News

New President Hotel owner to proceed with evictions

Even as its plan to convert building is challenged, AJ Capital informs residents they need to move out

A proposal to convert the President Hotel in downtown Palo Alto from an apartment building to a hotel may now be in peril, but that apparently won't be enough to save residents of the University Avenue building from displacement.

The company Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (AJ Capital), which last month purchased the building at 488 University Ave., informed the residents of the building's 75 units on Monday that it will not renew any tenant leases beyond Nov. 12, consistent with the eviction notices it had sent out last month. The new notice comes days after city planners had notified the company that its conversion to a hotel would violate the zoning code.

Timothy Franzen, president of Graduate Hotels (a brand of AJ Capital), informed residents in a letter issued Monday that his company disagrees with the city's current reading of the Municipal Code provisions and will continue its discussions with the city over the coming days. While the dispute continues, it does not change the company's position that the residents must vacate the building by Nov. 12, the letter from Franzen states.

The city deemed the proposed conversion illegal based on a code provision that pertains to "grandfathered" buildings in the downtown area. The zoning code allows renovations of grandfathered buildings (those that were established before the zoning code was adopted), provided these buildings retain "the same use" as part of the renovation. City planners had determined that by converting the 1929 building from an apartment complex to its original use as a hotel, the developer would violate the "same use" provision.

The company did not respond last week to the Weekly's inquiries about what effect, if any, the determination would have on residents. Monday's letter indicates that AJ Capital intends to move forward with the evictions, notwithstanding its dispute with the city.

"We did not want there to be any confusion due to questions raised in recent articles as to what, if any, effect our discussions with the City have on the time you have remaining in the building,” states Franzen's letter, which was posted on tenants' doors Monday. "You should continue with your efforts to find new housing and we encourage you to take advantage of the expert relocation services firm that we have engaged to assist in your efforts."

Franzen wrote that the company "fully appreciate(s) the burdens and difficulties of finding and moving to new homes, which is why we have offered the additional time and financial support."

Related content:

Webcast: President Hotel

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Comments

38 people like this
Posted by Random
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 7:27 pm

There is no doubt that through politicking, this project will eventually get the stamp of approval as a hotel. It’s another hurdle the city has thrown up to provide the appearance that they care about residents or tenants. The reality is nobody at City Hall can save the tenants. Incentivize housing developers and maybe developers will build housing.

AJ wanted to convert to a hotel - that’s what they do. Meeting resistance and publicly being told it is now not possible will only intensify their efforts. In the end, the residents of this building are still in the same position. Grab your popcorn and be ready. Sooner or later, this will become a hotel. These guys have the pockets to withstand any carrying costs. You don’t make an investment of this magnitude to give up at the first sign of trouble.

The risk when you rent is that you get displaced. It’s an unfortunate reality in some instances, but a reality. Owners of buildings ought not to bear the burden of societal issues. This buyer spent a ton of money for a specific purpose. Why should the buyer be responsible for residents’ personal circumstances?


36 people like this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 23, 2018 at 7:38 pm

If the tenants come together they can fight the City and the greedy developer and beat them in court. People thought that the Buena Vista Mobile Park residents didn't stand a chance and they won big in the end.

Fight the power!


64 people like this
Posted by boycott!
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 7:40 pm

If they do proceed with these evictions, everyone please boycott this hotel and any other hotel owned by these perps. Also instruct your companies and colleagues never to use this hotel. Thank you. Throwing all these hard working residents out on the street during our current housing crunch is just evil.


38 people like this
Posted by GM
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 23, 2018 at 8:22 pm

It is incredible that this sale was even allowed to go through given that it is not as if it wasn't known what the intention is here.

At any given moment one cannot even find 75 open rental postings in this area, it's not even a question of price. And once you factor in price, it becomes an order of magnitude worse.

So people living in the President are basically kicked out of Palo Alto altogether, not just of their current tiny studio apartments.


64 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:13 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Hardly a surprise. They come to town, ask questions, get answers, make a $65 MILLION investment, and THEN get an "oh, wait, you cannot do what you want to do letter" from the City.

And now we are supposed to believe that it is coincidence that Staff is asking the Planning Commission to implement a City Council action from 18 months ago that would eliminate the downtown cap. On the one hand, CC likes to tout how smart everyone here is, but on the other they do things like this that suggest they think we are not so smart. Or not paying attention.

