News

Palo Alto set to appeal regional housing allocation

Leaders vote to challenge RHNA process, which charged city with planning for 6,086 new residences

A person walks through the Arbor Real neighborhood in Palo Alto on Nov. 13, 2020. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Palo Alto's elected leaders embarked this week on a long shot and possibly risky quest to formally challenge the city's regional housing allocations, which require planning for more than 6,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031.

The City Council on Tuesday directed planning staff to appeal the methodology that was used to come up with housing targets, even as council members and planning staff acknowledged that the challenge will likely be futile and may even backfire, resulting in bad publicity and higher allocations. The council voted 5-2, with council members Alison Cormack and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to file the appeal with the Association of Bay Area Governments, the regional agency that oversees allocations in the nine Bay Area counties. ABAG's Executive Committee, which is made up of elected leaders, is scheduled to formally adopt the methodology for its Regional Housing Needs Allocation process and approve the housing targets on May 20.

In deciding to appeal, council members acknowledged that their challenge faces long odds. Tim Wong, project manager for the city's Housing Element update, noted that in Southern California region, 52 agencies had filed appeals against the housing allocation process. Two of them "partially succeeded," Wong said. In the Bay Area, 14 jurisdictions have challenged their numbers in the current RHNA cycle, with three seeing some adjustments.

Council members also acknowledged that failure may come as a price. ABAG had initially considered scenarios in which Palo Alto would be assigned about 10,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031 — a number that the city pushed back against. The regional agency then further modified its methodology and redirected some of the projected growth from Palo Alto to the largest cities in the region, lowering Palo Alto's obligation to the current level of 6,086 housing units.

A report from the Department of Planning and Development Services notes that other jurisdictions may appeal Palo Alto's current numbers, given that the city is the only municipality to receive such a substantial reduction over the process. And the city's appeal would almost certainly increase public discussion about Palo Alto's role in addressing the region's housing shortage and social equity, the report states.

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"There's obviously a lot of tension and spirited perspectives on both sides of the issue," Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the May 18 discussion. "I do think there is a perception piece that the council may want to be aware of — and how an appeal plays into that."

The report notes that even if the city were to be successful in its efforts to appeal, planning staff "does not anticipate the results would have a significant impact to the ultimate number of housing units the City needs to plan for or alter the City's approach to the Housing Element." The challenge will also add to the workload of city's planning staff, which is concurrently implementing programs to encourage more housing.

"It's no small feat to file an appeal," Lait said. "It takes a lot of staff time and resources to do so."

Cormack and Tanaka voted against the appeal after concluding that the costs don't justify the potential benefits. Cormack said she does not believe that "doing futile things is wise."

"I don't hear our staff say that there's an opportunity for us to make a meaningful difference … In fact, a meaningful difference has already been made," Cormack said, alluding to the fact that the city's allocation for the next cycle has already been reduced by 39%.

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The council majority concluded that the challenge is worth undertaking, even if the chances of success are slim. For months, members have argued that the RHNA methodology is flawed and that its housing allocations are "aspirational," if not outright impossible. In January, the council approved a letter urging ABAG to include in its projections more consideration of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which they argued have long-term impacts on commuting strategies and growth patterns.

"While the plan's time horizon is long, the impacts of the pandemic and recession are also long; no doubt the pandemic and recovery will shape the next generation," the letter stated.

Council members also argued Tuesday that by focusing strictly on new housing, the regional agency's allocation process fails to consider the other side of the jobs-housing imbalance: commercial development. Council member Eric Filseth pointed to cities like Redwood City, which have seen significant growth in both housing and office developments. While their housing numbers satisfy the regional requirements, Filseth said, the office growth creates so much additional demand for housing that the development pattern actually worsens the region's jobs-housing imbalance.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt similarly argued that the regional methodology is seriously flawed because of its failure to account for projected job growth.

"Rather than looking at attempting to balance jobs and housing and really try to assure that the job growth is distributed rather than concentrated, they instead are embracing continuing to have a high concentration of jobs, in particular high-income tech jobs … and pursuing what's a pretty futile approach to have the housing try to keep up with an ever explosive job growth in specific areas like our region," Burt said.

While the council wasn't particularly optimistic that its appeal will succeed, most members agreed that it's worth submitting anyway. Mayor Tom DuBois said the city should try to get relief from the housing mandates, even if success is far from certain. It is the council's duty, he said, to try to protect the city from being forced to pursue "unachievable" housing numbers.

"We are really looking at advancing affordable housing," DuBois said. "At the same time, we have a responsibility to the city to protect ourselves from state override, using all the means we can. I think we are being assigned aspirational numbers."

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Palo Alto set to appeal regional housing allocation

Leaders vote to challenge RHNA process, which charged city with planning for 6,086 new residences

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, May 20, 2021, 9:42 am

Palo Alto's elected leaders embarked this week on a long shot and possibly risky quest to formally challenge the city's regional housing allocations, which require planning for more than 6,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031.

The City Council on Tuesday directed planning staff to appeal the methodology that was used to come up with housing targets, even as council members and planning staff acknowledged that the challenge will likely be futile and may even backfire, resulting in bad publicity and higher allocations. The council voted 5-2, with council members Alison Cormack and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to file the appeal with the Association of Bay Area Governments, the regional agency that oversees allocations in the nine Bay Area counties. ABAG's Executive Committee, which is made up of elected leaders, is scheduled to formally adopt the methodology for its Regional Housing Needs Allocation process and approve the housing targets on May 20.

In deciding to appeal, council members acknowledged that their challenge faces long odds. Tim Wong, project manager for the city's Housing Element update, noted that in Southern California region, 52 agencies had filed appeals against the housing allocation process. Two of them "partially succeeded," Wong said. In the Bay Area, 14 jurisdictions have challenged their numbers in the current RHNA cycle, with three seeing some adjustments.

Council members also acknowledged that failure may come as a price. ABAG had initially considered scenarios in which Palo Alto would be assigned about 10,000 new residences between 2023 and 2031 — a number that the city pushed back against. The regional agency then further modified its methodology and redirected some of the projected growth from Palo Alto to the largest cities in the region, lowering Palo Alto's obligation to the current level of 6,086 housing units.

A report from the Department of Planning and Development Services notes that other jurisdictions may appeal Palo Alto's current numbers, given that the city is the only municipality to receive such a substantial reduction over the process. And the city's appeal would almost certainly increase public discussion about Palo Alto's role in addressing the region's housing shortage and social equity, the report states.

"There's obviously a lot of tension and spirited perspectives on both sides of the issue," Planning Director Jonathan Lait said during the May 18 discussion. "I do think there is a perception piece that the council may want to be aware of — and how an appeal plays into that."

The report notes that even if the city were to be successful in its efforts to appeal, planning staff "does not anticipate the results would have a significant impact to the ultimate number of housing units the City needs to plan for or alter the City's approach to the Housing Element." The challenge will also add to the workload of city's planning staff, which is concurrently implementing programs to encourage more housing.

"It's no small feat to file an appeal," Lait said. "It takes a lot of staff time and resources to do so."

Cormack and Tanaka voted against the appeal after concluding that the costs don't justify the potential benefits. Cormack said she does not believe that "doing futile things is wise."

"I don't hear our staff say that there's an opportunity for us to make a meaningful difference … In fact, a meaningful difference has already been made," Cormack said, alluding to the fact that the city's allocation for the next cycle has already been reduced by 39%.

The council majority concluded that the challenge is worth undertaking, even if the chances of success are slim. For months, members have argued that the RHNA methodology is flawed and that its housing allocations are "aspirational," if not outright impossible. In January, the council approved a letter urging ABAG to include in its projections more consideration of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which they argued have long-term impacts on commuting strategies and growth patterns.

