According to a recent article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic ("Why Manhattan's Skyscrapers Are Empty"), approximately half of the luxury condos that came on the market in the past five years are still unsold while 80,000 New York City residents are homeless. Same thing is happening here. The 5,000-square-foot, $6 million residence at 264 Oxford Ave., built by a speculator, has been on the market for more than a year while the Bay Area homeless population burgeons. For heaven's sake, in such a wealthy country, we should have no homelessness.
What the refusal to allow for density housing and the stubborn adoration of R-1 zoning has done is incentivized the building of larger and larger and more elaborate housing aimed at wealthier and wealthier people. On the surface, Palo Alto may look the same, but on a psychic, emotional and spiritual level, the city has been gutted. My dentist is gone. My veterinarian is gone. The Palo Alto school district is losing it's best teachers. The arts community disappeared years ago. The houses may be pretty, but the elements of civil society that make life worth living in Palo Alto have been destroyed by the preponderance of Palo Alto residents who feel the city should stay frozen in time.
Birch Street, Palo Alto
Your article on the rigidity of Palo Alto municipal services echoes what the residents of "Christmas Tree Lane" and Seale from Middlefield to Newell have experienced with the Traffic Department. For years, we have tried to get the bureaucrats to cease privileging some abstract map of stop signs over the repeated and appalling near-fatal experiences of residents. Motorists increasingly avoid the Middlefield-Embarcadero intersection by speeding through our streets, where no stop signs or calming devices slow them down. When the inevitable tragedy occurs, the blame will lie squarely with bureaucratic rigidity and disregard for the safety of the city's residents.
Fulton Street, Palo Alto
Palo Alto alfresco style
What a surprising and wonderful change has come at long last to University Avenue! On Sunday afternoon, people were enjoying the closed-to-traffic street life -- strolling, talking, playing, eating, laughing, and I was enjoying the downtown for the first time in more than a decade. No fumes! No traffic! A spirit of openness! I have been longing for Palo Alto to adopt a European-type human-centered downtown, and paradoxically, the pandemic provided this hopefully enduring benefit of restaurant seating in the street and walkable areas without cars. We have needed this for so long. Thanks to all who made this happen! Bravo!
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