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Residents divided over zoning revisions

Original post made on Nov 27, 2018

Palo Alto's effort to revise its zoning code to promote more residential development received a mixed reaction from a crowd of residents at Monday night's City Council meeting.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 9:31 AM

Comments (81)

151 people like this
Posted by A Bad, Bad Proposal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:53 am

The proposal is a hodgepodge of bad ideas concocted by developers in private meetings with city staff. There is not one shred of evidence it will lead to more housing. Staff even admit that. Rather, all it does is let councilmembers who favor office growth claim they're doing something for housing in future elections. Don't be fooled.

The major parking reductions are preposterous - in a city with too little parking already and many streets crammed with cars at night.

No one I've spoken with, including many housing advocates, thinks the proposal is good. Why anyone would support this pile of rubbish rather than true reform is beyond me. Nothing in the proposal will produce more affordable housing. If it produces any housing at all, it will be expensive penthouses.

We can provide lots more affordable housing, but the solutions aren't going to come from developers who profit from building offices.


114 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:20 am

I'm sure that the people quoted in the article are very nice people, but, why they trust developers to solve this problem that was created by the developers is beyond me. Whenever you are dealing with developers, "verify, verify, verify". So many times proposals that sounded good were, in fact, too good to be true. We keep digging ourselves in deeper over and over again.


112 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

I increasingly think that out CC really doesn't know what it is doing. They are over matched by this issue, and don't have a coherent idea of where to go or how to get there. As a result, there are interested in just trying anything, to give the appearance of action.

Aside from not solving problems and breeding confusion and division, it makes us ripe for the picking by self interested parties, in this case developers, whose only concern, literally, is making money.

Council, please get a grip. Figure out what the real goal is. Articulate and communicate it. And then, in taking action, remember,first, do no harm.


96 people like this
Posted by Sonia
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:41 am

Council stated very clearly that this proposal will create no affordable housing. Seems that it will only help developers make a lot of money by building for the wealthy and increasing the externalities that they impose on the community. Not what I am looking for.


124 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:48 am

To say there is a housing shortage crisis in Palo Alto is misleading. Palo Alto is very densely packed with a variety of housing alternatives. Driving around Palo Alto, I see hardly any vacant lots that are undeveloped. Backyards are the size of postage-stamps compared to other communities. Neighbors look into the windows of their neighbors just a few feet away. There are a number of high-density, multi-story apartments and condominiums. So there is plenty of housing in Palo Alto. The pro-development factions who cry housing crisis are just engaged in demagoguery.
If there is a crisis, it a demand-for-housing crisis. It is an essentially infinite demand, which cannot be satisfied by even the most aggressive development campaign. It is an irrationally exuberant demand, motivated by untrammeled overdevelopment of office space, and packing in more and more office workers in existing buildings. There is a striving, overachieving notion that Palo Alto is trendy or prestigious or “the in thing” or some other jumped-up motivation that – while it may be a sort of compliment in a sense – simply does not present a compelling case to fundamentally alter the nature of this town. There is no obligation whatsoever to kowtow to the strident demands of the development interests, and their new-urbanism disciples, in the vain hope of satisfying this unquenchable demand. Build-baby-build will line the pockets of developers and landlords, but it will not make a dent in the cost of housing – whether it be to own or to rent.


92 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:56 am

Regarding the desire for children or grandchildren to live in Palo Alto when they grow up:
What is this, some sort of medieval village where generation after generation is born, lives and dies in the same place? We live in a modern, mobile society with a virtually unlimited range of places to live and pursue happiness. (Actual happiness not guaranteed).


27 people like this
Posted by JustWantHousing
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:05 am

@NormanBeamer
Palo Alto is very densely packed? Have you been to a real city? Normally I don't like to lead with such an obviously hostile question, but your statements beggar belief. The population density of Palo Alto is 2,808 people per square mile. Though you don't make the explicit comparison in your post, commenters here love to complain about the "Manhattanization" of Palo Alto; to keep things in perspective the population density there is 72,918 people/sq mile. More locally, Mountain View has a density of 6,600 p/sqm and Menlo Park is 3,400. Palo Alto is far from densely developed.

As far as giving in to "build baby build," don't worry, the city isn't. As Palo Alto online has previously reported, the city has approved less than 300 new residences this year. We get it, you got yours and the rest of us can get out.


87 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:06 am

JCP is a registered user.

Developer consorts Fine, Scharff, Kniss, et al, have no shame. Find out what the developers want and make that policy. Great idea! The proposals would do nothing to increase housing; they would only line the pockets of developers.

Fine thinks lowering the cost of construction would benefit the consumer. Wow, is that misguided or what? Of course, the consumer would not reap any benefit. More profit for the developers.


93 people like this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

Becky Sanders is a registered user.

I just have to get in on the act here and repeat what I said at council meeting last night. These zoning revisions are not about affordable or below market rate housing. They serve only the interests of the wealthy who want to live here but can't due to the crazy 3-1 jobs-housing imbalance that commercial developers backed by crummy choices by Council created in the first place. The new ordinance serves the interests of developers because it gives them all kinds of breaks in allowing them to skip out on providing amenities that serve the community . This is an ordinance of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. That's it.

Relaxing building standards so that you can build more housing for the elites while mouthing platitudes of increasing housing stock, throwing around phrases like "affordable" and "below market rate" and addressing "homelessness" is just outright lying here.

The staff report itself said that they couldn't claim the drastic zoning changes would solve any problems. The only thing this ordinance guarantees is to put money into the pockets of property owners and developers and to reduce the livability of Palo Alto for residents.

I really feel bad for all the folks who spoke in favor of this proposal thinking that this would do anything to solve the economic challenges of living in arguably the most expensive place in the world.

When you start building skyscrapers and fancy places for the elite, you create what one gentlemen said last night, "Manhattan". You'll never see more disparity between wealthy and poor than in a place like Manhattan. Is that what we want here? Guess what? The developers who live in far away places don't care what we want. And yet they hold all the cards at Council.

People, this lame duck council is handing us a housing headache for the holidays.

Thank you Tom, Lydia, Karen and sort of Eric for trying to talk some sense into Council last night, but because those gentle misguided creatures have already made up their minds, you could not prevail.

