News

The price of 'paradise': Palo Altans love their hometown but the stress of living in the heart of Silicon Valley is growing

On the Palo Alto Weekly's 40th anniversary, reporters take a census of life in the city through four neighborhoods

A couple walks underneath vibrant trees on Greenwood Avenue in Palo Alto in December 2016. File photo by Veronica Weber.

In celebration of the Palo Alto Weekly's 40th anniversary, news staff wanted to examine what the city is like today in light of what has happened over the past four decades since the inaugural issue was published on Oct. 11, 1979. We started by reaching out to residents on four blocks in Palo Alto, from north to south: Poe Street, Churchill Avenue, Greer Road and El Cerrito Road. We asked them to tell us what living in the city is like for them and what fills their day-to-day lives. We also asked them to share their observations about the changes happening in their neighborhoods and the city. We're grateful to them for sharing their stories, which you can read in their neighborhood profiles that can be found on our Atavist page.

Longtime residents and newcomers alike speak fondly of the attributes that drew them here and convinced them to stay: the beautiful homes along canopied streets, the strong public education system, the vibrant civic culture and relatively safe neighborhoods. Lately, though, as Silicon Valley has continued moving at full throttle, local residents have also been wondering aloud about something their predecessors rarely did: the price of living in "paradise." Will they stay or will they go? Find out by reading that full story on our Atavist page.

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Comments

54 people like this
Posted by Don’t be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:47 am

One of the biggest challenges to well-being of the community is wealth inequality. Ever since Steve Jobs choose Palo Alto instead of pricier places like Woodside or Los Altos Hills because he wanted to live in a more “normal“Community, we’ve had an influx of billionaires. Mark Zuckerberg has cited similar reasons. Unfortunately, Palo Alto‘s billionaires have been oblivious to their negative impacts, and less likely to invest in their own communities to negate those impacts. The negative impacts come not just from the income inequality they create, and how the middle class and poor or hurts,and the Gravitational pull for other Uber wealthy people,but also the impacts of their growing their companies beyond what the area can support. They are the monoculture of powerful thorny weeds choking out the diversity of growth and taking over everything for their own sake.

These billionaires grew up in an era in which the wealthiest had no sense of civic responsibility. In order to restore civic life in a place like this, it will be necessary for the public to work with state and local government to both tax the businesses to mitigate their real impact, and find ways to invest in a few medium size cities to the extent that they become attractive places for the companies and people who are tired with dealing with everything that they love being rolled over or displaced.


14 people like this
Posted by Don’t be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:50 am

Just a sampling of the many articles you can find about how income inequality hurts everyone.

Web Link
“However, we did find that negative emotional experiences rose along with the incomes of the top 1%. In societies where the richest hold most of the country’s income, people were more likely to report feeling stressed, worried, or angry on the day before we interviewed them.

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:52 am

The trouble (if you can call it that) with tech billionaires is that the majority of them were from normal backgrounds rather than ultra wealthy families. Their wealth is something they have had to adjust to and some are really trying to live reasonably normal lives rather than use their wealth to be overly ostentatious. When I read, several years ago, that Bill Gates had bought an estate and wished to move some trees around his estate and paid to move them rather than just chop some down and plant new ones, the privilege of wealth seemed OTT.

Many of the ultra wealthy residents of Palo Alto came from more humble beginnings and still have those values which they want to pass on to their children. In some ways they manage it, and others don't.


53 people like this
Posted by MzM
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:44 am

I'm a PA native who moved an hour away a few years ago. I still take a class at Stanford. I miss living in the area very much, but it's the good parts I miss, like how clean the city is, and how good the schools and Stanford is, especially for Continuing Education, which is unparalleled in the Bay Area. I miss the beautiful hills, redwood forests, and terrific medical care. But when I come down once a week to spend a day and go to class, I am not so happy about all the aggressive drivers, mostly young ones, and I remember the days growing up on Arastradero Road in the 1950s which it was the Valley of Heart's Delight. Arastradero was a dirt road, and Piers Dairy delivered to our door. Kirks was there, and so was the Chinese Kitchen. Things are not so genteel now, but the town is still much less congested than many other communities, especially after working hours when all the workers go somewhere else to live, because these days, how many people can actually afford Palo Alto? I had a long tech career and it was so much fun in the early days. I sense that it's more of an intense pressure cooker for many folks now. But the sheer beauty of the place will never change, and the proximity to forests and ocean and perfect weather remain intact. I just wish people wouldn't honk at me if I don't want to drive 8" behind the car in front of me.


12 people like this
Posted by pmarca
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 11, 2019 at 11:50 am

In November, a co-working space in downtown Palo Alto, operated by Alley in real estate by Verizon, will close, leaving about 50 entrepreneurs and startups homeless for office space (the other housing crisis).

