News

Illegal-housing crackdown leads to dozens of evictions

East Palo Alto landlords, tenants ask City Council for a moratorium on condemnations

Nearly 40 East Palo Alto families in recent months have been turned out of their rental homes with as little as 10 days notice due to a recent citywide crackdown on illegal housing. In response, more than 100 tenants, landlords and their supporters begged the East Palo Alto City Council on Tuesday night to invoke an emergency moratorium against the red-tagging of homes.

The crowd, which was backed by the interfaith group Faith in Action and pastors from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, told council members that the city's recent enforcement action against illegal second dwellings and structures deemed uninhabitable has created a crisis in the community. They asked the council for the moratorium and for help in finding solutions, including allowing nonprofit groups to bring the homes into compliance with city safety codes.

East Palo Alto has had a longstanding problem with illegal second dwellings, which have included converted garages, trailers, sheds and cottages on properties. City streets have seen increasing congestion with double-parked cars, trash and other hazards as more people have squeezed onto residential lots.

Until recently the city was unable to enforce its safety code due to a staffing shortage, Vice Mayor Larry Moody said by phone on Wednesday. The city had two code enforcement officers for many years, and only one last year. But it recently added four officers, which has resulted in an uptick in enforcement.

Griselda Gonzalez and her children, ages 4, 16 and 17, were living in a small trailer in a backyard until they were evicted on July 27. They stayed with a friend for awhile, then in motels for three days at a time; then they slept in a park. Eventually, they were living in their car in front of St. Francis of Assisi Church, she said.

Gonzalez, 39, is typical of many of those who face eviction -- underemployed or working for the minimum wage, or with disabilities or medical issues that have left them without much income. She works five hours a day preparing food in a restaurant, but she is looking for additional work, she told the Weekly in August.

"I tried to find another place. I do not qualify even for a studio because we are four people. I don't have the money. Studio apartments cost $1,300, $1,700," she said.

She paid $500 a month for her trailer. At most, she can afford $900 a month, but she doesn't have any money for first and last months' rent and a deposit. She has looked into the resources on a list the city provided, but they did not help. There's already a waiting list at the local agency for emergency housing, she said.

Maria Delgaldo, Gonzalez's landlord, told the council Tuesday that she felt very bad that her tenant has been evicted.

"We were helping each other out," she said of the income she received and the low rent Gonzalez paid.

"We understand that some of those homes may not be ready (to live in), but we don't want any more people living in the streets or the park or their cars. Please stop this," Delgaldo said.

Gonzalez's family has broken up. Her two older children now reside with a volunteer from the church; her 4-year-old is staying with the child's father. Gonzalez has been temporarily taken in by the church pastor, Father Lawrence Goode.

Goode said he met with a city building-department official, who informed him there were 39 red-tagged residences on the city's list. Red-tagged units must be vacated in 10 days. Speaking at the council meeting, Goode asked the city for the moratorium on housing condemnations.

"Are we safe? Are we better off?" he asked of turning people out onto the street rather than finding ways to rehabilitate the homes. "I'm not sure they are. ... There's never been a good time for an eviction. This has to be the worst possible time."

Carlotta Calvillo, a landlord, helped organize many of the people who showed up at City Hall Tuesday. She has a house with two rental units in the back. When she purchased the home several years ago, she was told the second house was registered in the county records, and she has paid taxes on the units. But now both have been declared illegal. The two families, a young couple with a 1-year-old child and a second couple with a 16-year-old, must move out.

Like Delgado, Calvillo and her husband, who is disabled, rely on the rental income to survive, she said.

"The building inspector wants me to demolish the house, but I don't have the money," she said.

Ramon Valencia and his family lived in one of Calvillo's units for 10 years. The code-enforcement officers have been harsh, he said, threatening him with arrest if he did not leave and also if he lives in his car.

Council members on Tuesday were constrained from discussing the subject because it was not on the meeting agenda; however, they made brief statements in response to the outcry.

Mayor Donna Rutherford said the council cares about the evictions.

"We live here; we've been through everything. All of us have been here," she said.

Councilman Ruben Abrica suggested the moratorium be put on the agenda soon. Moody said the issue absolutely needed to be brought back to the council.

"I do want you to go home with the assurance that this council cares about each and every one of you," he said. The council also does not condone any disrespect from staff of residents, he added, noting that he would suggest training for the new code-enforcement staff.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Moody sought to provide context regarding the code violations and evictions.

"I don't want to downplay the impact on families," Moody said. "But this idea that there's a desire to displace people is wrong."

The notices people are now getting did not come out of the blue, he said. Property owners have received as many as four prior notices to bring properties up to code, but many have not taken any action. The city allowed property owners to make the repairs without paying penalties.

"We told the community. You had a lot of time to bring stuff up to code. ... Here we are two years later. We're not aggressively seeking violators, but we are responding to the lack of compliance," he said.

Moody disagreed with the notion that inspections are primarily in response to neighbors who are complaining.

"It's not so much neighbors snitching on neighbors. The impact is externally obvious. There are a ton of cars on the streets. ... They've got a large amount of trash. We've got code-enforcement officers driving the streets now," he said. "All of a sudden someone says, 'I've got a lot of rodents in my yard that I didn't have before. I wonder where they are coming from?'"

"It's about safety," he said. "We have had issues associated with deaths that were related to code violations. It's not a campaign to red tag people; it's a campaign to enforce the code of the city."

While Moody supports looking at a moratorium, it isn't a long-term solution, he said.

Ultimately, people have to come to grips with the fact that many of these residences could be lost if they are not brought up to code. Some, on undersized lots, will not be allowed at all.

Moody said he agrees with Goode. He would support partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together and other groups to mobilize a home repair team. He said he is "totally in favor" of such a strategy to keep people in their homes.

Outside the Council Chamber Tuesday, Jennifer Martinez, executive director of Faith in Action, said that the evictions are not going to stop. Another one is expected Sept. 24.

She said that organizers will try to sit down with each of the council members to ask for their support. Four out of five would have to vote in favor of the moratorium for it to pass, she added.

"We will ask them to give us time to build a program to bring resources. (The landlords) can't bear the cost of bringing the buildings up to code. It's not because people don't care. It's an expensive proposition," she said.

Moody said Wednesday that in the past three years, there have been many discussions about updating the city's second-dwelling-unit ordinance. The city's recently released Draft Housing Element identifies such accessory homes as "an important affordable housing option."

In August, the city released the final environmental study for its Vista 2035 General Plan, a document that guides future decision-making. The General Plan supports the conversion of garages to inhabitable spaces if building codes are met and the number of parking spaces conforms to current zones.

Between 2010 and 2014, the city approved an average of 5.4 secondary dwelling units a year. The city staff estimate that 42 units will be produced over eight years, according to the Draft Housing Element.

