News


Palo Alto sees rise in accessory dwelling units

City Council to consider additional measures to promote construction

As the housing crisis continues to befuddle Palo Alto's planners and elected officials, glimmers of hope are starting to emerge in backyards and garages throughout the city, where new accessory-dwelling units are popping up at a faster pace than in the city's recent history.

Spurred by recent changes in state and local laws, which relax zoning requirements, the trend is particularly strong in south Palo Alto, which produced about 60 percent of the applications that the city has received since Palo Alto revised its laws in early 2017, according to the city. And while the new structures won't be nearly enough to help the council reach its adopted goal of producing 300 new housing units annually, they represent for Palo Alto a rare — if modest — improvement on the housing front.

Historically, the city has issued only four permits for new accessory-dwelling units (ADUs) per year. But since the beginning of 2017, planners have approved 25 applications and are reviewing another 29, according to a new report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment.

Of the 29 applications, 20 were submitted between April 1 and June 30 of this year, the report states. They come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from 175 square feet to 900 square feet (the average size is 650 square feet). Seven of the 20 are for units separate from the main house; one is for an attached ADU; the rest were conversions of garages or other spaces, according to the report.

Among the biggest changes the council made in March 2017 was the elimination of the "minimum lot size" requirement, which historically limited ADUs to only lots that exceed the "minimum lot size" in their zoning district by 35 percent or more. The council also decided to allow conversions of existing structures into ADUs and waived parking requirements for ADUs near public transit, in compliance with recent state legislation — namely, Senate Bill 1069 and Assembly Bill 2299.

On Monday, the council will attempt to maintain the momentum when it considers further revisions to the city's laws on ADUs, which are also commonly referred to as "granny units" or "secondary dwelling units."

Among the most significant changes on the table is a proposal to reduce — or even waive — the steep permitting fees that the city charges for ADU permits, which in some cases add up to nearly $10,000. One option is to waive or reduce fees if the homeowner were to agree to dedicate the ADU as affordable housing for a period of time, according to planning staff.

The topic of affordability came up repeatedly during the Planning and Transportation Commission's hearings on the city's ADU ordinance. Resident Amy Sung, a realtor who last year served on the citizen committee that helped the city updated its Comprehensive Plan, flagged permit fees as a big issue for some homeowners. The city currently charges more than 10 times what other cities do, she told the planning commission at its March 28 meeting.

Sung, who is working with the pro-housing group Palo Alto Forward to organize an event about ADUs on Aug. 29, urged the commission to look into "dramatically reducing" the fees.

Linnea Wickstrom, who attended the commission's January meeting, said people building ADUs pay the same kind of fees as developers of new homes.

"I would especially like to see the planning and permit fees reduced to something reasonable and something that reflects the impact, rather than being in accordance with being impacted for developing a whole huge new residence," Wickstrom said.

Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck is among those who favor the waiver of fees when the ADU is designated as affordable housing. The waiver, under his proposal, would apply to those who rent their ADUs to an individual who is currently on Palo Alto's waiting list for below-market-rate housing.

Another approach, which planning staff have identified in the new report, calls for the city to partner with a nonprofit to offer low-cost loans to homeowners who, in exchange, would commit to renting the ADUs to low- and middle-income earners. That's the model that the San Jose-based nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley is now in the process of developing, according to staff.

Some of the other proposed changes to ADU law that the council will consider are minor clarifications of aspects like setback requirements for ADU basements (the basement, like the ADU itself, should not encroach into the six-foot setback area) and ADU eaves, which would be allowed to encroach into the daylight plane, the angle that affects neighbors' privacy and exposure daylight.

A somewhat more significant change pertains to an existing density bonus, and whether it should apply to new developments or only to existing homes. The bonus to build up to 175 square feet is for homeowners whose lots aren't large enough to accommodate ADUs under the zoning code.

