News

Schools: Enrollment study shows low-income families leaving area

Sequoia Union High School District enrollment growth forecast drops by 500 students.

The Peninsula's high cost of living is driving low-income families away from elementary school districts in Redwood City, East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park, and lowering long-term enrollment projections for parts of the Sequoia Union High School District, according to a new demographic report commissioned by the district.

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Comments

40 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:00 am

Our city planners and council did not look into the societal impacts of allowing Facebook to expand, expand and expand.

We are now suffering the consequences of a greedy and selfish resettlement policy.


33 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:18 am

@whatever

Nice to blame facebook, but the no growth NIMBY policies of the peninsula are to blame. There is no place affordable for most families on the peninsula, not just low income.


24 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Declining enrollment is not unexpected. In my 50 years in Emerald Hills, I have observed bloated enrollment projections preceding school Bond and parcel tax elections. This is not unique to San Mateo County. The overbuilding of facilities, using bogus enrollment projections to pass property tax measures, was no accident. Class size reductions which followed were no accident. IMHO this was all planned.

The enterprises in the education establishment which orchestrated this grandiose plan defrauded taxpayers.

The Grand Jury should investigate these activities.

Restitution should be made to taxpaying property owners.

Class sizes should be restored, and the resulting surplus school sites should be sold or leased to alternative education providers with proceeds used to reduce the bonded indebtedness incurred by this nefarious scheme.


48 people like this
Posted by Ethan White House
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Ethan White House is a registered user.

"using bogus enrollment projections to pass property tax measures"

Alternate explanation: Following the Great Recession, officials didn't do a very good job of predicting that the median-priced house in Redwood City would now cost $1.257 million and the average apartment would rent for $3200 a month, pricing families out of the area and decreasing school enrollment. You should have told them that would happen.


7 people like this
Posted by what nimbys
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Most of the people I know who usually are called "NIMBY" are worried about a lot more traffic from office development. They are the opposite of being a housing NIMBY.

Most of the people I know who don't want more housing, especially low income housing, are not called "NIMBY" because they like office development. Lots of it. They just don't want to provide more housing for the additional commuters coming for the office jobs. They don't want the schools to be affected and ignore the link between promoting more jobs and the need for more housing. If more housing isn't built, what exists becomes more expensive. It isn't just gentrification but rather a matter of inadequate supply for the demand.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

My observations began long before the Great Recession. Redwood City Elementary School District has been on my radar screen for decades.
An analysis of annual reports and their projections over the last two decades would be very revealing.


38 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 19, 2016 at 4:12 pm

@Jack Hickley

Yes Jack, your right it is a BIG conspiracy to steal your tax dollars. Why even bother to have schools at all? That's save the tax payers a ton!


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Well, "what NIMBYs", can we all at least agree that Menlo Park needs more housing? Ideally, apartments that the middle class can afford, not just more mansions that would fit better in Atherton.


43 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2016 at 9:58 pm

pearl is a registered user.

As to adequate affordable housing, San Mateo County also needs to provide more affordable housing for not only families, but for seniors, as well. Seniors are also being driven from the SFBA and the Peninsula because greedy landlords are jacking up rent prices sky high, in part because they have gotten on to the fact that Silicon Valley employers pay their employees huge salaries, and these employees in turn are able and willing to pay the higher rents.

As an example, the new owner of the Peninsula apartment building in which I've lived for the last 14 years, has raised my rent from $1,350/month to $2,000/mo, effective March 1st. I am 74 years old and living on a fixed Social Security income. I cannot afford a rent increase of $650/month. Where do seniors turn for help in these instances? Housing waiting lists at senior facilities are either closed indefinitely, or the waiting time is anywhere from two- to five years. It's just criminal and so very sad. I was born and raised on the Peninsula, have lived here all my life, and now I am faced with being homeless or relocating to where I don't know, because of the greed that seems to pervade here in the SFBA. That does not speak well of us as a community, folks.


6 people like this
Posted by Can't move home
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 20, 2016 at 6:34 am

As a child of parents that have owned property in the Belle Haven area for over 50 years, I can say it is horrible when our home is passed on to my siblings and myself, we will not be able to keep it due to the property inflation. Having a home is so much more than the money. My heart is broken like most of the people I grew up with. The school suck because of the teachers, not the buildings. I opt to put my kids in private school because public school is a joke. It is rare that you find a teacher in public school able to focus on the students that need it. It's a system designed to fail certain students. I hope all involved in the gentrification of this neighborhood the best karma experience ever.


11 people like this
Posted by former peninsula dweller
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2016 at 8:55 am

Our children attended both these school districts, and we also have left the area. When a realtor friend starting posting about a 999999 starter home in RWC, and the rents on our street hit 4k we felt we had to leave. When we first started renting the other people were homeowners and the other renters were a mix of teachers, tech people, blue collar workers and latino families. They all eventually moved away and the new renters were all high paid tech workers from China and India.
While we were afraid to leave CA, we found the schools to have more offerings in both coursework, twice the AP classes and more other activities we had to beg for in the RWC area. A nice school bus came every morning, something we never got from RCSD or the high school. Where the high school lunch in Sequois district was a limp burrito, burger or slice of pizza our new school has five different grills or bars with many food offerings.
I don't know how RCSD or Sequoia manages their funds, but I don't think a new charter high on Oracle is the answer. The crowding is at M-A and Sequoia and do you really think a high school kid in EPA or Belle haven will want to commute up to Oracle? Best investigate the empire building and who was put in charge of this new high school development.


