.Every housing unit will be, as is the case now, subjected to overbidding by foreign investors. The more we develop, the higher housing prices go up, and the more we lose our sovereignty as well, since foreign investors are determind to snap up every available property.


5 people like this
Posted by Forward with PAF
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Millions of people world wide who want to live in Palo Alto. Where does that statistic come from????
PAF has some good ideas-- they are not just knee jerk against development like PASZ and their council members.
Mauricio et al see groups as the enemy-- anything they stand for is wrong. Hence, claiming they are agressive. I find Cheryl liliensten to be extremely agressive and, IMHO, wrong most of the time.


6 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

@mauricio

If you'll notice, I didn't make any sort of claim regarding new development and the effect on prices, just the fact that, with some of the highest rents in the country, we all know there is interest in building new homes and offices in Palo Alto. Though at least you did, if perhaps inadvertently, answer my question; seeing as we haven't had development on the levels of San Francisco, or even Redwood City, it would figure those nefarious pro development forces don't actually hold the level of influence that so many people claim.


20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Forward asks Millions of people world wide who want to live in Palo Alto. Where does that statistic come from????

You just have to observe the huge change in the real estate market, with the influx of new tech millionaires PLUS Asian wealth investing in our real estate. Just reading the papers and keeping your eyes open can be enlightening.

None are so blind as those who will not see.


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2015 at 3:43 pm

I recently read an article pointing out that at least a 33% of ALL US real estate purchases are from foreign buyers, esp, Asians, looking at US real estate as a way to protect/shelter their funds. That figure is MUCH higher in desirable markets like San Francisco, Manhattan and Palo Alto.

The situation is so severe in Manhattan that they're considering a "concierge tax" for properties that are acquired for huge sums of money but seldom or never occupied, sort of like our "ghost" houses.

Until you stop or limit that type of investment, prices will keep soaring.

There are a a LOT of rich foreigners and a LOT of rich Chinese and other Asians. Even if we doubled our population to 130,000, do you really think those extra 60,000 housing units would make a dent in prices and demand?


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Forward
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2015 at 4:15 pm

"do you really think those extra 60,000 housing units would make a dent in prices and demand?"

Have faith. You will see it when you believe it.


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Palo Alto Forward, should I click my heels and chant "I believe! I believe!" too?

Seeing's believing: Most San Francisco's new "affordable" housing vanished a mere few years after they got their approvals through, around 70%. POOF!

Once the developers got their approvals and waited a minimum amount of time, they raised their rents and/or prices. POOF went the "affordable" housing.


22 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2015 at 5:31 pm

There seems to be a lot of discussion and confusion about what Palo Alto Forward is.

We are a citizen's group that favors better housing and transportation options for young and old. Of course we encourage our members to be active and engaged citizens! We welcome all of you to join us at our events and sign up for our newsletter at Web Link! We have been very transparent about our goals, and anyone who wants to learn more can read our website or come to our events.

One additional point: someone above stated that we are concentrated on "wealth" as our driving goal.

The wealthy people of Palo Alto are land owners and property owners. If we wanted to create a perfect policy to drive up land and property prices (in the near term), we would severely restrict growth. This will have the near term (possibly decades-long) impact of driving up the wealth of property owners. Longer term, as Palo Alto becomes a home for retired multi-millionaires, it will likely become a less attractive place to live. That turnover takes time, but you already see it in the sorts of retailers we can attract and keep. This is the policy that PASZ and many members of our current council are endorsing.

On the other hand, if one's goal is to increase diversity, policies would be to increase housing supply and choice (ie., a mix of different kinds of units) and increase convenience and accessibility of transportation. That is precisely what we are advocating.

No one can say with a straight face that the policies that we advocate favor "the wealthy".

I also don't believe that PASZ is motivated by trying to increase their personal wealth. However, the policies that their members espouse have the impact of making Palo Alto even more exclusive and unwelcoming to socio-economic diversity.


14 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

It is clear to anyone who thinks for s few seconds that the benefit of higher density goes mainly to developers and those employed by the city who build a resume.

Real estate prices go higher with higher density. The theory supports this because it is the unimproved property prices that drive improved prices higher, and commercial and high density residential drive up the prices of unproved property.

The demand is so much higher than supply that the impact of increasing supply relative to demand with a few thousand residential units becomes noise relative to the impact of higher housing costs brought by higher unproved property costs.

