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Housing plan stirs opposition in College Terrace

Original post made on Feb 12, 2021

When Palo Alto's city leaders created a "planned housing" zone last year to encourage developers to build new housing, they did not anticipate projects like the one currently proposed for a quiet Wellesley Street block near the College Terrace Library.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 12, 2021, 12:00 AM

Comments (81)

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2021 at 6:48 am

felix is a registered user.

I have some confidence this proposal is a non-starter. It’s completely inappropriate in this location.

Kelsey Banes, it should be pointed out, wears many hats. She is also Regional Executive Director of Peninsula YIMBY Action (really, more like YIYBY - Yes in Your Back Yard).

She doesn’t mention that those two apartment buildings across the street from the subject development are grandfathered in and could never be built today in that location.

Kelsey doesn’t live in College Terrace, but miles away in a single family home, deep in a neighborhood with no apartments buildings. Why in the world was she even interviewed for this article?




Posted by Angie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2021 at 7:36 am

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I'd like to see a bigger conversation around single family zoning and what it really is, a relic of racist and exclusionary zoning standards. Palo Altans want to be more inclusive, diverse, and fair - but can we?


Posted by Jeremy T.
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

Jeremy T. is a registered user.

Will this development create more traffic along Stanford Avenue and California Avenue heading towards El Camino Real or will the new residents be primarily riding bicycles and relying on public transportation?

The potential increase in automobiles troubles me.


Posted by CT resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 7:54 am

CT resident is a registered user.

I live very close to this proposal. Such mixed feelings!

I recognize that in some sense this is "bad" for me, parking may be harder and the proposed building is absurdly ugly. The third rail of politics, property values, may go down slightly. I'll probably never see the sun again where I live. It reminds me of the awful public safety building and garage across El Camino, a building that will fit into the future but is completely out of touch in the present.

But the neighborhood is already changing. The cottages are slowly turning into huge houses that maximize square footage, Stanford is increasingly buying up the entire neighborhood and making it harder for regular people to buy, and large lots are subdividing into smaller ones. Everyone in Palo Alto wants to support low income people, the canonical example being teachers, but every neighborhood wants them in all the other neighborhoods rather then their own.

Instead of fighting the losing battle against density, it seems like a better idea to focus on how to shape the future into something we can be content with?


Posted by Michelledb
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2021 at 11:18 am

Michelledb is a registered user.

Thank you CT for your comment. Everyone pretends to be upset about homelessness and the lack of housing for children who want to return and live near their parents. Yet, when a reasonable sized building is proposed - it is met with this old fight. The NIMBY nature of Palo Alto is gross and embarrassing. Add more trees and more parking and go for it. We need more housing. There are ugly houses and buildings all over Palo Alto - don’t look when you walk by if it really is that important to you. I would rather see a lot more ugly buildings than people in RV’s and tents.


Posted by Patrick Ehrhard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2021 at 11:27 am

Patrick Ehrhard is a registered user.

Some of the older homes and cottages in College Terrace are not worth renovating nor will they ever become historical preservation candidates.

Like how many Palo Alto homes from the 1880s are still around? Most became teardowns to accommodate new houses.

Preserving old College Terrace for the sake of antiquity is ludicrous.


Posted by kauaime
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 12:45 pm

kauaime is a registered user.

As a kid in the 1960's I played football at the little park down the street. I have many fond memories of bicycling around CT, going to Escondido.
The last time I visited PA I walked around my old neighborhoods, some houses were exactly as before, some houses were out of place and unrecognizable along with the apartment/condos.
I guess that is progress. It is always about the money. Period.


Posted by PST
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2021 at 12:46 pm

PST is a registered user.

I have lived in PA almost forty years. I think if we really wanted more low income and extremely low income housing we’d have it by now. What we have instead is lip service with very little result, a new parking garage we could do without, an unnecessary pedestrian/bike bridge over 101 even though you can now make do using nearby San Antonio to cross and a giant new police station in the works while facing budget deficits and an uncertain budget future. We lost the Presidents Hotel, tear up and repave our streets constantly with little smooth surface to behold and install dangerous outside regulation barriers that endanger rather than calm anyone or traffic. I’m disappointed and urge our city council and city employees to do a better job. While I think making it easier to add ADU dwellings is a good thing, I don’t think it will be enough to meet the housing need and it likely will not have full impact for decades when we needed solutions yesterday. Can we build dense housing where the current police station is if we must leave that site? Why can’t the Cubberly campus include lots of housing? Do we need an airport, golf course and so many commercial properties east of 101? How about we repurpose that neighborhood to help meet more pressing needs? How about we sell Foothill Preserve using the funds to develop the old Frys property and surrounding neighborhood? What other properties does the city or Stanford own or could own to address this housing issue? Maybe we need a special time limited inclusive task force to explore options and propose solutions as clearly our existing structures have failed us and likely will continue to do so unless we try something different than business as usual.


Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2021 at 12:49 pm

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Those commenting about that it should be built must honestly reflect on if they would approve an apartment complex next to your single family home. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Please don't anyone bring in racism into this equation. Nothing whatsoever to do with racism. It has to do with single home zoning. Unless the entire Palo Alto is changed from single home zoning (and all of us exit) then please don't think it is ok in someone else's neighborhood/street.


Posted by Michelledb
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Michelledb is a registered user.

I absolutely would support a building like that near my house. 100%. There is low income housing near me and I am thrilled and wish there was more. The solution to the housing problem is to be inclusive and not selfish. I also really do not care if some houses or buildings are ugly. How does this affect my life?


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:04 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I think everyone buying a house deserves to have the right to expect that they will not have a large building built nextdoor where dozens of people can look inside their windows or backyard, destroying privacy and causing shadows where there were none before. Whether that purchase was 30 years ago, or last year, the idea that privacy and sunlight as well as noise can change without any regard to those living in the immediate environs has to be very wrong.

If we can't have an expectation of security in our neighborhoods' remaining somewhat constant, then we are going down a very slippery slope towards Orwellian takeover.

This is not about an expectation that a neighborhood will not change after all change is a constant evolutionary process.

This is about massive change being forced on a group of people who would not have expected this type of alteration in such close proximity to their single family home. Allowing this type of mammoth scale development on 2 very normal sized plots is beyond the expectation of neighborhood evolutionary changes and has to be wrong.


Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:12 pm

citizen is a registered user.

Given the pandemic and sudden shift in how and where people work-esp to get away from crowded conditions with poor quality of life-why are people still talking about new dense luxury units as if they do anything for affordable housing? They don't. In fact, building for the influx of tech workers was responsible for the largest outflux of people of color from the Bay Area in decades.

Given the predicted permanent shift in the way/where people work, if there needs to be more housing, we should be talking about the conversion of office space to housing or incorporation of housing into office space, with an eye to maintaining things like outdoor space, safety, awareness of droughts, etc. And quality of life. If there had been any attention to quality of life, the big companies would have done business in a more distributed way already, and the impact of the pandemic would be significantly lower across all economic strata. We saw an emptying out of downtown and the restaurants and businesses that catered to commuting workers, while at the same time, businesses serving residents (and their employees) were pushed out.

The narrative that allowing big developers to create large rental complexes for high earners with a smattering of "BMR" units (that most low-income people still can't afford) would somehow help affordable housing was always a lie belied by the facts in plain sight. Their competition for redevelopment sites was a major reason for rising costs. When SF tech companies suddenly allowed their workers to work remotely, prices dropped suddenly (but they are far from affordable anywhere in the Bay Area, that is NOT going to happen from building, much less by luxury apartment developers, period).

What will help social justice is to hold tech companies to more inclusive hiring, for one, and to care about better pay for all non-tech workers. And paying attention to better distributing their workforces where they can have decent quality of life.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:17 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Absolutely convert empty offices to housing before destroying new neighborhoods. Also continue to conversion of under-used shopping malls and hotels FIRST.

The time's, they are a'changing.

The SF Chronicle's Sunday Business Section had a long article on all the big malls being converted to mixed use that will specifically include affordable housing.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

The CT R1 fiefdom of discrimination, excluding the “other” is wrong headed thinking. The Calif ACLU will be part of this soon enough to argue in court these racist, bigoted tendencies. [Portion removed.] Exclusionary attitude to the ninth degree. Shove poor people to the edges of hwys where pollution, safety and traffic are at their worst. 24 units totally reasonable. The 90% white tableau attendees of anti-housing people, digs deep to the heart. Too with a showing of under-age children, laughable if it were not so serious a subject for those barely alive on our city streets, without a true roof. Using children and dogs , really???


Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:32 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Patrick, I actually live in a class ll, 1893 Victorian home in College Terrace that we have spent 30 years lovingly restoring. The city of Palo Alto claims to love these relics of our wonderful history. However, putting an oversized development consisting mostly of market rate micro housing next door would cancel out the need to keep this old relic of the past on a register and restricting the home owner from tearing it down and building a three story apartment in its place. What we need in our College Terrace neighborhood are developments that fit into the scale and architecture of this historic neighborhood. Changing R1 into PHZ zoning which allows the developer every variance, will destroy the historic charm of this neighborhood.
The Cato development will only add 5 TINY units as affordable, the rest will be market rate. What it does do is take away the ability for anyone to build a home or homes on that property. Investment companies like Cato are the very reason property value is so high in this area.
Please check out, Professor Patrick Condon’s video on YouTube explaining how it is impossible to build your way toward affordability. Investment companies and their investors know this and are waiting in the wings for their cash cow developments to go up. When the property at the corner of College & El Camino was rezoned which allowed the new owner to upsize. The land under that development went up in value and he sold a few years later making a huge profit. This is what Cato wants too!


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Much ADU about nothing. Get real for the real need for housing people and not start ups. Totally empty commercial bldg on corner of college and Yale, overgrown w weeds, tons of parking — is this a relic of past? Great spot for housing!


Posted by MBH
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 1:50 pm

MBH is a registered user.

I hope all of the people who are making themselves heard on this issue have read this book:

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America".
by Richard Rothstein

This effort to stop the much needed plan to provide at least moderately affordable housing in Palo Alto is the latest exhibition of continued entrenched segregation in our fair city.


Posted by Carol
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 12, 2021 at 2:01 pm

Carol is a registered user.

"Cato Investment proposed to convert two R1-home to a three-story height, 24 units rental apartment in PA" this is in general non-compliance with zoning regulations and the dangerous precedent that it would set for other Palo Alto neighborhoods by essentially declaring that single-family neighborhoods are ripe for dense, new developments.

Did the owners for Cato Investment company make any investment properties to their own hometown in San Rafael? [Portion removed due to unsubstantiated factual assertion.] Why they come here to invest over 10 investment properties in PA and using the flag that to help building more affordable low income housing in PA's single family home neighborhood. Look at there are many ghost empty units of tri-plex and apartment available for lease in College Terrace and PA! Look at how many properties own by those BIG developers and Stanford in PA. PA is losing housing to those buyers.

As a long time PA resident we OPPOSE to convert R1 to a rental of 24 units of one bed/studio apartment in a single family home neighborhood no matter where in PA!


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

This is a battle over funding, not R1. Cato's micro-unit proposal is the only type of housing we can expect when we rely solely on profit-seeking developers as Palo Alto's source of affordable housing.

College Terrace neighbors told me that they would be fine with more than one home on each of these R-1 lots, such as 4-6 townhouses, if the homes served families and did not require a 24-car garage. They told me that it's not the physical footprint that bothers them as much as the fact that the proposed apartments are designed for google programmers, not parents with kids in the public schools. I agree with them.

It is not reasonable or humane to require working families to crowd into 20 ft by 20 ft boxes. Working families need homes with kitchens, bathrooms, and a room for children to log in to school. The Cato floor plans do not provide that. (Take a look.)

In the past several years, the only housing proposals to move forward have been like this Cato bldg: squeezing maximum number of units into a bldg to maximize profits for developers. These micro-units are the unavoidable consequence of our city's flawed & failed trickle-down approach to housing. Relying on commercial developers for affordable housing is like relying on cats to feed mice: their function and purpose are diametrically opposed.

If we want units large enough for families - and I think we do - we need to fund housing the same way every other city does: by taxing large businesses. Here in Palo Alto, we are home to the biggest & most profitable companies on earth - which made a combined $2 trillion off the pandemic alone. Tesla, Google, Amazon, Facebook, & Palantir pay taxes in every other city where they have offices. If they paid taxes in Palo Alto too, we could work effectively with nonprofit affordable housing developers and subsidize builders to create housing that is truly affordable on a square foot basis.