Neither is true. This issue has awakened residents because dozens of us are now subject to eviction. The City has put us in a terrible spot. Of course we all know that losing one's home is a risk inherent to renting. But there are special circumstances here that compel us to look beyond the fact of the transaction and look at the impact of it. WHY didn't Staff disclose the critical code restriction before the sale closed? And why didn't the consultants from Lighthouse, both former City officials, know and disclose the critical code section? This whole process, as described, lacks credibility.

One possible explanation is that the agenda to eliminate the downtown cap is in play. Eliminating the cap would be a very wrong move as it would pave the way for even more office growth downtown. And that results in an even greater housing deficit. Why is Staff not instead proposing spot zoning for this project? That is also not good policy, but it beats eliminating the cap. And CC recently set a precedent for spot zoning with the 2755 El Camino project, so we know it can be done.

No matter how you slice this one, it is a mess of the City's own making. Each Hotel President resident is going to pay dearly for this mess. But the rest of this community will also pay, just in different ways. So much for preserving housing.

There is a critically important Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday. If this matters to you, attend and voice your opinion. Even if you don't want to speak, it helps if you attend b/c numbers matter.


26 people like this
Posted by Captain Obvious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:15 pm

What's to stop AJ Capital from simply evicting the tenants, renovating and turning the building into luxury apartments that will rent for $8K+ per month? That doesn't change the use, but it is sure a decent return on their investment. I don't see what can possibly save the current tenants without new legislation that will surely result in a losing lawsuit for inverse condemnation.


42 people like this
Posted by JohnG
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Vote the city council members out of office who met with AJ Capital in secret and gave approval to change the use of the building.


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:06 pm

I agree with Annette.
It's not about being heartless or cold. It was a business decision by an investment firm. Prior to buying the property to invest an develop, they likely did their homework. The fact that they met with city officials attests to the fact they likely wanted to get reassurance this property could be redeveloped.

They likely crunched the numbers. Hotel is most probably charging under market rents. When investment properties change hands from private owners/investors to an investment firm... expect the property to be renovated or redeveloped, and rents to go up. In this case, changing it from long term rentals to a hotel charging daily rates probably came out with a HUGE cash flow. Palo Alto has not enough hotels and land is valuable and at a premium, this is likely in an AMAZING downtown location and has the bone structure and bones to be a hotel as it's original primary purpose.

It's a win-win for the investor. In the end, this property will likely be a huge windfall if all goes according to plan.
At THIS juncture, most likely the investment firm that bought this property is consulting the lawyers. IT's a win-win for the lawyers and likely the city is reading harsh sounding letters from the firm's investment lawyers.

At this juncture... Palo Alto city and it's council... may be playing politics to appease the public.. but also may be putting our city at risk of being sued for what they already might have promised when they met with investor before they purchased this property.

It's a business decision. Not about heart or not. You want to see heartless... go see how there is lack of gun control and kids are scared of being shot at schools, OR how people don't have universal medical coverage and go bankrupt going to the ER or having a chronic medical condition. THAT Is heartless.


20 people like this
Posted by Random
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:27 pm

It is true that Jim Keene and other city council members should probably not have met with AJ Capital prior to purchase. At the very least, they should have been non-committal in those meetings. A good lawsuit will flush all that out.

However, it is irresponsible to continually bash city council (and by city council, I mean the ones that a majority of posters in this forum consider to be "in the developers' hands").

Everyone presumes what city council said at these meetings. Why doesn't anyone want to wait to actually hear about what was said and promised or not promised? This is a major problem in Palo Alto. Blame developers. Blame pro-growth council members.

Setting aside what you feel about certain council members, here is the reality. AJ Capital likely hired darn good land use planning attorneys who understand the code and had confidence to purchase the property. Does anyone actually believe that a company would shell out $65M and pin their hopes on a hotel conversion without some sort of contingency plan in place? You have to be out of your mind to believe that. $65M does not grow on trees.

Once the property was bought - for ANY use, the fate of these residents was sealed. Make it a hotel play, if not a hotel, make it a condo conversion, if not that, multi-family with increased rents. So to constantly bash city council is a major distraction in this case. I would certainly question the wisdom of Jim Keene to have made the statement at the outset that there is nothing the city can do to stop AJ Capital. That was foolish. That process should have simply played out in a public forum.

