By Steve Levy
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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ... (More)
About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved downtown in 2006 and enjoy being able to walk to activities. I do not drive and being downtown where I work and close to the CalTrain station and downtown amenities makes my life more independent. I have worked all my life as an economist focusing on the California economy. My work centers around two main activities. The first is helping regional planning agencies such as ABAG understand their long-term growth outlook. I do this for several regional planning agencies in northern, southern and central coast California. My other main activity is studying workforce trends and policy implications both as a professional and as a volunteer member of the NOVA (Silicon Valley) and state workforce boards. The title of the blog is Invest and Innovate and that is what I believe is the imperative for our local area, region, state and nation. That includes investing in people, in infrastructure and in making our communities great places to live and work. I served on the recent Palo Alto Infrastructure Commission. I also believe that our local and state economy benefits from being a welcoming community, which mostly we are a leader in, for people of all religions, sexual preferences and places of birth. (Hide)
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Do we want a palo alto where only the rich can move here to live
Uploaded: Oct 11, 2015
I remember meeting Greg Schmid when I played a small role in his school board campaign. We were both economists and were making a decent living but nothing spectacular. Yes we and our wives and children were able to afford a home in Palo Alto.
It is much harder now. I doubt that Greg or I if we were economists in mid-career could afford to live in Palo Alto today.
So unless we do something to change the rules about housing, we will continue down the path of being home to long-time homeowners (I am one now) and rich newcomers. As the older homeowners die (many of us are over 70 already), we will be home to only newcomers who can afford the $2+ million median home price or corresponding rent.
When I looked at Zillow recently to buy a $2 million home, the annual cost with a 20% down payment ($400,000+) is about $115,000 and with a 10% down payment is over $135,000 a year.
Think about whom that excludes.
Forget all that talk on the other blog about "entitled millennials". First, we are not talking here only about people under 35. We are talking about a wide range of family types that were the backbone of Palo Alto but are now priced out. Second, no one is talking subsidies. This is about providing market rate opportunities that cost less than $2 million for ownership and are affordable to renters with good incomes.
And the question I am posing is not what the newcomers want but what we want in Palo Alto going forward.
Do we want to be a town where the only new residents have to be fairly rich?
There are lots of ways to provide market rate housing that is more affordable but the values question is do we want to do that or continue down the current path that once allowed families like Greg's and mine to live here but now does not.
So I join with Arthur Keller, Bob Moss and Stephanie Munoz, all of whom spoke at council last week, and the others in asking the council and citizen's advisory committee to make housing a priority and see how creative we can be in expanding choices within our city.
What is it worth to you?
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