Our community deserves that.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:16 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] God forbid we modernize and create a dense, walkable, bike friendly and public transit rich communities.

My parking, my parking, really? I bet they are all for the environment as long as they are not expected to do their part.

Listen up, Single Family Zoning is a relic of the past. We need modern communities that are diverse, not just white.

[Portion removed.]

And stop making developers as a scapegoat. We know what you are trying to do there. Protect your neighborhood character by allowing only the white and the rich.

We will vote for change and we will organize to bring the hammer down from Sacramento and Washington if need be. Change or we will require you to change.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

To Bystander,

You bought a house, keep your land. You have no right to dictate how the rest of the neighborhood should evolve. [Portion removed.]

The developer is not trying to build an oil refinery. He is bringing in families that need housing.

This country has really messed up by treating housing as an asset class. We need to change that for our future and we will start from Palo Alto, the richest and the whitest and the most segregationist of all communities in America.

We want to turn Palo Also into the streets of Netherlands. Don't like the future, sell and move.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:36 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

How is it being a NIMBY racist to want to house families rather than single techies in stack-and-pack housing so that big tech can continue to hire underpaid contractors and "gig workers" and then plead they need to house more of them?

Those contractors outnumber full-time employees with benefits and stock options at Google, Facebook and elsewhere! Big tech just spent $230,000,000 during the last election to keep workers as GIG workers while enriching themselves at everyone else's expense. Shameful.

It's high time to look at how big tech is funding the local, regional, state, nation and international branches of the YIMBY party while they continue to fight against business taxes, paying workers fairly and giving them benefits and stock options, and fight against higher pay for foreign contractors.

Stop the greed and the divisiveness rhetoric. I MIGHT believe the YIMBY's really care about housing when they start pitching housing for communities that aren't already over-run 4:1 by commuters like Ahterton, Los Altos Hills, etc.

And given that commuters are disappearing, convert the empty offices, hotels, shopping malls, first to show you're not corporate stooges.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 3:55 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:06 pm

Michael O. is a registered user.

Ezra Klein has it right about “liberal” California. Liberal in its window signs, not in its actions. College Terrace is consistently embarrassing in its hypocrisy. Web Link


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:27 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Post removed; excessive posting.]


Posted by Local
a resident of Nixon School
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:27 pm

Local is a registered user.

So happy this is not happening next door to me - nightmare to find some vast building going up next door, with the joy of 1 year of massive construction work. I bet all the activists calling for this would be up in arms if some massive apartment block was dumped next to their parents nice middle-class home. Oh to be young and hypocritical again.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:32 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

"Parents nice middle-class home".

In Palo Alto.

Middle-Class.

Is that supposed to be a joke?

We want dense buildings going up everywhere instead of spreading out hundreds of miles.

And leave the rest of the space for nature to flourish.


Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:47 pm

YP is a registered user.

as a moderate Republican nothing warms my heart more than seeing woke, virtue signaling Palo Altans protest efforts to bring affordable housing to the city.
thank you Palo Alto online for the article, perhaps next you could investigate how local green deal supporters are keeping their second homes in Tahoe warm this winter.


Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 12, 2021 at 4:52 pm

Marianne Mueller is a registered user.

How about two-story cottage clusters? with associated garage units.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 5:48 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

I paid my membership dues to YiMBY but I do not like the way that my fellow housing advocates are casting this situation. I witnessed first hand neighbors explaining that they could support 4-6 townhouses in that location. That would be *not* R-1.

And the advocates who continue to insist that Cato's proposed 24 ave. 400 sq. ft-units are "affordable" or "for families" are off the mark.

Cato, like similar developers, plans to lease these 400-ft2 apts at min. $4000/month, or $10/ft2 -three times the average rent in College Terrace, which is $3.58/ft2/month. ($2940/month for 822 ft2 - see Web Link ).

Fellow housing advocates on this thread are correct that the essential task of housing humans should not be in the hands of profit-seeking exploitative private interests. Knowing that to be true, then why do they do the dirty work of the profit-seekers by spreading their lies that micro-units like these are affordable and for families?

Fellow housers: there are *better* ways to fund housing. Go next door to Mountain View and see for yourself!

In Mountain View, the Google Tax funded hundreds of desirable workforce & low-income housing units. MV's large company tax also enabled it to apply for and receive $13 million in CARES Act funding to buy private land, and partner with nonprofits to provide shelter beds for every homeless person, while Palo Alto provides zero shelter beds for twice as many homeless. MV's large company tax also transformed Castro St, helping small businesses survive & thrive the pandemic - unlike Palo Alto small businesses, which are suffering & dying due to lack of support.

It is not hostile to landlords, developers, and large employers to ask them to pay the same taxes in Palo Alto that they do in Mountain View, where the company that pays the majority of the business tax-Google-not only is not shrinking, but expanding. We have several googles here! What are we waiting for?


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 5:59 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

"It is not hostile to landlords, developers, and large employers to ask them to pay the same taxes in Palo Alto that they do in Mountain View, where the company that pays the majority of the business tax-Google-not only is not shrinking, but expanding."

That is the problem. We ask the developers to foot all the bill and guess what they do to make anything viable? They have to tack on that extra cost in the form of more rents.

That is after years and years of delays due to obstructionism by the NIMBYs. All that is a cost and the vested interest like that because there is no cost to the existing landed gentry. In fact it is in their interest to delay as much as possible because they actually benefit a la the prop 13 subsidies.

We are no shills for developers and we could care less about them. The reason they are able to charge whatever they charge is because markets are not allowed to function.

It's not going to take a year or two to normalize but you bring supply over time and prices will normalize.


Posted by Not Good Enough
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2021 at 6:09 pm

Not Good Enough is a registered user.

Angie from Crescent Park says above, "I'd like to see a bigger conversation around single family zoning and what it really is, a relic of racist and exclusionary zoning standards." OK, here's my part of that conversation -

Angie lives in the plummy apartment-free Crescent Park, and Kelsey Banes lives in a single family home on a quiet street sans apartment buildings. I invite both to move out of what they feel is their "racist exclusionary" single family zoning into apartments they tout. Plenty of vacant units are now available, rents are down, as would be your hypocrisy level.




Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 6:16 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

To "beanbags" and similar: Am I a NiMBY? Using this rhetoric to defend a terribly flawed project is harmful to the cause that you and I share. To "Not Good Enough": personalizing this distracts from the fact that we have a problem. Because we do have a problem. Kelsey- and Angie probably would be fine with an apartment building on their block. I too rent on a R-1 block and I'd love one here.

Re BB -we already are asking commercial developers to foot the bill. And it is not working. Which is why we need to generate funding for housing the same way that every other city does: by taxing the largest and most profitable businesses.

Mountain View taxes Google, and doing so transformed the community, built hundreds of quality housing units, and created funds to protect small businesses, including retail and restaurants, effectively. Palo Alto has several Googles.

Let's look at just one of Palo Alto's profitable companies: Tesla - *based in Palo Alto*. Tesla's market valuation is almost one trillion dollars -- it tripled in value over the past year. Its profits over the past year were almost a billion dollars. It produced $40 billion dollars of revenue on an annualized basis in the past year. It predicts revenues of ***$60 billion dollars in 2021***. Tesla is headquartered in Palo Alto.

Tesla has NEVER paid a dime of taxes to Palo Alto. Yet: Tesla attracted talent using its premium location in Palo Alto as a draw. Its several thousand employees use Palo Alto-maintained streets, parks, and public amenities. Tesla enjoys the benefit of Palo Alto utilities delivery, fire department and police department ... yet has never paid for any of these things. We, the residents, have paid for Tesla as it grew from a small company into the most profitable company in the world.

The reason that every other city taxes its largest and most profitable businesses is out of recognition that these businesses relied on the community for their success. Knowing Tesla's revenues of $40 billion & profits of $1 billion, query why Palo Alto continues to rely on commercial developers for its affordable housing, when every other city knows better?


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 12, 2021 at 6:18 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Rebecca Eisenberg wrote, "I paid my membership dues to YiMBY but I do not like the way that my fellow housing advocates are casting this situation."

Please tell us more about the YIMBY dues structure. Many of us sincerely want to understand.

Your point Mountain View's handling of these issues vs Palo Alto's bears repeating. I've never understood why these issues are so acrimonious in Palo Alto and why PA is such a touchstone. Maybe it dates back to former PTC commissioner Kate Downing' -- a very vocal YIMBY whose well-funded claims that PA doesn't welcome tech downtown when what was said was that BIG tech like Palantir is pricing startups and retail our of downtown.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2021 at 6:36 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Online name - I paid $100 in dues to YiMBY because I passionately support its goal of making sure that every person has a place to live.

To confess, I think that both YiMBY and the local Democratic Party do not understand how different Palo Alto is than other cities due to the fact that Palo Alto is the only city that does not tax businesses at all. I do not think they are aware of the fact that an estimated **80% of Palo Alto land** is owned by these businesses, which do not pay taxes. (We cannot know the exact figures because City Council refuses to research them.) I do not think they understand that Palo Alto is the only city in the state-- and probably in the country!-- that relies exclusively on commercial development to fund affordable housing. Perhaps they do not know these things because they are, frankly, hard to believe.

So, I paid my dues, without regret because I believe that sooner, hopefully not later, housing advocates will take a closer look at what really is happening here. I continue to pound this point--even though I lose political capital for it--because I cannot see how we will solve this problem until those committed to the task are able to see the full picture.

I know that some people believe that some of these organizations are been paid to advocate on behalf of commercial developer interests, but I have not seen that. Rather, I think that the disconnect is more related to the fact that Palo Alto's situation is so absurdly worse than everywhere else-- that a city owned 80% by businesses, including the most profitable businesses in the world, would refuse to ask them to contribute the same way they contribute to every other community where they are located -- that it's impossible to believe.

I urge people to do their own research, to ask around. Publications like this one often deny the facts they could report if they took the time to speak with experts, which they don't. So there is that as well.



Posted by JJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2021 at 9:29 pm

JJ is a registered user.

thanks to the NIMBYS who created a housing crisis, we need more housing.

The problem with this development is that is should be taller, not smaller.

If NIMBYS don't want to see these type of developments, then solve the damn housing crisis and put up skyscrapers.

You created this problem.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 12, 2021 at 9:40 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

Taxing businesses is not the solution. Businesses provide jobs. The NIMBYs should be thankful that what the property values they so want to protect are worth protecting because of these jobs.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2021 at 6:46 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2021 at 6:56 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

The Bike lane is not near College Terrace. A student died on California near El Camino. Students who live in Stanford housing and near Escondido on College Terrace neighborhood are not protected when they bike to Greene Middle School or PALY. The bike lane is in Old Palo Alto down.

So the lovely things of Palo Alto (bike lanes) are pushed into expensive neighborhoods and then College Terrace is constantly under attack for closing of libraries, and high densification for R-1 zoned single family lots.

If it's good for the Goose, then it's good for the gander. If R-1 zone changes in College Terrace, it should change where Angie in Crescent park lives as well as Kelsey Banes Palo Alto neighborhood.


Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2021 at 10:13 am

Terrace Antelope is a registered user.

My issues with the project:
- Scale/density; Replacing 3 single family home lots with 24 is an 8x increase.
- Precedent; If this lot can be converted to high density, then what else can? Where to draw the line? Cato owns another 8-10 lots in College Terrace.
- Goal; Cato, which is owned by Baker Street Advisors, is a wealth management and tax optimization firm. Baker is run by Jeff Colin (husband of San Rafael mayor Kate Colin) - they do not have Palo Alto's best interests at heart.
- Approach; Rather than starting with a neighborhood outreach, this whole thing was launched via an article in PA Online. They know full well their ask is out of line and are using all this outrage as a negotiating starting point so they can "come-down" to, say, 16-18 and try to look good (when many would argue that's still way high). They know what they're doing....


Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2021 at 10:42 am

eileen is a registered user.

Rebecca Eisenberg - Thank you for posting such an intelligent and fact-filled response on this thread.
JJ and beanbagxyz, - It really does not help the debate and discussion by just respond with an acronym like NIMBY. How about you join the discussion with comments and facts that can help others understand your position. Thanks!


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Dear Antelope and Eileen - Thank you for joining this conversation and confirming that the Weekly (and many posters here) miss the market by simplifying this matter as a fight over R-1. As we agree,there are many ways to bring more dense, affordable housing to CT, but this is not one of them.

