Too many seniors and other renters report to us that they are getting $200, $250, $300+ rent increases per month. This is rent gouging. There is no recourse, pay up or get evicted. Put yourself in their shoes. It needs to be addressed.
I have lived in Palo Alto for over 50 years. I came on scholarship to Stanford University as an undergrad and grad student. We rented the front of a house, a duplex, for $105/ month. My neighbors were Navajo Indian, African American and Indian (India) among others. It was a diverse and friendly community. Our kids were able to learn about embracing differences at an early age.
I finished my schooling and began teaching at San Jose State University as an anti-racist and social justice professor. I also helped get petitions signed in East Palo Alto for rent control. We won. Many cities around us now have forms of rent stabilization and protection from unjust evictions.
The terms "affordable" and "BMR" are gross mystifications. "Affordable" for whom? The wealthy, the "missing middle" or for ordinary service sector workers? Below Market Rate (BMR) housing must be defined in terms of how expensive Palo Alto is to rent, compared to surrounding cities. These terms are used often to keep us from replacing and providing worker-housing in the city.
The Palo Alto Senior Low-Income Housing Committee asks that homeowners and renters sign our petition for rent stabilization and just-cause eviction. Contact our group at 540 Bryant St., Palo Alto, 94301 or email email@example.com. This is a general statement of support, with specific details to be defined by city staff and officials.
People can also email the council at firstname.lastname@example.org to support rent stabilization.
Palo Alto needs new housing approach
Ed Lauing and Doria Summa have been making points with my neighbors about their "compassionate" stance on affordable housing. Of course we need affordable housing, and of course affordable housing is so important. Of course that "housing" can only be economically feasible if it is apartment blocks built next to U.S. Highway 101. Though it is a torturous place to live, those units would, of course, conveniently help fulfill the state housing mandate.
Terrible location aside, why do this when numerous blocks of apartments on Curtner and Ventura avenues sit half empty? These are not small, four to six unit blocks. They are 20-plus units each. Why do we want to build more apartment blocks when many of the apartments Palo Alto already has are vacant? The nice, high-end apartments aren't empty. But that's only because half the units are now short term Airbnb-type rentals.
Mountain View bought several half-vacant apartment buildings and is turning them into low-income/affordable housing. Palo Alto could do the same.
The only viable solution for housing in general in Palo Alto is condos, townhomes and/or flats, built for individual, not corporate, ownership, interspersed throughout all the residential neighborhoods. The Palo Alto envisioned by Lauing and Summa is one where the only people who can purchase homes are foreigh investors. Haven't we had enough of that?
Birch Street, Palo Alto
Palo Alto needs Measure L
We are voting Yes on Measure L. A recent Weekly article quoted a Measure L opponent as saying that Measure L would make Palo Alto dependent on fossil fuels for revenue, but that’s simply not true. If people shift their energy use from gas to clean electricity by replacing gas appliances with electric counterparts, they will simply be shifting the fuel source on which they are paying rates that partly get transferred to Palo Alto's General Fund. If Measure L fails, the city will lose revenue, methane gas rates may be less expensive, and people will have even less incentive to move toward cleaner and more efficient electric power. Measure L will not increase our gas bills, which are already lower than PG&E. We support Measure L because it aligns with our climate goals and prevents us from having to make cuts to important city services. Vote Yes on Measure L to continue funding Palo Alto’s future.
Jon Foster, Lauren Segal and A.C. Johnston
Palo Alto Residents & former Chair, current Chair, and current Vice Chair respectively of the Palo Alto Utilities Advisory Commission
Course correction for Palo Alto’s electrification
We recently installed a new tankless gas water heater because at that time the City’s recommendation for heat-pump water heaters said they were less desirable without solar panels, especially given the need for electric system upgrades. We have a neighbor who’s heat pump installation for a mini-split heating system was delayed weeks by building permit and inspection delays, and many contractors prefer not to do business in Palo Alto due to similar difficulties.
The single most-effective thing Palo Alto could do for an all-electric future would be to require the building permit office to reduce it’s fees, especially electric and solar-related (say, by half), streamline the process (a few years ago Palo Alto had its own second required permit/inspection for solar installations) and hire inspectors who are paid bonuses for getting *more* work done in the form of increasing the timeliness of permits and inspections. This would especially include service upgrades: Our house has its original 1950’s 100 amp service (big at the time) with eight circuit breakers. Not everyone in Palo Alto is so rich that these costs, as well as the time and aggravation caused by the City’s permitting process, don’t matter!
Ben Lomond Drive, Palo Alto
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