"While the plan's time horizon is long, the impacts of the pandemic and recession are also long; no doubt the pandemic and recovery will shape the next generation," the letter stated.

Council members also argued Tuesday that by focusing strictly on new housing, the regional agency's allocation process fails to consider the other side of the jobs-housing imbalance: commercial development. Council member Eric Filseth pointed to cities like Redwood City, which have seen significant growth in both housing and office developments. While their housing numbers satisfy the regional requirements, Filseth said, the office growth creates so much additional demand for housing that the development pattern actually worsens the region's jobs-housing imbalance.

Vice Mayor Pat Burt similarly argued that the regional methodology is seriously flawed because of its failure to account for projected job growth.

"Rather than looking at attempting to balance jobs and housing and really try to assure that the job growth is distributed rather than concentrated, they instead are embracing continuing to have a high concentration of jobs, in particular high-income tech jobs … and pursuing what's a pretty futile approach to have the housing try to keep up with an ever explosive job growth in specific areas like our region," Burt said.

While the council wasn't particularly optimistic that its appeal will succeed, most members agreed that it's worth submitting anyway. Mayor Tom DuBois said the city should try to get relief from the housing mandates, even if success is far from certain. It is the council's duty, he said, to try to protect the city from being forced to pursue "unachievable" housing numbers.

"We are really looking at advancing affordable housing," DuBois said. "At the same time, we have a responsibility to the city to protect ourselves from state override, using all the means we can. I think we are being assigned aspirational numbers."

Comments

Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2021 at 10:39 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

Good for most of the Council.

Shame on Mr. Lait for whining about the time it takes to file an appeal reflecting community wishes, especially given how rude he's been to CC members when they ask him questions or to clarify his glib answers and failure to substance from his high-priced consultants.

The previous counsel and City Manager let him skate for well too long.


Ugh
Registered user
Midtown
on May 20, 2021 at 11:09 am
Ugh, Midtown
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 11:09 am

Thank you, city council!


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2021 at 12:43 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 12:43 pm

This is the right time to rethink housing mandates all over the valley. Last night on channel 2, they were reporting about all the empty office space in SF due to companies such as Twitter, Sales Force and Airbnb, all downsizing their office space to allow employees to work from home - wherever home may be. The housing market in places like Sacramento, Morgan Hill, Lake Tahoe, etc. are all very hot as people who do not need to live near their office are moving to areas where they can get more living space for their money.

How many office workers are going to be in Palo Alto? How many restaurants will these office workers need if there are not so many of them? How many homes will this leave vacant?

Until these types of questions are answered, any type of new housing mandate makes very little sense. I applaud those on CC who are advocating for this appeal.


Anonymous
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm
Anonymous, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm

This is just political theater for some council members to show to their NIMBY constituents that they are doing something. Why should ABAG give Palo Alto a break, again? As this article points out, they had already gave Palo Alto a 40% cut. Personally I hope ABAG teaches Palo Alto NIMBYs a lesson by restoring the 10K number.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2021 at 1:28 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 1:28 pm

Enough with the NIMBY accusations. Who elected ABAG to rule ANYTHING?

All they've done is cater to developers who keep destroying neighborhoods, knocking down rent-controlled apartment complexes and displacing existing communities so big tech can shove in more commuters while refusing to pay their fair share in business taxes?

Where's ABAG's push for truly AFFORDABLE housing for low-income workers, not highly paid techies who push housing costs even higher? The "affordable" portion is never more than 20% with only a tiny portion of that below market rate for low income or very low income.

The points made above reflect reality. There are offices for rent/lease signs all over. The drought is so real that California farmers aren't even planting crops because it's too expensive to irrigate!


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2021 at 1:55 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 1:55 pm

ANONYMOUS - Have you noticed that there is little Palo Alto land available to construct low-income housing? Also, there is a WATER problem in California. Why doesn't ABAG demand construction on desalination plants? Why doesn't ABAG demand ATHERTON, SARATOGA, LOS ALTOS, HILLSBOROUGH, etc., etc., to build low-income housing?


Anonymous
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2021 at 1:58 pm
Anonymous, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 1:58 pm

Developers destroying neighborhoods? Given me a break. The developers do what they do to make money and they won't make any money if they can't sell the houses or apartments they build. In other words, the developers are responding to demands for housing.

Why are there demands for housing in the Bay Area? Because this is a nice place to live and there are many well-paying jobs here. There are many Americans and indeed Californians who would want to move here but cannot afford to do so. Why shouldn't they have a say in the supply of housing in the Bay Area? The people who happen to live in the Bay Area now do not "own" this place.

And how can there be affordable housing when real estate is so expensive here? The landlords need to charge market rates to pay their mortgages. (Remember that the landlords are not doing what they for charity, either.). Actually, speaking of affordable housing, in 25 years of living here I have not seen a single affordable housing project in Palo Alto which was not strenuously resisted by the local NIMBYs.


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2021 at 2:06 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 2:06 pm

ANONYNOUS - What use to be Palo Alto Housing Corporation, now alto.org (FIND HOUSING), has a long list of low-income housing in Palo Alto. It also includes, since it is alto.org (whether alto.org owns the other housing, I do not know) a few properties in Redwood City and Mountain View.


Paly02
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 20, 2021 at 2:34 pm
Paly02, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Yes, let's use up staff time filing an appeal instead of using it to.... get housing built


Palo Alto native
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2021 at 4:15 pm
Palo Alto native, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 4:15 pm

The Chronicle had an article today about Piedmont also appealing the RHINO methodology/numbers. Palo Alto did something radical in the 60’s agreeing to work with Stanford Industrial Park to help set up and housebinnovative companies like HP all in 1 area. Palo Alto seems to now get penalized(higher housing allotments)based on the large businesses which put down stakes over 50 years. After COVID,the whole notion of working in an office has been flipped upside down. So many office blogs are empty and for lease. The ABAG numbers do not take into account these on the ground realities.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2021 at 4:42 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Palo Alto Native, thanks for being a voice of reason. ABAG's rules like that are so blatantly unfair where PA gets penalized and towns without many or any businesses get a pass even if they have more land like Woodside, Atherton, PV etc.

Your comment also raises the question of whether the empty office buildings at Stanford Industrial Park, Stanford Research Park etc should be converted to housing.


Eric Filseth
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 20, 2021 at 5:28 pm
Eric Filseth, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 5:28 pm

Much is actually Sacramento. ABAG can’t do much if handed a 60% BMR inclusion mandate and no funding, when maybe 15-20% is viable for developers.

Still, there are useful reforms ABAG could adopt, one of which I argued for on Monday: that ABAG should track not just new housing SUPPLY creation, but also new housing DEMAND creation.

The existing process perversely incentivizes cities to make housing worse. To see why, consider two mixed-use proposals in Redwood City, per the SF Chronicle this month: “Broadway Plaza” and “1601 El Camino” (Web Link).

Together these would supply 1,060 new housing units, 23% of Redwood City’s 4,458-unit target. However they also include 950,000sf office space; or roughly 3,800 new jobs requiring ~2,500 new housing units ... 1,470 more than they provide. This would worsen housing overall by 1/3 of the city’s entire quota, giving the city an impossible choice: for the Region, they should reject; for RHNA, approve.

More demand than supply rarely lowers prices. Yet increased targets plus growing Sacramento “sticks” pressure cities to greenlight such projects anyway - with or without other housing projects to fill the gap. And these are not tiny numbers; here two approvals would meet a quarter of a city’s whole RHNA target. These aren’t roundoff errors.

