News

Living in a pod? New concept in affordable shared housing emerges in Palo Alto

For $800 a month, renters also have access to kitchen and other living areas

Its name has the cachet of a trendy Brooklyn home, but Brownstone Shared Housing has brought a new housing concept that is affordable, albeit small, to Palo Alto.

The shared housing company is renting "sleeping pods" at $800 a month, where people sleep in a chamber within a room that is a bit wider than a twin bed but more than tall enough to sit up in. Residents share the kitchen and other living areas, according to the company's website.

The idea is to make housing in the Bay Area affordable. There's just month-to-month rent, with no big deposit and first and last-month's rent. Would-be residents just need to apply online. Utilities and high-speed internet are included.

The fledgling company offers two homes: a midcentury home in the Midtown neighborhood and a home in Bakersfield. The Palo Alto home offers on-site laundry, outdoor space, monthly cleaning and bright, open modern spaces.

The Palo Alto home can accommodate 14 people. The pods, which look like brightly lit stackable storage cubes, are arranged bunk-bed style in two stories. They have their own temperature control and air circulation, electrical outlet shelf space and a rack for hanging clothes.

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"They have 40% more space than bunk beds," the company boasts on its website.

Brownstone Shared Housing co-founders Christina Lennox, top, and James Stallworth, bottom, brought their company's shared housing concept to Palo Alto in fall 2021. Courtesy Christina Lennox/Brownstone Shared Housing.

Company founders Christina Lennox and James Stallworth originally wanted to start their business in Brooklyn, New York, but issues about shared housing prevented that from happening, Stallworth said in a Medium blog post. In late August, they started the concept in Palo Alto with the aim of providing affordable housing in one of the hottest and least affordable housing markets in the country. They replied to a Craigslist ad for a home rental and the landlord liked the concept, Lennox said. The renters are in their 20s and 30s who are mostly interns at local companies such as Tesla and Telefèric Barcelona, and visiting researchers/students at Stanford.

"We have had residents from 15 countries. It’s really cool that while just walking through the house you can hear multiple languages like Spanish and German being spoken," Lennox said.

"Everyone who stays with us has loved the experience. They find an instant community here," she said. "People have commented on how well-designed the house is because we really furnished and planned it out to accommodate everyone. Something we get a lot is that the pods are much bigger than they thought when just looking at the photos."

Parking has not been an issue, Lennox claimed.

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"The great thing about being located in Palo Alto is that everyone bikes to work and school. We have space for 14 bikes neatly in the backyard. It's fun to watch people move in and buy a used bike at a local shop instead of taking fossil-fuel-powered transportation from long distances," she said.

Stallworth, company CEO, is a Stanford University graduate with a bachelor's degree in science, technology and society. He is a former California state auditor. Lennox, the chief operating officer, was an external state auditor who graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in criminology.

Lennox said the housing problem is deeply personal for her and Stallworth.

"Both James and I came up with versions of this concept before we met working together at the California State Auditor's office in Sacramento. I came to California from Arizona to complete a leadership school that provided housing through a network of people in the community who opened up rooms in their homes to students.

"After I graduated, the home opener told me she needed the room for her grandson and gave me a hard deadline to move out. I could not find a place, and considered living in my car or renting a storage shed before thankfully finding friends I could move in with. That's when I started thinking about how there has to be a way to split costs and be able to move in somewhere flexible for a few months on short notice without having to pay thousands of dollars upfront for security deposit and rent," she said.

Stallworth also went through his own housing insecurity while finishing up at Stanford. He always planned on starting a company to solve the problem for others when the time was right.

When Lennox and Stallworth met, they knew they worked well together, had a passion for housing people, and had complementary skills, she said.

"Our position is that this is no different than any group of people coming together to rent a home, and we are not aware of any limit on the number of people that can live in shared housing. For decades Stanford students and others have been coming together to rent homes in Palo Alto without issue. The only change here is the furniture we use — our pods — to accommodate more people in the house in an appealing and comfortable way," she said.

Lennox said the company wants to provide the service wherever it is needed.

"We had a manager at a local business reach out, before all of the news stories, asking us to let them know when we open more homes in the area because they have a hard time getting people to work for them as they open new locations. She said it is impossible for people on entry-level wages to find a place to live nearby. So yes, we would love to open more places in Palo Alto and the Bay Area," she said.

The company also still plans to launch in New York, given the extreme need for flexible low-cost housing there.

"We are still in touch with people from New York who ask all the time when we will get started there since it would be a major improvement over their current living situations," she said.

Meghan Horrigan-Taylor, spokesperson for the city of Palo Alto, said, "The city is aware of the pod arrangement and staff is looking into it."