Oy vey. I can't wait for La Posada next Saturday. I need to touch back down to the reality and joy of living in proximity with so many wonderful people that would have been long gone, but for the intervention of passionate neighbors and advocates. Winter Dellenbach, you know who you are!


43 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:40 am

Annette is a registered user.

I think it's time for some perspective on what the word crisis means. We have a serious jobs:housing imbalance, a big problem, a failure of planning.

The former residents of Paradise have a housing crisis. Suffering the terror of a fire, losing everything you own and being left with a toxic piece of land and a mountain of trouble is a crisis.

It seems to me that the people amongst us who have the most legitimate claim to using the word "crisis" are those who have lost their housing and been uprooted from their community. Not being able to live close to where you work, having to commute, not being able to live in Palo Alto even though you grew up here is not a crisis. None of those things is good, but not one is a crisis.

Why not an interim measure that will at least get people off the street, out of their cars and vans and into decent shelter? Years ago Stanford did this with trailers. I think they remained in place longer than planned, but they served their purpose. And they were fine (I know; I lived in one). Can we temporarily repurpose some space or buildings and erect some dorms or road houses that people can live in during the work week while we figure out how to best make some progress on the darn mess we have created for ourselves? While not ideal, it beats what we've got going now.


18 people like this
Posted by What about Stanford
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:51 am

What are Stanford’s housing and office growth plans?

Just saw that area in Menlo Park next to Palo Altk where the parking lots were razed....how many cars and traffic will building ofices there bring?

Mt View, Stanford. and Menlo Park’s density seems to be a lot of pressure, wise to study any Palo Alto zoning plans very carefully.


17 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:52 am

Annette is a registered user.

Clarification: I didn't mean to imply that Stanford was getting students off the street or out of cars and vans. Hardly. Stanford was providing additional housing inventory.


10 people like this
Posted by hypocrites
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:54 am

citizens of Palo Alto are typical liberal hypocrites. they talk a big game when it comes to housing but are are more concerned with keeping their home prices even more inflated with draconian zoning laws.

1. change zoning to high density
2. tax credit developers to build low income housing
3. streamline the permissions process

all the comments here are seeking another agenda... keeping their home prices high and stonewalling affordable housing projects.


61 people like this
Posted by Trump would love this
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 27, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Trump would love this proposal and this process. Decisive and demigogic, with a stated aim of putting money in developer's pockets. What could go wrong? Congrats council, you've gotten to his level.


52 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Once again, the best data available estimates that a 20% increase in housing units would decrease housing costs by 10%, see Web Link

The latest US Census data indicates Palo Alto has 28,363 households, see Web Link

The latest Zillow data indicates the median sale price of a Palo home is $2,914,900, see Web Link

1. A 20% increase in the number of homes would mean an additional 5,673 homes. Does anyone really think Palo Alto has the infrastructure and resources to absorb this many new homes and residents?

2. A 10% decrease in the median price would bring the median home cost to $2,623,410. Does anyone really think that this will make Palo Alto more affordable?


70 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 1:13 pm

My problem with this is that it appears to be panic mode attack. Living somewhere does not mean just having a bed for the night and a shower before walking to work. Living somewhere means having a life. Having a life means somewhere to spend time when not at work, a place to hang out, to have a place to sit in the sun or the shade, cook some burgers, throw or kick a ball, own a pet and take it for a walk, meet neighbors, make friends, get personal chores such as dry cleaning, dentistry, banking, financial/legal advice, go to the gym, and be able to park a car that is used for recreation, hospitality, shopping, visiting, place that are too far to bike or walk and beyond Caltrain.

Building pack and stack housing near Caltrain offers no quality of life to those who come to live in them and reduces quality of life for the rest of us.

If we do build more housing which sounds like a good idea, then it must be part of an overhaul of infrastructure and facilities, not just sticking a tower of modern sardine cans in any vacant spot.


20 people like this
Posted by Develop Only Certain Areas of PA
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 27, 2018 at 1:40 pm

As far as being pro or con development in Palo Alto...it depends where these newer developments will be built.

Anywhere south of Page Mill Road and onward towards San Antonio Road could use a a bit of a face lift. There's nothing but a bunch of older, worn-down looking commercial buildings along the ECR and the Ventura/East Charleston/Wilkie residential area is nothing to write home about either.

Build to beautify and accommodate but don't destroy the nicer parts of Palo Alto. As far as traffic and parking is concerned, we'll just have to learn to live with it as there's no return to the days of PA past unless someone invents a 'way-back' machine.


5 people like this
Posted by Duveneck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

To Abitarian. Zillow is fine for very rough approximations of property value. However, when looking up individual properties...those sold and those owned by adquaintances...the estimated prices can be far out of line. Zillow cannot even estimate true square footage of homes that have not flipped within the past 20 years, and there are many single family homes that have not sold for decades.


17 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Duvenek --

Of course, Zillow is by no means a definitive source for many figures. Please note, however, that the number in question is the median price for recently sold homes in Palo Alto. This number is a statistic based on hard data; it is not an estimate or a forecast. If you check a few different sources, you will find only a slight variation in the median sale price figure; presumably these minor discrepancies are due to small differences in the time period analyzed.

In any event, my main point stands: even with a large increase in the number of homes, the cost of a home in Palo Alto will remain affordable to only a small percentage of the people who want to live here.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 27, 2018 at 4:21 pm

@Abitarian
Are your numbers based on before a Palantir IPO or after? They will soon mint hundreds of new multimillionaires, most of whom will want to but high end properties in Palo Alto.


43 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 4:29 pm

@Develop Only Certain Areas of PA,

Again, I thought he goal was to provide affordable real-estate. How would giving a property a "facelift" make it LESS expensive than the existing property before it was given a "facelift"?

Also, what is the difference between giving a property a "facelift" and "flipping" a property?


28 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 27, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

It's a good thing they started the discussion last night, overruling the minority, because it will be a long time, and a long tough haul, before anything concrete happens and is officially acted on. Candidates in the next election cycle might get a chance to talk about it. lol! The ordinance would be more than a spoonful of sugar...to make the medicine go down...the portion offered to developers could be measured in cupfuls. So when do we NIMBY's get our one little spoonful of sugar. I think all we'll get is apple cider vinegar.

