News

Neighborhood hostels prompt concerns

Single-family homes are being converted into daily rentals, shared housing

A trend in converting houses into hostels and hacker spaces has some residents in Palo Alto's neighborhoods crying foul.

The homes, which are being rented out on online marketplaces such as Airbnb.com, take in as many as 16 people at a time, some in bunk-bed settings, for rentals that can range from a day to months.

City officials say they are somewhat hampered by laws that do not allow them to limit the number of non-related persons living in a single-family home. But the living arrangements may violate the city ordinance that governs single-family homes. Specifically, rentals for fewer than 30 days or for business purposes by workers who don't live in the home are not permitted.

Residents turned out to a College Terrace Residents Association meeting earlier this month to raise the issue, which they said amounts to young entrepreneurs setting up a business in their neighborhood.

Some residents told the College Terrace board that the strangers smoke cigarettes and talk on cellphones on the street at night to avoid disturbing housemates, but that has made the residents' children feel afraid to play outside. Other residents voiced worries about added traffic and higher water use.

Renters of these spaces, who are reportedly visiting teachers, scholars, students and interns, said the shared housing is the only way they can afford to live in Palo Alto.

The College Terrace residents aren't alone in their concerns. All over Palo Alto, homes are being rented out on daily and weekly bases, despite the city's ordinance that requires a 30-day minimum stay. Luxury homes in Crescent Park and downtown, cottages in College Terrace and Barron Park, and Eichlers in Charleston Meadows are all up for rent at prices ranging from $30 for a bunk bed or pull-out couch to more than $2,000 a night for a large house, according to their online ads.

The potential conversion of a home into a boarding house caused alarm in Barron Park in 2014 after an applicant sought to build a two-story home with eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Public outcry caused the applicant to withdraw his plans, and he submitted a new proposal in March for a 5,539-square-foot, single-story home, which includes a 2,863-square-foot basement. This second proposal adds 1,000 square feet to the original plan, neighborhood watchdogs noted, but city officials said they can't restrict the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in a home, and single-story homes don't require a public review.

A search of Airbnb on Wednesday found more than 300 rentals in Palo Alto. Of those, 101 were for entire homes, 175 were for private rooms in a home and 31 for shared, dormitory or bunk-bed-style rooms.

The shared-room rentals are clearly geared toward young techies, with listings offering games, camaraderie, lightning-fast Internet access and an inexpensive place to land. They have names like Hacker House, International Home for Startups and Hacker's Hostel.

"Amazing bunk bed in Hacker Kingdom," one post for a rental in the Ventura neighborhood advertised. "We have Internet. We got board games. We currently don't have a shower unless you don't mind showering in an ultra clean sink."

Photos show a hallway of closet-like rooms, each containing two metal bunk beds against a brightly painted cinderblock wall. That setup will cost $30 per night with a $5 cleaning fee.

For a short-term rental, reviewers said, it was the perfect place for guys who need a place to crash.

Two homes on Princeton Street near College Avenue that were advertised on SUpost, Stanford University's online marketplace, show wooden bunk beds in a tightly configured space.

"We are looking for quiet, responsible housemates to live together with us in our lovely and very large house. Each room is shared between two, four or six people with separate rooms for males and females. Up to 16 people will be living in the house," the ad notes.

But young entrepreneurs offering congenial, collaborative living spaces aren't the only ones getting on the rental bandwagon.

"Super Bowl 2016," a home on Homer Avenue, is attempting to cash in on the demand when the football championship is hosted in the Bay Area. The entire house is for rent at $2,000 a night, with six beds and space for eight guests, according to its Airbnb advertisement.

Staying for just a few days is clearly the aim for some renters. One Midtown house that accommodates 10 people was recently used for a company off-site meeting, according to a reviewer on Airbnb.

While home-owning entrepreneurs didn't respond to requests for interviews prior to this newspaper's press time, renters at some of the shared housing said the setups are essential in exorbitantly pricey Palo Alto.

