News

Survey: Anxieties rising about retiring in Palo Alto

Housing shortages, traffic congestion top residents' concerns

The 2018 National Citizen Survey results for Palo Alto are based on 889 responses (21 percent of the surveys distributed). Source: City of Palo Alto. Graphic by Kristin Brown.

As Palo Alto's population of seniors continues to grow, so are residents' anxieties about retiring in their hometown, according to a new survey released this week by the office of City Auditor Harriet Richardson.

The 2018 National Citizen Survey, which is administered by the National Research Center and the auditor's office, found that the percentage of residents who gave Palo Alto high ratings as a "place to retire" plummeted by 11 percentage points between 2017 and 2018, from 51 percent to 40 percent.

The decline is particularly significant given the city's historic rates. Between 2008 and 2012, about two-thirds of the respondents ranked the city "excellent" or "good" as a place to retire, with 68 percent giving Palo Alto one of the two highest scores in 2012.

The survey results are based on 889 responses that the National Citizen Survey received, a 21 percent response rate. The margin of error is 3 percentage points for responses aggregated citywide.

The survey, which the City Council is set to discuss at its Feb. 2 retreat, also indicated that a growing number of residents disapprove of the city's general direction. Only 42 percent of the residents gave the city a rating of "excellent" or "good" when asked about the "overall direction that the city is taking."

While this is only a slight drop from the 45 percent who gave the city high grades in 2017, it is significant drop from 2013, when 54 percent did so (in 2012, the percentage was 59 percent).

Despite these anxieties, most residents still see themselves sticking around Palo Alto for the next five years. In the survey, 78 percent said they are "very" or "somewhat likely" to stay in the city, up from 76 percent in 2017. Even that, however, is lower than the 87 percent who reported that they'd likely stay for five years in 2012 and in 2013.

The results aren't entirely gloomy. The survey shows 84 percent of respondents giving the city "excellent" or "good" ratings when asked about "overall quality of life in Palo Alto" — a rate that places the city far above most other jurisdictions. But while the rate remains high, it dropped by 10 percentage points from 2012, when the rate was 94 percent. In fact, before 2015, the question has consistently received the top two ratings from more than 90 percent of respondents. In 2017, 89 percent gave the city the top two ratings.

Richardson told the Weekly that the most striking thing about the latest survey results is the "continuing downward trend" for questions in the "quality of life" category. Some of these, she noted, relate directly to the issues that council members have been talking about for years.

"I think it's something they (the City Council) should be concerned about," Richardson said. "And I think that right now, as you have a smaller council and a new city manager, it can sort of shape how they look at things over the next year as they set their priorities.

"I know they look at big issues like infrastructure and mobility and housing, and those things to influence the 'quality of life' issues,'" Richardson said.

Indeed, the survey confirms that traffic and housing top the list of problems city residents are worried about. When asked about the one change in the city that could make them happier, 23 percent of the respondents listed traffic and 21 percent cited housing. No other issue received more than 10 percent of responses.

Despite years of talking about the need to solve the city's housing-affordability crisis, Palo Alto's traditionally dismal ratings on "affordable housing" questions only got worse last year. Only 13 percent of the survey takers gave the city high ratings for "variety of housing options" last year, down from 18 percent in 2017. And a mere 5 percent gave the city high grades when asked about "availability of affordable quality housing."

The survey suggests that both renters and homeowners see Palo Alto as, overall, a great place to live (89 percent of renters and 92 percent of homeowners gave the city high marks in this category). And both groups gave their particular neighborhoods high scores: 88 percent for renters and 92 percent for homeowners.

Yet their views diverged when they were asked about Palo Alto as a "place to raise children," with 79 percent of homeowners giving the city the top scores compared to just 61 percent of renters. And when it comes to Palo Alto as a "place to retire," 45 percent of homeowners gave the city high marks while only 29 percent of renters did so.

The residents' responses to the survey's open-ended questions only underscored local worries about traffic and affordable housing. On traffic, numerous residents said they would like to see better synchronization of traffic lights, improved road paving and better planning on "road diets" and other traffic-management projects (several called for the city to return the recently reconfigured section of Ross Road to its former state).