There's no denying the fact that home prices and rents are extremely high in Palo Alto. They have always been high and higher than neighboring communities, but the extremism (astronomical prices?) of more recent times is of great concern and needs to be addressed. That problem is, however, outside the scope of the ordinance which makes no promise of reducing housing costs, although the proponents would like us to believe that. At most, it would just add housing stock that is only affordable to the higher end income workers, primarily tech employees and other professionals. And at what cost to our quality of life and neighborhoods? That subject never seems to be brought up and discussed at CC meetings. Thanks go to our tireless resident, Bob Moss, who is so diligent in attending the meetings and speaking up for many of us. Keep going to your doctor for annual checkups, Bob. We need you.

"Some residents talked about the fact that most of their former classmates had already left Palo Alto because they could no longer afford to live here".

If that's true, then the amazing thing is that they could have ever afforded to live here. There was no way our three kids, daughter graduated in '79 and our twin boys in '82, could ever afford to live here back then, after they graduated from college. They all got college degrees and found good jobs and affordable housing elsewhere. My son-in-law got an offer from HP in Colorado Springs, the best thing that could have ever happened to them. HP did that kind of decentralized relocation back then. And they were building products, manufacturing things. Our new software tech companies don't build things. It seems to me they are prime candidates for decentralizing/relocating to other areas where housing costs are cheaper, where there are no traffic problems, and where their employees' neighbors are friendlier. You can code, code, code, all day long and then go home, get home in 10-15 minutes, to spend precious time with family. But what do I know? I'm just one of those old NIMBYs hanging around in my town.

The 'exodus' of professionals? How many have left because of the lack of affordable housing, meaning they lived here but rent increases drove them out?

"Bryan Globus, a renter who lives in downtown, said the city's housing shortage is putting Palo Alto's status as a welcoming place for professionals at risk. If the city doesn't act now, it will "lose a generation of hard workers in all professions."

C'mon, Bryan, you may think that is the case but I'm sure you'll be proven wrong. And a 'whole generation'? The best and the brightest will stick around, but what you say supports my argument that it is all about housing for the professionals, nothing to do about the service workers and minimum wage earners in our town, the ones who really make our quality of life better.

"I feel this community has been criminally negligent from the social justice perspective in terms of not having maintained a decent housing stock," Goldeen said.

Oh my, now us NIMBY's are really in trouble. We might go to jail.

Cars, parking, studies, and data. The pro housing development folks don't seem to be interested in talking about any of that. That's a bother to them. They will cite data from Hoboken and Peoria that supports their argument that 'lite parking' is just fine for us in our town.

And the beat goes on!




15 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2018 at 7:10 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The comments by Bryan Globus and Deb Goldeen were compelling. I doubt we are at risk of losing "an entire generation of hard workers in all professions" but we will lose many. Probably already have. And we have failed to maintain an adequate housing inventory. We're not even close on that one and likely never will be. We dug a darn big hole.

I think the real solutions are going to come from Board Rooms, not Council Chambers. If government could crack this nut, our problems would be improving rather than worsening. Think about it; City Council has been addressing zoning issues and development related problems for years. Are things improving? No. When politicians are conflicted it is folly to expect decisions that are truly in the public's best interest. And when politicians are more beholden to an interest group than residents (or even potential residents) they are conflicted. Sad, but true.

Businesses can crack this nut. Businesses can decide to relocate segments of their business and their work force. They can decide to support housing development in areas that are ripe for it. They can decide to invest in communities that need the influx of business and people. As long as the major players build mega campuses in this area, market realities and geographic realities are going to keep housing out of reach in terms of both availability and affordability. This is not the fault of long term residents. This is the result of development practices that allow unmitigated commercial development.

I don't know if we can sufficiently recover but we should at least try by not making matters worse in the ways that the proposed zoning changes are likely to do. Several speakers pointed out that some of what is proposed is good, but there's also plenty, such as the lessening of the parking requirements, that isn't. Sharon McEntee made the point well when she described how more people are sharing a housing unit b/c of our housing shortage.

Our planners need to look realistically at how space is being used. The formulas used for determining how much parking is needed in a development need to take occupancy realities into consideration. Just as more workers are being crammed into office space, more residents are cramming themselves into living spaces.

For those who took the time to go to City Council and speak in support of the proposed ordinance changes, I urge you to approach business Boards with the same concerns, passion and energy. They are in a better position to make the changes that are needed.


71 people like this
Posted by corrupt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 7:25 pm

One of the private meetings City Hall held was with Architarian Design. Looking at their website it reads, "Founder Elaine Uang"... Elaine Uang of Palo Alto Forward. [Portion removed.]

They also held a private meeting with Center for Continuing Study of the CA Economy. According to their website, "Stephen Levy is Director and Senior Economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy." Steve Levy of Palo Alto Forward. How nice of City Hall to dedicate another private meeting [portion removed] for the purposes of drafting this policy.

You'd think one meeting [portion removed] would be more than enough, but two is even better. [Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 7:56 pm

@Annette — it's a good thought, but misdirected. Businesses don't decide density requirements. They don't decide, really, what gets built. They don't decide on parking requirements. Zoning does all of this, and zoning needs to change. You asked why not much has changed recently in affordability — that's because Palo Alto has, for the last 30 years, zoned itself into a community for the super rich, unless you already own your home. This change is pushing in a different direction, and I'm really happy to see it.

Paly '03


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2018 at 8:22 pm

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 27, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Evan: If zoning were really the overriding factor, you wouldn't see situations like Vallco, where the zoning rules allowed Sand Hill to build thousands of housing units, but Sand Hill proposed only 800. After extended political maneuvering, Sand Hill was persuaded to build 2400. (Offset by 1.8M sq ft of office space, of course.) I have yet to see a news report that Sand Hill continued to try desperately to build more housing and was stopped by the zoning rules.

Those of us who have been around Palo Alto a while have seen many higher-density housing developments built downtown in the past few decades. The existing zoning rules didn't prevent those, and wouldn't prevent more like them.

But simple economics would. Commercial development is so much more profitable than housing development that financing for housing projects is hard to find. And construction and land costs are so high that only high-end market-rate housing is really attractive to build.

All of this is why the Staff Report for the new zoning rules acknowledges that they may not have much effect on either housing availability or housing affordability.


