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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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I want an accurate housing audit. Why?

Uploaded: Jul 25, 2023

Several years ago, I asked then-Palo Alto Planning Director Hillary Gitelman whether there was any data on the percentage of residents living in housing units near Caltrain who actually used the train to get to work. Transit-oriented housing was a hot topic in the 20-teen years

“Great question!” she responded, “I’ll look into it.” Her reply: No data. None. She had queried several Peninsula cities and found no city had investigated whether transit-oriented hosing was occupied by commuters, and, if so, how many were using the train to get to work, rather than their cars -- which was the presumed purpose of building apartments near train tracks.

I found her answer interesting because public officials often tend to latch onto what they think are great ideas to improve things, but frequently don’t check back to see if their presumptions were correct.

Fast forward to this year, where the cry for more housing, especially the affordable kind, is a constant refrain among Peninsula cities (and state officials). The state and ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) has allocation quotas for most cities -- 6,086 new dwelling units to be built between 2022-2031 in Palo Alto alone. Typically, those must-build designations are based on the number of jobs in these towns (Atherton’s quota is very low).

The big wrinkle here was when the quotas were set. California was expanding rapidly, with the thought we would continue to grow by leaps and bounds, and officials presumed the growth would continue upward.

However, California’s state auditor re-examined those projections a year or two later, and said they were not only inaccurate, but the predictions on housing needs overestimated the number of new housing units needed in this state by at least 900,000 units, in its stated need of 2.1 million new units. That’s like a 43 percent overcount!

But the state never changed those original quotas. We are still at 6,086 for Palo Alto. Ditto for other cities’ quotas.

And that is the very reason we need solid data on how many units have been built and are under construction the past couple of years in each city and town, and how much is needed, especially what percent is and will be “affordable” lower-income housing.

In the meantime, more people started moving out of state, in part because the cost of living is so high here, couples are having fewer children, and less people are moving in. Soon, the growth curve turned south.

This past year, the cry for more housing has become louder and stronger. Just this July, a new housing proposal is suggesting that several big parking lots in downtown Palo Alto be converted into new housing – with little mention that if that occurs, then where do people park downtown? And what happens to business revenues in the downtown?

In fact, one part of the housing proposal would be to build new units for seniors in the lot on Bryant across from Avenidas, a mecca for senior activities. That way the seniors living there could walk across the street to attend Avenidas events. But that lot is exactly the place current senior members of Avenidas use to park!

And in Menlo Park another new proposal was rapidly pushed out the developer’s door to tear down the lovely Sunset magazine building and its historic gardens at Willow and Middlefield to build four tall buildings, one 300-feet high, higher than Hoover Tower, encompassing retail, office and housing units.

And, by the way, the development would bring more traffic at an already very-crowded intersection.

So, all this is why I want an audit. Do we need to build more and more housing and, in the process, forget about enough parking in downtown Palo Alto and more traffic at Menlo’s Linfield Oaks neighborhood area?

Another reason for an official audit, funded by the state, I hope. or a group of local cities:

We are building lots of apartments already in this area. This past year I see more apartments under construction and seemingly ready to open. Take the massive four-block span of new units already built on the east side of El Camino, just as you enter Menlo Park from Palo Alto. It’s a huge number of units. I don’t know if any of them are designated affordable, but at least 10 percent (the customary number) should be. Better yet, 20 percent.

Over in East Palo Alto there are a guestimated 200 or so apartments fronting on Highway 101 that don’t yet seem occupied.

And then along Alma Street in Mountain View, as you drive south, across the tracks are literally two blocks of apartments under construction.

And on Middlefield Road in Mountain View near Shoreline Blvd., another very large grouping of new apartment buildings.

We just need to count up all these new units in the area, which an audit could accomplish.

If we overbuild, we are in trouble because we’ve taken things like parking lots and church lots and knocking down buildings and replace them with housing units. And what if they aren’t filled? I worry about “ghost-town” sections in portions of our cities.

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, we certainly need more affordable housing, where it is needed, but we have to check our progress.

So, should we conduct an area-wide hosing audit? Should we urge the state to update their housing need figures to portray 2023 needs should we be ware of how much we are buildiing?

Great questions!

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Paly Grad, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jul 25, 2023 at 9:00 pm

Paly Grad is a registered user.

It would also be helpful to know how many homes are unoccupied in Palo Alto. There is a home in my neighborhood that has been unoccupied since it last sold on April 11, 2019.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 7:34 am

Bystander is a registered user.