25 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2016 at 8:58 am

Actually "Can't Move Home" because of Prop 13 you and your siblings could keep the house with the same property tax level that your parents are paying now. You can lease/rent the house for a tidy sum while paying nothing really and the local community gets no large increase in property tax revenue by not selling the house.

This is part of the problem in California which many have talked about in regards to other issues too. "What nimbys" I think mostly has it right where cities such as Menlo Park want the jobs/businesses to come, but not the housing needed to support. That creates a huge demand (housing close to work in good neighborhood) with little supply.


8 people like this
Posted by Peninsula local
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I have *only* been in the bay area for coming up on 20 years, and I have to say the traffic and housing/rent prices progressed from crazy, to insane, to crack cocaine levels the past couple years. I'm all for making a profit, but landlords are raising rents far far far above expenses. Seniors and non-techies are screwed.

On the thankfully rare occasions I have to drive to SJ, SF, or east bay during rush hours, I'm absolutely floored how many cars are stuck in barely moving traffic. Public transit is not usually a viable solution for starting and ending locations.

When is California going to invest in true public transit to support the population we already have, that will likely continue growing? It seems employers need to cover more of the expansion of transit options.

i.e.
- extend Bart down the the peninsula further to SJ with adequate parking for commuters at each stop
- have an east/west public transit option over the bay
- increase caltrain stops (MP tends to get 1 stop per hour in each direction: not enough!!!)
- expand highways


2 people like this
Posted by Oldtymr
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 20, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Back in the day (1980s), the SHUHS board balanced the changing population by changing the school borders. And maybe the school board could have been brave enough last year to stand up to the parents and move The Los Lomitas school District kids to Woodside High. Instead, the parents 'won' but taxpayers and students lose. Now we are spending $$ on charter schools we won't need in a few years? Menlo-Atherton is over-built and overcrowded (34 in an average AP class) while Woodside has room -- (24 average in an AP class). Doesn't make sense...


Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

"could keep the house with the same property tax level that your parents are paying now"

After the property owner passes?

How?


5 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 20, 2016 at 3:42 pm

> "could keep the house with the same property tax level that your parents are paying now"

> how?

Transfers between parent and child or grandparent and grandchild (if the parent is deceased) of primary residence and also the first $1M of other real property are excluded from reassessment per Props 58 and 193.


18 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Pearl - your situation is very upsetting. I'm sorry that your landlord has raised your rent so much. I wish I could say that East Palo Alto is still affordable, but it isn't. However, with rent stabilization you can plan ahead for likely rent increases if you move into a rent stabilized unit. We also have a free shuttle service in some areas here as well as SamTrans. Our senior center is very active and the city has a senior advisory council that they rely on.

I wish you the best, and I'm sorry that I'm not in a position to offer anything but the above.


23 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Hmmm - Thank you. Appreciate your concern. I have already had one SF tv station contact me wanting to do a story about my plight, but there are hundreds of SFBA seniors facing the same situation as I am right now, so my story is nothing special. However, if I end up living under a bridge, I will definitely be inviting the cameras down for an interview without a second thought. I think we need to expose these greedy landlords and greedy property management companies for their outrageous and unethical treatment of their fellow citizens.


5 people like this
Posted by Mayaguez
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jan 20, 2016 at 11:05 pm

pearl sorry you have to pay higher rent but it is not a matter of greed as you say. It is a housing shortage that is driving up rents. Jack your conspiracy theory is inventive and entertaining. I wonder if THEY have YOU on THEIR radar Hmmm?


19 people like this
Posted by Nellie
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I am in the same boat as Pearl, and sympathize and agonize over her situation. So is my neighbor who is a gardener in Portola Valley with two toddlers. We can't afford the $600 increase at our apartment complex, and don't know where to go. We haven't been able to get any assistance, and being a Portola Valley native schooled in the '60's at Corte Madera and Ormondale I feel I'm being ridden out of town on a rail. What happened to the low income housing project for Portola Valley that was in the works? Even Menlo Park's thoughts to add housing on the east side is sadly lacking. We are valuable community members too, don't forget us!


13 people like this
Posted by Turveena
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


15 people like this
Posted by Maya Li
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


15 people like this
Posted by Shoreen
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jan 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


4 people like this
Posted by American Way
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm

East Palo Alto has rent control. Web Link

If your rent was illegally raised, file a complaint.

Otherwise, if you have been living in this area for a while and didn't buy a house, sounds as though you are beginning to realize that you should have made better choices. While you were taking exotic vacations, buying new BMWs every year, and sending your kids to private school, the rest of us were working 90 hours a week and driving beaters so we could save for a downpayment and afford a mortgage. Don't expect us to subsidize you now. If you can't afford to stay here, whose fault is that, and why should landlords -- who invested wisely -- be giving you handouts?


20 people like this
Posted by Ollie
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 1:56 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


9 people like this
Posted by Tess
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The issue is whether Sequoia HSD will abort their plan for new facilities which are no longer needed. They should not issue the bonds approved by voters who were led to believe that increasing enrollment justified the need for those facilities.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

"The issue is whether Sequoia HSD will abort their plan for new facilities which are no longer needed."

THAT is your take, Jack??? Really???

Are you missing the point of this article *completely*?


3 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Raised rents are a function of supply and demand.

There is a huge amount of relatively inelastic (not very price sensitive) demand, due to the growth of tech (which may have a down cycle here and there, but is not going away)

There is a rather finite amount of supply, due to historical under-building, NIMBYs / BANANAs, and the perverse incentives setup by Prop 13.