"It's very expensive -- very expensive to stay here. I couldn't believe the prices here. Even Stanford is expensive. Most people have to share or go farther away," said Oscar Rueda, a scientist visiting Stanford University for two months from Cambridge University on a travel grant. Rueda is living in part of a rented cottage behind Hacker House, a communal-living space in Barron Park.

On Wednesday evening, students came and went noiselessly on bicycles and on foot. Hilary Griffin, who rents a large home across the street from Hacker House, said the inhabitants have been quiet.

But while looking for a home to rent, she came across a shared house in Old Palo Alto on Waverley Street near the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' house, she said. Inside the Tudor-style home, "There were 16 people living there. It looked just like a frat house. ... There were dishes in the sink that must have been four days old. They were guys working from Google. The poor Realtor was running around trying to clean up, picking up towels off the floor," she said.

The issue has already come to the attention of the Palo Alto City Council, which in March rejected regulating Airbnb rentals due to a lack of urgency of the problem. City staff had only received seven complaints about the issue last year, two of which had been deemed invalid. The council directed staff to monitor the situation and agreed to bring it back for discussion next year.

Planning Director Hillary Gitelman said that the city cannot legally regulate the number of people who live in a household.

"We can, however, regulate the number of units (defined by the number of kitchens), and we can regulate short-term rentals," she said in an email.

A short-term rental would be one that is less than 30 days, which would constitute transient occupancy and not residential use, she said. The city does investigate complaints when properties are being rented out on a short-term basis to multiple persons, she said.

City code also does not limit the number of bedrooms or bathrooms that can be constructed within a residence. It regulates the overall size and use as a residence, rather than as a hotel, she said.

Palo Alto Municipal Code 2.33.010 defines a hotel as any structure or portion of a structure that is occupied or intended for occupancy by transients for dwelling, lodging or sleeping. It includes any hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel, studio hotel, bachelor hotel, lodging house, morning house, apartment house, dormitory public or private club, mobile home or house trailer in a fixed location.

Comments

38 people like this
Posted by Luxury Hostel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

There are two on our block alone. Both were bought by Chinese investors, built new by real estate agents.

The one closest to us has a continual array of short-term renters, some for one day, many for as long as one month.

One of the renters talked to my wife recently and said that they were paying $10,000/ month for the privilege of a place to live while the home they bought in Crescent Park was being readied.

There have been a few people who were suspicious looking ( gold tooth with diamond, excessive diamond jewelry on males,etc), and threw a lot of parties during their brief stay.

Actually, there have been no overt problems, no police raids or public annoyances.

As long as the renters are law-abiding, who cares?


56 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of University South
on Oct 30, 2015 at 9:16 am

This is just a symptom of the incredibly high cost of housing in Palo Alto. And that has been caused by a zoning code that - since the 1970s - places many barriers to building housing of the type that single people can live in or afford. It's illegal to construct a new four-story building full of studio apartments! But the city and the zoning code encourage luxury two-bedroom units instead.

All of the smaller units in Palo Alto are in buildings like the President Hotel that would be illegal to build today, or are in buildings that got some sort of special exemption to the luxury-only rules. No surprise that if people want small units and the city only allows huge units, that people try to pack a dozen young people into a room. It's not right, but it's an easy-to-predict consequence of the rules the city put in place.

We have a limited amount of land available for new housing. The city should repeal the rules that prevent new small units in our downtowns and legalize studio apartments. If there were studios for these people to rent, they'd have better options than landlords who want to pack 16 people into a house.


43 people like this
Posted by SandinePack
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2015 at 9:49 am

I thought there would be a law limiting to number of people per room etc. to prevent this kind of logging. While renting other places in California, there were always caps to no of people that can reside in the unit, I think it was 5 people for a 2 bedroom and 3 people for a 1 bedroom apartment. Basically, 2 people per room and 1 person per living room (or at least that was what I understood). So I am wondering how they can legally squeeze 16 people into a 4 bedroom house. Anyone has any ideas?


8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2015 at 9:56 am

@SandinePack

That's doubtful, because law like that would mean a couple living in a 1br apartment would only be allowed to have one child. Is this really a road we want to be traveling down?


