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Would You Support a Housing Bond in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Jun 8, 2018
On Tuesday the residents of Emeryville passed a $50 million dollar housing bond meaning that more than 2/3 of voters supported the bond.

The details I could find are general in terms of how the money would be spent. Here is the link to the city website describing the bond.link. Property owners will pay about $50 per $100,000 AV for the bond. Emeryville joins a growing number of Bay Area communities supporting housing bonds.

There seems to be a lot of support in Palo Alto for funding housing for low-income residents. I am interested in hearing whether that support translates into each of us putting some of our money into the pot along with commercial property owners through a housing bond.

I would support such an effort and am interested in working on a bond committee if asked.

Comments

 +   34 people like this
Posted by Voter, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Absolutely not, for a number of reasons, a few of which:

1. It's a simple redistribution, in this case from every property owner, to a few lucky individuals who receive a cash-equivalent subsidy in housing. If I were to support a simple redistribution, better to do something more equitable and less like a lottery. How is handing a few lucky folks a five figure bounty better than giving any resident with an income below $X a check.

2. I have no trust in the government to administer such a redistribution without significant waste. They'd surely hire more bureaucrats, and only make the pension problem (another redistribution, from the youth to the old)

3. Too many opportunities for aspiring career politicians in the PA government to give development gifts to their once and future benefactors. Developers who build these units will surely make a profit.

4. It would be like passing around a hat for Palantir's benefit. Why does an employer who wants to run a business here get to pay below market rate because the employee will get subsidized housing?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 5:26 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ voter

All of the housing bonds I mentioned including the one I would support in Palo Alto are for low and moderate income residents and would be built by non profit developers and administered as our current BMR funding is administered by Palo Alto Housing.

If supporters thought that limiting funding to residents making 80% of the area median income or less, that could be included in the bond.

If we were to go ahead I think it would be next year or 2020.

But it sounds like you are against bond funding for housing low income residents as a principle and probably voted against the county bond two years ago for homeless and low income residents. It is true that not all low income residents will benefit and how many depends on how much is raised.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm

For essential city workers like utility service staff, YES!

(portion removed) for (portion removed) NO!!!


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 5:48 pm

and would be built by non profit developers and administered as our current BMR funding is administered by Palo Alto Housing...

You imply this would remove the profit motive for developers, but it is clearly not the case. Does the "non-profit" employ its own construction team, source its own material s

A, etc. As well intentioned as they may be, they are a convenient vehicle for development interests to get greater density approved: density said interest will then profit from.

(portion deleted)


 +   20 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 7:05 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Non profit developer is like hot ice, there is no such thing. This terrible idea would open the door to unprecedented corruption and is a ruse to usher in massive density in a town that is grossly overdeveloped.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Rejected by bolinas , a resident of Community Center,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 9:26 pm

What Mauricio thinks about the bond is irrelevant as he no longer resides is Palo alto or even in Santa Clara county!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm

post deleted

The question asked is whether you support a bond for low and moderate income folks.

You answered yes.

the deleted part was irrelevant since people who make a lot of money are not eligible and was a cheap shot.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 7:18 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Anne,

Your comment puzzles me.

Every week our consent calendar at council has $millions in contracts to private parties to help build, repair and maintain public facilities. Contractors also work for school districts and transportation agencies.

We have private firms help construct and upgrade schools, libraries, fire stations, roads and will for the public safety building.

Do you oppose these projects because contractors might make a profit? How is this any different from non profit housing organizations hiring contractors to build housing they will manage under federal rules for low and moderate income residents? Are you saying you want only public employees to work on construction projects where public money is involved?

In the bond I am proposing the non profit housing organizations and the public are the so-called "development interests" , not private developers.

I guess you do not approve of our city goal of increasing housing for low and moderate income residents. The bond proposal is one way of meeting that goal.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 7:21 am

I would be interested in such a housing bond, if well designed.

Of course, as you know, I also think that we have a number of zoning ordinances that make it difficult for affordable housing to get built, regardless of whether funds are available. And, even if those funds are available, it makes it difficult to spend them efficiently.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 8:28 am

deleted

Anne if you post here and I ask you a question about your logic, please answer the question first.

