News

Residents call for more housing in Palo Alto

City Council urged to expand housing options during hearing on Comprehensive Plan

Andrew Brackenbury graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1995. He works in Palo Alto and makes what he calls a "decent salary."

But merely "decent" won't get you a house in Palo Alto anymore. So, like many in his cohort, Brackenbury faced a tough choice: live with his parents or move elsewhere. He chose the former, though it's a temporary solution. His parents, he said Monday, will probably move in a not-too-distant future, and he will probably have to go elsewhere.

"I guess maybe I mistakenly thought it would be a goal to live in my hometown," Brackenbury said during a Monday night hearing on the city's long-term goals for land use. "That's just not possible and I've come to accept that."

Ten of his friends, all Paly graduates, struggle with the same dilemma, Brackenbury told the council.

"All of us went to great colleges, great grad schools, and not one of us can live in the city," Brackenbury said.

Jane Huang, who graduated from Gunn High School in 2005, expressed similar concerns. She currently shares housing in Barron Park with three other former Gunn students, but she knows plenty of other alums who are "living at home with parents and finding it very difficult to establish themselves as independent adults."

"I think our right to live here is as good as anyone else's," Huang told the council Monday. "A lot of us work in tech and we can't really leave because this is where the tech is."

The theme of inadequate housing dominated the public comments during the Monday night hearing on Palo Alto's official land-use bible, the Comprehensive Plan. The City Council is in the process of updating the document, which will guide the city's zoning policies and land-use decisions until 2030. The current plan was adopted in 1998 and was intended to guide the city until 2010.

While the council's long-lagging update of the Comprehensive Plan will probably stretch until at least 2017, the Monday night hearing offered an early chance for the public to comment on one of its most important chapters: Land Use and Community Design.

The public testimony also offered an early preview for what will surely be one of the council's premier challenges: building more housing in a city with sky-high property values and a shortage of vacant land.

The council, for its part, refrained from commenting too much on the topic of land use. Instead, after hearing from the public and spending more than two hours setting the goals for the Community Services and Facilities chapter, council members voted to defer the housing discussion until the end of this month, or possibly early November.

The goals for the Community Services chapter include a combination of old and new. The council agreed to retain existing goals that pertain to efficient service delivery, good customer service and the maintenance of parks and public facilities. They also added two new goals — one pertaining to plans for the future and another focusing on health and well-being.

But while the council focused exclusively on community services, nearly every resident who addressed the council talked about the need for more housing. Several residents said the city's housing shortage is making it tougher to retain talent.

Steve Downing, who works at Palantir, told the council that one of his colleagues, a man in his 40s, recently announced his plan to leave. Downing said he could muster no response when the employee cited housing as the reason he was leaving.

"He told me he wanted to own a home someday, and I had nothing for him," Downing said.

A.C. Johnston, a partner at the law firm Morrison Foerster, said his company is also losing talent because of Palo Alto's housing shortage. Just last week, he said, a young lawyer made the decision to leave.

"It's important both for the continued health of our community, for diversity of community, that there be a broader range of options available so that young people can live in Palo Alto, hopefully closer to their jobs, so that city employees who serve our community can live in the community and so seniors who live in Palo Alto and want to downsize can do so without having to move out of our community," Johnston said.

Palo Alto's shortage of affordable housing has long been widely acknowledged. In the last National Citizens Survey, only 27 percent of the survey respondents gave the city the two highest grades when it comes to a "variety of housing options." When asked about "availability of affordable quality housing," the number fell to 11 percent.

Judy Kleinberg, a former mayor who now serves as CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, urged the council to carefully consider the living habits of the millennial generation as it comes up with "creative policies and incentives that encourage the kind of housing and transit and parking and schools and parks that you know will attract the kind of people that give Palo Alto its incredible residents and employees."

She noted that two of her children, one an executive at Twitter and the other an executive at Google, now live in Singapore and have no plans to move to Palo Alto because the cost of living here is so "ridiculous." The lack of housing options for seniors who may wish to downsize further exacerbates the housing crunch, she added.

"Seniors can't leave their homes and go down into something smaller because it's all too expensive," Kleinberg said. "So they stay in their homes. That means that supply is smaller and that means prices go up. It's a vicious cycle and not a healthy one."

Some residents encouraged "infill" development such as more in-law apartments, or "granny units" as they are popularly known.

Arthur Keller, a former planning commissioner who currently serves as co-chair of the Citizen Advisory Committee, noted that less than 4 percent of the city's housing stock is studio units and less than 17 percent are one-bedroom units. At the same time, more than half of the city's households are one- and two-person units, he said.

"So there are a lot of seniors and no places for them to go; a lot of young people and no place for them to go, except sharing larger units," Keller said. "That's something to think about when we're deciding what kind of housing might be appropriate and what kind we might encourage."

While about 20 speakers called for more housing, the council focused exclusively on parks and community services. As in the past, much of the discussion focused on process rather than policies with council members debating the necessity of including "narratives" along with goals that clarify what the goals mean. The long motion that the council ultimately adopted directed staff to return at a later date for a "more substantive discussion" of narratives.

Council members also generally agreed not to scrap at this time an existing policy that guides development of new parks. The policy adopts National Recreation and Park Association standards, which call for parks to be provided within half a mile of all residential and employment areas. The guidelines also state that a neighborhood park must be at least 2 acres in side and that a "district park" should be at least 5 acres.

The council ultimately agreed with staff's recommendation to reconsider this policy as part of a concurrent Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

On Monday night, however, several members said they are leaning toward retaining the policy.

Councilman Tom DuBois called the policy "important" and noted that it's "one of the few places where we have a quantitative metric."

Councilman Eric Filseth took a similar stance and said that parks is one area that the community considers to be "very important."

"Obviously there is a tension between the cost of park space and the rate of growth in the population in town, but I think we have to deal with that tension," Filseth said. "Taking it out for the Comprehensive Plan and hiding it doesn't mean the problem is going to go away, so I think it needs to stay."

Comments

132 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:57 am

Residents? How many residents addressed the Council? 50? 100? 1000? Real shame that the author of this article did not think that counting the number of speakers might add some dimension to this bit of local reporting.

How many more houses does this group believe should be built? 5,000? 10,000? 15,000? And what happens when all of these new homes are occupied? Another group claiming that they "have a right to live here"--demanding thousands more housing units being built?

There is only so much space here. Everyone in the world can't live here!


101 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:14 am

[Portion removed.]

No matter what anyone builds here, this won't be a cheap place. The way to buy in hasnt changed in many decades. You live with lots of other people in a nice place or in nicer space in a less desirable place. Then buy up over time. It took us 25 years, starting with a pretty dicey area (still dicey) and an extremely sparse lifestyle. Learn to do your own home repair and reconstruction. East Palo Alto is still relatively inexpensive, and an easy commute for Palantir employees.

You would think by all this talk that Mountain View or Sunnyvale or even San Jose are the gates of hell. But the clamor does make very clear that we should stop building more office space here.


62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:21 am

The residents were clear: Palo Alto needs more housing. Let's hope City Council listens.


69 people like this
Posted by Housing For All
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:26 am

Thank you to all the residents who came to urge Council to have the housing crisis first and foremost in their thoughts when considering updated OUR vision for Palo Alto's Land Use Policy. The Comp Plan belongs to everyone - not just the usual few property owners who can't or refuse to relate to actual conditions on the ground. We heard from all ages, people who are concerned about options for seniors who can't downsize and millennials who have no options to start out. Micro-units, ADUs, multi-family, let's get creative while we still have a chance.


51 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:33 am

Were these people residents or workers? Did anyone check their residency claims? Did they all show drivers licenses, or utilities bills?

Saying this though, developers are not building single people studios, but family styled housing from what I see. Perhaps they should really target developers to build more studios with Murphy Beds and Wetrooms as opposed to bathrooms and tiny kitchenettes.

However, I think we are getting plenty of new housing and would like to see it slow down anyway.


26 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:52 am

Note to Weekly:

Routinely, your web-site fails to post comments when a new article is added to the site. This happens, on average 2-3 times a week. Sometimes, the comments begin to appear a day or two later. Sometimes—they don’t appear at all.

It’s really annoying to take the time to write up a comment—only to find that it is not posted to the topic.

Since this has gone on for a long time, perhaps its time to hire a consultant who understands web-site issues to come in and look at the problem


65 people like this
Posted by Housing Deficit
a resident of Addison School
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:07 am

It's no secret we have a severe housing deficit, and last night's speakers made the problem crystal clear. It affects the young, the old, families, single people, the less well off, and even many professionals. Our community is certainly changing, most notably in terms of the people who make up our city - our inability to retain long-time residents, and inability to provide for the next generation.

I hope Council listens to these voices and begins proactively discussing ways to alter our land use element to create more housing. We need begin alleviating the struggles of the people who live here today, and make room for the people who come tomorrow

This is a 40 year old problem, and we can't turn this ship around tomorrow, but we CAN start thinking of ways to turn this ship around NOW.


92 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:21 am

If you want to make more housing available, then just keep building at the pace we are (offices, houses, businesses) and packing more people into this town. Eventually it will become so crowded, congested, and intolerable that no one will want to live here anymore. The home prices will then drop, and you'll have plenty of low cost housing on the market.

@Neighbor has it right. There are plenty of upgrade paths nearby and available to people who want to eventually live in Palo Alto. San Jose, Mountain View, Milpitas, etc are good places to buy an affordable home.


10 people like this
Posted by My Nguyen
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:30 am

My Nguyen is a registered user.

Hi there @Joe! Yes this occasionally happens because of a glitch in our system, which our IT department is working to fix. But if you ever see it happen, please email me at mnguyen@paweekly.com to let me know that comments aren't showing up and I can work to fix it. Thank you for your comment and have a great rest of your week!


72 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:32 am

There are rentals near us with available spots. Have been for a long time. Relatively inexpensive on account of the age and lack of amenities. Not near the kind of lifestyle those clamoring for their "rights" want, I'm sure. We didn't have the option of living with family way back when. (That's a luxury not to be complained about.) Neither did the drug dealer we had to evict from our first house (another community, he moved next door, no worries about him). It has never been easy here, and the sooner young people who want to stay realize that the starter home in East Palo Alto or Milpitas (on the rail line) is the place to get a toe in, the faster they can work their way up.

We don't have the option of staying and don't want to if Palo Alto is going to continue to build over what was best about this place. Regardless, it will not make things affordable.


106 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:42 am

Newsflash: Palo Alto has always been more expensive than surrounding communities. Including pre-high tech times.


12 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Rules
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:52 am

Palo Alto is a whites only community. The sooner people realize we have spent decades keeping people out of here with excessive zoning and endless process the better - their property values aren't high by mistake! Between our "values" and Prop 13, a lot of people bought in cheaper and now are sitting on a lot of equity. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:02 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


62 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

@ Crescent Park Dad - Palo Alto has _the most expensive median rent in America_. That's a pretty different thing from being "more expensive than the surrounding communities".

Menlo Park is pretty expensive, too. Mountain View is pretty expensive, too. EPA has doubled in price over the last 5 years, just like Palo Alto. Redwood City has seen the least rental price growth, at 60% in the last 5 years, and it's because they've built a lot of apartments along El Camino.

Building more apartments and condos gives people options other than that single-family home that costs $2.5 million to buy and $25k in property taxes to keep. Putting them within biking distance of the train stations and services keeps a lid on traffic and enables an easier commute to jobs than the slog on 101.

To the commenter who blames developers for not building studios - Palo Alto zoning rules penalize developers for building units any smaller than 871 sq ft. If you've got to build an apartment the size of a small house, it might as well be a luxury two-bedroom.

See here for details: Web Link


49 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:19 am

At the PACC meeting people vented their wants, needs and desires concerning housing. One person did not want the 4 story rule broken. Logic says that if you cannot go horizontal than you have to go vertical. If anyone thinks it is a good idea to turn PA into a tiny sardine can filled with a bunch of sardines squished into the can then think again.

We can use some taller buildings on the transit routes that exceed 4 stories. I cannot figure out the emotional attachment to 4 stories. Someone explain the engineering logic to that - not some emotional reason.

You all need to look at ECR from Oregon to East Meadow - that is an ancient strip mall of one story buildings, some of which are unoccupied. Half are ready to fall apart from age and rot. Focus on who owns those buildings and what needs to be done to turn that into additional housing. And you should be able to exceed 4 stories here - why are you limiting yourself?

That whole area needs to be redone with updated commercial and residential buildings. That is a place to focus on.


106 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] No one has a "right" to live in Palo Alto. We have a right to make an offer to a property owner, and they have a right to accept or refuse our offer. If our offers keep getting rejected, it probably means we can't afford to live in Palo Alto and should look elsewhere.

Notice how the demanders of housing uniformerly refuse to recognize the rights of existing evidence to preserve their chosen lifestyle and quality of fe from the massive increase in density, noise and pollution that would occur if only a portion of the demanders wish is met.

Think of a situation in which young natives of Bel Air demand that the neighborhood give up its chosen character and life style, and start a massive increase in density by building many high rise buildings to house them, because they have a right to live where they were born and raised. They would be laughed out of town.

Space in Palo Alto is finite and this town can't be perceived by those with the 'Palo Alto or bust' approach, whether they were born here or not, as a sardine can.


70 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:29 am

Let me get this straight - a partner at Mofo, a law firm where the average partner is making $1.5-$2.0 million a year is complaining that their associates can't afford to live in Palo Alto? [Portion removed.]

FYI - I am a mofo client and pay the firm over $1 million a year. The partners at this firm should think twice before advocating to make Palo Alto an even worse place than it already is.


23 people like this
Posted by NO Granny Units
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

Palo Alto does have a housing shortage but this should not be solved by allowing Granny Units.This would drastically negatively impact the quality of life in Palo Alto.

We live in a suburban/Urban environment with small backyards and a few trees to divide our houses from each other. Our peace and harmony is dependent on the kindness and respect of our neighbors and how many feet their home is from our little deck or patio. Granny units come with real live people living a full life in them, noise, social life, their friends visiting, air conditioning units and all. These units can be build abutting the next yard by just a few feet. When choosing to build the original home owner will place them as far away from their own home as possible to retain their remaining yard space (therefor closer to the neighbor). There goes the serenity found in these affected neighbors small yards. There goes the property value of that neighbors home.

Granny unit is a misnomer. Thank goodness even grannies are more active and more social then they used to be-bringing more noise to these housing units build just feet away from a neighbors home. Granny Units are now rental property, increased profit for home flipping realtors and contractors who have no regard for the impact on a neighbor, Vacation Rentals By Owner(VRBO), AirB&B--a DISASTER!


33 people like this
Posted by Finally!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:35 am

The people have spoken!

Our housing crisis really has to be a top priority for the City Council. Thus far, they haven't put anything significant on the agenda to address it, but hopefully they realize that the crisis is real and will require leadership.


38 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

I also noted that no one but Judy Kleinberg talked about schools. We need to talk about a housing-schools imbalance.


105 people like this
Posted by birthright
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

So how is this birthright to live in Palo Alto supposed to work? From what I gather, after college, if any former PAUSD student has a desire to live in Palo Alto, there should be a dwelling they like at a price that is desirable to them. And if there isn't, we need to build and build until every kid making a "decent" salary can acquire the Palo Alto housing that they so rightly deserve. And should we fail, rather than live a couple miles in either direction, in housing that is affordable to them, they will cram 5 into a house because it is after all their birthright to live in Palo Alto.

Do other cities have similar policies, or is this a special thing for the Palo Alto snowflakes?


51 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:53 am

@birthright

You clearly can't grasp a difference between a city that may be more expensive than the surrounding ones, and one that is is unaffordable to anyone with a salary under the 99th percentile. People need to stop pretending like this has always been the case, especially when they themselves could never dream of affording to move here at today's prices.


97 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

"I think our right to live here is as good as anyone else's," Huang told the council Monday. "A lot of us work in tech and we can't really leave because this is where the tech is."

Simply not true! Living anywhere you want is not a right, but rather what you can afford. You can live anywhere in the Bay Area and work in the tech industry. This sounds like the same argument for how businesses feel that in order to "make it" in Silicon Valley they have to have a Palo Alto address. I just don't buy this argument.


67 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:02 am

The “woe is me” millennials fall into two groups.

One group wants to live in the City, but they don’t want to move there, so they want it here.

The other group likes Palo Alto for a lot of the same reasons everybody else does: schools, services, ambience, parks etc. Especially schools, because once you cross over the PAUSD district line, prices drop 20-30%. Many of these things, though not all, would be destroyed if you actually built enough new housing to bring prices down, because it would take a colossal amount. So basically what they want is, find some housing for me, but not for all those other people.

Neither reason is a good one.


30 people like this
Posted by there's room
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:10 am

Thought I'd share a relevant article from the Washington Post today titled "There is no such thing as a city that has run out of room": Web Link

To quote: "What is at stake, he says, is all the housing the Bay Area could add without substantially altering its character, without turning it into Hong Kong. Just replace the surface parking lots, and the under-developed land near train stops, add a story or two here and there without paving over the scenic hills, and Moretti estimates the Bay Area has space for 30-40 percent more people.

In the city of Los Angeles, replacing single-family homes with modest four-unit buildings would make room for nearly 2 million new housing units, says Devin Bunten, a Ph.D. student working with Kahn. "It’s hard to think that we’d have a rent crisis facing our city," he says, "if we allowed that kind of thing to happen."

The problem, Bunten argues, is that the costs of adding even some of those people (like less parking) are often visible right outside our doors, while the benefits (a more productive regional economy) tend to kick in at a larger geography. And, crucially, we make decisions about how to use land at this first scale, not the second one."


17 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

So let me understand this.

People complain to the city council that they want to stop developments that build multi-family housing near them claiming it will destroy the quality of their lifestyle, too much traffic, kids, noise, etc.