Does it cost more to love in NYC or Wyoming?
The net impact of increased development brought by PAF will be higher housing costs for all.

Yes, a lucky few will temporarily find a lower entry price into PA housing. But their efforts, if successful, will drive up housing costs while at the same time driving down lifestyle quality to that of an overpopulated city.


14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 19, 2015 at 6:44 am

mauricio is a registered user.

An increase in density will increases housing prices. There are many billions of dollars in foreign money looking for opportunities to invest in Palo Alto real estate. Any new development will be snatched up by those investors and it will move house prices and rents further up, as it does now, making it even harder and more expensive to get into Palo Alto. If we let PAF have their way, the people they claim to want to help would have an even lesser chance of getting into Palo alto. In the meantime, a life style and quality of life would disappear, a loss/loss situation, except for the developers and their enablers.


12 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2015 at 8:22 am

The laws of supply and demand have not suddenly been repealed for Palo Alto. We've certainly seen half of it been demonstrated - we've had a huge increase in demand over the last two decades with a tiny increase in supply, and prices have shot up. At a smaller scale, we've had a big increase in demand in the last two years and prices have shot up. Thinking that prices will stop going up if we continue to build so much less than the demand reminds me of the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

BTW, foreign investors are a real thing. But, first, there are not millions who can come here (that's not how US immigration policy works). Second, we've seen comparable price increases from a lower base in Redwood City, where I can assure you there are no foreign investors. It's supply and demand.

In any case, we should all thank the Weekly for a sensible, balanced editorial and start treating our neighbors as neighbors rather than subjecting them to ad hominem attacks.


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 19, 2015 at 11:47 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Posters Really? and Mauricio argue that increased housing will drive up prices. Downtown Worker argues that the laws of supply and demand have not been repealed and, by implication that housing prices and rents would be less than they would otherwise by if supply increases.

The key point here is "less than they would otherwise be", that is, other things being equal, more supply will not increase prices and likely lead to a decrease from what they would otherwise have been.

Let's explore some examples.

A local car dealer has a great month and in the process of selling a lot of new cars acquires a large number of used car trade ins. According to really and Mauricio the way economics works is that the dealers will respond to the increased supply by RAISING the prices of their previous stock of used cars. Really??

Next example, you really want to see the next Giants--Dodgers game. You go on Stub Hub and find the prices are really high. You go back the next day and lo and behold, a new seller has appeared with 500 tickets to sell. According to Really? and Mauricio the sellers from yesterday will see the new supply of tickets AND RAISE THEIR PRICES. As an economist, I actually expect that prices will go down when sellers see the increased competition.

How about homes.

Let's say on Friday, 500 new rental units come on the market in this area. How will landlords of existing units to rent respond? Seeing the new supply (to make it more fun, let's say all of the new units are in multi story buildings). Will people who had places to rent on Thursday respond by RAISING RENTS or lowering them?

So, yes, an increased housing supply will produce lower home prices and rents than would have occurred in the absence of new supply other things being equal.

Until there is a recession or very large increase in housing supply we should expect rents and home prices to increase in the Bay Area but they will increase less than if new supply was not built.

And, of course there will be thousands of families and individuals who now have housing.

If you are trying to understand the economics, it is helpful to put aside the question of Palo Alto's role in providing the increased supply. They are mostly separate issues.


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 19, 2015 at 11:59 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Eric Rosenblum makes several good points.

In terms of Palo Alto Forward, check us out, come to events, look on our website. As for favoring the wealthy, that is a really strange accusation. Tara Nussbaum works for the City of San Jose helping to expand low income housing opportunities. Mila Zelkha has worked to help homeless residents and on affordable housing. I just finished a two year HUD funded effort to help low and moderate wage workers move up. Eric Rosenblum told me he is currently working on a project to help Santa Clara County better serve the homeless population. Mehdi Allassani serves on our Human Relations Commission.

But do come to events and check us out for yourselves.

My involvement with Palo Alto Forward confirms Eric's take--the people I know favor expanded housing and transportation options for all residents, young and old, north and south and in the middle for age and location.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Too much opining and misinformation being offered and dispersed to date, from both sides, I think. At least for me to handle and make sense out of. But I'm trying.

