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Around Town: Palo Alto comes under fire in New York Times op-ed

Original post made on Nov 13, 2021

In the latest Around Town column, Palo Alto gets called out in a New York Times video op-ed over its lack of new housing and Bayshore Christian Ministries debuts a new outdoor space in East Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, November 13, 2021, 8:57 AM

Comments (94)

Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2021 at 9:36 am

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

It’s curious why there’s always an expectation for Palo Alto to build more dense housing.

* Few families want this type of living space. They will almost always prefer living in a single family home in a neighboring city.

* No one is entitled to live here (including me). Just because you want a Ferrari doesn’t mean you get one.

* When was the last time you heard of someone complaining about housing in Atherton? It’s quite odd why people and media feel that this community owes them something in life at their preferred price.


Posted by Michael Weiss
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 13, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Michael Weiss is a registered user.

Palo Alto and NYC are light years apart and cannot be compared on a one to one basis as it is akin to comparing apples to oranges.

New York (most notably Queens) has become a network of impoverished third world communities and it is safe to assume that most Palo Altans do not want something like this to occur in their city.


Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2021 at 12:28 pm

Evan is a registered user.

After spending the last few decades watching my friends — and now my own sister — get pushed out of the area due to high housing costs, I'm so excited to see the NY Times call out Palo Alto as the selfish bastion of conservatives-pretending-to-be-liberals that is.

Palo Alto, you've caused the housing crisis. You've caused congestion. You've micromanaged all new housing to the point that almost nothing can get built. You've actively pushed your cleaners, teachers and plumbers away, so that they're commuting from Stockton — and then you have the gall to say we can't build housing because of "the traffic".

It's time to look in the mirror, and realize that you're not the liberals you profess to be. Black lives don't matter if they can't live here. Immigrants are not welcome here if the only immigrants who are, are those who can afford a $10m house. You don't "believe in science" if you refuse to understand basic economics. You're not fighting climate change if you're forcing everyone to live in single-family homes and drive everywhere.

You are the problem, and the news is most definitely out. But hey, your house just appreciated! So I guess you can be proud of something.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 2:19 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

I volunteered for housing on Maybell. I volunteered to call voters to vote “no” on the referendum. The housing there was overturned by 10% of voters. I saw it for what it was, prequel to continued, historic “redialing” by an elite and viral gated community. It’s not only “not in my backyard” aggressive segregation but also not in my side yard or front yard either. It’s only a yes when single family home owners don’t have any poor housing in their plane of sight. The shadow is long, far and mean by so called “bastion of liberal beliefs”. Although really it’s libertarians who refuse to partner with anyone outside of this extreme — it’s an extreme almost cult like voice of far removed from the “real” needs of community building. Unless it engendered in a software program, or email generated or an App based program the reality of the “have nots” is so far up [email protected]%} of R1 zones in PA they shut off the lights and hide in plain site, on the seat of their $6000 bikes , in their Tesla and Prius — sandbagging any hope for vibrant, inclusive, community inclusive to all. 35 firearms stolen from a single family R1 Old Palo Alto home a few months ago, says it all.


Posted by SteveDabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2021 at 2:33 pm

SteveDabrowski is a registered user.

Poor Evan, so bitter, so upset that the people he thought were liberals turn out to be only human and instead of following up their slogans in support of BLM, etc. are really only interested in their own welfare and quality of life.

Thank you Evan for reminding us that we should welcome crowding and ugly development in our comfortable suburban neighborhoods. We need to jockey each day for parking in our streets near our own homes which should be crowded with corner to corner cars in order to qualify as real liberals!

I'm really all broke up that I can't qualify! I'm glad my home has appreciated, I'm happy not having to live next to a big box stack and pack apartment house. I'm glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to work and afford a home (couldn't afford Crescent Park) in a nice neighborhood that is quiet, has trees and is pleasant for people and dogs who like to go out for a walk.

I'm not about to apologize for it!


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2021 at 2:49 pm

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

It’s hilarious that people who grew up in Palo Alto decades ago feel entitled to be able to purchase a home here at a price of their choosing. It must be a difficult pill to swallow to see hard working immigrants with dark complexions being able to afford what you cannot.

Newsflash: the prices you are looking for exist in neighboring East Palo Alto - but of course you’re too afraid to live there because your neighbors will largely be people of color.

This sounds like Make Palo Alto Great Again garbage.


Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2021 at 2:57 pm

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

To the extent Maybell persists at all, it’s as a “rally the base” political narrative by a small group of extra-passionate folks. Whether or not the project’s benefits outweighed its warts wasn’t universally agreed on by reasonable people; and the context of broad resident anger over years of crappy “PC” and other exemption-rich development deals played an immense, even dominant role. The NYT claim, that 2013 Measure D proves Palo Altans don’t want affordable housing in town, is a stretch.

In fact, Palo Alto has one of the region’s more progressive records on low-income housing. Except for San Jose, which is 15X larger, Palo Alto actually has more income-restricted BMR housing units than any other city in the Santa Clara County, including Mt View, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, all of which have both higher populations and more jobs than Palo Alto does ([email protected], ACS 2019). Though more is needed, 9% of Palo Alto’s housing stock is income-restricted BMR, the second-highest rate of any city in the County.

Since 2015 Palo Alto has appropriated roughly $40M in city funds for BMR housing (Buena Vista, Wilton Court, Grant Ave). With last month’s commitment of land and money to the LifeMoves homeless project, the tally goes above $50 million. Palo Alto’s commercial linkage fee for Affordable Housing, at $68.50/sf, leads the Bay Area. And while some sniff at our office crackdown, without it at least one housing project – the now-leasing 2755 El Camino Real “Workforce Housing” development – would today be an office building instead.

As for single-family homes: as a share of Palo Alto’s housing, SFH are actually a lower percentage, and multi-unit housing a higher percentage, than the County, the Bay Area overall, and the state of California (ACS2019, US Census 2010/20). The NYT map is wrong.

The NYT’s larger argument, that West Coast Democrats are insufficiently progressive, is a topic likely to see more debate post-Nov 3. Their assertion about Palo Alto sheds no light on that thesis.