Verizon isn't renewing the lease for the stand alone building because the landlord has jacked up prices to almost $200k per month and they will be moving to San Jose, where they have other real estate already.

Verizon will be fine, the landlord will find some wealthy tenant that "must have" a downtown Palo Alto address and the commercial brokers will make a big commission.

However, Palo Alto loses big.

These 50 or so startups will no longer buy food, shop at small businesses in Palo Alto. They won't invite their investors, advisors or friends to meet them in Palo Alto.

They have no alternate location to go in Palo Alto that isn't outrageously expensive.

The terrible public policies that want to cling to the past are actually killing the fabric of the community and its future.

Only the ultra rich can survive here except for those that were lucky to own property when it was cheaper.

That building is a great example of what's wrong with downtown Palo Alto.

It's a two story building in DOWNTOWN.

If it were a 6, 10 or 15 story building, more small business and startups would have a chance to survive and thrive in Palo Alto.

NIMBY's (who have run public policy for decades) are driving out the future, their own children and common sense.

Palo Alto is dead.


37 people like this
Posted by Midtown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:14 pm

It’s cannibalism. When humans eat other humans they become cannibals. Older people who have lasted here are surrounded by these voracious entitled animals
who will pay any price, (for a house) , drive at any speed (in a TESLA) , scorning the weak NIMBYs ( who just want peace and quiet ).


12 people like this
Posted by BeenHereAWhile
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Moved to this town when my parents did when Cubberley thrived.

I’ve seen changes for the good (widening of Alma), the bad (conversion of schools to homes), and the ugly (all the McMansions).

The things that are constant - the city is getting further out of touch/reach, the residents don’t want any one else to live here (we need higher density housing so our teachers/EMS/Police/Fire aren’t driving an hour plus to work here), and change/improvements are resisted.

I visit Europe twice a year and relish the ease of community squares, public transportation, and affordability for all ages, wish I had yet here.

-not and old timer


10 people like this
Posted by Gunn High School Grad
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2019 at 2:16 pm

One thing for long time Palo Alto residents to consider is the cost of receiving elderly care on the Peninsula, and in Palo Alto especially. Seniors can have very extensive care needs, and the costs are high in this area. Consider that paying for residential care facilities right now is in the $10K per month range, which Medicare generally does not cover, and at-home caregivers average around $35/hr.

The cost of living as an elderly resident here is already untenable for a lot of people. There is a very good chance that children growing up in Palo Alto today will not be able to afford to live anywhere nearby either. Therefore, you won't be able to count on your family being able to provide that care for you either, unless you expect them to imperil their own futures to make that happen.


23 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Posted by pmarca, a resident of Stanford

>> That building is a great example of what's wrong with downtown Palo Alto.

>> It's a two story building in DOWNTOWN.

>> If it were a 6, 10 or 15 story building, more small business and startups would have a chance to survive and thrive in Palo Alto.

Your version of Econ 1A is complete out of touch with reality. Show me somewhere in the world where building high rises has lowered the cost of rentals either for office space or housing. In reality, 3-4 story buildings are optimal both building cost per foot, energy-wise, and achieve high-enough density to support urban amenities. Conforming with fire codes is very costly in high-rises, buildings need real elevators, seismic safety an issue, all contribute to significantly higher costs per square foot. Ever notice how all those city district in Europe that everyone loves are 3-5 stories? You think Palo Alto is "dead"? Honestly, nothing is more dead than lower Manhattan with its urban canyons.

Your real problem is that you are competing with larger companies that once were startups, e.g., Palantir Web Link , who "must" be in Palo Alto. So, move to Redwood City or San Carlos-- why "must" you, too, have a Palo Alto -address-?


15 people like this
Posted by JustImagine
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2019 at 6:44 pm

JustImagine is a registered user.

My spouse and I met at Stanford as graduates students in 1988. I remember exclaiming to my friends that Palo Alto was too sedate and boring for me. We spent the next two decades in other parts of the Bay Area and the world, namely Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle and Hawaii. But when it came time to decide where to start our own tech company and raise our multi-ethnic children, we moved back to Palo Alto because it gave us the tech prestige address (to attract funding), climate, walkable-bikeable neighborhoods, great schools, multi-ethnic families and a dense population of high-quality tech talent. What was once "boring" in my younger days is really wonderful for raising a family.

We are conflicted at this time because although we love having a home in Palo Alto and our children have become attached to our community - our younger employees are struggling with high-rents and long commutes. Unless we exit in a big way, they will not be able to buy a home on the Peninsula. We just decided to move our office to the East Bay because the commercial rents are too much for our growing company and we have to pay our employees much higher wages so they can afford to stay in the area. We're just not sure if we can sustain this over a long haul. That is the dilemma of staying in paradise.