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Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Living in a pod? New concept in affordable shared housing emerges in Palo Alto

For $800 a month, renters also have access to kitchen and other living areas

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 3, 2022, 9:56 am
Updated: Thu, May 5, 2022, 10:38 am

Its name has the cachet of a trendy Brooklyn home, but Brownstone Shared Housing has brought a new housing concept that is affordable, albeit small, to Palo Alto.

The shared housing company is renting "sleeping pods" at $800 a month, where people sleep in a chamber within a room that is a bit wider than a twin bed but more than tall enough to sit up in. Residents share the kitchen and other living areas, according to the company's website.

The idea is to make housing in the Bay Area affordable. There's just month-to-month rent, with no big deposit and first and last-month's rent. Would-be residents just need to apply online. Utilities and high-speed internet are included.

The fledgling company offers two homes: a midcentury home in the Midtown neighborhood and a home in Bakersfield. The Palo Alto home offers on-site laundry, outdoor space, monthly cleaning and bright, open modern spaces.

The Palo Alto home can accommodate 14 people. The pods, which look like brightly lit stackable storage cubes, are arranged bunk-bed style in two stories. They have their own temperature control and air circulation, electrical outlet shelf space and a rack for hanging clothes.

"They have 40% more space than bunk beds," the company boasts on its website.

Company founders Christina Lennox and James Stallworth originally wanted to start their business in Brooklyn, New York, but issues about shared housing prevented that from happening, Stallworth said in a Medium blog post. In late August, they started the concept in Palo Alto with the aim of providing affordable housing in one of the hottest and least affordable housing markets in the country. They replied to a Craigslist ad for a home rental and the landlord liked the concept, Lennox said. The renters are in their 20s and 30s who are mostly interns at local companies such as Tesla and Telefèric Barcelona, and visiting researchers/students at Stanford.

"We have had residents from 15 countries. It’s really cool that while just walking through the house you can hear multiple languages like Spanish and German being spoken," Lennox said.

"Everyone who stays with us has loved the experience. They find an instant community here," she said. "People have commented on how well-designed the house is because we really furnished and planned it out to accommodate everyone. Something we get a lot is that the pods are much bigger than they thought when just looking at the photos."

Parking has not been an issue, Lennox claimed.

"The great thing about being located in Palo Alto is that everyone bikes to work and school. We have space for 14 bikes neatly in the backyard. It's fun to watch people move in and buy a used bike at a local shop instead of taking fossil-fuel-powered transportation from long distances," she said.

Stallworth, company CEO, is a Stanford University graduate with a bachelor's degree in science, technology and society. He is a former California state auditor. Lennox, the chief operating officer, was an external state auditor who graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in criminology.

Lennox said the housing problem is deeply personal for her and Stallworth.

"Both James and I came up with versions of this concept before we met working together at the California State Auditor's office in Sacramento. I came to California from Arizona to complete a leadership school that provided housing through a network of people in the community who opened up rooms in their homes to students.

"After I graduated, the home opener told me she needed the room for her grandson and gave me a hard deadline to move out. I could not find a place, and considered living in my car or renting a storage shed before thankfully finding friends I could move in with. That's when I started thinking about how there has to be a way to split costs and be able to move in somewhere flexible for a few months on short notice without having to pay thousands of dollars upfront for security deposit and rent," she said.

Stallworth also went through his own housing insecurity while finishing up at Stanford. He always planned on starting a company to solve the problem for others when the time was right.

When Lennox and Stallworth met, they knew they worked well together, had a passion for housing people, and had complementary skills, she said.

"Our position is that this is no different than any group of people coming together to rent a home, and we are not aware of any limit on the number of people that can live in shared housing. For decades Stanford students and others have been coming together to rent homes in Palo Alto without issue. The only change here is the furniture we use — our pods — to accommodate more people in the house in an appealing and comfortable way," she said.

Lennox said the company wants to provide the service wherever it is needed.

"We had a manager at a local business reach out, before all of the news stories, asking us to let them know when we open more homes in the area because they have a hard time getting people to work for them as they open new locations. She said it is impossible for people on entry-level wages to find a place to live nearby. So yes, we would love to open more places in Palo Alto and the Bay Area," she said.

The company also still plans to launch in New York, given the extreme need for flexible low-cost housing there.

"We are still in touch with people from New York who ask all the time when we will get started there since it would be a major improvement over their current living situations," she said.

Meghan Horrigan-Taylor, spokesperson for the city of Palo Alto, said, "The city is aware of the pod arrangement and staff is looking into it."

Comments

CarolB
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 3, 2022 at 10:32 am
CarolB, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:32 am

typo: cachet, not cache


Claudette
Registered user
Woodside
on May 3, 2022 at 10:49 am
Claudette, Woodside
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:49 am
Tommyboy
Registered user
Midtown
on May 3, 2022 at 10:57 am
Tommyboy, Midtown
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:57 am

Nope it’s spelled CASH,
house rent just bumped up to 11,500
Take note investors
and guess what
14 more cars parked on your street



Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2022 at 10:58 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:58 am

A Skinner box for hamster living. They can spin on their exercycles, connect to rooms via little hamster tunnel tracks, pick up food pellets by pressing a lever. Who needs a kitchen when Dr. Skinner is planning your housing?