Dozens of residents requested that the council build more affordable housing, with a few calling for rent control. One response urged the city to "figure out affordable-housing options so families can stay here and people don't need to live in RVs/motorhomes or spend almost all income on housing."

Another respondent said that the one action that the council can take to make him or her happier is to "fix the housing situation."

"We're one rent increase away (from) having to move — and we're both professionals," the person states.

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Comments

41 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 9:18 am

There is something very odd about this article.

Is it about retiring in Palo Alto or is it about living in Palo Alto? Are these two things the same or different? Many people well below retiring age have these concerns about traffic, etc. Many people do want to continue living here through their retirement years, but many aspire to live elsewhere, to have their dream home with a picket fence far from the hustle and bustle.

Living in Palo Alto, we have lots of concerns about traffic, parking, infrastructure, quality of life. For everyone.


24 people like this
Posted by Maui Mikey
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2019 at 10:48 am

Eighteen years ago. the options I was awarded in a Silicon Valley company were up 2,400%. I exercised my options and bought a house in West Maui and retired to the island three years later. We never looked back.

At the time, traffic was bad and looked to be getting worse. That, and the feeling the area was getting more and more crowded, helped up make the decision to move. Following the PAW since we left has confirmed our thoughts.

The only downside is the value of our former home has more than quadrupled. But, on Maui, we grow really good bananas in the back yard.


19 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Palo Alto is a mixed bag for retirees. If you own your home, then the soaring real estate prices are great, though that is also an incentive to cash out and move someplace cheaper and less congested. If you don't own your home and are living on a fixed income while your rent is soaring, thinking of good reasons to stay here is really really difficult.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2019 at 10:57 am

@Maui Mikey - we're thinking about moving to Hawaii, too. Great weather, great activities, great culture, health care system is good at least for Maui and Honolulu, home prices are reasonable compared to Palo Alto.


25 people like this
Posted by Efficient Jack
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 18, 2019 at 11:12 am

The number one issue has to be the bloated bureaucracy and manifest inefficiency in City Hall. The unfunded pension liabilities and soaring future retiree health and benefit costsnar ticking nuclear bombs. The unions will own us.

What will the quality of life be then?


39 people like this
Posted by pgm
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 18, 2019 at 11:32 am

Anybody that has lived here for the last couple of years has seen a significant drop in the quality of life.
Food prices doubling at even places like McDonald's over the past few years.
TV ad's which said 2 for $5 specials the other day are 2 for $6 in Palo Alto.
Restaurants being forced to close because of doubling and tripling of rent (Max's).
Gridlock on El Camino at most times of the day.
And the rise of the overpriced gastro pub where you can expect to pay $8 bucks for a haute dog.
The destruction of the middle class is quite apparent in PA.


36 people like this
Posted by Keep it local
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Traffic is terrible and people want more housing? Make up your mind.


56 people like this
Posted by target audience
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Considering the author, I strongly suspect the target audience of this article is the 20-30-something tech workers who blame their inability to afford homes in Palo Alto on seniors, who (based on their comments in PAO) they apparently perceive as the only homeowners in Palo Alto.


8 people like this
Posted by On moving
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm

I thought I might retire here 10 years ago, but then the value of my home LITERALLY doubled and I now start thinking about what that appreciation could bring us elsewhere. It's not that we have come to hate MV, it's really quite nice for us, but the thought of getting a nice house with a lot more land somewhere else and pocketing about $1M in the process would make any sane person rethink things.


61 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 1:45 pm

When I was in my 20's, I lived near the then oldest man in Palo Alto, who had a nice house near University. He came out here in a covered wagon when it was Mayfield. He used to say, "And people told me I was CRAZY to spend $5,000 on a HOUSE!" In other words, Palo Alto has never been a cheap place, even when before it was Palo Alto, probably because of proximity to Stanford and (ironically) the quality of life.

