News

Facing eviction, residents seek urgency ordinance

President Hotel tenants ask City Council for law to assist them as they fight displacement

As Palo Alto prepares for a possible legal showdown with the new owners of downtown's President Hotel over conversion of the apartment building to a hotel, residents are asking the City Council to pass an urgency ordinance that would assist them with their pending eviction from the historic building.

The City Council last week heard from more than a dozen residents of the President Hotel, which in June was purchased by the Chicago-based Adventurous Journey Capital Partners (AJ Capital). Days after buying the 1929 building at 488 University Ave., AJ Capital informed the residents that they have until Nov. 12 to vacate their apartments.

The announcement prompted an outpouring of community support and a rare consensus from the city's two leading advocacy groups. Both Palo Alto Forward, which favors more housing, and Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which focuses on slow-growth policies, have urged the council to do what it can to preserve the 75-unit building for residential use.

One action has already been taken. Last month, council members Tom DuBois, Karen Holman, Lydia Kou and Cory Wolbach submitted a colleagues memo urging the city to update its policies protecting renters, with a focus on providing more relocation assistance to residents who are evicted because of severe rent spikes. The memo is a revised version of the memo that DuBois, Holman and Kou offered last fall, but with two notable differences: It does not propose to cap allowed rent increases; and it now has the support of Wolbach, who last year was part of the majority who opposed the rent-stabilization proposal.

The new proposal is unlikely to help the residents of President Hotel with their near-term dilemma. The "colleagues memo" process typically takes months to produce results, as city staff analyzes the memo's implications and as the appropriate committees vet the memo before sending it to the council for adoption. While City Manager James Keene indicated on July 30 that staff is preparing to move ahead with this process, he also noted that staff will consider near-term actions aimed specifically at helping President Hotel residents.

"Time is of the essence," Keene said. "Are there adjustments to our current ordinances that could enhance renter protections?"

Dennis Backlund, who has lived in President Hotel for the past 37 years and who had previously worked as a historic preservation planner for the city, was among a group of residents who last month appealed to the council to step pass an "urgency" ordinance to stave off their displacement, even if temporarily. He argued that AJ Capital's planned conversion of the building will have a serious impact on downtown businesses, including those operated by building residents. These include a music school and a language-art school, he said.

"We request the council consider an urgency ordinance or a moratorium that would, for example, delay the expulsion for the residents until after the holidays and to explore the possibility of permanent residential use of the building," Backlund said.

Katya Priess, who operates the language-art school, appealed to the council, pointing to the support that the residents had received from the wider community -- including a petition signed by 1,300 residents asking for the preservation of President Hotel for residential use. Priess asked that the council pass an ordinance protecting residents from unjust evictions and that it enforce the existing requirement for one-year leases.

"We understand that economic growth is important for a community to thrive and develop," Priess said. "But in a place where people, due to lack of housing and exorbitant rents, are forced to be stuck daily on congested highways for hours while commuting to work, start to live out of cars (and) rent tents in backyards, each substantial loss of housing becomes a moral issue as well."

As of Tuesday, AJ Capital has not filed any applications for a building permit or an architectural review, according to the planning department. As such, the city has not taken any action that would require a formal appeal, Chief Planning Official Amy French told the Weekly.

Even so, the company has indicated that it plans to challenge the determination by the planning department that the proposed conversion of the building to a hotel would violate the city's zoning code pertaining to "grandfathered buildings" -- those that were in place before the current zoning provisions were adopted. The code specifies that such buildings can only be remodeled or improved if they retain "the same use" after the renovation.

The city announced its determination in a July 17 letter that interim Planning Director Jonathan Lait sent to Timothy Franzen, president of the Graduate Hotels division of AJ Capital.

Prior to that letter, there was little indication that the city considered the conversion illegal. In early June, the city received a request for information from The Planning and Zoning Resource Company, LLC, an Oklahoma-based firm that was performing a zoning analysis on the property. In a June 5 response to the firm, French alluded to a conversation that she had with the firm employee, Alissa Winkle, about the proposal to create a boutique hotel, according to documents obtained by the Weekly through a Public Records Act request.

French provided information about the property and requested clarification about "any potential renovations, or proposed conversion back to hotel use."

Two days later, on June 7, AJ Capital's consultants on the project -- former Planning Director Steve Emslie and former management analyst Richard Hackmann -- met with Lait to discuss the proposal. At that meeting, Lait reportedly asked the applicant team if it had reviewed the city's municipal code for "compliance with applicable provisions." According to Lait's July 17 letter, Hackmann indicated "only a need to address parking and obtain design review approval."