The population is indeed diminishing and the pandemic has changed things in a way that was not thought possible. It is time to look again at these supposed jobs/housing mandates. The last thing we want is towering blocks of rabbit hutches that nobody lives in.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 10:25 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Your call for an audit makes too much sense and presumes that ABAG and our planners want accurate numbers. Unfortunately, they and the state have barred ANY and all reconsideration of the housing targets for 8 -- EIGHT -- long years regardless if new realities.

Not only do they have their fingers on the scale FOR the developers, kobb7yists etc.m they have their hefty thighs on the scale weighted in favor of the paid lobbyists who tell us it's just great to add a few million more people to an area suffering from drought BECAUSE Palo Alto is such a great place for low-income families.

Check your common sense at the door, folks. We don't need accuracy when we've got paid shills pushing their fairy tales.

Posted by Candace, a resident of another community,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 10:35 am

Candace is a registered user.

Housing thinking in California has been taken over by propaganda. These are the facts: 1) Building more does not make housing costs cheaper. Housing costs are determined by construction costs, including older units that need upgrading and maintenance. 2) The movement to exclude cars in buildings actually limits tenant profiles to younger more transient renters, a developers dream. 3) Living near transit does not mean tenants use it. People use vehicles to work and travel to diverse locations. Transit does not enable that for the majority. Neither do bikes. 4) Taking out parking segregated cities. Up to 30% of our population is elderly and disabled and need cars to get around. California is set to have a stable population that is older. We need non ideological, professional and data driven planning to prepare appropriately for the future.

Posted by Chip, a resident of JLS Middle School,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 10:47 am

Chip is a registered user.

I'm tired of hearing about the need for "affordable housing" which is not quantified or defined. Affordable for whom? A single public school teacher making $80-110K? An EMT making ~$200K? A retail clerk making $50-65K a minimu wage employee making $35K? Married professional couple making $250-400K?
Some folks seem to think that "affordable housing" will remove the battered RVs around town but it won't. Neither the unhoused or RV dwellers will be able to afford the housing we're constantly being told we must provide.
Don't build on existing parking lots. Some of us who were able to walk or bike to downtown or Cal Ave a decade ago can no longer do it, due to increasing age & diminishing physical health. We need to be able to use cars & park if we're going to support local businesses. Otherwise, it'll be Amazon & Doordash for me.

Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

Where is there an Alma street in Mountain View?

Posted by Chip, a resident of JLS Middle School,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 5:19 pm

Chip is a registered user.

Alma in MV is now called Central Expy but many of us knew it as Alma for decades. The name chsnges approximately south of the San Antonio overpass.

Posted by fred, a resident of University South,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 11:25 pm

fred is a registered user.


What is the logic of your position?

Do you think people who ride the train will choose to live 20 miles away?
Maybe if they are commuting TO Palo Alto.

Also, where are you going to build the housing for Palo Alto workers? Gilroy?
The housing they need is in Palo Alto - some of it may be near the train stations or it may be near San Antonio or it may be near El Camino, but it will be in Palo Alto.

Just because you have opinions and biases does not make them useful for moving forward. You are great at criticizing, but you make no positive suggestions.
That is why the state is telling you what to do. Years of complaining and procrastination.

Posted by fred, a resident of University South,
on Jul 26, 2023 at 11:42 pm

fred is a registered user.


Did you mention Palo Alto building any housing? Why is Palo Alto expected to be built from building housing when all of the other cities are expected to build their share? Isn't Palo Alto shirking its responsibility?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jul 27, 2023 at 7:35 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

A couple of points.
One, half of the RHNA allocation is to address challenges facing existing residents, not growth. If the RHNA were done again now, that number would rise as overcrowding, cost burden and homelessness have risen sharply since 2020.
Two, the auditor did not say what you claim. First the audit did not look at our two biggest regions here and in SoCal. Second, the audit reported as many underestimates as overestimates.
Three, BMR unit rents are capped at 30% of income so they are affordable. Most units currently are for residents making 60% or less of area median income though some are for moderate income residents.
The best way to maintain local control is to pass a compliant household element certified by the state as other cities like MV and RC have done.

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 27, 2023 at 10:11 am

Annette is a registered user.