14 people like this
Posted by What about Stanford
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 8:35 pm

@Evan

If you are a Paly grad you should know what Palo Alto is zoned for - it’s a University town with people who value education and who put a lot of resources to Palo Alto neighborhood schools

It has become “rich” because it’s a desirable community to live in, by design

Making streets crowded and unsafe for people (to accommodate office parks) was not planned for.

My bet is on giving the people who crafted a town that is in demand (not corrupt developers) a chance to find better proposals. who knows we may end up with more housing than what the raw developer deals are presenting.


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Posted by Adora1
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 27, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Adora1 is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


17 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2018 at 8:40 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Evan - I admire your optimism! I know that businesses don't determine zoning and parking and such. But they can influence demand and I think that until demand is less the current tensions will remain. I also think that the proposed changes purport to deliver something (affordable housing) that they don't and that there's hope attached to them that is not justified. Frankly, I find that to be sad. I think the concern that the proposed changes will do little, if anything, to address the affordable housing shortage is valid. My concern is that workforce housing for those with modest incomes is not likely to materialize from this and that more people will be pushed out of their hometown by market forces. That will hurt this community in numerous ways. For what its worth, I think part of our problem is that many of this city's decision makers and influencers are wealthy and thus insulated from the impact of their decisions. Good luck to you.


51 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Real-estate developers and their cronies in government have done a great job of convincing the useful idiots in the millenial generation that resident are responsible for high real-estate prices, instead of government and industry working hand-in-hand to make real-estate more expensive at every opportunity.

There is no way to develop your way to lower real-estate prices. The only reason real-estate developers develop property is to make a profit. To make a profit developers must sell the property for more than the purchase price plus the development costs, and local governments love higher real-estate prices because higher real-estate prices mean higher real-estate tax revenues.

The most affordable real-estate we will ever have, is the real-estate we have right now. Every time a developer touches a piece of real-estate the price of real-estate goes up.

Residents are the only force holding real-estate prices down by limiting developer's greedy schemes and their self-serving viscous cycle of development fueled price escalation.


17 people like this
Posted by @adora1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:31 pm

Not sure how @corrupt’s comment is libelous. It sounds like the visits must be a matter of public record. Are you saying there were no visits to these establishments?


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Posted by @Ahem
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Of code a developer is going to buy land and develop it and sell it for a higher value. No one is disputing that. But that's the point of building tall, dense, multi-family housing on expensive land. No one family is going to be able to own the whole building, but owning one of the condos in the building is more feasible.


23 people like this
Posted by @juustwant housing
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Palo Alto isn’t really a city, who are we kidding. It’s a town. Actually in any other country it might be called a suburb of San Francisco


9 people like this
Posted by @Annette
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:47 pm

What you're not accounting for is the regional impact of what Palo Alto has done here. By allowing such a massive housing to jobs imbalance to exist, it's contributed heavily to the increased housing prices in other nearby cities. This pushes people not just out of Palo Alto, but the Peninsula and South Bay. Beginning to start addressing that housing imbalance, even it's with expensive market-value housing, takes some demand off of housing in other parts of the Bay. The more housing that gets built in cities with lots of jobs, the more affordable housing will get in surrounding cities that are currently also too expensive. Eventually people living in and commuting from Livermore and Gilroy can feasibly move to Fremont and South San Jose.


33 people like this
Posted by Packed in like sardines
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Packed in like sardines is a registered user.

When much of Palo Alto was developed, offices were was much less densely occupied. No one foresaw that eventually technology would do away with big comburson desks, file cabinets, etc. allowing three or four times the number of employees offices were expected to hold. If we don't build another office the number of employees commuting into Palo Alto will keep increasing as commercial spaces turnover and are crammed with ever more and more employees. Blaming residents for what businesses do is misplaced.


26 people like this
Posted by laughing all the way to the bank
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:31 pm

laughing all the way to the bank is a registered user.

Palo Alto residents do not benefit from having offices. Commercial property brings in less than 25% of the city's property tax revenue, declining every year because Prop 13 was written with loopholes which allow commercial property to change hands without triggering a new assessment. Also, very little is manufactured in Palo Alto which brings in sales tax.


41 people like this
Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 10:41 pm

Someone above made the erroneous argument that Palo Alto is less densely populated than Menlo Park, etc. This is simply misleading. Palo Alto owns Foothills land that if averaged into the population, makes a number that doesn't represent the density of the built area.

Another problem with the current arguments is the idea that somehow now things are so much less affordable than they were before. There have been ups and downs, and there was one major down around 1990 after the earthquake, but generally this area has had all the same affordability problems for decades.

@ JustWantHousing,
I hear you, anyone who wanted to put down roots here has been through the same thing, for decades. In the '80's dot com boom, things were just as bad if not worse. I had peers who lived in their cars. I knew people who lived hours away and lived in sardine can situations during the week to join their families on the weekends. Many of my peers packed into apartments and small houses with numerous roommates, sometimes 5-8 people in a small space. None of this is new. Prices may be higher, but interest rates have been at historic lows for a really long time, which means people can borrow way more at 3% than they can at 8-9%. In the '80s, I was paying ~$850/month for an old studio in Svl, on a salary of about $26,000 gross as a new engineer.

I didn't think there was ever going to be any way I could afford an apartment I could have visitors to, much less a home, and believe me, I had my share of unplanned moves because of greedy landlords, illegal construction by landlords that made places uninhabitable (even dangerous), etc. And yes, many, many of my friends did move away to places they could lead more comfortable lives. Those who stuck it out made huge sustained sacrifices for decades. (There is not threat from people moving away, plenty come back with Stanford and the employers. Our nation benefits from the outflux.)

Usually the only way to get a down payment large enough to bring down the cash flow to even contemplate a mortgage is to get together with others and get a really, really awful starter home, which means substandard living for a long time. Think about the minimum condition you could stand living under, then set your sights even lower, and then because there are enough people willing to make those sacrifices, go one further. My spouse got a place in a superfund site area that probably should have been condemned, and had roommates nevertheless to afford it, one living in a room the size of a closet. He had that space for over 8 years. The place had rotted out floors, etc., and the roommates pitched in to rebuild it as they lived there. The drug dealers in the neighborhood never robbed them because they had nothing in the house, but their cars were regularly broken into. A few of the roommates now live in different states, but of the two who stayed here, one lives in a nice house now locally and the other lives in a small but nice house in a more affordable community within commuting distance.