I think PAF is trying their best to give serious thought, consideration, and deliberation about our future and to find ways to solve some of our city's many complex and interrelated problems. It will take time and it will be a very slow process, certainly if we have to wait for the Comprehensive Plan update. It will maybe be a decade before we see any significant signs of change from their effort. So, to all the PAF haters/naysayers...you will have at least one more election cycle to change the council membership topsy turvy. No need to suffer years of angst over this. Not much damage can be, or will be, done in the next few years. There will be too many zoning changes required, height limit restrictions lifted, etc. None of that will be smooth sailing I'm pretty sure. I have so many more questions to ask of PAF...studies they've done, etc, but I'll save those for another post. Steve, you totally lost me on your analogies, used cars and Giants tickets. I think you need to rethink how that relates to housing in PA.


1 person likes this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 19, 2015 at 2:30 pm

"...the key to the successful ones has been their ability to build enough trust and understanding of each other's motivations, concerns and desires that they are able to find common ground."

I second the motion!


16 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Redwood City is increasing their housing supply, especially around their downtown area; there are over 2,000 apartment units being built around their downtown area,and all the apartments are luxury apartments, and have very high rental prices, for example a 1 BR/1 BA in the new apartments are being offered for $3,500/month.

This has had the effect of raising the rental prices of the older rental stock - it's called gentrification.

It's really just investment economics, not the text book economics suggested by prior posters - investors are not interested in building for the sake of offering diversity, but for maximizing their profits, which means building whatever will rent out for the most money. And what we see being played out in Redwood City is what will happen in Palo Alto, only much worst in terms of price, as Palo Alto is in higher demand than Redwood City.

Prior posters who say that increasing the supply will lower prices are not real estate investors, and never had to develop a project, figure out demand for their product, and provide a return on investment.


12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 19, 2015 at 6:15 pm

"...the people I know favor expanded housing and transportation options for all residents, young and old, north and south and in the middle for age and location."

That's the claim, anyway. The reality is somewhat different.

Due to a legal requirement for new mass housing stock to include 15% "affordable" units, 6 units of market rate housing are constructed per each "affordable" condo or apartment. The financial eligibility criteria for the latter exclude teachers, police, firefighters, city employees, and other occupations which developers' propaganda cite as the necessity for building that "affordable" housing which, in turn, is offered as the reason to build those 6 market rate units for each "affordable" one.

Dizzying, right? It works every time.

The process excludes precisely those members of the middle class whom it is claimed the "affordable" housing is being built for. Under Palo Alto's existing practices, favored by Palo Alto Forward, housing will be built only for the wealthy and the qualifying poor; the middle class is out of luck. Developers will continue accumulating great personal wealth at the expense of our community's aesthetic and demographic fabric.


Like this comment
Posted by Seelam sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Integrity
Innovation
Inclusion

Three I elements are needed. Complex problems with simple answers.

Exploring 24th district assembly race candidacy. No backroom deals, no donations requested. Only on merit!

Respectfully


20 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The experience of places like Manhattan, San francisco and London, all cities that sharply increased housing supply, is that the increase ended up driving rents sharply higher, and pushed out the middle class residents which the increased supply was supposed to help. In San Francisco for example, the increased supply led to techies earning high salaries gobbling up the new supply, setting new, much higher rent levels which have out the residents who made San francisco the great place it used to be:the social activists, the artists, musicians and other creative people.

No middle class person like a cop, fire fighter or teacher would be able to afford the housing suggested by PAF, you still have to be in a very high earning bracket to afford Palo Alto levels. No city employee could afford it.

what PAF is offering is a sharp increase in density to enable high earners to buy into Palo Alto real estate, making it even harder for future would be Palo Altoans who are not high earners to buy in.


3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2015 at 8:14 pm

"what PAF is offering is a sharp increase in density to enable high earners to buy into Palo Alto real estate, making it even harder for future would be Palo Altoans who are not high earners to buy in."

So... without increasing density high earners won't be able to buy in, but folks of lesser means will be able to afford to live here? You may want to actually think this through or read it out loud before posting.


5 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2015 at 8:46 pm

@common sense: Thanks for beginning a discussion and picking a specific example to talk about. I certainly make no claim to be a developer or real-estate investor, but I do know economics and statistics, and I hope that, by looking at data, we can hopefully have a useful conversation that may lead to us finding points of common ground.

While I definitely agree that it's possible that RWC is gentrifying because new construction is making older construction more valuable due to neighborhood effects, it's also possible that the whole Bay Area is getting more expensive, and that is what's causing gentrification in RWC.