In more recent decades, Silicon Valley has been a tough place to live for most people, that is not new. What has been new is this talk of "crisis" and the use of cracked arguments about supply and demand (as if creating supply would bring down prices because they assume the demand is realistically satisfiable and static - it's NOT). This is an argument that serves developers and works against the interests of existing residents and affordability.

Companies have a responsibility to either pay their workers enough to live here, or they become a part of a true solution that doubles or triples the number of Silicon Valleys. That's been happening in San Antonio, Boulder, Washington, but there needs to be public investments in infrastructure and education - quality of life - where there is housing, so that companies, retireees, etc, will want to go there. The only way you can really change the supply and demand equation is to increase the number of job centers so that everyone in the world doesn't think that cramming into here is the things to do.

City Council should have taken a harder line toward enforcing zoning so that companies like Palantir could not turn downtown into an office park. The damage that these laissez-faire policies toward companies has done may not be possible to undo, for example at the President Hotel, which would likely still be there as an affordable place for a lot of residents if Palo Alto had enforced the zoning downtown. Too late now.

People who think we should San Francisco-ize Palo Alto (when San Francisco has been Manhattanizing) should take their crusade to multiplying the number of job centers we have around the state and the nation - job centers that are attractive to move to for work and retirement. This would instantly increase the amount of actual affordable housing AND provide for retirement options for people who like the intellectual life here.


43 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The graph proves the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Many, many, many people have been trying to get this message through to City Hall for quite some time now. Hopefully the new City Manager is receptive. And hopefully the new mayor and CC will accept that things are trending in the wrong direction and make turning that around their #1 priority. That will take some serious political will as it will require the frequent use of the word NO, standing up to ABAG and Sacramento, pushing back against SB50 as well as aspects of the Stanford GUP, and putting the brakes on commercial development (particularly the unmitigated sort that has been approved too often in the past).


54 people like this
Posted by PA Grandma
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 18, 2019 at 5:11 pm

I don't know why it is so hard to understand:
- There has been a jobs/housing imbalance in Palo Alto for quite a number of years.
- Unbridled commercial/office development in Palo Alto has made it worse.
- The consequent job explosion has brought extreme traffic problems.
- Neither Palo Alto nor any of the surrounding impacted cities have made any attempt to curtail job growth.
- Nor have these cities demanded that the multi-national corporations fueling jobs/traffic/housing imbalance do anything to help the problem.
- The unabated job/traffic/multinational corporation growth/shows no signs of bringing any of our city leaders to their senses and doing something concrete about the problems.

The only reasonable thing to do at this point is to put a moratorium on development up and down the Peninsula,including the Stanford academic industrial complex, until a solution is found. There is a finite limit to the number of cars our streets can support, to the number of students our schools can support, and to the infrastructure - water, electricity, services - underpinning our area. I'm sure there are people in Palo Alto that can do the number analysis to figure out just how far down the road to disaster we have come. And how much growth it will take to bring the area to a crashing halt.


44 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2019 at 5:38 pm

We agree with grandma. Palo Alto's problem is unsustainable job growth, especially for jobs that are not being filled by local residents. That causes outsiders to take the jobs, either moving into local homes and displacing current residents or commuting huge distances and adding to traffic congestion. This kind of job growth is not sustainable and is only making the city worse for long-time residents.

I don't think housing growth is the real problem. The real problem is the wrong kind of job growth that requires either new housing or displacing current residents.


14 people like this
Posted by GlassHalfEmptyKindaGuy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 5:54 pm

For your house value to double it really has to more than quadruple due to the magnitude of the average capital gain and the huge tax bite the sale of a house brings about. Any gain is great, but that doesn't mean it is sufficient to retire on, even if you do re-located to a country where it makes sense to retain your old tax basis.

Instead of giving senior the positive motivation to re-locate with the tax breaks that let them keep more of their real appreciation like the perks given to all the billionaires and corporations they try to push seniors and others out with increasing fees and prices and lesser services.


