Sorry folks, I’m still not 100% here just yet. My sleeping schedule is way out of whack and so today I’ll just leave you with this amazing resignation letter from a Palo Alto Planning Commission. A renter, of course, her family has been forced out of Palo Alto because of the same old sad song heard all over the Bay Area.
What makes the story stickier than the stories of middle to low income folks being pushed out of less tony neighborhoods is that this is a young family with two wage earners that make a whole lot of money. Even that is not enough to insulate them from the outrageous cost of housing in the Bay Area.
First of all she current shares a home with another family at a cost of $6200 a month. Pretty sure that there are some people reading this whose property tax bills aren’t even at $6200 a year let alone shelling out that kind of cash monthly.
According to another article the author is a corporate attorney and her husband is a software engineer which means that they, conservatively, probably pull in a collective $300K a year.
It’s clear that if professionals like me cannot raise a family here, then all of our teachers, first responders, and service workers are in dire straits. We already see openings at our police department that we can’t fill and numerous teacher contracts that we can’t renew because the cost of housing is astronomical not just in Palo Alto but many miles in each direction.
Small steps like allowing 2 floors of housing instead of 1 in mixed use developments, enforcing minimum density requirements so that developers build apartments instead of penthouses, legalizing duplexes, easing restrictions on granny units, leveraging the residential parking permit program to experiment with housing for people who don’t want or need two cars, and allowing single-use areas like the Stanford shopping center to add housing on top of shops (or offices), would go a long way in adding desperately needed housing units while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods and preserving historic structures throughout.
Sound familiar? Alameda, despite the lip service to caring about the rising costs of housing, scuttled an effort to ease the second unit ordinance because of parking concerns.
But here’s the money quote and while it resonates with me as something I don’t want for Alameda, I can see how some residents actually would prefer this suspended in amber “small town feel” at the expense of the young and those without means:
If things keep going as they are, yes, Palo Alto’s streets will look just as they did decades ago, but its inhabitants, spirit, and sense of community will be unrecognizable. A once thriving city will turn into a hollowed out museum.