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2021 at 3:11 pm

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

@ Eric - fantastic points backed by data. It’s curious why professional writers at The New York Times cannot do the same HW.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 3:29 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Mr. Filseth your argument is weak. Just because Alta Housing exists as the city’s whipping post does not make anti-multi family housing hole justifiable. A minimum 10 year wait list for Alta unit, come on, really? Lumping A 70 unit Mayfield Place very low income building into the totals w Stanford’s / Palo Alto upscale agreement of 160 units up hill from Mayfield does not make up the loss. Nor does double counting Housing Element quotients from its 5/6 cycles. Bueno Vista was a major win for low income working poor renters for keeping them in mobile homes. All who were about to be kicked curbside and out of Palo Alto. It houses 400 people. Mayfield Place at 70 units and 150 people cost $35 million and after only four years is collapsing inside and out — with its cardboard interior doors, no storage, fire hazard electric non energy star stoves — broken down parking puzzle . Concrete is cracking and separating and sinking into ECR — shameful. Put the money where your council mouth‘s move — in action and unison to the reality . Our community will collapse like Mayfield and Climate should a wealthy elite continue to ignore and deny there is a “we’ve got a problem, Palo Alto”. Pushing 2000 units to the east exterior of PA on top of HWY 101, in a commercial toxic manufacturing site and as far from a train, a public school, park or public safety is shear madness in the making. Air pollution, transit desert and as far a plane site is totally obscuring good solutions for people and not profits. Here’s a question: Who owns the soil under the multi acres of the member only Ohlone garden? How about housing there? It was the site of a un realized low-income Lawrence tract (Named in honor of a first African American Stanford Prof) that was buried by Palo Alto in 1947. Some history!


Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2021 at 3:31 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Thank you Eric Filseth for telling the truth. The data is factual. The NY Times opinion
author is spinning his bias. He did not do his homework. Palo Alto is an easy target. Why do so many want to live here if it is such a racist environment? Nearly half the population is Asian. Applebaum needs to digest the data and put it in his pipe and smoke it.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 3:51 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

As well Mr. Filseth, The real city responsibilities are not by shoving it to passionate, poor non-profits , predominately staffed by women, people of color and lower wages (likely who can’t live in a PA either) is wrong as well. Putting homeless in temporary stacked, storage boxes called supportive temporary housing on a former human sewage treatment site!? Money is not coming from Palo Alto either but the state’s Homekey. How generous of our city to extend the dirt and old poo site out and away from your R1 line of sight.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:12 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed; successive posts by same commenter are not permitted.]


Posted by ChrisZaharias
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:13 pm

ChrisZaharias is a registered user.

Evan NAILS it, and I am reminded by this article how very little there is to miss now that we’ve moved from PA to a better, more affordable, sane, politically moderate place. I was born and raised in PA but will leave it to all you holier-than-thou, NIMBY Democrats. Enjoy!


Posted by PaloAltoVoter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:16 pm

PaloAltoVoter is a registered user.

Palo Alto haters….ask yourself why you are at odds with one of top "affordable housing advocate" cities in Santa Clara county? Palo Alto has 9% of the total housing stock as deed restricted below market rate housing. That’s incredible. There are few cities with Palo Alto’s land costs that have done so much.

And $50 million dollars for more below market rate housing just in a few years, also incredible! The latest investment - $7M from the city (not the state) and $9.7M in land for housing to get the homeless into a highly successful transition housing program. These are all great things.

From the comments here it seems the real complaint is a hatred of single family homes regardless of what the residents are doing in such a diverse, inclusive city. With a minority white and a truly activist population, Palo Alto residents have been quiet for too long as lies are repeated until people just accept them as facts without stopping to think or check.

The NY Times owes Palo Alto a retraction and the Weekly should be ashamed of running this as news.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Why doesn’t the city talk about the rate of poverty in the current census? PA has been touting a less than 2% poverty rate for decades. The PAUSD school district’s low income family demographic is between 10 and 12%. The city has been suppressing true poverty numbers for years by 1) an oppressive lack of limited affordable housing and slum lording. Hello? 50% of local families are taking advantage of the free and reduced school lunch program. Greedy wealthy taking food from the poor too, or maybe our poverty rate is a lot larger?!


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:29 pm

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

Native - you seem like a good soul but your takes here are confusing. No one is entitled to property or rental at pricing of their choice or convenience. If a family can’t live comfortably in Palo Alto, there are wonderful nearby cities to live in at much lower price points. Do think Atherton owes the world affordable or low income housing?


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Uh @Palo Alto Voter guess you have not been following the egregious racist bullying taking place at Gunn? Inclusive? Equitable. It’s reasonable for the almost 50% of us struggling renters, low wage workers, parents, children to live, love and thrive. Turn our dignitaries into visionaries and welcome change as part of rather than then pushing in as just another “problem” to ignore and hide from. NYT is a national syndicate. Likely the writer lives here and is close to our elitist ground zero. We are far from a model city and when nothing done, a mockery. Hoosiers, Bloomington is our sister? Indiana one of the whitest states in the Nation? Our true sister is East PA but she’s a black sheep and 2000 miles closer than comfort. Here’s something PA could provide in lieu of affordable rents: A universal basic income, free access to recreation, art center, museums, provide bicycles, and services to help all those at the edge trying to thrive who were born, raised here. How about a stock dividend “carve out” from Apple, Google, Facebook? Oil Co’s have provided such for Alaskan’s for decades. Make possible for a normal wage earner to mature and invest their skills, energy, educations. After all it’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” yet maybe founders really meant “private property” instead of happiness. Dismal prospects.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mark Mollineaux
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 13, 2021 at 5:56 pm

Mark Mollineaux is a registered user.

> Except for San Jose, which is 15X larger, Palo Alto actually has more income-restricted BMR housing units than any other city in the Santa Clara County

Eric, the *entire county* is awful


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

It also does not follow if one normal wage earner is out priced, we should move. That’s gerrymandering to the inth degree. How about you move and re-distribute your wealth and taxes more evenly into another city. Fresno comes to mind. Especially those very high end earning, empty nesters having the privilege of working from home or seeing their tech stocks exponentially rise from Pandemic By moving out or over, private property owners invest in the social responsible decisions of leveling the playing field of sharing. We can all win if we work together rather than against each ither. When SFHOR1 ‘ers push on height limits is confusing too. Wash DC has a 5o ft ht limit. has that solved their extreme poverty? The 50 ft ht limit is not about housing but a self serving landscape value — City Hall and council hates the high rise they work in and Channing House plane of site, this includes Palo Alto Square monstrosity of wasted land. Well designed cities/towns are not just about objective or subjective standards of looks. Cultural values and social responsibilities are part of a democracy. Calling a spade a spade.


Posted by Chris
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 13, 2021 at 7:19 pm

Chris is a registered user.

The NY Times is funded and owned by the wealthiest people in the world- the same ones who want to make money ripping apart the environment in this area. It's no surprise that they are backing up the growth machine as much as they possibly can.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 7:38 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 7:45 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Amy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2021 at 7:53 pm

Amy is a registered user.