Once again, Ms. Diamond approaches a thorny issue and asks legitimate questions. An audit is an excellent suggestion. Checking progress is, too. Evaluating the premises on which decisions are based is also a good idea. Some people, perhaps including Mr. Levy, may be too close to ABAG and HCD to see issues objectively. The housing issue is keeping untold #s of people employed and perpetrating an enormous bureaucracy. This has been going on for years, but housing issues persist - and grow. That suggests to me that the deeply-rooted approach that our legislators and other bureaucrats insist is correct, isn't.

The approach is also contrary to our supposed goals. Palo Alto considers itself forward-thinking, especially with regard to the environment. There is nothing forward-thinking about building what isn't needed. And yet there seems to be resistance to gathering data that would tell us, for example, if transit-oriented housing is working. I applaud Ms. Diamond for raising this issue and spurring discussion.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jul 27, 2023 at 11:21 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Another point you overlook.

Since our transit stations are at downtown centers, housing near them is housing near jobs, services and shopping/dining.
I live downtown, do not use the train much now but do most of our activity car free as we can walk to lots of places.
I agree that few residents use the train now but housing near train stations does reduce car use and help the environment.
To Annette's comment we have a shortage not a surplus of housing and if we ever build too much it will self correct quickly as it always has done.
Our goal should be to adopt a compliant housing element and retain local control and avoid lawsuits.

Posted by DianaDiamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 27, 2023 at 1:48 pm

DianaDiamond is a registered user.

Steve Levy --

You wrote: "Our goal should be to adopt a compliant housing element and retain local control and avoid lawsuits."

My column focused on the need for a housing audit in our local communities, so we can better understand how much housing we have, how much is being built, how many empty units there are. We should not be compliant with state's erroneous projections that then tell cities how many housing units they must build. As I said, the state's housing numbers are wrong.

The Mercury's 7-26 edition page 1 reported the state's forecast of a 52.69 million population by 2060 was wrong; a new revised forecast projected 40.1 million by20760. Our housing needs have dropped.

I acknowledge that you live downtown and walk to places, you have had no car for years and you don't use the train much.

I stand by what I wrote.

Posted by PH, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 27, 2023 at 7:40 pm

PH is a registered user.

@Stephen Levy "The best way to maintain local control is to pass a compliant household element certified by the state as other cities like MV and RC have done. "

I don't ever want PA and MP to be like MV and RC. That is not local control.

If I have the authority to tell Stephen Levy how many pounds of vegetables he must eat and he produces a compliant plan to eat them, he is not under his own control. He is under MY control.

Passing a "compliant" housing element does NOT mean that a city passes a housing element based on its own vision, it means the city passes a housing element whose numbers and methods meet numbers and methods forced onto it by the State of California.

There is a theoretical argument to be made that cities which create housing demand should also create proportionate supply, but that is not a practical argument. In PA and MP there is higher return from hosting employees than hosting residents. Ask Stanford about rezoning the research park for housing instead of office.

Posted by Silver Linings, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 28, 2023 at 9:38 pm

Silver Linings is a registered user.

Research in 2022 found more than 16 million vacant homes nationally, more than a million of those in California.

We have to decouple the idea of housing affordability from build baby build, since new construction can be forever snapped up or controlled by whoever is holding those million vacant homes. Those empty apartments you see Diana? Owners can and do stagger the new leases so they don't end up with too many renewals at the same time, thus reducing any oversupply downward pressure on prices. The 2017 tax laws further advantaged investor ownership and disadvantaged individuals, especially in California. This is not a recipe for affordability or encouraging those willing to sacrifice to put down roots to do so.

San Francisco is now reaping what it sowed in allowing builders to push out longtime residents in the name of creating new housing that would presumably (but didn't) trickle down. Once the built environment in a City becomes too unpleasant, it takes only one sudden event like an earthquake or pandemic to cause a sudden shift in desirability that is hard to recover from. City policy was catering to the companies bringing in workers whose connection was shallow and transient, rather than those residents who had sacrificed to put down roots.

People leaving are not just leaving for affordability, they are leaving for higher quality of life they can afford. That's an important distinction. People were willing to compromise and sacrifice for the quality of life here. The overbuilding and disinterest in ensuring building wasn't too much for infrastructure ruined more and more people's quality of life. Thus when they were able to take their high salaries elsewhere, they did.

You have asked really good questions. Unfortunately I think the dogmatic who have brought us the overbuilding will only interpret it in their usual twisted way. Nevertheless, the questions deserve answers.