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:10 am

This is indeed a crisis. Thank you for telling the broader community. What can people do to help right now? Is there a specific agency or nonprofit taking the lead, including at City Hall?


75 people like this
Posted by No Kidding
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:24 am

There is illegal housing in Palo Alto itself. Too many people packed into small bedrooms, 7-12 living in very small 2-3 bedroom houses, people living in unremodeled garages and storage sheds, some people even sleeping in unfinished attic spaces and closets.

Yet this is nothing compared to San Jose, where tool sheds rent for $500/month!


26 people like this
Posted by Bernie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:10 am

Do you hear that? .... It sounds like "Saaaaaaccccramentooooo". Yup, Sacramento is calling. Better answer it.


68 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:23 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

Affordable housing is an issue throughout the Bay Area. But make no doubt about it - Palo Alto & Menlo Park's (and other peninsula communities too!) refusal to build affordable housing has spilled over to East Palo Alto. Many of the people working service jobs on the peninsula live in East Palo Alto. The rapid gentrification of EPA is resulting in a reduction in affordable housing. Today, we see people living in backyards, cars, RVs, camping in the Baylands, and other places in an attempt to get by in an extremely high cost area.

As an EPA resident & homeowner, I am firmly for a regional solution to affordable housing. The overcrowding mentioned in this article is real, and tenement style housing is not the way forward. Landlords may love the income stream provided by illegal housing, but the neighbors all suffer with overcrowded street parking, illegal dumping, and degraded neighborhoods. There are real health and safety issues with illegal housing.

These are tough issues with no easy solution. The region has refused to allow affordable housing to be built, and this is the end result. East Palo Alto cannot be the only place that has affordable housing on the peninsula, and should not have to suffer due to Palo Alto's NIMBY attitudes.


38 people like this
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:25 am

If units are brought up to code so residents can stay in them will the problems of excess amounts of garbage and double-parked cars be solved? East Palo Alto has street cleaning trucks but they don't clean the areas where cars stay parked on designated street cleaning days. For houses with in-law units a separate set of Recology garbage, recycling and composting bins should be required to avoid rodents. I hope the units can be brought up to code but we do need these other problems solved after the crisis is over.


38 people like this
Posted by DJ
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

That new office building in EPA over by University across from Jones Mortuary. Did anyone think of adding some housing units to that complex? There a new Marriot Suites going up north of EPA, looks like Redwood City, maybe, you can see it from 101. Whey didn't they put in housing instead and have maybe 50% of the units be for low-income housing? In PA at El Camino and Page Mill they will be building a complex of tiny apartments of 400 to 700 square feet. Can one of those be built in EPA?


25 people like this
Posted by myopinion
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:23 am

Recently a friend, who lives in Atherton, referred to the 'fabricated' housing crisis, and he was serious. [Portion removed.]


46 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:53 am

People at all levels under millionaire, or $100K per year are hurting bad.

I know someone who is a nanny and who meets lots of different families
from people who buy houses along Alma because they are less expensive
and then hear the train going through their living room every half hour
to many more people who can barely afford child care because their
every penny goes to rent.

Personally, the market is not going to correct this anytime soon and
these people's future, and their children are affected forevermore by
these bad conditions, maybe on into retirement. I am not sure what,
but something needs to be done. Maybe a complete moratorium on
office growth in this area, and a review of where we stand.

What is the use of coming to the Bay Area to make a lot of money,
or just to survive when the actual conditions are leading up to a
bubble or collapse at some future date that will have thousands of
people with nothing, or worse?


65 people like this
Posted by sarah
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:04 am

This is what needs to be done. We are NOT a third world country.. well not yet. Its a disgrace for people to live like this and it impacts home owners around that neighborhood. It starts to look like a shanty town. I say if you cant afford to live in this area, then move! Move to a place you can have a decent home and live like human beings instead of animals.
It is NOT okay for landlords to have these people living this way and its not good for them either.
I know many people who have had to move out of the bay area. Its just the way it is. I myself had to leave the Palo Alto area because I couldn't afford to live there anymore. I would NEVER live in a trailer or an unsafe and unsanitary dwelling.
Move on ... get a place where you can live nicely and safely. I think the landlords/homeowners should be fined big time! They need to STOP renting to people who are not able to pay the price to live legally and safely.


14 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:39 am

I remember when $900 could get you a small apartment in EPA and that was only ten years ago. What the heck?! Supply has obviously not caught up with recent demand. Maybe the Bay Area should, I dunno, build more housing? It's not like "slow growth" has worked.


47 people like this
Posted by rent control
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:51 am

Since EPA has rent control I would imagine that landlords would be very motivated to empty their units of residents paying rents at well below market rates. There needs to be protection for renters when the landlord is the one responsible for an illegal housing unit.


36 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:54 am

Quite a dilemma. The Habitat for Humanity seems like a good fit. It seems like @Sarah doesn't understand how little money many people in this area make and how they do the best they can for their children in hopes of a better future for them. There are probably some landlords who do nothing to help these people's situation, but it sounds like some of the landlords are barely making it. I lived for about three years in a dwelling on somebody's property. It was quite nice, but not up to any code for renting out. I was happy to pay the little bit of under the table rent.


57 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

This story is a traversty. Look. The Bay Area's housing crisis is more like a fast moving tsunami. A State of Emergency should be declared up and down the Peninsula. FEMA along with Doctors Without Borders should be called on to set up refugee camps. And protected by the National Guard. This would help circumvent the lifelong PTSD and other psychological and physically induced trauma to lifelong residents/families of this area who are being routed from their homes to the highest bidder.

Low-income children are fearful about their future. I have overheard a neighbor’s child ask his mother, “Are we going to be homeless?” People who work at child-care centers, local coffee shops and grocery stores are so beaten down from the financial stress - hour by hour a nagging anxiety of not knowing if their apartments are going to be outsourced to technology God. A Valley of Pharaohs so to speak.

Currently many thousands of Bay Area residents are living with constant shock and disbelief. Will their home be around by nightfall? With one emails sent from, FB/Google/Apple to a real estate developer, a swipe of a bulldozer, a human life is forever altered. Let me put it another way. As fast as China is building up their cities, we are tearing ours apart.

And its expected that thousands of Bay Area families, living below the poverty line, maintain a car, keep up with auto insurance, then get on the freeway everyday to drive 50 miles to whatever low-wage job 10 to 15 hours a day? I think not.

If I were a member of one of these unfortunate families, I'd be holding my children as close as possible for fear of losing them altogether to drugs, gangs and violence.

This is SERIOUSLY not a joke. It’s a crisis of untold proportions. If not addressed immediately the lack of housing will have negative consequences for generations to come. At the present scale of things, the Peninsula is a virtual gated community – where only a selected few are afforded the privilege of living here. I strongly suggest a solidly built solution of supply meet the demand. Please face forward and get the job done.