The peninsula has always been a hub of innovation. Too bad the Silicon Valley was established on this actual peninsula rather than in the east bay, perhaps in an actual valley where there is more land for houses than on our limited slice of land.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2021 at 8:07 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Under its latest editor who fired the former Pulitzer Prize winning editor in chief Jill Abramson, the NYT has become a shadow of its former self. How did they cover the Women's March? By bemoaning the fate of the poor daddies in Montclair, NJ, who had to cook their own dinner. That would have NEVER happened under Abramson.

This "new" NYT calls attempts to repeal the $10K limit on SALT (state and local taxes) ia "giveaway to the rich" rather than the vindictive political vendetta by Trump against high-tax "blue states" who are now taxed TWICE.Now how many of you are paying LESS than $10,000 a year in property tax forget about all the double taxation of income tax, business deductions, health care deductions, etc.?

Did the NYT OPINION piece even acknowledge that HIGH RISE APARTMENT building next to the Maybell site it showed in the video? Did they think that was an Atherton mansion rather than proof that almost half of PA's residents are renters??

If you want to find "a newspaper of record" these days, read the Washington Post instead of the poor pathetic NYT these days. And read up on Dean Bacquet, the NYT editor, for more on how he's degraded their coverage since axing the award-winbing Ms. Abramson in an unusually crude and cruel fashion.

Back to local housing, thank heavens Atherton, Portola Valley et al are doing their fair share and have 40+% rental units, contribute tens of millions of dollars to mixed housing and ha and have such a diverse population.

After you're done praising the NYT, compute how much more than $10,000 you pay California in SALT (property taxes, income tax, cap gains, sales tax etc.) and send them a thank you note from a Wealthy Californian and Palo Altan who's thrilled to pay double taxation.

Do income tax or business deductions you've lost?


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 8:17 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Shooting the messenger, eh? The NYT is only a vehicle in which to get the story out. Not too long ago it was a Hearst world, local & global propaganda news gobbling print. The Silly Con’s and this valley of Tech Kings can’t hide behind a massive tax shelter much longer. Together we can change a unfair, unequal system of gerrymandering and a PA council pandering to a few far removed esoteric outerspace Billionaires.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2021 at 8:49 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2021 at 8:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Remember the Palo Alto video was an OPINION piece.

Search "Baquet editorials oped" for coverage of the NYT's recent track record re its opinion section under Dean Baquet from Poynter, journalism schools and even its own staff and various uproars, resignations and apologies re choices beneath the NYT's standards and not "fit to print" for one bragging they publish "All the news that's FIT to print."

This video wasn't -- but will long be remembered.

One example: "Top editorial opinion staff resigns in uproar over the Sen. Cotton "oped ed Web Link

Examples of "unfit to print publication choices abound, sadly from t

This video is one of the


Posted by community member
a resident of University South
on Nov 13, 2021 at 10:09 pm

community member is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2021 at 10:15 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

I'm not aware of any large housing projects that have been proposed or built recently in the Palo Alto or really the whole mid-Peninsula area that are truly "affordable." Most so-called "affordable" housing projects or apartments in this area usually expect prospective tenants to make at least $100,000 a year--and that's considered a low income. Yet if someone proposes even one or two of these supposed "affordable" apartments in a larger complex, city councils often fall over themselves to approve it.

The real problem is that landlords are greedy and price houses and apartments too high. Until the culture of greed is addressed, there will likely be little progress in bringing down housing prices, because people are ignoring the root problem.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2021 at 10:34 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I recently unsubscribed from my New York Times app. I believe their product is extremely poor quality recently. I won’t read biased, inaccurate nonsense.


Posted by RDR
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2021 at 10:40 pm

RDR is a registered user.

The New York Times inadvertently provides a justification for the Bay Area not having added housing units. It says over 8 years the Bay Area added 176,000 housing units and 676,000 jobs. Sounds bad. But you have to realize that the Bay Area LOST 350,000 jobs in the 2008 recession. It's cherry picking to start the count at the beginning of the recovery. Go back to 2008. How many units were added 11 years going forward and how many jobs? Consider that most housing units house 2 employees.

The Bay Area KEPT UP with job growth, and that's exactly why there was not capital investment to build more housing units. The investors don't like to fund units which will go unused for a period of time upon completion. The cost for units added in Palo Alto is greater than the cost for units added in San Jose. So investment simply depends on true demand, not cherry picked demand.


Posted by Ryan
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 13, 2021 at 10:47 pm

Ryan is a registered user.

I want to live in a $20 million apartment on the Upper West Side in NYC. Unfortunately, I can't afford it. Does that mean NYC is obligated to give me the apartment for free?


Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2021 at 11:13 pm

Evan is a registered user.

Hah, I love how the go-to response here is to make it sound like the NYT is advocating for the government to provide everyone homes in Palo Alto, or that no one “just deserves to live in Palo Alto”.

No one is advocating or saying that. [Portion removed.]

The NYT’s point is that the city government of Palo Alto has spent the last half century ACTIVELY preventing housing from being built — even by private developers. They’re not saying the city should build 50 story skyscrapers and invite everyone to live here rent free. They’re just saying the government should stop proactively stopping most new housing (via zoning, via FAR, via impact fees, via ballot measure, etc).

[Portion removed.]


Posted by RDR
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2021 at 1:28 am

RDR is a registered user.

Palo Alto could have had a much bigger city budget if it hadn't spent effort at discouraging business growth in the city, such as by capping office space added on a yearly basis.

So isn't that also something that should be noted in the NYT piece? Palo Alto was a prestigious address for business HQ's and many more would have located here. The problem was the liberals discouraging the business growth that could have swelled city coffers and provided funding which could have supported adding more residents. Instead, Google turned to Mountain View and bought that city's office market, big time. The reason office space in Palo Alto cost more was simply that there wasn't enough of it being produced. There could be many more big buildings alongside VMWARE TIBCO HP CLOUDERA and TESLA. You can bet Palo Alto Networks would have HQ in Palo Alto if there were more office buildings available. Instead we have Tesla departing and HP too. Palantir never found a place to build office space. It's a much better example of the cit inhibiting growth than housing units.


Posted by RDR
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2021 at 1:29 am

RDR is a registered user.

.Er, t's a much better example of the city inhibiting growth than harping on the number of housing units.


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2021 at 7:32 am

PA Community Advocate is a registered user.

“ After spending the last few decades watching my friends — and now my own sister — get pushed out of the area due to high housing costs”

Just because you want a Ferrari doesn’t mean you get to have one at the price you want. This is Make Palo Alto Great Again nonsense.

Look the city got more expensive because the local industries and even city planning did extremely well. Naturally not every person who grew up here will also do extremely well in life (at least financially).