Resident11
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 3, 2022 at 11:15 am
Resident11, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 11:15 am

This is a good deal for the landlords who can leverage free public infrastructure (street parking, parks and recreation, etc) for their ultra-dense, highly remunerative housing at no extra cost. We should fix that if we are excited about this option.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2022 at 11:25 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 11:25 am

10 people in that confined space adds up to roommate problems. Feudalism reigns again.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2022 at 11:27 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 11:27 am

Another day, another atrocity. Just stick them on the Google / Facebook campus since this whole area's becoming a dense, boring office park.

And heaven forbid the huge businesses destroying our community pay a cent in business tax because our "leaders' can't figure out how to exempt RETAIL from a business tax.


NeilsonBuchanan
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 3, 2022 at 11:31 am
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 11:31 am

Thanks, Sue. It is good to be informed!

Can this be true? Where have I been? If this does not make national and Sacramento news, nothing will.

I now can go into full retirement as concerned neighborhoodista advocating parking standards for residential and commercial property. Palo Alto permit parking ordinance is woefully inadequate not to mention unenforceable TDMs... City Manager must be budgeting a lot of $s for ordinance rewrites.

I have been fully prepared for new forms of housing and neighborhood parking impact from all of the recent state legislation. However, this is a step into an unexplored dimension of sociology and economics. BTW, this may be fully qualified as family living. The world is 'achangin'.


A neighbor
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on May 3, 2022 at 12:27 pm
A neighbor, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 12:27 pm

I think capsule housing is a great idea. It's not a new idea at all, see Web Link for details on various ways this idea has been implemented since the urban migrations of the 19th century. In most places it is now illegal, which contributes to homelessness and the ongoing housing crisis. Around the turn of the 20th century, a good urban union job could yield 30 cents an hour, and the nightly rate for a small cubicle was about the same. Today, those numbers might be $15/hr in wages and $500/mo in rent, which is about what the Brownstone folk have in mind. Now legalize suburban cafes and allow RM-15 everywhere, and we'll make some progress. :-)


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2022 at 12:33 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Fast forward a few decades and you'll have Hoovervilles, those attractive campsites so common during the Great Depression.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2022 at 1:00 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 1:00 pm

I can understand this for college students or perhaps for the first year of a first job, but really, how is this living?

No wonder young people are stuck to their phones unable to socialize! Living like this is going to lead to all sorts of problems if people do this for any length of time. People need to be able to have a place to devlop their home life and create relationships. This will do neither. Future lonely people will be the result.


JMDAZED
Registered user
Charleston Gardens
on May 3, 2022 at 1:39 pm
JMDAZED, Charleston Gardens
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 1:39 pm

So, curious about this house by Cal. Ave. What's the zoning restrictions on 14 people living in one dwelling and parking their cars in front of the neighbors homes? Do their friends come over and then you have 30 people at one place now too? Just curious.


Gunn Graduate
Registered user
Gunn High School
on May 3, 2022 at 3:38 pm
Gunn Graduate, Gunn High School
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 3:38 pm

How is Brownstone different than Hubhaus?

Hubhaus basically did the same thing, taking standard residential rentals and filling them with extra tenants in improvised bedrooms, and everyone thought it was great until Hubhaus went belly up and the execs just disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving behind a bunch of confused homeowners and tenants.


MyFeelz
Registered user
Juana Briones School
on May 3, 2022 at 4:33 pm
MyFeelz, Juana Briones School
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 4:33 pm

These parts bear repeating:

1. "California Avenue and a home in Bakersfield"
2. "They have 40% more space than bunk beds," the company boasts"
3. "wanted to start their business in Brooklyn, New York, but issues about shared housing prevented that"
4. "In late August, they started the concept in Palo Alto"
5. "instant community here and make lifelong friendships."
6. "everyone bikes to work and school. We have space for 14 bikes neatly in the backyard. It's fun to watch people move in and buy a used bike at a local shop instead of taking fossil-fuel-powered transportation from long distances"
7. "we are not aware of any limit on the number of people that can live in shared housing"
8. "We are still in touch with people from New York who ask all the time when we will get started there since it would be a major improvement over their current living situations"

To item 1: Bakersfield, because of agriculture. PA: because unknown 2: 40% bigger than a bunkbed being your living space is nothing to boast about. 3: NY prohibits these shenanigans 4: the test of time is NOT 8 months. 5: Lifelong friendships take a lifetime. Not 8 months. 6: Everybody in PA does NOT ride a bike. 7: you may not know yet but you will soon 8: You have friends from NY who want to live with you? Bring them here.