25 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL Companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 7:33 pm

@Resident,
"Their wealth is something they have had to adjust to and some are really trying to live reasonably normal lives"

The trouble is that this is not just about them -- it's about the seriously negative impact their wealth is having on the community, small businesses, and residents, and the negative impact it has that they all want to live here. They want what the "normal" community can do for them, but they don't feel any responsibility to understand or mitigate the damage they do to the lives of the ordinary people they consider atmosphere.

@Gunn HS Grad,
Most people I know, who scrapped for decades to get into any housing in the Bay Area, if they moved to Palo Alto for the schools, they already knew they couldn't afford to stay here through their senior years. Most of the people I knew who moved out here for the dotcom boom never expected to put down roots here and most moved away. It's just a myth that it's been possible to buy a home here outright on even a good salary for many decades. I know someone who was an executive for one of the most successful businesses in the Bay Area and they moved the family to the North Bay and the dad slept on someone's couch during the week to continue to work down here (30 years ago). One of my colleagues (engineer) slept in his car and drove it around as work began then used the work showers pretending he had gone to work out beforehand. Again, '80s. None of this is new. There was a down cycle around 1990 just after the earthquake during a recession, but even that wasn't affordable, it was just relatively affordable compared to the boom in the '80s. Getting into a home requires sustained sacrifice and living in seriously substandard conditions for a really long time. East Palo Alto is safer than it used to be, but when it wasn't, it was the place people would go, get a German Shepherd, repair the roof themselves, get real good at doing all their own home work, and then move somewhere like Milpitas when the market started to move up, starting all over with the wreck. Most people don't want to do that. So they commute from far away. I've know people who commuted from the Sierras (again, '80s).

The ONLY way to improve this situation is for everyone to get serious about the fact that the world is not getting smaller, and that cities exist for historic reasons that no longer apply. They are the result of significant, sustained public investment. We must invest to multiply the number of job centers. If people and companies have more choices, that will make more opportunities and more affordable opportunities, especially for the middle and lower classes who are worse for livign in these cities.


14 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Income inequality is not a problem; it simply means there are people earning high incomes around. There will always be folks who earn low income around. So?


49 people like this
Posted by Be Real
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2019 at 8:57 pm

Oh please, get real!
What "paradise"? It's a town with trees. Millions of those are in the world. I don't get those horrible real prices here - Palo Alto doesn't even have ocean view ... or any water view at all.


15 people like this
Posted by Don’t be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:17 pm

@Citizen,
Take a look at the links I provided. They include links to other articles. Income inequality, at least extreme income inequality, actually is a problem. Research shows that the absolute level of income is less of an issue than extreme differences, when it comes to negative impact on well-being, health, happiness, etc etc.

There have always been income differences, but never anything like this. The billionaires wanted to move here because it was a “normal“ place, but they like you have been completely oblivious to the negative impacts of that wealth on the community.


10 people like this
Posted by Sve
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:39 pm

Would be far less opposition to development if roads and transit were updated to manage the increased population. People just want the quality of life to stay high. Palo Alto governance has been nimby paralyzed for too long, no good ideas seem to get out. Can’t even get 101 bike bridges or fiber internet done in under ten years.Zkc6d


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2019 at 11:03 pm

@Don't be. I think there is some truth in what you are saying but at the same time there is no common idea of what is normal any longer. There was a time when in a street there would be a mix of teachers, retail workers, office workers, craftsmen, wives would be at home and all children would play together at school and then after school. There were no tutors, no extra coaching for baseball or swimming, girl/boy scouts and whatever sport was in season and everyone did the same. Now kids are divided, both parents work, every family has different values and people don't even know their neighbors. When was the last time a neighbor borrowed a cup of sugar, or asked to borrow a lawnmower because one was broken?

For some these things are still valued. Others no longer value community. Kids have to have activities all day long. Nobody needs to borrow sugar because nobody cooks. Nobody needs to borrow the lawnmower because gardeners do mow and blow.

Our homes are barricaded and "no soliciting" signs show that people don't want to have anyone calling on the door. Someone looking at houses, maybe to decide what color scheme to paint their house or what style to landscape their front yard, are reported to the police as looking suspicious. (These things appear on Nextdoor all the time). People don't even recognize their neighbors because nobody sees each other apart from a face getting in or out of the car.

A few weeks ago the power went out in the evening. People were out walking and started chatting. Many people said how pleasant and neighborly it was.


22 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 12, 2019 at 6:18 am

Just read this article. Disappointed that no one in South Palo was interviewed. We have many long time residents here too.