35 people like this
Posted by Real American
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

it's not only happening in houses, but in apartments as well. the tenants create so much trash that it creates problems for actual residents. Plus, these people are essentially running a business of out these homes. Do they have a business license? Doubtful.


11 people like this
Posted by Home is Where the Job Is
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:25 am

Expensive? Try astronomical and unbelievably priced shelter in PA. The jobs are here, but looking for a roof over one's head is almost an out of body experience. Please approve new safe, affordable housing to those seeking job refuge here. It's badly needed and would be more sustainable than forcing day workers to travel alone by car, train and bike many hours from their communities and families for hourly wages. Granny units and 30 bunk bed hostels are not the answers to long-term housing necessities for people. The climate is changing, but PA's heart doesn't seem to be thawing on this one.


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:38 am

When we were looking for our home we went to many Open Houses around town. A few of the houses were rentals at the time and although we were able to look around the houses we were often not allowed in the garages. One realtor told us that many rental homes had what they called illegal bedroom conversions in the garages. I suspect that in these overcrowded homes, the garages are also used as bedroom space.


31 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:42 am

[Post removed.]


47 people like this
Posted by SF Transplant
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:43 am

If SF passes Prop F (limiting short-term rentals/Airbnb resolution), I certainly hope that Palo Alto does likewise. Otherwise, we will inherit SF's (former) problem


34 people like this
Posted by capitalism at work
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:45 am

Our socialist city council and neighborhood NIMBY groups refuse to support market-based affordable housing, like big apartment buildings and high-rise condos. This encourages grass-roots capitalists to take advantage of the situation and create their own profitable affordable housing like what this report describes.


19 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2015 at 11:46 am

@Palo Alto Native

The only "entitlement" I see is from those who believe that their neighborhoods and city should not be subject to market forces.


77 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm

@Robert: Yes, we are entitled to live here because we planned our careers and were financially successful, living elsewhere before we could afford to live here. I am not living in my parents' house where I grew up here, we bought a house for millions. We did not win the lottery - it was all hard work. [Portion removed.] Those who cannot afford to live in Palo Alto (but want to) love to shoot darts at Palo Altans out of sheer jealousy. Those who don't have children don't understand the impact of traffic on Palo Alto.

This sums up Gen Y: Why people under 35 are so unhappy Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of University South
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm

@Palo Alto Native - young students and recent grads packed four to a room are "entitled"? I suggest you take a close look at your neighbors who voted against affordable housing at Maybell before you throw that term around.


31 people like this
Posted by Emily
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:12 pm

You guys missed a really great headline opportunity here:
"Hood hostile over hostel hosts.


57 people like this
Posted by Overcrowded
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm

On the block I live on, there is one " high end" hostel built and owned by an absent Beijing investor. A lot of creepy people rent it out for parties. By creepy, I mean people being delivered to the address in rented limos who dress like gang bangers, wear gold jewelry everywhere one can possibly hand jewelry from, and appear inebriated when they stumble out of their limo. The police have broken up the parties twice so far this year.

The other problem is that our next door neighbor put in an extra family room and converted the one-car garage to another bedroom---all WITHOUT a permit. He then moved out, advertised the house as having 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms ( technically it has 3 legal bedrooms and 1-1:2 bathrooms), and asked $7500/month rent. It requires five Stanford grad students to pay the rent!

I have talked to two of the parents of these Stanford kids ( four of them are from out of state ). They were furious about the condition of the house, paucity of bathrooms and closets, lack of back yard or even a patio, lack of a garage or parking area ( one of the kids was bought a Nissan Leaf, another a new Mercedes for getting their bachelors degrees). Most of all, they were in utter sticker shock at the rent they had to shell out for their kids. All I could say was that this was the going rate due to foreign investment, be glad it isn't higher, be glad the owner put in a car charger, etc.

I can't help but feel ashamed of my community.


12 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Overcrowded,
Not sure where you live but have you tried reporting the situation next-door to Code Enforcement or the police department?