Given the level of sacrifice getting that kind of stability has entailed, and how difficult it is to hang on still after all these years, and how many decades we had to wait until we could, for example, have a child, or have the space for the hobby/passion from before moving here, it's really difficult to listen to Johnny come lately's (many living lavish lifestyles we could never dream of) come in and blame homeowners for everything, talk about us like we're all Richie Rich's (when most people in our neighborhood are more like us) and pick up on developer framing as if everyone should bend the rules of supply and demand at the expense of those who made decades of sacrifices the newbies would never dream of making. It's really difficult to finally scrape up a reasonable quality of life only to have it decimated because of horrendous traffic, etc.

Palo Alto is already too populated for the existing infrastructure. There is only so much that is possible, and given what has just happened in other parts of California during wildfires (even into urban space), we really need to back off and take care of safety and traffic circulation again.

I do think we could stand to convert some of the office space to housing, in order to reduce the demand side of the equation and have fewer workers here. The problem is obvious to anyone out on the roads in the morning, the freeways are jammed coming to Palo Alto, and in the evening, leaving. But making Palo Alto more dense will not solve the problem, because more people in a job center only leads to more people, as companies decide to stay and grow rather than move, and yet more people are needed to provide services for the additional people.

As well meaning as these analyses that suggest you could even get 10% cost reduction from a huge amount of building, even they are looking at the demand side as static, and that's just not realistic. Growth begets growth in a job center with international demand.

You can't look at the price of houses to establish whether you can afford a home. I don't know anyone who went and bought a house based on their income and saved down payment. Everyone I know who got into a house, did so after spending every spare minute focused on figuring out how for years and years.

The other fact people conveniently leave out of the discussion is that the majority of people I know who commute from further away do so not purely on the affordability issue but in order to afford something nicer, usually a single-family home. Reducing single-family home stock is going to mean that many more people who will commute from further and further away in order to live in a single-family home. Even the poster child for local unaffordability, Kate Downing, moved away for a nice single-family home and commutes (when she could have gotten something in East Palo Alto or Milpitas for far less, so clearly, affordability was not the only criterion.) People talk of hypocrisy, but what of the hypocrisy of abusing the people who scrabbled for decades to get the housing, just because they finally got into housing?

The only way the Bay Area is ever going to be affordable and nice again, in an ever more populous world, is if governments and employers get together and figure out how to invest in cities and small towns that WANT to grow, and that WANT the investments in urban and civic amenities that will then attract companies and workers. There is a news story just today about towns in the US having to shut down their schools because they have lost too many people.

There is a huge amount of affordable housing out there, in really nice places, and potential for affordable housing, better-planned cities, and wonderful new job centers. In a growing world, putting the development into growing the number of desirable job centers is a better way to grow.

The problem is that companies and business owners have all gotten the idea since the '80s that they should have the advantage of all the public assets of first world cities for free - the cultural amenities, the ports, the airports, the traffic, sewage treatment, and health infrastructures, the roads and bridges, the legal/justice system, the libraries, the food delivery system, educated workforce, universities, etc etc, but they shouldn't ever have to pay back to support those things after they have made it. So they all crowd into urban areas that can't support their growth, because they don't want to be the ones to move and pay for the public investments that attract their workers. Look at what Amazon did to Seattle, and now they're moving into already strained urban areas.

Another problem we have globally is that there is just so much capital at the top, and real estate is one of the best investments. We really are not dealing with the distorting influences of forces trying to push as much development on many job centers and desirable places around the world for their own selfish gain. Those forces are not going to go away. People who truly care about things like affordable housing and social justice, AND economic development, should be concerned with how to grow the number of desirable job centers around the nation.

Did your employer apprise you of the housing situation here when you were recruited? Because all this developer-centric false framing aside, it's really nothing new. If anything, you have more opportunities than I did, such as through entities like Landed.com.


5 people like this
Posted by @Big Picture
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2018 at 11:39 pm

[Post removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by Yes, corrupt
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 28, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The staff had private meetings with Architect Elaine Uang and with Development advocate Steven Levy.
They are leaders of PA Forward, development supporters.

The City Manager is busy rewarding his developer friends before he retires. That may be the reason for jamming the Ordinance in during the holidays.

[Portion removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Yes, corrupt
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 28, 2018 at 12:46 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by RV Dweller
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2018 at 2:24 pm

I would like to see a designated RV parking/living zone established in Palo Alto. Somewhere quiet and within convenient walking distance to grocery shopping, public schools and laundromats.

To accomodate those who are not as wealthy as some of the more affluent Palo Alto residents would be a step in the right direction.


56 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 28, 2018 at 2:34 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Re "Yes corrupt', there is actually no difference between the hyper development majority in the lame duck CC, Palo Alto Forward, hyper development advocates like Steve Levy and Palantir. They are one and the same, they are coordinated and synchronized, and they are destroying Palo Alto.


21 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2018 at 7:04 am

Annette is a registered user.

When does reason kick in?

So much that is going on in this ego-centric city and with our politically motivated CC (particularly the majority) is so clearly not in the best interests of the city or its residents. We should be able to rely on City leadership to SOLVE problems. But that's not what's happening here. Not even close. Our CC isn't even hearing cautions that are coming from INSIDE City Hall!

So what's the real agenda? It sure as heck isn't affordable housing.


2 people like this
Posted by @Yes, corrupt
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 29, 2018 at 11:43 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

From this morning's Merc: Web Link

"Google’s transit-oriented village could bring more than 25,000 new jobs into downtown San Jose..."

And:

"...potentially 9,350 homes, with 13,700 residents, would be built..."

So this development has a jobs/housing ratio of about 2. Seems likely this is another case where zoning is not responsible for the jobs/housing imbalance.


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm

^ actually well balanced, since residents need two jobs to afford the area. :)


7 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

I'm sure it's affordable housing. :-)


15 people like this
Posted by An EPA Landowner
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Simple solution. Invest in and develop East Palo Alto. Build these reviled office complexes and high-rise residential dwellings in that neck of the woods. There's plenty of available land and parking accommodation is a non-issue. An additional advantage = a relatively short commute within Silicon Valley.