There is also an artificial reduction in turnover due to the perverse incentives set by Prop 13, so people stay in houses where it would have made more sense to downsize, and then you have more renters because the houses that should turn over are not turning over.

The only locally fixable part of this is on the supply side. Even new luxury development siphons demand from older properties, which can then go back to being more affordable places to live. Prop 13 is a slow-moving disaster, but it can't be fixed at the local level.


4 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 7:21 pm

@MP Resident

Prop 60 allows seniors to transfer their Prop 13 basis to a new property as long as it is the same value or less. They can now downsize to a smaller property without paying more taxes.

As such, I don't think it's Prop 13 keeping seniors from selling. It's more likely that federal tax policies are at fault. Only $500K in capital gains can be excluded from federal taxes in a home sale. For any Bay Area senior couple who have lived in their house a couple decades or more, it's guaranteed they have a big capital gain coming. If that senior couple holds onto that property until death instead, their heirs can get the full capital gain tax free as there is a $5M+ estate exclusion.

Another reason why housing supply is limited is that we have so much open space that can't be developed. Over 50% of San Mateo County is undeveloped, most of it west of 280. Granted, a lot of this land is hilly and mountainous, which makes it harder to develop, but rich people love to live in these hilly and mountainous regions. See Los Alto Hills, Woodside, and Hillsborough. Open space is great for the environment, but too much of it is bad for the poor. Real estate becomes a valuable commodity and property owners make a killing just by charging exorbitant rents, rather than producing anything productive for society.


3 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Check out Web Link

Renters and members of the community in Pacifica are organizing for a fair and sensible Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. Members of all our communities in SM County are being displaced. Our communities are being destabilized causing much anxiety and suffering.
Do we care?


1 person likes this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 22, 2016 at 12:38 am

@Apple,
I think both your hypotheses are a bit off the mark.

If Prop 13 didn't artificially deflate tax rates for long-standing homeowners, you would see a faster exodus of homeowners on fixed incomes. Right now, homeowners are somewhat protected from escalating housing costs and associated taxes by Prop 13, whereas renters like Pearl have no such protection.

Developing land west of 280 for housing is a poor long term decision from a density and transportation perspective. The hills can't accommodate meaningful numbers of residential units, plus in the absence of significant east/west arteries, new residences there would only compound congestion en route to jobs in the flatlands.


8 people like this
Posted by Let's be reasonable
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2016 at 12:53 am

That's the worst case of hypocrasy I've ever heard.

There is so much usable land west of 280 you could build enough small affordable units to accomadate all of the Peninsulas needs.

Problem is the rich people don't want the low and middle income people living near them.


1 person likes this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2016 at 7:43 am

@Maya Li, if there were adequate supply, landlords would not have that much pricing power. People getting a $500 increase would move somewhere cheaper. Since there isn't adequate supply, and demand is fairly inelastic, prices go up and stay up.


5 people like this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 22, 2016 at 9:02 am

@Let's be Reasonnable,
There's certainly an element of NIMBYism that keeps denser housing out of existing communities west of 280. Things like 1 acre zoning laws, etc. and I agree that that is a problem. But even if one were to create new denser communities by converting reserves and open spaces, it would be problematic from a number of dimensions:
* Density - One would need to build at at least a density of 2,000 people / sq mile (roughly Menlo Park density) over 50 sq miles to accommodate enough people. Hard to do on mountainsides with minimum road infrastructure.
* Access - Once built, people have to get to stores, jobs, etc. Most roads in the hills can't accommodate buses so transportation would be virtually all by automobile, as it is for low density communities like Portola Valley or Los Altos Hills (500 people / sq. mi.). All that travel would have to come via existing overcrowded arteries like 84, 92 and 85, or via surface roads.
* Cost - we want it to be inexpensive, but greenfield development in the hills including roads is likely to be on the high end of the construction spectrum.

It's rather simplistic to suggest that we have a magic silver bullet to the housing crisis in lots of unbuilt land. Much more to urban planning than just building.


3 people like this
Posted by East of 101
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

I was born and raised in E. Menlo Park.I currently still reside there but I feel like I am hanging by a string to continue to live in the community.Most of my family still live there. For those of us remaining in the Belle Haven community that have or have not gotten targeted by the MPPD with felonies or misdemeanors just because of where we live, how we are raised, or what we look like; I strive to keep moving up the corporate latter and ask of for the competitive pay that is needed to help me continue to live here. I want and deserve to continue to work nearby, have my kids attend school in the vicinity, live by markets for grocery shopping and nearby entertainment.This is what I like to call a live, work and play community or a family balanced life. Is that not what we all strive for and deserve? With the exception of traffic congestion on Willow Rd. I hope to continue to live here, work at Facebook and finish raising my family then retire. Property taxes are a concern and I have been told about prop 8 but my taxes keep going up by 775 every 2 years.


3 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

@stats

I was addressing MP Resident's assertion "people stay in houses where it would have made more sense to downsize", rather than Prop 13's overall effects on housing. Prop 60 gave seniors the option to move without having to take a big tax hit.

But you are correct. Prop 13 allows homeowners with fixed incomes or lower income to stay in their homes if they wish to. That's a good thing. When someone puts down roots, the community should not force them to sell when taxes get too high. These owners may not be able to refinance and take out equity to pay the taxes because the loan payments could be too high for their income.