Posted by CyberVoter, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Jul 30, 2023 at 10:45 am

CyberVoter is a registered user.

"Have Laptop, will Travel" -
Yes before SF (& the Bay Area) was taken over by coders & "managers" using a laptop only, they could move in in droves very quickly because all the need is a chair & internet, They did NOT have a factory & capital equipment that create "fixed investment" to the area. Those "fixed investments" are leaving CA and new ones created in the USA Southeast/Southwest. As I just found out, shutting down a company in the Bat area is just breaking the office lease & telling your employees they have a job in TX - if they take their computer,

This will NOT stop until we throw out our current CA elected officials!\\

In addition, for local communities to retake control of their own destiny, we need to donate to, support and vote for the 2024 CA resolution to turn zoning back to the local communities - see Web Link

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 30, 2023 at 8:39 pm

Annette is a registered user.

CyberVoter wrote "As I just found out, shutting down a company in the Bat area is just breaking the office lease & telling your employees they have a job in TX - if they take their computer,"

Yeah, but how many women think TX is a smart place to move to these days? Employers might want to think about that.

Posted by Justine Wilcox, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 7:07 am

Justine Wilcox is a registered user.

"...but how many women think TX is a smart place to move to these days?"

^ Answer: Women with strong Christian values who are pro-life and reluctant to embrace overly progressive woke initiatives.

For those preferring a more liberal Texas environment, Austin provides a viable alternative being an enlightened college town and center of its music industry.

Posted by Marvin Harrison, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 7:33 am

Marvin Harrison is a registered user.

Depending on the region, Texas can be a worthwhile place to reside. We are moving to the West Texas atea because it embraces the enduring and endearing theme of Jason Aldean's #1 country hit "Try That in a Small Town."

Wokeness is destroying America.

Posted by Justin Tarr, a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 7:51 am

Justin Tarr is a registered user.

Texas and California are worlds apart. I am from Sweetwater all I can say is that folks in the more rural areas are far less liberal than those residing in the urban areas of California.

Most Texans are proud to be red as long as it isn't Communist and we are not supporters of ultra-progressive measures that dilute the true meaning of America.

Posted by Brandon Cross, a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 8:43 am

Brandon Cross is a registered user.

Like many Millennials who have been excluded from affordable housing due to economic conditions and the lack of a well-paying job, I still reside with my parents.

Though it is a compromise of sorts, I have my own bedroom and my mother provides certain amenities like preparing the meals, doing my laundry, and buying me new clothes as needed.

Though I do not have a girlfriend, outside of sex, chances are I would not be receiving the same donestic benefits.

Many millennial men are being left behind by professional women with higher aspirations in life and nowadays it is easier for them to get the lucrative jobs that were once the sole territory of men.

Though this development is unfair, it leaves fewer options for male workers who possess the same job skills.

Thus it is no wonder that many men my age have forsaken the thought of getting married and raising children.

Chat GPT creations and watching online porn provides both an outlet and an alternative for the unrealistic societal goals no longer available for 30-something men.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 9:06 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Brandon Cross above explains it as it is for many young men. I have a lot of sympathy for them.

Not sure if it started with the Me Too movement, or the Everybody Gets a Trophy movement, but it sure has caused many young men to fail to mature, grow up, or get a life! Add to that White Guilt and you have a perfect recipe for depression, mental illness, and addiction to vice of choice.

What are we doing to our boys? How can we change this trend? Will it get worse for the Covid generation of males?

Very important questions that society needs to ask.

Posted by Home Sweet Home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 9:12 am

Home Sweet Home is a registered user.

@Brandon Cross...I too have fallen into t
a similar predicament but we must count our blessings. If forced to struggle for affordable housing in Palo Alto, our gooses would be cooked. Instead, we are residing in nice neighborhood homes and being taken care of by those who really care about us.

The same cannot be said for the countless upwardly-mobile professional women who are primarily concerned with advancing their careers, getting married, and then having children later down the road which places an exceedingly heavy toll and responsibility on the husband to further provide for them, including all of the frivolous expenditures that supposedly enhance their outward appearances and reafirm various consumer-oriented material validations.

Best to keep things simple and free from the unecessary and avoidable encumbrances of life.

Posted by John Dennison , a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 9:35 am

John Dennison is a registered user.

• "What are we doing to our boys? How can we change this trend?"

Speaking as a retired USMC Lt. Colonel, one solution might be to require mandatory military service of all males aged 18-26.