Then other people complain that there is not enough housing and that their children are being deprived of the ability to live in the same town as their parents.

And then another group of people complain the Palo Alto is no longer the quiet, bucolic town that they remember from the 1950's and 1960's. And they want to go back to the "better" times that they remember.

And no one seems understand that these all contradict each other

This is not Austin, TX. There is no vacant land that the city can expand into and continue to build single family homes. Palo Alto is not some quiet farmland they they remember from the 1950's.

You are not going to solve the problem by building high rise ghettos along El Camino or in south Palo Alto.

If you really want to provide more housing then you are going to have to ban the building of one single family home per lot. Just get over it. Every lot is going to have to support multiple families.

So every existing single family home can stay. But if you tear it down, you have to put up at least 2 dwellings on the same lot. Lots in old Palo Alto you would have put up 3 - 5 units. If you remodel more than 25% of an existing home, you have to put up another unit.

This would gradually make all of Palo Alto more urban.

/marc


28 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

I believe that Robert lives in the east bay. So how does it work if everyone thinks they have a right to live in Alamo or one of the high end communities in the east bay.

And does every kid who grew up in Woodside and Atherton think they have a right to live in Woodside and Atherton as an adult?

This happens to be a Palo Alto city site but all of those other cities have sites that discuss what is going on there. Does every one in those cities complain that they cannot afford to live there?

The problem we are looking at is generic to the location we are in - the bay area. If you go to LA then you could be talking Bel Air, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica. It is called the State of California.
What ever is going on here is going on every where.

Everyone else on the peninsula is going vertical - so think vertical.


31 people like this
Posted by not about millenials
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


9 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:33 am

So one above is attacking the single family home vs high rises on El Camino. Okay - we got it - this whole trend is against the single family home. If you go to Mountain View Sunnyvale, Redwood City then you have single family homes. So if everyone else around us has single family homes then we can have single family homes too.

And the surrounding cities are also building high rises for both residential and commercial use. And by the way homes in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills are as / more expensive than Palo Alto.

There has to be some perspective here as to where we live and what is happening in the surrounding cities. We do not live in a bubble.


54 people like this
Posted by not Malibu
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

I see a lot of talk here about Malibu, Bel Air, Atherton, etc. I think that people seem to forget that unlike Palo Alto, those places are not jobs centers. They have very few jobs, mostly in the service sector. If you live in a place like that you're likely either retired or you're just sitting around wallowing in how rich you are. But you're likely not still going to a day job. Many young people have no desire to live in neighborhoods like that in the first place because the commute to work sucks and there's nothing to do in those communities.

Palo Alto isn't Atherton or Malibu. We are a giant jobs center. We have one of the best research universities in the whole world. We are the heart of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the entire planet. You can't take a functioning, thriving, contributing community like ours and try to strangle it so that you can make it into Atherton or Malibu. And that's exactly what you do when you don't allow the housing necessary so that young people and young families can live here.

If you want to live in a place where nothing is happening, where there are no jobs, where young people have no desire to go, then I wonder why you're trying to keep people out and transform Palo Alto into something its not, rather than going to the very communities you cite which already have what you want.


76 people like this
Posted by Lou
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:40 am

Let's be honest - It was a Palo Alto Forward lobbying effort that we saw calling for Big Housing last night. It was a hidden agenda speaking. Palo Alto Forward sent out a notice to its mailing list asking for everyone to show up and articulate one talking point to the council - we want more housing of all types for all incomes and all ages.

Palo Alto Forward has organizations in several Santa Clara and San Mateo Co. cities and is about to come together in one big umbrella group - Peninsula Forward. They are an astro-turf lobbying group that is in league with moneyed interests and corporations in Silicon Valley that want workforce housing for their employees without paying for it or caring about the negative impacts for us of huge dense high housing developments. We can only hope the council was not fooled.


101 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:43 am

Mauricio has it right - this was a coordinated effort, most likely by PAF. I wonder if Cory Wolbach knew, or was part of planning, the the cast of characters who showed up?

This topic gets so old - the Millenials have an entitled attitude that makes them think they should have what others have but without the time, effort, and patience to obtain it the same way everyone else did. I was born in Palo Alto and I couldn't afford to live here right out of college either. It took marriage (two incomes) and 10 years to work our way up to Palo Alto. And here's a hint: stop paying astronomical rent to live here and work on buying where you can afford - that's how you work your way up, by investing in property and gaining capital, not by demanding that Palo Alto be ruined by over-crowding.

Young people who grew up here already have a leg up because they got a great education, have/had an upper-middle class lifestyle, and had parents that sacrificed to put them in a great town. Now learn from your parents and stop demanding a new form of welfare!


35 people like this
Posted by there's room
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

by my count at least half the people who spoke last night were not Millenials. Stephanie Munoz, Aurthur Keller, and Bob Moss are definitely not millenials and all urged the city to consider new creative forms of housing that would help us add density to our city. We a had a middle aged man implore the city for housing for the homeless. We had a senior woman, Diane, talk about how her daughter can't be here to take care of her in her old age. The lady who runs Avendas was also there to talk about the need of seniors to be able to downsize. Jerry Schwartz said he doesn't understand why 4 floors is a magical number- he's probably in his 50s. I could go look at the tape again, but people of all ages came last night and many of them were focused on their isolation from their kids as well as their desire to downsize as well as the loss they felt from the community becoming more homogenous- older and wealthier.


I think the article talks a lot about our high school grads because in most places in America, it's expected that people keep living in the place where they were raised. That's what community means- you know people, you're lifelong friends. You take care of each other. Kicking the young chicks out of the nest never to return again unless they become millionaires is weird and unusual. Most people want their families to be together. Parents want to have adult children nearby and they want to actually know their grandkids. The bizarre sentiments in this thread don't reflect how most Americans feel about community and family. Most Americans value those things more than they value the equity in their houses.​


11 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

[Post removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

We need to view Palo Alto now like Manhattan. We all can't have a real home here, even though we may work here. We might rent an apartment in the city and buy a weekend house up the Hudson (here the Valley), and so on. Yes, we can in-fill with some more development, but that's not really changing anything. Unless we change R1 so every homeowner can max out the value of their lot by building a townhouse, nothing changes much. And even if you did that, then we'd just have a community of expensive townhouses, like Manhattan, so back to square one, though with more density. My advice, get in where you fit in. Count your blessings and buy something you can afford, it's a big state, big country.


20 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@ Lou - A good journalist would have gotten a copy of the PAF email, and printed it. But maybe we could at least rely on a commenter to post?


31 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

The solution to housing in the Bay Area, not just Palo Alto, is one that is politically unfeasible in a NIMBY environment: high density, multi-storey apartment buildings and condos. The single-family home model is impracticable in today's Palo Alto, and the lack of affordable housing will kill the future. Palo Alto (and many other surrounding communities like Woodside, Menlo Park, Mountain View) have done next to nothing to provide housing for low-income workers who provide needed services in the city. There needs to be a radical transformation in architectural preferences for Palo Alto to continue to prosper.


55 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

>> That's what community means- you know people, you're lifelong friends. You take care of each other.

Now you're talking about 1950s Palo Alto, and I truly wish that it was still that way. But that ship has sailed. Building high rises and increasing density is not going to build community here, it's going to continue the trend we already have where neighbors barely know each other. Big schools, no place to play. With over 100 kids in a single grade level in elementary school, how well do you think those kids actually get to know each other, bond, and become "life-long friends?" Then they move on to middle and high school, and you know what? They don't even know all of their classmates, let alone become friends with them.

In all of this rant for build, build, build, none of these folks offer solutions for the infrastructure. Where do kids go to school? Where do they play? How do they breathe in a concrete jungle? How can they safely ride their bikes to school with the ever-increasing traffic?

There is no more room.


58 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

+1 on birthright's comment about the "Palo Alto snowflakes"...People endure a lot of sacrifice and life choices to be in the position to live in this area. It would have been nice to live where I myself grew up, but life didn't turn out that way. I was once an inexperienced young recent-grad who chose to take a variety of less than silver-tray type jobs. Along the way there was surely lots of room-mating and living with minimalist surroundings in unglamorous areas. For a long time the biggest thing we as a newly married couple owned was a single sofa-bed couch and a TV. Assets, experiences, and opportunities build up when people make consistently sensible choices in their life.


72 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:03 am

Boo hoo! What is so wrong with Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Redwood City! These people are feeling very entitled.


31 people like this
Posted by craig
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

Prop 13 and property tax structures aren't helping either!


42 people like this
Posted by Not enough room
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

It is very interesting that (There's Room) spoke about community and what kind of community we want to be. Many Americans value family and living nearby family as very important. However, as I see many families moving out of Palo Alto because of the equity of their homes, they are making a choice to move to OTHER communities to make their homes. I know of other friends who are moving out of the area to be near their children, who can't afford to live here. So community and what constitutes community if rapidly changing. Yes, tech. workers are here for jobs, but they can live in Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, EPA with the same commute to work as in Palo Alto. They can bring their community values and build up these other towns to reflect their ideas.
Land is not infinite here......


33 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:23 am

I'm disgusted at some of the posts on this thread. Having lived in Palo Alto 41 years, I know when I'm looking at the posts of people who have not lived in Palo Alto very long, and who don't care about this city and it's community in the long term. The entitlement and total lack of empathy for the situation many long time residents find themselves in and the responses of those who are recent arrivals speaks volumes as to why Palo Alto is not the most pleasant place in the world to live anymore.

I find myself in the ironic position of finally having a job that would have once enabled me to live modestly in Palo Alto in a small place with no roommate, and still have a bit of money left at the end of the life for a few meals out etc. I remember when Palo Altans looked out for one another, when we could find a rental in the classifieds of the Palo Alto Weekly. When the biggest threat to renting a place in town was competing with Stanford students.

Then this current ugly bubble hit and for the first time in 41 years, I found myself unable to rent, not just in Palo Alto, but ANYWHERE in Silicon Valley. As the recession receded from Silicon Valley, I had three rental properties in Palo Alto sold out from under me in 4 1/2 years. Anywhere else in the world, people look at rents of $2800 a month for a ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT and shake their heads at the ridiculousness of the price, but in Silicon Valley, it's fodder for a call from greedy landlords hiding behind the "fair market value" stance to demand a prospective tenant produce six months of bank records to prove that they can afford to pay top dollar for mostly less than premium housing.

Worse, you have these big companies screaming to bring in more H1b visa workers, paying them a high salary, and effectively displacing more and more of the middle and lower socioeconomic class. Compound that with the negative attitude the dot coms have about hiring or even keeping employees over the age of 40 (and females, African Americans and Latino's), and it makes the issue even more unpalatable. The people they DO hire from the endangered groups are in servile positions which do not provide enough compensation to pay rent in this area.

Then, you can add to all of that misery that companies like Linkdin will be building a mega campus on Shoreline right off 101, and that will make everyone who doesn't earn a high wage even more vulnerable and expendable to the greed that has overtaken property owners and real estate speculators in Silicon Valley. Right now, there's a developer suing the City of San Jose because they don't WANT to provide "affordable" housing units to coincide with the high density luxury complexes that they are planning to build. It's really a modern day carpetbagger saga, and it's appalling to anyone who isn't sitting on a cushy paycheck from a dot com job.

When is this hell going to end? Doesn't ANYONE remember how bad it was in this Valley not even 10 years ago? Whole buildings and parking lots vacant...you could get a parking space downtown Palo Alto at any time of the day or night. A recession is bad, but what's happening now is worse. It's elitist, it's egregious, it's appalling. Long time Palo Altans KNOW this...the rest simply come here to make their financial nut, then leave. Doesn't say much for "community" or our "community leaders." Dollar signs are on the altars of Silicon Valley worship and all who do not measure up, need not apply, there's no longer room for you here, and don't let the door hit you on the ass because we don't want damage to the door so we can turn around and make a financial killing on the real estate.


87 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:25 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Over the last few years, I've had many conversations about this issue with mostly young people of a similar mindset to those who demanded more housing options from the city council, some of them probably attended Monday's event. What has always impressed me, in a very negative way, was their sense of entitlement. They feel that they have a right to live in Palo Alto regardless of space, cost and availability, no other place is acceptable, and, knowing how expensive the Palo Alto housing market is, they demand that current residents make it possible for them to buy here, through increased density and what is essentially subsidized housing.

Any mention of alternatives to Palo Alto are rejected on the spot. San Jose may very well be in another country to them, Redwood City is out of the question, and Milpitas and Fremont may as well be in another solar system. It's a 'Palo Alto or bust' attitude that is peculiar to this strand of millennials.

Before I managed to buy a house in Palo Alto I lived in many rat infested tiny apartment for many years, the last five in EPA, saving every penny, not going out, never vacationing, driving rusty ancient cars. They refuse to go that route, and demand that we give up our livability to help them get what they want.


48 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

If you all look around the major companies are not in PA - SU is - that is it. Apple - Cupertino. Yahoo - Sunnyvale. Google - Mountain View. Facebook - Menlo Park. Oracle - Redwood Shores. Tesla manufacturing - Fremont. Do you notice how they move out when they actually get on the stock exchange and get some traction and sell a product?

And guess what - those cities have single family homes. And they have high rise commercial and residential properties.

Drive down HWY 237 to First Street - SAMSUNG and host of other large companies.

Bottom line is PA is not the center of producible technology. It is a think tank.


34 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:33 am

At what point does someone convene a leadership conference, between all the VCs and tech companies, to agree on growing a Northern California tech hub outside of the Bay Area? If we knew a critical mass of tech was willing to grow/relocate there, we might get a lot more people willing to pick up and move... that's where the affordable housing is for tech workers who want actual homes.

Sacramento/Folsom area comes to mind... weather is close enough (warmer nights!), mountains are closer, fewer earthquakes... provided you can find enough water... and transport-wise, connected to the Bay Area via Hyperloop, of course. :)


31 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

Not sure why portions of my comment were removed while other comments basically saying we are racists for not providing affordable housing are intact? My point is pretty simple, if the Mofo partner (who is mentioned by name in the article) wants to enable his employees to afford to live in Palo Alto, he and his partners can increase what they pay associates rather than demanding that Palo Alto increase the density of the town. Is this really something that needed to be removed?


Let me get this straight - a partner at Mofo, a law firm where the average partner is making $1.5-$2.0 million a year is complaining that their associates can't afford to live in Palo Alto? [Portion removed.]

FYI - I am a mofo client and pay the firm over $1 million a year. The partners at this firm should think twice before advocating to make Palo Alto an even worse place than it already is.


54 people like this
Posted by PAF
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:38 am

Palo Alto Forward sent out an email to members urging them to attend the CC meeting and speak about the need for new housing in Palo Alto. It seems like they were successful in getting their point of view forcefully advocated last night.


47 people like this
Posted by Do you know the way to...
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

How about San Jose Forward? There is a lot of land wanting to be redeveloped in downtown SJ. As a region we will be investing large sums in mass transportation in the Diridon station area which will become the most non-driving commute accessible areas of the south bay. We should be focused regionally on brown field opportunities that are currently going begging. SJ has been neglected and underdeveloped for too long and offers a great opportunity for exactly the variety, density and height that people are seeking. Not to mention it now has the beginnings of the walkable urban amenities and entertainment district that young Millenials seem to be seeking as an antidote to their suburban upbringings. SJ is also a big enough place with a big enough opportunity to actually begin to make a dent in the supply/demand equation vs smaller towns. The lower hanging fruit for the region is the under-developed areas that are already urbanized.


46 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

" why are you limiting yourself?"

Traffic circulation, daylight plane, zoning, density, noise, the natural environment. Limitations in infrastructure that aren't incremental in costs incurred by densifying beyond planned limits: road capacity, water, schools, other city services, open space, the environment. Did I say water?




44 people like this
Posted by Less whining...more problem solving, please.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:51 am

A lot of factors contribute to our housing problem:

--out-of-country investors are drawn here by realtors who actively cultivate demand in Asia for PA real estate. They USE our public schools as a lure. These wealthy investors drive up prices.
--jobs/housing imbalance
--built out community
--Prop 13, Prop 13, Prop 13...May I just say it again, Prop 13 provides incentives for single seniors to stay in single-family homes long past the time they would have in other states. It incentivizes owners to rent instead of selling, keeping homes off market. It's largest benefits go to the longest term property owners--corporations. It drives up prices by keeping supply down. After 20 years of home onwership here, I am now a big beneficiary of Prop 13, and I am still opposed to it. It's BAD policy for California. Other states have found less regressive ways to soften tax increases for people who have need of protection from property tax inflation.

I could go on and on.... the point is, we need to gradually build more housing. We need to moderate that growth to keep it in line with our ability to support that housing with quality schools, community services, parks, transportation facilities and transit, as well as utilities.

The question isn't, "Do we need more housing?" The question is, "How much housing can we build and feasibly support in the timeframe of the updated Comp Plan's planned use?"

Let's stop arguing and start problem-solving. Let's engage transit agencies. Let's dig into the nitty gritty details and use our Silicon Valley creativity to solve these problems and identify our best solutions. If this is hurting your business, get off your butt and work with your community on realistic, wholistic solutions that serve us all.

Less whining...more collaboration and cooperation, please.




81 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Though obviously simplified - it seems that the recent grads expect immediate Palo Alto housing upon graduation from college.

Let's see how it worked for me/us. From my college graduation until first home in PA (13 years between grad and PA house purchase):
- lived at home for 3 months
- rented a condo in Fremont (w/ roommates) and carpooled (gasp!) to Cupertino
- moved home for a month
- with 2 partners, purchased a townhouse in San Jose
- sold share, moved home for 2 months
- moved in with my (new) wife and her room mate in SF (rent)
- bought a condo in Foster City
- bought a 3BR in Mountain View
- bought a very rundown/fixer-upper in PA

I certainly had a goal of owning a home in PA. Never did I expect or did I feel entitled to housing in PA. You earn, you save. You borrow.