Renters do not have this protection, but that is part of the cost/benefit of renting vs. buying. Buyers lock in a home price to ensure long term pricing stability. Renters give up pricing stability in exchange for the flexibility to move somewhere else. If a renter wants to put down roots in the community, they should buy.

With respect to building west of 280, you are correct. It's a poor decision from an overall regional point of view. I never offered it as the best solution, just an additional source of more housing. The top problem is that NIMBYs will fight whenever high density housing is proposed. They always win because they vote and have the ear of city council members. When jobs are growing fast, you need housing to grow just as fast to keep prices in line.

Developers would be willing to build low cost housing *if* they could build it densely. That's the only way they could make low cost housing profitable. NIMBYs then say there will be too much traffic, not enough room in the schools, etc. Developers then end up building high end housing because it means fewer units that NIMBYs accept, but with a high margin that makes it profitable.

So, I proposed to go where the NIMBYs aren't: unincorporated San Mateo County. Stanford is building some dense new graduate housing on land in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Palo Alto NIMBYs are outraged, but they can't stop it because it's not Palo Alto land.

If you're worried about roads, traffic, schools, etc. required, have the developers place a down payment on infrastructure. They will do it if you let them build densely. Stanford is doing that by adding more shopping and services in the housing community itself. They have designed it so that the net traffic impact to Palo Alto will be very low. Additional money for government services will come from the new residents' property and sales taxes.


13 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm

The low-income folks are not the only ones leaving. When families with no other debts, earning $250k+ a year need employer-based housing assistance programs to buy houses in the area, and even with it, will be paying $6k+ a month on a mortgage, they'll be moving too. This should be a high priority concern to the county and city governments: housing, housing, housing. When Stanford University starts losing out on excellent post-doctorate researchers and medical trainees because few 28+ year old single people who are not in the tech industry can afford to choose to live here during that stage of their academic training, then the local innovative engine will die a slow death, and this community will no longer have the health professionals, the teachers, the locally-based policeman, administrators, and fire-fighters that it needs. As retail employees are forced to live further and further away, retailers will need to increase wages to attract employees, driving up prices at local businesses that cannot compete with online retailers. That Shop Menlo Park banner hanging above Santa Cruz Ave? You won't have great retailers here if none of the staff can afford to live here.


15 people like this
Posted by Vida
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

I'm hearing a lot about what renters should have done, such as buying a home to put down roots. We renters have shallow roots, and most can't afford the down payment for a home. You still need us as blue collar workers, and as long as wages aren't up to par compared to what rents are, this problem will only escalate. I made just under $10 an hour 10 years ago, and barely made it to 10.50 an hour this year. What does that say about the balance? Folks will charge as much as they can for rent and goods, and pay as little as possible for work. That's just how it is. Fair? No. I'll be moving to Nevada soon, as much as I don't want to, and leaving my nursing job. Sorry Portola Valley employer, can't make it anymore.


13 people like this
Posted by Ackerly Dan
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I'm not hearing what this area plans to do for renters, so our workers can stay as these $13 (or less) an hour jobs. No way could they afford a down payment on a house. Barely able to make ends meet, with wages not staying current. Don't believe me? Ask a stable worker, or nanny around here. Nice that there is no rent control...nice for who? Please.


6 people like this
Posted by BANANA
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Rent control does not work. In reality, it only benefits those who were lucky enough to get a rent controlled apartment, and not those who need it. These rent controlled apartments, once rented, are effectively taken out of the rental market, and sometimes passed on for generations. Some people hold on to their rent controlled apartments, even when they no longer need it. This reduces supply of rentals available, driving up prices. Just look at SF. Rent control hasn’t really helped the rental market there, and may have made it worse. Applying rent control across the board is not the answer either, since developers have no incentive to build new housing if they can’t make any money. Landlords also won’t bother fixing up rent controlled apartments.

The underlying problem has always been supply outstripping demand. The solution is simple: allow more high density housing. The reality: NIMBYs will complain about traffic, blocked views, overcrowded schools, not enough water, insufficient infrastructure, etc. It’s easy to just blame “greedy landlords”, but in truth, you have to lay blame where it’s due- poor long term planning by our elected officials, who are just reacting to what their constituents want (NIMBYs).


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Aaron:

it seems Manhattan has all the cops and firefighters they need and rest assured, they're not living in Manhattan. The same thing is occurring here. The only way to prevent it is to build much greater density. Even that only does so much to keep rents down, witness San Francisco.

If folks want it so rents stay lower they are going to have to suck it up and accept much higher densities and pay for much, much more public transportation infrastructure. I don't see this happening given the arguments about undergrounding Caltrain and the major resistance to increased density.

It's pretty simple, it's all about supply and demand. Until you increase the supply of housing the demand will drive the prices up.


Like this comment
Posted by A thought
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Vida:

Time for a job change? I don't know a single Woodsider (at least who will admit it) paying less than $18-20/hr for nanny care. I'm assuming that if you can handle nursing care that nannying might be a fit. Anyway, at $10.50/hr it sounds to me like your employer is taking advantage of you.


6 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm

@Menlo Voter

There are working class people, like all of my extended family (which includes a few police officers), living in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and in Queens. There are plenty of neighborhoods around NYC that would be affordable there, even to buy a house, with a commute in by train. The solution is partly dense housing but also MUCH better public transit. We need a cross-bay transit system that can by-pass the congested roads (trains) and connect East Bay BART to transit hubs in downtown Palo Alto or Redwood City, we need much more frequent CalTrain service. We need to have high density housing in locations other than East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park, and Redwood City.