This would teach them discipline, responsibility, and how to take care of themselves in the adult world.

It would effectively put an end to millennial-aged adolescents content with living at home and watching the world surpass them. It would also make them more manly which along with compassion, is what most women look for in a quality male partner. Only dominant female personalities prefer wimpy men.

Mandatory service in the military would also balance the scale between privileged individuals and underprivileged enlistees from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

One of the solutions is staring us right in the face and we have chosen to disregard it, leaving our nation undermanned against foreign enemies intent on destroying the American way of life.

It is time for many of these adult millennial men to grow up and start acting like grown men rather than teenagers in arrested development.

Semper Fi.

Posted by Jonathan Waite, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 10:23 am

Jonathan Waite is a registered user.

Like various oppressed peoples of color, many white millennial men have become marginalized in America because their conventional avenues for success have become exceedingly limited due to the preferential treatment afforded women, H-1B workers, and other minority job applicants.

I did not go to college to work at Starbucks and by residing at home, my living expenses are minimal.

Very few younger women would treat me as kindly as my mother so why jump into a hot frying pan where false expectations are the norm?

The only consideration for a millennial-aged man getting married nowadays would be marrying an older (40-ish) professional woman who is actively seeking the fountain of youth via the companionship of a virile younger man and who is truly supportive of his outside interests and aspirations.

Under any other conditions, why bother?

Posted by Jason Lee, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 11:15 am

Jason Lee is a registered user.

Let's see now, with typical PA rents running anywhere from $5000/month or more...

If I didn't live at home with my parents after completing college, I would not have been able to afford my first BMW and annual season's tickets to Squaw Valley. That would be a travesty.

@Jonathan Waite...bro, hanging-out with or marrying an older woman of monetary means has its drawbacks. When she is 50+, you will still be in your 40s and most likely grooving on younger women.

The only problem is that many younger women are emotionally immature and can be a bit too needy at times. They need reassurances. Most older women don't have these issues because they are more experienced in life and have survived various heartbreaks and disappointments.

That said, I am fully in favor of the liberal ideals that promote more people of color, professional women, and documented immigrants taking an active role in America's workforce because it will ensure that the Social Security trust remains funded.

Posted by Connie Lange (USN ret.), a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 11:39 am

Connie Lange (USN ret.) is a registered user.

Good grief. Judging by some of these posts, Rome (aka America) is burning while countless millennial males are playing the violin.

So who is to blame...parents, politicians, the woke movement, modern technology, or all of the above?

The exorbitant Palo Alto rents need to come down and it is imperative that the city accommodates more Section 8 housing options for those living at federal poverty levels.

In the meantime, privileged millennials will continue to gripe about being shortchanged in life.

@John Dennison/USMC ret.
Why would the military want these types of self-entitled individuals in the service?
Chances are most of them would either be court-martialed or given less than honorable discharges.

Posted by Clarence Rown, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Clarence Rown is a registered user.

I want to take a moment to remind everyone of the importance of promoting accuracy and empathy in our discussions. It's crucial to remember that misinformation can easily find its way into these comment sections, leading to negative perceptions of certain groups or individuals.

Let's make a conscious effort to fact-check our statements before sharing them and cite reliable sources when presenting information. By doing so, we can contribute to a more respectful and well-informed conversation.

Remember, we all come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, which can enrich our discussions when approached with openness and respect. Let's strive to foster a welcoming environment where ideas can be shared without fear of judgment, but also remember that sometimes people will mislead others about their background in order to spread misinformation.

Together, we can contribute to a more constructive and positive dialogue that benefits everyone involved. Thank you for being mindful of this and for making our community a place where ideas can be exchanged thoughtfully.

Posted by Ron Ferris, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 12:54 pm

Ron Ferris is a registered user.

"...many white millennial men have become marginalized in America because their conventional avenues for success have become exceedingly limited due to the preferential treatment afforded women, H-1B workers, and other minority job applicants."

The current lay-offs in high-tech have a direct impact on H-1B workers as they now have 60 days to find new employment or be deported back to their native countries. Many Americans have no problem with that development because the workers are not U.S. citizens to begin with.

Reasonably priced housing in Palo Alto remains an issue due to demand and land availability but the problem can be partially resolved by building trailer parks.

Where I am from (North San Diego) there are large trailer parks in both Encinitas and Carlsbad whose cities and residents easily equal Palo Alto in terms of affluence.

