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Eighty applicants vie for seats on Palo Alto's new housing panel

Original post made on Mar 30, 2021

Seventeen volunteers, including residents, community activists and property owners, will be chosen next week from a group of 80 applicants for a complex two-year assignment: drafting a roadmap for expanding Palo Alto's housing supply.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 3:54 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2021 at 5:32 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I hope that the residents will include both home owners and renters. I think we should be told and made aware as to whether the successful applicants are home owners or renters.

Posted by Not Good Enough
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2021 at 11:05 pm

Not Good Enough is a registered user.

On the eve of March 24, CA Yimby Action held its "Housing Element Watchdog" workshop with the stated theme of, "How to take the lead in your city", with lawyers helping with the training. State Yimby and local chapters had been recruting for Housing Element committees applicants and "watchdogs" in as many big and small cities as possible.

It's a shame (as it would be if any group) that the YIMBY's have tried to pack this pool of 80 applicants, hoping to dominate Palo Alto's Housing Element Committee and thus scew recommendations to the city council with its baked in narrow perspective, rightousness and bias.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2021 at 3:23 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Not Good Enough, you're absolutely right about the YIMBY's especially given the very ugly posters they nailed to the telephone polls in College Terrace trashing equating anyone who disagreed with them to Trump and the gun-toting lawyer couple in St.Louis. The Santa Clara Democratic Party should be ashamed of itself for endorsing such nasty polarizing candidates who will alienate other Democrats.

Don't we have enough hate speech without their immature ugly nonsense?

Posted by anon1234
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2021 at 9:26 am

anon1234 is a registered user.

Agree with not good enough and online name.
It is also in fortunate that HCD, state dept. Of housing and community development, made errors in its analysis of housing needs which resulted in them double counting.
This error has been proven by think tank
Embarcadero institute and by national sources such as Freddie Mac.
The regional housing assignment has failed in each eight year cycle for decades to produce housing that is most needed, that is affordable housing while market rate housing has been produced at about the rates required , even in Palo Alto.
The problem in housing is affordability which cannot be met by market rate development.
The state is ecouraging land speculation which contributes to escalating land values that make impossible for so
Many to live here!

Posted by Angie Evans
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2021 at 9:33 am

Angie Evans is a registered user.

I'm using my real name because I think it's important to be transparent, especially when making accusations.

This is in response to one anonymous poster claiming that YIMBYs packed the pool. I literally do not see any YIMBY leaders listed in the applicant list for the Housing Element. The notes sections are very clear and thorough and I did not see a single YIMBY note is in there. Further, the YIMBY event mentioned was 2 weeks after applications for this working group were due. I was truly impressed with the number and quality of the applicants. I think we should be applauding the city and staff for their outreach in this process.

I work for Palo Alto Forward and we did encourage applicants to participate in this public process, just like neighborhood associations and other clubs did. Palo Alto Forward did this with a very specific intention: to increase the diversity, inclusion, and equity within the Housing Element process. I'd like to think that we can all agree that without more diverse decision-making bodies, we cannot create a more inclusive and equitable community. As I have said many times before, 46% of Palo Alto rents yet only 1 renter was on the previous Housing Element Working Group. I hope that this Council will correct that.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2021 at 9:48 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"I work for Palo Alto Forward..."

So you're a paid lobbyist as is at least one other person on that list regardless of whether you call yourself a lobbyist or merely an advocate. The source of funding for PAF and the local, state, national and global YIMBY parties has always been interesting.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2021 at 9:55 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

There is no lack of available housing for renters. Buildings for apartments are going up at a good rate. Apartments and condos belong in the ECR corridor and the downtown city periphery. That is what we have been told is the way to go so that the renters are next to the main transit corridors. In South PA that is along the San Antonio Corridor.

The "social equity" argument falls apart when people talk about putting a four plex in the middle of a R-1 neighborhood. That is not social equity. That is a push to break down the theory of a planned community that is what is being sold in the new communities in the newer CA. If the newer communities with the less expensive homes are being built in planned communities then that is the newest popular approach to real estate development.

Renters are not paying property taxes. Typically they are not looking at the long term investment in housing. Lets be clear on that. Social equity has nothing to do with the stages of life as younger renters morph into family members who then think of an investment in long term housing.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2021 at 10:03 am

Online Name is a registered user.

" Buildings for apartments are going up at a good rate."

As are office buildings. Much of San Mateo downtown is being demolished for a huge new one. Google recently announced another 1,000,000 sq ft office building. More office buildings = more workers/commuters = more competition for housing = higher housing costs.