There needs to be a lot more urgency in this region on these things. The only urgency I see is from corporations...Facebook looking at the cross-bay transit issue and looking at housing issues in Belle Haven. The city and region should be setting the priorities and acting on them with urgency, not relying on corporations to plot our urban planning strategies.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

It would also help to have city and town officials with the courage to listen to their consciences and allow denser housing, defying the NIMBY crowd and residents who insist on their suburban-island mentality.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Aaron:

like I said, better public transportation. Of course, you'll have to get past all the people that don't want to spend money on it. Why did San Mateo County never vote for BART down the peninsula? You'll also have to get past all the idiots that want to spend money on HSR when the money would be better spent on regional transportation.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2016 at 11:00 pm

BANANA is bananas. Rent control can and does work. Trying to use SF as a comparison is a red herring because none of the cities around here have the population as SF. Economic diversity, time and again, proves to work well in dynamic communities. There are many reasons why rent stabilization can be a stabilizing force in a community and landlords still make a profit.

Aaron also makes excellent points about Stanford post-docs. The challenge for them to find affordable housing has increased greatly in just a few years.


5 people like this
Posted by BANANA
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

@Hmmm

I was addressing rent control as a economic policy- it has failed to reduce rent and actually decreases housing supply. If you want to address rent control as a social policy, fine. Rent control is a failure on that front also. A 2003 study looked at Berkeley and Santa Monica (both with rent control) showed they not only had a reduction housing stock compared to other cities in the county, they also had reduced population diversity and loss of low income households.

Insulting other posters doesn’t help bolster your argument.


2 people like this
Posted by Real world
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 23, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Rent control fails on paper or in a lab.

In the real world, just ask a renter or any low income worker.


3 people like this
Posted by Real world
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 23, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Rent control fails on paper or in a lab.

In the real world, just ask a renter or any low income worker.


2 people like this
Posted by American Way
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Help me out here.

We homeowners are supposed to be ok with having our residential neighborhoods trashed in favor of high density housing, our parks plowed under for parking lots, and our retail derailed so that more and more offices can be guilt. If we express any opposition to any of that, we're selfish or NIMBYs or people who can't stand change, and change is always good.

However, if less affluent people have to leave our town because of the aforementioned changes (all of which are good, and only a monster like a NIMBY would oppose them) then isn't that change too? So, by definition, isn't it good? I'm not sure you can cherry pick here; it's not like selecting upholstery colors for your new car.

Rent control has been proven a failure, over and over again. The people who initially move into rent-controlled places think they've hit the jackpot, but as years go by and nothing gets repaired or maintained, they change their minds. Meanwhile, everyone else is shut out of the market and there's no incentive for anyone to build new housing. Rent control makes for a nice soundbite but it's lousy long-term policy.


9 people like this
Posted by Real world
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 23, 2016 at 5:41 pm

"homeowners are supposed to be ok with having our residential neighborhoods trashed in favor of high density housing, our parks plowed under for parking lots, and our retail derailed so that more and more offices can be guilt"

Game set and match to opponent - forfeit due to ridiculous hyperbole.


8 people like this
Posted by CC
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 23, 2016 at 5:52 pm

One of the problems is some of the schools are really bad. How about the Selby School in Atherton of all places. Almost nobody in the immediate neighborhood sends their kids there even though there are LOTS of kids in the neighborhood. The horrendous test scores and lack of English language first speakers makes it a no go for anyone who cares about their kids education. You don't buy a house in that Redwood City neighborhood for $1.5M to $2M unless you plan to send your kids to private school. So it is not only people leaving the area but the ones that are there choosing other options.


12 people like this
Posted by All NIMBYs
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 23, 2016 at 6:07 pm

We are all NIMBY's... it is just a matter of degree as to what you are willing to deal with. Nobody wants their property value destroyed, the safety of their family compromised or their lifestyle degraded. When the city proposes a new half-way house for hardened criminals and wants to put that next door to you where old Mrs. Smith use to live you will become a NIMBY. When the city wants to change the zoning rules to allow 4 story, high density townhomes to be built on any side of you when they tear down the old house, you will probably become a NIMBY. Lets just be realistic about it. We are all situational NIMBYs. It's easy to talk about what should be done when it isn't actually effecting you.

Why don't the billionaires that own these tech companies get together and commit to subsidizing housing for the people they displace by providing affordable housing, including putting up new facilities? They are the biggest beneficiaries of this area and also helping to cause the problem. And they have the resources.


16 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm

There's something, a missing sacrifice of some kind or a moral failing, if people ensconced in upscale suburban neighborhoods that are increasingly out of touch with the reality on the ground in the Bay Area feel that they can sit back and watch gentrification in action while the rest of us suffer extreme uncertainty and what amounts to banishment from what has been our community, too.


4 people like this
Posted by Concurie
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

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8 people like this
Posted by Vida
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 11:58 am

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24 people like this
Posted by Lily
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm

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2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2016 at 4:24 pm

@Lily, the best thing you can do is find a job elsewhere. It sounds harsh, but it's the economic reality of the SF Bay Area.

For the service industry, the SFBA in general doesn't pay any better than you would find in places where you can get a decent 1br apartment for $500/mo, because it doesn't have to. There are enough people who are doing what you are doing, and accepting low wages, that it continues.

If there was less supply (more people doing the economically rational thing and getting the h*ll out of dodge), wages would rise.


