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Palo Alto survey points to growing concerns over mental health, retirement

Original post made on Jan 19, 2023

Ask Palo Alto residents how they feel about their city, and many will praise its bountiful parks, job opportunities and educational offerings. But a new resident survey also shows growing concerns about mental health and retirement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 19, 2023, 9:34 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:10 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

What were the survey return rates in previous years? Was a second survey sent to individuals who did not respond? I think there was a follow up process in previous years.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:25 am

Rose is a registered user.

What was communicated about speeding and other car violations? Are residents happy with our police?

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2023 at 1:43 pm

felix is a registered user.

Mental Health, quality of life, affordable housing, parking (not market rate and not under parked).
Sensible concerns..

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 19, 2023 at 3:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The city's going to base budgeting priorities on a survey to which only 398 people -- or 12% -- responded and who saw a slight (5%) improvement in employment opportunities vs DURING the pandemic shutdowns?

And this was obviously before the huge tech layoffs, new $22.5 Billion state deficit vs previous surpluses, stock, market crash, construction slowdown...

So yup, I can see where mental health hear would be an increasing concern if we're focusing on that rather than city transparency, fiscal responsibility and what many would consider real city priorities.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Online Name, I think the city assumes people who move into all of the new affordable housing (???) residents will park their cars blocks away. And tote all of their bags from the grocery store. And move their furniture in from a mile away. Even the elderly are expected to park and walk, unless they've been reading the writing on the wall about daylight robberies of elderly people walking the streets of Palo Alto. You forgot to mention they chose 3600 residents for their survey ... probably very selectively, too. But it shore looks nice with all that purty printin and font choice in their 153 pages of patting themselves on the back. The most glaring statistic that I noticed was that over 30% of people regardless of color are dissatisfied with their health care access. And yet here we live in the Stanford Land, home of self-professed top notch health care. And the other set of figures that show 67% of people mainly DRIVE. And 0% take the train, a bus, or a taxi anywhere. This should be proof to the City that more CONVENIENT parking AT HOME is needed. Not parking lots in the middle of town.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2023 at 5:06 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Mental health - let's have more things for our teens to do! Let's have more places for them to hang out with friends! The bowling alley, various other places that teens used to enjoy have all gone. What is there for a group of teens to do on weekends?

All our young people have suffered in the past 3 years through lack of socialization. They have been forced to stare at screens for school, for extended family communication and most importantly for socialization with their peers. These last two weeks in particular with all the bad weather hasn't helped as hanging out shooting hoops or throwing a ball hasn't been possible.

Until we can find more activities for teens that are purely fun rather than challenge and/or college application motivated, we will have unhappy, unsocialized and lonely teens.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 19, 2023 at 8:04 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Sorry to see yet another unscientific survey with "sciency" trappings to try to justify it. Not only was the self-selected household (not even individual) response rate only 12%, but if you look at the un-weighted survey numbers for various demographic categories, they are far off the census/population category numbers. For example, 68% of the responses were from people age 55+, which is double their proportion in the City population. Such discrepancies are evidence that the reported opinions may also be quite far off the true City population opinions.

In the 1970s when everyone answered the phone, the response rates were high enough that such surveys were actually scientific. With the abysmal response rates today, organizations need to face up to the fact that such surveys are not valid anymore.

That said, kudos to the City for being very transparent with all the details of the survey methodology, even if that resulted in revealing that the Emperor lacked any clothes :)

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2023 at 3:47 pm

Silver Linings is a registered user.

"The survey also shows that... growing number no longer see Palo Alto as a great place to retire...Since the city began its surveys...only one year had lower retirement scores...

"Anxiety over housing may play a role. Much like in the past, Palo Alto continues to get dismal scores when it comes to housing availability and affordability, with only 5% of responders giving the city high scores when asked about "cost of living" and just 6% giving rating it highly when asked about "availability of affordable housing." In both categories..."

Speculation like the above belongs in an opinion piece, not in a news article. We get that you can't live in the manner you'd like to become accustomed on a journalist's salary here, G, few even professionals can. Palo Alto has been hyper expensive and truly difficult to afford for decades. Even back then, most young people assumed they would get to a certain age and have to move away in late middle-age and later.

If we really do hold affordable housing as a value, we have got to have the hard conversations about how to achieve that in a holistic way, because housing creation will never be as elastic as demand, and places with good weather and a good university nearby will be in demand.

But assuming that density of all housing is a proxy for affordability doesn't work. We have to decide where we want to be on the scale from Ithaca to Manhattan/HongKong, and make decisions, because simply densifying everything does not create affordability (just ask Manhattan and HK), but it does create serious vulnerabilities and problems for cities (just ask SF and all the people of color who got pushed out with all the new building despite living there happily through other very expensive times).

Remote work changed everything. We cannot live in the past. If we want to support affordable housing, we must address the problem head on and stop assuming it will just happen as a side effect of other actions that de facto make it worse.

Posted by Old PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2023 at 12:51 pm

Old PA Resident is a registered user.

My child's [wonderful and very necessary] psychiatrist charges $1000 for a 45 minute counseling phone call. Insurance reimburses about $100. I'd agree affordable mental health is not available.

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