Take the social justice campaigns to high tech which have recently had record-breaking legal settlements for sex, race and pay discrimination. And that's nit even counting the poor gig workers whose pay is being cut even more to pay for the $230,000,000 lobbying campaign against giving them benefits.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2021 at 11:07 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

"The term "Social Equity" is not a one-sided argument. Social Equity is applicable to all people. My extended family who qualify as mixed/other race want to live in well organized, beautiful communities and make sure that their children go to good schools and graduate from college. And get excellent jobs. Well planned communities are one of their desired goals. They are not into creating chaos and look to have the calmest, most peaceful place to come home to a night.

If you think that waving a "social equity" flag to create chaos is getting you any where then you are in for a different view of "Social Equity". And that extended family manages a lot of your state functions. Working for the government is a well planned investment scheme - and they are very good at it.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2021 at 11:55 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Resident, absolutely. Too bad PAF, the YIMBY party and their new nastier arm "Peninsula For Everyone" don't recognize that.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Let's note that the people who are pushing for chaos in housing may have a personal bone to pick from their own childhood. Scott Weiner of SF, Rebecca Kaplan of Oakland.
Did they just decide it is payback time for bad experiences in their own childhood? Mr. Weiner focuses on childhood sexual issues in his legislation. Rebecca ran for mayor of Oakland and did not get elected. Now it is destruct the neighborhoods of Oakland?

Note that UC wans to build student housing in People's Park but the 60's generation refuses to give up their crusades. It is personal for them. So no student housing in People's Park but destruct the community structure of the city?

I grew up in West Hollywood - that is a very successful gay community that is the backbone of the Hollywood entertainment system. They make a lot of money, have beautiful neighborhoods, and keep their heads down. Celebrate yes, chaos No. They have achieved their community goals and have no need to keep rocking the boat. They are a successful example of a well organized community.

So who keeps rocking the boat and for what purpose?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

There are big differences between renters and home owners.

A renter can decide within a month that they want to move and basically do just that. If a renter has a problem with say the walls or the plumbing or the fence, then the renter calls the landlord and expects it fixed as soon as possible and will probably hound the landlord until it is done. A renter is unlikely to mow the lawn or plant flowerbeds to make the property look nice although some may do that. A renter is less likely to take pride in the property the way a homeowner would. A renter has no investment in the property or the neighborhood and cares little about what the neighbors are doing.

A homeowner looks on the property not just as a place to live, but an investment in the future. A homeowner will have to find a plumber in an emergency and be ready to pay for the plumber. A homeowner can make improvements or not at a time which is convenient. A homeowner if deciding to move has to spruce up the home before putting it on the market and then wait until such time as a sale closes before being able to move. A homeowner will most likely be interested in the neighborhood, the local park, the local infrastructure. A homeowner is more likely to remain in the property longer than the average renter.

Both renting and owning have their good and bad aspects. Both can be equally involved in school and community issues. Both can be the nicest of neighbors or again the worst of neighbors. But both see things from a different perspective. A renter can move without losing a huge financial loss in a downmarket whereas an owner cannot. The owners will likely wait for an upturn as the financial burden will make the decision for them.

We need both groups represented when it comes to decision making on some of these upcoming zoning and planning issues. Don't ignore the future decisions that cannot be undone if these boards are one sided.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2021 at 3:46 pm

ALB is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Dick D.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Dick D. is a registered user.

In all this good stuff - building an array of housing for all - it's not apparent that any thought has been given nor planned to be given to a seeming small item. How will all these places be promoted and made sufficiently appealing to those for whom the housing is being built. A kind of educational challenge. If I were currently housed closely with family in lousy housing would I be willing to get away from my family for better housing. Many factors will guide the new committee is zeroing in on places to build, but no where is account being included of matching the housing to those for which the housing is being targeted. Having the currently sought "community" participants are NOT going be representative of those for whom the housing is targeted.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2021 at 5:50 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

When a city approves a new apartment / condo building on ECR they have all of the options to impose concerning the the use of a portion for BMR, older people, etc. And because those options have been written into the approval process those options will be audited for compliance. The builder is on notice and on record.

When a four-plex is stuck in the middle of a R-1 neighborhood that builder has no requirement to meet any goals other than his own profit motive. He is flying under the city requirements as is his intention. It is a way to circumnavigate the stated goals for housing. That is what you are looking at - the wild west. And if you can attach the "social equity" sword to this phenomena than you all have achieved a heist. Call it what it is - extortion. What is the reward for that?

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 31, 2021 at 11:14 pm

chris is a registered user.

Dick D.

Did you read the criteria for selecting members? You may have missed something.

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2021 at 11:37 pm

felix is a registered user.

Transport? Here’s the thing, Angie Evans. A couple weeks ago you signed on to NextDoor as a College Terrace resident though you live far across town (against the rules).

Your deception was so your comment supporting the neighborhood busting Wellesley development would seem as if it came from a College Terrace neighbor. Only you got caught and called out. Awkward.