14 showers a day -- I assume there is a boiler room making hot water? I'm going to touch base tomorrow with CPAU to ask their thoughts on whether the sewer fees for a single family residence are appropriate for 14 or more people.

The stench has got to be overpowering after meal times. And a bonus, you get to hear every fart, burp, sneeze, and get to feel every hump every time you enter your "pod". And you get to listen to every phone conversation and every time somebody jumps up or down their ladder. And $800 per month per pod? DISGUSTING.

This is inhumane. And should be looked at closely by the city as such.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on May 3, 2022 at 4:36 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 4:36 pm

An extra thought -- I thought AirBnB was the worst of what "renting" could mean. These people have taken it to a level that should not be rewarded by jumping on board. Every property owner who rents to these people and allows it to be converted to pods is assuming all liability and should be frightened of losing their house due to a legal disagreement. Read their website. It's a real eye opener. Web Link


vmshadle
Registered user
Meadow Park
on May 3, 2022 at 5:30 pm
vmshadle, Meadow Park
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 5:30 pm

I predict that intramural wars will break out over bathroom use. After all, the bathroom probably features the only door one can close for any privacy. Yikes.

Any plans to install graywater recovery to lessen the impact on water bills and sewage?


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 3, 2022 at 6:49 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 6:49 pm
MyFeelz
Registered user
Nixon School
on May 3, 2022 at 7:19 pm
MyFeelz, Nixon School
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 7:19 pm

This article is a thinly veiled advertisement for the concept of renting cages to humans and calling it "affordable". I grew up in a large family. 4 bedrooms, 3 stories, and 3 bathrooms. There STILL wasn't room for all of us to develop healthy boundaries -- instead we all had to learn to defend our corners and protect from encroachment. AND WE WERE ALL RELATED AND SUPPOSED TO LOVE EACH OTHER! Bathroom use was the number one challenge in our "shared housing". There were 3 toilets and five sinks. We bathed two at a time until age 13. And water use, well all I can say is my mother, who wrote the checks for all the bills, cried every month about the water bill. I learned very early in my childhood to conserve water to try to keep mom from crying. These podsters won't care, they aren't paying for water and neither is their mom. [Portion removed.] A promised "MONTHLY" cleaning says all I need to know. I wouldn't even trust touching the doorknob at that rathole. If this is the new "model" for living, we are sunk as a society. I still can't even believe this article was written seemingly to PROMOTE inhumane living conditions.


RPopp
Registered user
Monroe Park
on May 3, 2022 at 7:25 pm
RPopp, Monroe Park
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 7:25 pm

I tripped running to the Town Square to start reading all the comments - hilarious! My take - I bet the residents are having a fun and social experience. When they get tired of it or want more privacy, they'll just move on... We need more of this type of creative housing and I'm all for it!


JR
Registered user
Palo Verde
on May 3, 2022 at 8:01 pm
JR, Palo Verde
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 8:01 pm

I cannot believe it is legal to rent this kind of slum housing in the state of California. The owners should be ashamed. It is like something straight out of 1800s Gangs of New York.


Cafe Hunk
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 3, 2022 at 9:00 pm
Cafe Hunk, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 9:00 pm

14 people goes well over the "Two per bedroom plus one" limit enforced by HUD and over regulators. These pods obviously aren't legal bedrooms. If you look at the "Grey Ghost" blog post, it appears an early investigation by reporters into legal issues pushed them out of Manhattan. Why PAW/PAO didn't do a similar investigation eludes me; the article seems more advertisement than news.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2022 at 9:06 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 9:06 pm

I read through the founder's blog post, and looked at the house, and I don't think it is slum housing. Trust me, I know a lot about slum housing. I spent a lot of time representing tenants who are mistreated by landlords. This isn't that. It's fairly high-end, and legally, it is not different from a shared house situation, which is legal and in fact is extremely necessary for young adults, given the high price of housing.

That said, I do agree that this is far from ideal. I also agree that living in this type of situation should be a personal choice, not the only type of housing a person can afford.

But this is our state of affairs when our city government continues to let the largest employers & billionaire landlords off the hook without contributing one dime to our city coffers (which the proposed tax on tenants won't change), where our city government lets an exclusive (yet very high quality) private school railroad neighbors by demanding to dig a four-story trench of concrete in a place where dozens of urgently-needed beautiful mature trees once lived, and where our city government continues to allow real estate developers to replace retail with office (like at Town & Country) build office complexes big enough to serve 721 employees in the smack dab middle of a fully residential neighborhood, like at 123 Sherman. Whom does our city serve with these harmful, unsustainable actions?