So I did a quick Zillow search and pulled up appreciation value for five cities near Palo Alto. Between June 2010 and June 2015, home value have increased in these cities:
* Palo Alto: 96%
* East Palo Alto: 96%
* Mountain View: 72%
* Menlo Park: 70%
* Redwood City: 60%

First, we can note that Palo Alto, which has seen very little new supply added, has almost doubled in price over the last five years. Second, East Palo Alto is a great parallel example to Redwood City - it's traditionally lower-income, and unlike Redwood City, no substantial amount of housing has been built there. It has also almost doubled in price.

Redwood City appears to have appreciated the least. It's also the one that has created the most new supply. The simplest hypothesis that explains this is that all cities on the Bay Area are gentrifying (and pushing out their lower-income residents), but that Redwood City has gentrified the least because these new luxury apartments made it unnecessary for newcomers to purchase and renovate the older building stock - keeping the older stock comparatively affordable for the existing residents.

By a similar token, one way to avoid the massive amount of teardown and rebuilding that's going on in neighborhoods across Palo Alto and Menlo Park could be to permit more condos in downtown areas near transit. Newcomers might be as happy with a 2000 sq ft condo as a 2000 sq ft house - and leave a 1200 sq ft Eichler alone.


9 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

@Really and @mauricio - both of you have brought up the idea that density increases rents, and specifically pointed to Manhattan as an example.

First, I'm sure we all agree that there are factors other than density that increase prices. After all, Palo Alto has the highest median rent in America - higher than New York City! And, it's obviously less dense. :)

Second, Ed Glaeser, an economist from Harvard who is perhaps the most celebrated urban economist currently working, wrote a paper called "Why Is Manhattan So Expensive?" (Web Link) It's not an easy read, but it's not that hard, either.

His conclusion is that, in 2002 when real estate prices were lower, the cost of a home in Manhattan was roughly twice what it would be due to restrictive zoning. It sounds strange to say that zoning in Manhattan could be restrictive, but it's become much harder to build in Manhattan compared to the 50s or 60s - roughly parallel to what's happened in Palo Alto. (I'm not talking about single-family homes - I'm talking about developments like the Marc, Channing House, or most of the older apartments in downtown North or University South - they would be too dense and have too little parking if built today.)

If, in Manhattan with its very tall buildings and high construction costs, half the cost of an apartment is due to zoning, then how much of the cost of an apartment in Palo Alto, with its very low densities and low construction costs, is due to zoning? Likely much, much more.

Elsewhere, Glaeser explicitly considers the model that price increases are driven by higher densities and rejects it. See Web Link for the paper. I'm unaware of any major controversy among economists about his models, but I'd be eager to hear it if anyone knows more.

In short, our suburban communities on the Peninsula have made it very hard to build multi-family housing - much harder than in any other geographic area in the US - and the result is that any new resident moving in pushes one existing resident out. Cities like Washington DC that have substantially increased housing supply have seen prices stay flat or drop over multi-year periods even as they've become magnets for job growth that has provided economic opportunity for people of all income levels.

We have the opportunity to do the same.


8 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2015 at 7:57 am

This entire discussion is disconnected from reality- the reality of
infrastructure limits, like transportation, as well as water supply. That was the last line of defense against those who keep pushing for more and more development who have moved the discussion to simply whether more building will drive up or drive down prices. So that's the standard, the benchmark for the Comp Plan and let's rely on economic models and theories and various examples like Redwood City and all over the world to guide us in Palo Alto. This is the wrong framework, the wrong focus, the antithesis of what we think of as planning- as in Comp Plan.





14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 20, 2015 at 9:05 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Yes Robert, since higher density increases housing prices, only high earners would have a chance to buy into Palo Alto. The pretense for higher density is that it would allow middle class people to live in Palo Alto, which of course won't happen, because their ability to afford it would diminish even further. The San francisco real estate scene is one example. The more they developed, the less affordable it became. Now only high earning techies can afford to buy in and lower earners are pushed out.

Palo Alto is a desirable place to live in for a myriad of reasons, it was always expensive to buy in and that will not change, but we need to stop pretending that increasing development would help middle class people to get in. It would just create some opportunities for high earners to get into bidding wars with even higher earners and cash rich foreign investors for the new openings.


18 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

About PAF.

If PAF is serious about making housing in Palo Alto "affordable" then the simple solution is to have ALL the PAF members commit to selling any property they own for only 20% increase over what they originally bought it for.
If enough people commit to NOT selling their homes for millions of windfall profits then that will drive DOWN the price of housing.