35 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2019 at 6:07 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Grandma. Well said! I think the contributing factors are well understood but there's no political will to do what is necessary. Politicians like to be reelected and that takes money and often the people with money are developers and tech titans. Plus, no one likes to be told that they cannot get what they want. People who grew up here and people who work here don't like that they cannot own a home here. So they push and lobby to get their slice of the pie, regardless of how that plays out when multiplied by the thousands.

It's too bad that the impact of unbridled commercial development is that it has absorbed the capacity of key aspects of the available infrastructure, but that's the harsh reality. And a consequence of that is that we are severely limited as to how much housing we can realistically add AND SUPPORT.

Yet, we have one CC member who is determined to see densification happen. No matter what. No matter the various and obvious infrastructure deficiencies. Some have called him a zealot. Given that he supports having the State step in and take over the decision making about this, that's arguably a fair tag.

If we continue to stay the course we are on, Palo Alto will be completely at the mercy of oligarchs and bureaucrats. Too much government is not a good thing. I hope SB50 is soundly defeated and that local leaders will make decisions that do not further erode the functionality of this community. It's not too late to change lanes - but that will not be true indefinitely.


4 people like this
Posted by Meet The New PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2019 at 6:08 pm

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 18, 2019 at 6:23 pm

If you want to curb office growth, please write to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org and tell our city council members that you do NOT want them to repeal the downtown commercial cap.

Repealing the cap would allow more commercial development, which would worsen the jobs:housing balance, impede traffic circulation, etc.

Just say NO.

The council is currently scheduled to vote the cap on January 28.

To learn more about issues that impact our quality of life, check out the Palo Alto Matters web site, see Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Good work by Auditor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2019 at 6:53 pm

Kudos to City Auditor Harriet Richardson for the honest report and interpretation of the 2018 survey results.

In the past the Auditor reports sounded like PR, glossing over items that were not compliments to the City and touting "How We Have Progressed."
Let us hope this is an indication of a more honest staff now that we have new staff leadership. Thank you, City Auditor.


13 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2019 at 5:14 am

California is not a place to retire unless you are very rich. You have rising taxes, out of cost medical treatments from Stanford, potential loss of prop 13, taxes on your retirement income drawn down at the state level, cost of services, etc... your nest egg will do much better in a tax friendly state.


17 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

Given the overdevelopment of Palo Alto (along with the subsequent traffic congestion & recently reported crimes), it's hard to picture the modern PA as an ideal retirement community.

Looking back...at one time Palo Alto may have been a 'town' where old-timers could maintain their residencies & live out their golden years. Things were a lot simpler 40 years+ ago.

Today Palo Alto is a bustling business community with all the bells & whistles that typically accompany one.

Given the criteria for a retirement setting or even a tourist destination...would you even consider vacationing in a place like Palo Alto?

Didn't think so.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2019 at 9:08 am

The headline gives a false impression.

This article is about the survey done to residents about satisfaction with the City.

The important issue is the fact that those of us who live here, the residents, are getting more and more dissatisfied with City Services. Many of us are not about to get up and move elsewhere in the country for lots of reasons.

The point that the powers that be have to take into account is that we are not happy about the way City leaders are leading this City. What are they going to do about it?


23 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2019 at 11:05 am

Certainly, the cost of housing and increasing traffic are making Palo Alto a less desirable place to retire, or even live, at any age.

The office over-development that has worsened housing costs and traffic congestion has also driven many other factors that contribute to quality of life.

We have many have more expensive restaurants, but we have less entertainment, less retail, etc., with many former venues, shops, and eateries displaced by offices.


13 people like this
Posted by Don't Hold Out Any Hope
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2019 at 3:13 pm

>...we are not happy about the way City leaders are leading this City. What are they going to do about it?

Nada...more of the same.


2 people like this
Posted by Maui Mikey
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2019 at 11:19 am

@resident - "we're thinking about moving to Hawaii, too. Great weather, great activities, great culture, health care system is good at least for Maui and Honolulu, home prices are reasonable compared to Palo Alto."