21 people like this
Posted by capitalism at work
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm

If the city and the NIMBYs had allowed more standard affordable housing, such as high-density apartment buildings and condos, those would have went though standard health and building code inspection and enforcement. Instead, we get this haphazard neighborhood capitalism that is really hard to inspect. Blame the city and the NIMBYs for this mess, not the Chinese. How did all this anti-Chinese bigotry get started anyway?


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm

[Post removed.]


55 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

The city says it will regulate single family homes that rent out to tenants for less than 30 days. The problem is proving that is the case. We have a neighbor who just keeps adding sofas, cots, tents, and multiple beds to the house. This has to violate safety/fire standards. It's an old house and the wiring is not up to date.

We were just at an inn where the capacity limit was two people to the bedroom. This is just nonsense to say the city can't regulate a single family home being turned into a big boarding house business.

Try to open up a child care business in your home -- you will find out you can have one child for your business! Two or more children and you are required to have a license and it will be regulated.

The city needs to step in and regulate boarding houses. There should be a cap to the number of tenants when you have a business.


41 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Capitalism at Work - Redwood city approved high density housing near their downtown area, 2,500 apartments, almost all 1 bedroom apartments. Almost all are priced at $3500 - $3800/month, with a few BMR units thrown in.

So tell us how allowing more high density housing to be built will solve the problem of 10 - 12 people renting a house?


60 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm

"The only "entitlement" I see is from those who believe that their neighborhoods and city should not be subject to market forces."

Au contraire. It is pure, unadulterated market forces that brought real estate prices to their present levels, in the form of real estate bidding wars among wealthy outsiders. It ain't the established residents who are offering the high prices that fuel ever more excesses.

Those advocating "affordable" housing for code monkeys with six figure salaries are preaching asymmetric socialism, favoring our new Entitleds, not market forces. Ironic, since coding types otherwise tend toward Libertarianism.


26 people like this
Posted by Greg_H
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Greg_H is a registered user.

The commentary here seems particularly confused. Some commentators seem to be defending airbnb as housing. But the article is about hotels in residential homes - short term stays. Surely short term stays are removing inventory from what could be long term housing rental. That's the real discussion here. If we enforce our current laws, we'd have more housing available. That's market forces. Market forces isn't allowing a hotel in a quiet neighborhood street - that's just breaking the communities laws. Same thing for businesses operating out of a home with people commuting there to work - we just need enforcement!


59 people like this
Posted by Horrible
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

This kind of thing is ruining the fabric of our neighborhoods. There is no sense of community anymore with all of these rentals housing unknown people who are coming and going. If it's too expensive to stay here then don't stay here. That's what hotels are for.


64 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Our neighborhoods are under attack in Palo Alto. Neighborhood schools are now replaced by boutique schools; overflow parking has invaded many neighborhoods; houses are now becoming rental hotels; subsidized housing is demanded in the non-elite neighborhoods; outside investors are buying up homes (but not living in them...and it isn't just Chinese); leaf blowers are out of control (both noise and dust).

However...there is some push back: RPPP for parking control; PACH is no longer a sacred cow for subsidized housing (after the Prop D fiasco); The Airbnb model is being challenged (although our city council is still behind the curve...they will be forced to take it on, whether they want to or not); the leaf blower issue just shows are weak and meek our "complaint-based" laws are...we can expect that to change, down the line; there is still much support for neighborhood schools, etc.

Those of us who live here, and have for quite some time, are not going away....


27 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm

"I thought there would be a law limiting to number of people per room etc. to prevent this kind of logging. While renting other places in California, there were always caps to no of people that can reside in the unit, I think it was 5 people for a 2 bedroom and 3 people for a 1 bedroom apartment. Basically, 2 people per room and 1 person per living room (or at least that was what I understood). So I am wondering how they can legally squeeze 16 people into a 4 bedroom house. Anyone has any ideas?"

The formula is two people per bedroom + 1. Children under a certain age (I think it is 3 years old, but am not sure) don't count towards the total. So for a one bedroom apartment, it is 3 people max. A four bedroom rental would be nine people max.

[Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

[Post removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by @Kazu
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:06 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by BP res
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Too bad our famed "hackers" from La Jennifer haven't seen fit to help out their old neighborhood. After school programs at BP, repave some of these outrageous streets, put those unsightly telecable lines underground?