And on neighborhoods. Atherton is essentially a proxy to PA. 15 minute drive does not place a town in another part of the state. Same goes for Bel Air - 15 minute drive to Century City, 5 minute drive to Westwood, 15 minute drive to Santa Monica.

For those demanding R1 get converted to R2 or higher. That will get voted down at the ballot box. Try something else.

And I've asked this question before --- for those who want significant increases in PA housing: where are all those kids going to go to school? Our schools are already overcrowded. Cubberly should be re-opened but that would only make the schools manageable again. And who will pay for the procurement of land and the building of theses schools? Who is going to pay for the incredible amount of infrastructure expansion required? In both cases, the current electorate is not going to tax themselves to death on this stuff.

All of those who want more (affordable) housing expect the current residents to pay for all of the expansion costs. As long as we have a vote, I have my sincere doubts.


24 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

OK one could could somewhere else like Mountain View but they are having housing problems of their own. OK Sunnyvale looks good but the same thing.

I read alot of comments in lots of newspapers and the idea of people living in another place sounds pretty easy. It is when you read where people should go and hear about their housing problem. Build more different kinds of housing all over.

Some single people or people who don't want to have children would live about the stores or mixed in with high density offices


38 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Garrett - the question is whether increasing housing density makes more sense in suburbs like Palo Alto where increased population causes traffic, pollution, and destroys the quality of life for people who moved to the suburbs to escape density, or whether it makes sense to focus increased housing density in urban centers like San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose where people can walk to work, and where there is better public transportation.


51 people like this
Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Prediction: PA will either continue to grow at an unfavorable pace as someone above mentioned and then it will become a mini San Francisco. Or, PACC can get like Santa Barbara and lock this place down and preserve it like it is. Also, stop letting Ken Deleon sell the town to foreigners with dirty money. However can you imagine the tax money they have to pay!! Do something to give locals a chance to buy, but that goes against the free market... so whats the plan? Expand into a techy-sprawling Santana Row? Or lock PA down and try to preserve. I don't see a middle ground.


58 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

The article fails to point out that Mr. Brackenbury, a millennial, articulated some of the negative ways Palo Alto has changed in recent years. If we continue in the direction we are going we are likely to look back and find that we improved the jobs:housing imbalance by destroying the very traits that have long made Palo Alto a highly desirable place to live and raise a family.

Also, where did the notion come from that one has a RIGHT to live where one grew up or where one works? Surely those who said that know better.


41 people like this
Posted by A. Cabrini-Green
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

It's simple. Clearcut everything and rebuild with 50 story housing projects everywhere and no parking anywhere. Presto! Dirt cheap housing forever.


31 people like this
Posted by PeninsulaM
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Kind of rich to see "established" folks calling the millennials entitled! Ummm Prop 13 anyone? These established generations can't see how they have stacked the deck in their favor, huh? Prop 13 is a major reason why inventory is low and prices are thus super high with even moderate demand.

As an outsider (Burlingame) I don't show up at PA city council meetings but the issue is one that concerns a lot of peninsula residents and that's why these meetings and articles get so much attention.


Posted by I want a pony
a resident of another community

on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm


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73 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Prop 13 is not the reason of expensive housing.

Stockton is covered by Prop 13. So is Fresno. Last time I check housing markets there are dismal.

Buying a house is like buying a stock. If you buy Apple stock years ago should the new investor now demand that you give up your hefty profit? Those people who demand high density housing in Palo Alto is just as ridiculous as that.

For decades home owners made their sacrifices and contributions to build what Palo Alto is today. It is a collective achievement of generations of Palo Altans. Other communities in California are perhaps less successful during the same period. All of them under Prop 13.


47 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Any housing built by private developers will always be the type of housing that will maximize profit or return on investment. Any change in zoning doesn't translate into lower housing prices, just more expensive housing.

Look at Downtown Redwood City - they rezoned to allow high density housing, and over 2,000 apartment units are being built - all are "luxury units". The 1 bedroom/1 bath units rent for $3,600 or higher. The gentrification of the area has the effect of pulling up prices of the older rental stock.

The best solution is improve the transportation infrastructure, especially between the East Bay and the Peninsula - more frequent, and faster public rail between areas around Livermore, Dublin, Walnut Creek, etc.

The other alternative solution is that 55% of the city is dedicated to parkland and open space. Rezone a small percentage of that for high density, and build 20,000 housing units. All under government control, and the government and decide who lives there, like they did in communist countries, with price controls on what an owner can resell them for (just like the system used for BMR units today).

And why do we keep making things worse by allowing more and more office space to be built?


31 people like this
Posted by "entitled" millenial
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

I'm a 20-something who grew up in Palo Alto, and I find these comments calling young people "entitled" appalling.

In the whole Bay Area, housing stock isn't growing fast enough to keep up with job growth, which drives up prices and forces people to leave the area. I don't think young people are out of line to ask for more housing. If anyone is entitled, it's you homeowners who won't make room for newcomers and your own children because you want your $3 mil houses to keep appreciating.

Good job, young people, on organizing and advocating for your interests. Certainly, the old homeowners in this thread aren't looking out for you.

Also, if local government won't build housing, consider that there are state laws and regional laws that can help. In SF, YIMBY groups are suing rich suburbs that won't build: suethesuburbs.org


65 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Earlier in my adult life, it was not unusual to have to commute well over 1.5 hr each way between work and home (in a car with no air conditioning!). I accepted that and kept on going, with a goal in mind to keep looking for opportunities which would allow me a shorter and/or more comfortable commute. Since when did that option leave the table for these younguns?


81 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm

I think part of the challenge is that we have a whole generation of kids who were blessed with parents who took very good care of them growing up, provided for them well, helped them with tackling obstacles. But this did not prepare them so well for the idea that eventually they will have to own their life situation all by themselves. They grow into their 20s wondering why parents or "older generation" can't do more to ensure their comfort and instant gratification, as their parents had done earlier in their lives. Tough is out, do your "time", and you will reap rewards eventually.


21 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

The jobs are already here. San Francisco has its share of problem caused by their companies and people relocating from elsewhere. Long time SF residents are getting squeezed out.

The San Jose to Palo Alto area has its own companies and people relocating here elsewhere plue our own long time residents getting squeezed out. Even the Easy Bay is having troubles with people relocating for all these jobs.

Ok I am not talking about building big super blocks of housing but 3 to 8 stories building in office parks. We have acres of parking lots that go unused at night and on the weekends. I don't see anything wrong with putting up 3 10 story buildings with a bunch of apartments buildings with shops and open space above parking lots.

Look at Palo Alto Sqaure, you could build a nice 3 to 5 story apartment building with shops on the ground floor, put all the parking underground and build extra park space above.

Why not build more shopkeeper or businesskeeper units for small businesses owners who want to stay in Palo Alto or elsewhere. Design a a cube system that can be stacked and snapped into place. Ground floor will be retail or small office, upper units housing for shop keeper or business owner.


52 people like this
Posted by Wannabes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I've got news for all the people that think they can't live in the area. They can buy a three bedroom house in East Palo Alto or East Meno Park for less than $1M. But these wannabes are too snooty to live In these towns. Also, beware, these wannabes will lobby for rent control, next.


55 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I helped plan our 30-year Paly reunion recently. With access to the current addresses, I can tell you that most alums are not living in Palo Alto. Of those who are, some are living in their parents' house that they grew up in. Others made it big or married well. Even the ones who grew up in huge houses in Old Palo Alto are living elsewhere. Only about 10 of our class of 500 are living in Palo Alto, and even less own a home they purchased themselves. No one has the right to live here simply because they grew up here.

I met a Stanford alum who is a college instructor at a private school and he was upset because he could not afford a house in Palo Alto so they live in Menlo Park. He has a 1 year old and was angry that his wife chose to stay home and raise the child (because she loved parenting more than she'd predicted). He claimed they needed her salary and she'd enjoyed her career so he expected her to return to it with the goal of eventually living in Palo Alto. "All these Stanford graduates cannot afford Palo Alto," he grumbled, "We come here and then cannot afford to live here."

Boohoo. His ego is more important than his family bonding.

Likewise, there are many families in Palo Alto who are housepoor because they insist on living here. Those who cannot save money for retirement or have leftover money to enjoy life or raise their children with extracurriculars and good experiences need to get a handle on there egos.


69 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm

This notion that anyone is, somehow, guaranteed a house in Palo
Alto is absurd. Beam me up, Scotty!


28 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm

So to all those people saying that tech workers can live "anywhere" in the Bay Area. That is simply not true, because communities all over the Bay Area are experiencing surges in rent, and home values. Part of the reason I took the time to go to city council and express my concerns is because Palo Alto needs to build more housing, and not simply export its problems to other parts of the Bay Area. The refusal to build housing here contributes to gentrification in San Francisco. Like it or not, Palo Alto's problems are the Bay Area's problems. Every town needs to build housing. Considering that only 3.5% of Palo Alto is zoned for multitenant housing as it is, Palo Alto could stand to build a bit more around the Caltrain stations.


56 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Prop.13 has nothing to do with housing in Palo Alto, or anywhere else in California, for that matter.

Palo Alto is simply maxed out of space for maintaining any quality of life. Moving another 10,000 to 20,000 people into this town would make life unliveable!


51 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

With perhaps 2,000 young people graduating from the Palo Alto high schools yearly, and maybe 4,000 (plus or minus) graduating from Stanford yearly—that comes to about 6,000 people a year who are entitled to live in Palo Alto? That comes to about 120K new homes every 20 years, or so. And that’s before we consider all of the folks around the world who feel that they also have a right to live here!

Love to see where people think they are going to put all of these new homes!


58 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Jane Huang,

Palo Alto is not exporting its problems to other parts of the Bay Area, it is desperately trying to maintain some quality of life. Tech companies that keep importing people into this area, instead of growing in other areas that could use the jobs, are the ones causing the problems.

No, every town does not need to build housing, tech companies need to provide jobs where people already live. How about the "community feel" of all the places these people come from? Wouldn't they rather stay in their home towns, near family etc? Why aren't they angry that they have to relocate to the Bay Area to get a job?

Stop building and they will stop coming.


29 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

People, I saw this coming 40 YEARS AGO! Unless you start filling in the SF Bay like Foster City was created or start building in the Santa Cruz Mountains OR add more housing toward Gilroy, I see no change for housing problems. You are, as they say, BUILT-OUT as far as land ( the only commodity to invest in, as land is a FINITE resource ) is concerned.
So many " ifs " apply here. If only BART was finished by using the power of EMINENT DOMAIN. If only VTA and Caltrain were scrapped as they should have been. If only HSR went through Gilroy to a San Jose BART terminal. If only the Federal LAWS concerning ILLEGAL ALIENS was enforced ( no more " under the table " payments and cheap labor ) would have forced the SFBA to pay living wages TO US CITIZENS. If only the 14th Amendment were only applied to give FORMER SLAVES US CITIZENSHIP. The list goes on.

Maybe you should read the book " Make Room, Make Room " the book the movie " Soylent Green " was based on.

The story was written ~50 years ago. It was a vision of the year 2000. A statistician wrote the foreword of the book. This book is more depressing than the movie!

Well, now we are here. Either get paid a $22.00/hr MINIMUM LIVING WAGE or leave the ( not so ) Golden State. Grab your housing in the Boulder-Denver Corridor before that gets used up too. I-25-C470 is turning into 101 that was 35 years ago. The mountains here are for the rich just like the Santa Cruz mountains, Skyline Blvd and Woodside are. I'm practical. Our family bought housing and land when it was inexpensive. I get to live in the mountains. I'm listening to music in FLAC mode on a 5.1 sound system while in my inexpensive hospital bed.
I couldn't do that in the SFBA!

So now come the HARD choices, the HARD decisions.

So Come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go..

The Clash


52 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:23 pm

>> Good job, young people, on organizing and advocating for your interests. Certainly, the old homeowners in this thread aren't looking out for you.

There you go - entitled millenials still expecting their parents to take care of them.

Question: Are young people looking out for old homeowners, or is this attitude a one-way street? [Portion removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Garrett - You have the same mental block the city council has has - you don't have a problem envisioning a 10 story building full of people, but you have a problem envisioning all the people in the building getting to their cars to drive to work and clogging the streets, and sending their kids to the already overcrowded schools.


14 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm

I earn $27 dollars an hour AND I CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE HERE. I'm only still here because I live with my mother. The most colossal part of the joke is that I know 28 year old ADMINS who earn 80k a year for a job I could do with a partial lobotomy. The only thing working against me landing a similar job is my age. Apparently I'm too old for Converse and lava lamps. So, the punishment I get for being unfashionably old is that I'm living in a 10x10 room in my mommy's house while 28 year old admins with 20% of my skills are saving money from their considerable salaries to purchase homes in Silicon Valley. What makes this really awful is that it's not just happening to me, it's happening to a LOT of people I know. Ageism is alive and well in Silicon Valley, which becomes an issue when it comes to people who have been here for years and who are trying to hold on to their homes/rentals!


32 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@YSK - it is OK not to live in Palo Alto. Move somewhere you can afford to live. I can't afford to live on the upper east side, but I'm not demanding they go build a cheap apartment for me.


9 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Slow Down: I can't afford to live ANYWHERE here! That's NOT ok! All these years barely making money, I managed to stay in Palo Alto and put my kids through school...now I'm looking all around this area, and EVERYTHING is ridiculously priced. There's no way that's acceptable. It's wrong, it's financial discrimination, and it's elitism.


16 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck School
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Move next to SFO or SJC. Same environment, cheaper housing.


24 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

So someone asks where there are other tech centers -Yes - Los Angeles. All the big companies have branches there - Santa Monica, Mar Vista area. Yes you can be am employee of a tech company and it is a bigger city with a lot of housing choices. You all have a lot of choices and the beaches of LA can't be beat. Manhattan Beach and points going south are the best going. LA is a CITY. Palo Alto is a urban town. Don't shred your hankies - get going.


36 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Why do people on this thread think that other communities should house the children of Palo Alto but they shouldn't? What's so special about Palo Alto that Palo Alto can add as many jobs as it likes and get all the tax money that comes from that but then has no responsibility for providing those same people with housing? Get all the benefits and none of the obligations!! How convenient.

Newsflash. The entire bay area is in a housing crisis. All the communities you point to around us ALSO have a housing shortage. When the children of Palo Alto go move to San Jose they're displacing people even poorer than themselves, creating homelessness and pushing people to the point where they're pushed out of the Bay Area and away from their jobs entirely. This is about THOSE people. If you would look past the tip of your nose this would be obvious to you.

Almost every city in the bay area built more jobs than housing. That means we all have the responsibility of fixing that.


52 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm

"What's so special about Palo Alto that Palo Alto can add as many jobs as it likes...?"

Excellent point. Palo Alto should refuse all new jobs unessential to the functioning of the community (tech, non-retail legal, ...), and actively encourage those already here to leave. There are lots of other places they can infest.

Eventually the problem will resolve itself, and we will no longer have hordes of newcomers bidding up our real estate to family-hostile levels.


46 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:45 pm

"EVERYTHING is ridiculously priced. There's no way that's acceptable. It's wrong, it's financial discrimination, and it's elitism."

You should taking to task the newcomers who bid up the prices, the sellers who take all that money, and the local real estate industry that gets filthy rich goosing the whole process.


33 people like this
Posted by ...to San Jose
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Palo Alto can't add as many jobs as it likes. Many feel the last council let it get overbuilt. Let's start by returning those retail store fronts back to retail store fronts as intended instead of the offices the were allowed to cram in there.

Palo Alto Caltrain station is second most used station after SF. Many are commuting from SF and feel entitled to live there and wouldn't live in Palo Alto anyway. And because Palo Alto is transit friendly it can and should support a higher ratio of jobs to housing than other communities that require a drive to get to. Don't forget local Palo Alto employers tout how their employees don't drive at higher rates than other companies - those are people it is better to have commuting than drivers to suburban office parks on freeways.

San Jose can support new housing on empty brown fields. The only thing that would displace are weeds.

Sure everyone has to do their part, but if you look at it from an opportunity and investment perspective do you build on some of the most expensive and occupied land (ie Palo Alto) or land that is underutilized in a less expensive location (parts of SJ)?

When you look at it regionally there are more logical places to start adding more needed housing as long as they have access to public transit and walk scores, than others. New housing in Palo Alto will not be affordable and will be more expensive than San Jose. Who does that help but kids who grew up in relative privilege to being with.



45 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@why? Palo Alto isn't benefiting from most of the jobs added. Tech jobs don't generate revenue, and they have displaced sales tax revenue generating retail. They overburden infrastructure, cause traffic, and have created the unpleasant parking situation downtown.

But your bigger misconception is that people moving to San Jose would cause homelessness. It is the opposite, it would generate growth, construction, jobs. It would reduce unemployment, reduce homelessness. San Jose should be trying to get both Palo Alto businesses and residents to relocate to a vibrant urban center.


38 people like this
Posted by ... and Beyond!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

I am already tired of the emerging argument that because Palo Alto has a jobs:housing imbalance Palo Alto needs to add more housing in Palo Alto.

It seems that those who created or benefit from this imbalance by overbuilding offices in Palo Alto (developers, certain politicians, and young employees who don't own housing in Palo Alto) are a lot of the same people pushing for adding more housing now in Palo Alto.

What happens if all this housing is built and the economy eventually turns down and there aren't enough jobs for the occupants (ie 2008, the seeds of our current crisis were planted)? We'll need to start attracting investment again and if that is successful it will create demand for more offices, which if built will create a need for more housing.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.


24 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm

People moving to SJ or SF doesn't magically cause housing to sprout there any more than people moving to Palo Alto causes housing to sprout here either. They've got their own NIMBYs just like we have ours and they're all vociferous pointing fingers at each other claiming that the other city should build housing instead. I encourage you to attend their city council meetings and here people screaming shrilly about how they don't want any more housing and that the suburbs aren't doing their part.