End Note: As a native to the Bay Area, growing up in the 70's and 80's, my siblings and I were homeless and seperated from our mother many times. Children should not be taken from thier mothers becasue of housing or there lack of. Give these families enough money to live together at a temporary shelter while this crisis is in progross and idenify and pay for permanent housing for them. I also propose that we start a Bay Area agency and call it, Homeless Emergency Management Agency or HEMA!


19 people like this
Posted by MV Voters for Housing Diversity
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Our region's systematic housing shortage causes these crises. It's our moral imperative to plan for an increasing population, which means supporting more affordable and dense housing where it makes sense to do so.

Next time you hear someone opposing a housing development for superficial reasons (e.g., it looks too big -- five stories, the horror!), I hope you think of "Griselda Gonzalez and her children, ages 4, 16 and 17, ... evicted ... slept in a park. Eventually, they were living in their car."


79 people like this
Posted by Miffed
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Miffed is a registered user.

It seems to have been a bad idea to late foreign speculators and money-launderers into this country. An equally bad idea to let foreign buyers who refuse to become US citizens buy here at all.

The news on NPR this morning is that the main problem with foreign, particularly Asian, landlords is that they rather openly discriminate against Latino and Blackbrenters, refusing to rent to them outright. They often will rent only to renters of their particular Asian nationality.

Many large cities, such as Oakland and SF ( even Alameda), and many smaller ones ( Menlo Park, Mtn View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, EPA and even Palo Alto) have large numbers, sometimes majority numbers--as in the East Bay-- of Asian landlords. And they are scofflaws!


42 people like this
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:05 pm

You can't outlaw poverty, but you can outlaw the things desperately poor people do to survive. Eliminating poverty should not include a "kill 'em off" or "let 'em die" approach. Many of these people are productive members of our communities, and if they were gone we would miss them. I encourage finding solutions (more than one) that involve love and compassion and understanding.


25 people like this
Posted by RedwoodcidianP11
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:27 pm

People do not like to live like this!!!

Because the Bay Area is full of intelligent people that come up with startups, and these startups expand into a company with a solid foundation it forces the cities to crank up the prices on everything. No blame on them, I like my fit bit & Pinterest apps.

Earlier this year in Redwood City, many families were kicked out of their apartments because the landlord wanted to remodel. This remodeling led renting prices to jump up to $3,000/month!!!!!!! Minimum wage in Redwood City gets you less than $25k/yr before taxes, East Palo alto is less thank $23k/yr. People have lived in the Peninsula for years and are now being forced to move out or live under these conditions because everything is too expensive. They were able to afford living here at one point and now moved their home into a confined space because their life has been built here.

It seems like everyone who makes $65k+/yr can make it out here in the Bay Area/Peninsula. It's unfortunate that these people who had a "home" are now homeless. We can't blame the neighbors, we can't blame success...so who do we blame?


39 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Sarah, do you like to eat in restaurants--ones that charge less than the Village Pub? Buy groceries? Do you hire gardeners? Buy the occasional latte? You are part of the problem. You can also be part of the solution. It's just not constructive to tell people to move. Let's do the math: you make $10/hr and work 50 hours a week--that's take home pay of maybe 1600/month. How much can you afford to pay for rent? What about childcare? Even public school doesn't care for kids fifty hours a week, and most low-wage jobs don't stick to what we think of as regular hours. These employees are an essential part of our economy. Yes, at some point some of their jobs will be automated, but right now they are here, cooking our food, cleaning our houses, and caring for our kids. $500 sheds might not be an optimal solution, but this "leave Palo Alto if you can't afford it" nonsense is a joke. They're already in EPA. Where else would you have them go?


43 people like this
Posted by Immoral
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

It is immoral for landlords to, with little or no notice, double, triple, even quadruple rents--residential or commercial!

Most people spend the majority of their take-home pay on rent.... How can they suddenly adjust their pay to afford such a huge and unexpected increase.

Even remodeling noes not justify doubling or tripling people's rents.

It boils down to extreme greed!


34 people like this
Posted by SP
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Part of the problem is "what is unsafe". There is no gray area in the code. Either its unsafe, or not, and when deamed not to code, it is red tagged. For example, a step that is 8 1/2" tall and not 8" tall is unsafe. Red-tag. A room that does not have plugs within 12' of each other is unsafe. A kitchen counter that does not have plugs within 3' of each other is unsafe now.

The code also includes environmental issues that have nothing to do with safety, but still are required to bring a home up to code, and is deemed uninhabitable. House was built in the 50's with no insulation or sub-standard insulation? Can't live their. Acccording to California law, faucets, toilets and showers have to be replaced with extremely low-water consumption types if you do any work on a house, even if they were previously approved. Average home will be $500 in fixtures and installation costs, plus another $300 for the plumbing "inspection".

Now these are all good ideas, but are they really so unsafe that a house is now uninhabitable?

A building inspector recently explained to me that "This is your penalty for doing work on the house without a permit". But such work is easy to do by mistake thinking you are doing repairs. Fix a step on a porch incorrectly. Pull off some drywall to add insulation. Repair some dryrot. Typical homeowners won't immediately jump to conclude that a permit is needed. But now inspectors have the green light to invade the home, and force the entire home to come up to compliance.

None of this has anything to do with habitability. Its more related to money and politics.


27 people like this
Posted by Oh, Please!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Sarah has it right! Those who cannot afford to live here can move elsewhere. There are blue collar jobs all over the country but people demand low cost housing here because they WANT to live here? We lived in a mansion in the midwest on a 7-acre wooded lot and now live in a small house in Palo Alto. Yes, would love to have more square footage, but we can't afford it so we make do with the small house. NO ONE HAS A RIGHT to live where they cannot afford. I am tired of the stubborn, entitled people.

@CCB: "Where else would you have them go?" There is a whole nation out there: Los Angeles, midwest, Fresno, Sacramento. Most anywhere else besides the most expensive area in the nation.

And my husband has a 30-60 minute commute on Highway 101. Most people don't live where they work.