31 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2019 at 6:58 am

@Resident,
I feel really sad for you. Not all parts of Palo Alto are like what you describe. We know our neighbors, pretty much everyone for a couple of blocks and most people in the entire neighborhood, many in the next. (I haven't met all the newcomers yet, but many of us make a point of introducing ourselves.) I can think of a half dozen teachers without trying, more young than retired. Someone asked me for a cooking ingredient (not sugar) very recently. (I find it really odd that you would think a "No Solicitor" sign is unneighborly -- since when is neighbors alerting each other to strangers scoping/solicitors working the neighborhood a new or unwelcome phenomenon?)

The one thing that doesn't jive with this article for me is that it hasn't felt like City Council is working for anyone except the developers (I’m very, very sorry I ever voted for Liz Kniss) or trying to foster community. It feels like they have been the biggest tool of developers and big companies to try to destroy us (Adrian Fine). You do have a point about tutors, etc, but not people we know, everyone is struggling too hard to pay for housing costs to hire tutors. (We ARE the ordinary folk, unlike the billionaires, we didn't move here to get them as atmosphere.)

One way to fix what you describe is for you to put some energy into meeting your neighbors. Have you tried to organize block parties, knocked on doors to greet everyone you don't know and invite them? We do that kind of stuff.

But we don't have nearly as much bumping into people around town and saying hi, or feeling like it’s our community anymore, that's true, because the influx of billiionaires and overdevelopment and gyms for day workers taking over downtowns have meant it's hard to get around town, and many of our favorite/most useful businesses have closed in the last 15 years, and most NOT because they can't compete online. Nowadays, we can’t even use most of the city amenities so many of us ordinary folk had a part in helping to make happen because of traffic.

One thing our billionaires could do to mitigate their destructiveness is to donate to a fund so the City can buy up all the retail areas, making a kind of lower impact zone for small business, startups, and retail, the way Stanford does for its professor housing. People still buy and sell the Stanford housing, but because of the rules, the costs remain lower. If we had this for retail, we could restore actual resident-serving retail again, and they could afford to pay they workers competitive wages. But the billionaires are not that civic minded, and the truth is they seem to find actual ordinary people bothersome and would rather destroy the communities they moved into in favor of their corporate short-term workforce housing. Zuckerberg is (sort of) an exception that way, moving his company out of Palo Alto to grow (though he hardly invests in the community or appreciates the hardships his billionaire class has created for those who do not move in his stratum).


20 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2019 at 7:28 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Our homes are barricaded and "no soliciting" signs show that people don't want to have anyone calling on the door.

The sign is there to tell magazine salesmen and religious zealots not to call. Neighbors are welcome and they know it. Have a nice day-- seriously. :-)


8 people like this
Posted by Not Like Everyone Here
a resident of University South
on Oct 12, 2019 at 12:53 pm

I arrived in August 1974 with kids and a dog. I rented on Cowper near Addison. Everyone told me I missed the good times and Palo Alto was way too boring. I was too busy to notice but I hear the same words here. Eventually I ended up doing grad work at Stanford & living in Escondido Village. I got into the very early days of tach (think Eagle, Osborne, Atari days). Fast forward a lifetime and what I find boring now? The whining and complaining of "I miss the old neighborhood." "I don't know my neighbors." Ok, I am different - never did care for block parties and know your neighbors. What I find extraordinary about this area is the amount of innovation, and the mindset behind it. Go to a meetup - go meet the creators. failures, wannabes doing amazing things in your backyard. I never made it financially like most but I really did enjoy being in an early day cardboard mockup of a self driving car at Google. Bitcoin? Oh, I should have bought more years ago when no one knew about it but I was at meetups learning how to get into the blockchain. Oh, the people I have met in so many ways - some have gone IPO, one got bought by a local billionaire, and if you can't figure it out, I am not young but I got asked to help with a kickstarter project and he got funding and then VC money. (We shared a passion for the same tech thing - being general on purpose). I just got back from visiting other parts of Calif where I am looked at as exotic for what I talk about - "Oh, is that a DJI drone you have?" said to surfer dude and we talked forever. This is a VERY interesting place. I'll grant you this: it would be a whole lot better if Janis and Jerry were playing at the courtyard of the old Varsity. Sure, I miss things, but there's a lot more to replace them then complaining.


14 people like this
Posted by Evolution
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2019 at 1:00 pm

@DontBeEvil, I read all your posts. Seems like you are hung up on blaming billionaires, and income inequality, for any and all issues in Palo Alto.

First of all, it's a much wider issue. I agree with @Resident about the issues that he's brought up like 'barricaded homes', and 'neighbors strangers', and guess what? These are not issues but changes that are happening in the city. These are not just changes in Palo Alto community, but happening in neighborhoods all over the world!!

The reason is technology revolution, that includes massive changes in lifestyles and communities brought by internet, mobile, social media, gaming and many more. On a wider horizon it's called Evolution and Capitalism!

And the world finds Silicon Valley as the scapegoat, more specififally PA at center of it. We ARE the ones changing the world.