If San Jose can build on brown fields why aren't we building on our brown fields? Why do you call it "brown fields" for them and "open space" for us?? Why should we encourage even more people to drive even more miles into our city and take up even more parking and cause even more traffic when we can build taller near our existing train stations and just have people walk to work??? The logical place to start is any place within half a mile of a train station and that includes Palo Alto.

What you're advocating is suburban sprawl which decimates wildlife and increases green house gas emissions from people driving from ever further away. The only way to stem the tide of global warming is to create compact communities where not every trip needs to be done by car.


79 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:31 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It is not the fault of current residents that Palo Alto is advertised in China as the premier business and educational heaven in the world. Local realtors have created a market in which wealthy Chinese investors will outbid just about everybody and drive the housing market to dizzying, and yes, ridiculous levels. Palo Alto real estate is also used to park, and launder, questionable money from abroad. Those buyers will outbid other buyers and keep sending prices higher and higher.

Residents are increasingly reluctant to allow any significant building development, even if space became miraculously available. Our overcorowded schools couldn't handle it, and our small town infrastructure couldn't either. Current residents will also not tax themselves any further to subsidize housing in non existence space for those who feel they have a right to live in Palo Alto. It will not happen, despite all the wishful thinking of PAF and their allies. My kids seem much more mature and realistic. They always knew that while their parents were still alive they wouldn't be able to live in Palo Alto after graduating from college(in their case, they don't want to live in Palo Alto anyway).

The sooner those expecting current residents to help them to live in Palo Alto through subsidized housing and giving up livability, the sooner they will find elastic solutions to their housing situation. I talked to a friend in Michigan recently and he told me that his entire state would crawl and shamelessly beg Silicon Valley companies to relocate to Michigan. The pressure should be on companies to stop importing workers without establishe housing into a region without housing to offer.


60 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm

It's interesting that Mr. Steven Downing thinks that it is Palo Alto's fault, not of his employer Palantir, that his colleague had to leave the company due to expensive housing.

Palantir can move. Why does it have to be in Palo Alto? Palantir, valued in 10s of billions of dollars, can pay more to its employees, if it feels so justified on staying here. Perhaps the VCs and bosses are too greedy and keeping most of the profits and stocks to themselves, and not sharing enough with its employees. Mr. Downing should ask the 1% billionaires of his company why he and his colleague cannot afford to live in Palo Alto.

Same for Mr. Johnston at MoFo. Being a partner perhaps he can ask all partners to share more profits with associates.

What's next? Owners of Palo Alto restaurants start a campaign in City Hall too? Called it "Occupy the City Hall", going around the cities of Palo Alto, Atherton, Los Altos Hills, etc...


31 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:44 pm

That's kind of the point you're missing m2grs - if even rich tech companies and law firms can't pay their workers enough to keep them here, then it means that anyone working in industries with less plum profit margins is absolutely screwed.

Law firms and tech companies already pay the employees that work in Silicon Valley way more than they pay the same roles in other areas. But paying people more just gives them a leg up in the game of housing musical chairs, it doesn't actually increase the number of chairs available. So yeah, millionaires and execs can live here and no one else can. Is that really the community you want? No one but rich executives? No more young families? No more teachers or nurses? Because if law firms can't pony up, our public schools definitely can't.


10 people like this
Posted by ...More
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Here is what I mean by brownfield: Brownfield is a term used in urban planning to describe land previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses. The term applies more generally to previously used land or to sections of industrial or commercial facilities that are to be upgraded,[4] although this usage is becoming more commonplace. Historically it has included environmentally polluted sites but isn't necessarily the use here.

I am not advocating suburban sprawl. Before anyone goes back and tries to "fix" that, I am advocating for commuting on public transit from high density urban to low density semi-urban. But let's not forget that Palo Alto already supports a higher density than what most people would consider the suburbs so let's not throw it under the bus too quickly. And one of reasons downtown SJ is an "opportunity" now is because it built freeways and office parks encouraging investment, jobs and population to sprawl out of the city center and that became a self fulfilling prophecy it has a hard time reversing.

Maybe we share a lot of parts of the same vision - I just see it being a lot more affordable (although not relative to Detroit certainly) and having a much bigger scale and impact to the benefit of the entire region if it happens in a place like San Jose than Palo Alto. After all aren't most of our sales tax dollars we voted for going to BART to San Jose and other SJ transit improvements. I agree with Rep Simitian that PA deserves its fair share, but since we've already sunk all that cost in SJ shouldn't we start leveraging it first.

I guess my concern it is easy to stand up to say they want to live in Palo Alto first when there shouldn't be any stigma to growing up in Palo Alto and pioneering the revival of central San Jose as a great city by living and advocating there and taking the train to your job wherever it may be, even PA.


14 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm

As I've said before, the housing shortage is something that's true across the entire Bay Area. EVERY city has an obligation to help out in this time of crisis and Palo Alto should be no exception to that. I fully support adding housing in San Jose, too. And in SF. And everywhere. But that doesn't get Palo Alto off the hook especially when Palo Alto has the LARGEST jobs-housing imbalance in the entire country. If the imbalance is any indication of which cities aren't doing their share, then Palo Alto is absolutely on the top of that list. San Jose, on the other hand, is one of the few cities that actually has more housing than jobs.We can't look any other city in the face and tell them that we need them to build more housing unless we too are doing our part.


16 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Oh my, so many posts I'd like to respond to, but that would take a long time.

Just a few: First of all I think it was a poorly written article.

What is a 'decent salary'? Dollars please!

And to the articles about the Palintar employee and the young lawyer choosing to leave their jobs. Why? Why are you leaving? The article never made that clear. Is it because you can't afford to buy a house in PA right now?

Obviously you must commute now, so my question is, "How do you commute, and is that the bigger reason, maybe the main and only reason, for leaving your good job in PA , and not the housing affordability?

And Judy Kleinberg is off the wall with her posts and CC appearances. Oh, how sad it is that her two kid executives, raised here in PA, are having to live in Singapore because they can't afford to live here. Boy, that really touched my heart. What are their incomes, Judy? Real executives should be in the $500 K to $1M annual income range. Are they there yet, and if they are, wouldn't that put them back into the PA market range of affordable housing? Bring them home! That whole affordable housing issue seemed to just get kicked down the road in last night's meeting.

There is no good solution and PAF knows that, even with their wonderful innovative ideas on how to solve it. I wish CC well in dealing with this issue. I've written posts about it many times before.




15 people like this
Posted by Density
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Density is a more accurate indicator, and on that scale Palo Alto is actually closer to the bigger cities than suburbs.

Another key measure would be non-transit oriented job density. On that scale Palo Alto is doing way better than San Jose and better than pretty much everywhere else in the region outside of Oakland and SF.

So yes, sure Palo Alto does need to do its part, as does everyone. But given land values in PA what is created will be more expensive than other places that are already less dense and less transit oriented than Palo Alto and have done much less than Palo Alto to date to do their part based on the above measures.


33 people like this
Posted by m2grd
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm

@why? Tech companies do pay more than others. But "more" does not mean enough. A McDonald worker here earns a lot more than the same job in China. So what?

The imbalance can be resolved by moving companies out of Palo Alto. Perhaps your boss, who lives in Palo Alto, wants to have an easy life. That is why he or she sets up the company here. That is why you get screwed. So blame your boss. Tell him that he should sacrifice his commute so that all his employees can have shorter commute and afford some quality of life in San Jose.


25 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Housing uses more City services than Jobs, so everybody wants more jobs than housing. Millenials want to live where they work so they have smaller carbon footprints. Given how Green Palo Altans want to be, we would think it would be in everyone's interests to provide a range of housing options. Now that almost all Stanford students can live on campus if they choose, the rental market is changing. Absentee landlords and flippers don't care about schools for their kids. They care about schools because good schools always raise home values. Across the Bay Area, housing costs are outrunning salary increases for the vast majority of working people. No worries PA until the Big Quake comes and all your cops and firefighters are stuck in Manteca and Tracy where they can afford to live. Mutual aid will not exist because all of your surrounding suburban towns now share your lack of housing for most public employees.


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Oops, sorry, I forgot to ask former Mayor Kleinberg what she was doing about this issue when she had the reins and had the greatest opportunity in the world to do something about it. Remember, she was our mayor...oh, maybe you don't remember. Well I forgot too.


40 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:02 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Companies moving to Palo Alto and staying in Palo Alto, makes about as much sense as companies moving to Mailbu, Bel Air, Woodside , Los Altos Hills or the Upper East Side of New York. They shoulder much of the blame and they can't alleviate some of the problem by moving to other areas with available and lower cost housing. Even if this happens, as long as there no laws that prohibit foreign buyers to outbid all others and have vast holdings of Palo Alto real estate, this problem will stay as intractable. Foreign buyers, with the help of greedy local realtors, keep driving prices higher, and even subsidized housing will be out of reach for all but the very few, and very rich.


26 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:27 pm

> decent salary?

The US census (2010-2013) says:
Median household income is: $121,465
Mean household income: $180,566

So—fill in the gaps as to how a family would make this kind of money.


56 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Enough of this building low cost housing or any more housing at all in Palo Alto. Residents of Palo Alto don't want any more houses, condos, businesses or hotels.
If people did not buy houses decades ago (and we all scrimped and saved and gave up new cars and vacations)they are out of the market.
Still, people can live in East Palo Alto, which is much much cheaper and the problems EPA had decades ago are mostly gone so it is a good alternative.Likewise East Mendo Park.

15 years ago an engineer worked for me in Palo Alto and commuted 3+ hours each way to Sacramento so he could buy a house for his wife and child and live close to her parents. So this is not a new problem, just a few people going to a City Council meeting telling us what they feel they are entitled to out of life and this article implying that it is the way a majority of residents think.
My sister moved from Aptos two years ago to be close to her grown children and for 250K she lives in a 3,000 sq.ft. house in a Detroit suburb on a half acre of land. Beautiful, safe, clean, etc. and tech companies near there are all looking for the same college graduates that work here.
So stop the complaining.


23 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm

If all of the major employers that the tech people work for are not located in Palo Alto - but in the surrounding cities - then who do the people work for that creates the jobs/work imbalance? There have been listings provided previously and SU is a leader with its medical facilities - as pointed out above that require three shifts a day. Many students are part time employees at SU so how is that counted?

SU has a large amount of land that is yet to be built on so it is time they get up and going on building facilities for their workers, as well as their students.

So we have one company noted - Palantir. How long will it be here - once it gets more traction it will move to bigger facilities - as has everyone else.

The people who live here are commuting to said large companies that are in the surrounding cities - they are commuting outward.

When people refer to the work/housing imbalance it is a rally cry but has a meaning that requires more definition. All of my neighbors are working at SU or the Other Large Tech Companies which are not in this urban town. They are commuting outward. They then create the same type ratio in the town they are commuting to.

We have a finite amount of land that is fully built out. Unfortunately some of that built out land is ancient strip mall buildings on ECR that need to be replaced. So that is a good place to start.

But I notice that gets no traction because someone who owns those ancient strip mall buildings are paying a very low tax assessment and sitting back to watch the fur fly. There is a vested interests that there is no light shown on those properties.


43 people like this
Posted by midtown
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Yes, the testifiers at the City Council meeting seemed to be young activists who don't usually attend Council meetings. There's a strong argument that they have a sense of entitlement. We worked step-by-step fromMyAds small houses and long commutes to get here. Our kids don't live here and can't afford to unless they live with us.
We do have a Darwinian economic community, but that's capitalism.
We might like to downsize, but the problem is NOT smaller housing availability or other excuses. It's a matter of life-style preference, the rewards for years of work (not entitlement) and just plain economics.
We'd like to preserve our "estate" for our kids to inherit, but if we sell before we die we'll have to pay nearly 30% of our "estate" in taxes to the Feds and State.
Give us long-time residents a break. We don't just stay because we like it. We also stay to preserve our life earnings for our kids.


2 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:40 pm

The building on ECR aren't getting updated because of the zoning requirements in this city. According to the city's downtown cap study, consultants went around PA trying to figure out which sites were likely to be redeveloped. They found that in order to make redevelopment worthwhile for an owner, for commercial property, they'd have to double its square footage and for residential property, they'd have to triple its square footage. I know that sounds like a lot but when you take into account how many years it takes to get something approved here (and all that time you're paying a team of architects and lawyers to do it - for years on end), the cost of construction, the lost revenues during construction, the interest you pay on loans you take out, etc, it makes sense. But the thing is that many of those properties can't ever double or triple because most of them can't be more than 3 stories. They're also on small lots which means that they have a hard time meeting the city's parking requirements - which may mean they can't even reach the three stories. So it's not really worth it to redevelop something that's basically going to have the same square footage it already has. I'm not saying it's never worth it, but I'm saying that based on the studies conducted, on average, this is the math that applies. An underground garage may be worth building if you get to add quite a few floors on top, but it's not worth it if you're only trying to add one floor. And so they sit.


32 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Instead of Occupy City Hall I suggest these people start an Occupy Board Room movement. They should speak to Palantir board, or any other company board, to voice their concerns, to demand moving the company out of Palo Alto, or 2 million bucks more for each employee. See how the board will react.


3 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Why - hank you for the presentation of the problem with buildings on ECR. So we have large footprint - from Oregon to East Meadow and beyond that will sit there and mold away and die while the people who have single family homes are beat up, or the hotel people who want to upgrade their property are castigated as to its relationship to shoe stores and fast food stores - all of which can up and go at a drop of a pin.

I think that whole area needs to be subjected to eminent domain so that groups of properties which are small can be consolidated to build more housing. That is happening down the ECR going south so that is not a stretch in policy.

You will note that Menlo Park is working to solve these same type problems and coming up with some good solutions.


3 people like this
Posted by why?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:34 pm

I don't know that we need to go to something extreme like eminent domain, but I agree that some lot combining would probably be useful for ECR. But people would buy properties from each other or go in on a joint venture together without the government taking their property for them. The government has to create the right incentives for that to happen, though. One step is to allow those properties to build taller to make their redevelopment profitable. If we could get more multifamily housing on ECR, then it also becomes a more appealing place for retail, restaurants, and entertainment. Part of why ECR suffers now is because no one walks it. The sorts of things you want to visit on it are too spread out from each other - separated by gas stations and parking lots, etc. Plus the sidewalks aren't big enough to allow for a nicer planting strip or any outdoor seating. In many places it's even too narrow for a couple to walk down the street holding hands. If we had design guidelines for making it a more pleasant walking experience, it could see quite the revitalization. I think that with retail on the ground floors and housing on top, it could be the other Main Street in Palo Alto and finally turn into a street we're proud to show off to visitors, rather than the dilapidated thoroughfare that we try to say isn't _really_ what the rest of Palo Alto is like.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm

> because someone who owns those ancient strip mall buildings

Which strip mall buildings are you talking about?


26 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:40 pm

> SU has a large amount of land that is yet to be built on
> so it is time they get up and going on building facilities
> for their workers, as well as their students.

This has been suggested a number of times by any number of people. But the Palo Alto City Council has never quite gotten up the courage to formalize the idea and press Stanford on the issue.

Stanford has build a couple of off-site housing projects for its employees, so it could continue to do that in the future. There is a lot of land in East Palo Alto that could be purchased for this purpose.


7 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm

I don't think we should turn ECR into a walk-friendly main street. ECR is the most important corridor for local traffic. People are already complaining about daily congestion. Turning ECR into some idyllic walk-around place will greatly exacerbate the problem. Sure it might be good for Palo Alto residents like me. But very bad for neighboring cities and for the county.


46 people like this
Posted by xPA
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Building more houses in PA won't lower housing prices in Bay Area, only building more homes throughout the entire area will.

I find it bizarre that anyone who grew up in Palo Alto in the past 10 years could reasonably expect to buy a home that requires a family income in the top 2% of the population. Not everyone in PA is that far above average. That being said, I find the large number of Palo Altans who have inherited their parent's or grandparent's home (and property taxes) to be somewhat disheartening.

That provides a nice segue into Midtown's refreshingly honest admission of naked greed and dedication to his progeny for staying Palo Alto until death to avoid paying taxes. Thank you for reminding me why I moved from Palo Alto this year and paid more that 30% tax on my very large and completely luck-derived capital gain. I may miss the Bay area weather, but I enjoy living in a community where property is taxed fairly and community services are much higher than Palo Alto. I also admit to enjoying an escape from paying California's 10%+ income tax.


3 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:06 pm

We have another problem with ECR - the giant bus lane that is going to disrupt the whole length of the street. We have yet out see how that is going to turn out. It is unclear what the impact of the bus lane is, and if the majority of the small businesses in the area are not viable in that stretch.

That area is really a work in process now because the bus lane can be the impetuous to upgrade the whole area. If the bus lane is disrupting the whole stretch then that can be the legal key to turning that stretch of land into a more viable location. Something like HSR is going to do.


60 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm

I graduated from a Palo Alto high school 10 years ago, I suffer the indignity of living in shared housing, and I expect the city, presumably through local tax payers, to build a house I can buy.

That's the message to city council? What kind of unrealistic expectations are some local kids working with? Guess what? Palo Alto is a very expensive place to live. Just because you think you are entitled to own a home here, or anywhere, does not make it so. There are many urban areas all over the world where lots of people really really want to live, but simply can't afford it. It's an unfortunate reality of life. Expecting tax payers to supplement your desire to live in one of these highly sought after zip codes is absurd.