Don't champion housing at other people's expense. Don't make the "affordable" housing be located in areas away from you.

Walk the Talk. All I see is the PAF wants other people to bear the burden of affordable housing, not themselves.

/marc


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Forward
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

>>This entire discussion is disconnected from reality- the reality of infrastructure limits, like transportation, as well as water supply.


If you build they will come.


20 people like this
Posted by Santa Claus
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2015 at 11:43 am

Don't worry folks. All the new people will ride bikes and take the train. Keep repeating it and eventually you will believe it, while the architects and developers continue to pocket the profits.

I hear that Santa Claus is joining PA Forward and will become its mascot.


12 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Using the specious argument that building more housing (does that include more office space too?) will bring down prices in Palo Alto, equivalent to one lemonade stand on the corner and then a kid opens another lemonade
stand on the other corner, as Mr. Levy describes it, makes no sense in this
context,is contrary to the the dynamics of this market, the opposite of what has happened in SF, and should not be used to subvert the planning process in the face of the ongoing destruction of this City which is exactly what is taking place. Enough!


12 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Since Steve Levy claims to be an economist, i'd like him to explain the following:In san Francisco, stock-market and startup boom that the city is so dependent on, waves of foreign buyers, and a veritable flood of nearly free funding created a significant building boom.

This would be Levy's and his PAF dream scenario for Palo Alto. Except, over the course of three years and four months, the median home price about doubled to $1,225,000. Additional housing should've lowered home prices and made renting more affordable and more plentiful, except it did exactly the opposite. It just attracted additional hight net worth buyers and high earners, pushed prices higher, and made San Francisco even less affordable to the middle class. After the development boom, it's harder than ever to buy into San francisco. The same thing has taken place in London and every other desirable city I know.

There is a poster who keeps repeating the supply&demand mantra. I would love for him/her to explain why an increase in supply created an increase in price and avilability.


3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2015 at 2:33 pm

@mauricio

Perhaps the price increase in San Francisco is due to the fact that, while there has been an increase in housing development, there's been an even larger increase in population? i.e. demand is still by far outstripping supply? I wouldn't think too hard about it though, learning that new development doesn't drive population growth, and that the housing market may still be driven by people who actually need a place to live, may take a while to process.


3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 20, 2015 at 2:54 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@Mauricio

Robert just gave a good answer to your question. You can read the report below or Google Bay Area housing shortage.

We have not built anywhere enough housing in the region to keep pace with population growth and so you have upward pressure on prices and rents for the available units. That is the basic reason Bay Area housing costs have risen faster than in many other areas and, yes, more supply will help.

[Web Link LAO report on housing costs and shortage]

@ disconnected

I have never claimed that more supply will lower housing prices and rents but do claim that more supply will reduce the increase in prices and rents compared to less supply.

I calculate that the region built approximately 85,000 housing units fewer than needed to keep pace with population growth since 2007. At the regional level this has caused costs to rise faster than they would have otherwise, caused an increase in doubling up and made housing more difficult for everyone but the very high income groups.

We have a regional housing shortage and affordability crisis.


14 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm

This seems like a good time to remember that supply and demand works as expected in situations with "all other things being equal".

So, if all other things were equal, building more homes would decrease home costs.

In real life, however, it is seldom the case that all other things are equal. Actual markets are far too complicated for simple theories to fully explain.

These more complex economic factors can explain how it may happen that housing prices continue to rise even as more housing units are added.

Here are some examples:

- The economy is booming. Sellers and landlords feel empowered to charge more. Buyers and renters are able to pay more.

- There is pent-up demand. Even as new people fill the new homes, there are still more people who want to live in the location than there are homes in the location. Demand continues to overwhelm supply; prices continue to rise.

- The new homes are "better". They are larger or more luxurious than the old homes. They cost more, increasing the average or median price per home.

Of course, the economy is a living thing, and the many factors that drive housing costs change over time.

Please note that this explanation is written by a layperson for other laypeople.


28 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The median rent price in San Francisco, after a significant building boom and increase in supply, is now just below $4500. The increase in supply has not reduced the increase in price and rent, but rather accelerated them, just like every new housing construction and house resale in Palo Alto set new and higher benchmarks. We can never meet even a fraction of the demand for housing, not in Palo Alto, and not in San Francisco. The solution is not in more density, and the data clearly indicates that more development does exactly the opposite of what Steve Levy and PAF claim.