Instead of building Lego-Land inspired apartments which are an inspired visual eyesore, why not create some nice trailer parks to accommodate lower income housing?

Don't be snobs.

Posted by BeanCounter, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 31, 2023 at 4:32 pm

BeanCounter is a registered user.

An accurate audit might require in-person door-to-door canvassing with drop-off questionaires for those who were either not home or unable to answer the door.

No different than a census taker. A comprehensive canvassing of Palo Alto residencies might take about three to four months or so depending on the number of canvassers and returned questionaires.

To complete this survey, (1) Palo Alto residents could easily organize neighborhood canvassers, (2) the Boy Scouts could get involved with this drive as a local civics project, OR (3) the city could simply hire canvassers at minimum wage to complete the job. This is not rocket science by any means of the word.

As for disenfranchised millennials, every generation has had its ordeals except maybe for upper middle class GenZers who seem to get anything and everything they want. They too will learn the hard way that life doesn't get any easier as one gets older.

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 12:12 am

Annette is a registered user.

"one solution might be to require mandatory military service of all males aged 18-26. "

GREAT idea. Someone I know and love has said the same thing for years. Our society would benefit greatly from this. In numerous ways. And I bet we might find that we have better candidates to run the country, too. The "political class" isn't doing such a great job; those who have served with others would, I think, emerge with a better sense of America, Americans, and effective problem solving. But I wouldn't limit the requirement to men.

Thank you, John Dennison.

Posted by Chad Bradshaw, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 8:33 am

Chad Bradshaw is a registered user.

• ...one solution might be to require mandatory military service of all males aged 18-26.

Easy for some Baby Boomers to suggest that option after dodging the draft and protesting the Viet Nam War.

Why should young healthy people be forced to fight old people's wars?

A better suggestion would be for all of the old people to volunteer for the service (or get drafted) and be used as artillery fodder because they have fewer remaining years left to live and have already milked the cow in terms of societal opportunities and benefits.

Federal Social Security and Medicare expenditures would also be greatly reduced, enabling employee payroll deductions to be better spent on far more productive things.

On a positive note, these old-timers would most likely be under the direct command of younger millennial-aged officers because our country could not afford to rely on geriatric military leaders suffering from cognitive defects and memory lapses.

Millennials could then kick-back and follow the exploits of the AARP Army on their iPhones.

Posted by Madison Tilley, a resident of Stanford,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 9:05 am

Madison Tilley is a registered user.

@Chad Bradshaw: There are approximately 56 million American citizens over the age of 65 and most of them would probably be considered unfit to serve (4F) unless the military opted to lower its acceptance standards.

On the other hand, this age group is perhaps the most expendable and the resultant attrition would create more housing opportunities for the younger generations.

The only obstacle would be getting legislative approval for such a measure because Congress is comprised mostly of older members who have minimal concept of the future or concerns for the younger American populace.

Senior citizens who have already served in the military should be exempt but that still leaves plenty of old-timers to fill the ranks.

Posted by Brooke Dunne, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 9:21 am

Brooke Dunne is a registered user.

I don't think it would be a good idea to have an army comprised of senile old people with artificial hips and knees. This is not a conventional definition of being combat ready. They would also have difficulty following specific orders and carrying out certain missions...no different than dealing with an autistic child.

The Baby Boomer generation runs from 1946-1964 which means the youngest members are now pushing 60 years of age.

Since 70 is considered the new 40 (in the minds of many Boomers), this delusion leaves some latitude for those chasing the illusive fountain of youth.

Uncle Sam Wants You!

Posted by Chris Johnson, a resident of another community,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 9:44 am

Chris Johnson is a registered user.

The stereotype of millennial males living at home in their parent's basement and watching porn is a gross exaggeration of reality.

My parents assist me with my rent and as such, I am able to afford a small studio apartment in the mid-peninsula. Others may not be so fortunate but it is the responsibility of the parents to help their offspring in any way that they can, even if it means living at home.

That said, an army comprised of senior citizens is not a good idea.

A better idea would be to entice soon-to-be deported H-1B workers and prospective immigrants to enlist in the armed services with the promise of automatic citizenship after their tour of duty is completed.

There is no need for American millennials or seniors to perish at the hands of war.

Posted by Peter Cross, a resident of Los Altos,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 10:02 am

Peter Cross is a registered user.

A comprehensive audit of spare rooms (including those in private residences) would provide a more accurate assessment of available housing.