Some property owners, however, have tried to take advantage of these bonuses by using a two-step process: First building a new main home at maximum square footage; then, once their development becomes an "existing home," applying for an ADU and requesting the additional 175 square feet of development space.

It will be up to the council to decide if this bonus should apply to homes that existed prior to a specific date (most likely Jan. 1, 2017, when the state's ADU regulations took effect) or to new developments.

While the recent ADU construction is a huge change for the city, local housing advocates like John Kelley believe the city can — and should — do much more. He would like the city to set a goal of more than 100 accessory dwelling units annually. He said he and his wife are now thinking about building an ADU in their backyard.

One thing that would help builders, he told the planning commission at the March meeting, is having the city develop "prototype designs" for ADUs that residents can utilize during the permitting process. Those residents choosing the designs would be able to get their permits approved more expeditiously.

Kelley also suggested at the commission's April meeting that the city consider eliminating an existing requirement that the homeowner occupy either the main residence or the ADU. A substantial number of single-family homes in Palo Alto are currently being rented, Kelley said. "To have an ADU ordinance (that) ... at the very outset excludes some sizable proportion of the inventory just doesn't make sense to me," Kelley said.

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Comments

20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2018 at 8:22 am

"Glimmer of Hope" or the death bell tolling?

Some questions that have never been addressed.

Are separate utility bills send to each unit? Are there double charges for garbage collection and other utility charges? Is there a separate address for post office mail deliveries? Does the mail carrier have to deliver to two separate mail boxes? And the biggie, what parking rules for the neighborhood.

The other implication is what happens when the home owner wants to sell? Does granny have to go too? This was originally touted as a home for an elderly parent or a grown child to live independently, but when elderly parent has moved on or grown child is able to live elsewhere the likelihood is that these units will not be used by family, but as additional income for the homeowners. At this time they will become a blight to the neighborhood.


14 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 8:45 am

QUOTE (from article): 'accessory-dwelling units'

RE agents prefer to call them 'guest cottages' in a never-ending effort to jack-up home prices.

And yes, they can be utilized as rental property. This kind of stuff has been going on in PA & other areas for ages...primarily 'garage units' with either an upstairs addition or a portion of the garage sectioned-off for a small dwelling.

QUOTE: ..they will become a blight to the neighborhood.

Very possible...unless an architectural review board is also required to approve the visual 'aesthetics' of these proposed units. Perhaps neighbors should also have a say in these construction projects (although things could get testy).

Like cosmetic surgery, some jobs turn out better than others.



45 people like this
Posted by Airbnb
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Search "Palo Alto, CA" in Airbnb and you will mostly find ADUs. I'm all for more affordable long-term rentals but does the CC really want to promote short-term Airbnb rentals throughout the city?


9 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Accessory Dwelling Units are such an important topic for increasing supply of housing locally in a highly organic way!

On that note, if anyone is interested in learning more about the process (approvals, design, etc), Palo Alto Forward is holding a (free) educational forum at the Palo Alto Arts Center on Aug 29, 6pm (there will be a representative from the City who works on approvals, architects and designers, and fellow homeowners to answer questions).

Learn more and RSVP here: Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:26 pm

The stated purpose behind the ADU law statewide was to was to create more "affordable Housing" choices.

So does the city have any data on how many Below Market Rate Units have been created by the state law, and Palo Alto's city council decision to exceed the requirements of the law, and increase the impacts on neighboring properties bu reducing development standards?????


7 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:32 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Glad to see the pickup in applications.

It is still a difficult process and for those interested read Eric's post above for how to learn more


20 people like this
Posted by Making Good Use of Extra Room
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:47 pm

If one has an undeveloped/empty lot in PA, can it be used as a campground of sorts?

I've always been sympathetic to the plight of the homeless & would be more than willing to let some folks use it as a safe place to sleep during the evening.

One of the building contractors down the street even offered to put me in touch with an outside vendor who supplies porta-potties to various remodeling sites.