50% of this city rents as well so affording a $3M home is not a prerequisite for living here. Again East Palo Alto is next door and way more affordable, but again that would require the previous generations of Palo Alto to integrate with people of color. It isn’t that hard.

I know it hurts that immigrants mostly from Asia worked hard and invaded your town. That is life.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 14, 2021 at 8:00 am

Online Name is a registered user.

It's not just life, it's often policy where cities are only now starting to deal with the rise in real estate purchases for speculation that's pushing out residents and resident-serving amenities like shopping to turn shopping centers into corporate dorms like the REI/Petsmart/Bed Bath & Beyond one.

Re foreign real estate investment and speculation, lots of cities including NYC have been struggling to cope with it by imposing a concierge tax to stop speculators from buying up and sitting on real estate they leave empty while the properties appreciate.

Just look at how Zillow planned to make that practice of buying up homes wholesale a major revenue stream. Look at the fake timeshares being bought up in Napa and Sonoma and those areas' fights against that type of speculation.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 14, 2021 at 11:58 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

Focusing housing on BMRs is bad policy. Squeezes out the middle class that it purports to help. You'll end up like SF, where it's the rich who can afford to buy the "market rate" and all their help. Middle class goes to Tracy and Manteca.

The focus on BMRs is simply the feel-good tool of housing obstructionists, who use this sledgehammer to halt all new housing. And then they get to blame developers for it.

How convenient.

But to make Palo Alto the focal point is typical media using anecdotal references to further a narrative. If I recall from other posts, this Evan actually lives in Menlo Park, which is also not exactly bursting at the seams with new housing. And let's not forget Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside.

We have plenty of room for even more SFH. We just use CEQA and "enviroinmentalism" (and now water) to justify not building.


Posted by RDR
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2021 at 12:17 pm

RDR is a registered user.

Actually, the BMR units required by the state do include "Workforce housing" which is affordable to those making 80-120% of the median income. That's not as expensive to subsidize. Around here, 120% of median income for a household is $125K per year, so the workforce housing can go to those making up to $187K per year. Any city could choose to build more of that than is required, especially since the subsidy cost is so much lower. I.e. the rent charged on such a unit can go up to ~$5K per month. Also a city can buy older units and turn that into Workforce housing to keep them from gentrifying in the future. 25% of that can count toward the state added housing quotas required.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2021 at 1:58 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The NYT video overlooks what is often swept aside: legitimate, even inevitable, limitations to adding housing. Like geography and various aspects of our infrastructure that are at or near capacity, including an electrical grid that often fails under existing demand, budget-constricted police and fire services, and limited water resources. Al Gore's term, inconvenient truth, comes to mind. There's a limit as to what percentage of any area can be built AND supported by that area's infrastructure. Past policy to promote rampant commercial development, allowing it to go forward w/o housing mitigation, ignored the inherent demand for housing that that development would create. The inconvenient truth: the commercial development pretty much consumed the sustainable capacity of our built environment. We can pretend that this isn't true and build more, but at some point we will be deep in a world of hurt. And words like inadequate and collapsed and failed will be the adjectives that describe this city's basic infrastructure. The City can increase impact fees and require housing developers to contribute to infrastructure improvements, but that will not pencil out favorably for those seeking housing here that doesn't consume an inordinately high percentage of their income. So, yeah, more housing is needed, but adding it is far more complicated than what video journalist Johnny Harris and others suggest.

Related issue: it's not unusual for housing advocates to revive and criticize the Maybell referendum when it suits their narrative to do so. But the 117 homes in the Buena Vista mobile home park are rarely mentioned. Although it should be, Buena Vista is not included in accounts of Palo Alto's preservation and generation of affordable housing. Palo Alto and the County each contributed $14.5 million towards preserving Buena Vista. We should get credit for that. ATTN: RHNA - your formula needs to be adjusted to include mobile homes.


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2021 at 5:04 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

This is appropriate. The NYTimes is full of self-righteous prigs, just like many Palo Twits who think they are superior --- but actually they're just average schmoes. BUT in defense of Palo Alto, just what the heck is the NYTimes thinking when dares to judge Palo Alto --- when NY City is so incredibly screwed up? Maybe the NY Times should be concentrating on the horrible housing problem in NYC instead? Like rotting rent-controlled rat havens in dangerous neighborhoods?


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 14, 2021 at 5:51 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Palo Alto is fortunate in that Palo Alto Weekly's Town Square archive makes it easy for readers today who want to learn about the issues of almost a decade ago to research news, analysis and community responses to controversial items like the Maybell/Clemo project and the Charleston/Arastradero redesign. As local print and media outlets disappear, fewer and fewer communities are so lucky.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2021 at 6:33 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

In agreeing with Jennifer, I would say that this is very much cherry picking to find something to further an agenda. The agenda appears to want to put Palo Alto in a bad light. It succeeds.

The truth is much harder to explain in a short video opinion piece. As Jerry Underdal rightly points out, there is a great deal that can be found by looking into the Weekly archives. Anyone who has moved here or become interested in the subject in the last 10 years, should start doing some research.


Posted by Working Class Stiff
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2021 at 8:31 pm

Working Class Stiff is a registered user.

Fun to see all the thin skinned folks reassuring themselves of their own innate superiority, plays perfectly to Johnny Harris's piece; it's the NYT that's wrong, how could we possibly add housing? Speaking as a rare, and stressed, working class person in PA I found the piece to be spot on. From poor Democrat housing policies, to regressive taxation, to cost of living, to crime, to covid school closings, to homelessness, blue hypocrites have built a dysfunctional society and willfully ignore the result of Democrat policies in California. But don't worry, Nancy (she's such a hero) will be giving you you're SALT deduction back soon.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 14, 2021 at 8:45 pm

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"Actually, the BMR units required by the state do include "Workforce housing" which is affordable to those making 80-120% of the median income. "

There's no way in hell that any city is going to get away with calling "workforce housing" affordable. Remember the comments from the national media about how subsidizing for someone making $125K was ridiculous? No politician or city administrator is going to go for that.

"Although it should be, Buena Vista is not included in accounts of Palo Alto's preservation and generation of affordable housing."

Terrible example. Buena Vista is a preservation sham. That property could have supported a ton more affordable housing. What a joke.


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2021 at 5:51 am

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To clarify - so called “workforce housing” income levels are not 80%-120% Average Median Income (AMI) of a person. Rather this is the Moderate Rate Income to qualify for below-market-rate housing for that housing.

Workforce housing is a made up category (rather than a federal category) of housing that carries a much higher qualifying income, sometimes not much different than market rate housing.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2021 at 8:43 am

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Re "workforce" housing, I've always wondered what happens to tenants when their income changes. Do they get evicted? Are we going to have to fund a workplace income registry to ensure compliance? Remember this is a city that can't even administer or manage a business registry!