33 people like this
Posted by sarah
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm

As I said, I couldn't afford to be in Palo Alto.. get it! I moved to Pacifica. I can afford to live there.
I have to commute to work and it takes longer for me to do so, but I do it. Hey ... to be really honest with you. I'd
love to live by the ocean in a 2 million dollar home with servants and people to feed me martinis all day.
The reality is, one has to live within their means. Thats the trouble. REALITY! We are not living there. We are living
in a bubble of highly educated, big money makers. "We" live around them till "We" cannot afford to so anymore.
That is legally and safely. Sorry... Im so sorry for this. I've worked 15 hour days to stay in Palo Alto and I had to take
a long hard look at it. Im NOT one of the mega millionaires. I don't begrudge them at all. Im sure they paid their dues,
spent a ton of money educating themselves at Stanford and other institutions of that caliber and they deserve to have what they have earned. I in turn have to look at my situation and do what I have to do to live the way I want to live within my means. IM IN REALIY! There is opportunity everywhere! I don't think it right for people to live in degradation because some lowlife landlord wants to make extra money and puts 6 people in one room and charges 900.00 a month. It makes me sick. Nor do I feel that we HAVE to have LOW INCOME housing for people who really shouldn't be living here in the first place. There are many lovely places in our country that people can afford to live in. Its just that they squat and don't want to move and living poorly is not a big deal for them. WE as a collective people don't help people by keeping them in that situation. I am for higher wages, I am for equal opportunity, I am for helping people .. BUT truly helping people. Handouts never do that.. sorry, but I think we can all take a look at welfare and shake our heads. Stop trying to put a square peg in a round hole. It won't work! And to ask a landlord to settle for less than is market value is unfair also. I have been a tenant all my life. Funny, I was just in Ny cleaning out an old storage of mine and saw a check to a landlord I wrote 20 years ago... $995.00. I couldn't believe I could have afforded that 20 years ago, but I did. I worked two jobs and I made ends meet. I never wanted for anything. I always had enough.
Anyway.. lets empower people to strive for more! People are resilient and they are capable. We need to expect more of people than less.. feeling sorry for them is not kindness, its cruel. Rise people, Rise. You can do it. This is America and if you don't and we don't limit you... you can live nicely.Sorry, but Im a miracle study and I believe that you can be and have anything you want.. but maybe just not in Palo Alto, CA


18 people like this
Posted by sarah
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Sorry.. I forgot to add. These so called landlords are breaking the law. Then God forbid something happens (fire, earthquake, flood etc) who is to blame then, when these "homes" fall apart and kill people because they were never
intended to be homes in the first place. Not a good thing.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

That was a tough read. Any sensible, responsible, and sensitive person should have a pain in their stomach or tears in their eyes after reading it. I am not a good one to offer suggestions because I'm a long time resident and home owner in PA, so I get swept, by default, into that class labeled as NIMBYs, those bad people, but I swear I am not one of them. My admittance that I don't have a solution is because I just don't, and I honestly think others... community leaders, city hall staff, CC members and those that serve as volunteers on many commissions and committees...don't either. They have idealistic ideas and opinions, but when it gets down to the details and what it will take from a practical standpoint to implement them, things seem to get shaky and fall apart.

This sounds like a precursor to the big study and debates about ADU's here in PA. We should take a lesson from our sister city on this. Enforcement of the current scofflaws will take more staff. Okay, add those cops to our list of needed cops to our budget...water cops, leaf blower cops, stray cats and dogs cops, and real law enforcement cops. How much will that cost? Will we 'grandfather in' all those illegally built units and garage conversions so they won't be penalized/fined for code violations? IMHO...fine them heavily. They knew they were doing it illegally, so hit them for their poor thinking and trying to evade the codes. And for sure, when they try to sell, all their past misdeeds will be revealed and they won't get that premium price they were expecting.

If there are any solutions in our area, I think it will have to do with keeping families together, providing training in skills and trades that lift them up way above minimum wage jobs...and out of poverty. But, I can't disagree much with the suggestions that they should just leave the area and move to much more affordable places to live and still get employment at minimum wage jobs, and not only survive, but to get more connected into communities. Check out apartment rents in Colorado Springs, CO. I think they have a demand for caregivers, house cleaners, gardeners, etc.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Plane Speaker

You got it right, but you are also such a 'plain speaker'. Not many of them still around. A dying breed! Keep posting!


20 people like this
Posted by housing?
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 9, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Web Link

Listing for One-Bedroom Units = $675 per month and Two-Bedroom Units = $750 per month on a years lease in Sacramento.

There are still jobs, schools, and housing in Sacramento. Why live in the most expensive areas in the bay area and not afford reasonable housing?


14 people like this
Posted by Dean
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm

I tried to post, but in the posting process, my input was lost, so at the risk of repeating what might jump out of the ether, . . .

I was born into what would be considered totally unliveable, even by those who are being removed from their homes! No, this is not the responsibility of East Palo Alto, but it seems to me to be somewhat relevant.

The established living standards for housing was seemingly determined by people who live a very lofty life, far removed from reality. I do believe that there should be standards that provide a potential quality of life. What the people do with that is certainly a community concern, to the extent of health and safety for the whole community.

I was born in a barn, (no, three wise men didn't show up) where we lived in a horse stall, until I was 1 1/2 years old. We moved into a "house" that had been built with green lumber, which when it dried, left 1/2 to 3/4 inch gaps that had to be plugged with mud and paper, which was frequently blown out by the wind. The floor had those same cracks so I could see the spiders and snakes crawling around under the floor. So I know about and have lived in much worse conditions than have been related to us, about East Palo Alto,. We survived!

I have been working since I was about 7 1/2 years old, and I lifted myself up by attending school and finally after serving in the USMC, the Veterans Administration paid for part of my education, while working for much less than a minimum wage (less than $2.00 per hour.) which paid the rest.

Many of the contributors to this Palo Alto Online, can not even imagine trying to survive on what these people live with daily just to work in jobs that keep the contributors able to continue their lifestyles. If they are forced to leave, the living standards of these "well-to-do" contributors will drop a lot!

I was able to live "high on the hog", too, and had a house that allowed me to view most of the Bay Area from the picture window. Oh, yes, I have enjoyed that and vacations around the world, easy living and worries that are really senseless to those of us who struggle to have 2 meals a day, just to pay the rent, and have to walk 5 miles because we can't afford bus fare, or gas and tell the neighbors we are walking for our health, not because we are broke. Oh, yes, I see the bicyclists riding by on their $5,000.00 plus bicycles, and the people driving their $50,000.00 to $300,000.00 cars Lexi, Mercedes, and Bentley's, but never you mind, I am walking for my health.

The divorce I filed allowed the attorney's to reduce me to essentially penniless (at least here in the Bay Area), giving her the house, the Mercedes, her having already sacked the savings accounts, with me ending up with a worn out car which the Bay Area Air Quality people want me to give to them to remove it from our roads to improve the air quality, about half of my retirement, and a bad taste for attorney's and our so called "Justice System", which I read to mean "Just for the attorney's benefit!"

I would gladly move to a different area of the USA, because I could afford a $300,000.00 house that would cost as much as a $3,000,000.00 house here in our beloved Bay Area. I could buy a new car every 3 to 5 years, afford to travel around the world, and do most of what I would really like to do. The obstacle to me doing this, would require me to divorce my wife and move by myself, as her children and grandchildren live here, besides her job in Palo Alto that pays a minimum of $1,200.00 a month for 12 to 16 hour days, 6 1/2 to 7 days a week.