Keene publicly announced the proposal to convert President Hotel at the June 11 meeting of the council. Though Keene said he was concerned about the displacement of residents, he gave no indication that the project would be illegal. Hotels, he said at that meeting, "are uses permitted by right downtown." Two days later, in response to an inquiry from the Weekly, the city's Chief Communication Officer Claudia Keith wrote: "There is no permit needed for the current use to be switched back to hotel."

On June 12, AJ Capital completed its purchase of the building. The following week, however, Keene walked back the earlier statement. He told the council on June 18 that city staff was evaluating the proposed conversion's compliance with the city's code.

By July 17, staff concluded that the planned conversation would, in fact, be illegal. Lait informed Franzen in the letter that the city's zoning code "precludes the remodeling, improving or replacement of site improvements together with the conversion of an existing non-complying facility in the subject property's Downtown Commercial CD-C district to a different land use."

AJ Capital has since maintained that the city's determination has not changed the firm's plans. On July 23, President Hotel residents received a letter, signed by Franzen, telling them that the company "respectfully disagree(s) with the city's current reading of the municipal code provisions" and that it will continue its discussions with the city in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the residents have hired their own land-use attorney, who concurred with the city's findings prohibiting the conversion of the hotel. Heather Minner, an attorney with the firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLC, argued in a July 27 letter to the city that the conversion of President Hotel back to a hotel would violate the zoning code.

"The city's determination that the zoning code prohibits converting this noncomplying building into a hotel is not only supported by the plain language of the code and legal precedent; it is also good policy," Minner wrote. "Developers should not be able to take advantage of existing, oversized buildings to establish a brand new hotel that would far exceed the height and size limits for hotels currently imposed by the zoning code.

"Doing so would lead to excess noise, traffic, and other adverse impacts in the Downtown."

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

This article incorrectly stated the wrong date for a letter interim Planning Director Jonathan Lait sent to Timothy Franzen, president of the Graduate Hotels division of AJ Capital. Palo Alto Online regrets the error.

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by Preserve Housing Now!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2018 at 3:34 am

Council members should roll up their sleeves and get to work immediately on laws protecting local renters. President Hotel residents are not the only ones in need. Other Palo Alto tenants are being evicted when developers replace lower-cost rental units with high-end units or condominiums, such as at the corner of Webster and Hamilton and at 441 Page Mill Road.

The Council has its priorities totally backwards. Instead of adopting renter protections, the main item on this Monday's Council agenda is to adjust by a few dollars per square feet some minor fees charged to new construction for transportation impacts, including (get this!) LOWERING what buildings in the Stanford Research Park pay. What an embarrassment: instead of working to protect renters, the Council will be lowering fees some big developers pay.

City Manager Keene is quoted above asking, "Are there adjustments to our current ordinances that could enhance renter protections?" Of course there are - why is he even asking? It should be a top priority for him and other City staff and it should have been right at the top of the Council's agenda.


27 people like this
Posted by No Tenants Protection in Palo Alto?
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2018 at 6:57 am

The "colleagues memo" process typically takes months to produce results,"

What's preventing PA to pass an urgency 90-180 days moratorium on evictions and even rent increases .....while permanent ordinances are being developed?

In fact, without such a moratorium, landlords might be tempted to evict/jack up rents asap ...to preempt whatever regulations the "colleagues memo" might implement.


23 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2018 at 7:50 am

Why doesn't the city consider buying the hotel so it can operate more low cost housing at taxpayers expense just like when it bought the trailer park??

The city didn't do anything when my previous landlord ended the lease to tear down and rebuild... I had to move and find a new rental in the same school boundaries for my kids. It was more expensive but we made some life changes in order to afford it.


40 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2018 at 9:34 am

QUOTE (from article): The new proposal is unlikely to help the residents of President Hotel. The "colleagues memo" process typically takes months to produce results, as city staff analyzes the memo's implications and as the appropriate council committees vet the memo before sending it to the council for full consideration.

QUOTE (from the article): AJ Capital's consultants on the project — former city Planning Director Steve Emslie and former management analyst Richard Hackmann...

QUOTE (from the article): Though Keene said he was concerned about the eviction of residents, he gave no indication that the project would be illegal. Hotels, he said at that meeting, "are uses permitted by right downtown." Two days later, in response to an inquiry from the Weekly, the city's Chief Communication Officer Claudia Keith wrote: "There is no permit needed for the current use to be switched back to hotel."