Also, I think it is extremely important to point out the negative impact that Stanford University has on College Terrace each time it acquires or is "gifted" single family homes. Although the homes that Stanford builds on those lots can be nice, they are NOT available to the public, NOR do they pay property tax any more. Stanford's taking over of CT is shrinking the supply of homes, lowering property tax revenue for PA's General Fund, and raising prices for residents. WE MUST STOP THIS.

Unfortunately, the City Council just gave 2 more homes to Stanford last week!

This R-1/YiMBY/NiMBY name-calling wars & personal attacks are counterproductive distractions from the work we need to co as neighbors and as a community. Let's work together. YiMBYs can realize that 350-sq-ft units are NOT family housing, esp at $4000/month, and that it's not just NiMBY opposed to that. More NiMBYs can recognize allowing that multiple family-sized units on a lot is a great way to keep a neighborhood family-focused and make it more affordable. These goals should overlap.

In my mind Cato's proposal is so terrible - 24 tiny boxes smaller than the typical dorm room, to be priced at $4000/month, next to a *family library* - that it is NOT what housing advocates should be fighting for! Want to see what affordable family housing looks like? I am happy to take you on a tour of Mountain View or Menlo Park. I think you will like how it looks!

In sum, I strongly believe that College Terrace neighbors would welcome affordable family housing if it were affordable and for families. This CATO monster is neither. Thank you for considering.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Thank you Antelope - it is follow the money. And if you keep following the money then you find a whole different group of people pulling the strings. Activating all of the groups - NIMBY, YIMBY, RACISM, BLM, etc are emotional tools to either sway or offend people's emotions which then create confusion. Each of those groups have a mantra that uses accusatory tools to reach their goals - most of which make no sense.

The real bottom line here is the move to reduce single family ownership of a residential property and convert everyone to corporate owned property. I get continual requests to buy my home from groups that are not your ready identifiable real estate agency. They are consolidators who if they can buy a group of properties can tear all of the houses down to create commercial owned apartments. The city residential game board of monopoly reduces the ownership by private individuals.

If you read the Real Estate section of the papers that is backwards of where the state today is going. People want a home with a yard so they can plant their own food and have the rescue dog. The flu has changed the way we live - probably for a long time. What was a good idea two years ago is no longer a good idea - it is now a very bad idea. And that is not going to change.

Side note - my mother grew up in one of those historic homes. Her step father was the last mayor of Mayfield and his construction company built a lot of SU on-campus and off-campus buildings. I have pictures of how it was back then on the Farm. Some of those building should be designated as CA historic preservation buildings. They were where it all happened.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Again I want to urge our community to recognize that we never will have options better than this overcrowded Cato building unless we expand our sources of funding for affordable housing past commercial developers.

Earlier I mentioned how large company taxes are paying for lovely housing developments in Mountain View and Menlo Park. And I mentioned how Mountain View, Santa Clara, Redwood City and other local cities received hundreds of millions of dollars in CARES Act grants through the HomeKey program to fund housing for very low income workers and for the transitional homeless.

In addition to those fantastic, existing ways to pay for housing, I also wanted to remind the community of the continued existence of federal government subsidies provided by Section 8. Although Section 8 housing in the past consisted of ugly slums, now some section 8 housing is even more beautiful than much of the housing inventory here in Palo Alto.

Look for example, what has happened in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once home to among the worst and most segregated housing projects:

Web Link

Here in Palo Alto we have tons more money to spend on public housing than in Milwaukee -- one of the poorest cities in the nation. We easily could make public housing look as beautiful as surrounding housing.

And we could do all this without relying on commercial developers or LLCs created by wealthy individuals to use housing to create a quick profit. This also is a nice article explaining how public housing can be beautiful:

Web Link

If course, if you really want to see the most attractive public housing, you should go to Europe. Which is precisely why YiMBY groups could benefit from looking beyond commercial developers for funding housing. Someone mentioned Finland above -- that is PUBLIC housing!


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"The real bottom line here is the move to reduce single family ownership of a residential property and convert everyone to corporate owned property."

Thank you, Rebecca Eisenberg.


Posted by Resident8
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Resident8 is a registered user.

While I support converting land zoned for office to apartments, we should not allow single family housing to be upzoned to multi-family in Palo Alto. The developers just want to provide techies with more housing options to make a quick buck.


Posted by just a guy
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 13, 2021 at 1:44 pm

just a guy is a registered user.

I live in a single family home next door to a 10 unit apartment building and a few doors down from a 30 unit one. These buildings and the residents in them are an overall major benefit to the neighborhood and make it what it is. I'd like to think that my neighborhood wouldn't fight tooth and nail about adding more neighbors with some additional diversity in age, income, ethnicity. Who knows - maybe I'd be surprised. I'd encourage the NIMBYs (who are practically begging authorities to step in w/ one size fits all mandates) to spend some time in PA neighborhoods w/ apartment buildings and ask themselves what they're fighting against.


Posted by CT resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 13, 2021 at 3:44 pm

CT resident is a registered user.

Thank you Rebecca for the thoughtful discussion! Seeing your comments here makes me glad I voted for you but sad so many others did not


Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2021 at 4:24 pm

toransu is a registered user.

Good. It’s very close to a train station, bus lines, and amenities like groceries, so it’ll be very convenient to live there without needing a car!

If y’all’s are so worried about ugly buildings, just go look at all the ugly McMansions that rich people with no sense have built. It’s interesting you all are big mad about a place where less affluent people can live, but not mad about those monstrosities that get built by the obscenely wealthy.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re taxing business, not only does Mountain View tax Google because it's based there and thus avoided residents subsidizing it but the state of Maryland just voted to tax Google for ad revenues as Europe has done for years.

Re Stanford University -- which has long supported capping foreign contractor wages to benefit high tech at the expense of others -- college towns across the country are facing the depletion of city tax bases /revenues as the colleges and universities keep growing and gobbling up taxable properties.

Will we see Kelsey Barnes do anything to stop Stanford's expansion into College Terrace and/or to support a business tax like Mountain View or will she and her PA bunch continue to make life worse for the residents without looking for sensible and creative alternatives to upzoning?


Posted by JJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2021 at 5:29 pm

JJ is a registered user.

To everyone who opposes height, housing, growth while also clinging to property tax rates of decades ago, I find it both ironic and hysterical that many adult children of NIMBYS are fleeing the Bay Area because they can't afford to live here.