The end result would have been the same. These residents would have to relocate. If not with this buyer and not for this purpose, then another buyer for some other purpose. Economics dictates this outcome. It sounds cold, but this is reality.


45 people like this
Posted by Susy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:30 pm

We could have be closer to having rental protections if Council Member Cory Wolbach supported the proposal from Councilmembers Tom Dubois, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou. [Portion removed.]

For those of you losing your homes because your rents are being increased, well, you have Councilmember Cory Wolbach to thank.




10 people like this
Posted by Random
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:32 pm

@boycott! I understand your fervor, but seriously, this is unrealistic. People who use hotels are not locals. So your local boycott of a business that relies on out of towners is at best silly.

Companies and colleagues will make no impact on this hotel's business if and when it gets completed. You mean the very companies a majority of this forum bashes at every turn?


20 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:34 pm

I don't understand why city wants to block the conversion to a hotel.

It is an absolutely perfect location for a hotel. It was a hotel. It is the best use of this precious piece of real estate. The conversion will generate significant amount of recurring revenue for the city.

The tenants are not "evicted". The landlord simply terminates the lease. It's just common business activity. The word "evicted" sounds like tenants are caught on doing some bad things that break the lease terms.



31 people like this
Posted by michelle kraus
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Please sign the Tenants petition to Halt the Eviction until all of the policy and legal issues are resolved at the Hotl President Apartments. Here is the link:

Web Link.


13 people like this
Posted by Random
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2018 at 10:36 pm

@Susy, come on, do you seriously believe Wolbach is the reason rents are being increased? I understand bashing and campaigning, but that comment wreaks of emotion rather than logic.

Let's blame one city council member for all the ills of a small demographic of people. Aye caramba!


65 people like this
Posted by Richie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2018 at 11:13 pm

It should be pointed out that the "expert relocation services firm" whose services AJ Capital is offering to President tenants is Autotemp. Autotemp is a company that oversees the demolition of HUD projects and the removal of low-income people. Its job is to get these tenants out of their building, not help them. AJ Capital calling Autotemp "expert services" is, at best, somewhere between cynical and disingenuous.


16 people like this
Posted by GM
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 24, 2018 at 2:39 am

"It is an absolutely perfect location for a hotel. It was a hotel. It is the best use of this precious piece of real estate. The conversion will generate significant amount of recurring revenue for the city."

This is absurd,

It is by no means the "best use of this previous piece of real estate" -- there is something called "societal interest" to consider.

In this case you have the interests of 75+ residents of the city against the interests of a heartless corporation from thousands of miles away.

It is true that Palo Alto does not have enough hotels. But this could be easily resolved by fixing the god damn zoning regulations and building some new ones. Not by evicting people from one of the very very few places offering the opportunity for high-density somewhat affordable (and really, is $2300 for a studio with no kitchen "affordable"?) car-free living. Even the usual NIMBYs shouldn't be against building new hotels -- that will indeed generate revenue, will not add more "strain" on the school system, will not generate more car trips to and from daycare, groceries, etc. or any of the other usual excuses.

Yet you see people in these comments who are gleefully cheering what is effectively the banishment of 75+ people from the Palo Alto and the surrounding cities' area (there are older people and people with kids living there, they cannot live in someones garage with the closest laundry a couple miles or something of the sort).

People who are happy to see the last of the riff-raff removed from the area are well advised to remember that "Let them eat cake" type of sentiments have historically often resulted in the heads of the people expressing them being swiftly separated from the bodies of their owners not too long after them doing so.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2018 at 5:56 am

This reminds me in disturbing ways of 27 University.
We want leadership and staff who will fetch the ball for the people [portion removed] but kudos to staff and commissioners for new dog run at Peers.


15 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2018 at 6:17 am

488 also reminds of 456 in that leadership was, by my estimation, afraid to confront the powerful land-lord and only gave lip service to trying to enact the will of the people. And further, per my previous comment, it was Amy French of staff (and ironically also former singer in a rock band) who suggested to the 27 Uni applicant that because people wanted a theatre at The Varsity he should add a theatre to the office towers replacing historic war memorials at MacArthur restaurant and parkland at El Camino Park.
So keep an eye on our supposed leadership.
Or let’s form another Grand Jury.