Home prices on Maui are very low if you do an apples to apple comparison with Palo Alto. Maui prices have inched up while Palo Alto's explode.

Weather is good except for the occasional hurricane. Luckily, the big mountains on Maui and the Big Island reduce their velocity.

Health care is okay. Anything major requires a trip to Oahu. Dental insurance is very expensive.

Activities and food are the best. When you're told fresh fish, it means it was caught that day.

Gas is way expensive. Get a 49cc Chinese scooter for short trips. You can ride them in the bike lanes and parking is never a problem. With 128 mpg, they pay for themselves in about 4,500 miles.


21 people like this
Posted by pa resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2019 at 11:40 am

tragically, for many, palo alto has become a pump and dump community of get rich quick house flippers, temp worker foreign nationals who empty their income in remittance and plan to return after burning out. not a place for families or community. sorry to see this state suffer so dearly from greed and short sighted arrogance. and for everyone who celebrates milking silicon valley and retiring to an island: shame on you for treating your neighbors as disposable.


25 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 20, 2019 at 6:59 pm

jh is a registered user.

"Nada...more of the same."

For residents who don't want "more of the same" and are not satisfied with the decisions the council majority makes, do your homework before the next council election. Don't take what candidates tell voters at face value, or automatically believe the campaign literature. Disheartening as it is, those of us who have been here for a number of election cycles have watched more than one candidates either directly misrepresenting, or by omission, whose interests they will primarily serve if elected.


33 people like this
Posted by At 60, I love it here.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2019 at 1:47 pm

At 60, I love it here. is a registered user.

I love living in Palo Alto. At 60, I bike and walk a lot. Driving is a frustrating bore and insulates me from my community. My bike is faster than driving for most short trips. I don't go out to dinner a lot. I grew up in a family that considered restaurant meals a luxury and I enjoy cooking. I live simply and enjoy our beautiful parks, art center, museums, classes, libraries, and outdoor spaces which are mostly FREE. I enjoy birding, playing music, reading, gardening, walking with my husband and my dog, and volunteering in the community.

We have a lovely climate. Enjoy what is best about the Bay Area--our beautiful weather and lovely scenery. Activity helps me feel healthier and happier. It's not about what you personally HAVE. It's about being thankful for the good things we are blessed to be able to enjoy that are all around us.


6 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2019 at 6:49 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I don't like what's happened in/to my town and I'm not encouraged by what I've seen offered so far that there are any really good solutions to our biggest problems...and I don't need to repeat them. It took years to get where we are, and it will take years, if ever, to see real changes, consequential changes, made. There were ample opportunities along the way though, that if City Hall and CC were paying attention, could and should have detected what was happening in time to take corrective action. It didn't happen and so now we're just left with finger pointing and that doesn't do any good.

I've seen it and lived through it all. We moved here in 1961, 'the best of times' in my mind, followed decades later by what might be described now as 'the worst of times'. Maybe a weak comparison of the opposing forces in "A Tale Of Two Cities" but I think you get my point. Ed Arnold was our mayor. I doubt if there are any current commenters who remember him. I liked him, maybe because he lived in my end of town, SPA. Of course we had problems back then, and maybe some of the same ones we have now, but on a much smaller scale, and they were manageable. And they were managed and dealt with very well, for the most part. I think the biggest issue at the time was the decision to build the Oregon Expressway.

Also, the pro growth vs residentialist (slow growth) alignments is not a new phenomenon in our community. It was going strong even back then, and we had a cumbersome 15 person CC to deal with all that stuff.

I have commented, maybe too many times before, on all the current issues. Our current council was dealt a bad hand. But they were brave enough to step up, run for office, and try their best to make changes for the betterment of us residents, their constituents. At least I hope they are taking us, and our quality of life, into consideration above serving other outside interests.