Therefore, a sensible step would be for ABAG to also track Created Demand, not just Supply. It’s easy to count new commercial sqft approvals; there’s no reason cities couldn’t report this together with housing approvals. Both are important. As Jerry Brown recently remarked,

“There’s always a scale. Homeostasis is good. Not stagnation, not paralysis, not death. But a dynamic living, where the variables are kept in some kind of equilibrium, that's healthy." Web Link

Those variables matter, and should be managed.


greg schmid
Registered user
Palo Verde
on May 20, 2021 at 5:42 pm
greg schmid, Palo Verde
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 5:42 pm

ABAG has completely failed to plan for our future. Their Final Blueprint for Plan Bay Area 2050 in December outlined their assumptions of JOBS and Housing growth for 32 Bay Area regions. One of those regions--Palo Alto and a few neighboring Silicon Valley cities--were projected to add more jobs and housing than
the two regions that make up San Francisco's Dense Downtown. This SV region would then have more jobs and more housing than San Francisco's Downtown in 2015--one of the densest cities in the country! Demand for land and buildings would make this relatively small Silicon Valley area extremely expensive both for office space and for housing. Both the feds and the state have made it clear that they have little interest in providing funds for local "affordable housing", especially in very expensive locations. ABAG has announced that they will not study city or regional jobs caps. But in all their public discussions they have not spent five minutes talking about the California Code that states there should be public discussion of how dispersing job growth may lead to "improved regional jobs-housing balances". What kind of a plan is that?


Eric Filseth
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 20, 2021 at 8:09 pm
Eric Filseth, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 8:09 pm

>> “And how can there be affordable housing when real estate is so expensive here?”


Construction costs and more recently materials are also very high.

There are basically two ways: via BMR inclusion rates (inherently subsidized by higher-margin market-rate housing); or via direct subsidies.

The Bay Area’s draft 2023-2030 RHNA target is 253,046 Very Low/Low/Moderate Income units. At a 15% inclusion rate, which is about what the market seems to bear, (253,046/0.15)*(0.85) = 1.43 million market-rate units would be required. This is about 7.5 times the proposed 2023-2030 market-rate RHNA target of 188,000 units, and 18 times the 2014-2022 RHNA target of 78,950 market-rate units.

Alternatively, the units could be subsidized directly. Palo Alto’s Wilton Court project required City subsidies of roughly $370K per unit. At $350K per unit, 253,046 BMR units would require roughly $88 billion in subsidies.

Neither of these scenarios seems likely to happen; hence the Bay Area consistently falls far short of its BMR RHNA targets, despite generally meeting its Market-Rate RHNA targets. The fact HCD continues to mandate 60% BMR inclusion rates reflects demand, not realistic policy (Realistic Policy would entail funding); and ABAG simply passes the numbers on without comment.

Nevertheless, there is -some- affordable housing in the Santa Clara County, achieved by the two mechanisms above. As a percentage of each city’s total housing, income-restricted BMR housing rates currently look like this:

13.8% - Unincorporated County
10.1% - Gilroy
9.0% - Palo Alto
5.8% - Milpitas
5.7% - San Jose
5.2% - Santa Clara
5.0% - Monte Sereno
4.0% - Los Altos Hills
3.9% - Mountain View
3.8% - Saratoga
3.5% - Morgan Hill
2.8% - Sunnyvale
2.6% - Los Gatos
1.9% - Cupertino
1.5% - Los Altos
1.4% - Campbell
5.4% - County-Wide Average

All these fall far short of actual affordable housing demand.
(Source: [email protected] Web Link)


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 20, 2021 at 11:48 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 11:48 pm

Green Gables:

Good point about Atherton, etc. Add there Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos Hills. Why am I getting the feeling that people with money are untouchable, as always?

Finally, CC is doing what people elected them to do.
ABAG is a structure not elected by anyone and, the way it looks, with a history of embezzlement sentence, too.
Web Link


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2021 at 7:20 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 7:20 am

San Antonio corridor - ECR- I was looking at the new apartment buildings in the San Antonio corridor which are now coming to completion - huge amount of housing - huge buildings. Then on the backside is a whole section of older apartments. I assumed that the north side of San Antonio was PA. Surprise to me it is not. And all of those apartment buildings on the backside are not city of PA. I looked for the city line in the Monroe Park neighborhood and it is elusive. A whole section has been appropriated by Mountain View and Los Altos. The children in that neighborhood go to Los Altos schools.

Then looking at Rengstorff - Middlefield and there all new apartment complexes along that corridor. It becomes obvious to me that MV is moving out strong on apartment housing, and Los Altos is partially meeting it's quota in what I assumed was PA city land. Cities are generating apartment complexes a distance from their city centers. However in RWC all of the new building is in the center city area and the neighborhoods are still intact R-1 housing. It appears to me that San Mateo county is approaching this differently that Santa Clara County.

So what are we taking credit for here to reach our numbers? This city is coming up a day late and a dollar short. All of those Barron Park residents who like to live on the edge and complain - two story homes are replacing one story homes. Yes -BP - you are losing ground here in the cheap department. And ECR is now in constant building mode.

We need to clearly define where city property is and what we plan to do with it because once you end up with new 2-story homes there is no going back.


Andrew Boone
Registered user
another community
on May 21, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Andrew Boone, another community
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 3:00 pm

The real problem is: why doesn’t the Palo Alto City Council (and many other local city councils) want to build adequate housing? Partly it’s cultural but partly there are also financial incentives that discourage housing, such as super low property taxes. The city’s weak support for multi-modal transportation also undermines housing because most new housing developments result in more car traffic (unnecessarily). We need to address those root causes of anti-housing decisions rather than rely on the ABAG Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, which seems to not be working very well.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2021 at 3:34 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 3:34 pm

Is Andrew Boone in Contra Costa County? Alameda County? Do us a favor Andrew identify your county and city so we an figure out what they are doing. We are beginning to see here that this forum is a political approach but no identifier as to the point the person is starting from. The finger pointing department needs to clarify the finger pointer.
If you have been paying attention here PA is built out to the borders. It is one of the original cities on the peninsula so built out. Other cites are now building out on their open land - North San Jose for one. Gilroy for another. The papers are now providing a lot of documentation as to what individual cities are doing so what is your city doing?


Loren Beck
Registered user
another community
on May 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm
Loren Beck, another community
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm
Jamie Johnson/CEO
Registered user
another community
on May 23, 2021 at 10:00 am
Jamie Johnson/CEO, another community
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 10:00 am

Will these revised housing allocations allow for the establishment of sober living houses in Palo Alto?

My private clinic would like to purchase some residencies in Palo Alto to house alcohol and drug rehab patients.

The Americans With Disabilities Act strictly prohibits any city from depriving these professional residential services to addicts requiring a short-term living environment to get clean and Palo Alto would be an ideal site for our expansion endeavors as we have the financial resources to purchase properties.

In some CA cities, residents have complained that owning a home adjacent to these types of professional half-way houses can lower their residential property values by 8-15% and create potential disturbances but these considerations should not pose a problem in Palo Alto as the property values are already over-inflated and its residents well-reputed for their sense of community compassion and enlightenment.

There are currently two private half-way houses in the immediate area (Redwood City and Mountain View) but we are hoping to establish a more upscale variant in Palo Alto as we will be able to charge more for our in-house services (approximately $3000-$5000 monthly for room/board/counseling).).

Many of these facilities throughout California are limited to six residents per house and so a 3-4 bedroom home will usually suffice.

The local real estate agents have encouraged my company to seriously consider purchasing residential property in Palo Alto both as a future investment and to provide housing for those recovering from serious drug and alcohol issues.


Why Not?
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on May 23, 2021 at 10:15 am
Why Not?, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 10:15 am

A great idea for any Palo Alto homeowner planning to relocate but wishing to keep the residential property for later sale.

Just rent the home out to one of these sober living house proprietors and pay off the remaining mortgage (if any) with ease or turn it into a cash cow.