Annette above speaks some inconvenient but obvious truths underlying the housing sloganeering. Worth another read.


Posted by Phillip Taylor
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 15, 2021 at 10:41 am

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>"I'm so excited to see the NY Times call out Palo Alto as the selfish bastion of conservatives-pretending-to-be-liberals that is."

^ This is true in many instances but the mentality is not limited to Palo Alto.

We previously resided in Marin County (Mill Valley) and there are just as many hypocritically self-righteous 'ethnocentric liberals' residing there as in Palo Alto.

And the key to maintaining this exclusionary 'safety net' is to make highly coveted residencies unaffordable and unavailable to any perceived 'undesirables'.

On the other hand...if one cannot afford to own a Mercedes, just drive a Toyota and be grateful that you have some form of basic transportation.


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2021 at 10:59 am

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The Palo Alto Weekly decided to feature this poorly researched biased opinion in the NY Times rather than tell the whole story. For example, that Palo Alto has a higher percentage of affordable housing than all but two cities in Santa Clara County (Morgan Hill & Gilroy).

Web Link

That the city has approved a number of large multi unit family buildings and that these high density buildings are not delivering lower market rents.

Case in point is 2755 El Camino in Palo Alto, a new 50 foot multi-unit apartment built on subsidized land which is exactly the kind of housing this NYT opinion author proposes. For a 375 square foot apartment for $3,500 a month and a 661 square foot apartment for 4,800.

Web Link

The author also fails to mention that the California population declined in 2020 and that Santa Clara County population declined this last year after being flat for two years.

Its ironic that the NY Times is telling California if we only densified like NY City we could enjoy more affordable housing like on their Upper East Side. Housing advocates argue that NY City is in a housing crisis and needs more density in the hopes of bringing down rents. No matter how much you build, it will never be enough. Trickle down housing has not delivered for areas with strong jobs growth and needs a more comprehensive solution that includes rating job growth, deed restrictions and maybe even land trusts.

The unfortunate reality is that density is not the silver bullet to affordability many think it is and the solutions are more expensive and difficult.


Posted by PaloAlto
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2021 at 11:08 am

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This NYT article has hit a nerve. Many of the responses here just cement the point of the op-ed.


Posted by C-T
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 15, 2021 at 11:26 am

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Bravo to NY Times. This comment thread proves its point exactly.


Posted by blah
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2021 at 11:34 am

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I have to agree with @PaloAlto and @C-T. The whole op-ed could have been shortened to two words: Shallow Alto.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2021 at 11:43 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Of course this bogus opinion piece hit a nerve -- just like the NYT's non-stop coverage of Hillary's emails under Baquet who hates women who don't pander and respect the truth -- as evidenced by the unceremonious way he fired the female Pulitzer Prize-winning editor in chief in a way he'd NEVER fire a top male!

Sad to see the publisher of "all the news that's fit to print" spouting "alternate facts" while ignoring "the inconvenient truths" cited above by Annette and others re California housing and density.

And remember, according to the NYT NOW, everyone paying more than $10K in property taxes, CA income taxes is RICH RICH RICH so housing affordability shouldn't be a problem!


Posted by Be realistic
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm

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This is hilarious. No one is blasting McLaren for not making cars that anyone who wants them could afford. Why not? Just pass a law that forces them to make a hundred times more cars. That will definitely trickle down.
This is called "capitalism." Some do not want to admit that it applies to housing in the Bay area, as well.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2021 at 12:26 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

This did hit a nerve for some Palo Alto residents, but it shouldn't. Do you really care what an op-ed in NYT says? It's an opinion piece from a Washington DC based gentleman who grew in Oregon, with no ties to the Bay Area. And Washington and Illinois were mentioned as well. And Wednesday still comes once a week.

When it's an opinion it's not "bogus." It's the opinion of the author. Nothing more, nothing less. Separate the difference between an article and an op-ed, and move on.


Posted by plantfruittrees
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 15, 2021 at 12:45 pm

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The problem with Maybell was not the senior housing that would have gone in there, which we do need, it was that there was only going to be one parking space for roughly every other unit (how is anyone supposed to come visit Grandma, then, and what about staff) and that a large number of elderly drivers (many of whom would have to park on the crowded street) were going to be placed right in the center between four schools on the designated routes for kids to bike to school. Having been hit by a car as a kid on a bike back in the day, that's a bad mix. There were no amenities those seniors would be able to get to from those units without driving. It was a good idea generally but badly placed, poorly presented, and poorly thought out.


Posted by RDR
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2021 at 1:37 pm

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The conservative element in the country is against government funded subsidies for affordable housing. This is the real story. Starting back with Nixon, federal spending on housing has markedly declined. Now finally under Biden'w plan there will finally be some new money going to create subsidized low cost housing. That's a worthwhile change that will have some effect unlike the vague nothings from the NYT video.

At the same time, California is similarly making billions of dollars available to subsidize housing for those who cannot afford it.

We do see city government talking about possibly converting office zoning into housing areas. Palo Alto is a good situation in that it doesn't really need as many office buildings as it already has. It could make more money by building more big new office buildings but it's not doing that. It doesn't need all the property tax revenue from the existing office properties.

What will be interesting is what happens to Mountain View if the new remote work modality reduces demand for all the recent new office space that Google and others have already built or are building now. The office rents in Palo Alto are still a lot more than they are in Mountain View. If the Mountain View office rents tank then that's going to create a demand to relocate Palo Alto office operations to Mountain View. Palo Alto could convert more of its office space zoning to allow housing, and use state and federal funding to make say half of it be managed government regulated BMR units available to those earning up to 120% of the area median income.


Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 15, 2021 at 3:27 pm

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Sad to see the PA Weekly feature an editorial that focuses on a 8 year old development and not provide any kind of balance to it. Housing is a very complicated issue, and yet all of these pieces are extremely simplistic. How many of these authors lives in shoebox sized apartments? How many lower income families want to live in that kind of housing? Implying that lower income families shouldn't want what the rest of America wants -- a decent home to live in and a chance to build some wealth rather than being subject to constant rent increases -- disrespects them. Creating developments where lower income residents can raise their families takes more creativity than just building a big concrete box.


Posted by M
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2021 at 5:19 pm

M is a registered user.

I watched the segment "Democrats, You are the Problem" on Palo Alto which was featured along with "Democrats Still Don’t Understand Asian American Voters" in the Times today. It's factually inaccurate, but somewhat irrelevant because along with the circular firing squad that has overtaken the current democrat congress (same issue -- not delivering everything ultra progressives want) and ultra progressive Republican B-roll ready demands like "defund the police", there won't be that many liberal bastions left to beat up on for not fully picking up where the country has failed.