The point is - there is no reason to believe you now anymore than then. That you are paid staff for Palo Alto Forward, which recruited for the Yimby’s Housing Element Watchdog Training, hardly helps your credibility.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2021 at 12:27 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Felix, good points. These tactics have been going on for a long time. Friends outraged at the YIMBY tactics in College Terrace shared this 4-year-old article from The Guardian entitled entitled "Rise of the Yimbys: the angry millennials with a radical housing solution" Web Link

Read on to see how their hypocrisy as they spout off about 'racism" and "social justice" while opposing truly below-market-rate housing for minorities!

"Clark and other members of yimby groups consider themselves progressives and environmentalists, but they’re not afraid to throw the occasional firebomb into the usual liberal alliances. They frequently take aim at space-hogging, single-family homeowners and confound anti-capitalist groups by daring to take the side of developers, even luxury condo developers. They have started a “sue the suburbs” campaign that targets cities that don’t approve big housing projects and have even attempted to take over the board of the local Sierra Club.
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Their willingness to lobby for market rate housing in traditionally minority neighbourhoods has seen them called techie gentrifiers and developer stooges. Their penchant for market-based solutions, has seen them called “libertarians” with “trickle-down economics”

Who do they serve? The big tech companies where contractors/gig workers outnumber regular employees!

"Yimby groups have received funding from founders of several hi-tech companies, including tens of thousands of dollars from Jeremy Stoppelman, a co-founder of Yelp, and the Open Philanthropy Project, which is partly funded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Deepa Varma, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, says it has been frustrating to see a new group come in and portray Latinos fighting for preservation of their neighbourhood as nimbys."

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2021 at 6:54 am

Annette is a registered user.

Remember when the developer of the College Terrace Centre used affection for JJ&F to gain approval of the PC needed to over-build at 2180 El Camino? Outcome: the end of JJ&F, a family run business and the associated jobs. Same thing is happening here: support for affordable housing is being used to push through housing legislation and dense housing, particularly in R1 zones. The critical detail left out of all the YIMBY rhetoric is that the result will not be affordable housing. The result will be more housing that will not move the needle on the need for affordable housing. All but a very small portion (that little percentage required to qualify for all sorts of concessions of the sort that mitigate impact - parking, height, set-backs, density, etc) will be expensive housing. The push is a scam; what Weiner et al are saying will work will not achieve the desired goal. But some developers will hit the mother lode and some politicians will be elected and re-elected. And they know it. This has evolved in such a way that the issue is now more about winning the debate than it is about addressing the need for affordable housing.

There's also risk associated with the sort of legislation and housing that is being promoted: there's no parallel requirement for adequate fire and life safety staffing. If the passionate YIMBY-speak wins the debate, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2021 at 10:04 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Annette, great post. Re the College Terrace fiasco, remember YELP CEO Stoppelman -- a major YIMBY donor -- fought to move YELP headquarters to the JJ&F site and City Hall jumped through hoops to accommodate him.

He then unceremoniously dropped his PA plans in 2017 after one of his SD workers went public about how badly he underpaid them, he fired her, she went public again etc. etc. Ironically 2017 is the same year of The Guardian article posted above detailing YIMBY's nasty hypocrisy. Web Link (The Guardian is the well-respected British paper employing the Pulitzer-prize winning Jill Abramson formerly New York Times)

Here's a link to the worldwide coverage these "social justice warriors" got re the underpaid worker Web Link

And so it goes. YIMBY's continue doing their backers' bidding fighting for higher density at everyone's expense. Except for Big Tech and Big Developers.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 1, 2021 at 10:36 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

What we see across the board is activist groups of all stripes intent solely on their specific POV that does not include the broader net effect of the end result of their intended activity. So they go to the city waving their money, flags and philosophy.

We are suppose to have people in those jobs who are smart enough to figure out if you produce the effect they are asking for then a precedent has been set which now casts a whole different effect on the city which, as can be predicted - will go out of control and turn this small city into a different place - in part regarding the services we all pay for - fire, police, water, garbage pick-up, electricity - now a topic of blogs, and coming up the drought - water control. These people think they are in control - they aren't - once the fire is lit it will consume the place. We see it in all of the larger cities. The ones that all of the people are leaving so the tax base for the schools and city is now out of the door.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 1, 2021 at 10:57 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Oops. I made a typo above. I meant SF (San Francisco), not SD when I wrote, "He then unceremoniously dropped his PA plans in 2017 after one of his SD workers went public about how badly he underpaid them..."

The worker was based in Yelp's San Francisco office although Yelp moved her department to the East Bay after the brouhaha.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2021 at 11:23 am

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

80, huh? Lots of gravy like Homer Simpson dumped on his head in that episode.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Resident is a registered user.

It's not correct to say renters don't pay property tax, it just ends up indirectly in their rent.

As for "a personal bone to pick from their own childhood. Scott Weiner of SF" Wiener had an affluent liberal childhood in New Jersey and went to Duke. Whatever bone you're talking about, it wasn't hardship.

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