We have a 5BR/4.5B home near Alexis Drive that would be ideal as a recovery residence for substance abusers and could care less what the neighbors think after we have departed for greener pastures.

Will be looking into this possibility.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 10:54 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 10:54 am

Hope you have cleared your property area of brush and flammable material - That is a big issue. Are all of those renters going to maintain the property against damage? One can only imagine the unintended consequences of that venture. Hope you have a lot of insurance who knows what your intentions are. If you do a standard home insurance with no mention that you have now turned this into a rental unit then you could lose big. Check with your legal reps to cover all of the bases.


Mental Health Care RN
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2021 at 12:13 pm
Mental Health Care RN, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 12:13 pm

I wholeheartedly support Palo Alto becoming a larger and more encompassing residential environment for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

It is close to urgent care centers, Stanford Hospital, and the PAMF in the event of any subsequent OD's and the Palo Alto paramedics are excellent in dealing with these types of medical emergencies.

Every city throughout the nation is now being mandated to accommodate these residential rehab facilities and Palo Alto will be no exception.

Since the street homeless and transient RV dwellers have been made to feel unwelcome by some residents, accommodating recovering drug/alcohol abusers is a mandated law and must be complied with.

The only options a city has is to set limits on occupancy and require that supervisory personnel be on staff 24 hours. Of note is that the supervisory personnel can also be recovering addicts themselves.

So let's get the ball rolling and put Palo Alto at the forefront of addiction recovery!

I am originally from North San Diego County Health Services aka the 'Rehab Riviera' and all of the more affluent communities have been forced to comply in this endeavor.

Palo Alto will be no different so be prepared to welcome your new neighbors.


Myrtle Baur
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 23, 2021 at 2:39 pm
Myrtle Baur, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 2:39 pm

If the recovering addicts are not creating any public disturbances or safety threats towards the neighbors I imagine it would be reasonable for Palo Alto to have these kinds of recovery facilities.

There are many nice neighborhoods in Palo Alto that could accommodate these individuals who are trying to kick their drug and alcohol abuse problems.

There is one in Mountain View but it would be no where as nice as a halfway house in Adobe Meadows or the Palo Alto foothills.

I imagine there are other Palo Alto neighborhoods that could accommodate these types of drug and alcohol recovery facilities as well.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 2:57 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 2:57 pm

Why Adobe Meadows? the lots in this section are not very big. I see Crescent Park as a better pick - they have bigger lots so the people can be outside more and have more space to roam around. And Atherton has lots which are very big along with security patrols in the area. You obviously need a big lot with a lot of outside room so people can move around. You cannot have a "sardine can" approach to this activity. And if you have a park across the street then that is even better.


Myrtle Baur
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 23, 2021 at 3:20 pm
Myrtle Baur, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 3:20 pm

You do not need a large back yard or park to accommodate recovering drug or alcohol addicts...just maybe a small patio and some outside chairs.

Most sober living houses are not very big and on small parcels.

The only problem that might be of some concern is that recovering addicts tend to smoke a lot of cigarettes and second-hand smoke could easily become an issue for residents situated nearby.

This complaint came up in Costa Mesa but was quickly dismissed by the city council as the parties involved were smoking outdoors.

Residents have little to say about these types of facilities cropping up in their neighborhoods and citing the potential depreciation of one's residential property does not hold any water.


The Good Neighbor
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 3:50 pm
The Good Neighbor, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 3:50 pm

Another option as per the ADA provisions and a viable residential business opportunity is to develop an elder care or hospice facility in one's former neighborhood.

You will have to undertake some ADA-related remodeling requirements such as outdoor wheelchair access ramps and seated shower facilities indoors along with having a caretaker on site 24/7 although they do not have to be certified.

An acquaintance in Sunnyvale remodeled his residential rental property to accommodate such measures and he leases the property out to a professional caretaker who provides housing and care for six developmentally disabled and elder clients.

It pays reasonably well...around $9K monthly per person (of which he receives half) and the only complaints from neighbors were the periodic ambulance sirens and an occasional hearse pulling up to the property to remove the deceased.

I imagine we could do something like this with our property when we move to Aptos.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 4:06 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 4:06 pm

Isn't this wonderful? The good doctor is telling us how compassionate we are - he does not live in this city, nor his accomplice from Mountain View. Both do not live here. Yet Myrtle has now sunk to threats.

However the people who do live here and can see a potential cash flow proclaim they do not care what their neighbors think and if they can make some money then go for it. Old Palo Alto has "compassion". Hopefully she has a large lot. But it costs a lot of money. Palo Alto Hills has the best approach - not a lot of neighbors close in.

So we do work on the high side here - don't we. People threatening us, neighbors not caring what we think. Just warms a person' heart. Glad we have a 911 phone for disturbances in the neighborhood to assist in tax provided noise control.

The place you need to really look is the East Bayshore - lots of buildings for lease there, lots of space, and lots of room for the good doctors to manage the inhabitants. And noise control not an issue. Now that is your best tip of the day. No neighbors who do care.


The Good Neighbor
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 4:15 pm
The Good Neighbor, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 4:15 pm

You cannot simply wash your hands by moving everyone (i.e. the homeless, transient RVs, recovering addicts, and now the developmentally disabled and elder care patients) to East Bayshore.

Apparently there are some soon-to-be ex-Palo Alto residents considering the option of undertaking residential conversions and I am one of them.

And it does not matter to me (or my family) who resides in my former home.

You cannot keep everyone out of your beloved Palo Alto community by simply advocating NIMBYism at its worst.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on May 23, 2021 at 5:58 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 5:58 pm

There used to be an elder-care/hospice house around the corner from where I live. I guess when property values rose it became attractive to convert it and sell it. It's easy to see why a care provider might want to use its limited capital in the most effective way it can; holding on to ultra-valuable real estate might not be the best option.

By the way, how many of you are on the mailing list for Palo Alto Online's "Local Scoop"? If you didn't see the one from May 12th, you might not know that the moderators have some evidence that there are individuals and groups deliberately attempting to create discord through online comments here. Knowing that, I view the over-the-top antagonistic comments with a lot more skepticism. Palo Alto has value that some people would like to extract, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they're comfortable using fear, uncertainty, and doubt to do that.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2021 at 6:07 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 6:07 pm

No one is keeping anyone out who buys a HOME. The HOME is in an educational district which precludes drug re-habilitation centers in the proximity of schools. We have the Navigation Center which is next to the PAMF - where it should be. There are drug rehabilitation centers in the SU campus area near the hospital. You all cannot make up rules to bypass commonsense and rules as to where these facilities are located. And insulting people will not make it so. So sell your house and go.

Sounds like you no longer have children - people who no longer have children in the house and in the neighborhood streets have turned the corner and it is time to go. Those are the people who no longer care about the streets they live on. Where their children are hanging out. You can go to a senior center which has gates to keep people out so you only see other older people and they protect you from the people who live outside the gates.


William Berry
Registered user
another community
on May 23, 2021 at 7:32 pm
William Berry, another community
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 7:32 pm

• "...the moderators have some evidence that there are individuals and groups deliberately attempting to create discord through online comments here."

Trolling and conflicting difference of opinions are two different things altogether.

Palo Alto appears to be getting smaller, both in available housing and in various mindsets.

NIMBYism is almost a Palo Alto coined term and many older PA residents have a right to convey their apprehensions over a changing city landscape.

That said, this is no different than someone who lived during the 1920s and bemoaning the changes with the annexation of Mayfield.

Having resided in Palo Alto since the early 1950s I have seen the changes and there is no going back to the Eisenhower years.

Perhaps it's best to either move on or move out.

We have chosen to move out and Palo Alto will be what it is.