Housing is a serious problem -- made worse by a pathetic lack of good, reliable and safe public transportation -- but it simply cannot be solved completely by asserting that If some communities have jobs, they can somehow make up for federal and state failures. And to be clear, Palo Alto is not a city of large lots or gated developments. It is relatively dense and an extremely expensive place to build anything. It can do more, but the costs will always make the number of homes -- particularly the needed family homes -- produced low.

What worries me is that these internecine attacks are completely self-defeating, both in undermining support for more housing and the political prospects of the democrat party overall.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2021 at 5:23 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Jennifer, many care because we know that PAF and the YIMBY's and Peninsula for Everyone will be recycling the oped piece for years if not decades to come. The same way they endlessly recycled that misquote that PA "didn't want startups" when was said was that big companies were pricing out the startups!

Years of correcting that "misquote" never made a dent. The pro-development gang of 5 -- Fine, Kniss, Wollbach et al -- never issued a retraction or apology and some repeat it even now!


This oped piece gets "credibility gloss" from the NYT. Remember that whenever candidates and lobbyists recycle it.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2021 at 6:43 pm

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sNo-one is speaking to the PA base of it historically, elitist Libertarian ideology. A nascent, pervasive third party tactic, cloaked in a "liberal democrats v. republicans" powered by low taxes and their private properties. "Ultra progressive"? wow?! Lower income people are hurting badly in this town right now. People of regular earnings are being stripped daily, hourly of living wages, housing security, safety on public school grounds. The oppression of the have nots is real, not ideology. Look at a local police log of petty thefts and crimes or more serious ones: like 35 guns being stolen from a single family home owner's property or school students being bullied or nearly killed off campus, downtown. A week ago a "mom and pop" landlord spoke at City Council and laments ANY further renter protections governed by our city -- to the point of threatening to take her rentals off the market, if such is secured. Obviously, she's wealthy enough to just sit on empty unrented units for the sake of weakening renters from holding over a landlord the most decent/basic of protections now and for the future of their families and growing the resilience of our community. The struggle is real and getting worse as the 'have's" carry on a cruel legacy of profits over people.


Posted by Cat
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2021 at 8:27 pm

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People need to stop bringing up percentages when they try to defend Palo Alto. It's easy to have a higher percentage when the population density is pathetic. Example: If Palo Alto had 10,000 homes and 1,000 of them were BMR, that would be 10%. However, if a neighboring city has 20,000 homes because of increased multi-family development and has 1,500 BMR houses, the percentage is only 7.5%, yet in raw terms, the neighboring city is providing more BMR housing. Palo alto only looks good in that 9% statistic if you ignore how few housing units there actually are per square mile.


Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2021 at 8:48 pm

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Hmmm, how bourgeois.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2021 at 11:09 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Gee the city is embarrassed at the state of the old Palo Alto Clinic deterioration? How about the lack of affordable housing and the growing number of unhoused individuals and families including RV dwellers. The city might look at themselves and the self serving elitist attitudes they highlight in from the dias. Is the money to "restore" the building coming from the $12 million from Care's Act awarded the city? $12 better served for affordable housing choice.


Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2021 at 1:23 am

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

@Cat from Mt View - “Palo alto only looks good in that 9% statistic if you ignore how few housing units there actually are per square mile.”


I’m not sure anybody in the region looks “good” on affordable housing, but the numbers work out as follows:

According to [email protected], Palo Alto has 2,632 BMR units and Mt View has 1,419 BMR units.

Palo Alto is 25.8 square miles, of which 6.2 is protected nature preserve and 1.9 is water, so a net of 17.7 square miles. Assuming you don’t want to build in the Baylands, Palo Alto has 150 BMR units per square mile.

Mountain View is 12.3 square miles of which .3 is water, so 12 square miles, or 118 BMR units per square mile.


The reverse is the case for market-rate housing, where Mt View is denser than Palo Alto.


Posted by Jason Beck
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 16, 2021 at 9:02 am

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As Jennifer noted, who cares what some writer from NYC opines?

The Hamptons/Long Island areas are just as uptight and NIMBY as Palo Alto is purported to be and thus, it is merely a matter of one pot calling the kettle black.

New York writers should focus on their region's own problems and issues.


Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2021 at 10:44 am

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I guess New Yorkers have done such a great job running their own city that they want to share their wisdom. Funny, but I don't recall seeing a dystopian science fiction movie titled "Escape from Palo Alto".


Posted by Working Class Stiff
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Working Class Stiff is a registered user.

Did any of the people responding here actually watch the Harris piece? His piece is about policy, not Palo Alto. His central question is, California and 17 other states effectively have a veto-proof Democrat majority, yet these states are demonstrably harder on poor and working people, why? He uses the Maybell Ave incident as an example of the disconnect between what democrat's say they want and how they behave.

The key quote here Harris is playing off of regarding the Maybell Ave vote is "you cannot say you are against inequality in America unless you are willing to have affordable housing built in your neighborhood" I believe that's 100% true.

He's not claiming that Palo Alto or the Maybell project would single handedly solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area, just that moving away from an R1 focused zoning would ease the pressure over time.

Not sure why my previous post was branded a "Violation" I've learned my lesson, I promise I will not say anything bad about Democrats', Nancy Pelosi, and I will never ever ever call my fellow Palo Altans hypocrites.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

Formulaic. Slow day.


Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

staying home is a registered user.

I agree this thread re-enforces the 'shallow alto' and NIMBY aspects of PA. Its time to recognize the fact that this in no longer a family friendly community, but an increasingly upper class exclusive residential city, progressive in meaningless ways (re-naming schools), and conservative in practice.


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

ndn is a registered user.

I don't want to dip into this complex situation but let mne say for the record that I object to the description " Few families want this type of living space. They will almost always prefer living in a single family home in a neighboring city."

Please stop pretending that you know what other people think or want. Palo Alto like many other cities have a diversity of opinions on this topic, so speak for yourself not others (me included). People who resort to the "us" (whoever that is) maybe? fail to appreciate the many legitimate complexities and opinions, just theirs.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2021 at 2:23 pm

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Two of Palo Alto's most vocal young proponents touting dense housing as how their generation preferred to live, getting rid of single family home neighborhoods, using the Planning Commission and City Council as their platforms to garner maximum media attention for their message, then moved into single family homes with gardens as their own prefered choice!