Every bad decision, at every meeting, over so many years, is creating this situation where cubicle living is the best a recent college graduate can ask for, if they are lucky enough to get this. These tiny shared space housing solutions are not the fault of this company's founders. It is the fault of all of us for not standing up and demanding positive change so that our children, and their children, can have lives better than ours. But this housing solution is not the problem; it is the direct consequence of our city's avoidable bad choices.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on May 3, 2022 at 10:03 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:03 pm

If you like college dorms and hostels, this might be your cup of tea. Otherwise, pass. The price is right, but the living conditions, lack of privacy, etc. No, thank you.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2022 at 10:37 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2022 at 10:37 pm

The only difference between this emerging "new concept" and the familiar "hacker hotels" is the breathless tone of the marketing glitz.

Today's "pods" are yesterday's hacker hotel Stack'N'Pack bunk beds shoving in 10+ people into single-family homes near you -- complete with the familiar old parking and bathroom problems you've seen advertised for years.

I'm also reminded of the similar barrage of breathless pieces on "Living in My RV" and "Glamor of Van Living" featuring techies, Stanford grad students etc. who saved $$$$$$ living on the streets in their RV from about 10 years ago.

Maybe we'll see another piece about Google's investments in "modular living" aka trailers and their work with city planners.


toransu
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 4, 2022 at 12:42 am
toransu, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 12:42 am

Y'all realize the only reason people are even considering this is because nobody will build any sort of dense housing, right? Like y'all are so stuck in your Mayberry fantasy you fail to see that you live in a major metropolitan area. The small town ship sailed decades ago. If you want to live in a small town, you're welcome to move to one.

That being said, these are atrocious. If only the NIMBYs here weren't so stubborn, maybe we could actually get some apartment blocks like there are in Tokyo.


John
Registered user
another community
on May 4, 2022 at 4:41 am
John, another community
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 4:41 am

It reminds me the subdivided housing in Hong Kong, where people live in cages stacked up on top of each other because that's the only thing they can afford. If cities don't set a minimum square footage per inhabitants, like in Singapore for example, we are set for a downward spiral. And how much is $800 per square foot of living space? Must be the most expensive rent in Palo Alto!


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 4, 2022 at 6:42 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 6:42 am

The comments above by Resident 11, A Neighbor, and Rebecca Eisenberg are worth a second read. Ditto ALB's reference to Covid. This 2022 version of a road house yields $11,200 in monthly rent, so it's not hugely surprising that the landlord likes it.

I can already hear the City Manager telling us that Staff doesn't have the bandwidth to address the issues this sort of housing raises. I suggest that they find it.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 4, 2022 at 7:16 am
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 7:16 am

This is not a brilliant new idea, Brownstone is just hooking their wagon to an already existing trend. Web Link only not even as nice....


ndn
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 4, 2022 at 7:35 am
ndn, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 7:35 am

This "arrangement" is only possible courtesy of prop 13. Also, calling the pods "furniture" (freestanding) is a stroke of genius that keeps the "arrangement" outside the code jurisdiction of the city ? All in all this is what a flop house is : a cheap ( by Bay Area standards) rooming house.

How many bathrooms?


anon1234
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 4, 2022 at 7:54 am
anon1234, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 7:54 am

Theses tenants should be offered a one year lease….
Unless both parties agree to go month to month a one year lease is required in Palo Alto.

If these basic tenant protections are not being followed the city should’ve collecting TOT,
Transient occupancy tax like they do from hotels and Air B and B


Amie
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 4, 2022 at 9:44 am
Amie, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 9:44 am

What a great idea for Palo Alto - finally we are getting some creative ideas! Why be small-minded about small-unit housing. Half of Paris lives in tiny units like this and they seem happy. We don't all want big spaces that sequester you and lack any feeling of community. Don't live here if you don't like it, just please don't eliminate an efficient housing unit because of your own prejudices about it. Any and all solutions to the housing crisis should be considered.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on May 4, 2022 at 9:52 am
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 9:52 am

I can't believe they deleted the part where I mentioned infectious diseases. It's commonly known that when people live in close quarters, bacteria becomes a problem. The promise of monthly cleaning relieves all of the podsters of responsibility to keep the house sanitary. With the new added features of COVID that mutates and the fact there's no other treatment besides vaccination (and I didn't notice anything in the article stating residents have to be vaccinated), I would want the house to be cleaned every day. But hey YOLO, right?


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2022 at 2:55 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 2:55 pm

It's not a home. It's a Skinner box, a hovel, a teeny tiny germ cesspool for ten.

We're not people. We are servants to tech corporate masters--a new kind of feudalism.

[Portion removed.]