7 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Real World - you're correct regarding rent control. In this area, there is so much tenant turn over that the landlords profit and housing stock isn't reduced. The commenters here pretending to understand rent stabilization always leave that part out, as well as vacancy decontrol bringing about a healthy enough origin that landlords *can* afford repair and maintenance. Of course, that doesn't mean crooked property owners won't harass and intimidate tenants and even damage tenant property to drive them out.

Menlo Park has caused serious problems for its Belle Haven residents. The city has never cared about them and now it only cares to get rid of them so they can suck at the monied teat of Facebook unencumbered by the unmonied and under represented.


7 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

MP Resident -- "If there was less supply (more people doing the economically rational thing and getting the h*ll out of dodge), wages would rise."

Except that given the mentality that some of the monied class have around these parts, they would replace these low-wage workers with even-lower-wage workers (read: quasi-indentured servants).

And it is worth noting that simply moving to somewhere "more affordable" is not really an option, for one simple reason: the areas where rents are *relatively* low are also areas where the unemployment rate is higher than in an area such as the SF Bay Area; also, these areas offer only minimum-wage jobs for those looking for work, since well-paying jobs simply left the area.


2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

@STT and @Hmm, I believe you have both failed Economics 101.

Rent control doesn't work, because it increases the supply / demand imbalance (all demand curves slope downward, all supply curves slope upward). The fix to rising rents is more supply (build more!), or less demand (people move).

"The monied class" is not going to magically be able to hire people to do semi-skilled or skilled work for less than the market rate. The problem is that there is too much supply, which is driving down the market rate. If more people in these trades left the area, rates would rise.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Getting back on topic(Sequoia High School District enrollment decline), what is the District going to do? Will they cancel the construction which was approved by voters based upon faulty data to give property owners a much needed break?


3 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm

MP Resident -- "'The monied class' is not going to magically be able to hire people to do semi-skilled or skilled work for less than the market rate. The problem is that there is too much supply, which is driving down the market rate. If more people in these trades left the area, rates would rise."

And has that happened at any point in this area? No. Your economic model *might* work in other areas of the country; it hasn't proved valid here.

Jack Hickey -- "Getting back on topic(Sequoia High School District enrollment decline)..."

Excuse me Hickey, but WHY are you ignoring the larger issue being discussed here? Why are you so fixated on the tax issue, when there is a much larger issue at stake here?


18 people like this
Posted by Wallace
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 26, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Topic: "Enrollment study shows low-income families leaving area"

Libertarian sees every topic as: We gotta cut taxes - I refuse to pay for all the services our community needs, and I used to use myself! Call me selfish, but a bunch of us want to pull the ladder up behind us! We no longer need great schools for OUR kids 'cuz they old now, so y'all are on your own!


14 people like this
Posted by Evangeline
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

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12 people like this
Posted by Lily
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


8 people like this
Posted by Xavier
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

We should not be building more "brick and mortar" government schools. On-line schooling is growing, as is home-schooling. Corporations are becoming education providers. It is time to break up the education monopoly dominated by the teacher unions. Institutionalizing our children is no longer the choice for the future.


25 people like this
Posted by Wallace
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm

"Corporations are becoming education providers."

No. They are not. Please stop with the libertarian propaganda. They are corporations, whose sole purpose is profitability. They MAY provide educational services as long as it is profitable. Someone has to pay for the gold-plated fixtures in the CEO's office suite!

Same thing with for-profit prisons, another utter failure of the free market. Web Link

Private insurance companies providing healthcare? ummmm, nope. They provide profits and suck resources out of the healthcare system. Someone has to pay for offices full of people whose sole job is to deny claims! And more gold-plated fixtures and 20 million dollar salaries for Gov Rick (I fraudulently reamed Medicare and all taxpayers) Snyder Web Link

Spare us the "invisible hand of the free market" baloney, neighbor. America is about well-regulated capitalism (or should be - we do not seem to regulate too big to fail banks, etc...) And our governments are here because they do some things better than corporations.

However, the "The Chronicles of Invisible-Hand-of-the-Free-Market Man" makes for thoughtful reading: Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Schools
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Dear Jack - do you really think elementary school kids can be educated via on-line courseware? Adults maybe, but not children.

It is the act of interacting with other humans deeply on a topic that drives knowledge acquisition and retention. Large, impersonal class sizes are one of the detriments to learning.

Remember 10-20% of kids have a learning disability and others have family strife or economic issues that sometimes prevent them from being truly ready to learn. This applies across all the local school districts. A teacher needs to somehow reach all kids in his/her class, with all levels of readiness, day in and day out. Effective teachers are worth their weight in gold.

Then we have the "better" districts when even the high achieving kids are being tutored, and the kids that need it the most are not. Thus the gap grows wider.


14 people like this
Posted by Coraline
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

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10 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

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18 people like this
Posted by Tory
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm

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6 people like this
Posted by alternatives?
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm

The sad reality is that rents in the bay area have gone up by 60-80% in the last 5 years, and avg incomes have been fairly flat for most people outside tech/vc careers.

The avg rent in the peninsula is now $2500-4000 a month, depending on the city, and that requires 2 people making $25-40 per hour each. Do the math. Rents in the near east bay are only a little better, and you have to drive about 2 hours in traffic to the far east bay to find affordable rents around $1100-1400 a month.

Since everyone is so opposed to rent control, then what do you suggest instead? Minimim wages of $20 per hour?

Nannies and housekeepers in this area already get $20+ per hour. Teachers, police and firefighters make more. Elder care, retail, and restaurant workers should be paid enough to live within an hour's commute (sharing, as we all do), which is $20+ an hour bare minimum.