The solution to the crisis is to build more housing anywhere and everywhere. No part of Palo Alto should be exempt from solving the problem.

That means a 3 story homes, backyard ADU's and demolishing old tiny structures are all among the solutions for existing neighborhoods.

That also means making sure much taller buildings are standard in areas more suitable. Taller doesn't mean 3 little stories. Taller is 10, 15, 25 stories.

And, it means having mixed use wherever possible, adding housing to what was traditionally excluded to commercial or office.

City officials need to stop thinking of zoning as residential vs business.

In the new post-pandemic era, people are working from home far more.

If EVERY part of Palo Alto contributes to the solution, we can start to reverse the crisis.

Yes, every community should do the same, but if you're a resident of Palo Alto, you helped create the problem and now you can help solve it.


Posted by JJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2021 at 5:48 pm

JJ is a registered user.

[Post removed; back-to-back comments not permitted.]


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2021 at 5:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"It's not just the evil tech company or little startup NIMBYS are punishing.

It's the dry cleaner, restaurant, gas station, hair salon, cleaning services, painters, construction, car wash, pharmacy and thousands more examples."

Hear, hear! You can't outsource or automate those jobs away. Yet. The workers in those businesses are usually part of a family who need more than studios or one-bedrooms proposed here.

Are the NIMBY's responsible for the fact that 80% of new housing is market rate and only 20% is allotted to very-low income AND BMR?? Where were the PA YIMBY's during the President Hotel debacle where 89? tenants were replaced with a luxury hotel that's now empty? Where are the PA YIMBY's on rent control?


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 13, 2021 at 6:17 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

Those folks railing against corporate takeover of housing, how about this. I buy a single-family home as an individual in Palo Alto. I can then propose to convert my home into a four-plex, right?

Would the NIMBYs allow that to happen?

NIMBYism is not name calling. NIMBYism is what it is, an obstruction to any form of housing except what suits the already landed gentry. I've got mine. I don't care for the rest.

The crux of all the mess in California with housing is prop 13. I cannot wait for the day when that dope of a tax scam is voted out.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2021 at 6:38 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Read these comments - the area next to Caltrain by definition is suppose to be high density housing. There is no argument there. The area next to ECR is suppose to be high density. The whole state from end to end is committed to that theory. You put density housing next to the key transportation routes. You do not put high density housing in areas that are not next to key transportation routes. College Terrace has many apartment complexes [portion removed due to factual inaccuracy.]


Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2021 at 8:45 pm

Paly Grad is a registered user.

The lot under discussion is indeed zoned R-1:

Web Link


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 13, 2021 at 9:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Someone who lives in Palo Alto Hills does not have to worry about R-1 Housing, unless of course that person is busy investing in houses on the flat lands. And Nimbyism is not an issue in the hills. The people in the hills have to worry about all of the people who are driving to FHP and parking outside the park on the street. And all of those people who are tramping around scaring the animals down to everyone's property. I think people just argue to argue with a bunch of hypotheticals.

The majority of 4-plexes are built by commercial construction companies. They are buying single residential properties and then converting them to rental units. And if an individual once that happens they get a LLC designation to manage their rental properties. The whole tax situation changes. The person is no longer a R-1 owner. They are a schedule C Rental Property.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 13, 2021 at 11:41 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

So what's the problem with providing housing whether by means of a rental or an ownership situation? Housing is housing and the denser it is, the better it is for the planet. We don't care if an LLC owns it or an owner of a single family home who wants to turn his home into a four-plex to accommodate more families.


Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2021 at 3:40 am

Amie is a registered user.

I am embarrassed to be a progressive Democrat. This is nothing but racist classist NIMBYIism. Everyone is pro-environment and pro-equqllity till it impacts them in the slightest. Density is a good thing for the city. Consider it.

Web Link


Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 15, 2021 at 1:43 am

eileen is a registered user.

Interesting that, beanbagxyz, who lives in the ultra-expensive R1 community of Palo Alto Hills, is so passionate about putting all the dense, high-rise housing in another R1 neighborhood. BTW, College Terrace is all R1 including the grandfathered-in (small) apartments.

Oh wait, I forgot that all the dense housing has to be right next door to a transit area. Why? Because the State government thinks that all the people renting these new micro-units will be riding trains, buses, bikes, and not own cars.

The post-Covid trend will be working from home. Not much fun working in a 350 sq. ft. apartment unit.

If dense housing is allowed in College Terrace then it should be in every R1 neighborhood including, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, and Atherton to name a few.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2021 at 10:35 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Beanbag is the best example of what is wrong with this picture. Someone who lives in a location that by definition is not going to be subject to dense housing is busy putting on the hustle for dense housing elsewhere so he can capitalize on it. And busy using all of the clue words, buzz words to make his point. [Portion removed.]

College Terrace is next to SU. SU should be building what ever housing they need for their employees and students. Enough said on that topic. For the College Terrace that is not owned by SU those are single family homes who by definition as to when they bought those homes should expect that the neighborhood will retain it's identity. The people who think they have a right to gut out a neighborhood for their own financial benefit are not going to accomplish that by intoning sanctimonious, self serving arguments.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

"This is nothing but racist classist NIMBYIism"

Pulling out the "r" word cheapens your argument.

If R-1s are inherently racist, then why are there cities across the country that are more diverse than Palo Alto also have R-1 zoning? Or are you saying that African Americans, Latinos, etc. don't deserve to live in housing zoned R-1?

It's too simple to blame R-1 zoning as the main issue. That's a red herring. It's everything else that stymies building new housing (regulation, green mandates, BMR subsidy, impact fees, historical zoning, Palo Alto process) that are the real reasons. There's no way in hell that Eichler could have built his houses in today's Palo Alto.

And all this nonsense around the Fry's location without any action. There's plenty of infill space in Palo Alto. We just make it hard to develop on it.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 15, 2021 at 6:22 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

Excuse me to all the folks claiming that since I live in a single-family zoned neighborhood, I want others to take the load but I on the other hand prefer to maintain my neighborhood 'character'. And by 'character', it means exactly what the NIMBYs think it means.

I want my community to allow dense housing too. I am not that stupid to think that we can pick and choose anymore. Everything that is jobs-rich should be dense and public transit rich. That is how this planet is going to survive in the long run.