Running water would probably be the only utility I could provide as gas & electricity might pose safety & usage problems. The area is fenced (except for the front) & another neighbor who is relocating to TX suggested allowing a couple of RVs to park in front thus eliminating any visual complaints by residents and passers-by.

As Palo Altans, we should strive to assist those less fortunate as a typical $7M PA home is out of the reach of many and available rental units are so expensive.




16 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm

"Glad to see the pickup in applications."

As expected. ADUs make great home offices. Quiet, a nice tax deduction (consult your tax advisor), and you can't beat the commute.


52 people like this
Posted by Airbnb
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Most "entire home" Palo Alto listings on Airbnb are ADUs:
Web Link
How do these illegal short-term rentals in any way help provide affordable housing for Palo Alto residents?


11 people like this
Posted by Hey Airbnb
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2018 at 12:05 am

Hey Airbnb,
ADUs provide "affordable" housing to Palo Alto residents in two ways. First they help subsidize the homeowners egregiously overpriced Palo Alto lot so they can afford to live there, and they provide an otherwise non existent dwelling for someone else to rent in theory helping to keep local rentals from further escalation. There is and will never be anything affordable about Palo Alto, this was never the point of new ADU ordinances. It's about the $$$, why do we act shocked by this?


21 people like this
Posted by free range human
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2018 at 8:49 am

When I was a grad student at Stanford, I lived in a 10x11 foot dilapidated “cottage” tacked on to the end of a garage with no kitchen (or anything close to it), a landlord that would wander by my windows all day on the weekends, no separate mailbox so they would comment on things that came in the mail. I was told I was lying when I brought the rats that had moved into the ceiling to their attention. I called code enforcement for the city, the county, and for Stanford (this was in the mansion corner on campus at a house the internet says is worth $4M) and, while the city and county called me back, it was only to say that I had to go through Stanford, who wouldn’t give me the time of day. I got out of there, but just saw a nextdoor ad that it’s freshly available. I guess it beat the situation for my neighbor, a grad student living in his Prius.

I hope there’s some sort of advocate or enforcement arm associated with all of these miniature human boxes Palo Alto is putting up. The only people who would live in them don’t have a choice and are vulnerable to the shabby construction that comes with some landlord’s greed.


23 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2018 at 9:04 am

QUOTE: When I was a grad student at Stanford, I lived in a 10x11 foot dilapidated “cottage” tacked on to the end of a garage...The only people who would live in them don’t have a choice and are vulnerable to the shabby construction that comes with some landlord’s greed.

And let's not forget the carbon monoxide that can emanate from the car(s) parked in the garage (usually the landlord's) regardless of whether the dwelling is tacked onto the side or above the garage.

Some of the 'garage landlords' = the modern day slumlords of PA/Stanford.



3 people like this
Posted by Zhiang
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Count your blessings ...
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Count your blessings ... is a registered user.

You Palo Alto folks are lucky, just heard that 'landlords' are renting RV's to people living on the streets in Mountain View, the 'resident' does not get an ignition key, just one for access to living 'quarters'. So count your blessings that you don't live south of the border.


3 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 27, 2018 at 12:19 pm

eileen is a registered user.

We are in the process of building an ADU in the back of our property for my husband and I to live in. Our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren will live in the main house. Believe me, the city will NOT ALLOW shabby construction if you plan to have a PERMITTED ADU. Everything has to be up to code and the permit fees are really high!
About $30,000. for our small 750 sq ft ADU. Anyway, it will be a total improvement from the run-down, shabby, illegal housing we have now! Some landlords can be total slumlords so if they want to make their units legal they will have to bring it up to code, which is a good and safe thing for the tennant.


10 people like this
Posted by A Decision Has Been Made
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 27, 2018 at 2:57 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]



8 people like this
Posted by A deciion Has Been Made
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by wayne douglass
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2018 at 6:23 pm

wayne douglass is a registered user.