We live to serve.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on May 4, 2022 at 4:20 pm
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 4:20 pm

This is not housing. This is not even lodging. Seriously this is kind of disturbing.
Am I the only one thinking about sex? Like, this is a situation of no privacy what so ever.
Not to mention all sorts of wrong with zoning etc. :(


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 4, 2022 at 5:40 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 5:40 pm

Pod, as in "pod people", is a very unfortunate misnomer. It reminds me of the "pod people" in the 1958 classic Sci-Fi Cold War thriller "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers". This ironic and rather pathetic "pod" naming brings to mind that the pod people were a hostile alien plot to take over the identities of real local residents --- for instance, Palo Alto residents. To extend this fantasy to real quality of life issues, if Palo Alto keeps cramming more pod people into its city, why should real residents want to live there anymore? PA already is grossly overcrowded. Anyway, if large animals like pigs were forced to live in "pods of that size", wouldn't animal rights activists be screaming about "inhuman treatment"? Get my point? My guess is that only street people will be forced to live in these inhuman pods, and only if the entire cost is subsidized by Palo Alto taxpayers. Unless they're ex-hippies on drugs, which I suspect those who designed these "pods" are.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on May 4, 2022 at 11:37 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on May 4, 2022 at 11:37 pm

Buried in this article is a quote that suggests these living arrangements are intended for short-term rentals only. Giving the lack of privacy, even for simple things like listening to music (not to mention PLAYING live music), they would essentially have to be short-term:

""That’s when I started thinking about how there has to be a way to split costs and be able to move in somewhere flexible for a few months on short notice without having to pay thousands of dollars upfront for security deposit and rent," [Lennox] said."


felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2022 at 8:21 am
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 8:21 am

We have a CA state overcrowding law that applies in Palo Alto to this house.

The overcrowding formula is based on square footage of rooms but for kitchen, bathrooms, hallways, porches.
A room for sleeping must be at least 70 square feet for up to 2 people, then 50SF more for each additional person.

It’s not possible to know if this house is illegally overcrowded without knowing the number of rooms legally used for sleeping and the SF of each compared to number of tenants.

There is a chance these insufferable gleeful landlords are wringing dollars out of short term tenants by operating an overcrowded enterprise.

Of course architect Randy Popp is all excited about this new cash cow wandering into town. He roped the first SB9 cash cow in Palo Alto that quickly sold for $8million. Moooo


Sue Dremann
Registered user
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 5, 2022 at 11:08 am
Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 11:08 am

MyFeelz,

The story was written to inform the community about this living arrangement, not as a promotion for the business. It's up to the community to decide how they feel about this type of housing. Our intention is not to promote nor express any opinion. The city and the fire department were asked about any concerns. The city has since stated they are looking into it and that comment has been added to the story.


ndn
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 5, 2022 at 11:39 am
ndn, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 11:39 am

This "arrangement" is a serious fire risk . The sequence of pods look made of wood. If that's the case then I wish everybody good luck. Also, in an interview one of the owners said that a criteria for the arrangement are "compatibility" amongst the residents. If so that means that they will not rent to the elderly (have to climb up a ladder ) people with children and others protected categories. Make no mistake, this is NOT a sharing situation- there is a landlord and the landlord is offering a product for consideration, so this "arrangement " should not be legal.

I take a point that the"arrangement" is a necessary evil (for the neighbors is just an evil),
but there are many legal questions surrounding it.

I hope that there will be no fire.....


STAN
Registered user
Portola Valley
on May 6, 2022 at 11:50 am
STAN, Portola Valley
Registered user
on May 6, 2022 at 11:50 am

This is kind of the end game of how SB9 would have you live - as brought to you by state senator Scott Wiener.
Some other seemingly unspoken considerations:
1- Really now - no parking problems!! Get real! PA in its entirety has a parking problem throughout all of its neighborhoods. Adding even 5 cars per house would create massive parking issues. And how would they all get charged when transport is all electric. Lots of extension cords across the sidewalk
2- Must be wonderful listening to your cage mates snoring, coughing, waking up to nightmares all night.
3- The open cages might provide some interesting entertainment brought to the scene when some one decides to engage in some "intimate behavior". Might become a new spectator sport.
4 - What happens when someone with a baby or obtains a baby is a cage mate. You CANNOT evict someone for having a child in their rental dwelling. But lets face it - crying babies are not for everybody.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 6, 2022 at 2:30 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on May 6, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Sue,
as usual, thanks for the interesting and controversial story!