Get the picture? Is this complicity or what?


15 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 10, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Annette is a registered user.

This is one thorny mess of a situation. Unless I am missing something, a significant mistake was made by one side or the other. It's hard to imagine an experienced real estate developer plunking down $65M absent assurances that they could proceed as they wished. And it is easy to assume that those involved knew what was intended. AJ Capital has built a reputation around its Graduate Hotels; they bought and renovated the Durant in Berkeley and reopened it as a Graduate Hotel.

I hope the proposals in the colleagues memo are well received and encourage residents to write CC in support of the memo. This may be too little too late for the community of Palo Altans currently living at the President, but it would at least hold promise for others who rent in Palo Alto.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 10, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Here's a link to the petition to help the President Hotel tenants:

Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Ordinance for what?

For renters who decided to stay renters? Last time I checked, you don't get any additional rights from "renting." Otherwise it would be called "owning."

Ironic that residentialists who always said no to residential development because no one had a "right" to live in Palo Alto are coming out of the woodwork to support renters to stay in downtown Palo Alto.

Oh right. They all must be long-time, mostly monoethnic renters.

I get it. Both sides of the mouth.


17 people like this
Posted by PA Residentialist
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm

"Ironic that residentialists who always said no to residential development because no one had a "right" to live in Palo Alto are coming out of the woodwork to support renters to stay in downtown Palo Alto."

The President is a pre-existing building housing apartment rental units with many long-term residents.

Slapping up more tacky-looking hotels and mixed-use condos is another story.


7 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 10, 2018 at 6:07 pm

The city should have made it clear before the building was sold.
I understand the need to protect renters I’ve been one for years, but keep this up and either the city buys out the landlords or landlords will just stop being good caring landlords.
It’s a very double edged sword.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 10, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Didn't the President have some type of grandfathered protection?


4 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 10, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Dear neighbor,
The City should just buy the building, like it bought that crappy mobile home park.
What next, Channing house,.


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm

"The President is a pre-existing building housing apartment rental units with many long-term residents."

Distinction without a difference. If there's no fundamental right to live in Palo Alto, then these residents are subject to the decisions they made to rent.


10 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 11, 2018 at 9:54 am

I am sorry, but if you keep giving renters ownership rights that exceed the legal rental contracts, what owner in their right mind will choose to rent out their property? At some point it becomes a no-brainer to just pay the one time "relocation assistance" bribes and convert to a non-rental/residential property use. The value is in the land not the small rent cashflow anyway unless you redevelop and charge maximum rents for sardine cans. The whole real estate situation in the bay area is unsustainable, but these short term feel good fixes will only make it worse in the long run.


11 people like this
Posted by MV Renter
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2018 at 1:54 pm

The guy (or group) that sold the President Hotel is the real culprit.


1 person likes this
Posted by Feel Bad For the Tenants but...
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 11, 2018 at 2:31 pm

In its heyday (circa 1920s-30s), the President was a nice hotel but today, it's kind of a run-down dump. I imagine it will look much better (inside & out) after the new designs are implemented.

Perhaps AJ/Graduate Hotels can offer special rental rates to the current residents of the President upon completion of the remodeling.




7 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 11, 2018 at 10:15 pm

This request by the renters for an "Emergency" ordinance from the city is horrible. Whatever happened to taking personal responsibility for your own living situation. The ownership company has given them several months notice. Time to find yourself new living accommodations, stop looking to the city for help. I am so tired of so many people in our society looking to the government to bail them out.


23 people like this
Posted by President Resident
a resident of University South
on Aug 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm

AJ/Graduate Hotel has no soul. They are Chicago-based carpetbaggers cashing in on the lucrative Palo Alto hospitality business.

We will fight them to the very end. Even if it means being escorted off the premises by the SC Sheriff's Department. The local and national news media will jump on this story.

It will be bad PR for AJ and depict them for who they really are...greedy developers just out for mega bucks at the expense of others.

Join the protest!


Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm

It's a tough situation. It appears City Hall misspoke, leading to the sale of the building. But I'm sympathetic.
Everyone should meet halfway. I'm a renter and braced myself for sale of my building (purchased in 1974 for $35k). When it happened, I moved to another rental, with a 50% rent increase. At this time, I'm planning to leave the area. It offers little beyond predictable weather and a diminishing sense of community. I do suggest we renters help everyone out, include projects like the Maybell senior housing project that was attacked in favor of high-end single-family homes, et al.