48 people like this
Posted by caught in the middle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Don't think that all existing homeowners are the elderly, luxuriously benefiting from Prop 13 - we have lived here awhile, in a mid-range home, our THIRD home in the region but first in this city, but not long enough to have a massive gain. We pay very high property taxes for our midrange home - about 20k/year, it is a strain. We are sort of caught in the middle in that we'd like to move but there is no inventory. At this point in the housing cycle - high prices and all, may of us are stalled.
Actually, I would like to move to another type of residence at this point in our lives, but the California and Obamacare tax politicians prevent that. A possible suitable idea would be to downsize to a nice condo or something, first I haven't found anything available that I like and that is available, also the costs to sell - taxes etc. are massive. We also would overpay for the condo unless moving far out of area, something we can't do at the moment but otherwise I would happily do. I think we may end up renting this place out and I would expect a high rate, like at least 6k/month.
Overseas cash investors have zero sentimentality about this area (and other select cities where they buy into) - perhaps they will all sell at once creating a ton of housing inventory....
Buy low and sell high. Really the only ones "winning" at the moment are the speculators and cash-stashers.


69 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:26 pm

I have observed over 50 years of changes in our hometown. The solution remains clear: cap the number of firms and employees in Palo Alto. We are done. We are beyond capacity. Push the talent pool, venture capital, intellectual property law firms, and startups to other areas of the peninsula, bay area, California, and most preferred other States. No Hong Kong, San Francisco, Chicago or Manhattan. And when elements of the information age economy implode, we will do just fine. SU will continue to make this a great college town. Also, an important related variable: cap high tech foreign visas, 500K business visas, and home sales to non-citizens. The latter areas I blame high tech firm leaders, their yes vote members in congress, and the greed of the real estate industry. Let’s help those recent college grads (either born or naturalized citizens) enjoy first right of refusal for high tech jobs and compensation consistent with only the American labor pool.


37 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm

I think most people are in the same boat. After married student housing at UCLA we came up here to an apartment on Webster - both had to work to come up with a down payment for a house and then had to sell the first house because we could not come up with the second mortgage payout. However - the house prices had gone up so much that we were able to sell the first house for a higher amount to qualify for the second house. That was called the luck of the draw.

But the economy keeps changing and people have to continually adjust for all of the government machinations that go on. And the house you live in continually has "issues" that need to be addressed in rising amount of cost.

Being a homeowner is a lot of work and continual upgrade for drought damaging the yard now and trees dying. People in high tech who are putting in a lot of hours do not have time to manage their home issues. And if you rent then the owner is managing all of the government machinations and maintenance issues. This all costs time and money.

We are living here in some state of trying to keep it together no matter what age or status. So everyone give each other a break here - we have a lot of issues to deal with that are driven by the economy - and local politics.


51 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

The "more housing" proponents are going to get their wishes in more ways than one if they get what they want. Let us keep going with development right and left and not only will we have more units but also home values will plummet. Quality of life in this town is collapsing. Keep at it and our house prices will too. I suppose everyone will be happy then, right?


42 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:05 pm

"Quality of life in this town is collapsing. Keep at it and our house prices will too. I suppose everyone will be happy then, right?"

They'll be gone. Nobody wants to live in a trashed, used up husk of a town.


39 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Is there even an analysis somewhere of infrastructure/resource capacity and what things are increasable and what things aren't? The two most obvious growth limiters - water and energy. Dream up new projects all you want, it's not going to make more water magically become available. Nor energy, esp. when we have impacting natural or political events which could slow the flow.


70 people like this
Posted by simple
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:21 pm

The way I bought my Palo Alto House was living elsewhere in houses with three roommates for 40 years and working 80 hours a week for 25 years. That is what it takes, folks. To expect special treatment is entitlement.


9 people like this
Posted by nok
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:41 pm

Correction - Residents call for "CHEAP" housing in Palo Alto
Now the title makes more sense but it won't happen any time soon. It does not happen in Manhattan, Hong Kong or Tokyo. BTW, East Palo Alto is still cheap and affordable, and better be quick. New houses are selling for 3 mil next to the highway. It's available.


22 people like this
Posted by entitlement
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 7, 2015 at 1:37 am

Since 1980 housing prices have gone up by 386% in PA. National salaries only 11%. Just plain saving and working hard is NEVER going to allow normal working class people to live in Palo Alto ever again. Now, you literally need to have won either the state lottery or the start up lottery to live here.

You all moved in when there was a lot more housing to go around. The jobs-housing imbalance was nothing like it is now. You literally had it way easier than people do today. Your parents' generation actually built the housing necessary so that their kids could live here - there was a giant housing boom after WWII - and I bet when your house was built there wasn't a cabal of angry neighbors at your development hearings screaming about how your house was going to "ruin the character of the neighborhood." You now refuse to do the same for the generation after you. If that's not entitlement, I don't know what is.

People need housing. As the population grows, we have to build housing to put a roof over people's heads. We now have people working full time in PA who live in their cars! it's you who are entitled if you think that not having to look at an apartment down the street is more important than providing housing for the people who desperately need it. Shame on you. And don't tell me how you just don't like housing because it's expensive or it's being bought by foreigners - you're the same whiny bunch that blocked a project for low income seniors.


40 people like this
Posted by jaa
a resident of University South
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:28 am

I live in Palo Alto in a ridiculously overpriced hole in the wall, about 275 square feet of living space, let me tell ya. My rent has risen over 65% just within the last 5 years. Friends who were nurses and social workers with real vital jobs in the community moved away long ago back to the midwest. They were great neighbors that actually cared about their fellow man. I have to choose between using a refrigerator or heater because there are not enough Amps of electricity for both, that's 15 Amps max I have and 1920 era fuses. No stove just a hot pot. In the winter must unplug the fridge. Never complain b/c there are people chomping at the bit to get this space. I've managed to live this way so I can save money for retirement and get the heck out of Dodge. The thing I once loved about Palo Alto that made all this worthwhile was that it had a kind of rural small town pastoral vibe. No more, it seems, its golden era having passed in my book.


42 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:31 am

Entitlement - as pointed out above the large tech companies are located in the surrounding cities - for the people that work in those companies they should look for work in those cities so that they can walk / bike to work.
The fact that someone says they are a tech person and entitled to a house in PA is not logical. If you are a tech then get logical. Palantir will go the way of the others once it gets up to a product driven status.

You need to try LA - tech industry down there is booming. You don't have to live here - the main companies have divisions in LA. It is a giant industry down there and they have space to grow.

SSL has buildings in Mountain View so everyone is spreading out and expanding.

We are not going to turn ourselves into a sardine can - no other city is and Palo Alto is not going the sardine can route.


77 people like this
Posted by Tell It Like It Is
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

I want to live in Beverly Hills, but its too expensive and I can't afford it.
I want to live in Hong King but its too expensive and I can't afford it.
I want to live in Trump Tower in New York but its too expensive and I can't afford it.
So what ?


21 people like this
Posted by Mdtny
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 7:51 am

No one is talking about the greedy landlords who jack the rent 10% a year and scrimp on any repair! There's no protection for the renter who simply wants to be a part of a community, send their kids to good schools and enjoy the neighborhood


33 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

If anything, what we really need is a Palo Alto income tax, the way if you work in NYC you pay an extra city income tax. That way the city infrastructure will benefit from all these jobs in town, and people/companies can decide whether it's a good idea to earn their wages here.


27 people like this
Posted by The Hard Way
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:08 am

[Post removed.]


39 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:11 am

Reality Check - in case you have not noticed Palo Alto is 26 square miles of land - a portion of which is green space and unbuildable. Palo Alto is an urban community in the County of Santa Clara. You are paying your property taxes to Santa Clara County.
Included in that property tax is a School portion voted on by the residents.

San Jose is categorized as a major city based on its transportation, commercial and residential size. It is where most of the county administrative facilities are located. So move to San Jose - more housing, more jobs, less COMPLAINING.


69 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

mauricio is a registered user.

A great deal of this is really about a sense of entitlement and the determination to live in a desirable, hip zip code. Most high tech companies aren't even located in Palo Alto, they are located anywhere from Mountain View to San Jose, Sunnyvale, Campbell, San francisco, etc. Only SF and PA are considered by these millennials to be desirable zip codes, so that's where they are detriment to live.

I find the demands of 28 year olds to have PA residents build them houses their salaries could afford both laughable and sad. I did not benefit from Prop 13, I sacrificed, lived in awful places for many year, including 5 years with 3 other roommates in an East Palo Alto run down apartment in order to save enough to afford a house in Palo Alto in 1985. At no point during those very lean and hard years was I aware that I had a right to go in front thePalo Alto CC and demand they build me a house I could afford.

I know that those demanding affordable housing refuse to hear it, but no one has an inherent right to live in Palo Alto, not even native sons and daughters. Most kids of parents owning apartments in the Upper East Side of NYC don't end up living there after college either, or Beverly Hills, or Woodside, or Los Altos Hills. Don't expect the residents to agree to subsidize your house so you can afford to live here, it's very unlikely to happen. Don't except residents to agree to live in a sardine can, it will not happen either.


3 people like this
Posted by Patient Millennial
a resident of University South
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:18 am

Indeed, land isn't infinite, but free market forces will always prevail. It's only a matter of time Palo Alto and other Bay Area communities will build higher density residences. [Portion removed.]


66 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

Having companies like Palantir (worth billions of dollars), or Morrison & Forrestor (where partners make millions of dollars in salaries) asking the residents of Palo Alto to subsidize housing for their employees (through zoning changes, etc) is very wrong.

Palantir, Morrison & Forrestor & other companies should pay their employees a salary that enables them to buy housing in Palo Alto, or they can use other creative ways (like offering the employees loans which are forgiven as long as they continue to be employed at their company).

It's not the responsibility of the city, or the residents to pay for housing for the employees of these very successful companies.

It's just that simple.


80 people like this
Posted by whose voices?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:37 am

I think the title should be "PAF member pack council meeting." Clearly PAF was able to get their members (many of whom do not have evening family responsibilities) to attend the meeting in force and make their voices heard. A mail survey to all PA residents would likely elicit a more representative set of viewpoints.


50 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:50 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Patient Millennial - It is a good thing you are patient, because it means you can wait another 20 years, but hopefully by that time you'll be able to earn your way to living here.


53 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Kids who are waiting for their parents to die to move in on their property and assets....Why not actually develop yourself some skills to earn the financial position to afford to live an area you desire? It is really overall a healthier approach to life in general. That way you do not have to be anyone's "victim". Have some self-confidence, you can fly if you believe!

And there I thought phrases like that (waiting for death of the ones who you think are getting in your way) were just part of an adolescent mindset.


70 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Millennials like the poster who can't wait for the baby boomers to die, hoping, I suppose, that by then, millennials will be in political control of the CC and able to push a massive densification drive, are pretty typical. They refuse to earn their way to living in Palo Alto, they want to be given it, so they are either "patient", waiting for others to die, or demand subsidized housings tailored to their salaries.

No one has an inherit right to live here. Those wishing to live here must earn that right. The only way to earn that right in a free market society is to be able to afford to buy in, just like we older residents did, without demanding that the residents subsidize us and give up their quality of life: the main, sometimes only reason they sacrificed so much to buy into Palo Alto in the first place. That's when free market forces prevail.


60 people like this
Posted by Crrreeeepyyyy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Patient Millenial sounds like a vulture!


33 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

The Free Market requires both supply and demand. Clearly demand is present for a variety of housing types in Palo Alto. I'm sure willing builders for a variety of housing types could also be found. However, the housing market in Palo Alto is artificially constrained by the "Palo Alto Process" and restrictions imposed solely to protect the property values of long-time homeowners. Thus the "Free Market" is hardly FREE! In Mountain View, costs are also increasing, being driven by the ability of Googlers to pay. At least they have a reasonably diverse housing stock to work with and more housing in the pipeline. After the political storm surrounding the housing at Rickey's what crazy builder is going to be willing to fight for multi-story, multi-family housing along El Camino? Particularly when all of Barron Park and Ventura come out to complain about losing the character of their neighborhoods. Young people don't have a right to move back, but established homeowners should not be trying to built a moat around the City so that nothing ever changes either. Parents who have done well should do the math if you want your kids to live close by. When olders have equity and the urge to downsize, and youngers have income and the need for space, a way can always be found!


45 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 7, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Patient Millennial,

I wouldn't count on Baby Boomers dying off soon--at least not the ones in Palo Alto. Have you seen the estimated lifespans for these folks?

Besides, it's not the Baby Boomers who are outbidding you on property--it's overseas investors. It's been a competitive market for a long time, but these days, you're getting cash buyers who don't even see the place.

You might look at getting the U.S. to enforce the parts of the Patriot Act that deal with overseas money getting laundered in high-end real estate.


30 people like this
Posted by slow
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Not all landlords are greedy. I am charging my tenant (in the other apartment of my duplex) 50 - 60 % of the going rent. Higher rates don't feel right.


51 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Here are the number of housing units that sold for less than $750,000 so far this year:

Palo Alto - 4
Mountain View - 69
Los Altos - 2
Menlo Park - 11
East Palo Alto - 95


53 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

When the Palo Alto baby boomers start dying off, in about 20-25 years on the average, the millennials will be 45 to 50 years old. They will have children of their own and will not want to live in a polluted, noisy, traffic chocked sardine can. When you are middle aged, the urban dense life style is much less attractive.


12 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Just curious - how many critics of addressing the housing crisis in Palo Alto went to the council meeting or where even aware of it before this article was published. My guess, 0.


20 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Very good point, PA Resident...Do you know where the agenda of upcoming meetings would be posted? I did not find it here: Web Link. Nor here: Web Link. Here's an opportunity that perhaps paloaltoonline can help to put the word out on upcoming sessions so that people who feel strongly have a place to voice their opinions.


64 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

These appearances before the city council are orchestrated and coordinated by PAF, so unless residents are affiliated with PAF, or are on their mailing list, chances are they will find out about such meetings days after they had occurred, if at all. I am not aware of even one person opposed to PAF and their vision who had a clue this meeting was going to take place on Monday night.


12 people like this
Posted by PA for Now
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

I am disappointed in the PA community. It's true that not everyone can live here, that's obvious. My question is who would actually WANT to live in Palo Alto based on the messages from some of these residents. I mean, really, does Palo Alto sound like a healthy, friendly, welcoming, nurturing community to you... based on these comments? All I can say is that Palo Alto is not the community it once was and, honestly, I think it has changed for the worse but that's just my opinion. Young and creative people should move to towns with charm, character and this takes a willingness to adapt. Palo Alto is just another Atherton in training.


16 people like this
Posted by Oh Please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Or, maybe I am mistaken about the process....maybe there is no set agenda and we are supposed to self-organize and just show up when we've got a message to deliver?

Does anyone know?


7 people like this
Posted by @PA for Now
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:15 pm

"Palo Alto is just another Atherton in training."

I would agree with you, but I would make the point that this has been going on for the last 15 years. Palo Alto *was* a nice place to visit. Now? Not so much.

Sad, really.


15 people like this
Posted by scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I'd just like a decent Safeway.


19 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

A lot of people have chewed on this bone too long.

I've written this in other posts but it bears repeating. We bought our house in SPA in 1963. I was the single income earner with a BSEE degree, I worked for two diferent established defense ibdustry companies during that period. We paid $23,500 for our 3/2 1100 sq ft bungalow. My annual income was $10K. My beautiful wife stayed home and was a housekeeper/homemaker and played the major role in raising our three kids. That is a foreign concept now I think. It was the best of times. We rented a unit in a duplex on Alma before we bought our home. We saved up enough money over 2 1/2 years for a down payment. Yes, a torally different time and one the 20-30 year olds today can't relate to.

I think it's a mistake to talk about a housing problem. Yes, if everybody wants to live in PA, then we do have a problem for
obvious reasons. Overbuilt office space that brings workers here who would like to live near their work is the problem. If you solve the root cause of the problem the housing problem will take care of itself and go away. And to all those young folks who grew up here and want to live here, get your lives together, do all the hard work it takes and maybe...no guarantees...you might be able to live here too. It is not a right. It's not an entitlement. It will be hard and unless you're degrees aren't tech oriented it will be doubly hard. Did you not think or weren't you advised about degrees that would offer the best chance of finding a good
paying job? A master's degree in a field where there is no demand isn't worth as much.

The high cost of housing has been driven partially by the success of tech workers in startups that made it and went public, thus creating instant millionaires. And also the foreign investors with laundered money who pay cash for homes they'll never live in. Those two factors didn't exist when we moved here and bought our home. It has killed any feeling of a caring community of people like we had then.

PACC, please make good decisions going forward, and I'm not talking about what PAF is advocating. Make whatever zoning changes need to be made to let housing for our current workers catch up, but clamp down/shut down the idea that downtown PA should be another Googleville.



43 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm

"And don't worry baby boomers, you're going to be dead soon."

Not soon enough to please you, I'm happy to relate.

But the parents who produced the privileged brats we heard from Monday PM have one more paternal duty: give their offspring the family nest pronto and move far, far away.


45 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:05 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Gale Johnson is absolutely right. Palo Alto doesn't have a housing problem, it has a problem of too many people wanting to live here, people who ignore the simple reality that space here is finite, and not everybody who wants to live here, can. If a movie theatre with a 500 seat capacity routinely had ten thousands people wanting to see every movie shown, would be say that the theatre had a ticket problem?

The incredibly high prices are largely, but not entirely due to the fact that foreign buyers launder money through PA real estate, outbidding everybody with cash offers. Each such transaction sends housing prices further up. As long as this is not illegal, it would be impossible to stop, although it should be illegal.

The bottom line is that in essence, Palo Alto is a suburban college town. It's been artificially pumped up by offices, fake retail and start ups, but it is still a suburban town. Just like Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley will never change their character and densify or subsidise in order to make room for those who desire to buy in but can't afford to, those who bought houses in PA because it's a suburban town with manageable density and great livability, will not allow major urbanization and densification. PAF is very organized and very aggressive, but I think they are victims of their own wishful thinking. What they advocate for will not happen.