MyFeelz
Registered user
Juana Briones School
on May 7, 2022 at 10:14 am
MyFeelz, Juana Briones School
Registered user
on May 7, 2022 at 10:14 am

For those who asked, it's 2 bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The website for the rental application is at Web Link . It's a little bit misleading to have us all look at the ghost blog (interesting name, isn't it? sounds like they will be here today, and gone tomorrow) because frankly I'm not interested in how they designed this concept. It's not a 'new' concept. Every time I think of the Ghost blog, I am sorely reminded of the Ghost Ship debacle of several years ago. Similar situation. During a party at the warehouse converted to shared housing, a fire erupted, and with the lack of fire sprinklers or fire alarms and no extra emergency exits, 36 people who were in the building died during the conflagration. Now, I know we are different here in PA rght? Nobody ever has a party here, right? The Ghost Ship was at least three times the size of this Palo Alto bungalow, and I'm *SURE* it's up to code, why else would a landlord consent to letting 14 people live in his investment? And just in case you were wondering what the REGULATION OF BUILDINGS USED FOR HUMAN HABITATION are for the state of CA, here they are: Web Link The blog for the dwelling has 12 pictures, and there's a photo of the pods shown on this website. But the blog doesn't have a photo of the other 6 pods, which leads me to think they're in a glorified closet. And only $800 to sweat along with your new lifelong friends! Such a deal! BTW the 8 stacked pods don't look like they're in a bedroom. Bedrooms usually have 4 walls. I don't see a smoke detector or GFCI outlet anywhere ... especially in the kitchen, where there appears to be no outlets at all. No toast for you! No coffee either! And no outlets in the bathroom means no electric shaving and you must dry your hair in your pod. LOL.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 7, 2022 at 8:25 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 7, 2022 at 8:25 pm

I agree that we need more housing but this element has it's problems. Nobody has even brought up the idea of what if there is a sexual assault? Add this to the list of problems.


wmconlon
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2022 at 9:12 pm
wmconlon, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 7, 2022 at 9:12 pm

I have a lot of reactions to this story, which could have been titled "The rise of the new slumlords"

First is fire safety: fire protection, and safe egress. Dormitories are not converted single family houses, although fraternity houses have sometimes been re-purposed. I would hope the the building department will evaluate the appropriate classification and that the Fire Department inspects.

Sanitation is the next concern. Without substantial upgrades to the water heater, I don't know how this would support the residents of the dormitory, and it seems the janitorial staffing is too infrequent.

Indoor air quality and ventilation for the pods seems to have not been considered, and this is especially important with Covid and so many unrelated individuals in close proximity.

Personal safety is another concern. Residents have no say in who shares their space, and even if everyone is vetted, there is some risk of an argument getting out of hand. And will the police know what they are walking into when they are called.

Theft is an easy concern -- no locks, no personal bond of trust between residents. Not knowing whether someone is there legitimately or not.

All in all, this is a terrible idea and needs to be shut down before someone gets hurt.


Mark
Registered user
Palo Verde
on May 9, 2022 at 11:35 am
Mark, Palo Verde
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 11:35 am

Landlords have a right to limit the amount of tenants per room--so guess what--rent goes up--of course landlords can contract around this by raising the rent on houses doing this--they have more wear and tear to recover from from. It's a cluster F___. Consider this: Who's on the original rental agreement? Insurance cost--insurance companies bath on pretty quick. Rent has to go up as a proportion of the number of pods in a dwelling unit.

We own a 104 apartments: What a mess. Who qualifies again as the original "Tenant (s)" listed on the rental agreement? How's that work when a pod vacates and someone new comes in?

What a mess. Ha Ha--good luck with this!


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2022 at 12:36 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Love all the word play we can do with cache/cachet/cash.

Isn’t there a limit set by the city or county of how many people per room can occupy a house?


MyFeelz
Registered user
another community
on May 10, 2022 at 8:23 pm
MyFeelz, another community
Registered user
on May 10, 2022 at 8:23 pm

OPR: Yes there are regulations. They are listed in the California legislative code page, here Web Link


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2022 at 1:12 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 11, 2022 at 1:12 pm

Does Brownstone accept a Section 8 housing choice voucher? Can a family of four rent a POD because they are homeless or lost their RV space on ECR? Does PAHEWG consider this type of bed in lieu of permanent housing, a pipeline project? Council member Tanaka. PA is now a officially “a bunk bed (room) community.” Personally even roommate, Felix Unger could not find himself under the weight of his bedding& clothing. And he had his own room! About 8 years ago PA homes were renting temporary worker housing by the square footage and matress size. Someone is making a buck and it is not the “entry-wage” worker behind the Pod’s black out curtain, plugged into their iPod or catching a few winks before their grind at Round Table Pizza.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2022 at 1:44 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 11, 2022 at 1:44 pm

@RebeccaEisenberg Good points. Brings up an interesting concept. How about the City avail the transit stations, bike lockers for our permanently unhoused individuals. About the same size as a "Brownstone" space. They could call it a "MatressHome". For our unhoused belongings or put down a mattress pad. It's dry and vented, near transit and shopping and schools and jobs. Also note: GS did not write the article... Q:What's permanent about this startup's solution to outofthisworld Palo Alto rents? Nothing. It's renting a mattress by the hour for transitory working class of young people. The backbone right now to our essential worker economy.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2022 at 2:30 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 11, 2022 at 2:30 pm