Now you might have to increase or widen some key access routes (e.g. University Avenue, Willow Road) but that can be worked out later down the road (no pun intended) or during the course of development.

Though some current lower-income EPA renters may get displaced in the process, such is life. They will just have to resign themselves to living somewhere else. A rejuvenated EPA (including the East Menlo Park area) could effectively resolve this contentious PA development issue.

Then as another poster has suggested, Palo Alto can finally get to work on improving the tacky-looking appearance of its southernmost region.

As a current EPA landowner/landlord/businessman, I am looking forward to the day when I can liquidate all of my EPA land holdings and move to Maui. Developers are more than welcome to inquire and no reasonable offer will be refused.



18 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Annette is a registered user.

"Though some current lower-income EPA renters may get displaced in the process, such is life. They will just have to resign themselves to living somewhere else."

When I read posts like that I feel this region has lost its soul and we're becoming a place where community and roots are sorely undervalued. Thank goodness people like "John" the Good Samaritan who helped the young man who was robbed and beaten near Town & Country are out there as examples of goodness.


8 people like this
Posted by No Need to Rezone...Un-Incorporate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 29, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Since most of the development resistance appears to be coming from the northernmost and older areas of Palo Alto, why not just un-incorporate Mayfield and Barron Park?

The California Avenue district (Mayfield) has a main street, character and a history all its own going back to the pre-Stanford era.

Barron Park has no real character and is primarily known for its non-descript commercial strip along El Camino Real.

By focusing development to the south of Page Mill Road, everyone should be pacified.


32 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2018 at 6:23 pm

No Need said:

"By focusing development to the south of Page Mill Road, everyone should be pacified"

Everyone will be pacified except the people who don't want to see the area south of Page Mill raped and pillaged by the same zombie like horde of developers that destroyed all of the affordable housing and every affordable business locations north of Page Mill.

But, of course, by everyone you mean developers.


4 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm

"When I read posts like that I feel this region has lost its soul and we're becoming a place where community and roots are sorely undervalued."

Code word for keeping people not like us out.


12 people like this
Posted by Latrelle
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2018 at 9:12 pm

>> I feel this region has lost its soul and we're becoming a place where community and roots are sorely undervalued.

If you's talking about Palo Alto, this region never had a collective soul and there isn't any sense of community or roots. It's an delusion created by simple-minded people of means.

If you were to go back in time in Palo Alto, you will find that the class structure was well defined and the only sense of community was in the notion of 'keeping your place' when interacting with the wealthier white folks of the so-called 'community'. Class structure and ethnic residencies were also defined by specific Palo Alto neighborhoods. South Palo Alto (from Page Mill Road and southwards) were strictly reserved for the minority residents.

Ain't much different today except that there are fewer minorities of extended generations still living in Palo Alto. Mo yuppies moved into town and we all know there is no such thing as a yuppie of color.



14 people like this
Posted by What Community You Speaking Of?
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 1, 2018 at 2:58 pm

^^^ Yes. Minority residents 'knowing their place' is how Palo Alto people got along 'back in the day'. It was a pecking order consisting of domestics, gardeners, dry cleaner proprietors, gas station owners and other small businesses catering to the wealthier white folks who could easily afford their services.

Nothing's changed except that many of these subservient workers no longer live in Palo Alto and the wealthier folks are now from overseas.


Like this comment
Posted by World view
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Just a reminder that “overseas” there’s probably even more of a pecking order depending on where in the world. Economic, ethnic or otherwise.

Don’t forget ageism. The very wealthy now are also young.

Or sexism. Globally being both a woman and old has a place. Though Teresa May is putting up a good show for us.

And then there’s poltical pecking orders now too.

I think Palo Alto has no more or less of the pecking order anywhere or compared to San Francisco.

As far as a soul, I choose to think that we all have it but that alone is not the resource that can build housing for all and any one group cannot be expected to pay for it all.


21 people like this
Posted by Yes, corrupt
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

A suggestion to retiring City Manager Keene.
Ask the Council to skip the phony flowery goodbyes and the praises that Greg Sharff and Liz Kniss will bestow on you. And long winded Cory too. They can mail them to you.

If you do schedule a goodbye ceremony, you risk some of us residents speaking the truth there. It would be refreshing to hear them.
Please leave town quietly with your million$ of our money, we look forward with hope for more integrity in our city government.


26 people like this
Posted by CeCi Kettendorf
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 2, 2018 at 10:03 am

CeCi Kettendorf is a registered user.

These are questions which arise in my coffee room discussions at the Hospital; I ask those who know the answer:
Who will control WHO gets housing at Stanford or within Palo Alto?

Stanford is approved to build 5000 housing units. Correct me if I am wrong, but few to none of those are dedicated to the bottom dwellers. The University's and Hospital's housekeepers, groundskeepers, transporters, cooks and lower paid office workers will continue to commute by the thousands. The new hospital opens next October so there will be more commuters. The Hospital operates three shifts 24/7 so that is double to triple the daily commuters. Are those workers eligible for BMR housing?

PAF advocates so heavily for housing for special needs adults; the parents of the latter speak passionately before the CC. Is BMR housing required to be given first to Palo Alto special needs adults?

Would BMR housing be prioritized for special needs adults who do not have a wealthy Palo Alto family?

Would BMR housing be given to a housekeeper at Stanford?

Are Palo Alto residents considered first?

Are Palo alto workers considered first?

Does Palo Alto control in any way who received Stanford housing or does the University control it?


34 people like this
Posted by Enough Is Enough
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Just because one works in Palo Alto doesn't entitle them to actually live in Palo Alto. Simple as that.

There are people who live in Palo Alto yet they work elsewhere. Should they be required to live in the city or town of their employment as well?

Ludicrous...trying to house the entire universe in PA.


7 people like this
Posted by Keene Retirement party
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 2, 2018 at 4:30 pm

@Yes Corrupt >If you do schedule a goodbye ceremony, you risk some of us residents speaking the truth there. It would be refreshing to hear them.

I hear there is a retirement party planned for Jim Keene on Thursday, December 6th from 6-8 pm at the Garden Court Hotel, 520 Cowper St., Palo Alto.