This is not a free for all where you get to make personal comments and avoid answering questions about what you posted.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 8:44 am

Housing is a regional issue, not an issue that is Palo Alto's alone to solve.

Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Redwood City have been building big time, but I don't see the same being done in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. There is some but not to the same extent, unless I am very much mistaken.

Can any pressure be put on those neighbors to the north and east to build more?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Felinemudgeon, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 9:06 am

I would support a bond like this. And I expect that the usual upholders of the status quo ( Holman, kuo. Filseth and dubois) will be against it


 +   4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 9:40 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

to resident

Yes housing is a regional issue. I started the blog because so many people had come to council and PTC and said they supported housing for low and moderate income residents.

As Eric points out there are other barriers besides funding but funding is still a major barrier. So I thought this would be an interesting blog to see where folks stand. I hope other communities find ways to support this kind of housing but I want Palo Alto to also.

To Felinemudgeon,

I would let those council folks speak for themselves. I am not as sure as you they all would oppose such a housing bond.


 +   29 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 9:59 am

Just moved out of a brand new apartment building where many of the units are BMR. I was paying market rate, working 2 jobs to afford living there. As I left to work, my BMR neighbors were smoking pot and hanging out.

Boy did I feel stupid, when the middle class is subsidizing these BMR units. Something is terrible wrong. It will NOT work in the long run. Middle income people need relief. I don't know the answer, but the new Palo Alto, where only the very rich and poor can survive. I am a life long resident, and am moving out, As are most of us in the middle.

Godspeed Palo Alto.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 10:14 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Absolutely no. 1) Not until there's a per employee business tax at least on the table like in surrounding communities, 2) Not until the city can stop throwing away tens of millions of dollars of OUR money on road furniture and then waste another $400,000 on a consultant to "respond" to the 1,000+ Ross Rd complainants only to find it doesn't even have the necessary data on such projects, 3) Not until the city stops the 20% annual decline in resident satisfaction.

PS: What Mauricio thinks is not irrelevant since he's still a Palo Alto taxpayer and homeowner who -- like so many of the rest of us -- is totally disgusted at what's happening here.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 10:30 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ palo alto

Yes the middle class is struggling with housing costs/

I helped organize an event last month here on missing middle housing and the challenges.

But I want to help both groups. I respect your perspective but do not see any solutions to housing for low and middle income groups unless they stand together and people like me and others who are not struggling with housing costs stand with both groups.


 +   20 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

What Palo Alto needs is zero office growth and net zero job gain. Once those goals are reached, there would be a chance of making housing slightly more affordable to people of modest means, which is the most that can be expected in an ultra wealthy town with so many billionaires and multi millionaires.

To 'rejected by Bolinas(no, I wasn't, I decided I preferred to live in rural Monetrey county): I own a home in Palo Alto, live in it part time, still vote in Santa Clara county and pay taxes here. I have more of a right to post here than people live elsewhere but keep posting on Palo Alto issues while hoping that tax payers like me would subsidize them so they can afford to live in PA.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Vasche LaMou, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 9, 2018 at 3:12 pm

deleted

same poster posting under multiple names


 +  Like this comment
Posted by GaryB, a resident of another community,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 12:00 am

No. We need to change the policy to build high-density housing but tie it into new transportation such as robotic taxis or electric bikes.

But, IFF this were to be done, it should have strict priority on city workers and teachers.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

"But I want to help both groups. I respect your perspective but do not see any solutions to housing for low and middle income groups unless they stand together and people like me and others who are not struggling with housing costs stand with both groups."

The above sounds great in theory, but I don't think the middle class is up for that. This is why we are in the mess we are in nationally. I don't know the solution, but I do know that the above statement is a road to nowhere.

The middle class is leaving in droves. The effects of this are seen everywhere in town. I have a small business that is
almost impossible to run, as no one can afford to live anywhere near here. The elementary schools are filled with either really wealthy of really poor people. These are just the facts. The double speak and manipulation in how to fix this problem are priceless. When you own a home here, and have millions in equity the problem looks very different. I get that. But, you see, the middle class simply does not care about your millions in equity.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 8:39 am

The poster named Palo Alto makes a point that I think needs to be underscored.