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2021 at 3:01 pm

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Yeah, I saw the video. And all I could think was, why are East Coast elites picking on Palo Alto? Because there are plenty of places to criticize right in their own backyards. Including NYC itself (no need to go to the Hamptons), where the housing is both very dense, and very expensive. And a place like Hong Kong is even denser, and more expensive! Clearly, density only makes things worse.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 17, 2021 at 3:13 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Mjh, right. And they also kept their cars after pushing their "everyone will give up their cars" fairy tales to help their developer buddies justify their under-parked, more dense but more profitable buildings. Too bad about all the neighbors who have to suffer from the parking overflow.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2021 at 5:07 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Sorry, for joining the party late. Annette made some good points, as she usually does in her comments. It's never good to get in the middle of a cat fight but I'm making an exception in this [email protected]'s comments and Eric Filseth's rebuttal to them. It seems like there are always ways to make, or present, numbers and %'s, to make a case. Not meaning to take sides, but it appears that Eric put in some time to get facts. Nobody has challenged his numbers so far.

But, stepping back a bit, from all the housing terms being bandied about: affordable housing (pretty much dependent on incomes), market rate, BMR, AMI, and the State's and ABAG's definitions of income levels, and what are we left with?? A lot of confusion and divisiveness that is keeping us from working together to solve the problem. I do have to ask the question though, about touting 2,632 BMR units in Palo Alto. First, we'd need to know what the BMR level number is and where those 2,632 are located. I'm sure we have city employees who, with the click of a button or two, can provide the answer. BMR includes a big range of affordable (by several definitions) and unaffordable housing units. Where does Section 8 housing fit into the picture?

And @ndn...I can't believe that any 4-5 member family unit living in a 2 bdrm apartment would be happier living there than in a single family home with a nice backyard for kids to play in, and a nice patio, with a Weber pot, where they could host guests for a barbecue. But, the reality is, they live where they can afford to live, just like the rest of us do.


Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 17, 2021 at 5:46 pm

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The lack of sufficient diverse housing in PA has been an issue for at least a generation. Not all parents of kids want a backyard to maintain (although a yard to mow seems to still appeal to many). I do quite fine with my small concrete patio, and so did my kids.

ABAG only cares because we keep growing jobs. We can't fight climate change as well with folks commuting two hours (sometimes each way). But moving jobs to the valley also requires more and more roof and pavement, still not fighting climate change. We need jobs at all income levels and housing at all cost levels well blended across our Region. If we can't do it, in two generations (or maybe less) it might not matter.


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2021 at 8:16 pm

ndn is a registered user.

and @Gale Johnson many people are not the suburbanite kind and so they get their entertainment and education from big city institutions which are impossible to encounter in a small city or from the vast nature if they happen to be in a rural area. Suburbanites like life defined as in their own backyard experiences and, of course, it is a experience as valid as another different one. Except that I do know a lot of people whose children (including one of my own) were brought up in a big city and they want to return to that. When I go to Redwood City I see a vibrancy and young people as a result of the many apartment buildings they have built and which are occupied. Some of those young people couldn't care less about the house, the picket fence and the backyard. They want a life that's not suburban. Some have children. I myself lived smacked in the middle of a big city, loved it and my abode was 2800 sq ft... Shows how little you know about city life...
Let us see some compromise, not "that's what I want everybody has to want it"

For many Palo Alto is as boring as watching paint dry. Let us not dismiss their needs.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 17, 2021 at 8:23 pm

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@ndn: "Let us see some compromise, not "that's what I want everybody has to want it""

Isn't that precisely the issue? That some people want the urban experience, yet rather than live in an urban area, they seek to eliminate the non-urban areas that already exist?


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:23 pm

ndn is a registered user.

Allen, people like myself who like cities do not seek to invalidate other's needs. There is space to satisfy everybody. Even very large cities have suburban parts ( in the city itself not suburbs).... But, I being an American resident of Palo Alto have the option to try for what suits me that is I have as much right to mould my surroundings to my liking as you do. I gather that your argument is that if I don't like what you like I should move. No such luck for you. I will not be silenced even as I'm watching the paint drying.
Palo Alto is already very different than what it was 30/40 years ago. It will continue being its march without any regard for my opinion or yours....But the trend doesn't look the way you would have it. That's life!


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

If the NY Times called out PA then assume that we have been set-up by our non-profit lobbying groups who are paid to continually push for developers. Reading the Real Estate announcements in the papers a lot of Silicon Valley is being bought by out-of-state corporations. Some in PA like to think that we are a bell-weather of "progress". Reality - the real big companies are located in Mountain View - Google, Menlo Park - Facebook, and a smattering of Amazon. San Jose is where it is at regarding available land for building. Does it ever mention that PA is built out from border to border with housing? The fact that we are next to SU is what gives us name recognition. Give SU it's due here as putting stars on the map. As to housing we are fully covered with housing. Could use some really big apartments on El Camino, consistnet with Mt. View, Los Altos, and Menlo Park.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:55 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@ndn: "I gather that your argument is that if I don't like what you like I should move."

No, I was trying as politely as I could to make you aware that you were exhibiting the same behavior that you were criticizing.

I've been here about 35 years. The built environment hasn't changed all that much, though there's a lot less variety in local businesses (not just retail), much more traffic, much higher prices, and much less opportunity for non-wealthy people. So you're correct, that trend is not the way I would have it. Apparently you are happy with the way things have been going and would like more of the same?


Posted by John B. Sails
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2021 at 6:28 am

John B. Sails is a registered user.

Allen A. is correct, and we all should know the culprit. It's the tech people--they are completely in unquestioned control, very selfish and don't like to share. Really and truly P.A. would be ideal if they were 50% of the discussion instead of 99...


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2021 at 4:35 pm

ndn is a registered user.

No, my behavior is the same as ever. I said "There is space to satisfy everybody". I cannot be clearer than this. There is room for all opinions. But I will not abdicate from making my thoughts on this manner known and I do not have the notion that all think or feel as I do. I support more housing, better distribution of the different types of housing the population's needs.
I'm always appalled that senior housing is located in noisy areas with high concentration of carbon monoxide near car/s corridors. The reason is zoning, nothing else. And while I watch the paint dry in Palo Alto i'm reminded that indeed Palo Alto has changed a lot since the 80's and one of the changes is that the middle classes that populated certain areas of Palo Alto have aged
and expect the world not too. Tough! it did.


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2021 at 4:41 pm

ndn is a registered user.

Mr Salis,

My first house in Palo Alto cost $12,500. I live in another house now with a very different tax base, but "the techies" that you complain about are what made your house go up in price wildly while maintaining a very low property tax. You have nothing at all to complain about.

It is as if educated people with a very good salary are an offense to you. I, for one, do not participate in that kind of bashing the goose that lays the golden eggs.


Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 19, 2021 at 8:34 pm

chris is a registered user.