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm

There are multiple problems here.

In the past couple of weeks there have been articles about whether or not Granny Units should be allowed, about ghost houses with nobody living in them and now this one about overcrowded hostel type houses. We have people expecting more housing to be built and others who are concerned about students attending are schools who don't live in Palo Alto.

I actually am asking what on earth is happening in our town?

Our schools are crowded. There is very little affordable shopping. The traffic is dreadful. Our infrastructure is mid 20th century. Yet people are still crowding in.

I have nothing against proper studio type one person living units becoming available, but I do not approve of this sardine can style of living which must be unhealthy to begin with and completely unfair to neighbors next door or even in the next street. I have no idea how their water usage, garbage usage, etc. can be comparable to a regular family living nearby.

One home in our neighborhood is a boomerang house with the adult post college children coming back home to live with parents. Even this type of home can cause problems with cars parked on the street and no space for legitimate guests of ours to park for a few hours.

Is this insanity something that will continue and at what stage will this stop?


7 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


17 people like this
Posted by truthis
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm

The majority knows the ghost house is a joke but this one is the reality!


14 people like this
Posted by Manuela
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 2:58 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


28 people like this
Posted by pamom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Regarding legal restrictions on number of tenants allowed: Many years ago California banned discrimination in rental housing against families with children. Some landlords continued to discriminate by developing "one bedroom per tenant" rules, which meant that a young couple with two small children (who might be perfectly happy with a two bedroom unit) would be forced to rent a four bedroom. This effectively priced out many families. To deal with this, the law then said that LANDLORDS must accept up to two people per bedroom (some exceptions for tiny rooms) plus one. So a family of five could rent a two bedroom, a family of six could not be required to rent more than a three bedroom, etc. The law does not apply to the current problem of landlords allowing ridiculously large numbers; it only that landlords not be OVERLY restrictive.
SandinePack and a few others are confusing apples and oranges.


59 people like this
Posted by Manuela
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm

The problems we are seeing with overcrowded housing is not just in the Bay Area, but almost everywhere in America.

The biggest cause of this is the fact that Americans have looked after their wallets instead of the good of the economy.

Buying cheap, poor quality products from China simply handed our hard-earned dollars to the business and factory owners there. Now they are using those dollars to buy houses here, in some places buying entire neighborhoods.

According to Ben Bernanke in his bookbinding"The Courage to Act", globalization, outsourcing, and the insufficient education of the middle class have also robbed America of its prosperity ( this is one of only four or five nations that does not pay for undergraduate and graduate degrees for citizens who qualify). In many counties, married students and THEIR families are supported by parents until the students achieves either an MD or PhD degree.


62 people like this
Posted by LTR
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2015 at 4:33 pm

We once rented a home in Palo Alto where our rent money was wired to a bank account in Taiwan. The owner's family had multiple homes in Palo Alto, and Redwood City. I believe at least 9 properties throughout the area. This was back in 2007.
The foreign owner rented the property we were living at, for at least 10 years prior to us renting it. He never lived in it. It was purchased as income property for his family.
We are not allowed to own property in these countries. Why should they be allowed to own multiple homes in developed countries, and take advantage of loop holes in the laws of Western countries?
I feel that there should be a restriction on allowing foreign ownership of our real estate. It is just flat out unfair to people who live and work in the area. This will ultimately hurt corporations and businesses.
This is taking money away from our economy in a big way if you sit and figure out how much of this money is going out of our country.


11 people like this
Posted by I have a question
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Overcrowded- I have some questions about you narrative:

1. What neighborhood are you talking about
2. How do you know ow the owner is from. Beijing
3. What makes the people "creepy-- the fact they arrive by limo or that they were jewelry. If that is the case many people are creepy!!!! As an aside, you must be standing right next to the limo when it arrives to notice such details.
4. S $1500 RENT FOR A ROOM IN palo altogether is not that bad. Do you think it is expensive?
5. How did you contact the parents of the grad students? Did they offer up the info that they got cars as a graduation gift? Why is that a problem?
6. The parents really did not know what the rents were in palo alto. Why did t they live in on campus graduate school housing ?
7. Why are you ashamed of the community when it is a single homeowner to blame?