Among the most significant changes on the table is a proposal to reduce — or even waive — the steep permitting fees that the city charges for ADU permits, which in some cases add up to nearly $10,000. One option is to waive or reduce fees if the homeowner were to agree to dedicate the ADU as affordable housing for a period of time, according to planning staff.
Don't WAIVE the fees. Eliminate them. If you waive the fees, they can be reinstituted in a New York minute by craven politicians who cave in to demented pressure groups with an axe to grind. The comment by @Resident is an example.
"I would especially like to see the planning and permit fees reduced to something reasonable and something that reflects the impact, rather than being in accordance with being impacted for developing a whole huge new residence," Wickstrom said.
Right on, Linnea. See my remarks on eliminating fees.
Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck is among those who favor the waiver of fees when the ADU is designated as affordable housing. The waiver, under his proposal, would apply to those who rent their ADUs to an individual who is currently on Palo Alto's waiting list for below-market-rate housing.
Not bad, Michael Alcheck, but a true politician's "compromise" and I reject it. Real people modify their real homes for a variety of real reasons and a variety of real circumstances. They build or buy a real house they (hopefully) can afford according to the real size of their family--or their anticipated family. And who are bureaucrats to second guess what they have in mind? But Palo Alto bureaucrats (and, worse yet, politicians) act as if they know better than owners of property they what should do with their property. If a family buys a three bedroom house and one bath, for the parents and one child, they may be OK, although there will necessarily be some adjustments if they all want to use the bathroom at once in the morning when the child prepares for school and the parents prepare for work (and to own a three bedroom house in Palo Alto requires both parents to work, unless daddy takes in mucho dinero.) Even so, there is an "extra" bedroom, which the homeowner can use any way he wants to (at least, so far). He can have a home office, a TV room, an exercise room, or (gasp!) a bedroom for another child. Some people might even move granny in with them (gasp!), if circumstances warrant it. And if someone objects, who cares? See my remarks about "demented pressure groups" above.
But to build a separate ADU (so much better a term than "granny unit," don't you agree?) requires the mobilization of a corps of bureaucrats, collecting salaries and enforcing regulations "like setback requirements for ADU basements (the basement, like the ADU itself, should not encroach into the six-foot setback area) and ADU eaves, which would be allowed to encroach into the daylight plane, the angle that affects neighbors' privacy and exposure daylight." Yeah, that's useful. No wonder the city had to hire a slew of housing inspectors to carry the load. And what has been the result of their labors? For one thing, my old house on Matadero has been declared an eyesore (it was on the cover of the Weekly as a kind of poster child of something). I sympathize, but I sold it at fire sale prices when I was admitted to a nursing home. I don't know who bought it and I don't care, but rumor has it that it was bought by Asian money who scooped it up sight unseen and paid cash, which I will use to pay my medical bills and what is laughably called "senior housing." The other great achievement of the housing inspectors has been curbing the ambitions of the pastor of the Baptist Church to ruin the neighborhood and prompted Eric Filseth to foam at the mouth and call for the resignation of the pastor, even though it was the ASSISTANT pastor's remarks that were, shall we say "intemperate"? Is it any surprise that Filseth is running for re-election? Cue the "demented pressure groups." Full speed ahead!
To all this, add Michael Alcheck's "bureaucrats who want to be social engineers" to the "demented pressure groups" I mentioned above. "The waiver, under his (Alcheck's) proposal, would apply to those who rent their ADUs to an individual who is currently on Palo Alto's waiting list for below-market-rate housing." Yeah, that's the ticket. Prescribe whom the homeowner will rent to once granny kicks the bucket. That's the American way!
Let me be clear about all this. I have no quarrel with construction standards. California tries to mitigate earthquake damage by adjusting the codes to enforce "best practices" for new housing. Retrofitting older construction to conform to the latest standards is another story, although insurance companies and mortgage holders might enforce their own standards as a condition for granting a mortgage. When I first bought the eyesore on Matadero, I was forced to buy FEMA earthquake insurance, because the eyesore was on a flood plain for a 100-year flood. After the County constructed a flood mitigation project that was not without problems of its own, I never needed to buy earthquake insurance again, and I didn't because it was a waste of money. The eyesore was older than I was, but it made it through the earthquake of 1989 with little or no damage. Even the holders of my mortgage were more flexible than the city of Palo Alto.
Unleashing ADU construction would have been a part of my campaign for city council if the laser-like focus of my campaign had not been been preoccupied with doing nothing about the homeless camped out at Cubberley. Judging by the mild, but ineffectual, proposals outlined in this story, my campaign would have gained no traction if I ran today. Let a thousand ADUs bloom, I say. They are all over my old neighborhood, and they are probably illegal (or as I would put it, unauthorized.) Start with granting amnesty for the ones that exist and concentrate on bringing them up to code. The housing crisis would be worse if the illegal ADUs were shut down.
And while I'm on the soapbox, let me deal with housing for seniors. Mandate that ALL new construction in the city (whether residential or rental) conform to ADA standards. You never know when you will be stricken by a serious illness or even by a more minor one like a broken limb from a skiing or automobile accident. If the modest standards of the ADA were a condition for ALL new construction permits in the city, savvy developers and construction companies could sell their projects as ready for any emergency that could be dealt with at home. It happened to me; it can happen to you. Would you rather cope with your physical problems in the home you own, or a nursing home or hospital? Now THAT'S a cause I can get my arms around. Alas, most people don't think it will happen to them. Too bad I don't live in Palo Alto anymore. It would be fun to campaign again from my wheelchair.