14 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Mr. Levy carefully chooses his words when he says we are building fewer
housing units than required to keep up with "population" growth. It is "job" growth which creates the demand for housing and that results from
unrestrained office construction in Palo Alto which is now in full force
Downtown the effects of which are not even felt yet. At 611 Cowper we
have 28,000 sq ft of office space under construction topped by a single
penthouse residential unit at 6500 sq ft. underparked by more than 50
spaces. Mr. Levy, will this residential unit help to limit price
increases?


16 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 20, 2015 at 6:36 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The solution can't come from urbanization. Companies keep moving into one of the hottest and most expensive real estate markets in the world, despite the obvious lack of land and a small town infrastructure that can't sustain them. The city leaders are allowing significant office construction which keeps putting more pressure on housing and infrastructure. Companies who move in, knowing most of their employees will struggle mightily to find housing, are acting irresponsibly. The only solution is for companies to move all or some of their operations to areas that need them and have less expensive and more available housing. This may or may not cool down the real estate market, bearing in mind that foreign investors with large pockets keep buying up properties and some use Palo Alto real estate as money parking vehicles and to launder money, but it might take some pressure off. Nothing else does.


5 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Mauricio - as you point out, the SF example is a good one to look at. While there has been some building in San Francisco, it's been low by historic standards. Let's look at the number of houses built by decade in SF:
* 1940s: 39k
* 1950s: 35k
* 1960s: 30k
* 1970s: 28k
* 1980s: 19k
* 1990s: 16k
* 2000s: 25k
* 2010s (projected at rate btw 2010-2014): 19k

So the current rate is lower than in any decade since 1940 except for the 1990s. Notably, the 1990s were also a decade of a huge economic boom in SF combined with a drastic increase in prices and rents.

So I think the answer is that there has not really been a building boom in SF - the city is permitting building at a historically low rate even as the economy is historically hot.

See here for more data: Web Link

It's worth noting that Glaeser calls out 53% of the price of a San Francisco home as being caused by restrictive zoning, compared to only 21% for Washington DC (even with its height limits!) and of course 0% for Houston, where large numbers of high-rise condos in the 200k range are newly built in new, dense neighborhoods. (Table 6, Web Link) Palo Alto doesn't need to permit new high-rise condos or apartments like it did in the 20s to the 60s - there are a host of zoning regulations that make it hard to build even four-story condos near transit.


12 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 20, 2015 at 9:31 pm

Abitarian - thanks for those excellent examples that show why supply doesn't just need to increase in an absolute sense to bring down rents. As Steve Levy points out, the key comparison is what prices would look like without even the small amount of supply we've added in the last decade (likely even higher). I suspect that a graph of housing production in Palo Alto or Menlo Park would show huge numbers from the 20s to the 70s, and then very tiny numbers since then.

Meanwhile, Palo Alto has gone from merely being expensive in 1970 to literally being America's most expensive city for renters in 2015.


8 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2015 at 10:29 pm

@Downtown Worker
Extrapolating the entire decade housing production from 2010-14 is problematic because following the 2008 recession housing starts nationally
bottomed in 2009 and were very low in 2010-11 before starting to pick
up in 2012. Need to look at individual years for 2010-11-12-13-14-15 to date to see trend. Very possible there was a built-in bias in the article you referenced which you bought into. Don't know without seeing the yearly
data. Secondly foreign buyers which have steadily increased are a huge
factor in soaking up any supply and pushing prices higher. Also the huge
flow of money into start-ups and the high tech sector really got a push
in Feb 2014 when Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash. Also Airbnb has created new demand by buyers who then rent rooms. You. Levy and
Glaeser are presenting a flawed and outdated analysis which does not
compute.


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 21, 2015 at 6:13 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Any additional supply will be absorbed by foreign buyers who are outbidding everybody else and keep setting new heights for home prices. This phenomenom has a direct effect on rents as well. If the goal is to make buying and renting in Palo Alto more possible for young professionals and the middle class, there is no chance they could compete with cash rich foreign buyers who are willing to pay 30-40 percent over the asking price. They can't outbid the foreign buyers. Every single house on my street that went up for sale in the last few years was purchased by foreign buyers for well over the asking price.


7 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2015 at 6:58 am

Disconnected - that' a good point. The rate has accelerated and 2014 was a good year for housing starts - much faster than 2010-2013. The trend is positive, but we are still coming back from years of low production going back to the 90s, when housing in affordability really started to climb.