6 people like this
Posted by Leaving the President for Palo Alto
a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2018 at 2:16 pm

My relocation check from AJ is going towards a used RV. There are plenty of places to park in Palo Alto and Mountain View. I'll be using public transit for shopping errands and so the RV can remained parked most of the time.

Currently checking out future parking sites around town. A couple of acquaintances who reside in Palo Alto also said that I could park in their driveway or in front of their houses.

Not looking forward to this new living experience but I'll probably save some money along the way. Also applying for SNAP benefits as well.

With careful planning and a watchful eye on expenses, one can still reside in Palo Alto on the cheap.


3 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 13, 2018 at 2:38 pm

Annette is a registered user.

There's an article in the 8/3/18 edition of the SVBJ titled "New Owner of Palo Alto Property to Proceed With Evictions". The article references a letter from AJ Capital informing hotel residents that ongoing discussions with the City have "no bearing or impact on your tenancy in the building."

Indications are that the residents are going to have to leave. But why must the timing be such that they must lose their homes shortly before Thanksgiving and Christmas? What's the point in letting the property sit vacant while AJ Capital argues with the City or makes its way through the Planning process? At the very least, Keane et al should be able to broker an extension until at least mid-January. If they cannot, call in Chop Keenan or Jim Baer. Maybe another developer can get that done.


3 people like this
Posted by A Danville-Based Building Contractor
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2018 at 2:51 pm

"But why must the timing be such that they must lose their homes shortly before Thanksgiving and Christmas..."

To accommodate any preliminary planning/design stages prior to spring construction. Also to allow adequate time for the confirmation/procurement/delivery of various building materials.

This is how it's done in the business. The timing may be brutal (for some) but scheduling takes priority.

Moral of the story: Read your rental-lease agreement & don't act so surprised (or hurt) when certain changes occur. It's called progress.




2 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Danville Contractor - thank you for your response. The Planning/Approval process must unfold much more rapidly across the bay than it does in Palo Alto.

I appreciate that there's a process and that having a vacant building facilitates certain things, but find it hard to believe that AJ Capital must adhere to the November 12 deadline. The positive PR from granting a short extension would help pave the way for future acceptance by the community.


Like this comment
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 13, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Annette: The extra positive PR that AJ Capital could get if it lets the residents stay an extra couple is worthless. It won't stop the city from trying to shut it down; it won't make anyone being evicted stop fighting.

There is no payoff of any value to them to let the residents stay.

It would be nice of them, but it would be a "No good deed goes unpunished" situation.


Like this comment
Posted by A concerned resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2018 at 4:52 pm

@ President Resident — I very much doubt that any local or national media will care about the eviction of PA residents due to a change in building ownership. Let’s run that by the nurses and staff at the Stanford hospital, many of whom willingly commute 90+ min to their jobs every day bc they can’t afford the rent. I’d love to see the national media care about this...really resonates with the “average American.” Please consider using some of the $3000 in relocation benefits towards your trespassing ticket (if you do so choose to remain and be removed by the SCC police).

The talk about eviction prior to the holidays is comical. Some of the biggest grinches in Palo Alto live in that building (trust me, I lived in the Prez). The comments re: good will are hilarious....there are some in the building who wouldn’t lend you a teaspoon of sugar, even if your life depended on it.

It’s a tough situation to an eclectic community...but that’s how it goes. Good luck to everyone...there are some good people in the building.


9 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 14, 2018 at 10:06 am

@President Resident said "It will be bad PR for AJ and depict them for who they really are...greedy developers just out for mega bucks at the expense of others."

Its is very easy to flip the coin and paint you in the same light: a greedy individual who wants to continue to pay below market rents in one of the most expensive cities in the country at the expense of others.


Like this comment
Posted by Landowner’s rights
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2018 at 11:49 am

Let’s put the bailout/ injunction to a vote for the Palo Alto residents. Wouldn’t that be the fairest way to judge community sentiment?


6 people like this
Posted by 40 acres and a mule
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Is there a forum to express support for AJ?

I have a strong feeling there’s a very SILENT majority that feels bad for (some of) the residents but ultimately feels that this a distraction to the city and the residents should move on sooner, rather than later.

In the end, ownership is 9/10ths of the law. The residents benefited from decades of sub-market rates and are whining to keep their sweetheart deals. As the saying goes, “don’t be mad it’s over, be glad that it happened.”