23 people like this
Posted by SallyAnnRudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2018 at 7:49 am

You might want to check out the company website:
Web Link

With 20 properties in various phases of development, Graduate Hotels have become well-curated and well-crafted fixtures in university towns across the country. Every property commemorates and cultivates the spirit of each community in a bright new way, making it the smartest place to stay.

Each university, acting as an anchor institution in the community, provides Graduate Hotel investments with a stable demand base that limits volatility throughout cycles. University-anchored cities benefit from an educated workforce and a natural incubator for innovation and job creation. This dynamic has led to lower unemployment, a growing population, increased technology presence and higher discretionary income. Graduate Hotels is uniquely positioned to capitalize on these benefits.


This oily description of their business model makes me want to fight these carpetbaggers tooth and nail.


10 people like this
Posted by Seeing is Believing
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 24, 2018 at 7:51 am

The pro AJ crowd = business mentality, conservative mindsets driven by ROI & avarice.

The anti-AJ crowd = nostalgic, humanitarian & against overdevelopment.

It is now is the hands of the attorneys who will reap a windfall during the course of this housing conflict. Lawyers are the only ones who come out ahead when civil issues & problems arise. It is extrinsically designed into their DNA.


30 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2018 at 8:37 am

What if all 75 residents of the President Hotel simply refused to leave the premises en masse after the November cut-off date?

AJ would then be forced to file 75 Unlawful Detainer proceedings at the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. The additional time allowed for counterfiling by the residents (5 days) + required court scheduling (usually within 20 days) for 75 individual hearings would hinder AJ's immediate redevelopment aspirations as there is no way the court could accomodate that many UD hearings within the specified/required timeframe. Talk about a logjam at the Court Clerk's office.

This mass eviction proceeding would/could create a lot of local & national news attention as well.

To the residents of the President Hotel...stand your ground!





3 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

@Susy
At the Council Retreat this year, I proposed including renter protections in our priorities. Though my proposal was not successful, I hope we can renew the discussion.

First the Action Minutes: Web Link

Page 2:
'AMENDMENT: Council Member Wolbach moved, seconded by Council Member XX to add to the Motion under the Finance priority “long term employee costs” and “supply, affordability and renter protections” under the Housing priority.'

Secondly, here's the transcript: Web Link

Page 52:
Wolbach: "My suggestion would be three bullet points under Housing: one, supply; two, affordability; and three, renter protections....Palo Alto already has some renter protections, but they're not well publicized. They're not very well known about. There are some things we can do there that could really bring the Council and the community together, including the private sector and the renter advocates. There is an opportunity for real consensus on that third point as well. The first two, we're already moving forward with this [housing] work plan."

Page 54:
Wolbach: "As far as the third item, there is an opportunity to have a conversation about renter protections, which will be more productive than the one we had mid to late last year and which could find greater consensus among the Council and the community. I hope we aren't foreclosed to that possibility even though we're moving forward with these [first 2] already."


40 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:15 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks, Cory.

So are you going to support the grassroots ballot initiative to curb office growth which obviously fuels the jobs/housing imbalance and pushes up the price of housing?


44 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:37 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Yes Mr Wolbach. Since commercial overdevelopment is by far the main reason for job/housing imbalance would you publicly support and campaign for the initiative to limit commercial development?

Furtheremore, since many consider you to be [portion removed] for big land developers, would you start speaking out against them?


2 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:37 am

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

@Online Name
I'm keeping an open mind, and I appreciate all the folks who've reached out by phone or email to share their thoughts. We're taking up that issue next Monday, July 30, at the City Council meeting.


4 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:49 am

Does the city want to turn this into another legal fight like the Buena Vista Mobile Home? How can we let those greedy capitalists abuse "poor teachers, fire fighters, nurses, children, ..." The usual drill.

If so the city and the county needs to find $100M or more tax payer dollars to buy back the property, plus huge legal expenses.

I don't blame those who are living there trying their best to extract as much as possible from the landlord and/or the city. I would do that too if I were one of them. Buena Vista sets the example. Our "compassionate" city and county politicians will dispense tax payers' money like water.


40 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:52 am

Annette is a registered user.

Cory - "keeping an open mind" is closely related to "I want to wait until the last possible minute to see which way the wind is blowing." We need to get past that; it hasn't worked in Washington, D.C., and it isn't working here.

I submit that NOW is a good time to show whether you will or will not support the initiative. Absent an affirmative YES to Online Name's question, I conclude that you do not. Given our absurdly bad jobs:housing imbalance it seems to me that anyone who claims to be a Housing Advocate, as you do, should enthusiastically support the initiative.