19 people like this
Posted by Lulu
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:06 pm

1. Rent contol to put a stop to rising rents. Increase affordable housing and eliminate NIMBY
2. Corporate responsibility on the part of a few "giants" to control growth in areas where housing is maxed out. Move divisions out of the Peninsula.
3. Change in capital gains structure so seniors will be more likely to sell and increase housing inventory
Other than that, limited housing provides a check and balance so a city doesn't reach traffic gridlock. With as little public transit we have, increasing density of housing will be a traffic nightmare.
Keep in mind that that families who move away don't want a little condo or a granny unit. They want the american dream, a 4 bedroom home at an affordable price. There are plenty of cities where the quality of life is much better than struggling to pay mortgage on a $3M home. That is reality and there is not much a city can do about that.


17 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:07 pm

PA resident - you guess -0-? That means you think that everyone here except you is stupid and uninformed? The PACC meetings are televised. Continual news is published on the subject of housing on the peninsula in general.

We have been discussing this for a number of years now. It is an ongoing subject. So why do you think -0-?

If you look in the archives you will see a large number of articles about this subject and a lot of opinions.

The available facts do get changed as time passes - the drought says no more building and people.

The bus lane on El Camino changes the dynamics of how ECR is further developed.

Developers keep coming up with new plans.

Companies leave PA so that changes the argument as to where the people are living - half their argument gets up and leaves the city.

The dynamics change the story line - As more commercial development is occurring in the surrounding cities then PA providing housing for those people become irrelevant. Even Mr. Levy is now touting North San Jose in the SJM as the place to be - he has even changed his approach.

You may not appreciate that a lot of the prior arguments are now irrelevant - it does take the wind out of people's sails.


7 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I will ask the question again - how many critics of addressing the housing crisis in Palo Alto went to the council meeting or where even aware of it [the city council meeting] before this article was published.

Why didn't you attend and voice your opinion to the council instead of hiding behind anonymous posts? Totally unhelpful.


2 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I fully support building more affordable housing. I am against zoning for more office space until our jobs/housing balance is fixed. I am opposed to more luxury housing. Any new market rate apartments will cost $5000+ per month. How will that help anyone? Tall dense buildings with elevators are very expensive to build. It will not meet PA true housing needs. There is plenty of that type of housing being build in Mountain View, Redwood City and further south. They are welcome to it.


15 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Okay, one more poke at Judy and then I'll leave her alone...for a while.

Her reference to seniors who can't leave their homes and find anyplace where they can downsize because it's too expensive.. Wow, this is a very big country and I could move to Colorado Springs, downsize, and have a lot of money left over to invest.
BTW that happens to be where my daughter lives.

Am I missing something? What seniors is she talking about? It can't be seniors who have lived in their mortgage free homes for a long time. Are they recent senior homeowners? If they are then how could they afford to buy here when they did in the first place? I own my home. It Zillowed at $2.6 M recently so I certainly could move to downsize and still live in PA , but I choose not to..

I like living in my SPA village and there are still a few friendly people here. I know them and they know me, by first names. Folks at Piazza's, Midtown Safeway,, Great Clips, Christina and Michael, owners of Green Elephant Gourmet, and a lot of neighbors, but their numbers are dwindling.

Plus I've had my trust changed thru a petition to the County Court that will eliminate any taxes when I die. I know, now I'll get hate mail for that legal procedure.

Please quit attacking us long time home owners like we created this problem. We didn't, and stop labeling us as NIMBYs. Just accept the fact that we were fortunate to buy our homes when we did, when pastureland space was available in the 50's. That's when all the tract homes in my part of town were built. Oh, that has always been a nasty word to those downtown home owners who live in custom built homes. Oh us poor folks in SPA.

And now about Prop 13: I've heard both sides' arguments of the issue. Of course I'm a big benefactor of it. I would have been long gone w/o it. I know there is talk about undoing it but I don't think there are any politicians, who want to continue thier political careers, who will tamper with it.

And thanks to the poster who said it applies statewide. We are lucky because of where we live, the Stockton folks not so much.
And to you new homeowners that are so upset about your old neighbors paying very little tax compared to you, just be patient. Time will heal your wounds.

Stay in that home for 20-30 years and your new next door neighbors will be paying much more than you are in taxes and they'll fuss about that just like you're doing now.


16 people like this
Posted by JudyK
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Gale Johnson:
Regarding my statement to the Council: I didn't say my children live in Singapore because they can't afford to live here. They actually love and are happy where they live and have no plans to move here. What I did say was that I personally would like them to be able to move here someday, but they likely couldn't afford it based on the "ridiculous" housing prices here.

As for my Council service, I did work on affordable housing, especially with the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, and voted for many policies to protect and encourage affordable housing of all types and for different income levels and needs. And as Mayor I personally worked directly with the then City Attorney to save the Buena Vista mobile home park from being sold by the owner that year.

The fact is that there is substantial testimony and evidence that many people are finding it challenging to buy or rent in our community - whether young adults, low-income workers or seniors who want to downsize. Although not a new issue - it's been an issue for decades - how the City should address this in terms of our long term vision is what is important to discuss.

And I want to acknowledge the many people in this thread who have offered comments in a constructive tone, contributing to a civil discussion of differing views and solutions.


17 people like this
Posted by Open
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:56 pm

It's easy to say no, it is hard to look at other good options. Be open. Allow for new ideas and some ability to become more interesting, and not just shut down. See the article in the Washington Post about how building is very possible in a small, land rich city:

Web Link


We are smart; we can plan so that there are areas of this city that accommodate seniors and millennials and others, areas which are walkable and denser than other parts of the city and leave most of the "single family residential areas" as they are. There are people who want and need ADU's (including nanny units) and people who don't. So don't block others just because you don't want something. A healthy community, such as Palo Alto, with the help of good planners can accommodate more housing and growth in certain areas and protect what we love. There is no need to be so aggressive and say "NO!" to looking at interesting new plans that will keep Palo Alto from being another place with an invisible gate that excludes everyone but those who have live here from the fluke of having inherited or bought on time and the rich. We can build so old people move into smaller units and their bigger houses are available to new houses. Be open, not closed.


3 people like this
Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

If you want to view council agendas. Go to www.cityofpaloalto.org. Click on City Council and Mayor. Under their pictures is a whole section of choices. You can sign up for email notices. You can click on any agenda, they are listed there by date. Also, you can go to the council chambers and just inside the doors is the complete council package, agendas and supplemental documents.


53 people like this
Posted by Yogi Berra
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:52 pm

It is already true that nobody goes to Palo Alto anymore, it's just too crowded.


54 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Open - Great article, maybe we can be the next Jakarta or Dhaka...

Look, if you like urban, and want more density, you have 3 major US cities within 30 miles. Go live the dream. Mine was to get out of the city, and live in a house in a suburb. Now people like you are trying to drag all the urban issues out to the suburbs, even though there is no need, no infrastructure, and no reason to do it.

The real point of the article you posted is that even cities like San Francisco are far from being dense, and there is plenty of room to build in. Do that, and you can solve traffic and pollution and housing problems all at once. Put 5,000 more apartments in Palo Alto and you are spreading the problem out, adding traffic, adding pollution, etc..


12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:28 pm

" A healthy community, such as Palo Alto, with the help of good planners can accommodate more housing and growth in certain areas and protect what we love."

To "accommodate more housing and growth in certain areas and protect what we love" logically implies designating areas that we do not love. Would you please tell us what are those unloved areas, and what unloved residents are to be exiled there?


81 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I think the speakers at the council meeting are missing the point. What is the point of building more housing in Palo Alto when most of it will be bought by foreigners anyway? Until you can put price caps on housing, restrict realtors advertising overseas, and implement residency requirements, few of the local high school graduates will ever be able to live here.

Building more housing only benefits the developers/realtors and the county tax office.


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Its not a housing crisis, its a commercial building crisis, If somewhere somehow there's an equation out there , even in people's minds, that you have a right to demand to live and work within the same city limits, then there are clearly too many jobs inside the city limits. Because the traffic and overcrowded everything is misery here, and we don't need more, we need less. Less of everything. I SERIOUSLY doubt that there was a single real 'resident' who stood up to complain that we need more people packed in like sardines into these city limits.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:20 am

Instead of building condo/townhomes, build studios with murphy beds, wetrooms and kitchenettes. Put in stacked parking facilities for the units.

These units would become starter homes and are likely to be lived in by local workers who live alone for relatively short term ownership. These workers are here and might as well have the chance to live here, but they would then decide to buy up or move somewhere else when they have saved more money and want something with more space.


22 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:04 am

It is so appreciated that a resident from "Another PA Neighborhood" is suggesting the sardine can theory. I have come to the conclusion that people from "Another Palo Alto Neighborhood" who are the usual people on the airplane sites that deny any noise is happening do not live on the valley floor so are unaffected by what is going on in the trenches -either airplane noise or housing congestion.

The people who are part of the school system on the valley floor are the people who are affected by overgrowth. It affects all aspects of the infrastructure of the city. The schools are having enough trouble now without increasing the body count and student/teacher ratio.

Since the young techies are not up to speed on the eventual childbearing years then that is an experience they have yet to enjoy.
In the meantime we do not need to tear the city apart while they contemplate their navels.


17 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:15 am

As to the jobs/housing balance -
When Facebook moves to Menlo Park then the people who work there and live in PA do not sell their houses - they commute to Menlo Park.

When Google expands in Mountain View the people who have houses here are not going to move to Mountain View.

Every time some company that started with VC money grows up and moves out then the people working there do not sell and move out. THEY COMMUTE.
As to companies that are private and started on VC money sound good but have not made the leap yet and are still dependent on VC money. The young people who work there will start to age and want a house and if the company moves they will not sell their house - they will commute.

The Jobs/work balance is a red herring and can be made to say anything you want.

You are still left with SU who is adding more staff for the hospitals and needs to be adding their own housing for those people - they can have a sardine can on their property.


4 people like this
Posted by Abby
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:39 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:43 am

Resident 1

It is people like you that make me remain anonymous and refuse to give my neighborhood.

Not that it matters to my comment, but I have lived here in my own home for many years and have experienced various Palo Alto schools. I have seen the families moving here for the schools.

I also know that the more family style housing that is built will encourage more families that we don't have space in the schools. When we have senior housing, more families move in, when we have one bedroom apartments, families move in, when we have rentals, families move in, or sometimes not but still attend our schools.

I don't doubt that whatever new housing is built, families will move in. Sometimes a family rents an apartment to get into the schools because of a PA address.

My idea of micro apartments for ownership, just might mean no families moving in. I may be wrong, but since the workers are here and will continue to be here, perhaps we should be building to suit young single college grads, rather than something that will attract more families from moving in.


16 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

Where do you propose that the micro apartments would be located? Maybe Crescent Park? That location is within walking distance of the University corridor. Wherever it is needs to be within walking distance of the city center.

I think SU property for the SU employees.


38 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:18 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The Valley is probably the most dynamic business environment in the world. Tech workers change companies several times during their career on the average. So do people in the financial, medical and law fields. People who began their career in Palo Alto may end up working in San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Redwood Shores, San francisco, Campbell, Pleasanton, etc. I mention only cities where friends of mine who used to work near Palo Alto ended up working in. Since most of them changed companies several times in the last 30 years, they worked in several of the cities I mentioned. So the jobs/housing imbalance has always been a myth, cleverly used by the developers and pro growth lobby to push for more housing, or as one of the posters above correctly terms, the sardine can approach.

According to the sardine can lobby logic, if a Palo Alto resident working in a start up located in Palo Alto moves to a San Jose cased company, or if the start up ends up moving to San Jose, he/she should purchase a house in San Jose, because workers must live near their workplace and avoid commute. How many Palo Altoans who found themselves in this situation actually moved to San Jose? I suspect not even one.


17 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:50 am

Bedroom communities are the best way to not fight climate change. Whether by car or transit, commuting is now the largest source of greenhouse gas in California. Most of us are fine with that apparently, but Palo Alto likes to consider itself fair and green. If low income workers have to commute 90 minutes it is not fair, and if high tech workers have no feasible choices near their jobs it is not green. Not a problem I guess, just don't elect council members who insist on fighting climate change in other ways if they won't tackle this one.


7 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:52 am

Mauricio - you are on the same page. I think we have more people in a reverse commute who live here since most of the major employers have moved on to other cities. Once they commit to a house or lease here they are stuck until something else becomes available in the other city.

I know that the State of California has move a number of major functions to more outlying locations rather than central SF because they get a new building and the younger people can buy a house - Vallyo area. Vacaville.


64 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Yep, I was born in Palo Alto and bought my first house here over 20 years ago, I've been in high tech for 30 years, and never have I been able to get a job in Palo Alto.

If we are so focused on creating housing where there are jobs, then we should force employers to hire local residents. But continuing to add jobs while screaming about the jobs/housing imbalance is just as unwinnable as the arms race.

So, Palo Alto companies like Palantir, HP, SAP, etc - what are you doing to ensure you are hiring existing Palo Alto residents rather than just importing more employees from outside the area like crazy fools? Do you even consider the impact on Palo Alto when you hire from outside the city? Do you care? Answer: Nope, free market we just hire who we think are the best for our company (best talent for cheapest salary = people who can't afford to buy or rent in Palo ALto).

How about the City Council start requiring Palo Alto "professional" businesses (i.e., not retail and food service) report on how many Palo Alto applicants were hired versus non-Palo Alto applicants, contrasted with the ratio of applicants.


48 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 8, 2015 at 12:22 pm

We can instantly resolve our "jobs-housing imbalance" by de-annexing Stanford and its industrial park. Let Stanford solve the problems Stanford creates.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Resident 1

I can't tell you exactly where these should be built on a map, but I do think they could be built wherever new office developments are being built or above new retail. I think they would be well suited on any business developments being proposed. I would imagine that near 101, near Caltrain, and near business development at the end of Meadow near Fabian would work.

I would not propose them in established residential neighborhoods.

I am not against housing being built, but I am against the wrong type of housing. The wrong type of housing is being built and it is not something we should encourage more of. If we have to build more housing, then let's be selective and choose something that will not affect the schools.

BTW, I would prefer no new housing, but since it seems we must build then at least let's build low impact on infrastructure housing.


20 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm

You need to get in your car and go look at the area East Meadow Circle. It is already built out with fairly new apartments. As is Fabian.

If you missed that one then go look by ECR - lots of very old apartments that are one and two story. Those must have a very low tax assessed value.
ECR is where the revitalization has to go. 101 on the west side is now built out with apartments and charter schools and commercial. They are saying that you can't build on 101 east due to flooding.
Sorry = this has to swing back to the city center - University area.


36 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:25 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It's interesting that Stanford, which created the problem with its industrial park while using Palo Alto streets to get workers to their industrial park companies, without compensating Palo Alto for the infrastructure wear and tear, should be facing a demand to create housing for them. Additionally, Palo Alto based companies who insist of hiring non palo Alto residents without established bay area housing, should be required to arrange housing for them. The so called job imbalance was created by companies insisting on moving into a suburban town with very limited and incredibly expensive housing supply and very limited space. Those appearing before the CC demanding housing are in the wrong place demanding things from the wrong people. They should be talking to the Stanford hierarchy and to the Palantir and SAP boards.


2 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:24 pm

"They should be talking to the Stanford hierarchy and to the Palantir and SAP boards."


They know better.


13 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2015 at 6:14 pm

>Stanford, which created the problem ....

Complete obtuse thinking. Palo Alto exists because of Stanford, not the obverse. Stanford is the goose laying the golden eggs. Palo Alto should celebrate Stanford, not denigrate it. Yes, we do need to have our say, and to fight our own fights...but Stanford will push back, as it should. The Stanford Research Park is a bonanza for PA, as is the medical center and the shopping center. PA citizens whine too much. So tiring....


15 people like this
Posted by SpotOn
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Mauricio, you are spot on and I agree with all of your posts. Thanks for taking the words right out of my mouth and doing all of the typing for me. I ditto that!


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Posted by ECR?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm

What/where is ECR?


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Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 9:08 pm

ECR = El Camino Real


3 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:06 pm

"Palo Alto exists because of Stanford, not the obverse. Stanford is the goose laying the golden eggs. Palo Alto should celebrate Stanford, not denigrate it."

Stanford University did not create Palo Alto. Leland Stanford's stooge Timothy Hopkins created University Park, which was later renamed Palo Alto. And, setting the pattern for subsequent Palo Alto developers, Hopkins sited his personal domicile in another town, out of sight of his creation.

Stanford will do fine outside the Palo Alto city limits. It can handle ABAG just fine. And Palo Alto will be much better off without the Stanford albatross. After all, what has Stanford done for (as distinct from to) Palo Alto lately?


29 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 9, 2015 at 6:50 am

A history lesson here - the biggest employers in the area who filled the South PA houses were Ford Aerospace and Communications and Lockheed Martin - Sunnyvale.

Ford was at the site(s) we now know as Space Systems Loral (SSL) - now owned by a Canadian Company and Oshman Center on Fabian.

LMCC dominated the Sunnyvale / Moffett Circle location. Due to state of government contracts, government decisions on military sites in California and elsewhere, aging buildings and a higher California tax rate it became more advantageous to move production oriented products to other states. Buildings age - Yahoo is now on older LMCC property. So everyone commuted to
a different city. Not a lot of housing in that area.

So many of the older people in South PA have worked their lives on some of the highest tech products out there. The young techies have nothing on those people who have produced the most sophisticated communication products available - it all works and keeps on working. So someone creates an APP - what is one more APP in the world. Creating APPs is like a puppy mill.

People who work for large companies on government contracts are not raking in the money. There are no instant millionaires. Just a lot of very smart people who have put in a lot of time and energy on producing the best that is out there. That is all generational choices and generational state of the business at any point in time in the state of California and Silicon Valley.