I wonder if the party is funded by taxpayer monies? How much will it cost? If it is you should go, after all, you might be paying for it.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Enough is Enough
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2018 at 9:20 pm

You're not entitled to shut anyone out of Palo Alto, especially when Palo Alto has such a massive jobs to housing imbalance that's contributed to the outrageous housing costs both in Palo Alto and neighboring cities.


21 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 3, 2018 at 10:18 am

Posted by @Enough is Enough, a resident of another community

>> You're not entitled to shut anyone out of Palo Alto, especially when Palo Alto has such a massive jobs to housing imbalance that's contributed to the outrageous housing costs both in Palo Alto and neighboring cities.

This repetitive logical/semantic error keeps popping up. We, the residents, are not "shutting anyone out". You, whoever you are, are trying to force us to build anything you want in the city. We, the residents, are not morally obligated to let you build anything you want. Using the subterfuge of "housing", without being very specific, doesn't work. Palo Alto is a small place-- it will never house 10 Billion people. The entire planet is not entitled to live in Palo Alto. I'm not entitled to a penthouse overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, either.

If you would actually like to develop some actual, genuine, unadorned, no-special-benefits, etc. below market housing (with parking!) in the city-- bring your proposal forth.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 11:47 am

Palo Alto has massively contributed to a Bay Area wide housing crisis by becoming a massive jobs hub without building the requisite housing needed to offset a rise in housing costs in all of the surrounding cities. Of course you're morally obligated to deal with this. You just won't because your property values keep going up at no cost to you. The longer you wait though the harder the state is going to come down on you. More housing bills are coming.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Posted by @Anon, a resident of another community

>> More housing bills are coming.

Yes, I understand perfectly well that high-rise developers are looking to loot and pillage Palo Alto for their own gain. Don't fool yourself into thinking that there is anything moral about it. That it will benefit low-income renters in any way. Or that it represents any kind of scalable housing solution.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Spare me the phony outrage of developers looting and pillaging Palo Alto. There's so little housing around here that single family homes are being packed with 7+ people just trying to squeeze in, so rather than just coming out with it and saying that you've got yours so you're not going to care about anyone else, instead you frame it as "developers are looting Palo Alto!" You've fooled yourself if you actually think you're holding the moral position here.


8 people like this
Posted by Grow With the Changes
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm

> Spare me the phony outrage of developers looting and pillaging Palo Alto.

No kidding. Most of the pirates have already arrived and settled in.

Instead of a Jolly Roger flag, most are flying the residentialist flag.


Like this comment
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 3:02 pm

@Grow With The Changes

If only Trump would build a wall around Palo Alto to keep the others out, right?


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Posted by @Anon, a resident of another community

>> Spare me the phony outrage

And you can spare me -your- phony outrage.

>> single family homes are being packed with 7+ people

Hey I used to live like that. Part of being young. So what?

>> you frame it as "developers are looting Palo Alto!"

If you think developers are going to build housing that those 7 people can afford, you are really fooling yourself. They're just looking for taxpayer gifts - oops, make that "developer incentives" - to optimize their take on office space and luxury housing developments. They can build affordable housing any time they want, but, they don't, do they?

>> You've fooled yourself if you actually think you're holding the moral position here.

It is unfortunate that you really don't see the value of neighborhoods and community. It is still very strong here in parts of the city. Neighborliness -- try to imagine it.


Posted by @Anon, a resident of another community

>> If only Trump would build a wall around Palo Alto to keep the others out, right?

We need a wall to keep office space developers out. And their dumptrucks.


Like this comment
Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Really? "No, you!" is your comeback? My outrage is genuine. I'm watching my generation become a permanent renter class, with any prospects of joining the middle class pulled away so yours can continue to screw us over financially and environmentally.


12 people like this
Posted by Willing to Accomodate
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 3, 2018 at 5:35 pm

> The entire planet is not entitled to live in Palo Alto.

So then why all the moral outrage over the displaced President Hotel tenants? With their nice pay-out, they can simply go live somewhere else as well. What's right for the goose is right for the gander...unless a favoritism card is being played.

The new hotel guests will be coming and going, spending money in Palo Alto and not seriously impacting the current housing crisis because they won't be staying here on a permanent basis...right up a residentialist's alley in terms of desires and self-serving interests. They will be temporary visitors.

So what's a little downtown traffic? Chances are, most Palo Altans don't spend that much time there anyway. And as far as parking is concerned, if you happen to live nearby consider renting out your driveway space for boku bucks. No one will hold that against you. After all, it's Palo Alto where everything is supposed to be expensive.

If a hotel representative were to make me an offer for such, I'd gladly rent out my circular driveway (including the front lawn if asked). I don't care what my neighbors think. It's money so one might as well tap into the PA gold rush.





14 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 3, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

You don't have to listen to me or read and give good 'hits' on any of my comments to make me feel good. My feelings won't be hurt if you millennials respond negatively. I'm a lightweight in this online arena of blabber. But at least read what Annette, Allen Akin, Ahem, Anon, and a few others I don't remember the names of, have to say. They generally have it right in assessing what has happened, how we got here, and what we can do in the future on housing. As it turns out, from CC's action or inaction, as it were, there is not much hope for the low and very low income people who serve us in our community every day. The current majority on council seems bent on bending, by zoning ordinances, the good common sense rules that currently exist to keep our town, yes, we are still a town, safe and secure, and neighborhood friendly like it has been for all the years I've lived here. Psst... since 1961.

My advice: Whenever you hear any of our pro growth, office and luxury apartment development growth friendly CC members talk about affordable housing, just turn off your hearing aids or switch channels. They talk 'affordable' during campaign season every two years without defining it...and we only get to know what their definition really is after we vote them into office. Let's not make that mistake again.


1 person likes this
Posted by @Gale Johnson
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Here's what's actually going to happen. Within 10 years new housing legislation will make it so that people pining for the 1960s will no longer be able to keep housing from getting built in cities with lots of jobs, and cities like Palo Alto will see an influx of high density housing construction. Palo Alto remains expensive, but other cities on the northern part of the Pensinula as well as San Jose become affordable to live in again. Boomers will continue to fight where they can for 10 years as their political power fades away but have fewer and fewer successes until the housing crisis becomes an historical footnote in the obituary of an awful generation.