Why you and Adrian Fine and PAF leadership are not doing this is inexplicable. And indefensible. How many more Palo Altans need to lose their housing before you all come around?


2 people like this
Posted by Diane orin
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:53 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


24 people like this
Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2018 at 11:03 am

long view is a registered user.

Council Member Wolbach - Are current Palo Alto renter protections valuable? The requirement to offer a one year lease is good, but does nothing to prevent "eviction by rent increase" one year later. The right to non-binding mediation with a tenant's landlord can help with parking or maintenance issues, but I have never heard of a landlord meaningfully backing down from a rent increase.

Palo Alto's current renter protections do nothing to slow down rent increases, and do nothing to stop displacement of current residents due to rent increases. Publicizing current renter protections has very moderate value to the community or to renters.

Until you give us other information, we are forced to conclude that while you don't like the displacement of current renters for richer new renters, you remain unwilling to take meaningful action to limit this situation, other than being favorable to building more market and non-profit housing, which is a VERY long term and slow moving approach.

Your post has not refuted Suzy's post.


14 people like this
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2018 at 11:23 am

To all those disagreeing with AJ's intended use of the property, here's a suggestion:

Buy the property from them. Then you can keep the current renters (or evict them, as you wish!)

Just please don't waste our (taxpayer) money on this, as was done with the trailer park.


14 people like this
Posted by Oh Palo Alto... here you go again
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 24, 2018 at 11:35 am

@GM not all 75 apartments were rented out. I think back a month ago they said 59 were occupied and many tenants have left the building since the purchase.

How did Palo Altans get so entitled? If you are a renter anywhere, it does not mean you get/will live in the same place forever and with no rent increases. Yes, it’s unfortunate but you are at the mercy of the property “owner” and you should know what you sign up for when you “rent”. Additionally, in this situation with the President Hotel, should it have even been allowed to be turned into apartments in the first place? I read there are no kitchens in any of the units. Isn’t this similar to buying a house and if a room didn’t have a closet, it can’t be called a bedroom? This building was a hotel initially and should be allowed to return to that status. Palo Alto needs hotels as well, or that revenue will go to other cities.

Face the reality, Palo Alto is never returning to an affordable city to live in.


3 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

Novelera is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:18 pm

@boycott: Boycott? Absolutely not. In fact, I will have all of my guest flying in from out of town stay at this hotel (The hotel will happen, just wait). Location is perfect as it's close to Atherton, CA and right on University Ave. Minimum of 2 rooms weekly is the business they'll get from my guests flying in.


5 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:34 pm

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

Are you ready for the City to step into every situation in Palo Alto in which a house that is being rented (to oldsters, a family, or singles) is sold and the new owners terminate or not renew the lease in order to (move in themselves, remodel and raise the rent, remodel and sell)?

We have laws and a concept of 'owned property'. If those laws and concepts are no longer compatible with yours and others' views of human compassion and societal interest, then take action to get those laws changed. Use logic and persuasion to get others on your side. But insulting and inflammatory rhetoric will likely close the ears of persons who might listen, who might participate, and who might even have meaningful suggestions towards a solution.

Seriously, let's try to be civil. We have a housing problem (as well as others). Let's try to listen as well as talk. Let's not be like Congress with two opposing sides for whom meeting in the middle is an anathema.




24 people like this
Posted by GM
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:41 pm

@Oh Palo Alto... here you go again

Not all 75 apartments are occupied because apparently they stopped renting to new tenants several months ago knowing that the sale is going to happen soon.

So what I said is still perfectly true -- the building was providing a place to live for 75+ people and now the rental market, which was already brutal in the first place, has shrunk by 75 units.

I don't see why someone should be labelled "entitled" for not wanting to commute 4-5 hours a day to where they work, especially if they have sacrificed quite a bit in terms of quality of life by living in a tiny studio with no kitchen, someone's garage, etc.

"Entitlement" is to have won the lottery of life and own a property in Palo Alto through whatever lucky set of circumstances the person happened to have gone through and then to lecture everyone else about how they are subhuman scum for not having done the same. Examples of that kind of behavior there have been plenty in the comments under the articles on this topic.

