A regional discussion focused on housing challenges in Silicon Valley will take place Santa Clara and San Mateo counties on Wednesday, including in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.
The event, called On the Table SV, will bring together thousands of residents, city officials and others to talk about what can be done to address the lack of affordable housing. The event is sponsored by Silicon Valley Community Foundation and is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Miami, Florida-based foundation is providing funds for 10 community foundations throughout the country to hold community conversations about important topics as a way to build community and find solutions. The project is based on a model developed by the Chicago Community Trust, which the Knight Foundation wanted to see replicated, said Mauricio Palma, Silicon Valley Community Foundation's director of initiatives and special projects.
Wednesday's event is expected to bring more than 700 hosts and 5,000 participants in both counties for conversations, which will occur over a meal, coffee or bite to eat, he said. The city of Palo Alto is hosting four events, with policymakers and others hosting gatherings throughout the community.
Palma said the foundation chose housing as the topic after finding that housing was a critical element in the Bay Area during of series of separate community discussions.
"You just have to open the newspaper to see on a daily basis that housing is a major issue," he said.
While some of the conversations will be by invitation and others public, participants will be asked to fill out a survey at the end and the data will be included in two reports. One report will focus on how the On the Table model brings communities together, a goal of the Knight Foundation; the second report will focus on what is critical for Silicon Valley related to housing.
"We will use that information to inform our grant-making strategies in housing and transportation over the next three years," Palma said. The reports are expected to be completed in February and March.
"For us, there are multiple issues: immigration, education and economic security and housing and transportation. We decided to take a big dive into housing and transportation because it is critical across the region," he said.
Sandra Slater of Palo Alto Forward said her group is hosting an event at Lucie Stern Community Center along with Congregation Beth Am and the Palo Alto League of Women Voters.
"Collectively we have (so far) over 90 RSVPs so it should be quite a lunch!" she said in an email.
"The purpose is to gather folks together to have positive discourse around our housing issues -- to listen, learn, share perspectives and come up with some positive actions where people can work together to address them. We hope to learn from participants what their hopes are for housing, how they've been affected by the housing crisis and what their worries-- and dreams -- are. It's always good to come together -- especially around food -- and share our various perspectives. We hope this lunch will be a great way for residents to engage with one another."
The city of Palo Alto will hold On the Table events that will include Planning Department's housing and long-range planning group, plus other staff from the city.
"We expect the City Manager as well as potentially council members," spokeswoman Claudia Keith said.
These events are open to the general public at the following locations and times:
From 8:30-10:30 a.m.:
• Coupa Cafe, 538 Ramona St.
• Philz Coffee, 3191 Middlefield Road.
• Printer's Cafe, 320 S. California Ave.
From 8:45-10 a.m.:
• Hobee's (facilitated by the Human Relations Commission), 4224 El Camino Real.
Human Relations Commissioner Steven Lee will canvas the RV dwellers on El Camino Real and will ask them to join in a conversation over a meal at a church, he said. He wanted to make sure that people across the divide in the community would be a part of the conversation and potential solutions.
Another public collaborative by Christian and Muslim organizations will be at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive, for a dinner, which is being hosted by church member Margaret Boles and Samina Sundas of American Muslim Voice. Information about that event is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 650-494-1760.
Additional public On the Table events will be held at:
• Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Resident's Association & Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Barron Park Elementary School, 800 Barron Ave. from 6:45–8 p.m.
Learn more at eventbrite.com.
• Palo Alto League of Women Voters, Congregation Beth Am & Palo Alto Forward
Lucie Stern Community Center ballroom, 1305 Middlefield Road from noon-1 p.m.
• Stanford University
Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2), 473 Via Ortega, Stanford at 6 p.m.
• Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto at 6 p.m.
• Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto at 6 p.m.
Learn more at paloaltojcc.org.
• East Palo Alto Senior Center, 560 Bell St., East Palo Alto at 2 p.m.
• St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1425 Bay Road, East Palo Alto at 7 p.m.
To RSVP and for more information on these events and additional locations, visit siliconvalleycf.org/onthetable.