@Mark @MyFeelz Well known that near 50% of housing in Palo Alto is rentals whether its beds, floors or closets people are attempting to survive work, love, live. I vote to revamp, retool, re-brand the PA Planning and Development Department to the HOUSING, Planning and Development Department. This way our city would be wholly accountable with oversight to both our renters, landlords, fair housing, single & multi home owners and address the massive housing hole within our borders. I find it ironic and tragic that these 'Pods' are deemed furniture, therefore acceptable by local housing code standards. We have now elevated furniture as more important and permanent to living standards for humans. All this by refusing to address 'the elephant in the room' for such a huge city department to work the machine against, supporting, creating, designing, implementing permanent housing at all income levels, all family size, all ages and abilities. The illusion like how "freeing" it is to own a brand new Range Rover. This type of sleeping arrangement is as permanent as its app to tap. In other words it really about Brownstoning the tru lack there of our crisis. Brownstoning affords a mattress dweller, the Illusion of living in one of the most luxurious zips in the nation while bunking behind a black out curtain trying to get some zzzz before your next shift at Round Table Pizza. I see a TV reality show on the horizon.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 11, 2022 at 10:52 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 11, 2022 at 10:52 pm

This article is being picked up by other media and is starting to go viral just like earlier articles extolling the wonders of RV living and how much money Googlers and Stanford students saved on rent.

Always special to see how Palo Alto and its "startup culture" is portrayed beyond on our borders.


Ex PAMF Patient
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2022 at 4:24 pm
Ex PAMF Patient, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 4:24 pm

This isn't housing. Idea was obviously created by individuals who have not stepped foot in a homeless shelter, where people sleep right next to each other. From what I have learned from those who have suffered such circumstances, it is a miserable experience. In this pod house, just wait until the first outbreak of lice, or someone is a tad too drunk and crawls into the 'wrong' bed, or the individual who snores all night long, or the late night partying the ends with someone getting hurt. Just wait.


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 13, 2022 at 4:34 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 4:34 pm

When Palo Altans organize to kill apartments for our children, we're forcing them to make the built environment work them -somehow- if they decide not to be displaced.

Pods work. RVs work. Tents work.

People who've been successful in killing housing should acknowledge that this is where it leads. Rents are not coming down. Traffic is not getting better. People are not self-deporting in the numbers that slow-growthers need for their housing prohibition policies to "work" --even on their own, cruel terms. Just like with their teetotaling forebearers, housing prohibitionists have only succeeded at driving housing into gray and black markets.

Just legalize the housing, already. Our children won't thank us, but at least we'll get to see them.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 13, 2022 at 7:36 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 7:36 pm


Rents won't ever come down so long as the huge rich companies and institutions continue to build millions of sq feet of NEW offices so competition for housing continues to increase, so long as the companies can get away with paying gig workers less than minimum wage and continue to escape paying business taxes...

Funny how people extolling the virtues of tents without bathrooms, pods without privacy or parking, tents cluttering sidewalks and making streets unsafe, the wonders of run-down rv's on blocks never call for the businesses to pay their fair share or object to them spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against paying gig workers benefits...

Then the companies make a big deal out of building 200 "affordable" housing units with less than 15% of those for "very low" income while putting in literally millions of new offices.

But sure, WE'RE supposed to "self-deport" so Uber, Lyft, Doordash etc can continue to destroy our communities, underpay their drivers, overcharge the restaurants...

Yup, nothing like the sweet smell of sewage in the morning from the tents and the rv's while the landlords continue to rake it in from the pod dwellers.


MyFeelz
Registered user
Juana Briones School
on May 14, 2022 at 11:25 am
MyFeelz, Juana Briones School
Registered user
on May 14, 2022 at 11:25 am

Native, that reality show shall be known as "SURVIVOR: Palo Alto Pods". [Portion removed.] Some of the challenges will be 14 people standing in line to use 2 toilets in the morning, and the same number of people standing in line to use the single microwave oven in the kitchen. Don't even get me started on the probable lack of refrigerator space and food theft! Our 2022 version of "shared housing" is just like the communes of the 60's and 70's, except there is probably an absence of a shared vision or desire to expand one's horizons by being open and exposed to other cultures. Whether the residents are vegan, vegetarian, mediterranean, or prefer caveman cuisine, and whether they are pro-life or anti-war, somebody's box of Lucky Charms is going to go missing after some or maybe a few like-minded folks go grazing after enjoying some legal weed. Those kinds of events will send the show's ratings to unanticipated heights. But sadly, here in the real world, "shared housing" with 14 people who will have nothing in commmon except empty pockets syndrome and a desire to share a miserable experience isn't likely to attract a corporate sponsor. It's a horrible idea with a "what will they think of next" kicker.


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