Yes, I had lived on both sides of the tracks, and given my druthers, I would be living on the side that has the luxuries!

OK, OK, nobody understands, and I have been talking to the wind!

.



16 people like this
Posted by Jay
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 4:43 pm

It's fine to suggest people who can't afford to live here should move to lower cost of living areas - though it's not realistic. Have you thought about this; we still need people in service roles - to run our gas stations, wash our dishes when we go out to dinner and take care of our kids at day care. These are lower paying jobs! How can we expect people to make ends meet if you're getting paid close to minimum wage? Answer is low income housing for a certain group of people. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by more housing?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

@housing?

Can easily top your suggestion, all over the United States there are 100K's of affordable places to live that have booming job markets.

One easy example, Houston - a 3 BR *HOUSE*!! for $500 a month, and despite the oil bust, the Houston metro area is still in a jobs boom.

Web Link

Yea, but the Bay Area is the center of the Universe and we must live here and subject our families to living in unsafe hovels because of the weather :)


17 people like this
Posted by Adam Smith
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 9, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Predatory capitalism is the most profitable system for the few, but the few over time end up to be majority psychopaths and tyrants ... it happens every time. The good people get overwhelmed by the bad, just like the people who recycle merely enable the bad folks to continue in their toxic ways. When the profitability of this plutocratic elite gets to a certain point the whole economy is absorbed and instead of making the most people happy, productive and rich you have a broken miserable system that there is no framework for anyone to complain about.


38 people like this
Posted by ..and the kids
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 6:37 pm

This crisis isn't just an adult crisis - there are children caught in this housing mess.

I volunteer at one of the the EPA elementary schools in the library. There are lots of children living in these horrible conditions, and they have no choice. Come on over to the library and watch a child look like they're going to cry when I ask them (gently) where their library book might be, Who knows where it is...in the car where they slept last night or in one of these places where there are so many people squished into unsafe safe and awful conditions. Not uncommon for a child to be sharing a bedroom with 7-10 people. Of course we give them a hug and another book.

(And books are donated and purchased by volunteers....so don't bother to post about about kids taking responsibility for their books - they are 6 years old and doing the best they can - and no public funds are used - I've purchased so many books for the library that Amazon thinks I run a school out of my house.)

This housing crises doesn't just affect adults. So so sad!!!


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Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Jay

We can't. Don't feel sorry for any of us because we might not have those low income (minimum wage) people around to wait on us...caregivers, day care workers, house cleaners, and gardeners. We'll have to start doing many things on our own. One solution is to pay them much higher than minimum wage. I do that for my major yard work. I pay 3-4x minimum because he can still climb up on ladders and does such a great job of trimming trees, shrubs, hedges, whacking weeds, and spading up my flower bed garden, etc. Plus he's a skilled carpenter. He re-shingled (cedar shingles) my tool shed in the side yard and he removed a big tree and stump. As individuals, many of us can do more on our own or pay more, but for businesses that can only make it by paying minimum wages, that's a whole different story, and I don't have an answer for that one. I guess we would have fewer restaurants or be willing to pay $30 for a hamburger at those upscale restaurants, and there are many of them...the ones the highly paid tech workers frequent. But, if you bothered to check rental prices in Colorado Springs...1/4th to 1/3 the cost here, and the job opportunities, you would see what could happen to make many lives happier and less stressful for those that would be willing to relocate. And they do need all those service jobs in CS. Colorado Springs is only one example, and I offer it because that's where my daughter and family live, but there are hundreds of 'Colorado Springs' all over this country.


7 people like this
Posted by floating housing
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Google can float their top secret floating barge in the Redwood Shores bay for low income housing. Only allow the residents to use the train and public transportation. Use the barge for housing and have self-driving cars drive everyone to and from the train. They can get rid of the barge when the housing bubble bursts (like it did in 2000). Housing demand comes and goes.


35 people like this
Posted by Victoria
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm

To everyone who suggests those struggling to pay rent leave, I offer a counter suggestion: why don't you leave? If enough of you take the advice you have no problem giving others, then maybe housing prices will go down a little for the rest of us.

Don't want to leave? Maybe because you have family here? You've built a career here? You want your kids to go to good schools and have internships at tech companies? Oh, maybe those are all reasons other people don't want to leave either.

This article was heartbreaking. The intense poverty, alongside unfathomable wealth, is truly sad.


12 people like this
Posted by Bette
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Appreciate what feels to be profound and well considered discussion.

Maybe VC's and Tech Moguls might weigh in given they have been major players in contributing to development of the problem?


19 people like this
Posted by Bette
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm

And what of the contribution of the well advertised realtor who brings people from China for bus tours of potentially available properties?

How about each person here add to the creation of a more compassionate world?

And if they don't then they should be the ones having to move to Sacramento where it is hot as hell.


41 people like this
Posted by Outrageous
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Evicted with 10 days notice?! Tenants deserve due process. This should never happen in a civilized society.


11 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Pat yourselves on the back Palo Alto, you've literally created a black market for housing.


20 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:08 pm

The operative premise here is the issue of unauthorized housing. Those involved, despite good intentions, either well knew or should have known that their housing choice was not acceptable. If one chooses to ignore the law and places themselves in these precarious situations then they shouldn't be surprised if changes come fast. What did they think would happen?

Make responsible decisions and follow the rule of law and they wouldn't be facing these consequences.


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Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:12 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:19 pm

@ Housing

[Portion removed.] It is over 100 degrees all summer long. Try working outside in that.


5 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm

@Marrol

When it happened in... let's say less "ethnic" areas, it was referred to as "sweat equity".


12 people like this
Posted by Cid Young
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:36 pm

I do see both sides of this dilemma, having lived in Daly City where I purchased my starter home ($92K in 1981 at 13.5% assumed loan interest rate) I remember that they had to give Property Owners there a period of Amnesty to all the homeowners who had illegally converted their garages to small apartments (some called them "in-laws" or "Granny units".
The reason it became such a problem was because the quality of the units varied from illegal hotplates plugged into extension cords for cooking, to far worse living conditions such as no heat. Fires that often started in the not-built-to-code "garage-kitchens" burned the entire house down sometimes. And Rodents! HUGE! Anyway, Daly City determined that if a homeowner came forward and offered to bring the unpermitted unit up to code, within a certain time frame, they would be able to do it without being assessed the penalties. Most came forward. Some did not. There will always be skofflaws, but IF the EPA landlady truly needs that extra $900 a month, they should offer a habitable legal space.