Eppie Rosenberg
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm
Eppie Rosenberg, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

Having once resided next door to a children's day care center in Palo Alto, I cannot imagine a sober living house inhabited by adults being far noisier than a bunch of small kids running around and screaming at one another.

And years ago, my daughter once lived across the street from a mortuary. The hearses came and went on a semi-regular basis not to mention the countless funereal attendees and their cars.

Unless one is willing to purchase an entire residential block, we have little control over certain adjacent businesses whether they be rehab houses, mortuaries, day care centers or whatnot.

It is oftentimes best to get over the things one cannot control.


Palo Alto Residency ROI
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2021 at 8:37 am
Palo Alto Residency ROI, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 8:37 am

We are also considering the option of remodeling our existing home to meet ADA requirements for a sober living residency.

Federal law supercedes local laws in regards to prohibiting these facilities in any neighborhood and the only requirement is that the recovery residency establish house rules pertaining to proper conduct.

Web Link

This concept is far less complicated than going the ADU/granny unit route and will provide additional housing opportunities in Palo Alto albeit short-term residencies.

It will also provide viable recovery opportunities for those in need and an income revenue stream for both the operating proprietors and homeowners wishing to rent or lease their properties.

A win-win for all parties involved.


A Former Recovery Resident
Registered user
Atherton
on May 24, 2021 at 8:49 am
A Former Recovery Resident, Atherton
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 8:49 am

It should also be noted that these sober living houses are operated privately and can be very expensive.

As a result, many of the nicer ones are in affluent communities to attract those who can afford these recovery options.


Zhiang Pei
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 24, 2021 at 9:44 am
Zhiang Pei, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 9:44 am

The concept of using residential property to accommodate sober living or elder care makes a lot of sense.

For absentee owners, it provides an excellent opportunity to recoup investment costs while the residency continues to increase in value.

And since the ADA is a federal mandate, homeowners have additional latitude as to how their residential properties can be used.

All it takes is a house (regardless of size), four or more paying tenants and an in-house manager who does not need to be licensed or certified in anything specific.

This is a good business opportunity that provides many options.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2021 at 9:49 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 9:49 am

My in-laws transferred from their home on SU campus to a "over 50 residential" facility in the city. The going in position was that there was a registered nurse on duty 24/7 and a location on the first floor for residents who were recovering from any health issue. They then discovered that the state rules and state requirements exceeded their grasp. Any person recovering from any life threatening event then had to go down the street to the licensed facility set up for that purpose. All of these facilities have changed hands many times.

Same story in Texas - friend in very nice retirement home until he fell and could not get up. Shipped off to a recovery facility.

Brother is associated with a religious organization which has many luxury retirement homes across the US. Sounds good until you have a life threatening situation. We are all going to stay home.

Bottom line is that in most states there are very complex licensing issues and insurance liability associated with health-related facilities. If you all think that you are going to do this on the sly then think again. People buy a home at huge cost and are not going to let other home owners who live in the neighborhood create unlicensed facilities.


Richard Peck
Registered user
Menlo Park
on May 24, 2021 at 10:11 am
Richard Peck, Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 10:11 am

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

You are comparing apples to oranges.

A sober living house is just a residential environment for former drug addicts and recovering alcoholics who have completed rehab.

Sober living houses are not licensed healthcare facilities (nor do they need to be) and all it requires is a residential property to provide housing for the recovering tenants.

And they can be situated anywhere, as in any town or neighborhood.

These are the rules as established by the ADA and city councils have no say in the matter other than to set restrictions on size and occupancy.

And since several here have expressed an interest in using their homes for such an endeavor, size limitations won't be an issue.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2021 at 10:41 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 10:41 am

So we have Jamie Johnson, Myrtle and Good Neighbor all selling an "in your face" opportunity for a get rich scheme for the home owner who no longer wants to live in PA. That person will go to live in an over-50 home which has a lot of restrictions as to who can live there while while lecturing the rest of the population as to how uncompassionate we all are. Got it. hope your neighbors do not figure out who you are.
Side note - friends parents went to live in "The Villages" in San Jose who ended up restricting the grandchildren to not be by the pool. They then left that place and bought a new home in Aptos in a gated community. With pool. NOT a 55 plus community. This is about the home owners as well as the patients.


Glenn Beckham
Registered user
Walter Hays School
on May 24, 2021 at 11:19 am
Glenn Beckham, Walter Hays School
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 11:19 am

Reading these successive posts has me scratching my head....

What difference does it make if a former (or soon to be be former) neighbor wants to keep their residential property and utilize it for a completely legal and revenue generating purpose?

And why would another Palo Alto resident who probably doesn't even reside in the same neighborhoods be so up in arms about some other homeowner's property usage when it clearly falls within legal boundaries?

If this is where the NIMBY Palo Alto mindset is heading, I'd just as soon move to Aptos myself and RENT our existing home out for one of the aforementioned housing applications.

Perhaps Palo Alto will then become known as one of the premier upper-tier recovery communities in Silicon Valley.


Leisha Corbett
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 24, 2021 at 11:47 am
Leisha Corbett, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 11:47 am

Helping recovering substance abusers re-adjust to everyday life is a good thing.

And using one's home to accommodate these individuals along with the disabled and/or elder citizens is commendable regardless of any profit margins or whining on the part of self-serving NIMBY adherents.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on May 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm

The (valid) purpose of zoning is to preserve health and quality of life by managing incompatible land uses. These are things over which we can, and often do, have control.

I like my neighborhood. There are plenty of families around whose kids go to school with my kids, and we support (or at least commiserate with) one another. There are people I've worked with over the years; most people have been here long enough to share at least some meaningful history. There are single-family homes, multi-family homes, apartment buildings, housing courts, a school, and a church. For a long time it was safe and reasonably quiet, though that's less true now that traffic is getting worse.

It's sad to see claims that attempting to preserve the good characteristics of a neighborhood is just nostalgia for the Eisenhower Era from a few senior citizens. It's those characteristics that make people want to own property in a neighborhood today. That's true for me, and if you look carefully at the comments above, I think you'll see that it's true for a lot of other people as well.

There are plenty of land uses that aren't incompatible enough to merit zoning control, but can still put a neighborhood at risk. Neighborhoods usually have enough resilience to deal with a few of these, but if too many flood in, then the features that made the neighborhood attractive in the first place can be lost permanently.

How many families can you replace with households of adult transients (sober houses, hacker hotels, whatever) before the neighborhood is no longer the same? How many single-family houses can you convert to high density of any type before traffic and lack of parking significantly damage quality of life or safety? Is it an act of NIMBYism to erode a neighborhood for personal profit and then leave so that you don't live with the consequences? I don't have answers for these questions, but I believe it's worth taking them seriously.


A Progressive Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Professorville
on May 24, 2021 at 3:28 pm
A Progressive Palo Alto Resident, Professorville
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 3:28 pm

We are essentially dealing with potential housing issues that some diehard NIMBYs will eventually have accept (in their minds) as 'awful but lawful'.

The residential owners have a legal right to do whatever they want with their private neighborhood homes and the ADA federal mandate supports this intention if the intended use is to provide additional housing options for elder care, disability care, and sober living environments.

There are no condominium homeowners associations (HOA) to challenge these measures and the city hall has absolutely no say or jurisdiction in these matters other than to limit size and occupancy.

Does Palo Alto residents want to endure yet another potential lawsuit which would paint the city in very poor light...in this case, NIMBY discrimination against the aforementioned disability groups?

Given the Foothills Park debacle, I think not.

How much more bad PR are Palo Alto residents willing to accept as par for the course?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2021 at 3:53 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 3:53 pm

People painting PA as the "upper tier recovery community of Silicon Valley" is as weird as it gets. Totally weird.