,Just moved out of a brand new apartment building where many of the units are BMR. I was paying market rate, working 2 jobs to afford living there. As I left to work, my BMR neighbors were smoking pot and hanging out.,

I have an acquaintance who lives(d) in BMR housing. I had cause to visit and was shocked to see what was from the outside a nice modern house in a nice new neighborhood, but inside it had become little more than a slum. Nearly all the cabinet doors in the kitchen were missing (not just off the hinges but also lost), stains on carpeting, paintwork very grubby and marked light fittings broken. I made a remark about the kitchen doors and was told that they were waiting for the landlord to replace them and to do some other repairs. Outside there were no plants and dried up lawn and flower beds and a large amount of junk. The point being here that the family could not care less about taking pride in their home. It was not "their fault" that the doors were not on but the landlords.

Obviously all BMR housing folk are not like the above mentioned families, but enough of them are to make me feel that helping them will only lead to their abuse of the premises. When people are in a position to look after a home, doing repairs where necessary and keeping things generally clean and tidy with some effort at making it look nice, they are more likely to get a better response from those who are in a position to help them get started.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Palo Alto

I spend most of my time now on the challenges of housing for the middle class.

Do you have ideas to make more middle class housing and that is affordable?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by developers rule, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 10:46 am

Post Deleted

SL comment

The blog is about whether you support a housing bond for low and moderate income residents.

Almost everyone at the council and PTC meetings on housung including me voiced support for such housing.

The blog is to explore whether posters support a bond to achieve this goal.

FYI for readers since the false information I deleted is regularly posted, Eric Rosenblum is managing director of Tsingyusn Ventures. Readers can google Eric to see where he has worked.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 12:41 pm

@ Stephan Levy

No, sorry to say I don't. Further more, it's not my problem to fix. I am moving on from my hometown. I do wish you good luck. It will be interesting to watch how this turns out!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Vasche LaMou, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 5:06 pm

I respectfully beg to differ with your deletion of my posting of Jun 9, 2018 at 3:12 pm as "same poster posting under multiple names".


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve Levy, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

Vasche

My bad if you are not a multiple poster the ip addresses were similar,

The deleted posts are

1) posters making personal comments about people who are not eligible for low or moderate income housung so both irrelevant to the blog and rude

2) posters claiming for profit developers would benefit which is a straight lie

3) posters making personal comments about an organization I belong to which are irrelevant to whether they support such a bond. I also belong to the league of women boters and silicon valley at home both of which have supported all the housing initiatives that Palo Alto ForWard supports and a host of other pro,housing organizations.

What this has to do with posters supporting a bond or not escapes me..

As I said at the beginning I wrote the blog after seeing that emeryvilke a less affluent community passed a large housung bond for low and moderate income residents and after nearly all speakers at council said they supported such housing. I wondered if they woukd support a bond,

I guess I coukd have had someone from the League or SV at home write the blog then all this drivel might not have been posted.

The sentiment on the blog against the bond has been left intact.

The blog remains about whether you think a housung bond for low and moderate income residents is a good idea. This is not a free for all to make personal comments.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by developers rule, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 9:53 pm

Second Request: Please remove _your_ text above, that you inserted under my name.

SL it is my comment explaining the deletion.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Voter, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 10, 2018 at 10:16 pm

NO.

Whether its the bloggers intent or not, it appears he's using his censor-hammer to disallow any depth of opposing opinion he doesn't agree with (deleting and labeling a "straight lie" the for-profit argument you'd rather not have).

So I'll leave it simple in large, easy to read letters.

NO.

SL right, you posted first and said no and your comment is there unedited. It is false that for profit developers woukd be building subsidized housing and neither Anne or you responded to my question about whether subcontractors should all be non profit for school or fire station or other public facility construction. I am sure non profit housing developers try to hire the brat sub contractors but that does not make then for profit developers.