So, I wouldn't claim billionaires as the issue. It's more about coming to terms with "change". One thing is certain. Change is constant. Either you "Be the change", or "accept the change".

Palo Alto still retains the 'go to' place in the Valley and there are positive reasons for it.

All the comments seemed negative and accusatory, and reminiscing the good ol' times.i figured I'll share a positive note that there are lots of ppl that are happy to be living in Palo Alto today!

Best wishes to all young and old Palo Altans!


15 people like this
Posted by Pretentious, have to have the right zip code
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2019 at 1:01 pm

PA too pretentious for me. I always laugh when at social events with an affluent crowd in PA, Los Altos,etc and you tell them you live in 'Mountain View', Sunnyvale, Milpitas'... you get 'the look' (very) slightly dismissive, you can just feel them sizing you up. It is really funny, same thing with schools. I find the Harvard, Stanford grads always manage to work their alma mater into the conversation (one way or another, "GSB" LOL) even if they graduated decades ago. I guess their self worth in the right degree and in the right zip code. I am sure this comment will set off a firestorm of indignant comments.. LOL.


22 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2019 at 3:38 pm

@Evolution,
"Seems like you are hung up on blaming billionaires, and income inequality, for any and all issues in Palo Alto. "

"hung up" means overly concerned, so no, that would not be correct. I am pointing out where the blame lies for the life-altering traffic congestion, the displacement of people of color and ordinary people, the displacement of long-time retail, small business and startups, the loss of affordable services, etc etc.

Billionaires and their companies are in fact to blame for the current unprecedented ratcheting up of prices and opportunism of developers who are cashing in even when their development is unsafe. As the recent Weekly article quoted the director of emergency services here, the density in this area will result in significant loss of life in the next foreseeable emergency. I would thank you not to trivialize that with your flip and false framing.

If even a few of the largest companies and some of the middle ones decides to move to, oh, that town that Bill Gates is building outside of Phoenix, prices would stabilize.

Change may be inevitable, but it's absolutely not true that change has to be inevitably negative. Change can mean restoring wetlands, improving the natural environment, fostering community, honoring our young people, taxing companies to actually pay to counter the damage they are doing at a high enough rate that they start considering moving out and letting us restore civic life here, finally getting wise to the lying rhetoric developers are using to wipe away concerns about safety, health, pollution, urban heat sinks, displacement of people of color, etc etc to build more with false promises of affordability.

You're just pushing more framing to make yourself feel better for participating in destroying communities that people worked really hard to put down roots in the better part of their lives.

There is a global issue here, not unique to Palo Alto, and that's the immense amount of wealth at the very top, which wants to find real estate investment as one of the safest bets. So nice places all over the globe are being ruined and turned into rich people playgrounds and cash cows, not just here. All over the globe, the deceptive arguments end up very similar, and all over the world people believe them even as the exact opposite result keeps hurting them.

In that way, Palo Alto is not unique. But I'm talking about Palo Alto because this happens to be what this article is about.

(Wow, your comment is exactly the kind of thing "don't be evil" was coined to inspire technologists to avoid...)


12 people like this
Posted by Evolution
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2019 at 11:50 pm

@DontBeEvil, don't want to be dragged into an argument. I merely observed your obsession on billionaires vs issues & changes that occur as part of natural evolution.

I am glad you agree that change is inevitable. I never said anything about positive or negative changes. Rather than blaming billionaires (who have done something to earn those billions), my suggestion is for you to go ahead and BE the change driver. Feel free to ACT on those ideas that you have listed like "restoring wetlands... false promises of affordability". Nobody thinks of them as bad ideas. No one is stopping you. Wish you all the best.


15 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2019 at 2:03 am

@ Evolution,
", don't want to be dragged into an argument. I merely observed your obsession"

"hung up" "obsession" -- the only hang up here is your obsession with using pejorative words to try to diss me rather than coming up with anything substantive of your own to say on the topic. There is no argument here, only facts that you seem to find so uncomfortable you are obsessing with me rather than engaging in a discussion.

I have nothing against billionaires personally, I am only observing the extremely negative impact of their congregating locally and being oblivious to the extremely damaging impact they have on the lives of the ordinary people around them — the negative impacts being the topic of the article we are commenting on. The billionaires, their money, and their actions, are the primary reason for these negatives.

In Palo Alto in particular, when so many of them want to live here because of the ordinary-people atmosphere, they create a level of income inequality that is known to cause problems for everyone else, including rising costs and even poorer health and unhappiness (again, the subject of the article). I provided a few links of a plethora of research articles on the damaging effects of wealth inequality -- absolute level of income is not the problem that inequality is. The billionaires flocked here after Steve Jobs talked about how he didn’t want to live among a lot of rich people, thinking only of themselves.