Mauricio, disconnected - there are obviously other factors here, and the foreign buyers issue clearly drives prices up. How much? It's unclear. None of the houses in my block in Menlo Park have been bought by foreign buyers in the last few years (that I know of). But prices are up by 60%. Prices are up by 96% in EPA - parallel to PA - without foreign buyers.

From what I understand, the foreign buyers seem to be concentrated on single-family homes. Building condos would likely not lead to an influx of buyers.

Another approach could be to make sure these buyers rent out their houses by taxing homes that are unoccupied more than 6 months of the year. At least the housing stock will return to circulation, reducing rents.

All told, it's clear there are many things going on. But it's very hard to support an argument that says that building new condos will raise the median price of housing. It's not backed up theoretically, national-level empirical studies find the opposite effect, and the local examples seem to show the opposite effect.


4 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

@Downtown Worker
The international real estate/high tech money vortex swirling in SF and PA
explains what is happening. The record price paid for the Palantir Bldg
at 100 Hamilton in 2011 led to more office construction in PA, and
probably even higher prices/sq ft, fueled by the City's lack of control, bonuses, grandfathered conditions, PC process and underparking allowances as local developers wanted in on the game more and more. The office construction led to severe neighborhood impacts, traffic congestion,loss of local business, ugly streetscapes, unsafe streets, cut-through traffic in residential areas,loss of city character,ugly streetscapes and more housing shortages. Just when we needed more local control we got less. Now we
have a new Council majority which has taken some action to limit the
damage and deal with the situation as we enter the Comp Plan update.


3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The actual numbers support the idea of a steady Bay Area housing shortage.

Bay Area building permits (not all get built)

2010 10.2 thousand
2011 10.3
2012 15,5
2013 22.0
2014 21.3

So actually the number of permits is up over 2010 levels but did not rise last year.

Regional population growth

2010 41.3 thousand
2011 66.8
2012 93.7
2013 81.2
2014 84.3

In 2007 average household size was around 2.7 and it should have fallen after that as birth levels fell and the aging of baby boomers produced more one and two person households.

But in every year since 2009 despite an increase in building, the amount built each year fell short of what was needed and the housing shortage increased each year and never declined.

If you look at the regional trends and stop mixing analysis with Palo Alto policy advocacy, the economic trends are clear.

Here is a story from today about the equity and economic implications of our regional housing shortage.

[Web Link housing shortage, costs and equity]



4 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:33 am

mauricio is a registered user.

@Downtown Worker, In Palo Alto, foreign buyers are buying up any building that's up for sale, new or old, be it an apartment building or single family homes. It's been years since any transaction on my street didn't involve foreign buyers, and the price of the homes keep soaring. A home next to me which was purchased in 1998 for $900,000, was recently offered at 4.8 million and sold within days for 6.2 million, with about 40 offers coming in during the first 48 hours, nearly all from foreign buyers, according to the sellers, who informed me of the sale of their house.

In Palo Alto, and probably most other very desirable markets, regular people, especially young professionals and young families, have practically no chance of buying a home, and since the skyrocketing prices are driving rents to dizzying heights, many are priced out of the rental market as well.


5 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:58 am

@mauricio - believe me, I know first-hand about the difficulties buying a home in Palo Alto. I lived in an apartment here for many years, but as my rent increased I had to move to Menlo Park a few years ago when I wasn't able to buy a home in Palo Alto. (I know at least a dozen former Palo Altans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with similar stories, though more recently they have been moving to RWC instead of MP, because MP has risen in price so much.)

Fortunately, I'm a well-paid professional with a good salary, years of savings, and a short commute, so I'm just fine. But the high prices are pushing out anyone who doesn't work in tech and didn't buy a home ten or twenty years ago. Lower income workers are getting displaced several hours out - ask any teacher at a daycare in Palo Alto how many hours their commute is! Keeping even middle-income people on the peninsula is really important, as is finding ways to avoid displacing even more lower-income people in places like RWC or EPA as middle and higher income people are displaced there from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Mountain View.

As Steve Levy points out, though, this is part of a regional trend towards higher prices, so it can't just be about foreign buyers in PA - otherwise we wouldn't see prices in EPA rising just as quickly as in PA. It fits the data much better that this is a regional housing shortage with its center in Palo Alto.

Would you accept building more apartments downtown instead of condos, then? Foreign buyers only purchase, they don't rent.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

Referend whatever comes out of this process!!