Is Palo Alto the center of high tech? SU is - PA marginally so - it all moves out to other cities when it gets really big. It is moving to San Mateo County and south to Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, North San Jose.

We do need to upgrade the older buildings on ECR and the ancient apartments behind them. That is where the great new bus will be that will carry those young techies up and down the transit corridor or on their bikes. And in the University center then they can walk. What a Deal.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 9, 2015 at 11:45 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

To JudyK,

Thank you for your comments They helped my understanding of your family situation and the history and background of your time on PACC. I apologize for roughing you up. You were very kind and gracious in your response. If you've read any of my many past comments on housing you'll note I am in favor of raising the height limit in certain areas to accomodate that. My concern is the mix of units; studio, 1 bdrm, 2 bdrms, etc., and who will occupy them? Single downtown tech workers, teachers, firemen? Or families with kids, seniors downsizing? I would hope a survey could be made of that. Any ideas you can share in your current position would be helpful.

I hope you understand the feelings of us long time residents and the nostalgia we have for what we remember as better times.

I've written about that in previous comments and also in a story 'My Town Has Changed...And It''s Still Achangin' that I wrote for my Life Stories class at Avenidas. Let me know if you're interested in those.

I'm really a nice old man, I think, just get a little grumpy sometimes.


4 people like this
Posted by @renter
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Yes, please build more housing in Palo Alto. Raise the height or whatever needs to be done to make room for more housing. The current situation is absolutely ridiculous. This is a city and no longer a suburb. For enjoying wide open spaces, please visit Palo Alto Baylands.


65 people like this
Posted by vs SF
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Activists in SF are protesting long-time SF residents being priced out of the city by young techies. And in PA, the young techies are pressuring the city to build more housing they can move into, despite the concerns of long-time residents. What's wrong with this picture?


61 people like this
Posted by Think about it
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm

These kids ought to have a time-out for such immature thoughts. They should live elsewhere where rent is lower so they can save money while they are young. And get a second job in blue-collar work in the eves and weekends. Otherwise, when they have families, they will have no savings. But that's too logical for our lazy youth who would rather whine instead of work.


36 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:28 pm

" Raise the height or whatever needs to be done to make room for more housing."

Just high enough to accommodate you, right? Everybody wants to be the last SOB to move in.

Look, you got your rental. Enjoy and make the best of it, until the boom ends and housing prices drop or you move on. None of your Midtown neighbors is going to go for higher buildings in their nabes. Likewise any other 'hood. And developers will construct only office buildings during boom times.


67 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 10, 2015 at 1:18 am

Nora Charles is a registered user.

There are many places I'd like to live, but can't afford them. The lovely town by the sea where I lived as a child with my family is now costlier than Palo Alto. It's a fact of life for everyone, everywhere, and something you normally learn at a young age. When I was younger I lived in small, basic apartments, hoping one day I'd be able to live in a house. I've lived in places with long commutes to work, never assuming affordable housing should be built to accommodate me, and others in my situation.

I simply can't understand how some feel they are entitled to live in a town that they simply can't afford to live in.


63 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 10, 2015 at 6:37 am

Entitlement is the key word here. I have no idea when young people developed the notion that all they have to do is desire to live in an expensive and fashionable town, and affordable housing, customized to their incomes will be built for them. They also smugly reject the right of long time residents to protect their quality of life as NIMBY.

I remember living in awful places in run down buildings for years, living like a pauper, doing menial jobs on weekends and hollidays on top of my regular job in order to add to my savings so i could eventually buy a house some day, and not even once had I assumed that I could say something like 'Raise the height or whatever needs to be done to make room for more housing. '


55 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2015 at 7:57 am

I can't understand why people think that the Government should be responsible for finding them a home, finding them a job, or doing what they should be doing for themselves.


48 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 10, 2015 at 8:32 am

If none of the major tech companies are in PA then all of the techies need to move to the location of their current employer - Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Oracle, etc. Those companies are not headquartered in PA. They do have divisions in LA in the tech locations in that area - Mar Vista, Santa Monica, beach cities. Yes - you can work for your favorite tech company in a major city that has a lot of affordable housing.

It is not logical to define your problem as something that everyone else has to solve. You can get up and move to a location that can give you what you want at the price you can afford.

Tesla's Space X is also in the LA area so you engineers have most major companies that want qualified engineers on their projects.

Please note what is required here - qualified people with degrees who have developed their resumes based on logical choices.

Lack of logic is not going to get you anywhere in this world. Everyone else is not required to fill in your lack of ability to plan.


41 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:26 am

I had a conversation a few months ago with a high school mate of my daughter. Now 26 years old and working for a high tech company in north San Jose, he demanded that Palo Alto densify and build high rise buildings so he could afford to live here. So, like most millennials who demand to live in Palo Alto, he doesn't even work in Palo Alto, but feels he is entitled to live here, well, because he wants to have a Palo Alto zip code. Ironically, I ran into him downtown while he was buying a 6 dollar cup of tea with a cinnamon stick in it, glancing frequently at his Apple watch. I also observed him recently driving a very expensive car. It seems like concepts such as saving, scarifying, living below one's means and patience while saving up for a house have been rejected by some of those who demand housing in Palo Alto.


11 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

My son went to Palo Alto schools then out of area for College. He played a school team spot, soccer, little league, golf, etc. Children need to get away for college so they can learn how other people are living and be on their own - learn to organize, budget, and function with other people who come from other places. He now lives in the Oakland Hills - there is a lot of tech in the east bay - has no interests in living in PA though he and significant other- also a IT/Tech can afford to. PA is self absorbed. He is a tech/IT person who works with a lot of companies so has a broad view of where it is happening.

Side note - a lot of tech in Rancho Cordova - a lot of companies have their computer back-ups there so they will be okay in an earth quake. That area has a ton of tech workers who like river rafting and outdoor activities. Son lived there for a while and enjoyed it.

Other peoples children who grew up here, now working for Charles Schwab, etc. have been moved to Arizona. A lot of companies have their back-ups in outlying locations that are out of the areas prone to earthquakes, and growing financial escalation which is a negative for businesses which have a lot of people.

Most people I know who had children in the PA school systems don't live here and are enjoying good jobs in other hi=tech areas. Lots in the LA beach cities - they love it down there. But that is likely children who have a strong sports background who gravitate to places that have more sports locations available.

There is no accounting for taste or the influence of HBO with their Silicon Valley series. Maybe they think they will be discovered. The movie "The Intern" is based in NYC - lot os places that get hyped.


46 people like this
Posted by Mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 10, 2015 at 11:50 am

I would much rather live in Woodside than in Palo Alto, but I can't afford to buy a house in Woodside. I never even contemplated joining Woodside Forward and never appeared before the Woodside town council to demand Woodside densify and build housing that fit my budget.


21 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm

"I can't understand why people think that the Government should be responsible for finding them a home, finding them a job, or doing what they should be doing for themselves."

It's not the Government, it's the World.

Listening closely, I discern that the World only needs to provide the housing that serves the particular petitioner, and the nuts with everyone else. That's a very weak case, in my opinion.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Oct 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm

There's an interesting issue here: many of those who are posting as long-time residents arrived to a Palo Alto that had much looser restrictions on building - zoning rules that allowed apartments, taller buildings, fewer parking spaces, and other things that kept prices low. When these were changed in the late 1970s, specifically to restrict growth, housing prices began to rise until Palo Alto has the highest rent of any city in America.

So, to the long-time residents on this thread - is it entitled for young people to want the same zoning rules that you benefited from when you moved in? Or is it entitled to enjoy the lower housing prices from older zoning rules, then change them to make Palo Alto a more exclusive community after you move in?

Remember, almost all of the apartment complexes in the downtown area predate the 1978 zoning overhaul. If Palo Alto were built under today's zoning, it would be scarcely recognizable as the city we all care about.


19 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 10, 2015 at 9:35 pm

I grew up in Los Angeles - I know that there is an evolution in building codes over time. It is not specific to PA. Please quit thinking that what happens in PA in unique to PA - it universal to the State of California and the population growth.


Guess what - relatives in Lake Oswego, Oregon - Nike world are doing the same thing - trying to build three story buildings to maximize land value. They are arguing over that now. They have to deal with all of the escapees from California who are building a tech world in Portland and surrounding communities. It is happening everywhere.

I have no problem with putting buildings on main transit corridors that are over 4 stories. The people who were trying to slow growth are also the people that prevented BART from circling the bay. They are also the people that did not want big box stores - so we drive to Mountain View to go to Cosco. Guess what - all of the surrounding cities are getting on with more major commercial / residential growth which provides more tax base. Yes - there is something wrong here.

I want to see ECR from Charleston to Oregon redeveloped - right mow it is an embarrassment. Ancient one and two story buildings that are partially utilized and some empty. It is the saddest place ever. If you want a place to put your entitled young people then that is where is should be - rebuild that section of the city.

The population explosion and requirement for infrastructure upgrade is an evolutionary set of circumstances - go to LA to see they are working the same issues. Read the SJN and SFC - same issues - not specific to PA. You cannot go back in time on population growth.

As to entitlement - I thought about that today - no one I went to school with in California ever thought that someone else was suppose to provide their housing - they worked for it. From where I am sitting any child in the school system who goes on to college and graduate school is crazy if they think that ANY city is California owes them housing. All cities in California are trying to redevelop but Mr. Brown - the governor shut off the redevelopment money. So you see this PROBLEM is state specific and is not a PA specific problem.

The word "entitlement" implies that someone gave you something - we just moved into the new houses and went to work. The developers made a bundle and everyone was happy. Now we are suppose to be guilty because we played the only cards on the table at that time. Young people need to think through and look at what cards are on the table TODAY and play those cards. The cards do not need to be played in PA specific.

When people use the word "entitlement" they are ignorant of the transition of time, population, and money. It is a guilt trip word - sorry not going to work.


6 people like this
Posted by Luck
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 10, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Yes, entitlement goes all around.

Many of you that purchased 10, 20, 30 years ago bought into middle class neighborhoods at that time, and benefited greatly from prop 13, high appreciation and much growth in the community. You have benefited enormously from being in the right place at the right time.

Have a little sympathy for younger adults who are unlikely to have such a windfall come their way. Or even double income, middle age parents with decent jobs but no where near the millions it takes to buy now.

You had luck on your side. Be thankful, not condescending.
.


18 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of University South
on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:09 pm

"So, to the long-time residents on this thread - is it entitled for young people to want the same zoning rules that you benefited from when you moved in? Or is it entitled to enjoy the lower housing prices from older zoning rules, then change them to make Palo Alto a more exclusive community after you move in?"

I've seen a lot of twisted logic in my readings, and this is in the highest rank. It was not the established Palo Alto residents who bid up housing prices. That is logically and physically impossible. It was the buyers from outside who decided living in Palo Alto was worth the extra dollars, and dutifully backed that up with mortgages.

"Remember, almost all of the apartment complexes in the downtown area predate the 1978 zoning overhaul."

Not quite. Let's look at some dense housing facts. Oak Court, 801 Alma, and 725 Alma were built well after 1978. All are high-density low-income apartment developments. The 800 High Street condos and the massive condo developments on the old PAMF site were also built long after 1978.

Have you noticed how many backyards around downtown are filled with apartment add-ons? Probably not. Why aren't there even more? The empty big backyards ran out.

Face it. The real cause for your angst is that local developers find it more profitable to construct the massive software factories (aka office developments) that bring the entitled generation to Palo Alto than to build artificially priced apartments catering to it. Go whine to them.


48 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm

This forum is proof that the Silicon Valley phenomenon has run its course. While it operated, smart ambitious people came to the Valley with big original ideas, invented that device, wrote that killer app, did that startup, then took the money they earned (note that) and bought that Valley home. It was a thrilling forward-looking time.

Well, it's over. Now we seem to be overrun with a second generation which simply demands the rewards. Gonna be tough going for ya, gang.


44 people like this
Posted by No more housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2015 at 12:40 am

Anyone else notice that the millennials who are demanding accommodations to meet their desires (not ALL millennials, mind you - many were raised right) all seem to play the same victim card?

I drafted a long post about why prop 13 was passed, how it benefits EVERYONE who invests in a home in this crazily attractive state, and how every generation before the current millennials has had to work hard and sacrifice to buy a home in Palo Alto. [Portion removed.]

Where did we go wrong with this generation that they are incapable of understanding, much less accepting, that they need to make their own way in the world and that the generations before them does not owe them anything? While they denigrate older residents for their vast "fortunes" in their property values, do they even realize how many of us are far from retired, will likely NOT see any social security that we paid into our entire lives and counted on, and will have a HUGE proportion of our investment in our homes taken by the U.S. government as taxes?

Young people, LEARN from the generations before you, you are NOT smarter! You are not more entitled! Educate yourselves on at least the last 100 years of history and economics in this country before you talk smack about prop 13!


45 people like this
Posted by Stop Growth
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Oct 11, 2015 at 12:42 am

We don't have enough spaces in our school district for more children than we have now. If big apartments were built, do these single people think they will live in them or them leave when they have children? No, they will want to raise their children here and will continue to live in the apartment. We just don't have enough room in our schools for more children here.


17 people like this
Posted by LTR
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2015 at 1:25 am

I wish there were a law that allows locally based workers and citizens to bid first on homes, and then after a certain period of time, allow them to be marketed to people outside of the area. It seems so unfair that non-citizens who do not reside here can be allowed to outbid local workers and families.

I feel the same way about university admissions - state residents first.

Especially since it is hard to prove how much of this foreign wealth was obtained legitimately - and likewise authenticating academic achievements.



34 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 11, 2015 at 7:57 am

The Press / Media does not help this discussion. The Weekly paper copy has a face page picture / lead-in - "Palo Alto or Bust". Since the Weekly also has a Mountain View and Menlo Park/Atherton Editions - do the covers of those print editions say Mountain View or Bust? Menlo Park / Atherton or Bust? Or the east bay edition - San Ramon or Bust?

And the SJM Daily News Edition discusses homeless services in Redwood City but posts it in the Palo Alto header. It is nice to know what San Mateo County is doing about the homeless but don't give credit to Palo Alto for those services. There is a media push to localize homeless issues for the north part of the county in PA.

Note that there is a VA on Willow in Menlo Park - no mention of anything happening there to help out. What are they doing for the Vets? They have a lot of property - they could build some mini-homes there.

And then there is the Palo Alto Forward group that sounds like it is providing "Talking Points" cards to people so they are all on the same page. They all sound the same and someone with money is egging them on. Maybe the parents are supporting that action to get the kids out of the house.

And now they want to make movies about famous people in PA. But wait - Mr. Zuckerberg has moved into his house in SF that took two years to remodel. If you irritate the famous people then they will move out. Probably to Atherton / Menlo Park / Lost Altos Hills. And some do not live in PA - they live in "Silicon Valley" which includes Los Altos, Los Altos Hills. The "Larry" lives in Woodside (Oracle).

The press also slants real estate topics to serve specific purposes / developers / funding partners. They want to garner public support for an intended outcome. "City Needs to Build More Housing". We will help out here to point out those lapses in logic.

Atherton has a minimum footage for residential properties - big lots - so maybe that is where we need to go here - change up the footage requirements for Atherton properties so that more housing can be built along the Caltrain right of way. Menlo Park is stepping up to the plate to make that happen. They are doing a good job on architectural style and land use. I love to help San Mateo County in their planning.

I keep wondering about the parents of the millennials - do these people go home to wherever to visit their old bedrooms, neighborhoods, parents. Do they lecture their parents on still being in the house? Do they castigate their parents because they may have benefited from Proposition 13? As parents age what are they going to do to help them out? Where would the parents go? We have to assume that they have a life somewhere that got them here. Are they trying to change where they came from or only where they want to go?
Well - we are where they came from - in theory - so they need to figure out how to change where they came from.


50 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2015 at 9:44 am

Until there is a plan and full funding to expand school capacity, road capacity, utilities capacity, water supply, etc. ...how can anyone talk of significant housing expansion when the city (and its voting citizens) is nowhere prepared to do all of the groundwork to make it happen in a rational and logical order?

Expanded housing = Cart

Expanded support services, etc. = Horse


41 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2015 at 9:48 am

When I first started working I was not able to afford to live in the area and lived with my parents, having a one hour commute each way by car and train plus a 15 minute walk. My first housing away from my parents was a house share, then I bought a small two bedroomed home and shared it with a friend. My spouse had several house shares before buying for the first time and once again it was a house share arrangement. When we married, we had two homes and were able to buy a home together which was much nicer than anything else we had lived in as single adults.

This used to be the way to do it. Seems things have changed and the next generation don't get the patience.

BTW, neither myself nor my spouse would have wanted it any other way. We had a lot of fun with other people's unwanted furniture, and were able to sow our wild oats (well have some messy parties anyway) and create some great memories and some great friendships still held dear today.




7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Oct 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

Ok, let's all take a deep breath. All these stories about how hard it was in the old days and how the young 'uns are so entitled make us feel good, but they don't hold water.

First off, the long hours that tech workers and lawyers work are legendary. I don't think these folks are missing out on the "hard work" that we previous generations enjoyed.

Second, prices are much, much higher than they were even twenty years ago. Today's rents are higher than a mortgage payment from the 80s (much less the 60s!) - even though it sounds like many of these people are living with lots of roommates in a tiny space. A down payment today costs as much as an entire house used to!

Finally, I don't hear any calls for people to be given houses or to want subsidies. It sounds like they want Palo Alto upzoned to allow larger buildings near the train stations and El Camino - which some other (older) posters on this thread think is fine! (And note that this is still more restrictive than the rules in place in the 50s, 60s, and 70s anyway.)

So let's be good neighbors to each other - let's think about actual people with actual problems rather than make straw man caricatures of each other. Maybe some of the posters on this thread should try to meet some of their Millenials neighbors who live in Palo Alto and find common ground. Maybe we're all more alike than we realize.