No, I'm not leaving town. My roots are too deep. I have too many good memories of how it was. This is where most of my surviving friends and neighbors live, and where the amenities and most of my needs are located, in this little village where I live in SPA. Stores, shops, service centers, parks, a great library, most everything I need within walking distance. It's a special place, a humble place...and probably a little unlike what the North Ender PA folks experience. When you can talk to your butcher, barber, barrister, Piazza's owners (the brothers), Curt Meissner (owner my my auto repair shop) and the owners of 'Green Elephant Gourmet' (Christina and Michael) on a first name basis, then you know this is your town/village and where you hope you can spend the rest of your life.

By contrast, the other day I drove downtown and parked in the Avenidas lot. The main reason for my trip was to see the new Avenidas building that will re-open in March. Birge Clark must be turning over in his grave. It's the new modernist style, a square structure...no imagination or challenge to a real architect. While I was there I decided to take a walk on University Avenue. It was a long walk during lunch hour. It was an eye opening experience. What happened? Where have all my favorite stores gone? The answer became clear...downtown is not the place I remember, and I'm partly responsible for that, and I have to accept that fact. It has become a mecca, a place for the millennials, techies, to hang out in restaurants that seem to spring up all the time. And it's convenient for them because it's a short walk from their office buildings that have been built, or to tech companies that have moved into and squeezed out so many small businesses and retail stores in the area.

I'm about done...so stay with me. I went all the way to Cowper, so I passed by Hotel President...a magnificent structure...and all the shops below and surrounding it. I'm not sure what will happen to them, but I had lunch at Gyro Gyro, on the corner. The best deal in town. A full plate of combo gyro lamb and beef, 4 pita bread half slices, a big mound of savory rice, and a great salad. I think my bill was around $16 and I needed a box to take some home...basically two meals for the price of one. Go back a couple blocks and you'd pay much more for less food and probably less quality food. Things get cheaper the further away you walk on University Avenue. I didn't really mean for this to be an analogy, but maybe it is. Housing gets cheaper the further away you live from Palo Alto. I'm old, I'm tired, and so I have nothing to offer in the way of suggestions on how to solve our problems and to maintain our quality of life at the same time. Good luck new CC!


30 people like this
Posted by Please Don't Move to Hawaii
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2019 at 8:49 pm

""we're thinking about moving to Hawaii, too. Great weather, great activities, great culture, health care system is good at least for Maui and Honolulu, home prices are reasonable compared to Palo Alto."

Please reconsider. As a semi-native Hawaiian/25% (Punahou 1975) many of the true island 'locals' still resent the influx of Haoles migrating to Hawaii from the mainland US.

The newbies add clutter and congestion to our small islands...similar to what some Palo Altans complain about.

You are always welcome to visit as tourism is a major part of our economy. But to move to Hawaii and then act as if you have lived here forever is tacky and very insulting to the true natives (regardless of their mixed ethnicities).

Hawaii was stolen once by special interest groups & the ancestors of missionaries from the eastern United States. Please don't settle here permanently.

Maybe consider places like Sedona and Palm Springs...the weather is warm and not so humid as here. No hurricanes either.

Many older Americans have also moved to Costa Rica. Your money will go farther there and depending on how much you have saved for retirement, you can even live like a king with servants. You cannot do that in Hawaii unless you are very wealthy and if so, your housekeepers will resent you behind your back. It's only natural.

Aloha and Mahalo (for moving somewhere else).





1 person likes this
Posted by Warren
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 22, 2019 at 10:01 pm

Several years ago I too thought I'd need to leave Silicon Valley due to the cost of living. But then Airbnb came along. Now I can afford a house in Maui too. What a Godsend.


28 people like this
Posted by Kamehameha Grad 1980
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 23, 2019 at 2:38 pm

> ...to move to Hawaii and then act as if you have lived here forever is tacky and very insulting to the true natives (regardless of their mixed ethnicities).

How true. Jack Lord (of Hawaii 50 fame) resided in Kahala, Oahu & his infamous greeting to guests was, "Welcome to my island." Many locals despised him for his arrogance.

Since Hawaii is a 'melting-pot' of many ethnicities, you might be able to pull the expatriate act off if part Asian and/or Portuguese.

On the other hand, if you resemble someone arriving from the mid-west and/or a red state, good luck trying to blend in seamlessly.