That being said, the Peninsula Cities need to look at creative ways to build more housing, both market-rate and below market rate. Re-Zone commercial buildings to mixed use. Allow Granny units, in fact encourage them by offering homeowners subsidies to build then right. Insist on ample parking on-site and separate meters and garbage cans. But hey, don't just red-tag them and toss families out into the street because a landlord failed to comply. SHEEZE


24 people like this
Posted by Ferdinand
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Many people have made similar statements:

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

The current rental rates are immoral, and I disagree with the previous statement that it is "unfair" to deprive landlords from getting every dollar they can possibly squeeze out of their rental properties. We need a stable rental market for our less fortunate, which is starting to include those with $100K salaries. It doesn't have to be all high profit or no profit.

It is a fundamental flaw with capitalism: that whatever the market will bear is acceptable, legal, desirable, and justified. Our planet cannot sustain this type of economy nor can our people. Many are nauseated by the likes of the Ken Deleon's who say people don't have a right to live here simply because it is their family home [and "they don't work hard enough"]. Some of financial "success" is timing and having access to greater resources--that doesn't seem to be a firm foundation for a society. And of course there is ageism where many adults over 50 can have trouble changing jobs in the youth-focused marketplace.

I don't agree with much of what "Sarah" has to say, but I do tell people who are just arriving, "Don't stay. Your family [back home] is more important than this place."


16 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2016 at 12:11 am

"It's our moral imperative to plan for an increasing population"

Why?

This is an arid place. Temperatures are rising. Drought is the norm. Why, in one of the most vast nations on earth, is increasing the population of this place an imperative? It's not. Right now, in Palo Alto, the population triples during the day. If there is an earthquake during the day, there is already no provision to deal with the extra people. It is really a moral imperative for the City to reduce the office utilization until the water, infrastructure, and safety issues can be resolved.

There are many areas of our nation in great need of revitalization. The most holistic answer to the developer-centric manufactured crisis is to put a moratorium on new building and work on creating balanced growth from a national perspective. This probably would involve making investments to make some places nicer so some companies can move and it will be attractive to their workers. That us infinitely easier and more sensible than overdevelopment.

There has been plenty of regional housing construction. It has only put upward pressure on rental rates. Building more densely will not make things cheap, just ask Manhattan and Hong Kong. Milpitas has a 6% vacancy rate, and even Palo Alto is over 5%. Even though this is higher than the state average, prices won't drop if people keep flooding in here for jobs. It's not sustainable. And not even good for the nation. As long as I have lived in the Bay Area, renting has only ever been a path to instability. People who care about their fellow man will not encourage more dependency on renting and enriching landlords here, it is a sure path to transience and living perpetually by the skin of one's teeth. If we create a greater number of attractive places to live, populations can even out. Thinking of why we live here, I couldn't find the same elsewhere. If I could, or close, I move. Personally, people who care about the poor should be thinking about how to create a path to ownership so they don't have to remain poor.

The abrupt and cold-hearted displacement of human beings from their living circumstances, however,as this article highlights, is a completely different subject from the usual pie-in-the-sky arguments in favor of overdevelopment.

You don't make someone homeless to solve a code problem that can be fixed, probably for less money than the social services the harm the evictions do will cost down the line. This is an unnecessary crisis created by unfeeling bureaucrats. Which agencies are taking the lead?


11 people like this
Posted by CC
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 10, 2016 at 12:32 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


17 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2016 at 8:22 am

@CC,
Don't be flip, that doesn't help anyone. Are you saying people living in substandard sheds in backyards of East Palo Alto are in paradise and people who live anywhere else, like Sacramento, are in some kind of hell on earth?

One relative visiting from a nice part of TN with a good college nearby, has a nice 3,000 sq ft home in a good neighborhood, where the housing prices are about $200k. The catch is that the public schools are not good. Another TN relative where the public schools are good - their home is worth several times as much. Still, you can live like a king on a modest income compared to here. TN is one of the biggest tourism states in the US, believe it or not, because it's also very beautiful. In Nashville, there are good restaurants by California standards, and cheap or free live music everywhere you go. You can go to the ice cream shop and there is someone busking who sounds better than whoever just won American idol. (Imagine doing that here. You'd have to crowd in to hear it over the din of traffic, airplanes and constant construction...)

The point is, 350million Americans cannot all live here. There is a point where that would be ridiculous and unsafe, and destroy what you call paradise. It wasn't so long ago that LA was the big California draw and now it's an overrun dilapidated mess. Why wouldn't we stop before we have that? For one, they are taking and needing a lot of our water, what happens when we need it, too? That's already a brewing battleground.

We all benefit when there are lots of "paradises" in this vast nation. That is the best thing for 350million people, especially the poor who have a better quality of life. Who will do the menial work around here, someone asks? If there are lots of other good quality choices around the nation, and thus fewer here, those doing the menial work here will get paid a lot more for it, like plumbers already do. It's not a moral imperative to continue to depress wages of the poor.

As part of a faith group, we sponsor refugees, who always move elsewhere cheaper in the country when they get stable. They are trying to make a better life for themselves, why would they stay here? It makes sense to them, because they apparently don't speak Developerese.

The grandiose abstract development arguments are not going to be resolved while developers stand to make a killing off of poor people from whom they can leverage any rent they want. Building more rentals is not the path to economic stability, it's the opposite. That said, there is no relationship between these pie-in-the-sky development arguments and the human crisis of people being abruptly forced out of their homes and transience guaranteed. Did the city give notice but turn a blind eye, then suddenly amp up enforcement? Sounds to me like that's the case. It's inhuman to toss people out instead of finding ways to bring the living situations into compliance, as several well respected groups clearly are trying to do. I wish the article had been more specific about what others could do to help.





16 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 10, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Rent control - your comment about rent control means that tenants should be protected is accurate and true. But most of these red-tagged places aren't under rent control because they don't have enough units to be subject to rent control.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I think the three PA CC members' colleagues' letter (re ADU's) should get moved up higher on the priority list. Let's get the issue resolved once and for all, and soon. The two suggested resident surveys should be done, making sure the people included in the surveys aren't cherry picked in favor or against. Do it randomly.

I know the idea of an ordinance change, relaxing the current rules and requirements, was advertised as having no, or minimal impact on neighborhoods. Don't believe it, and don't listen to the argument that there are already, currently, rental houses full of young tech workers with cars, and that's legal. So what? Take care of that problem separately, making it illegal, but certainly don't use it as an argument for the ADU case. We just have to take a lesson from what's happened in EPA, and all the problems they're dealing with and the worst of all, evictions on very short notice. It's immoral, and we should never allow that to happen in PA.

My thinking on the ADU issue has changed a little bit...I called it a stupid idea in a much earlier post. But, here is my current position and what would be acceptable to me. No separate units (cottages) built away from the main house...period!! A small change in the FAR is acceptable but just to add an additional bedroom and bath for 'granny' or other family members and relatives. Period. This would also take the profit (extra income) incentive away. Certainly, you should give these people a break with no rent, or at no more than 1/4 the cost of market rate, and even well below BMR rates. And the extra income incentive should just be taken away. Don't encourage it with the possibility of getting loan relief for additions if you agree to rent at BMR rates. Way too much policing will have to happen. And if it comes to that, we should staff up enough to stop any scofflaws and illegal actions from happening, and levy heavy fines if they do.