On another thread people complain about ghost houses and on this thread they CoMcLain about occupied houses!!!!!


32 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm

[Post removed.]


53 people like this
Posted by Slave
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

The third world aristocrats that are gobbling up property here in the U.S. (and elsewhere in the world for that matter) play by a different set of rules. Welcome to the new third world.


61 people like this
Posted by facts
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Only 3% of the city's land is zoned for multifamily housing, compared to 27% for single family housing. Of the 3% of our land that's zoned for multifamily housing, only 3% of that is studios and then 17% is one bedrooms. And yet half the populations lives alone. So it's not at all surprising that when you don't allow for building studios and one bedrooms and granny units that people do the only thing they can - they share the available single family homes.

Don't blame the Chinese for this one - that's like the Republicans who blame the Mexicans for everything and can't quite decide if they're stealing our jobs or being lazy and stealing our welfare and food stamps.

Blame the city council. Outdated 1950s zoning that hasn't kept up with demographic shifts or the way younger people live is to blame for this.

Let this be a lesson: you can zone whatever you want, but people are still going to live where they need to live. So consider carefully the unintended consequences you create when your zoning doesn't actually have anything to do with reality and is just wishful thinking. Stanford students aren't going away. Young workers aren't going away. Young families aren't going away. They all have done the math and decided for whatever reason that they're willing to trade various comforts and lots of money for proximity. So here they are. They're not leaving.


4 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Facts, resident of College Terrace

so what ….you are not making an argument for following the law but for abandoning it…….
not very meaningful


25 people like this
Posted by No to Prop F
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Prop F in SF is a bad proposition. It makes no difference between people who own a home where they do no reside and rent out in its entirety through Airbnb (or similar outfits), and people who have a spare room to rent in the house where they live.

I do the latter. We are empty nesters who have empty bedrooms. We rent one bedroom via Airbnb for a few days at a time to people (one or two, no more) I carefully screen and who park their cars on my driveway or in front of my house.

The money we make through this is what allows US to stay in this crazily expensive town that Palo Alto is.

We are against Prop. F, and especially against copying it in PA, as it would unfairly restrict the kind of rental we offer to 75 nights a year, barely over two months. We do not create any issue for any of our neighbors, and we would likely not move out if we could not do Airbnb any more, we would just have more trouble making ends meet.


27 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2015 at 1:37 am

Start-up house near me as well--hadn't put together the late-night cell phone calls with the clown-bus house problem, but they started around the same time.

It really is ridiculous. We look like a suburb and have the grid of a small city, but we're being viewed as if we ought to be Manhattan--young people crowding in to make their mark on the big world; investors buying up housing sight unseen.

It's unpleasant for us, but it's also unpleasant for them. Surely, there's some other small city that could use this influx of capital and people.

Modesto, say . . . it was slammed in the housing crunch; there's a UC nearby and it's in driving distance of the Bay Area. Yes, the public schools are probably lacking, but the kids in the clown-bus houses don't have kids, so they have time to get out there and start fixing up the school system.

Well, I guess that's the goal for EPA. Where does anyone working class (let alone poor) live around here anymore?


31 people like this
Posted by appalled
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2015 at 10:28 am

I am appalled - this sounds like a lowbrow business scheme.
It seems it risks all the rest of us by violating Fire Codes one with such density and lack of oversight -- one would think (or at least common sense is being violated for the almighty dollar) and neighborhood zoning is at risk. It is one thing for a room to be rented to a college student near a college, that has gone on for a long time in lots of cities; another to cram in bunk beds without any inspection from city inspectors. Perhaps THAT'S the answer: REQUIRE BUSINESSES operating in RESIDENTIAL neighborhoods to be closely inspected for safety; also determine if money is being exchanged above board or under the table without appropriate taxes being paid.
Why aren't city code inspectors shutting down the illegal garage conversions?!! If you think you see one, please report it to the city.