I paint PA as a rich family environment with excellent schools and support services for the children - soccer, theatre, community provided camps for the kids during the summer. Home of the tech incubators.

How does EPA want to paint itself? Maybe Leisha can tell us what she sees as her cities strengths. Leisha how are you selling your city?

Richard - what do you see are Menlo Parks strengths that you can use to sell your city?

If you are selling your city as a desirable place to live for families or young tech people then a recovery station is not it. Wrong picture.

If you are selling a facility that requires a 24/7 counselor then you have moved out of the normal and into the licensing department. Mr. Johnson's description of what he is proposing is not what you all are describing. You all need to read the fine print.


A Progressive Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Professorville
on May 24, 2021 at 3:59 pm
A Progressive Palo Alto Resident, Professorville
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 3:59 pm

The size of the sober living facility is the key issue.

A large complex would obviously be met with resistance by some residents but no one here is proposing that.

A private residence is another story and any legal objections will not hold any water.

All things considered, every city should have these types of housing arrangements and Palo Alto is no exception.


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2021 at 4:22 pm
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 4:22 pm

To everyone abusing the term NIMBY for their own selfish purposes: NIMBY is a social justice term about hypocrisy of people who are for something, like black neighbors or low-income housing, as long as it's not near them. Instead, it's being misused above to bash people who are against senseless overdevelopment--which raises prices and razes low-income properties--for the sake of big developers' profits and big companies who we have seen can move out their workers on a dime when it suits their interests.

If jobs/housing balance is a problem, we should be pushing conversion of office space to housing. We should support all types of affordable housing as Eric Filseth described, but we should require companies whose operations and economic model necessitates such public subsidy to pay the real cost, through higher wages for low- and middle-skill work and/or through a fair large-business tax based on worker headcount and density.

PA should also be able to count the housing in bedroom communities nearby if a lot of people who live there work here. Places like Atherton and Woodside should be building low- and moderate-income housing, too.

Lastly, we must stop letting ourselves be led around by the nose by false arguments for moneyed interests whose push to overdensify led to serious overbuilding and exacerbation of many of the worst regional problems, traffic, pollution, noise, decreased resilience to natural disasters, greater risk of loss of life in natural disasters, drought vulnerability, loss of and strained natural environment, loss of workers to places where they can get a better quality of life with less density, traffic, noise, pollution, etc.

The trend globally is of downward population growth. California must begin to plan holistically so that the places with a more reasonable and healthy density can attract workers, rather than forcing dense places to be worse.
Web Link


Room At The Inn
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2021 at 4:59 pm
Room At The Inn, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 4:59 pm

All good points Citizen.

And all things considered, using existing Palo Alto homes to house some ADA specific tenants makes complete sense.

No additional development involved... just some minor remodeling efforts on the part of the homeowner.

The problem is that some residents seem to have a 'problem' with this concept.

Well that's their problem because we are also considering this option.

And truth be known, many homeowners have already been doing something along these lines especially in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale for years.

It is no different than having housemates sharing the expenditures of a rental house and I believe our current home would be ideal as a sobriety house for recovering substance abusers + we would not have to incur the costlier remodeling requirements and expenses if it were a home for the elder or disabled.

Just some inexpensive patio chairs from Walmart for the backyard and a couple of outdoor ashtrays.

I'm glad we held onto this property.


Del Rivers MBA
Registered user
Stanford
on May 24, 2021 at 6:16 pm
Del Rivers MBA, Stanford
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 6:16 pm

Doing the math...

A modest four bedroom house rental in Palo Alto will run about $6K per month and if there are two tenants sharing three of the four bedrooms at even $2K per month (board included) that comes to $12K with the fourth bedroom reserved for the house manager.

Figure around $1K/monthly for utilities, wifi, and cable + $2.5K for groceries (with shared cooking) and miscellaneous household supplies.

That leaves around $8.5K and except for homeowner's insurance and ideally, a pre-Prop 13 property tax schedule, you are home free.

Free room and board for the house manager + a small stipend (maybe $2.5K/monthly) leaves a modest $5K monthly profit for the homeowner.

Chump change but not bad for providing a humanitarian service to those in need while at the same time, holding on to a valuable residential property for later sale.

And if you happen to own property in one of the more affluent PA neighborhoods, you can probably charge even more per tenant.

This is a viable re-investment opportunity for older PA residents who still own their homes and wish to reside elsewhere.

A holistic Palo Alto sobriety experience could rival the ones in Malibu except for the oceanside views of Zuma Beach.

After all, you cannot have everything.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on May 24, 2021 at 7:56 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 7:56 pm

Wow, what a mess: Web Link

The Feds and the State currently disagree on the legal situation, and cities have received so many complaints they're attempting to regulate. Even if the State coerces them this time around, they'll be back, using the legal approaches that are still open to them.

More risk than I'd be willing to take, but if you're sold on the idea, be sure to keep your insurance up-to-date and your attorney on retainer.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 25, 2021 at 6:58 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 6:58 am

People are selling a concept for Palo Alto as a upper class alternative for recovery. How did PA get to be a "upper class alternative"? It got there by the hard work of the residents who contribute to the general well being of the community and donate time and energy to the projects that interest them - children's soccer, theatre, Little League, SU sports, and interesting career choices for the adults.

"Progressives" are generally trying to figure out how to capitalize on other people's hard work and tear down the existing framework that supports the general well-deserved reputation of the city. Opportunist, carpetbaggers, all working off the reputation and hard work of others. That is my take on this situation and the general direction of the state. Call yourselves progressives. There are other names for all of this. Name-calling and pejorative terms are equal opportunity endeavors.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2021 at 7:46 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 7:46 am

As per yesterday's article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the drought is so severe that Marin County is considering banning water hookups for new construction.
Web Link

Too bad Santa Clara County isn't doing the same. Not a day passes that that we don't read about yet another HUGE office complex being developed with tens of thousands of new jobs / commuters for each new complex. Then they turn around and tell us to conserve as if none of the new workers will use a drop of water.


Justin Lowry
Registered user
Menlo Park
on May 25, 2021 at 8:33 am
Justin Lowry, Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 8:33 am

There are some homes in Menlo Park that would also be ideal to serve as sobriety living residences, mine being one of them.

These residencies do not have to be fancy or in an exclusive neighborhood.

Since we are also planning to relocate but intent on keeping the property for the time being, this option makes complete sense.

The house has already appreciated considerably in value and if worse comes to worse, it can always be listed as a 'fixer upper' in the event the premises get trashed.

Why pay even more in capital gains tax if you've already made considerable money off the property?

And who cares who's living there once you are gone?

The key is not to be greedy.


Phillip Denehy
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2021 at 11:32 am
Phillip Denehy, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 11:32 am

To prohibit sober living houses in Palo Alto is just another form of housing discrimination and illegal as per the ADA.

And if some existing residents wish to sell or rent their homes for this purpose, what justification do the neighbors and NIMBYs have to challenge a federally mandated law?

Trivialities like the psychological depreciation of their property values, secondary cigarette smoke, and possibly overhearing some outdoor conversations among the tenants?

The ACLU is chomping at the bit on this one, especially if various malcontents and curmudgeons raise an unnecessary ruckus based on unfounded concerns.


James Toone
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 25, 2021 at 7:28 pm
James Toone, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 7:28 pm

My daughter spent time at one of these facilities in Santa Cruz awhile back.

Though expensive, these sobriety houses often provide a constructive path to sobriety and should not be scorned by Palo Alto residents overly concerned with delusions of depreciating property values and neighborhood self-imagery.

Snobbery and self-righteousness serve no constructive purpose.


Eleanor K.
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 26, 2021 at 7:40 am
Eleanor K., Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 7:40 am

I would consider sharing my current home with either a group of recovering substance abusers or perhaps a homeless person but my children have advised me against it.