Then there is the larger issue, which is why the hell this situation is developing in the first place, the answer to which is the absurd zoning that does not allow anything bigger than 2-3 stories to be built in Palo Alto. You will find plenty of cities in Europe offering no worse quality of life than Palo Alto (actually a lot better in many aspects because from a certain point of view US suburbia with their social alienation are a place that only a complete sociopath would want to live in -- a point of view supported by the behavior exhibited by many of the people gleefully cheering the eviction of the President's tenants here) housing 10 times the people in half the area with absolutely no need for even owning a car.

I've seen a lot of excuses about how "Oh, we can't build apartments because what about the parking and traffic congestion", which only underscore the underlying insanity of it all -- if a place requires you to have a car to do anything, it is a fundamentally dysfunctional mess, and no real city.

And then there is the case of the President, which exposes the real motivations behind that sort of argumentation -- I don't know if you've been there, but I have, and the President has something like 8 parking spots in total in the basement. That's it. The great majority of the people living there did not have a car. So no additional "stress on the infrastructure" was caused by their presence there in any way.

But it doesn't matter, because the actual reasoning here is that some people consider anyone not worth in the 8 figures and above a subhuman scum who should be kept as far away from the Palo Alto area as possible except when they come here during the day to service the upper caste.

We'll see how the future will develop, but as I pointed in my previous post, the Indians having managed to maintain their caste system intact and so brutal for so long is the historical exception. More often than not, once the elite becomes completely disconnected from the reality around them, they get what they deserve and it is not pretty.


33 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

We don't just have a housing problem; we have a concerted effort to make it worse by the constant push for more offices than housing which only increases competition for housing and raises housing prices.

Lather, rinse, repeat.


4 people like this
Posted by Another Day in PA Town
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:58 pm

"...should it have even been allowed to be turned into apartments in the first place? I read there are no kitchens in any of the units. Isn’t this similar to buying a house and if a room didn’t have a closet, it can’t be called a bedroom?"

Uh. Talk to any real estate agent & you will find that your argument doesn't hold water. Bedrooms (whether they have a closet or not) can be called bedrooms based on previous 'usage'. Dining rooms and dens are often included in the 'bedroom count' if they have been used as such.

You are obviously of the:
...pro AJ crowd = business mentality, conservative mindsets driven by ROI & avarice. (somewhat reminiscent of the straight-laced Danville/Walnut Creek crowd).

Or as Jerry Seinfeld used to say..."not that there's anything wrong with that."


4 people like this
Posted by Oh Palo Alto...here you go again
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm

@GM The definition of entitlement. noun. : the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something. : the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges). I used the word entitlement in reference to those Palo Altan’s who think everything should be changed/stopped for them I.e. the President Hotel tenants, Buena Vista Park tenants.
I understand about not wanting to commute, but unfortunately that is not a reality for many people living in the Silicon Valley Area. I was born and raised in Palo Alto but can’t afford to live there now, so live in a city near by that is more affordable... my parents still live in Palo Alto, not because they “won the lottery of life”, but because they worked hard and saved their money to buy a home there. To put words in my or other peoples mouths (I.e. subhuman scum) is offensive, not appreciated or appropriate.


4 people like this
Posted by Oh Palo Alto...here you go again
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 24, 2018 at 1:45 pm

@Another Day in PA Town “you are obviously of the:
...pro AJ crowd = business mentality, conservative mindsets driven by ROI & avarice.”

Hmm, I don’t believe I have ever met you... why would you name call and assume something about me from a legitimate question I asked?


4 people like this
Posted by GM
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 24, 2018 at 1:49 pm

@ Oh Palo Alto...here you go again

I did not put those words in your mouth specifically, but I have definitely seen that sort of attitude clearly expressed by numerous posters here. I am not talking about individual people, but about general trends.

None of the people scrambling to find some sort of a room to sleep in that is sufficiently close to Stanford so that they can get their 16-hour long experiments done without having to sleep in the lab (which, BTW, people are in fact forced to do -- you will see postdocs sleeping on sofas in hallways because they have missed the last train/shuttle to whatever far away place around the Bay it is they that live in or because they had to stay there past the time of the last available transportation) feels entitled to "living in Palo Alto" the same way the people who own houses in Palo Alto understand the meaning of "living in Palo Alto". All they want is a tiny studio apartment, yet even that is being denied. And those are the very same people whose brains and hard work the wealth of the people owning houses in Palo Alto is actually built on. Transport Palo Alto with its current homeowning residents to somewhere on the outskirts of Capetown (fairly similar climate), see how well they do in isolation.