 +   3 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 11, 2018 at 2:00 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Steve, thanks for starting discussion. Here are my preliminary reactions.
1. Suggested level of capitalization should be politically viable in PA. How much leverage does it create? And how can business community show its leadership?
2 I support incremental approach aimed at housing for 2-3 well-defined groups of income challenged citizens.
3. I would not support "publicly financed or exempted" housing for any upwardly mobile citizens in Palo Alto regardless of their plight. There are many other alternatives for them in nearby communities. Middle-income is meaningless without early, clearly defined beneficiaries. Let's not creates premature divisiveness.
4. There is need for better understanding that wages are being depressed for some "middle income" workers who should be getting some sort of geographic bump in wages. Is there market correction overdue for rather obvious differentials in cost of living. Public financing for housing cannot fix market failure to provide adequate wages for a rather large minority of citizens. bjN
5. I strongly encourage housing owned and managed by responsible, proven non-profit organizations. They offer economies of scale, concentration of expertise and capital preservation under the strict IRS rules.
6. Let's find a way to understand how much new, publicly financed housing is being proposed. I cant do the math without more information but my gut tells me that this next approach will be create small amount of housing relative to Palo Alto's size. Careful incremental approach probably will produce stronger housing policies in the long run.
7. Finally, how can this bond proposal be harmonized with whatever local public financing may be required for grade crossing solutions?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Vasche LaMou, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 11, 2018 at 3:15 pm

"My bad if you are not a multiple poster the ip addresses were similar,"

Thank you. I admit I only wanted to twit a rival poster. It's not worth pursuing.

Regarding the IP addresses, internet service providers can switch their subscribers IP addresses on the fly for whatever reasons, thus multiple visitors can legitimately appear to be at the same or similar origin, at different times. Statistically improbable, but not impossible.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by developers rule, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 11, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Third Request: Please remove _your_ text above, that you inserted under my name.

SL: the post clearly says it is my comment not yours


 +   14 people like this
Posted by No from Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 11, 2018 at 8:37 pm

Though I don't live in Palo Alto, I live on the other side of the creek and concur with Online Name. Too often I see the current state of affairs caged as a housing crisis. That completely ignores the demand side of the equation (jobs and office densification). The problem is just as accurately described as an overpopulation crisis. Using different and in my opinion more accurate language spawns a very different set of solutions. I say more accurate here as population is the single most direct threat to the environment, largest strain on natural resources, and biggest factor reducing standard of living. The continuing upward population trend in CA is a severe negative for our children's future. I'd much prefer a set of solutions that target zero population growth at the local, regional, state, and national levels with economic growth fueled by efficiency rather than bodies.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 6:50 am

Everyone has a housing crises. How to solve that is the issue. Seattle passed a business tax to support homeless people that affects Amazon who is now beating back that tax. Seattle has the third largest group of homeless. And Amazon is in EPA so how is CA applying taxes to companies that requires a lot of support services. In this case you are proposing a bond issue paid by the residents vs the companies that locate here. What we have learned is that BONDS are the least understood financial schemes out there - they are constantly a money pit set up for abuse. And Non-Profits? That is a tax scheme - if you ever did the taxes for a non-profit then you know the salaries for the leaders are sky high. Non-profit does not denote any actual knowledge on the subject in question. It is a tax avoidance maneuver. This whole subject is leading to the hiring of a bunch of people to perform non-essential activities to support a "value".


 +   10 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of another community,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 9:32 am

I would vote NO on a housing bond. But I'd definitely say YES to State, corporate and RM1/RM2/RM3 funding for transportation infrastructure improvements & capacity, particularly Dumbarton.

While I'm not opposed, per se, to greater housing density, the bigger culprit to our housing issues is the Bay Area's pathetic transportation infrastructure. Our infrastructure is so terrible, people are forced to chose between buying/renting in high-priced areas or enduring an unreasonably long, slow commute. Adding real capacity, particularly public transportation, has been grossly mismanaged. And it's not like money isn't there (Warm Springs and the Antioch diesel-bart extentions are 2 BILLION), the problem is that projects are ranked based on politics, and NOT on impact.

Extending the reach of public transportation makes places like Livermore, Davis, Tracy and Santa Cruz viable commute options for Bay Area jobs, while reducing the demand...and thereby the costs...of Bay Area housing.


