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Affordable Housing Planned for SOFA

Original post made by Carol Lamont, Palo Alto High School, on Jul 7, 2006

The report in today's PA Weekly about the Community Housing Alliance's (CHA) plans to develop an affordable family residential community on Alma in the downtown area brings wonderful news. I salute this group for its efforts to provide more housing choices for families with children who are increasingly locked out of the local rental housing market. The site is near transit, groceries, the downtown library, shopping, and the new SOFA park. CHA is partnering with Eden Housing, a nonprofit developor I have worked with before and I can vouch that they are a very reputable and experienced developer and that they have very high standards for the design and maintainence of their properties. I have visited developments that Eden owns that it built 30 years ago and they are still lovely places to live that contribue to their healthy neighborhoods. I urge my neighbors and friends to support this effort to create affordable housing choices for families in our community.

Carol Lamont

Comments (8)

Posted by Brett
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 9, 2006 at 7:09 pm

Eww! Palo Alto is not the place for low income housing! I pay big money to live here, I don't think we should give people a break to live here. There are plenty of other surrounding low income areas where these people can move to.

Posted by Jamie Maltz
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 9, 2006 at 9:22 pm

Please ask the school board to provide their strategic plan to provide space and services for the influx of students from this and other high impact South Palo Alto residential developments already underway . Their answer at this time seems to be "Let them Eat Cake", aka "Mandarin Immersion" which will be a highly customized special enrichment program that will be a very costly (inefficient on a per student basis)use of tax payer dollars, while serving only 240 out of the existing 5000 elementary students (and growing!). If the community continues to add significant housing developments, the school board should be required to come up with realistic plans to cover the growth before they add high maintenance, low efficiency speciality programs. The board needs to justify how "Mandarin Immersion" helps meet this important need. PLEASE send a quick letter to the school board asking them to vote no on MI so the district can focus on the basic priorities to support the wave of growth in our community.

Posted by Jeff Rensch
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2006 at 9:42 am

Just a response to Brett's interesting post. I believe it is strongly in the self-interest of affluent households here to foster economic diversity in our town. To truncate a long argument, I'll just that I grew up in a 100% affluent community in Southern California that was in many ways a terribly stunted environment for its children. Diversity is like fresh air. I think that maintaining or fostering economic diversity here is just about the best gift we can give to our children. Thanks,

Posted by Bob Gardiner
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 12, 2006 at 9:55 pm

What is the purpose of the Planning Commission and City Council? Is it not to support the best interests of the citizens? Does this mean representing the best interests of the population or special interests?

What is the benefit of high density housing in Palo Alto? Is it meant to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Palo Alto, or to provide a cheap labor source for businesses?

High density (cheap) housing serves one purpose. It ensures businesses and wealthy citizens have cheap labor to provide their services. Gardeners to mow their lawns and chefs to flip their fast-food burgers.

Palo Alto has limited resources: a fixed amount of open space, parks, road capacity, water, and garbage facilities. Adding population and thereby increasing usage (i.e., increasing demand) only does one thing, it increases the cost of living for the current residents.

The increased cost of living, and erosion of our quality of life, is presented in two forms: overtly through increased cost of services, and discretely through over usage of our public property. The price of water has gone up over 25% in the last few years. The city dump is out of space, and will begin shipping our garbage elsewhere in our lifetime. Our city streets have become more crowded and dangerous.
Families want room for their kids to play. They do NOT want housing in a high density, high-rise building, where the kids need to take an elevator to go out and play. Calling high density housing in downtown Palo Alto, (or anywhere) family housing is an oxy-moron.

In a nutshell, high density housing is subsidized by the citizens of Palo Alto in the form of a hidden tax. A tax which erodes our quality of life by increasing the cost of living in Palo Alto, visibly through the higher cost of basic services (e.g., water, garbage, etc), and invisibly through increased congestion on our streets, which leads to longer commute times, more costly trips to the local grocery store, and so on.

Fortunately for the special interest groups (generally developers, business, and housing proponents ) who are promoting this and other high density housing, these costs are not easily quantifiable, and thereby do not appear to warrant any protest from the populist. And so, as so often happens with housing in Palo Alto, special interests prevail over the public good. High density housing to support fast food businesses wins out over safe streets and neighborhoods for our kids and senior citizens.

This is just another example of the city council pushing an agenda of high density housing to support local businesses and ensure the city government has enough revenue to support an inflated budget. Poor decisions by our city council continue to make Palo Alto a more expensive place to live, and push families out of town. Does anyone have the energy to fight the insanity?

Posted by Patrick
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 15, 2006 at 12:56 pm

I'll vote for Bob Gardiner if he wants to run for city council!

Posted by Gary
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2006 at 9:52 am

Bob you have my vote too!

Posted by Nope
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2006 at 8:19 pm

Bob, you don't have my vote. I believe Palo Alto needs to grow, not stay a bedroom community like Saratoga, Los Altos, Altherton, Hillsborough, and stay flat. We're too built out to build more suburb housing, so high density is our main option. It doesn't have to be extremely high density, but reasonable.

That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!

Posted by David Lieberman
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 16, 2006 at 10:30 pm

The idea that dense housing is the result of some kind of conspiracy between wealthy residents and business to guarantee an ample supply of servants and low wage workers is unbelievably stupid. Go to a city council or planning commission meeting and see who speaks out against denser housing. Those ain't poor people.

So far as high rise housing not being family friendly, I spent my first ten years living on the fifth floor of an apartment building in New York City. Then my parents decided to move to the suburbs "for the children." What a mistake! We went from a vibrant, exciting, diverse community to white bread, car oriented boredom.

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