While the 'local' acceptance of mainland Haoles has broadened somewhat, there will still be those who view them with suspicion and contempt...and you really can't blame the old-timers.

As the Punahou grad mentioned, maybe consider somewhere else. Barstow real estate is pretty reasonable and your dollar will go farther the closer you reside to Death Valley.

Kamehameha Grad 1980/10% Hawaiian ancestry required for admittance.


9 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 24, 2019 at 8:42 am

Here is my response to a similar article Diana Diamond wrote: (And, yes, we are retired.)

We look for excellence not perfection!

After living in Professorville for nearly 26 years, we still love being here. A great climate, wonderful neighbors, good church friends, a small little hobbit home with a back "farm" that produces thousands of delicious tomatoes each summer, the ability to walk everywhere, Ace close by with the kindest employees, three (not that expensive) restaurants we frequent on a regular basis, the YMCA close by, a direct KLM flight from SFO to Amsterdam.... I cannot wish for much more. We are very happy in Palo Alto.

However, I do realize that the traffic, especially during commuting hours, is challenging, to say the least. The home and rental prices idem ditto. I especially feel for the people working in service functions. These people do not earn the $200,000 annual salaries.

I am pleased that Eric Filseth has become our new mayor. We voted for him early on, because he impressed us with his down-to-earth modest attitude, his intelligence, and his devotion to do an honest and excellent job for the City of Palo Alto, which includes many parties of different beliefs. I am confident he will maintain a balanced view as to the future of our city.

May I suggest that, instead of being negative, we help Eric and his team do the best job for all of us. Can we build a better transportation system, that will allow workers to live farther from their workplace, thereby possibly reducing their housing expenses? Can companies create work shifts thereby dividing the commuting traffic over several hours? Can Palo Alto homeowners with garages and driveways use them for parking? Every little bit helps, but we have to start with ourselves.

We have so many intelligent people living in Palo Alto. Share your positive ideas with the City Council. One positive idea will create several other positive ideas.

Diana, as always, thank you for your wonderful and thought-provoking articles.


4 people like this
Posted by Lazlo Toth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2019 at 10:14 am

Thanks to the former city manager (Keene) and underperforming city council our city are in dire straights. Misdirection by senior city management put in place by the former city manager has created a city with no direction and no possible means of retaining their once positive status of a livable city.


9 people like this
Posted by Getting Out of Dodge
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2019 at 1:14 pm

> Thanks to the former city manager (Keene) and underperforming city council our city are in dire straights. Misdirection by senior city management put in place by the former city manager has created a city with no direction and no possible means of retaining their once positive status of a livable city.

Amen as most civil servants are not known for their professional proficiencies...just collecting retirement benefits.


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Posted by Silcone Valley Forever
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2019 at 5:07 pm

@Please don't move to Hawaii, sorry, don't you know that diversity is a strength? We'll be "majority minority" here on the mainland by 2050 and I read that nothing but wonderful things will follow. We'd hate to deprive you of all the benefits of that.


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Posted by Love HI and PA!
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 24, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Love HI and PA! is a registered user.

I agree with Anneke above and feel that despite some problems Palo Alto is pretty good! I feel lucky to live here but also wish It was cheaper. I also love Hawaii and have thought of moving there despite the provincial attitudes of the two Hawaiian locals who posted. Hawaii is a US state so anybody from any other state should be able to freely move there just as many Hawaiians have moved to CA (and I don’t mean Barstow)! Of course it does not mean that newcomers to the islands should not respect the people, culture and ecosystem there. But telling “haoles” not to move there is hostile!


16 people like this
Posted by Please Don't Move to Hawaii
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2019 at 7:16 pm

> @Please don't move to Hawaii, sorry, don't you know that diversity is a strength?
We'd hate to deprive you of all the benefits of that.

Try conveying those lofty sentiments to the Native American Indians whose eventual plight in the continental United States is very similar to those of the native Hawaiians following the unlawful US annexation in 1898. Nothing more than a land grab by carpetbagging Haoles and special interests (i.e. sugar cane & pineapple industries) who also initiated the importation of cheap labor from Asia because most of the 'locals' wouldn't kow-tow to 'the man'.