2 people like this
Posted by A Landlord's Perspective
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

I support AJ. They purchased the property and it is theirs to do whatever they wish with it (within the constraints of any City of Palo Alto development ordinances).

The new hotel and its proposed refurbishments will attract more guests from out-of-town. It will create more revenue and be good for restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.

The current and soon-to-be displaced tenants of the President probably do very little to add to the overall revenue and sales tax base of Palo Alto.

Most of them probably just want to get by for the minimal I suspect.


Like this comment
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 14, 2018 at 5:43 pm

@40 acres and a mule

Beautifully said! Couldn't agree with you more!


Like this comment
Posted by PA Renter
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm

>>>>Council members should roll up their sleeves and get to work immediately on laws protecting local renters. President Hotel residents are not the only ones in need. Other Palo Alto tenants are being evicted when developers replace lower-cost rental units with high-end units or condominiums..."

Yes. Rents should be frozen and all landlords should be required to offer lease-purchase options (or a substantial moving-out rebate) for those having lived in the same rental residence for 5+ years.

Just because one owns the dwelling doesn't mean they have to treat renters like transients and serfs.

A good landlord ensures long-term housing for those willing to or forced to rent.
Bad landlords sell to developers for quick cash.




2 people like this
Posted by The Silent Majority
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Yes we exist, and we are solidly behind the renters. Landlords are a tiny minority in this town.


26 people like this
Posted by We Live Rent-Free in PA
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2018 at 7:50 pm

We reside in an 3/BR-2/B house in Midtown rent-free. The reason for this is because the owner/landlord owns several properties throughout California & has enlisted us to provide certain services for him (roughly 15-20 hours per week/each).

I do his books (accounting-AP/AR) & my husband is a tradesman (construction) who travels off-site to perform a variety of jobs relative to the maintenance of various properties.

As a result, we put in approximately 120 hours of work monthly (combined) in lieu of paying any rent. We've been doing this for over 12 years now and the landlord/owner's trust stipulates that we can continue living here even after his death performing our current jobs OR in the event one of his heirs decides to sell the property, we receive a an exit payment equivalent to the total months we have resided here X $4000.00 after the first 5 years. As a result, we are now vested for 7 years (84 months).

Maybe if some these displaced renters had a practical vocational skill they could work out some sort of trade for services with their respective landlords to cover all the bases.

Our landlord isn't greedy. He's just a regular guy who looks like a working-class stiff but his bank account is humongous. No trophy wife or fancy cars to weigh him down.



20 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2018 at 8:06 pm

QUOTE: No trophy wife or fancy cars to weigh him down.

Eliminating 'high-maintenance' comodities is paramount if a guy wants to preserve both his sanity & checkbook.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 14, 2018 at 9:02 pm

"As a result, we put in approximately 120 hours of work monthly (combined) in lieu of paying any rent."

That's 75% of full time employment for one person. No mention of sick leave or retirement or other fringes, so I presume they don't exist. You pay your own FICA. No survivor's benefit for either of you. Presumably you also do the maintenance on your residence as though you owned it.

Looks like a great deal for your landlord.


20 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2018 at 9:22 am

QUOTE: That's 75% of full time employment for one person. No mention of sick leave or retirement or other fringes, so I presume they don't exist. You pay your own FICA. No survivor's benefit for either of you. Presumably you also do the maintenance on your residence as though you owned it.

Looks like a great deal for your landlord.


*trying to do some math in my head* 120 hours = 3/8 of 320 hours (a normal full-time 40 hour work week for two people x 4 weeks = 320).

So roughly 37.5% of those projected/combined 320 work hours covers a typical PA rent of roughly $4500-$5000 for a house of that description & location.

Seems like a decent deal considering that $60K ($5000.00 x 12) hypothetically represents the 37.5% (or 120 monthly work hours) of their total work income.

$5000.00/120 hours = $42.00/hourly work rate for the time invested.

For a regular renter/worker... $42.00/hour (after deductions) x 160 monthly hours x 12 months x 2 people = a combined/projected 'take home pay' of roughly $322,560.00/yearly (or $161,280.00 per individual) to hit the same 37.5%/120 work-related scale.

If this couple is also 'moonlighting' on the side with their respective occupations (accounting & construction) via the surplus 200 work hours at the equivalent take-home pay rate, they're probably doing OK. Better than a lot of working folks.



























2 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2018 at 9:52 am

"QUOTE: That's 75% of full time employment for one person. No mention of sick leave or retirement or other fringes, so I presume they don't exist. You pay your own FICA. No survivor's benefit for either of you. Presumably you also do the maintenance on your residence as though you owned it."