This article is about the stress of living in Silicon Valley, and the billionaires are the biggest culprits. They are the ones creating a highly-paid-mostly-young-white-male worker monoculture that has negatively transformed San Francisco and nearby cities over the last 15 years and is displacing people of color.
Web Link

The traffic they have created has increased pollution to where you can see it all summer — if you can still see the sky because of the overdevelopment. The traffic in turn has robbed the ordinary people living here of time with their families, educational and work needs and opportunities, hurt health and increased stress. They have egged on developers with their false rationales about limitless building in an in-demand job center somehow increasing affordability, when the best examples all around the world demonstrate otherwise. (Hong Kong has the best transportation system in the world with like 90% usage, yet their frenzied decades of building denser and smaller never made anything affordable and never made it possible for people to live nearer their jobs - they have a comparable average commute time as Los Angeles.)

Their insistence on crowding in here THE reason for the negative impacts cited in this article as causing stress. If they had a greater sense of civic responsibility and national pride, they would diversify and expand in ways that were less rapacious and more humane, more responsible to everyone else.


23 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 13, 2019 at 7:51 am

When I read about the actions of the PACC and the City Manager I feel like I'm reading about Donald Trump. Build. build, build and no concern about livability either for existing or future residents. You could give the few bicyclists we have here new Teslas for the price of the Ross and Charleston debacles. Future residents are -not- served by putting more rats in the cage.


30 people like this
Posted by Regetty Sims,
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2019 at 12:07 pm

PA of today sucks - I can say that word because the president said it and so it is now acceptable.

I lived in PA from 1981 till 2017.
PA really went to pot in about 2005.
It was the big cash buying up homes and the newcomers that have no soul. But what really crossed the line for us was when a Mom walking her kids to school was hit and killed by a speeding driver. Lots of PA new comers blamed the victim saying roads are for cars and mom shouldn’t have been there.
We left for another state and found a place that is like PA used to bebe. and are so much happier.
Regarding Stanford, I got my Masters there in Engineering, but nobody cares. It’s what you can d. Not what school you went to.
PA sucks.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Posted by Regetty Sims,, a resident of another community

>> PA really went to pot in about 2005 [...] a Mom walking her kids to school was hit and killed by a speeding driver. Lots of PA new comers blamed the victim saying roads are for cars and mom shouldn’t have been there.

Do you remember any more specifics? I don't recall the one you mention, although I recall several bicyclists on Page Mill, and the incident on Alpine north of the dish...


14 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2019 at 8:38 pm

@Regetty
"We left for another state and found a place that is like PA used to be

Please share, the tax changes left most of us at the bottom of the housing market reeling, since the SALT deduction limit didn't include any cost of living adjustment.


11 people like this
Posted by Maui Mikie
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2019 at 12:33 pm

My parents moved to Palo Alto from norther Washington in 1956. I went to Van Auken, Wilbur and Paly. After graduation, got a techie job long before they were called that.

Saw lots of interesting stuff including ethernet, GUI interface and computer mose at Xerox PARC two years before Steve Jobe knew that existed. Who knew.

In 1956 South Palo Alto, all the way to San Jose, was little town centers surrounded by orchards. Watched Bayshore Freeway being built and El Camino add more and more lanes. Saw Stanford Industrial Park grow by leaps and bounds. The rest of the ever expanding Silicon Valley followed.

Bought a nice little post war house off of Embarcadero for $49,000. Got married, had kids, expanded house.

Last company I worked for was on the back side of Moffett Field. I could bike there in half an hour. People I worked with, including our billionaire CEO, drove the same distance. It took them a half hour. Traffic was getting progressively worse.

Stock exploded. Cashed out, bought a home in West Maui, sold the Paly home ($1,350,000) and retired to the islands.

Palo Alto was a great place to grow up in my time. Homes were still affordable for the little guys in the '60s and '70s. The place we sold would now sell for $4,500,000. We should have held on to it and rented it out. Who knew?

For those of you considering moving to greener pastures, consider Medford, OR. It's got a regional medical center with peripheral medical specialists. Home prices run from 200K to half a mil. 500K gets you into a very nice home.


36 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2019 at 3:28 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

No change is better than change for the worse. Why should residents accept a steady deterioration of their quality of life:more noise, more traffic, more pollution, more crime, because "change is inevitable"? Why should residents accept 4 city council members who represent only developers' interests? Why should residents accept Palo Alto real estate becoming the place for foreign investors and various oligarchs to park and launder their money? Why should residents accept tech companies who damage and destroy the area and its environment, take advantage of what long time residents have build, nurtured and maintained, while not giving anything back to the community?


14 people like this
Posted by Don’t be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2019 at 10:32 pm

@mauricio,
Right on, man!