> Hawaii is a US state so anybody from any other state should be able to freely move there...

Though not a US state, maybe consider Puerto Rico? It's also a US island with many of the same tropical amenities...just poorer with fewer fancy restaurants & gift shops.


11 people like this
Posted by Kamehameha Grad 1980
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 27, 2019 at 1:03 pm

>...the Native American Indians whose eventual plight in the continental United States is very similar to those of the native Hawaiians following the unlawful US annexation in 1898.

At least the Native American Indians fought for their lands by wiping out wagon trains, homesteaders and Custer.

The native Hawaiians tend to be too laid back and as a result, much of their culture was destroyed and their properties exploited.

The last time the Hawaiians took a stand was on February 14, 1779 at Kealakekua Bay, HI when they took out Captain James Cook who was trying to colonize the islands for Great Britain.

That was a long time ago and the rest is history.

Contempt towards Haoles is still very prevalent but kept within...don't kid yourselves.



12 people like this
Posted by We Only Visit Hawaii
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 27, 2019 at 3:00 pm

We only vacation in Hawaii as the sentiments conveyed by the two local Hawaiians are very true. Tourism feeds the island economy but expatriates from the mainland only stir up past resentments.

The 'Welcome to my island' mentality credited to the late Jack Lord is one that many former main-landers convey after they move to Hawaii. How arrogant and self-serving.

Lahaina/Maui has been ruined as it is now the Palm Springs of Hawaii for wealthy mainland retirees.

Given the concerns that many Palo Altans have about their neighborhoods being ruined by over development well...they would be total hypocrites for even thinking
of moving permanently to Hawaii and adding to the gridlock & human pollution.


1 person likes this
Posted by Love HI and PA!
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:32 am

This is 2019 not 1898! Talk about divisiveness and contempt, but you HI locals who posted above seem to have a lot of contempt and are very divisive. Did you not read my comment that many Hawaiians also relocate to CA as well as to other states on the mainland? Web Link Many residents here see CA as being extremely overcrowded and overrun with non Californians. How would you like it if we put out a sign saying, "no Hawaiians permitted to relocate here?" I do not feel like that because I think we should be welcoming and I know and have welcomed many Hawaiians to CA. I am also familiar with Maui and Oahu, having visited many times over the years, and have friends on those islands, locals, non haoles, who do not share your views. Many locals are not crazy about haoles but it is only a vocal minority who share your views about residency. Perhaps if Hawaii could find another industry besides tourism it could begin becoming more prosperous and not rely on haole tourists to support its economy.

@We Only Visit Hawaii - your reasons for only visiting the islands are noble but how do you know how "arrogant and self-serving" many former mainlanders are? Have you visited many of them after they have relocated? The ones I have visited have blended in seamlessly with the locals and are even either mixed race, (as are now the majority of Hawaiian locals) or are made up of diverse ethnicities and races (just like here!), and they wouldn't dream of littering, harassing sea turtles and other wildlife, building monstrosities, driving gas guzzling vehicles, or committing crimes! Why would you even think that most people who move to Hawaii go there with the intention of ruining neighborhoods and "adding to the gridlock and pollution?" Perhaps you should no longer even visit there because even visiting could add to gridlock and pollution. Lahaina is just a small part of Maui and I wouldn't go so far as to say it is "ruined." Whenever I have gone there I have seen just as many locals hanging out at the bars and nightlife places, as tourists. There are many places on Maui not "ruined" by haoles, such as Makena Beach, and the Upcountry. The eastern side of Maui is also very non crowded. And no, many Palo Altans are not hypocrites for being concerned about development in their neighborhoods because you are making an assumption that they are fed up with development here so they will be going to HI to develop there. That is so ridiculous! Oahu and Maui real estate is expensive and not everybody is Larry Ellison, able to buy most of Lanaii and build monstrosities all over the islands!


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