Many parts of the Bay Area had better public transportation infrastructure 100 YEARS AGO. We are paying for the cost of capacity neglect with our high housing prices and gridlocked roads. Our state government has the highest revenue in the nation, yet spends a pittance of the general fund on public transportation. We are long overdue demanding that the government address our quality of life and fix their neglect. We're certainly already paying for it.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by populist President, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:50 am

We don't need a bond.

Just use PA's portion of the new Peace Dividend from our populist President (slashed Pentagon budgets from getting out of South Korea and not having to run all those expensive 'war games'.

Just think: when Clinton declared a Peace Dividend, he was able to balance the budget!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 11:01 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

In response to some of the posts above

Hey, i wish we had a peace dividend to cover our housing needs but since as you point out that is fantasy, I still think a housing bond is needed

To No from Menlo

Virtually all of the funds from this bond and from the county measure A county bond would go to existing residents who are crowded together to save on rent. In PA our next housing project will include a large share of existing residents who have disabilities and would benefit from independent living.

I think it is incorrect to think of helping existing residents as creating overpopulation.

To resident

One, bonds are paid by all property owners residents and businesses alike.

Two, I think figuring out what businesses should pay is a legitimate question and Mt View for example is doing that

But FYI Seattle just rescinded their business tax in response to pushback and a better understanding of the consequences.

Personally I think we need both improvements in transportation and more funds for low and moderate income residents struggling with housing costs. Also I think the housing projects well done by themselves can reduce solo car driving a bit.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Conditional yes, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Conditional yes is a registered user.

I would support a housing bond if:
- there were proportionate contributions from business ("proportionate" TBD)
- it focused on essential city/school workers to start with

IMO this problem is largely caused by too much commercial development, so business should pay the lion's share. If they move out because it's too expensive, that is okay with me. We convert that space to housing.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ conditional yes

thanks for the response

I do think we as residents are the main "consumer" of low wage services not businesses. We shop at stores, go to restaurants, buy food at markets, hire household workers and so forth.

But I agree all should contribute including businesses as they would with a bond.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Recent Midtown Guy, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm

I would not support any bond issue for low/moderate cost housing and would somewhat resent having to subsidize another person/family.

I grew up in San Jose and commuted to PA for a few years. I saved my $$$ and had to forgo many "luxuries" for 10 years so I could buy a small, old 2-1 home in Mid-town. I am probably considered low/moderate income for the area, but continue to pay huge property taxes bills along with school bond issues. Yes, I could move, but now consider PA my home, but do not feel I have a "right" to live here. I understand people/families can't afford to live here, even if they work in PA. But, I do not feel it is my responsibility to subsidize anyone else when I can barely afford to live here myself. If I could not afford to live here, I would commute, just as I did from SJ when I was saving my $$$ to live in my dream location.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Conditional yes, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Conditional yes is a registered user.

@stephen levy

I do not allocate the lion's share of the cost of the housing bond to corporations because they employ low-wage workers.

I allocate the lion's share of the cost of the housing bond to corporations (and their developers ideally) because (imo) housing prices are intolerable due to a significant jobs/housing imbalance. The jobs are the "cause" of our inability to provide affordable housing. And the clear beneficiaries of that imbalance are the corporations.

In essence, the jobs providers are benefiting from the imbalance, which is costing us a fortune to fix. They need to pay their fair share of the costs of their growth. We have been undercharging the developers and corporations, and it's gotten us into this mess.

And we haven't even talked about how to fund the necessary services and parks for all those soon-to-be-local workers.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Conditional yes, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Conditional yes is a registered user.

So that I don't come across as too anti-business (we all like jobs), I should add that the other beneficiaries of this mess have been homeowners, whose assets have skyrocketed. This proposal will put downwards pressure on housing prices, as the supply increases and demand decreases (or at least doesn't grow as quickly). Obviously some homeowners (especially newer ones like Recent Midtown Guy) will not like that. But I do think the costs of this need to be borne more by homeowners than by renters, who have seen only downside. And we have got to correct the steep increase in housing prices.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of another community,
on Jun 12, 2018 at 6:08 pm

"bonds are paid by all property owners residents and businesses alike."