The question is...how many homeowners and renters would be willing to avail these rooms to those seeking a place to live?

If the answer or response is minimal, then those homeowners have no right to question or complain about the city's ongoing efforts to build more apartments throughout Palo Alto regardless of the height of architectural style.

Posted by Jake Mendelsohn, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 10:34 am

Jake Mendelsohn is a registered user.

> "A better idea would be to entice soon-to-be deported H-1B workers and prospective immigrants to enlist in the armed services with the promise of automatic citizenship after their tour of duty is completed."

>> "There is no need for American millennials or seniors to perish at the hands of war."

Excellent idea. America has a history of relying on 'outside labor' to complete certain jobs and utilizing the aforementioned groups would be no different except that the choice would be voluntary at the risk of deportation.

Besides, non-citizens are not entitled to the same voting rights or systemic amenities and privileges as regular Anerican citizens.

As for a housing audit in Palo Alto, while many vacancies have not been reported to date, a shortage of housing would still exist and justify what some opponenents call overdevelopment.

This is merely a sign of the times as some residents have chosen to leave Palo Alto because they cannot live comfortably with the new demographic changes.

So be it. Just sell your house or condo and take that $3-4 million and live elsewhere.

No one is begging you to stay.

Posted by Praveet Vepa, a resident of another community,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 11:15 am

Praveet Vepa is a registered user.

It is unfortunate that so many Americans have to rely on political intervention, judicial review, and/or mediation to resolve their internal conflicts when meditation and prayer can provide alternative solutions.

Building more residential units will help to alleviate the housing crisis in Palo Alto and other communities.

As for serving in the armed forces, while it would be a nice gesture on the part of displaced H-1B workers and prospective immigrants, cultural differences and language barriers could pose an ongoing obstacle towards fulfilling certain military objectives especially under wartime conditions.

And relying on older Americans is not a viable concept either because nany of them are mentally impaired.

Posted by Regina Tarr, a resident of another community,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Regina Tarr is a registered user.

How does one define 'affordable housing.' How many Section 8 allowances will be made for those living below federal poverty levels? And will they be welcomed in Palo Alto?

And what about accommodating the homeless population? Will they be left to wander the streets, forsaken by affluent Palo Altans with a minimal sense of humanity?

'Affordable' is an abstract depending upon one's fiscal resources.

Several of my H-1B colleagues at work have mentioned that compared to where they originally came from, Palo Alto is like the Ponderosa on Bonanza with plenty of space available for high-rise dwellings and mixed-use developments.

They came from environments where condensed and compressed living environments are the norm.

Just build 6,000 additional condo residencies and move on, leaving some of the dwellings for the economically depressed and homeless population.

What's the big deal?

Posted by Jonah Davis, a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 12:52 pm

Jonah Davis is a registered user.

Palo Alto has only itself to blame. If the community was perceived as less than desirable to the masses, outside parties would not want to reside or resituate here. It would also reduce the number of various retail and street crimes.

When prospective buyers are willing to pay $3M+ for a rundown house in Midtown, something is very wrong with the picture.

It's like overpaying for a delapidated BMW just because it happens to be a BMW.

Posted by No Complaints, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 1:10 pm

No Complaints is a registered user.

We bought our starter home on Amarillo for $325,000.00 in 1991. It is now worth over $3,000,000.00 thanks to the influx of wealthy families from abroad who can easily afford to pay the current asking prices with cash.

An excellent public school system along with close proximity to upscale shopping and dining add to the allure of Palo Alto residential properties.

For those getting into the Palo Alto home ownership game late, boo-hoo for it is no different than those who paid $6.00 a share in 2007 for Apple stock VS those who are now paying $192.00 for the same stock.

The early bird always gets the worm.

Posted by PA Expatriate, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 2, 2023 at 1:28 pm

PA Expatriate is a registered user.

The early bird truly gets the worm which is why we sold our PA home and got the heck out of Dodge while the home prices are still bordering on overpriced and overblown.

Our recently purchased $2,600,00.00 home in Healdsburg is larger and overlooks a vineyard. Following the sale of our PA home for $4 million in cash and pocketing an easy $1.4 million along the way, we are set for life.

Whatever transpires in PA town is no longer a concern. As they say, out of mind and out of body.

Posted by Bill Beck, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 3, 2023 at 12:26 pm

Bill Beck is a registered user.

While a housing audit might be informative, it will not alleviate the housing crisis.

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