Can't afford it as a business owner? The get the dodge out of town!


8 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:23 pm

@Alternatives?, there is an easy answer - it's called supply.

It requires actually allowing developers to take open land (there is quite a bit, in MP alone there are many blighted parcels that have sat empty for ages while everybody bickers) and put high density housing on it.

It requires a political will to tell the NIMBYs and residentialists to suck eggs, because it's more important to actually have places for people to live.

It requires coordinated public transit (not the current mono-buttocked mess), some real planning, and a realization that we need housing in ALL cities and towns on the peninsula.

It requires a realization that this isn't a rural area, and that increasing density and infill development are normal, expected and desirable.

It requires an understanding that most new development will NOT be 'affordable', but new supply will help level off and maybe even drive down the prices of older, less desirable properties.

Or it requires realizing that the people in power will fossilize the status quo until there's no service industry left in the SFBA, because there's been a mass migration out.

To be clear, I'm not in favor of a mass migration as a global solution. I am pointing out that migrating out is likely the locally optimal solution for anybody who does not work in tech, law, finance, VC, medicine, etc.


2 people like this
Posted by Pack it up folks
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Pack it up folks! Revisit the subject in 10 years, then you'll realize the theory of everything in terms of a mobile work force and the destruction of the middle class. This is just the beginning!


6 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

MENLO PARK CITY ELEMENTARY
LOWEST SCHEDULE SALARY OFFERED $58,207 BA
AVERAGE SCHEDULE SALARY PAID $100,890
HIGHEST SCHEDULE SALARY OFFERED $115,437 BA+60
NO. OF SERVICE DAYS REQD 189
See:Web Link

The numbers speak for themselves. And, if their spouse or significant other is a teacher, they can afford to live in Menlo Park.


10 people like this
Posted by Tessa
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:15 am

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9 people like this
Posted by Oliver (not Twist)
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:19 am

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:39 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Oliver, your twist on this leads me to suggest some reading material.
Web Link
The flip side of the coin is people on welfare who find it difficult to take a pay cut to become self sufficient. The government has created these artificial distortions to a natural continuum.

The government schooling monopoly, which is funded by taxes, makes the natural formation of alternative education venues difficult. Parents who choose alternatives, forego the "free" education for which their taxes pay.


16 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

The problem with the libertarian philosophy which you advocate, Hickey, is that it has *never* worked in practice. *Never*.

Ayn Rand had the libertarian movement pegged when she described them as "hippies in three-piece suits."


8 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm

As MP Resident points out so well. Right now, we have high demand and low supply.

Why is supply constrained? The city and county governments are constraining how much can be built in any one location. I think that's what Jack is getting at.

If a builder had the freedom to build high density housing and pay for the negative externalities (i.e. improved roads, more school capacity) through an upfront payment and ongoing increased property taxes, they would. But city councils are dead set against any large amount of housing due to the NIMBYs.

As a result, city government throws up roadblocks. Builders acquiesce and build something smaller or build office space and retail instead. NIMBYs are less averse to office and retail as they do not crowd schools and more importantly do not add to housing supply, which implicitly lowers the value of NIMBYs' homes.

That's not to say that government can't solve this problem either. A city can always use its own land or eminent domain to build dense housing. It can create special districts that streamline the approval process to build housing. But again the NIMBYs will stop those ideas.

The housing problem is logistically easy to solve, but politically hard.

Stanford is moving ahead with a new housing development that will rise up to ten stories for 2400 people.
Web Link

How did they do it? It helps that the housing is to be built in unicorporated Santa Clara, which prevents the Palo Alto CC from throwing up roadblocks. Stanford is a powerful organization in the region, which helps grease the bureaucratic wheels. They also are building a lot of services on campus as part of the project to ensure net zero new commute trips. It took all these stars to align for this housing project to proceed. The NIMBYs ran into a political force much more powerful and united than they were.


27 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey and Prop 13
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:15 pm

@Jack Hickey

Jack you mentioned that you have been watching your districts finances for over 20 years. This would mean that you are most likely paying way lower taxes than anyone who bought a house here in the past 15 years, due to Prop 13.

Do you even realize that while you rail against higher taxes, you are being subsidized by rest of us. When you pay your fair share of property taxes, then feel free to chime in. Otherwise, you are just another rich land owner taking subsides from other. Not very libertarian of you.


3 people like this
Posted by Double Standard
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:18 pm

One commenter stated that we all agree that rents should no the double by landlords. Why is it ok then to sell your house for double or triple what was paid only a few years ago. Double standard? YES! Why don't we all agree to not sell out homes for way inflated prices?????


1 person likes this
Posted by Local
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:27 am

The problem is supply and greed. Govt needs to step in when the crisis is this severe. Employers landlords will never regulate themselves. They will do whatever they can get away with, society be damned.

$20 minimum wage
Rent increases capped at inflation plus 1-2 percent
Developers keep 50% of new units at affordable rates
Towns build complexes aimed at local professionals (teachers, police, fire, govt )
Invest in better rail, like extending Bart down 280, and a line that goes across the bay.

And here's the whopper: force towns to build apts where there is space. Woodside, Portola, the peninsula hills are empty. Subdivide a few of those 100 acre lots and build local housing.


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:32 am

@Local

1) how are we paying for all of this?
2) Why do you call out Employers and Landlords and NOT GREEDY HOMEOWNERS. Especially those who live in mansions and are subsidized thru prop 13?
3) Can we build some apartments in your back yard?