2 people like this
Posted by dnd
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2019 at 6:51 am

Ah, the good old times! I came in in the early 80's and Palo Alto was a nice middle class place, very boring and the PAUSD was selling schools for housing because of oversupply ( and foolishness). School classes were smallish and Jordan started a computer center where mainly kids would come into learn how to use the keyboard...lots of hope for the emerging tech world and then like everything else in life, it changed. Big Deal!

I like the new Palo Alto. I like it a lot. I'm glad you can now retire with a good chunk of money in the bank because the price of your little house increased many fold due to "the techies". So retire, go somewhere else. Stop complaining.
Stop being bitter. Lamenting the passing of the torch to a new generation of Palo Altans, who have different views, different socio economic status is nothing new.

I like the more interesting life tech brought us, I dislike the crazy traffic but this is not the Cairo or even NY,NY, and yes it would be nice to return to the time my children were young and all was magic because of that.
Time doesn't come back. Live your old age and enjoy it, preferably in a place where your new found riches (you sold your house in PA) will have the locals saying about you what you say about the techies and that is :
"This" people invaded us with their money and attitude and we can no longer be what we thought we were".


8 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2019 at 11:13 am

Always fun to hear the lamentations of the Me Generation. They, after all, laid the foundation for the mess they see today.


9 people like this
Posted by Dont be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2019 at 3:07 pm

@dnd
Speaking of living in the past - ah the good old days when you can retire at 65

Your post seems oddly disconnected from actual circumstances, like the stuff the developers make up to tell the techies so they don't have to feel bad for crushing the lives of ordinary people who sacrificed for decades to build lives here.

I seem to recall conditions in the ‘ips were little different than today, until the dotcom boom. No good old days there.

We can still save Palo Alto from the EC’s.


30 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 15, 2019 at 3:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The foundation for "the mess they see today" was laid by corrupt politicians who would rather represent developers and foreign investors, allowing Palo Alto real estate to become a laundry haven for dubious foreign buyers, and by tech companies taking advantage of what others have built and nurtured while contributing nothing to the community.

It is the millennial generations who is the quintessential Me Generation. Narcissistic, uninvolved and disinterested in social justice and community service, contributing nothing to the community and society and unwilling to save and sacrifice like the older generations have done in order to be able to afford Palo Alto, demanding and expecting others to facilitate Palo Alto housing for them.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

>> The foundation for "the mess they see today" was laid by corrupt politicians who would rather represent developers and foreign investors

Do we know what the fraction is of non-owner-occupied investors foreign/domestic? As far as I am concerned, a ghost house (or unit) is still a ghost, regardless of the nationality of the ghoulish investor who owns it.


5 people like this
Posted by Don't be EVIL companies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2019 at 5:18 pm

@Maul Mikie,
Ah, Medford. You know, I really don't understand why more companies aren't moving to Medford today -- any thoughts? There is more commercial space and industrial space already available, it's on a major highway, near CA, near lots of beauty, great weather (not portland-y. Is it a lack of a major university nearby?


6 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2019 at 7:52 pm

"The foundation for "the mess they see today" was laid by corrupt politicians who would rather represent developers and foreign investors, allowing Palo Alto real estate to become a laundry haven for dubious foreign buyers, and by tech companies taking advantage of what others have built and nurtured while contributing nothing to the community. "

Yep. Always blaming others for their own doings. Very Me Generationish.


25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 16, 2019 at 8:45 am

mauricio is a registered user.

It is groups like PAF, definitely not associated with baby boomer generations who have fought tooth and nail against caps on commercial development and are allies of the tech companies who keep bringing in workers into this area while contributing nothing of value to the housing crisis they have created. They oppose any idea that would make things better, like companies moving to more affordable areas, no more commercial development, limits on foreign investors using local real estate to launder money.

Those who think building tall and dense will create affordability should look at Hong Kong, London, and NYC. Those who created what they consider a crisis whine about those who actually made the area so desirable to them, and their ideas would make that so called crisis even worse.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 10:59 am

Posted by Don't be EVIL companies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Ah, Medford. You know, I really don't understand why more companies aren't moving to Medford today -- any thoughts?

Big tech has already told us the simple answer to that. They don't want to do anything that would imply the old "HP Way". Friends with benefits only-- no commitment either way. "Tech" wants to plug in to the giant, flexible labor pool here with truly at-will employment. Every relationship day-to-day. In fact, every schedule is day-to-day. Web Link Forget Medford-- most big tech employers aren't even willing to be at the urban edge at Tracy.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Grad
a resident of Portola Valley
on Oct 16, 2019 at 12:04 pm

The map is wrong. It shows a pin at Greer and Edgewood, which is the opposite end of Greer. The article focuses on the end in South Palo Alto. I was looking forward to reading about the area where I spent a LOT of time in my childhood.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Posted by MzM, a resident of Stanford

>> But the sheer beauty of the place will never change, and the proximity to forests and ocean and perfect weather remain intact. I just wish people wouldn't honk at me if I don't want to drive 8" behind the car in front of me.