2 people like this
Posted by Larry
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 27, 2018 at 8:50 pm

Every solution that increases housing supply should be adopted and made easy but there needs to be much bolder solutions, eliminating height restrictions and encouraging massive increase of housing supply.


6 people like this
Posted by We Rent a Treehouse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Can't divulge the neighborhood but...I remodeled a treehouse that I built for my kids when they were younger. It became kind of an adult getaway for myself but then we took a gamble & decided to try renting it out. Didn't advertise it as a treehouse but rather as a 'loft'.

It's about the size of a very small studio (slightly bigger than a good sized walk-in closet that you see in fancy homes). It's got conduit going up the trunk for electricity (useful for small heater/refrigerator/TV) but no hot water tank or toilet. Bathroom usage is allowed via our 1/2 bath in the service/laundry room.
Tenant takes his shower at the gym.

We rent it out for $275.00 a month & use the proceeds for a nice weekend dinner (for two) at our favorite restaurants.

The treehouse has steps leading up and a mini patio with wood railing.

The 'alternative' Palo Alto living experience...and probably against code.


13 people like this
Posted by No more growth - save the environment
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2018 at 12:29 am

The city should make it as difficult as possible to add any type of new housing. There should be fees that completely cover the cost of all inspections and adding this unit and more people to the city's infrastructure.

The people of Palo Alto seem to have completely forgotten about the environment. Every person added to this area is a drain on the environment. People use water, they use energy, they buy consumer goods that are a drain on the world. We can not keep adding more people to drive on the streets and use more oil or energy. It all adds up and makes the environment worse for the people here. What is known as a "carrying capacity" is a real entity and we are way beyond it for people in this area which is why the quality of life is so horrible.

Stop just thinking about people. Give some thought to everything else in the world that is being paved over by almost 8 billion people. We are destroying the planet and everyone here just talks about building more. Cut down the trees, mine out the minerals for cement, use more water, energy and add another person to drive and consume and destroy.

We don't need more people. We need to focus on fighting back against overpopulation.

Just admit it - adding an ADU is turning R1 neighborhoods into R2 neighborhoods and people are getting rich from it. They don't do it to be nice - they do it to get rich and they don't care about their neighbors or anyone's quality of life they just want to make money. We need government to be better than this.