11 people like this
Posted by Willing to Accomodate
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 3, 2018 at 6:50 pm

> there is not much hope for the low and very low income people who serve us in our community every day

That's not entirely attributable the PACC. It's primarily due to the housing demands of newer residents pushing the prices up for both prospective homeowners and renters. Add inflation into the mix as well...back in the 1950s you could buy a house in Atherton for $90K and a house in Palo Alto was even more reasonable.

> yes, we are still a town, safe and secure, and neighborhood friendly like it has been for all the years I've lived here. Psst... since 1961.

Well I've lived here since the year of that flood...1955 or 56. Palo Alto is not as safe a town as it was back then. Just read the PA Weekly accounts of robberies, muggings and assaults. Even EPA was safer back then.

As for development, I've witnessed the emergence of Town and Country Village, Stanford Shopping Center and the semiconductor industry along Page Mill Road + the expansion of Hewlett-Packard. No one complained back then. Why now?

Sure things were quieter and less congested. I also remember when each neighborhood had 2-3 grocery stores in their immediate area. Now we're stuck with Safeway and Whole Foods as the main 'go to' stores + fewer local gas stations which in turn requires more driving. Blame the big conglomerates as well for the emergence of chain stores and the decline of the smaller, privately owned businesses. Downtown Palo Alto used to have two sporting goods stores, two music stores and two camera shops all doing reasonably good business along with many clothing stores. Not so anymore...now downtown Palo Alto is primarily a dining hub.

Times change and you can't bring back the past. Fight it and you're no better than a human dinosaur. So help the Millennials get started in life and maybe we can salvage what little we have left. I'm 85 and prefer not to dwell in the past...when I'm so inclined, I simply head off to Idaho for some fly fishing and/or hunting. It's a whole different world, 'open carry' and all.

But guess what...Idaho is starting to get developed too. Why fight it?








3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Posted by @Gale Johnson, a resident of another community

>> Palo Alto remains expensive,

So you won't realize your goal of more affordable housing in Palo Alto after all.

>> the obituary of an awful generation.

But, you will realize your goal of destroying Palo Alto as it existed, in order to spite "an awful generation". Envy, anger, and prejudice towards an entire generation.


Posted by @Anon
a resident of another community

on Dec 3, 2018 at 8:25 pm


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17 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 3, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

I think it's likely that the zoning change proposals will all pass, with minor modifications. I don't think it's likely that will make any significant difference in housing availability or affordability, and the City Staff Report even says so explicitly.

The reason is that zoning restrictions aren't responsible for the jobs/housing imbalance. Again I'll recommend Richard Walker's "Pictures of a Gone City". Walker's about as far from a Peninsula NIMBY as you can get; I think it's completely fair to say he views Palo Alto as a wealthy segregationist enclave (his words) that he'd rather see paved over with affordable housing for social-justice reasons. But he's also a realist, and he provides a convincing explanation for why artificially-inflated demand is the source of the problem, not restricted supply. This won't change so long as corporate expansion is driving a lot more money to offices than to housing, and well-paid new employees are displacing lower-income existing residents throughout the Bay Area.

You can see this all over, as mixed-use development projects that could be housing-rich are instead office-rich, making the jobs/housing imbalance worse. The other day I mentioned the new Google village in San Jose, which has a jobs/housing ratio of roughly 2:1. This should make it obvious that zoning isn't the real issue.

As for Palo Alto's contribution to this situation: The Bay Area has about 4M jobs. Palo Alto has about 100K jobs, or about 2.5% of the total. I don't think you can make a case that Palo Alto bears specially huge responsibility.

Eventually the economic cycles will move along, and tech expansion will slow down. Then more money will be available for building housing. But even then it's more likely to be spent where it will yield higher profits than in Palo Alto. Walker's book helps you understand why.


11 people like this
Posted by Willing to Accomodate
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2018 at 8:17 am

> I think it's completely fair to say he views Palo Alto as a wealthy segregationist enclave (his words) that he'd rather see paved over with affordable housing for social-justice reasons.

Palo Alto reminds me a bit of some Marin County towns except that they have been successful in preserving their residential communities by restricting office growth as most of their resident commuters work in The City.

Despite its ostensible liberal/progressive views, Palo Alto has always been subtley segregationist in its own way...been that way for well over a century now.


8 people like this
Posted by Sweet Home Palo Alto
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm

> Despite its ostensible liberal/progressive views, Palo Alto has always been subtley segregationist in its own way...been that way for well over a century now.

Very true. The only difference is that wealthy Palo Alto residents won't admit it to your face or invite you to their exclusive parties.

They are are not fooling anybody with a basic IQ.


10 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 5, 2018 at 4:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

No one has a right to live in Palo Alto or anywhere else. There are many workers who commute daily into Pebble Beach:nannies, gardeners, maids, cooks, servants, maintenance people. Do they have a right to live in Pebble Beach, and if they don't, why do high salaries techies demand a right others don't have, and don't even assume to have?


2 people like this
Posted by Misguided
a resident of Monroe Park
on Dec 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm

It’s one thing to argue about whether anyone or everyone has a right to affordable housing in Palo Alto.

But the thing is, in general, more development brings more expensive housing. It won’t help!

If we build government funded low-income housing projects, that will add more affordable housing. (Given our enforcement record on things like mobile homes, it seems like that kind of project won’t do better here than anywhere else).

New housing development costs more to live in than existing housing and at the same time raises the prices of land and rents for older surrounding housing.

And it adds load to our over-burdened infrastructure.

The way out is direct housing subsidies for targeted populations: teachers, Palamir employees, or whoever we decide has a right to or deserves or should get discounted housing in Palo Alto.

Then let the recipients decide how to spend it.

But if they move to Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz they lose it. They can’t sublet!


10 people like this
Posted by Yes...Rezone Barron Park/ECR
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 5, 2018 at 6:49 pm

>> Barron Park has no real character and is primarily known for its non-descript commercial strip along El Camino Real.

Agreed. Just rezone parts of Barron Park & that East Meadow to ECR neighborhood for redevelopment. They could both use a major facelift.

For those who have been here awhile, the ECR strip in BP looks a lot like an extended version of east University Avenue back in the old Whiskey Gulch days.



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