But Steve...our state, collectively, is one of the highest taxing states in our country. It baffles me why otherwise intelligent people acquiesce to expecting comparatively little infrastructure improvements from the tax dollars we already pay.

Our state, nor the cities and counties that reside in it, does NOT need more debt. We're swimming in it.

Additionally, the State currently has a budget surplus. While I'm a strong advocate of paying down liabilities, if the state put 5.5B to debt paydown and 2B to adding rail public transit to the Dumbarton corridor, that would be life-changing around here.

I think adding more bond debt is incredibly misguided, and our children will pay the price.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by KB, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jun 13, 2018 at 7:11 pm

NO

Basically, why should I pay for someone else's housing?

The City Council allowed commercial developers to run amok over the past 40 years, thinking that it was free money. Well, now the price must be paid -- 80,000 jobs in Palo Alto and a workforce of maybe 32,000. So everyone wants to live here, and those that can't must drive in.

So let the employers pay their employees more. Then the employees can decide if they'd rather spend that money on Palo Alto rent/mortgage, or keep the cash and drive in from Gilroy.

What we really ought to do is stop all new commercial space development and build some housing very close to downtown and Cal Ave. If you want a housing bond, charge employers a business tax to pay for it. It won't hurt the jobs market here, and even if we lost 5000 jobs, we'd still have way more than we need. Maybe traffic would ease up a bit.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by native to the bay, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

YES! And I'll do anything necessary to get it done. I am with you on this. Though I am weary of bonds that push the can down the road so to speak. Taxes and impact fees are the way to go with progress. Today I just read all the high priced commercial buildings and "mixed-use" going on currently and planned for in Palo Alto. Sadly not one of these projects is meeting the middle or the low-income gaping housing hole here. I thought for sure the Olive Garden site would be moderate, low-income housing. A service worker at one of our 7-Elevens would have to make $65 an hour to pay for a two bedroom market rate apartment here. If this were a family of four with two parents and school age kids. That would be either two full time minimum wage jobs or put the kids to work. Hmmm, far from fair. Even a market rate apartment invites tight quarters, street parking, yearly rent hikes, price gauging and Palo Alto's share of slum lording. One of the other very worrisome problems with market rate housing in this town is the requirement for renting is proof or income 3 times the rent and 3 months of pay-stubs. Challenging if not impossible for house cleaners, gardeners, child care workers, hospital janitorial, church pastors . . . And Palo Alto is rabid about reducing traffic from the outside yet don't want to slow down for those that are traveling emission free on bikes. CRA, CRA.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by native to the bay, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 15, 2018 at 11:29 am

At Road Furniture - Are you speaking to all the parked cars along our streets? On your street? As road furniture.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

NO.

Here's a better idea: open up a real state investment fund that gives people information and a chance to contribute to building the sort of housing they'd like to see. A private charitable foundation model could work as well. Passionate people with the means to do so can fund housing for those who could not otherwise afford to live here.

Listen to what Palo Alto from Ventura had to say. A program like this needs a lot more granularity to ensure that people that are contributing positively to the community rather impacting it negatively are getting the benefits. I'd go to big employers in the area first to ask them to subsidize housing for their workers plus some deserving lower and middle income people who can meet appropriate eligibility conditions. It's not a bad thing if one of Palo Alto's former neighbors who chooses to loaf around all day smoking pot rather than holding down a decent job suddenly finds him/herself in a housing crisis and moves out of our area. I'd rather help people like Palo Alto.

I also don't agree with the way you're framing and controlling this debate. You may disagree with Palo Alto's feelings towards his non-industrious neighbors, but he is entitled to express them. Low income housing developers do make profits. That's fine. It's great news, in fact. The lie is when they claim that they can't built such projects without government subsidies. The subsidies increase their profits. I don't believe they're needed to enable the building of the housing in the first place. And if your membership in some organization gives even an appearance of bias to what you have to say, it should be disclosed (like you disclosed your intention to serve on a committee to manage funds that are raised) rather than whitewashed.