The Housing Element Task Force has barely started and a minority of the City Council
(DuBois, Filseth, and Stone) are already meddling in its affairs.

The HE group voted to consider some medium-rise housing near the PA Train Station and the 3 [portion removed] told them they shouldn't do that. The HE group is a more broadly representative of the community than these 3 members of the Council, but they seem intent on fighting RHNA to the end of their terms, regardless of the consequences for Palo Alto.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 19, 2021 at 10:45 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The new Housing Element has to be approved by Council, right? So guidance from Council members is not necessarily out of line. I'd like to see more information about this recent event if you have a link handy.

Besides, I know a few of the people in the task force, and I don't think they'll be railroaded.


Posted by John B. Sails
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2021 at 8:19 am

John B. Sails is a registered user.

ndn, "bashing"? A gnat v. a battleship is now 'bashing'? Just how thin-skinned are the hegemony-advocating techies and their sycophants? As I said before, I get along with the techies, I'm even married to one, how else could I afford to live here (even though I am just as educated as my spouse, if in the liberal arts field). I'm only asking that they share. Other than the 'benefit' of an artificial economy that makes my house lopsided in value---but which I can't cash in unless I move to another overpriced house here!, Personally, I don't feel any pride to name-check Zuckerberg to my relatives in other areas. They could rightfully point out that he peddles misinformation for profits, directly helped elect Trump and enabled January 6th. why is it wrong to ask how the techies are not benefitting (but decimating) the non-techies/families in town? Shouldn't they? You see no problem with what, a techie-only Palo Alto-just let them do and have anything they want regardless of the negative side effects to others?

Back to the NYT story, how were they wrong?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 20, 2021 at 8:30 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The whole point of current state legislation is to put muli-layer housing next to train stations. Go up to Redwood City - large buildings in the section across the street from the shopping center/station - 6 stories +. Go up to Menlo PArk - new construction on El Camino within walking distance of their station. So why the issue here? We have a low level commercial section across from the station. And housing further down. On Alma we have old, single story apartments. Are the owners of that land putting up a fuss? They have minimal proerty tax due to the age of the buidlings. El Camino and Alma are going to be the places where new housing is going - that is multi-story apartments. That is consistent with the new state laws.


Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 20, 2021 at 2:20 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows: "The whole point of current state legislation is to put muli-layer housing next to train stations."

That was a reasonably accurate statement until this year, but now SB9 spreads its development in formerly single-family areas throughout the entire state. It's all about low-rise buildings in the areas which are least-served by transit.


Posted by JoeinGreenAcres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 22, 2021 at 4:47 pm

JoeinGreenAcres is a registered user.

The Around Town column in the Weekly's November 12th issue referred to the 2013 Maybell Referendum that was featured in a recent New York Times video op-ed, which, unfortunately, totally misdescribes what the Palo Alto community said by its 2013 Referendum vote. The thesis behind the video op-ed is that residents are to blame for the housing crisis we have in the Bay Area. I disagree.

The video op-ed states that “over the past eight years the San Francisco area added 676,000 jobs and only 176,000 housing units”. That statement by itself explains the problem we have in the Bay Area (not just in Palo Alto). We don’t have a “housing crisis”, we have an “excess of jobs-crisis” brought on by a lack of “common sense leadership crisis”. Elected officials throughout the Bay Area have approved, and continue to approve (and encourage), commercial developments that create way too many jobs compared to available housing. For example, a developer recently proposed to build 300,000sf of office space and 33 homes as part of a project in Redwood City. That is an increase of between 1,200-2,000 jobs with housing for maybe 100 people, which, if approved, would clearly exacerbate the jobs/housing imbalance. Such approvals have got to stop.

Developers and elected officials have created the dilemma we are in, not people who reside in single family homes!

Limited supply and unending demand means that the price of land and housing will continue to rise with limited periods of moderation. Building housing (which admittedly is needed), while at the same time approving the construction of new office buildings, will not solve our housing shortage situation. Developers need to hear in no uncertain terms that more office buildings are not needed or wanted – instead, they need to build housing that is truly affordable to low- and moderate-income people.


Posted by Phillip Johnson
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 23, 2021 at 9:12 am

Phillip Johnson is a registered user.

Palo Alto has simply run out of space for additional housing lest it be mixed-use high rise dwellings that cheapen the appearance of the community while adding to further congestion.

We used to reside in Palo Alto (Old PA) and moved to Woodside back in the late 1990s as Palo Alto was already going downhill by the mid 1980s.

Fortunately, a nice and recently arrived couple from China offered to pay us even more than our original listing price and they paid in CASH!

Though we venture into Stanford Shopping Center from time to time, Palo Alto is now an afterthought.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2021 at 1:55 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

It is no coincidence that an Op-Ed appeareed in the NY Times and representatives from Palo ALto Forward have also appeared in newsprint. If people want support for their causes then quit using the press to malign the city. I am now disgusted with all of the people who use this city to support their causes. People running all over on their soap boxes. Trying to leverage media support for causes which are ideological in nature with no realistic fixes.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 24, 2021 at 1:12 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@ndn, My initial comment related to what choice a family of 4 would make if they had the wherewithal to do it. You might be right...maybe those people living in the Mayfield Place units are quite happy and would prefer to stay there even if they could afford to leave and move to a single family home neighborhood, but I'm pretty sure you're wrong. I've witnessed the freedom of upward mobility, when my former neighbors moved out and up to higher class(?), well, let's just say, more expensive neighborhoods in that coveted north end of town. One was a lawyer and a couple others were very successful entrepreneurs. Good for them. And you might have noticed that many former Palo Alto residents who lived in nice single family home neighborhoods here, stepped it up a notch by moving to Woodside, Los Altos Hills, or Portola Valley. Again, good for them.

You might have guessed it...I'm a country kid...born and raised on a family farm in Montana. We, my wife and I, lived in 1 bdrm and 2 bdrm apartments or quadraplex units before we bought our house in SPA. Our kids left the nest many years ago, and my wife died 7 years ago. I'm hanging on and enjoying it for the most part, but, indeed the neighborhood has changed so much...and not for the better. There is still so much talk about becoming more diverse and inclusionary. Are you paying attention? Do you know what % of new homeowners in Palo Alto are of Asian descent? That % probably hasn't changed in my neighborhood since we moved here.

I agree, I know very little about living in a big city. Please share the city's name where you grew up in a 2,800 sq ft home. Don't pretend to know how people living in big cities in small 300 sq ft apartments think or feel.

And, about that education and entertainment jab you made. We saw many of the cultural sights, museums, and plays in SF theaters, without having to live there. We played 'tourist' for a few years after we moved here.

Okay, I'm done, gotta go check up on that paint!


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