That's a great deal.
Bartering services for benefits is an awesome way to skirt state and federal taxes, Social Security, and all the other taxes the rest of us honest people pay. Both you and the landlord should be indicted for tax fraud.


14 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:30 am

QUOTE: That's a great deal.
Bartering services for benefits is an awesome way to skirt state and federal taxes, Social Security, and all the other taxes the rest of us honest people pay. Both you and the landlord should be indicted for tax fraud.

Associate US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote something along the lines of...'tax avoidance is legal while tax evasion is illegal'.

With that in mind & I have no clue as to the actual situation, this couple could simply maintain P/T jobs where the appropriate withholding deductions are being made while trading professional services for their living arrangement.

The 'vested' monetary return between the landlord & tenants sure beats having to wait until you're 66 (if one lives that long) to collect Social Security at the average rate of $1200-$1500 per month.

*doing some more math* At their current vesting of 84 months x $4000.00, they are already up to a potential cash payout of over $300,000.00 if their living situation were to change...as long as it is in writing.

A seemingly good deal + a cool landlord.



Like this comment
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

Addendum...

To 'We Live Rent-Free in PA'. You're not actually living 'for free' as your 120 hours of required work goes towards putting a roof over your head.

You're just getting a deal that is unavailable to most folks.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2018 at 11:36 am

I have an agreement with a major tech employer in palo Alto. They provide me a house, car and free travel on their company jet anywhere I want two weeks every year to one of their hundreds of vacation properties. My meals are free in their cafeteria and they have concierge service that provides me clothes and tickets for entertainment all at no charge. I provide them about 100 hours of free consulting each month at no cost to them. I’m an independent contractor and no money changes hands. No taxes and with no reportable income I get government benefits. Sweet!


1 person likes this
Posted by A Fair Exchange
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 15, 2018 at 2:17 pm

^^^^^ This is the key to avoiding the high cost of renting in Palo Alto. Use your marketable skills and trade.

If you don't have any...move to somewhere else.


Like this comment
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 15, 2018 at 5:41 pm

QUOTE: Use your marketable skills and trade. If you don't have any...move to somewhere else.

I'd like to think/believe that everyone has a marketable skill. Then again, I've been wrong countless times.

There are other areas that could be exchanged for rent reductions...child-care, gardening, personal assistant, tutoring, music lessons, elder care etc.

While the remuneration may be less for some skills, you never know until you ask.




Like this comment
Posted by We Traded For Rent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2018 at 6:24 pm

When we made the decision to lease our next two vehicles, we traded our 2016 Cayenne to the landlord in exchange for a year's rent.

It can be done.


Like this comment
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
19 hours ago

QUOTE: It can be done.

Wondering what's next on the list of exchangeables for PA rent...maybe people trading family estate jewelry that they no longer have a need for?




1 person likes this
Posted by When Is Enough Enough?
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
14 hours ago

Wondering...just how much support and empathy should we have towards the soon-to-be displaced President Hotel tenants and those who reside in various RVs throughout Palo Alto?

On one hand, the President Hotel tenants had a pretty good rental deal for an extended period of time. Is it time for them to move on or should they hold their ground in an ongoing effort to preserve their accustomed-to lifestyles and current living expenditures? And at who's expense?

Should the city even be getting involved with stalling the developer's future plans for the building? And should we as residents even be taking a stand on the part of these renters?

As for the RVs...most are an eyesore, poorly maintained and cluttering up the streets hindering driver visibility when pulling out from a driveway or parking lot? Should these people have a right to squat here in Palo Alto when many of them have relocated from other areas?

Or is it their right to park and live wherever they want providing their RVs are within the current city ordinances pertaining to such usage?

And again, are we to feel any obligation or incentives to encourage their proliferation?

A part of me (the compassionate side) says yes, we should assist and support these various displaced folks in their plight. Another side (the more practical one) says that change is inevitable in which case, the President tenants need to move on and the RVs have got to go as well.

As Bob Dylan once wrote/sang, "Don't you understand? It's not my problem."

The RV dwellers and President tenants don't do anything to enhance or support our residential existence. Do we owe them anything?




1 person likes this
Posted by Not My Problem Either
a resident of Portola Valley
10 hours ago

>>>Do we owe them anything?

Nope. The RV dwellers cheapen the appearance of Palo Alto & the residents of the President will just have to find another place to live.


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