+1


9 people like this
Posted by A happy life....
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2019 at 1:57 pm

A happy life.... is a registered user.

Don't blame me for traffic or pollution. I ride my bike to work in San Jose from Palo Alto (It's way cheaper and takes about the same time as driving in peak hour --and it also gives me time to THINK. I ride the bay trails for a big part of my trip. Beautiful and relaxing. It calms my soul at the start and end of my day.) I volunteer, donate to local charities, and am active in my synagogue. I also enjoy my work and the innovative culture of this area. I live in an itty bitty Eichler that could use some work, but my life feels good.

Be generous. Make thoughtful choices toward living a meaningful life that makes the world a better place for our children. Hint: It's not about the money. Send your kids to public schools and SUPPORT those schools with your time. Have a party for your neighbors. Reach out. Turn OFF the screens and interact with the humans more. I promise you will be happier.

Businesses...If you want happier employees, give them time to have a LIFE that includes engagement with the larger community. YOU should also engage with the larger community. Again, it's not about the money. In the end, it is about making a better world for us all.

Ask what you can do to make things better here, locally. This is a call to individuals and businesses. Charity begins at home.


2 people like this
Posted by Jocelyn Dong
editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Oct 17, 2019 at 11:43 am

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

@Crescent Park Grad. Thanks for pointing out the mistake on the map. We accidentally typed 300 Greer Road instead of 3000 Greer Road into the mapping program. It's fixed now. Apologies for the error (and for raising up your hopes!).


3 people like this
Posted by OTT Party @ New Stanford Hospital, no patients allowed!
a resident of University South
on Oct 24, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Had a late appointment at the 'old' Stanford hosptal on Wednesday, around 6pm was shocked to see a huge light scuplture, DJ blasting the oldies, open bar, buffet, cocktail tables and fire heaters in the huge plaza at front entrance of the 'new' hospital; a celebration for employees (not sure if that inluded everyone including janitorial staff or just the high end folks). There were plenty of security guards keeping out the riff-raff. We found that our very quickly when we went to take a peek inside entrance. Now I know why Stanford Hospital charges Neiman Marcus prices...it's more a Four Seasons Hotel than a medical facility. Not suggesting a Quonset Hut, but honestly are these over the top hosptals with luxurious finishes, public art, massive lobbies with soaring ceilings etc really necessary? Apparently the party was 'underwritten'; by who? Big Pharma? A community hospital should not be hosting glitzy catered affairs. If a benefactor or corporate sponsor has money to burn it should be used on programs to benefit the community, to fund important research. Not blaming the city of PA for this, but I would imagine many reading this have some association with Stanford Hospital.


12 people like this
Posted by Jojo Bloblo
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Palo Alto has turned into a place where foreign kleptocrats park their money.
This should be stopped.


4 people like this
Posted by Pitchforks ahoy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2019 at 11:23 am

@Jojo,
What you are describing is happening in desirable places all over the globe. There is SO much more wealth on the top, and they have their own political party lapdogs in the US that have been trying to destroy democracy ("permanent Republican majority") since Reagan in order to maintain and accelerate the wealth and power gap, and have been succeeding.

It's an old story in human history. Either we figure out how to restore the give and take of democracy or the extremes will continue growing to its inevitable end in violent course correction.


4 people like this
Posted by Hypocracy much?
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2019 at 12:15 pm

@pitchforks says one who likely supported Newsom who lives in $3.5million mansion, supports ridiculous rent control which will do nothing to create more affordable housing (it’s actually reducing it) amongnso many other things too numerous to mention.

No, the condition of California falls very very firmly in a a Democratic lap, republicans haven’t had a voice here for more than 20 years.


4 people like this
Posted by Pitchforks ahoy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2019 at 11:09 pm

@much?

It's hard to tell what you are talking about. "Condition of California" - do you mean being the 5th largest economy in the world? High costs because too many people want to live here? Ocean fronts that the public can enjoy not just a few rich people like in New York?

Yes, we have problems. Are you implying that Republicans would do anything except dig us into debt and NOT try to solve problems like healthcare and global warming and homelessness?

I'm not going to defend Gavin Newsom on the affordable housing front, I think Democrats' using "affordable housing" to create big giveaways to developers is the thing that will destroy the ascendency of Democrats in California, because it gets people to act against their actual interests. It's virtually destroyed activist Democrats' environmental activism. No matter how density and redevelopment ratchets up costs and displaces low-income people and people of color, we have development interests leading affordable housing advocates around by the nose with false promises of more building meaning affordability. (Ask Hong Kong how that worked out.)




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