The inspectors should be able to come onto the premises and into the houses periodically to see if codes and ordinances are being observed. Yes, homeowners, you would be under surveillance. Now, how attractive does it sound to have an ADU??

I don't know how the city plans to handle the violators to date, but they should figure out a way and issue heavy fines. Most of those were done knowing that they were in violation. I'm sure they were scab contractors who did those. Any licensed and bonded contractor would never do that without getting a permit from the city. Let's give notice to the future violators of city codes and ordinances.

And, what I really don't understand about the whole idea is who will it benefit the most? Grannies, family members, and relatives (the ones it was originally intended for) or homeowners for extra income if it's opened up to AirBnB's,etc? Believe me, and the proponents are at least willing to admit to this, this is no way to have any substantial impact on affordable housing in PA. So why is it getting so much attention, taking up valuable time of our planning commissioners/committees folks, and being pushed so hard? You can't see me, but I'm shaking my head in wonder.


35 people like this
Posted by Sickening comments
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

It's hard to read some of these comments and not be disgusted by the heartlessness and cruelty of my neighbors. It actually makes me ashamed to live in Palo Alto. If this is the state of our community and how we treat families who are getting evicted on 10-days notice, then the future is bleak indeed.


17 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 11, 2016 at 3:00 am

I wish most of you had the opportunity to live and work in Mexico, such as I did. Because if you did, We would not be having this conversation. Immigration law would have been upheld in this country, just like immigration law is upheld in Mexico,which by the way, is extremely strict.




15 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 11, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I've heard the argument that the reason high tech companies (must)locate here is because of the proximity and availability of Stanford professors and graduate students (Phd candidates) who can offer support and consultation with them, and that Sand Hill Road's VC's have money to invest and it's important to be physically located near them so you can have face to face meetings and discussions with them (wine and dine them in the best restaurants also). I could be wrong, but the day in day out coders will never need to come into direct contact with those people. The execs will have to for sure, and the heads (directors/managers) of the software departments and groups also. Teleconferencing was happening when I retired in 1991 and the technology in IT has moved so far forward I can't even keep up with it. So, why can't the biggest part of these tech companies' operations (most of their employees) relocate to other areas that have much cheaper housing? They can code just as well someplace else. I blame companies for the problem, building more huge tech complexes and individual buildings, like those strung along 237, and expecting cities to bear the burden of housing their employees. They are doing a disservice to their employees and putting a huge burden on cities from north to south in Silicon Valley.

Just stop it. That would solve most of our many problems...housing, traffic, parking, infrastructure needs, school impacts, etc. And their employees could save up enough for a good down payment and actually own a house and raise a family in much nicer areas with good schools. They would be more productive, I think, and going to work wouldn't be such a drag like it is here.

Maybe some people are into self injury/torture but I'm not. I know the millennials' solution is 'you old farts just leave', you don't add any value to the community anymore anyway'. Thanks, I'll take that into consideration when I vote in November.

But, there has to be a complete shift and change in thinking that PA is the best place on earth to live. It isn't and it hasn't been for many years. But it used to be in 1961. Boy, am I getting old? No answer required!


3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Gale, unfortunately planning requires an acceptance of reality, particularly that many tech companies decided that, despite the high costs, it's in their best interest to locate here; that can't be changed via any sort of shaming or dictate. And you certainly can't blame the current crop of tech companies for 50 years of failing to plan for growth. There's a recurring presumption on these forums that these entitled techies refuse to live in cheaper areas like East Palo Alto. Well they do, and like the current EPA residents, these techies don't simply disappear when new housing isn't created, people will continue to need a place to live, though if this report and the exploding homeless population is any indidcation, a lack of housing isn't enough to convince people to leave.


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 11, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Robert

Fifty years of not planning for growth?? Get real. Companies actually built things, products, that had weight and volume 50 years ago and they did move many of their divisions/operations elsewhere. HP expanded to Colorado and Idaho. My son-in-law's first job out of college was at HP in Colorado Springs. They were lucky. They could not afford to buy a house in PA even then...1987, but they could there and it's paid for...no more monthly mortgage payments. "many tech companies decided that, despite the high costs, it's in their best interest to locate here"? What is 'their best interests'? Certainly not considering the employees who work for them and having to struggle for housing, commuting, parking, etc. And please answer my question, why can't the coders (the grudge workers, and I don't mean that in a derogatory sense) be relocated...just ship a bunch of computers someplace else...coders to follow? It's not like moving an entire factory with shipping/receiving, parts stockrooms, assembly lines, test chambers, et al. I don't get it, but am willing to listen to a good reasonable answer.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm

"why can't the coders be relocated"

I'm sure it's possible to do so, but again, accepting reality...they haven't, at least not to the extent you'd like them to. Companies have made the business descision to locate here (and its not like the high costs are borne solely by employees) and it's not in the purview of local governments to arbitrarily tell them they aren't allowed to.


29 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

If you read the article, you'll note that EPA has given 2 years notice to the property owners and landlords. And over those two years, they were given multiple warnings. The owners/landlords must bear the greatest amount of responsibility here...the evictions are the result of their outright refusal to take action and bring their properties up to code.


1 person likes this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:10 pm

@Gale,
There are a number of important reasons companies locate here, and other desirable areas. Targeted investments in those kinds of assets to entice companies to other attractive centers that want to reverse population losses would create movement. There are reasons companies locate here and SF despite the costs, because the other civic amenities help them attract highly skilled workers. Although @Robert ought to get real about things like limited water and infrastructure constraints, he is right that dictating behavior doesn't usually work. We actually have had development moratoria in this state because of water before, by the way, but simply restricting growth does little if there are no better options- multiplying the attractive options in this country is really the way to go. If companies get the option of finding what they want where their workers get great innovative schools, great housing for reasonable cost, many local amenities, good medical, etc, it will attract companies. We're at a point in our national evolution where investments in improving quality of life in cities losing workers may have myriad benefits beyond the obvious.


4 people like this
Posted by CaptainScrunch
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Possible semi-permanent housing for this area ... ???

How 16 cargo containers became 8 market-rate Phoenix condos: Web Link

A company in Phoenix is constructing very low cost housing out of shipping containers.

On an old used car lot in Phoenix, architects Brian Stark and Wesley James placed 16 used shipping containers and turned them into 8 one-bedroom apartments. With the goal of creating market-rate rental units, the architects tried to work with the containers rather than altering them.

The containers are stacked as they would be on ships, using the cam-lock (twist lock) system to lock them in place two stories high. The container doors were left in place - welded open or shut in an alternating pattern - and serve as the main source of daylight. Only a few small windows are cut from the sides of the containers.

