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The 10 most-viewed cover stories of 2018

Readers drawn in by articles about housing, alleged fraud, tech

Phil Shpilberg, founder of Game Changer, a mobile marketing company for game platforms, works in his office in Palo Alto. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Amid the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, 2018 was filled with local news that caused many people to pause.

Palo Alto Weekly reporters and freelance contributors covered some of the thornier topics, doing in-depth analysis into the region's rising cost of living, interviewing former residents who have traded the Silicon Valley lifestyle for a better "quality of life" elsewhere and presenting to readers the layers of alleged fraud by a local blood-testing company.

Many stories arguably had an impact on the community's conversation, including an in-depth investigation that showed the backroom maneuverings behind a proposal to convert President Hotel Apartments into a boutique hotel.

Below is the list of the year's top 10 Weekly cover stories, ranked by the number of page views for each story on PaloAltoOnline.com. Read on for summaries of and links to each story.

Fighting cervical cancer with knowledge

by Sue Dremann, Oct. 26

Ana Reyes was just 37 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer, setting her on a three-year journey of surgeries, chemotherapy and painful radiation that has left her body permanently damaged and scarred.

9. It's almost tee time in the Baylands

by Gennady Sheyner, April 13

Surprises abound at Baylands Golf Links, Palo Alto's newly reconfigured golf course. Some are still and fragile, like the abandoned goose egg lying on the fairway near the third hole. Others are fleeting and majestic, like the red-tailed hawks and herons that soar above the marshlands.

8. A charitable legacy, ensured

by Linda Taaffe, May 18

Considered an icon in the philanthropy world, Susan Packard Orr frequently is the person nonprofits look to for inspiration and advice. For more than three decades, the Stanford resident has provided nonprofits around the world with support services and software she developed for the management of fundraising and grant-making activities when few others served that niche.

7. Facing tight housing market, tenants worry over uncertain future

by Linda Taaffe, Nov. 9

Over the past five months, the plight of the President Hotel tenants has put a spotlight on the difficult, and sometimes hostile, rental market in Palo Alto. There's been public outcry over the loss of affordable rental options, heated debates over whether the city should do more — or if it's trying to do too much — to aid renters, and questions raised about the legality of converting the apartment building back into a hotel in the first place.

VIDEO: President Hotel resident Dennis Backlund reflects on uncertain future

6. Documents reveal secret dealings over President Hotel

by Gennady Sheyner, Nov. 30

Despite the public outcry and the Palo Alto City Council's desires to see more housing built and to prevent President Hotel tenants from being evicted, the hotel conversion proposal at the downtown historic building has somehow picked up momentum since the summer.

5. Invasion of stinkwort worries environmentalists

by Sue Dremann, Jan. 19

All along Interstate 280 — from Daly City to San Jose — a 2 1/2-foot-tall Christmas tree-shaped plant is buffeted by the wake of speeding cars. From July to September, it's just about the only plant of that size and shape along the roadside that is still green during the parched summer months.

4. Startups that are beating the odds

by Eric He, March 9

While Palo Alto has churned out some of the biggest tech giants in the world, the reality is that only a small percentage of startups actually find success. So exactly what does it take to stand out in a world saturated with entrepreneurs all hoping to disrupt the market? The Weekly decided to ask executives from some of the fastest-growing startups in Palo Alto how they turned their ideas into full-fledged, flourishing enterprises.

3. The rise and fall of Theranos

by Sue Dremann, June 22

John Carreyrou — author of the new book "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup," about Theranos and its CEO and founder, Los Altos Hills resident Elizabeth Holmes — became the object of the company's wrath three years ago. Carreyrou's book has the elements of a fictional thriller: stalking by private investigators; ambushes; suicide by an employee; and lawsuits that left people financially ruined.

2. The meaning of middle class

by Fiona Kelliher, Feb. 9

From the outside, Palo Alto is a startup wonderland filled with Teslas, baby-faced millionaires and multi-million-dollar Eichler homes. But this vision of a foie-gras-nibbling, tree-lined paradise doesn't necessarily match the reality of those living here who are just trying to make ends meet in one of the most expensive communities in the nation.

1. Former Palo Altans trade Silicon Valley lifestyle for better 'quality of life' elsewhere

by Eric He, Aug. 10

In interviews with several former residents, the Weekly discovered that many of the reasons that attract so many to Palo Alto — the fast pace, the school system — may be the same reasons why others flee from the region.

Relive the year in photos by visiting our Atavist page.

On "Behind the Headlines," Weekly journalists discuss the year's memorable news. Watch the show here or listen to the podcast version of the episode here.

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Short story writers wanted!

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