To Eileen who said this:

"The post-Covid trend will be working from home. Not much fun working in a 350 sq. ft. apartment unit."

[Portion removed.]

A 350 sq ft home is still a home. Tell that to a teacher who has to commute 2 hours to get to your city to teach. How do I know? Because my daughter's 2nd grade teacher does exactly that. You know where she drives from each morning? Patterson.

And why does she have to do that? Because the NIMBYs don't allow anything to get built around them to allow her to just be able to live in that 350 sq ft apt and walk to school.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 15, 2021 at 6:33 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Post removed; excessive posting.]


Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 16, 2021 at 12:18 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Beanbag,
The thing is you seem to rail on families, maybe like yours, that have worked very hard to save up to buy a home with a yard and then call them NIMBY. Look at that horrible development overshadowing the small homes next door, taking all their privacy and light away, and honestly say that this is best for Palo Alto or the tenants living there? MARKET RATE (ugly) dorm rooms are the best we can do?
We can create affordable family housing that fits into the neighborhoods and adds beauty and privacy without destroying the character of neighborhoods or the family homes next door. It will take serious financing from private housing advocates and perhaps, the local billionaires to make that happen. Investment firms like Cato will not build (ALL) below-market rate rental housing because it costs too much to build, an average of $600,000 for each unit.
It's really the LAND under the new building they are interested in because it is even MORE VALUABLE. When they quietly sell in a few years they make a tidy little profit for their investors! Now the increased value is passed on to the renters in the form of rent increases. So, like other people, they will move on to greener pastures, unlike the people that were lucky enough to buy a condo or house. Everyone loses (except the global investment firms who feed the 1% more profits)! It's a money game. If we are creative we can have a better outcome where everyone gets to live in real affordable housing.
City and state governments do not want you to know of possible solutions because it would take the middle ma ie. Global Investment Firms that look at land to be bought and traded for profit. They are not working in our best interests.
Expecting to have people living in shoeboxes with NO AMENITIES is criminal!!

Read Professor Patrick Condon's book, "Sick City". You might learn a few things.
Web Link


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 16, 2021 at 2:51 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

We have made housing into an asset class and a retirement plan and everyone is out their protecting their land value. What they don't realize is that in the long run, that land value is going to evaporate if an economy does not thrive.

And economy thrives when all types of people live here. Talk to a local business that is struggling. How hard it is to hire and retain employees. The cost of doing business etc. They'll tell you. Multiply that by the 1000s and you'll see the light.

The reason it cost $600,000 to build is because the NIMBYs have not allowed anything to get built.

Don't blame the home builders and investors. They are of course going to be in it to make money but they are also providing a product.

[Portion removed.]

Living in the middle of a bustling city and expecting privacy and not having shadows fall on your home is the height of lunacy. There are wide open spaces in the rest of the country where you can get plenty of privacy and no shadows.

But when your privacy and the shadows that you feel are inconvenient impacts our economy and the planet, everyone suffers.

Not sure if you know but demographically, we are screwed. And the reason the young don't want to have any kids is because of the cost of living. And the root cause of that cost of living has everything to do with the cost of housing.

Just wait a few more decades and all these homes and the land values you want to protect, how the values will be able to sustain.

Make our cities livable for everyone. Stop being greedy and so short-sighted. Housing is a long-term game and the long-term needs a thriving economy.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 16, 2021 at 6:09 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

I see two big questions behind most of the debate here.

The first is "What kind of community do you want?"

There will never be full agreement on that because people have different values. Political processes have to be used to reach a compromise. However, the people who are most directly affected by the consequences should have more influence on that compromise. If you live in College Terrace, your opinion on this project should carry more weight than mine.

The second is "What are the constraints in the real world?"

Most people are not going to live where they work. On average, tech employees change jobs every 3 years. Companies move as they grow. Etc. If any city is a counterexample, it should be Palo Alto; we have 3 times as many jobs as working residents -- but 75% of our residents still work in other towns. You can't ignore transportation.

We are NOT transit-rich. VTA is a disaster. Caltrain is great from here to San Francisco and vice-versa, but can't get people to the majority of jobs, which are (by design) spread all over the Valley. This is fixable over decades and at a cost of 10s to 100s of billions of dollars, if the economy and political will stay strong enough. But for at least another generation, most residents of new developments will need to drive and to park.

Vancouver planner Patrick Condon: "We have incrementally quadrupled the density of Vancouver, but we haven’t seen any decrease in per square foot costs. That evidence is indisputable...No amount of opening zoning or allowing for development will cause prices to go down. We’ve seen no evidence of that at all. It’s not the NIMBYs that are the problem – it’s the global increase in land value in urban areas that is the problem." Increasing supply and increasing density don't improve affordability unless demand is ALSO managed.

I'm out of space, but there's still water, city services, schools, and more...


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2021 at 6:34 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Allen Akin, thanks for adding some facts to this discussion, especially about the reality of what happened when Vancouver quadrupled its density and prices didn't drop.

Those sloganeering about NIMBYism conveniently forget about water shortages and the never-ending rate hikes.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 16, 2021 at 6:39 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

If you want to cherry-pick Vancouver, I'll cherry-pick this...

Web Link

Excerpts:

"In the past two decades, home prices in some leading North American and European cities have skyrocketed. In Tokyo, however, they’ve flatlined. So why no affordable-housing crisis in Japan? A big factor, experts say, is the country’s relatively deregulated housing policies, which have allowed housing supply to keep up with demand in the 21st century. With no rent controls and fewer restrictions on height and density, Tokyo appears to be a city where the market is under control—where supply is keeping home prices from rising as drastically as they have in many other major world cities. A reason why housing prices in Japan are not rising as fast as in New York, for example, is the large number of housing starts,”

Public transit is a disaster because public transit does not work when we have one home, one lot.

And we have seen what allowing folks local control with their own vested interests does and we have the results now. It is time to try something new and that is to look at the whole housing situation from a macro view, not a narrow-selfish view of what it does to your or mine home values.

As far as speculators coming in and bidding up house prices, that is easy. Triple the property taxes for units that are left vacant. That will solve all the speculation.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 16, 2021 at 7:00 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Post removed; excessive posting.]


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2021 at 7:03 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Another reason why Tokyo's housing market isn't rising is because of the declining birth rate -- in part because there's no privacy!