The Containers on Grand apartments (the first container apartments in the Western US) now rent at market rate ($1000/month for a 740-square-foot one-bedroom; the going rate for the up-and-coming arts district just outside downtown).

While this type of construction may never out-compete the area’s “stick and stucco” vernacular, Stark argues that it could compete strongly in a place like San Francisco where labor costs are high.

What would prevent this type of building from scaling are codes (there are height limits due to combustion regulations) and financing. Containers on Grand was self-financed (Stark and James became investors, among others), since, as Stark explains, “banks aren’t on board yet with financing a shipping container project”.


17 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2016 at 6:03 am

I lived in Palo Alto for 10 years, really liked it while I was there but I saw what was happening with real estate and the inevitable effect on the community. I escaped to St Louis, where we have one of the most affordable cities in the US. Friendly people, good schools, great symphony, spectacular medical centers. I do miss the ocean...but I can afford nice vacations.


16 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2016 at 7:58 am

There are numerous tech centers scattered across the country that could benefit from expansion and could provide reasonable housing. Cramming it all here is detrimental to the new young workers who will be paying exorbitant rents. They will not get a chance to own. That will benefit investors of the stack and pack.


23 people like this
Posted by BEREAL
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 12, 2016 at 12:05 pm

WAKE UP PEOPLE! this has been going on for many many years the only reason they are looking at us now is because they want us OUT OF THEIR WAY. To get a different social class to move in and take us all out.


22 people like this
Posted by Unlawful
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Unlawful is a registered user.

It is required by law that tenants who are being evicted be given NINETY DAYS to vacate the premises!

Obviously, this is to ensure that they can find another place to live-- other than the street.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Neighbor and Robert

Here's how I think it should work. Companies who want to start here and expand here should meet with all the Silicon Valley city leaders...CC's, staff, P&T Commissions, and all the other committees involved with housing, transportation, parking, infrastructure, etc., and ask and get a clear understanding of how their plans could affect our communities. As far as I know that has never happened. They just move ahead with company plans, bottom line and pleasing stockholders being of prime importance. They are abusing their employees when they locate here, and only here, and expect them to deal with high rents and not being able to afford to buy a home here. The blame shouldn't be put on cities and us mislabeled NIMBY's for not providing enough housing.


8 people like this
Posted by Disposables
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 14, 2016 at 9:25 am

How do authorities kick off something like this without first making a plan to address the social ramifications it will have on families and individuals? Are they really just mindlessly collecting six figure salaries, unaware that nearly every basic food and retail service they protect and serve is performed by folks who can't afford the insane cost of living. Better they should fill the communities low paying jobs and fill our air with smog on daily commutes (better hope you don't get run over by a sleep deprived worker in transit between jobs! ...Or robbed. Desperate people snap.)

Without any doubt, there should be protections and social services for low income families and individuals that fill low income service jobs, paid for by taxes on the rich, and eviction actions should always be accompanied by clear advanced notice with the support of an organized community support programs (like Habitat for Humanity) and social service assistance options.

East Palo Alto should be part of Santa Clara County and Palo Alto should be required to share community resources.

The systemic problems that our local economy is built on should not be without a real cost to the wealthy population that takes advantage of and benefits from a gross class divide or from forcing property evacuations.

I would like to see the valley hot shots and philanthropic board members and committees forego a few Galas, restaurants and catered dining options to address the real social issues right here in our own "community."


13 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

If you cannot afford to support children on a minimum wage income, you should not be bringing children into this world.


3 people like this
Posted by Old School Willows, MP
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 14, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Growing up in the 80s we used to refer to PA as Shallow Alto...joking of course, but absolutely sad that the joke is now reality.


3 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Or, "Paly Alty" as some call it. ; )


4 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Thank you Palo Alto Weekly for bringing this issue to the attention of Palo Alto residents and the broader community.

I relocated to the Bay Area just over a year ago to pursue my career as a public librarian, serving the East Palo Alto community through its library. I love the work that I do and feel very blessed to have this opportunity. Each day I commute on bicycle to EPA from my below market rate, 1 bedroom apartment here in midtown Palo Alto. Throughout this commute I often contemplate how well these two communities really know each other, how they interact, and as of late, what we might be able to do to better support each other as neighbors.

There is no quick or simple solution to this complicated, albeit significantly money driven, problem. Yet I encourage all of us to start thinking about how WE, not the government, not the tech companies, but WE as HUMAN BEINGS can work towards a solution and show compassion to our neighbors.


3 people like this
Posted by am
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:35 am

this is the most economically and racially discriminatory and segregated place i have ever lived. i grew up in the south by the way, and none of this would fly in any of the towns where i lived. what's worse here, is the hypocrisy. gross.


Like this comment
Posted by am
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:42 am

and what's even worse here is the lack of compassion and refusal to help your neighbors. i NEVER saw anything like that in the south either. just gross. all the comments about "relocating" people or "the poor shouldn't have kids". this is your community. these are your neighbors, why are you treating them so disgustingly. silicon valley has no business telling anyone in the country what to do or how they are going to "make the world a better place" until they can get their own crap together. what a vile, selfish, elitist mess.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:52 pm

The fire in Oakland was due to the refrigerator. Not sure what happened but stacking a lot of people into a house or building can get out of control and lead to disaster. Despite complaints lack of personnel led to ignoring a major problem. Not sure how we are managing complaints to city for use of buildings which are outside the requirements for the area.

We have a number of buildings in the East Bayshore area that are empty - always for lease. Obviously these buildings are not appealing to a business so possibly they can be a temporary shelter during the cold period to allow families to have a temporary place for the winter. Maybe the city can work with the owners to set up a temporary situation until a better solution can be found in better weather. If the buildings are always for lease then maybe those buildings can be reformatted for low income housing. We need to make use of what already exists and is not being used.


Like this comment
Posted by Sweet
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:32 pm

@resident "The fire in Oakland was due to the refrigerator."

Maybe...

"Jill Snyder, the special agent over ATF’s San Francisco office, stressed that it was too early to say ...
Snyder implored the media not to jump to conclusions about the appliances:  “Please stop saying it,” she said. “The refrigerator is still being examined, but it’s not been determined to have been the cause of the fire.”

Web Link
news.com/2016/12/07/oakland-fire-search-completed-while-cause-remains-a-mystery/


Like this comment
Posted by Sweet
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:35 pm

link broke. See quote here...
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 8, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Whatever the fire in Oakland is attributed to it is the result of bad wiring or overload on wiring. The bottom line is that people cannot be stuffed in buildings without some assurance that the buildings are up to code and handle the traffic. We do not want to make that mistake here.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of University South

on Sep 26, 2017 at 2:57 am

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


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

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