15 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:07 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Allowing ADU's is eliminating R-1 neighborhoods without going to the ballots. PAF pushed this through their agents on the CC as a crucial step in their plans to turn Palo Alto into a large dense metropolis. The previous poster is right, P.A does not need any more housing and commercial development.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2018 at 10:44 am

Posted by Eric Rosenblum, a resident of Downtown North, on Aug 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm:

>> ***Palo Alto Forward*** is holding a (free) educational forum at the Palo Alto Arts Center on Aug 29, 6pm (there will be a representative from the City who works on approvals, architects and designers, and fellow homeowners to answer questions).

Thank you for sharing exactly who is behind this.


22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 28, 2018 at 11:20 am

Annette is a registered user.

We sorely need the housing, but I doubt ADUs or RVs will contribute much to the solution. Nor will densification - because we are not prepared for it.

Just as there is a formula for jobs:housing balance there must be formulas that dictate how much of each element of infrastructure is needed to support a built environment and population of (whatever) size. We ignored the jobs:housing formula and look where that got us. If we do the same with regard to water, utilities, sewage, landfill, roads, transportation, schools, hospitals, retail, etc. we will compound existing problems and create new ones. If there is to be densification I think it should come only after we have addressed the deficits and built a foundation for growth. To do otherwise is irresponsible and, ultimately, destructive.

Some people support a "build now/fix later" approach. Some even get elected doing so. But that is short-term thinking that leads to long-term problems. Why not focus on what we need to build (infrastructure) so that we can then focus on what we want to build (housing)?


6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2018 at 11:58 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

"Glimmer of Hope" Is this a news story or editorial or developer advertorial?


2 people like this
Posted by Another Alternative
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2018 at 3:10 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Another possibility given these various innovative rental concepts (e.g. RVs, trailers, tree houses etc.)...

How about renting out a mid-sized cabin cruiser parked in one's driveway? Though a bit cramped, many possess the amenities of a basic home.



Like this comment
Posted by Anchors Away
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 29, 2018 at 9:36 am

>>>How about renting out a mid-sized cabin cruiser parked in one's driveway?


A land-locked slip. Now that's a new one.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:08 am

Posted by R. Davis, a resident of Crescent Park

>> How about renting out a mid-sized cabin cruiser parked in one's driveway? Though a bit cramped, many possess the amenities of a basic home.

No offense, but, the RVs, campers, and cabin cruisers all have the same feature: you park them in your driveway, and then, you and your tenants/relatives/etc park in the street. Adding to the major parking problem that many neighborhoods already have.


Like this comment
Posted by Think I'll Consider This As Well
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

"How about renting out a mid-sized cabin cruiser parked in one's driveway? Though a bit cramped, many possess the amenities of a basic home."

A cool idea as it can also be done with a mid-sized sailboat.




2 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 31, 2018 at 7:43 am

I have thought of writing a short story of a future Palo Alto-like city where all the homes are either (1) AirBnB'ed or (2) ghost houses. The only ongoing folks around are property clerks who manage guests (for house type 1) or get unused parked luxury SUVs washed weekly (for house type 2 - to make the house look occupied). The furnishings in both types of houses are all disposable, replaceable, style statements from places like West Elm. Most of the appliances are props that look good for listings but assume no one actually cooks; food is delivered by roaming fleets of Uber Eats Amazon Fresh Door Dash delivery drivers (who are actually from Sacramento and just drive down for the job). Property clerks hang out together, but otherwise, there is not a neighborhood community as we know it. Houses are assets only. They are not homes.

While that is a bit dystopian, there probably is a tipping point for neighborhoods as ownership becomes absentee. Permanent residents who can could choose to move elsewhere rather than live next to a hotel house or among vacant - if lovely - ghost houses. A city can be a very different place if a large share of homes are owned absentee. Absentee landlords cannot vote in your town, so renters are voters. It just has different implications. Some good, some probably not consistent with what a settled neighborhood of home owners would choose. I find it an interesting exercise to consider.


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