As a retired senior citizen living alone, it would be nice to have some company while also providing a home for those in need.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2021 at 11:22 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 11:22 am

Transitioning residence homes typically have a heavy weight set of personnel who are available to assist when people's tempers and personalities clash. You are now talking about people who are in transition plunked into a residential neighborhood who you all hope is going to neutralize aberrant behavior. Not going to happen.

I will assume that the people who are arguing "discrimination" here are clueless and posturing for their own chance for a bed?

Reality is that you now have people who are in transition in their lives from both a mental and psychical point of view. That is an unpredictable set of circumstances. They are typically middle-age and not good job material.

As a homeowner suggest that you chose to rent your home to a young family that has children that want to go to school here. You can even get a management company to manage the property for you. You will get the same cash flow and some comfort that you are putting a new set of children through school here.

This is a topic that is not going to be decided by a bunch of people on this blog. The city manager who came up through San Jose I am sure has some experience with the problems associated with this housing approach that is typically in a fringe area of a business park.
The point of this set of responses is to test the waters. The city manager will tell you all what is going to happen. And it has nothing to do with discrimination - it has to do with city safety of the residents - a growing concern in this city.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on May 26, 2021 at 2:12 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 2:12 pm

@Resident 1: The sober living "industry" clearly has serious problems with insurance fraud, abuse of patients, destruction of neighborhoods, and so on. See the link I posted earlier, or this one: Web Link which has additional references.

To grow, the industry needs a steady supply of people who are greedy enough to turn over their houses for the rental income, but not cautious enough to think through their liabilities or the losses they'll face from the reduction in property value when it comes time to sell. Most of the postings hijacking this RHNA discussion are probably from one or a few "recruiters" looking to scam that kind of person. I did some quick searches and found 15 names that have no record of posting to Town Square any time before this article was published. Maybe there are more; that's just the point I quit because the evidence was strong enough.

There's an interesting real-estate angle, too. Replacing enough long-term single-family homes with transient homes helps break up R-1 neighborhoods. Driving down the property values is great news for groups that want to buy up R-1 properties on the cheap and redevelop them at higher density for increased profit. Some of those groups are also political donors, I'll bet.

Anyway, I'm impressed with the operation we're seeing here, which makes great use of local issues as well as universal ones and does a superb job of demonizing anyone with legitimate concerns. I expect we'll see a lot more of this in the future. In the meantime, there's no point in trying to make any more carefully-reasoned arguments. It's just pig wrestling from here on out. :-)


Eric Forrest
Registered user
Professorville
on May 26, 2021 at 2:43 pm
Eric Forrest, Professorville
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 2:43 pm

I am more concerned about the potential of a residential fire occuring in a neighborhood where a sober living house is situated.

Recovering addicts tend to drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes.

Liability insurance on the part of a recovery house proprietor is paramount.

On the other hand, ADA residencies for the disabled and smaller homes facilitating elder care and hospice services do not concern me as much.

The mortuaries generally pick-up the deceased during the early morning hours so as not to attract the unnecessary attention of the in-house residents and I imagine most Palo Alto residents and their families would be asleep during those hours.


Mildred Cannon
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 26, 2021 at 3:35 pm
Mildred Cannon, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 3:35 pm

Death is a natural part of life and should not be an issue when it comes to where one resides.

On the other hand, a house full of recovering drug addicts may not be in the best interests of a neighborhood.

Unless a proprietor is planning to establish a boutique sober living residency in an exclusive Palo Alto neighborhood, some of the lesser expensive and less desirable neighborhoods in Palo Alto might be better suited for these types of living arrangements.

Perhaps in the neighborhoods anywhere south of Page Mill Road and Oregon Expressway.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2021 at 3:40 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 3:40 pm

If someone is in a senior living facility and they cause a problem then they are out the door. The facility will not tolerate aberrant behavior. All of those happy pictures of people does have a downside. And that person then will end up in a different house which has a complement of strong people to manage the herd. One family member ended up in the Alzheimer section and that was not pretty.

Is this whole scheme really about all of the aberrant behavior people that will not be tolerated in a normal assisted living arrangement? It is cheaper for the owner of such a residential unit to have one large place so that all of the normal costs can be reported for tax purposes. Get that - TAX PURPOSES. This is a business.


Nolan Broderick
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 27, 2021 at 8:10 am
Nolan Broderick, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 8:10 am

"some of the lesser expensive and less desirable neighborhoods in Palo Alto might be better suited for these types of living arrangements....Perhaps in the neighborhoods anywhere south of Page Mill Road and Oregon Expressway."

To comply with the ADA ordinance, the city could simply designate certain neighborhoods for this purpose.

Though of a different nature and residential scenario, the Buena Vista trailer park is acceptable in Barron Park but would probably not be allowed to operate in some of Palo Alto's nicer neighborhoods.

As a resident of Barron Park, I simply avoid driving down Los Robles Avenue and as a result, the trailer park does not bother me as it does to some other area residents.

The same resident mindset could apply to overlooking the existence of any hypothetical sober living houses in the neighborhoods south of Page Mill Road and Oregon Expressway.

Just look the other way and go about your business.


J. Laredo
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 27, 2021 at 8:58 am
J. Laredo, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 8:58 am

"Just look the other way and go about your business."

I imagine it's one thing to have a sober living residency in one's neighborhood vs living right next door to one.

And with that in mind, perhaps only the residents who reside in the immediate proximity of a proposed alternative living environment have the legitimate right to complain or protest.

The others are just busy-bodies and NIMBYs.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2021 at 10:43 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 10:43 am

This company is selling you a bunch of BS. It is a tax avoidance scheme. Any company that is operating on the up and up would get one large building and pay one set of staff to run the whole building. And expense the payroll and all costs associated with the operation of the facility. When they propose spreading the staff all over in individual facilities, as well as the cost of feeding the people all over the place then they are in a scheme for tax avoidance. And you the homeowner are participating in this whole scheme. And you will get caught because the neighbors are not going to tolerate people who are in transition mentally and physically in their midst. They did not pay top dollar to be exposed to any but a "normal" neighborhood. And their children are not going to be exposed to this.

Barron Park is now getting a lot of two story homes replacing the single family homes so you have a new set of homeowners who paid top dollar to be there. All of PA south of Oregon is getting new two story homes - new families. Your portrayal of the landscape of PA needs to be corrected.


Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 27, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Mi Casa Es Su Casa, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 12:18 pm

° "a "normal" neighborhood."

Who are you (or any of us) to define what 'normal' is?

If such were the case, we would still be living in the dark ages (and not too long ago) when white bigotry and ethnocentrism defined American society and its contrived history.

There would be no civil rights (except for white people), LGBTQ acceptance, or a woman's rights to vote and to to have a say in abortions.

The ADA is another avenue for equality and its format is to accommodate the disabled, elderly, or recovering substance abusers.

Why not give others an opportunity to LIVE rather than getting bogged down with your own insecurities and insatiable real estate greed?

Maria


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2021 at 12:35 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 12:35 pm
Lance Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2021 at 12:45 pm
Lance Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 12:45 pm

@Resident-1 Adobe Meadows

The last time I checked, there are also unstable people residing within their own homes.

The recent San Jose VTA shootings attest to this fact.

How about if we just exile everyone who is suspected of being mentally unstable?

And what do you have against the elderly and disabled who are not mentally unstable?


Raleigh Winslow
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 28, 2021 at 7:01 am
Raleigh Winslow, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 7:01 am

I noticed on city.data there are 18-22 registered/convicted sex offenders residing in Palo Alto.