Remember that space is at a huge premium in Japan which pioneered the concept of "negative space" where a single twig serves as decoration and where possessions are strictly limited -- again due to lack of space. It was Japan that pioneered having workers sleep in those coffin-like enclosures -- again due to lack of space -- and where they have white-gloved "subway pushers" to politely shove commuters into the trains.

Even at the best Tokyo hotels space is so limited that it's a challenge to get from the bed to the bathroom without stepping INTO your suitcase.

Prices there remain very very high -- as in most densely populated areas. Is that really they way we want to live? Maybe it's ok for young singles who catch the last train home as Japanese "salarymen" do but it's neither practical nor desirable for families or the rest of us.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 16, 2021 at 7:33 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

Declining birth rate has nothing to do with smaller living areas. Tell that to the folks in Bangladesh, India and the rest of the world where smaller living quarters is the norm.

Declining birth rates in Japan because economically they have never recovered from the real estate crash of 1989.

If you want to see what high housing prices does to demographics trends, just look at China that is rapidly aging because...., you guessed it.

Web Link

"The high cost of raising children and housing prices are often cited as one of the key deterrents to young parents from having one more child."

Declining birth rates is already happening in this country due to the exorbitant cost of living and if this housing crisis is not tamed, we are looking at Japan here as well.

Maybe that's good, maybe not but that for sure would not protect your home values because there would be not as many to buy your homes so I would be really careful if that is what you are going to stake your entire thesis on to not allow regular folks to live amongst us.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2021 at 10:03 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Read up on China and its one-child per GOVERNMENT family policy before pontificating.


Posted by beanbagxyz
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 16, 2021 at 10:11 pm

beanbagxyz is a registered user.

[Post removed; excessive posting.]


Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2021 at 9:07 pm

Evan is a registered user.

This proposal is ABSURD. Palo Alto is not some affordable place for young people, or people who earn low/moderate incomes.

Palo Alto is for the wealthy, and for people who require enormous single-family homes. And it should stay that way. I mean for goodness sake, THINK OF THE PARKING. These are cars folks! They deserve a (free) home on city land, for days on end.

Stop this proposal, and stop it immediately.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 22, 2021 at 9:25 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Palo Alto is a small city. It is next to a major university that has a huge amount of open land. SU has to build on that open land. Palo Alto only has a reputation because of it's proximity to SU. Quit beating on Palo Alto for land - it is built out to it's borders. Yes - we have a wide variety of type housing due to it's proximity to SF and major companies. New housing is going up all over the bay area in every city.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 25, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The topic of housing is being thrown around with no discussion as to the monetary factors of property taxes. In a single family home they are receiving the property tax bill which lays out all of the costs associated with the county, including the bond issues it is paying off. Every time a house is sold the property tax amount is upgraded to the current sale value. The city receives a benefit, the county receives a benefit.

In a commercial sale the building is taxed at the amount of the last sale. But the rent amount to tenants continually moves upward to market value. That is the profit to the commercial entity who owns the property. Worse - there is no requirement to keep the property working correctly for any upgrades - water problems, termite problems, run-down conditions. The tenant is the victim in this situation. And if the property is stuck in the middle of a residential area then the surrounding residents are also victims with a property in their midst which is run down and not maintained.

If commercial properties are on ECR then they are usually required to met certain requirements in order to receive their discounts for some low cost housing units. They will be expected to conform to receive those discounts. The tenant does better in this situation - they can complain to the city.


Posted by ST
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 25, 2021 at 9:36 pm

ST is a registered user.

Build build build. This is a reasonable proposal for the location. Given its proximity to the Caltrain, retail, and Stanford, and the size of the units, tenants should have low rates of car ownership.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 25, 2021 at 9:58 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

SI - if you live on Stanford Property then you do not own the property - only the house. Very convoluted system. Nice place to be with a lot of benefits. But your situation is unique and not what the home owners in PA and bay area are experiencing. My in-laws lived on campus and enjoyed it. But the city has zoning which is part of the issue here. You do not have those issues if you are living on campus.


Posted by Here SInce 1979
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 26, 2021 at 1:17 pm

Here SInce 1979 is a registered user.

Here we go ... I get the need for housing, BMR, need for jobs, etc ... BUT ... I've not seen any information about Water supply. Water is a finite resource. Currently we are at 26% of normal rainfall and likely to get worse. Last drought we had contracts with other states to help out if needed. They refused to supply California with water. If the development will have more people than currently live there it puts us in peril.
The developers only care about the profit they'll make with which they will be able to buy expensive bottled water.

PS. It's extremely sad to see so many entitled people trashing each other on this site. Find another hobby that isn't so destructive.


Posted by Paige
a resident of another community
5 hours ago

Paige is a registered user.

The proposed project has a density of 70du/acre.

It's not your father's 3-story apartment building in an R-1 neighborhood. Most people I know are familiar with R-10/12 apartments in R-1 neighborhoods. They work just fine. This is not that. Honestly, I think if anyone openly advocated a policy to rezone R-1 neighborhoods for R-70 apartment buildings this debate would be over in an instant.

The studios average 376sf and the 1BRs average 658sf. Clearly families will not live here.

If you look at the ground floor plans you'll see that the stairwell and the trash area are combined 392sf. Do "woke" SJW's really support "inclusive" housing that gives "BMR people" about as much space as needed for a dumpster and a stairwell?

Will Cato accept a condition of development that requires MR units to be rented only to so-called "workforce" members (teachers et al) or "essential workers" (grocery store et al) or to those whose incomes are below certain MR thresholds. If not, the MR units will go to high-paid tech workers who live at work. They will outbid everyone else in the market.

In downtown RWC, rich tech giants are buying and renting whole new apt buildings en masse for their workers.

So we are pretending to build "affordable" housing, but clearly not for families, and clearly not for anyone whose income is less than highly paid tech workers, and whose token BMR units are spaces slightly larger than those needed to house a dumpster.

Can we talk honestly?

This is a solution to what problem? It's a solution to how to allow high-tech office development to continue while pretending to house those being displaced by its workers. If woke SJW's really want to help lower income families we could start by not displacing them with much higher paid tech workers.

Part II of this post, which I may never write, describes why offices, not NIMBY's, crowd out housing. You will never "solve" the housing problem until you address the office problem.






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