That wealth is build on the basis of the labor of a much larger group of people than the lucky few in possession of big enough chunks of it to own houses in the area.

To think you can continue to reap those benefits while treating the basis of that pyramid as a lower caste of people is first, sociopathic, and second, suicidal in the long run. "But the free market..."-type excuses will not do (and really, is the market actually "free" in this case given how impossible it is to build an apartment block in this area?).


4 people like this
Posted by Lane Henshaw
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2018 at 1:57 pm

>>>I was born and raised in Palo Alto but can’t afford to live there now, so live in a city near by that is more affordable... my parents still live in Palo Alto, not because they “won the lottery of life”, but because they worked hard and saved their money to buy a home there.

Perhaps someday you will have an opportunity to win 'the lottery of life' by inheriting your parent's home. Add a 'grandfathered' Prop 13 into the mix & all will be well.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate and seemingly necessary plight of those displaced from their former dwellings in PA will perpetuate due to the always lucrative profession of 'keeping up appearances'.

Palo Alto wasn't always this way. The life & times here have taken a turn for the worse...unless you are a wealthy conservative driven by the allure of money.






4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2018 at 3:52 pm

With the residents gone the developer has a potent fate accompli [sp intended], and the city has much less human incentive to pursue its case. Slick.

[Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by GM
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm

I apologize for the rant, but I have to get it off my chest.

The first thing that needs to be said here is that the US suburb in general is one of the best examples of the socialism-for-the-rich-ruthless-free-market-for-everyone-else pattern that one can find on so many levels in modern societies.

A metropolitan area is a single economic unit -- the wealth that gets generated in it is dependent on the totality of it, and accordingly the benefits should be shared throughout the whole of it. But US cities are not set up that way -- you have suburbs that are separate municipalities which allows the rich to take their tax revenue with them in their own "city", and share it only between them. Even though their wealth is generated from the metropolitan area as a whole (as a rule the exclusive suburbs they live in generate almost no economic activity on their own). Socialize the costs, privatize the benefits.

This is the fundamental reason why a place like Detroit ended up in its current condition, it is not even so much the decline of the US auto industry per se (the Detroit suburbs are still quite wealthy).

This is not how it works in other countries around the world, BTW -- you will see suburbs that are separate cities, but usually the core city still has the bulk of the population, i.e. no Atlanta-type situations with the inner city having 400,000 people while the metro area has 5,000,000, or Bay Area-type cases where there is not even a core city.

Palo Alto is a particularly perverse situation though, because in this case the jobs that the city's wealth is built on are actually in the city itself. Yet the people generating that wealth are not allowed to live in the city (or in the neighboring several cities).

There used to be sort of three castes in this area -- bottom one featuring the low-skilled workers, middle one comprised of the people doing middle-income jobs essential to the maintenance and functioning of the city, and an upper one, which included both people with capital as well as engineers and researchers. Now it's really more like four castes -- the people whose wealth is based on capital are now in their own upper caste, most of the engineers and researchers, who do the most important work, have been pushed down a level.

Now, people whose income is entirely based on capital have always been primarily parasites on the rest of society, but in this case it becomes really grotesque because it is not just low skilled manual laborers that are being exploited, it is even the highly educated highly skilled people that have been relegated to second class status, i.e. the people who did everything right -- went to school, got good grades, worked their ass off, etc. And they are not asking for mansions, just a tiny apartment in a high rise building.

One of the most frequent arguments against building housing is the impact on the school district. Well, guess what -- that school district could not exist without teachers, without janitors to keep it clean, without blue collar maintenance workers to keep the buildings functioning, etc. But none of these people can afford to live in Palo Alto or anywhere close to it. So once again -- socialize the costs, privatize the gains. We will reap the benefit of having excellent schools but we will not allow the people who make that possible to have the same benefits.

And as I said, now even a lot of the engineers and researchers have been relegated to that status. So again, we socialize the cost of the tech economy, we privatize the benefits in terms of what has always been the most important factors thinly veiled behind all the "quality of life" talk -- property values and social class exclusivity.


29 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 4:12 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

In Wolbachspeak, "I'm keeping an open mind about the initiative" is the same as "Let's just be civil to each other" from 4 years ago. It means he will not reveal his views until he is reelected, and then everybody will find out that he toes the developer line , like he always does as a true Kniss protege, but by then it will be too late.