Curious...outside of notifying the police department and restrictions on residential proximity to schools, is this another form of housing that is relatively free from municipal regulations?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 28, 2021 at 11:06 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 11:06 am

The issue on the table here is transient recovering addicts who have been imported to live in residential houses in neighborhoods. They are not long time residents. Their age is irrelevant. Their background history is unknown. They do not have a long-term awareness of the city as a whole. Those are all red-flags.


Harland Croft
Registered user
another community
on May 28, 2021 at 12:16 pm
Harland Croft, another community
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 12:16 pm

@Resident-1 Adobe Meadows

To some, sex offenders are viewed as either rehabilitative and/or potentially de-fused based upon their individual make-up and prescribed therapies.

Since you are adamantly against recovering substance abusers, elders, and the disabled residing anywhere near you or within the city in general, it would also be safe to assume that you would prefer to exclude sex offenders as well.

The difference is that convicted sex offenders are a far cry from recovering addicts, the disabled, and the elderly.


Massoud Akim
Registered user
Stanford
on May 28, 2021 at 1:01 pm
Massoud Akim, Stanford
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 1:01 pm

People often/sometimes have a choice of where they wish to live but they have little say as to who their neighbors are barring specific criminal laws.

Otherwise it constitutes unlawful housing discrimination.


An Attorney At Large
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2021 at 3:41 pm
An Attorney At Large, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Convicted sex offenders are generally not welcome in any community but they have to live somewhere.

Concerned residents have a right to be adequately informed of these intentions
and city governments have an obligation and responsibility to respect their wishes.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 28, 2021 at 3:48 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 3:48 pm

Harland - you are mix-mashing all types of issues - none of which are under discussion. And you are attributing all types of attributes which are not under discussion.

What is under discussion is addicts going through withdrawal and being placed in neighborhood homes in the process. That is the topic here. Focus.


An Attorney At Large
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2021 at 3:55 pm
An Attorney At Large, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 28, 2021 at 3:55 pm

@Resident-1 Adobe Meadows

Assuming that you are OK with accommodating sex offenders in your neighborhood but opposed to elderly, disabled, or recovering substance abusers?


Pierce Layton
Registered user
another community
on May 29, 2021 at 7:21 am
Pierce Layton, another community
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 7:21 am

Regional zoning establishes land usage and its applications.

I've never heard of zoning an individual house to establish who is entitled to live there.


Local news junkie
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 29, 2021 at 7:29 am
Local news junkie, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 7:29 am

So the “less desirable” neighborhoods are those south of Oregon/Page Mill. Please keep your snobbism to yourself! We are all Palo Altans...


Free Your Mind
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 29, 2021 at 9:15 am
Free Your Mind, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 9:15 am

A man's (or woman's) home is in many ways their castle regardless of whether it is situated in Crescent Park or in Midtown

And by keeping one's premises properly maintained (e.g. painted and landscaped) perhaps others will not perceive certain neighborhoods as 'less desirable'.


The Harsh Reality
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2021 at 10:19 am
The Harsh Reality, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 10:19 am

Desirability is generally determined by one's perceptions and some Palo Alto neighborhoods (just like some people) either have that allure or are lacking it to a certain extent.

High maintenance expenses and overall asking price are also reflective of this consideration.

The neighborhoods in Palo Alto vary in terms of overall attractiveness and as Jerry Seinfeld used to say, "not that there's anything wrong with that".

And though Palo Alto real estate will always be expensive, the neighborhoods north of Page Mill Road and Oregon Expressway are considered premier Palo Alto residential properties as a whole.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2021 at 2:01 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 2:01 pm

WOW - total picture here - all of the major health providers are located in the north section of town - including the PAMF, SU, independent Doctors. Most of the institutionalized homes for the aged are in north PA with some in south PA. You also have the "Opportunity Center" and Clean Streets in north PA. Don't know about EPA except that they have an inept Attorney-at Large who thinks he is so cute.

We did not start this blog with this topic - at some point Jamie Johnson entered the picture and took over the conversation with his business plan. All business plans require "due diligence" to test the market and check out where the holes are in "the plan". His plan does not place qualified people in these homes so expect that there is some dependence on the existing institutions - most of which are in north PA. North PA is in command of the general Health of the city so let's assume that is the logical place for miscellaneous health ventures which are dependent on a larger facility as a back-up when things go wrong - and they will go wrong.

As to the general health of the city University is looking tacky. the President hotel is suppose to be a boutique hotel but looks like it is going to collapse. Very scary. And SU has ugly RV's on ECR which are not what the parents want to see when the kids come to look at schools.

All of those new buildings and hotels on ECR are not actually in the city of PA - Los Altos and Mountain View have conscripted part of ECR and San Antonio for their city coffers. And one story homes in south PA are being replaced with new two story homes. Think the growth is in South PA. And this is where the families are with the kids in soccer, little league, swim teams, etc. Every body pick what fits.


Li Zhao
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2021 at 3:59 pm
Li Zhao, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 3:59 pm

I agree with Resident-1 Adobe Meadows to a certain extent as there are increasingly more multi-story homes being built in South Palo Alto.

But many of these new houses are being built to accommodate elder family members along with younger school age children.

When the elders eventually pass on and the children leave for college or new lives of their own, we will most likely downsize to a smaller home and rent our current house to outside interests who may in turn, wish to convert it into sobriety housing or a care residency for the aged or disabled.

These housing applications do not bother us as the home will have appreciated in value and the rents will ensure a continuing flow of income.

It is good business and as far as providing rental housing for convicted sex offenders, I will first extend the courtesy of asking our existing neighbors if this idea is acceptable to them as well as notifying the Palo Alto Police Department.

I agree with the posters who feel northern Palo Alto is more prestigous than where we currently reside and perhaps this is a reason why there are so many teardowns.

The older Palo Alto homes have a special character while the most of the ones in South Palo Alto are not worth preserving.

And as far as Eichler designs are concerned, they are ubiquitous in Palo Alto so no major loss if a few are demolished for new multi-story residencies.


Exit Stage Left
Registered user
Ventura
on May 29, 2021 at 4:26 pm
Exit Stage Left, Ventura
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 4:26 pm

Wow. We bought our starter home in one of the 'lesser' neighborhoods in Palo Alto for about $2M and still have a long ways to go towards paying it off.

It might be time for us to list the house and apply the equity towards a home and community far removed from these potential changes in usage.

While everyone has a right to live somewhere, we would prefer that our young children not be exposed to recovering drug addicts or convicted sex offenders.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2021 at 6:44 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 6:44 pm

How did we end up with sex offenders in this conversation? We started with drug rehabilitation and now you all are into sex offenders. How does one side morph into another?

And no you are not tearing down Eichlers - they are in protected neighborhoods. That was dictated a long time ago.

Why would someone when they want to move have their house rented to disabled people or sex offenders? That boggles the mind. Why not a new young family that want their children to go to school here? Most of the people are here so their children can go to school here. why wouldn't you want to rent to a young family with children?

I drove around today - Barron Park has a lot of really great houses. North PA has a lot of really old broken down houses. Sorry - you people in north PA need to get out more. You must be old people who no longer drive anywhere. Your part of the city is not aging well.


Moving On Out (To Maui)
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2021 at 7:25 pm
Moving On Out (To Maui), Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 29, 2021 at 7:25 pm

>> Why would someone when they want to move have their house rented to disabled people or sex offenders?

^ Rental income? And sex offenders aside, what are your objections to providing affordable housing to the disabled?


>> Why not a new young family that want their children to go to school here?

^ If they can afford the rent and are willing to commit to a long-term lease...no problem.

If not, we have no issue leasing our soon to be former home to ANYONE providing they can pay the rent along with a substantial damage deposit.

We do not discriminate nor do we overly concern ourselves about the soon to be past tense.

You can address or fret about those issues.

Aloha


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