26 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

If we are to believe the SF Chronicle today 10/11 then the city SF is the center of the world's technology boom. Thank you to Mayor Lee. They also have one of the highest rental rates - as does NYC. So please PA millennials please contain your vehemence for PA's top dog status.

But wait - there is a huge article about the growth of Apple in Cupertino. This is an important article because it talks to our surrounding cities and what percentage is run by the tech companies. It discusses the growth in manpower, and how easily that manpower is being shifted to Apple locations in Austin, Texas. The point being that what is there today may not be there tomorrow. It is all about the economics. And guess what - you can buy a lot of house in Texas - if you hurry up. They will catch up in no time to escalating prices.

The article alludes to the upgrade of the Vallco Shopping center in
Cupertino. Make a note on this and other articles in the SJM concerning the problems associated with that project. Sand Hill Properties is working that project and now has shown interest in our beautiful building on El Camino next to the soccer field at Oregon. That is telling you that they want to incorporate that project into the Cupertino project to offset losses / problem. So any problem in Cupertino becomes our problem in Palo Alto.

We do not need to go down this rabbit hole. The building is fine. We do not need to get entangled into other city issues which are already rocky.
Word to ARB and PACC, and to Weekly who produced a smack down on this building - forget it.


11 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 11, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Here is another real estate issue - home sales prices skyrocketed prior to 2009. Then in 2009 was the huge stock market crash and reduction in home sales prices. People who took out mortgages for the home prior to 2009 now had mortgages that were higher than the value of the home on the market. So they were "underwater" as to any sale of the property. It then is a waiting game to get the value of the home up to the amount of the mortgage. My son's house in the Oakland Hills is underwater - he is not going anywhere soon.

But for commercial properties you now have many that are underwater in one place so developers take out loans against one property to use on another property venture. When they upgrade and go to sell property number 1 at what appears to be a profit is really not - they have to pay off the loans associated with that house which may be in excess of the sales price. Real estate has a lot of twists and turns as alluded to in the SFC article. If Cupertino banks on Apple being there and they start moving people out to Texas the that whole dynamic changes. Mountain View is watching and hedging their bets to not bank on Google all the way but plug in other companies to stabilize the city economy.
A lot of dynamics here. The millennials are just a stalking horse and diversion from the underlying, on-going plans.


10 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 11, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I thought 'post' fatigue would have set in by now but it hasn't. All the ideas offered of where to build new housing are wonderful. Now the challenge is how to accomplish that. I assume there are many owners of those eyesore properties on ECR. To raze the entire strip for a do over is a herculean task. Who will step forward with a proposal how to do it?

Yes, let's be intelligent about it but let zoning changes happen in certain areas that will allow for more housing for the workers in our city. Many questions are still unanswered in my mind. How many and what size units are needed? How many of the commuting workers would want to live here knowing the rental price for a 1 bdrm apartment is $3600 a month?

The focus of new housing should be to have it located near where those downtown office workers and techies work. If the space can be provided I could envision a couple Channing House size apartment buildings. Trust me, developers know where every square foot of potential building space is located. They have to be convinced somehow to turn their attention away from building more offices and to build housing for the workers in the existing offices. But we all know by now why they don't.


64 people like this
Posted by Actuality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Truthfully, the long hours of Silicon Valley are nothing new. My father worked sixty hours a week in the late sixties, all through the seventies, eighties, and nineties until he retired in 2002. I remember reading reports in the seventies of Natinal Semicinductor, Intel, and HP workers working more hours than my dad, and being told that if they did NOT, their careers would be hurt. During the eighties and early nineties, Apple employees often worked eighty-hour weeks, some sleeping under their desks. Most people on the start-ups of the nineties and early 2000s worked 60-72 hours per week out of necessity, the founders' Children not knowing their parents until recently.

Long hours and hard work have separated Silicon Valley workers from the rest of the nation for over fifty years!


39 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm

"First off, the long hours that tech workers and lawyers work are legendary. I don't think these folks are missing out on the "hard work" that we previous generations enjoyed."

If hard work by itself was enough, we'd have legions of field workers buying houses in Palo Alto. Yet, believing in a diverse community and sharing opportunities, our town provides as much genuine low-income housing as it can.

But we have no shortage of tech workers, and tech workers in Silicon Valley have no shortage of opportunity. There is no compelling reason to reconfigure Palo Alto to accommodate the brazen sense of entitlement displayed by a few of them.


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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:13 pm

How about re-zoning the baylands, and putting in a thousand manufactured homes out there? Just let them know that know the soil is contaminated before they move in.
Worked for those other apartments near the JCC.
I lived on Woodland Ave as a single mom with a toddler before I could find a rental in Palo Alto. You get used to the freeway noise, dust, threats of creek flooding, and addicts knocking on your door for money.


27 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Wow - we are coming up on an El Nino and everyone is screaming for the city and county to get ready for the big event. We have all kinds of topics relative to the impending big rain. The Baylands will be the hardest hit.

That has a designation for insurance purposes that precludes housing.
At this point in time it is zoned commercial. It has the airport which is the third busiest in the county. A new auto showroom is being built. It is under the high power lines. The golf course is being taken over by some other group so expect it to be improved. Also the Nature Interpretive center is going to be updated and the walkway upgraded. It is next to what I call "the dump". If you go out there they are continually moving dirt and giant trucks are bringing in more dirt.

If you have been there in the time of the king tides it is impressive as a wetlands. Most actions now for flood areas in to increase the wetlands to act as a buffer.

That is not an obvious choice.

The most obvious choice is to upgrade ECR - change the zoning so that new apartments can be built. Area East Meadow / El Camino Way to Oregon Expressway.


15 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

The underlying theme of new housing is for the "techies" to be able to walk or bike to their location of employment. If that is the theme then consider that a number of techies are located at companies between Foothill Expressway and 280. So logic says that there has to be an increase in housing in the vicinity of those businesses. Or Stanford Research Park which employs a lot of techies. A BART station in this location would be a big boost to reduction in auto traffic.

If BART was in place it could move people from the western side of the city between SF and San Jose, and the biggest employer in Cupertino - Apple (techie heaven) - but people keep smacking down that idea. SU is building on the western side of the campus so they would greatly benefit from a BART station on their campus - they have to spend a lot of money and facility space on parking garages. A BART station at the VA next to Gunn HS could be a big boost to reduction in auto travel.

So chew on the fact that VM Ware is located on Hillsdale - belief that one of our PAF ladies was employed by them - or still is. Their name is now in the news relative to Dell Computer buying EMC - WSJ 10/13/15 "Dell's EMC Bid Clouds VM Ware". Dell locally is located in north San Jose. See - a lot are in North San Jose so that is the place that the techie needs to play their cards. The future ownership of VM Ware could change up where the employees are working - and if logic applies where they are living.

As in the case of Apple who is expanding to Sunnyvale and North San Jose, as well as Google any argument you make can be overcome by the machinations of big business.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm

VM Ware is on Hillview...


5 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

@mauricio wrote:

"Notice how the demanders of housing uniformerly refuse to recognize the rights of existing evidence to preserve their chosen lifestyle and quality of fe from the massive increase in density, noise and pollution that would occur if only a portion of the demanders wish is met."

I notice how the wave of people who flooded into Palo Alto in the 1980s refused to recognize "rights" of Palo Altans to preserve their chosen lifestyle. Their arrival led to a massive increase in density, noise and pollution, and a general decline in the quality of life. If they really wished to turn back the clock and restore Palo Alto to what it was, they would go. Yet many of those relatively new arrivals not only stay, they claim that others should not be allowed in. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm

I don't recall any mass increase in housing density in the 1980s. Nor do I recall ABAG demanding that the city build thousands of new housing units which it has since done.

I have seen a gradual increase in housing density--tilt-ups replaced by townhouse and condo developments.

Palo Alto's population actually dropped between 1970 and 1980 and rose slightly by 1990 (though it still wasn't at 1970's level.) There was another slight rise by 2,000 and a more dramatic rise by 2010--just under 10 percent. We're on our way to another 10 percent increase by 2020.

So, no, people who arrived here in the 1980s didn't create a big upsurge in housing or density.

The basic problem with density and Palo Alto is that the town's grid isn't that large and the city's been built out for a long time--so no big tracts of land that aren't being used, no streets that can be readily widened--it's water on one side and Stanford on the other. Month by month, traffic gets worse--particularly the last year.

I do think there are a few things that should be done--the poster who complained about investors from China got shouted down, but according to this news story

Web Link

a fifth of Deleon's sales in Palo Alto are to buyers in China and half of those sales go to "ghost buyers"--people who buy and then neither rent nor occupy the homes. Honestly, I think Ken Deleon's deliberately underestimating the issue for PR reasons-

Now, in some ways, this is not a terrible thing--it boosts our housing prices, while making little demand on city services (i.e. school enrollment). That said, given the huge demand for housing from people who actually want to live here, it seems reasonably to have a local law that requires homes to be occupied. Ghost homes aren't good for neighborhoods and the lack of housing in the city does increase traffic.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"After all, what has Stanford done for (as distinct from to) Palo Alto lately?"

Just millions of dollars in property taxes and sales taxes EVERY YEAR from the Research Park and the Shopping Center - both of which were long ago willingly annexed to Palo Alto.


8 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:13 pm

@ Peter Carpenter,

Since you joined this conversation, I suggest that dense housing be built in Atherton for local "techies". Atherton is close by and has a lot of room to accommodate apartments and condos.


12 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Another somewhat older article on the influence of overseas buyers, particularly ones from China, on Palo Alto's housing market:

Web Link

The article's from 2013--the thing that really caught my eye was this:

"But with the Chinese, it’s got cachet, thanks to high-ranking public high schools Palo Alto and Gunn, and the distinction of being the place Steve Jobs lived. Ken DeLeon, a sales agent who says he is No. 1 in Silicon Valley based on 2013 MLS sales, says demand is driving up sales prices in a hyper local way. In 2006, the average home sales price in Palo Alto was only 3.34% higher than neighboring Menlo Park, DeLeon says. “Now it’s over 38.96% higher,” he says. (To put that into context, average prices for Menlo Park have risen from $1,468,006 to $1,701,218, according to MLS numbers. In Palo Alto, they’ve jumped from $1,517,155 to $2,363,936 this year.) To Americans, the two neighborhoods would be about equally desirable."

So, yes, Palo Alto really *has* become less affordable and the influence of overseas non-resident buyers is a big part of that.

We could do things to slow this down, but there are a lot of people making a lot of money from this (Ken Deleon for example), but any serious discussion of the housing shortage in Palo Alto has to acknowledge this reality. The new housing built at Edgewood, for example, is mostly sold and mostly unoccupied. New housing stock that did nothing to alleviate the housing shortage for people who live and work in the area.

If, however, we restrict the market in various ways many of our homes might be worth less and not everyone wants to risk that.


2 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm

>Just millions of dollars in property taxes and sales taxes EVERY YEAR from the Research Park and the Shopping Center - both of which were long ago willingly annexed to Palo Alto.

@Peter: I agree, and I would add that Stanford provides good paying jobs, both directly, and via the Research Park. Palo Alto is a well-off, leafy universiburb due to Stanford, not the converse. We will always have town vs. gown issues, but Stanford deserves a lot of credit, and its importance to PA should not be diminished.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have long advocated high density housing all along the Caltrain corridor - including in Atherton.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm
"One thought is the put the trains underground, use the surface rights above it for housing in the stretches between stations and use the surface above the stations for transit connections and parking. The surface area of the current right of way is very valuable land - particularly in Atherton - and could generate a lot of the needed capital.

Why not take this as an opportunity to design a multi-dimensional, multi-purpose system that uses the existing right-of-way that includes CalTrain, HSR, utility conduits for telephone and internet cables, surface housing with high density housing around each station. And add a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle path on the surface along the entire right of way. And include 3 or 4 12" conduits for the technology of the future.

We should think of this right of way as an integrated multi-modal communications spine for the peninsula."

Do it once and do it right.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:29 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Some amazing comments above. People flooded into PA in the late 50's and 60's because that is when a lot of the houses south of Oregon Expressway were built. A lot of that land was created from bay fill. Obviously the city approved the construction as did the county and state. So people bought the homes. If you look at the real estate section of the paper there are listings for new homes all over the region in new housing developments. So again - this was not specific to PA but was taking place state wide. The majority of those people were working in technology related efforts for major companies.

If that represents some diversion from the rest of PA have to disagree because most of those companies were working in partnership with SU on major engineering programs.

And reference to the 80's - don't get that one.

I think a lot of people are walking around with self-serving diatribes about everyone else. A lot of hyperbole employed that has little relevance to the facts.


10 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:17 am

I love Marc's comment above - ban the building of single family homes on lots. So this all gets back to the "single family home" target.

You all need to get in your cars - or bikes and ride around. Older homes are being torn down and replaced with larger, more modern homes. That is true from San Antonio Road across to the creek boundary. There is no lack of building of single family homes on the existing lots.

Suggest that some people get over it - single family homes are here to stay - as they are throughout the peninsula. PA is not a sardine can now and will not become one.

We can accommodate the building of apartments on ECR to replace aging buildings. That is the obvious choice.

And if that does not suit anyone then check you weekend papers in the real estate section - they advertise the new buildings all over the peninsula. There is no lack of choices out there - read your newspaper.


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 11:12 am

Crescent Park Dad is a registered user.

@ res1: Ditto.


7 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 20, 2015 at 10:39 am

Just like to mention that the sale of single family homes is doing great right now. When a single family home sells the tax assessment is based on the sales price. So PA benefits greatly when single family homes change hands. They are making money by virtue of the sale.

If a homeowner tears down and existing home or adds more floor space then the tax assessment on that house moves up. PA benefits from tear downs and expanded space on properties.

However - commercial properties which are held in perpetuity by some corporation or individual operating through a leasing company typically has a very low tax assessed value. Likewise when a corporation builds an apartment building the tax assessed value gets stuck and never keeps pace with the current stated value of the property.

So cries for more buildings which are for sardine can living owned by a corporation do no service to Palo Alto.

There is no benefit to a city the size of Palo Alto to reduce the number of single family homes.


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Posted by Vigilant Electorate
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Vigilant Electorate is a registered user.

Resident 1

The area on ECR you disparage so much as being full of age and rot between Charleston and Oregon is actually very beneficial to Barron Park residents. It may not have the fancy aesthetics you seem to prefer but does provide one of the few areas in Palo Alto where there are actually small businesses within walking/riding distance that support local residents. (restaurants, laundry, post office, retail)

Maybe a better place to demolish and rebuild with high density apartments would be Charleston Center? It is on Middlefield with better access to the freeway ;-)


11 people like this
Posted by Millennial
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

As a millennial, I have to say the amount of entitlement millennials feel in this post is staggering.

They should be thankful they even had the opportunity to grow up in Palo Alto. Also, they at least have a chance at staying in Palo Alto by living with their parents, and/or inheriting their parent's property down the road.

Millennial entitlement is real, and as a millennial myself I see it everywhere around me, especially at work.

P.S. I own in Palo Alto because instead of relying on entitlement I rely on hard work. I certainly would not be entitled to my Palo Alto property if God forbid one day I can no longer afford my mortgage.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

When I drive down ECR I see many empty buildings - no attempt to keep the area clean and picked-up. There is one near the AT&T store. The person who wanted to upgrade his hotel ended up being compared to a shoe store and fast food restaurant when it is more appropriate to compare to the buildings on the square. Going on down there are more empty stores. And this area is where we see many instances of car break-ins. Also the stabbing at the donut store.
There are some nice businesses in the area but they cannot be responsible for crime prevention.

I think the area from East Meadow to Charleston is nice - clean and picked up.

If the business owners have no compulsion to paint their buildings and keep the area clean then the business owners are not showing any responsible action on their part. It goes back to who owns the stores and what are they doing to keep the neighborhood picked up and nice. It is not the job of the residents and shoppers to do that.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 22, 2015 at 5:52 am

Another area that is questionable is East Bayshore. The buildings are continually for lease in the Embarcadero area. The people that own those buildings must have a very low tax assessed value. I do not see any techie businesses there. Maybe PA should look at buildings that sit unoccupied and challenge the owners to determine why that is so - asking too much money for the lease cost? Possibly some of those buildings/property could be put to better use as apartments but would need to be built on a raised platform for possible flooding. If a commercial building sits unoccupied then there should be push to change that.


2 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I read that Palo Alto recently lost five high school teacher candidates, and has fourteen vacancies in the police department, due to the cost of living.

There is not even close to enough housing near jobs, nor adequate transportation to efficiently get workers to their jobs from afar.

These are problems for a city (and region) to have.

Pointing out these problems, and suggesting that smart, balanced housing growth would help a wide swath of the community, is NOT "entitlement"!

Sure, I personally would love to someday be able to buy a nice 3-bedroom condo within biking distance to my job, and walking distance to services, that costs under a million dollars.

But I also care about all the consequences of the massive jobs-housing imbalance. I care about working class families being priced out, having to pull their kids out of schools and sever ties with their community. I care about the human and environmental costs of commutes that are 90 or 120 minutes. I care about attracting teachers, police officers, and other public servants. I care about diversity.

I ask my neighbors, you can agree or disagree with proposals, but please don't derail the conversation with dismissive claims of "entitlement". Let's try to be respectful of each other even when we disagree.


8 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Dec 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm

There are clearly too many jobs for the available land in Palo Alto. We need to demolish some of the office buildings to put things back in balance.


8 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm

There is no housing crisis in Palo Alto, unless you are actually homeless.

If you live in San Francisco and have to commute for an hour to get to your job in Palo Alto, that doesn't support the purchase of Palo Alto real-estate, that sucks but it is not a crisis.

The real crisis is in Palo Alto's real-estate development industry, which is running out of ways to liquidate Palo Alto's intangible assets, for fun and profit.


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