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Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 15, 2018 at 4:29 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Hi Johnathan,

I believe I did list all the organizations I belong to with regard to housing, the excerpt below is from June 10.

"I also belong to the league of women Voters and silicon valley at home both of which have supported all the housing initiatives that Palo Alto Forward supports and a host of other pro,housing organizations."

They all support what I and Palo Alto Forward have supported this year with regard to housing proposals before council. I am chair of the League Housing and Transportation committee and am completing a term on their board. For the low income housing initiatives we were joined by a number of other organizations interested in expanding housing, housing options and housing affordability.


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Posted by In a committee too, a resident of another community,
on Jun 16, 2018 at 11:58 am

"I am chair of the League Housing and Transportation committee"

Interesting. Is there a URL you can share that describes this committee? I searched on Google and could not find anything called "the League [of?] Housing and Transportation committee". I'm not disputing its existence, just curious to learn more.



As someone who serves on a committee that is meant to address both housing and transportation, I'm certain you know how inexorably linked those 2 issues are. That said, I believe you get more bang-for-the-buck by prioritizing the transportation side of the equation:

* Better transportation infrastructure helps more people:
Focusing on BMR housing in a small area of the Bay Area only helps a small subset of people affected by our housing issues. IMO the focus on BMR housing is a de facto (albeit inadvertent) middle finger to the hard-working middle class on the peninsula. Improved public transportation helps EVERYONE, even those that don't use it.

* Better transportation infrastructure adds more housing than a BMR housing bond could ever accomplish:
There is more housing (and potential for more) in the East Bay and Central Valley (cities like Livermore, Pleasanton, Tracy, etc) than could be added thru incremental increases in density on the peninsula. By making this housing accessible via public transportation for peninsula jobs, you lower the demand (and therefore the price) of housing on the peninsula.

* Better public transportation infrastructure helps both housing costs and road costs:
By expanding public transportation's reach, we reduce the demand on roads (reducing wear-and-tear, which reduces maintenance costs) and demand on peninsula housing, effectively a 2-for-1.



I respect your involvement in trying to help solve our regional housing issues, but I respectfully think your efforts to focus on BMR housing are misplaced.


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Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

[Web Link web link]


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jun 24, 2018 at 12:18 am

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

Ahh, No.

Just another transfer payment that politicians could use to virtue signal and distribute to their cronies.

Remember how our bond money for new school facilities was used to pay for renaming schools?


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Posted by The Flash, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Jun 30, 2018 at 10:41 am

Great idea. It is also needed in Mountain View where they are tearing down rental units and building row houses in their place!


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Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:57 am

Marie is a registered user.

Just wondering what your opinion is on the conversion of the President Hotel. Do you think it is legal under current zoning? Are you in favor of the conversion from apartments to a hotel? If so, what should be done to prevent it?


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Posted by Rimpi Chandigarh, a resident of another community,
on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:57 am

Great article...


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Posted by Divas India, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Aug 9, 2018 at 11:50 am

The poster named Palo Alto makes a point that I think needs to be underscored.

,Just moved out of a brand new apartment building where many of the units are BMR. I was paying market rate, working 2 jobs to afford living there. As I left to work, my BMR neighbors were smoking pot and hanging out.,

I have an acquaintance who lives(d) in BMR housing. I had cause to visit and was shocked to see what was from the outside a nice modern house in a nice new neighborhood, but inside it had become little more than a slum. Nearly all the cabinet doors in the kitchen were missing (not just off the hinges but also lost), stains on carpeting, paintwork very grubby and marked light fittings broken. I made a remark about the kitchen doors and was told that they were waiting for the landlord to replace them and to do some other repairs. Outside there were no plants and dried up lawn and flower beds and a large amount of junk. The point being here that the family could not care less about taking pride in their home. It was not "their fault" that the doors were not on but the landlords.
Web Link
Obviously all BMR housing folk are not like the above mentioned families, but enough of them are to make me feel that helping them will only lead to their abuse of the premises. When people are in a position to look after a home, doing repairs where necessary and keeping things generally clean and tidy with some effort at making it look nice, they are more likely to get a better response from those who are in a position to help them get started.



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