19 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2018 at 4:51 pm

@GM, many of those who own houses in Palo Alto for a log time are the pioneers to made Palo Alto great. They built Palo Alto from orchard farms. They made this place a great environment for research and innovation that attracts talents and jobs. For that, yes, they *are* entitled to reap the benefits and live here.

The thought that now they should give up what they have built and perhaps move out so that others can come and take over is not going to resonate in the community.


27 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Sheri is a registered user.

Pretty hard to believe that former Planning Director Steve Emslie didn't know about "grandfathered" buildings. More likely he and his bosses hoped no one would notice.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sacre blue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm

Mauricio— [Portion removed] you might want to check out the links [Wolbach] posted from the retreat. He proposed an amendment that would have dealt with renter protections. It failed for a lack of a second? What happened to the PASZ contingent on the council? Aren’t they in favor of protection for renters. [Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Sacre blue, he certainly didn't propose any renter protection during the rushed ADU brouhaha. He'd given so little thought to how what he was espousing that he hadn't even considered the resultant parking problems the new ADU tenants would cause.

[Portion removed.] Mauricio -- and all of us -- are well within our rights when we ask all political candidates -- Cory included -- for clear, definitive answers.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2018 at 6:29 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Cory, why can't you try to be honest and just say you are for more commercial growth? Why keep hiding behind weasel words about your voting intentions?


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2018 at 9:38 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Being human
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Random asked:
Why should the buyer be responsible for residents’ personal circumstances?

Possible answer:
Because it is normal human behavior to empathize with other humans. It often seems that developers and others in the money-making trades have gotten rid of that human capacity. They have de-humanized themselves.
(Good example in Washington.)


7 people like this
Posted by Madias
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2018 at 7:08 am

I can summarize the whole thread.
We live in a free market Capitalist Society and economy.
We live in one of the areas that has benefitted the most from that social and economic system.
Many people want to live here.
Some of those people think we should be socialist.
Some of those people think we should be communist.



14 people like this
Posted by freefall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2018 at 8:46 am

@Being human has brought in the missing dimension
in this entire discussion. Value systems.
Developers should not get a free pass just because
their value system is defined by $$$ as the City of Palo Alto just keeps degrading with all
the social,environmental,urban impacts. And the Council and staff which are supposed to be
the counteracting force are absent, complicit,
or even compounding with their own destructive
actions like the traffic engineering and the City
is essentially in a freefall.


15 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

This is clearly a divisive topic.

It does raise the issue of what are reasonable protections in the landlord - tennant relationship. I wrote a colleagues memo on Renter Protections over year ago, back in June of 2017. It took awhile but was agendized and had a full discussion on october 16, 2017.

I proposed merely that Council send the topic to a Council committee for further discussion of what renter protections we should consider adding to our current renter protection ordinances.

The discussion was heated and falsely characterized as proposing rent control. That's a falsehood! The memo was not about rent control, and the council members that brought it to Council were very clear about that. The video of that meeting can be seen at Web Link and shows what Council members said when voting against it, including Councilmember Wolbach who claimed to support the idea but still voted against it.

I saw in this thread that Cory had now come around and brought up the idea again in February at the council retreat, not as an agendized topic but as part of general priority discussions. I was unfortunately travelling that weekend and did not participate in the retreat or I would have seconded his motion.

I'd welcome him to work with me on this important issue - this is too important to make it a political football to be supported only when your "team" agrees with you. I listen and vote based on the quality of a proposal before us on Council, and am happy to colloborate with any of my colleagues.


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 25, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks, Tom, for weighing in and for noting that the proposal was falsely characterized as rent control. There's way too much "false characterization" going on re PA issues with the silly push poll against the ballot initiative to curb office growth being a prime example.

I'm glad to hear you'd be happy to collaborate with any of your colleagues but the question remains whether the pro-development 5 will be happy to collaborate with you and to discuss the issues honestly.

Waiting to hear from all the other CC members and CC candidates.


3 people like this
Posted by Boo hoo
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Online name- I recall a"false characterization" a few years ago with regard to the neon sign at the grocery outlet. We hear endless false characterizations of certain council members who agree not part of the pasz voting block.


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

So what -- if anything -- is being done to save the tenants since the President Hotel had grandfathered protection?


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