4 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm

@Stephen Levy
"look at the regional trends and stop mixing analysis with Palo Alto policy
advocacy"

The regional housing shortage doesn't exist in a vaccuum - it is the sum
of local markets and policy decisions such as in Palo Alto to turn the
Downtown into an office park without regard to any of the impacts,
on neighborhoods, transportation, retail,city scale and ambiance, and the housing shortage. The lack of affordable housing has become a regional crisis, we all agree on that. Bad policy has bad consequences in the
long-run and Palo Alto is the poster-child. Now Palo Alto has little ability in today's reality to ease the crisis in any meaningful way, it will only get worse on balance as new projects already in the pipeline are completed.








1 person likes this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jul 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ disconnected

Thanks for acknowledging that there is a regional housing shortage. That has been my point all along.

And you are correct that it does not exist in a vacuum.

It is the result both of fast growing demand and the policies of the region's cities as Downtown Worker has pointed out.

So all cities could help reduce the shortage and at the same time help middle income families by allowing more apartments to be built at sizes and densities that could lower the cost.


3 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the reputation of the Palo Alto school district as a reason Palo Alto addresses are in such high demand. The school district has always been a big factor Palo Alto home prices and single people will continue to be at a bidding disadvantage compared with two income households, especially those who are willing to make huge financial sacrifices to get their kids enrolled in the Palo Alto school district. Those with with school age children are willing to cram into even the smallest unit to live in Palo Alto. Not counting parents I have known over forty years of living here who either rent a small second unit or buy a small unit in Palo Alto to live in during the school year, commuting backward and forth on weekends if they have not rented out their primary home. Crazy as it sounds, private schools are so expensive and so competitive to get into at all, paying the price for a Palo Alto address is perceived as the best option. Living in Palo Alto means competing with a huge pent up demand from parents with school age children up and down the peninsula as well as foreign investors. So it is unlikely that successfully lobbying for new apartments and condos will make Palo Alto any more affordable than it is now. Especially given Palo Alto is a basic aid school district.


4 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:46 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Downtown Worker, who do you think will buy those downtown apartment buildings you suggest we build? Foreign buyers will buy them at exhorbitant prices too and rent them out at exorbitant prices. They will be incredibly expensive to rent no matter who buys the building. Those downtown apartments will become one of the most desired places to live in anywhere. The lower income people both you and I seem to care about would never be able to afford them, so it's really about giving a few high earning techies a chance to compete with other high earners for downtown living.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Wow! So much information...maybe too much...numbers, records, statistics, et al, leaves my head reeling. Too much to absorb. I've been standing on the sidelines and just watching the posts from Steve and his opposing post folks. Interesting, but I see no signs of budging from either side so I'm wondering about the value of the online postings.

We all know economics is not a true science, like chemistry or physics, where you can go into a lab and perform experiments to prove or disprove the theories of all those people that preceded them. But many of the world's best and famous economists disagree on so many things, lots of things...supply side, trickle down, et al.


So now let me pose some hard questions to PAF.

How much clout do you really have? I'm talking about influencing property owners, developers, architects, et al, in making the big effort to get affordable housing built in PA and trying to solve the transit/transportation problems. If you can't do anything to help in that effort then you're a eunuch organization with great goals but offering no way to get there.


12 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

And since downtown has been allowed to become an office park, where is the land for all those high rise condominums and apartment building going to materialize from? And since downtown land is prohibitably expensive, a unit, rent or purchase, would rival in price Manhattan's Park Ave, definitely out of reach for teachers, firemen and other city workers. Out of reach for even most young techies, unless they were fortunate enough to own a load of stock in Facebook or Google.

It seems like PAF is so desperate to please those who absolutely must have a palo Alto address, that they actually paddle fantasy and wishful thinking.


5 people like this
Posted by disconnected
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Mauricio is right to inject some realism into the discussion. We have
incredible private wealth and successful and vibrant world leading private sector coupled at the same time with government failure at every level. As
a result we have no integrated regional transportation system like in European countries. And our City Council the last dozen years was infatuated with office development, and destroyed the balance and qualities which were the hallmark and uniqueness of Palo Alto before they and the staff finally blew their top on the absurdly out of place 27 University Ave project. Now the problems and imbalances and dislocations grow more apparent every day even as the dust hasn't settled on massive projects coming through the pipeline, and the ability to deal with the problems,
does not come close to matching the scale of the problems to put it
in some context.




Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Jul 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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