46 people like this
Posted by Overcrowded
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2015 at 10:41 am

To I Have a Question:

1) North of Oregon, south of University
2) One of the realtors who built the two houses told us this at an open house for the one that had not sold yet.
3)These people are very, very muscular--as in obvious steroid use, VERY obviously under the influence of something--as in can't walk straight, vomiting, layers upon layers of gold and diamond jewelry, including a diamond in the front tooth of one man.
Often come to the wrong two-story house--OURS, two houses away! Start coming to the house at 2:00 in the afternoon, don't leave until late the next day. Taken away by limo, taxi, Uber--wearing the same clothing, but with a slept-in look. ( Keep in mind our front yard is larger than the back, and the kids prefer to play there, so we are in the front of the house a lot.)
4) it is overpriced because two of the rooms are illegal: one is in a garage, no heat, no closet, no toilet, and it is detached from the house; the other is not a bedroom, but a family room, again, no closet, only a space heater. The kitchen is tiny, the main bath is tiny, the half bath is tiny. It was originally an 1100 SF house, before the non-permitted family room. It is in run-down condition, the garage has one tiny window. The back yard has been taken up by the illegal family room addition.
5)We did NOT contact any parents--they were helping their kids move in after summer break. The two moms we met were furious about the house: it's condition, tiny bathrooms, lack of amenities, lack of space, lack of off-street parking, lack of patio or back yard, distance from Stanford. They had not seen the house until moving day!
6) Two of the kids told us that the on-campus housing was too expensive; however, another one of them told me that they simply did not get on the waiting list soon enough. So who knows?
7)I am ashamed of this community because there are a LOT of these houses in my neighborhood--four on my street alone. There is no regulation in regards to rentals. In our previous neighborhood in Fremont, there were similar issues with overcrowding AND with rentals being used as short-term " party houses"--even crack houses. In the first case, there were laws that were enforced; in the second, the houses were raided by the police ( in the case of the crack houses, it was DEA). Palo Alto, an elite city, does NOTHING!


23 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2015 at 11:20 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Building codes /assume/ certain things about their assignment.
a 1FR assumes a typical family relationship, number of vehicles (really outdated), a Carport or Garage for them.
Requirements for multi-family units have additional requirements to protect the other residents (and also allow for some common area facilities to meet some of the requirements).

Commercial establishments require a certain number of restroom stalls per occupant. At 4 occupants per room, building facilities (includes infrastructure) will be severely strained unless modified. Was a building permit issued for the upgrades? Is there a healthy hazard if using 'Portable' units?
A Zoning change is NOT an entitlement. That is why there are hearings for every little deviation.

Code enforcement will probably resolve most of these issues.
Check the Permits, are they consistent with what is being observed?
If they are, keep quiet,. You /had/ your chance.


3 people like this
Posted by Ankylosing
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 31, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Overcrowded - Have you talked to the owner? If they aren't responsive, you should think about a lawsuit, even if it is just small claims? Maybe the threat will get them to deal the situation, or If they are offshore, good chance they won't show up, and you can get a summary judgement. I wouldn't wait on the city to take action if I were you.


4 people like this
Posted by Overcrowded
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2015 at 8:42 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by I have a question
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2015 at 9:04 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2015 at 4:02 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

@Slow Down

We have PAID code enforcement staff to avoid any neighbor confrontations or ill feelings. If you drop a dime and it is discovered...

OTOH IF those evil city code enforcers happen to spot unusual configurations... They just got caught.


5 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@SteveU - Yes, definitely worth contacting code enforcement, But if the neighbor is creating a nuisance in the neighborhood, there is a legal path you can pursue. That may be more effective, especially with an absentee or offshore owner.


8 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"It is pure, unadulterated market forces that brought real estate prices to their present levels, in the form of real estate bidding wars among wealthy outsiders. It ain't the established residents who are offering the high prices that fuel ever more excesses."

Pure, unadulterated market forces? Sorry. Government regulation (including, but not limited to Prop 13 and anti-development) has put a lid on normal market turnover and development, which has constrained supply. That's neither pure nor unadulterated.

[Portion removed.]


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

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