5 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:07 am

it's not true that landlords will do whatever they can get away with. I'm not a landlord but, based on my experience in this geographical area as a renter, landlords are a somewhat diverse group of people in terms of their kindness and understanding.


Like this comment
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:25 am

@Local

There's nothing stopping you from running for Woodside town council on that platform. The big problem I see is that your neighbors will not like high density housing so close by. Local business owners won't like such a large hike in the minimum wage. Investing in a new BART will be very expensive for taxpayers. You won't end up winning.

That explains why government is not stepping in. The voters don't want these proposals.

The government only steps in when the voters think the crisis is severe. Last I checked, most of the voters in Woodside were homeowners who don't want more density.


1 person likes this
Posted by Ronjean
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:51 pm

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1 person likes this
Posted by Sharonne
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:57 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:09 pm

@Sharonne

The main thing driving what can be built on El Camino are the rules laid out in the Menlo Park ECR Downtown Specific Plan
Web Link

The plan limits new housing to a maximum 680 units of new housing, which is split up among all the new development in the area.


11 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm

MP Resident haha - not true. Not only did I do well in Econ classes, I see rent control work pretty darn well every day. But what would you know about its day to day success since you live in a small city that has never cared about Belle Haven. I used to live in Menlo, too, and found the lack of true inclusion of BH unconscionable.


7 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

@Hmmm

When one says rent control works, it's important to define what "works" means.

Does it let people stay in their homes without being pushed out by rapidly increasing rents? Yes. It works that way.

Does it also immensely screw up the housing market long term? Yes, it works that way too. Developers stop building new apartments because they can't get a return on their investment. They build condos instead because home prices still provide a good return. Apartment owners convert their apartment buildings into condos for the same reason if they can. If they can't, existing apartment owners stop maintaining their property. There's no new money coming in for improvements because rent increases are limited, but the labor costs generally increase much faster. Plus, tenants won't move out even if the building is poorly maintained. Might as well defer all maintenance as much as possible.

New residents only find expensive apartments available because so much supply is taken off the market.

And don't forget the city needs to create a new bureaucracy to enforce all these rules, which means tax increases for everyone.

Over time, a city finds that rental numbers shrink as a percentage of population. No one wants to be a landlord because there is limited upside without the same limit on downside risk. Everyone wants to be a renter because there is no downside. Rents can't increase fast. If rents decrease, the renter moves to another property.

In a rent controlled environment, ethical landlords tend to leave the business. They can't make any money. The people who can make money are the unethical ones. They are the people that do everything possible, and sometimes illegally, to harass long time tenants into moving out.

Rent control does solve the short term problem of allowing people to stay in their homes. Long term, it causes massive housing market dysfunction.


5 people like this
Posted by American Way
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Thank you, Apple, for spelling out the scenario with rent control. I'm stunned that so many people can't deal with basic economic realities. Rent control looks pretty short-term, but long-term it is a trap and hurts the very people it was established to help.


1 person likes this
Posted by Not black and white
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 30, 2016 at 12:27 pm

The focus on "rent control" isn't very helpful. There's rent control, such as policies that have had mixed results (some good, many not so good) in San Francisco, but there's also rent stabilization, which regulates the degree of rent increase during a given period of time. If rent stabilization policy is well-thought-out, it can be a tremendous tool that protects renters while allowing property owners a fair return.

To the argument that ethical landlords tend to leave the business with rent control because they can't make any money, that would not be the case under the scenario I just described. The gougers might leave the business, and to them I say "Good riddance."


3 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Why are Woodside and Portola allowed to prohibit new housing but other towns required to build ? It seams all towns should share in solving this crisis.

Of course the locals don't want it, but when does the state step in and say too bad, everyone has to do their part?


2 people like this
Posted by Help
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2016 at 3:27 pm

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


4 people like this
Posted by Wallace
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 31, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Prop 13 keeps commercial property taxes artificially low.

Yet a rental building that just changed hands and is next to another paying much lower taxes, still charges similar rents.

So cost basis means nothing. Abolish the commercial side of Prop 13. And the loopholes that keep commercial property from being reassed and paying it's fair share of the property tax burden.

Use the revenue to build affordable housing and infrastructure/transportation to let workers do a longer commute.


Like this comment
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2016 at 4:31 pm

BMR and set-asides are short-term band-aids with huge long-term costs, and are also often easy to game.

The only way to fix a supply / demand imbalance over the long term, without far nastier unintended consequences, is some combination of increased supply (like duh, as our neighbors down south would say) and reduced demand (perhaps the SFBA isn't a great spot to retire)


8 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2016 at 8:45 pm

If you want builders to develop more BMR and other set asides, let them build dense housing and they will agree to more BMR.

If you want to stick it to the existing gouging landlords, then let builders bring more supply online by not limiting density. That will force all landlords to bring their prices down.

If you want apartment owners to pay higher property taxes, let them renovate and add more units. Their property tax basis will increase back to the market rate. Plus, this improves the housing stock.

Local governments require BMR today. If builders are not allowed to construct enough market rate housing to cover the costs of BMR, nothing gets built. The key problem is the number of overall units is capped, which then caps the number of BMR. Local governments hate density.

If you look across the country, metro areas with loose zoning laws have cheap housing, even with a fast growing economy. As soon as housing prices rise in these areas, builders start building densely with little red tape. Places with onerous zoning laws cannot build fast enough to keep up with the economy. There is too much bureaucracy and political push back.

The Bay Area is an area with strict zoning laws. Current homeowners are very protective of their quality of life and property values. By getting their city councils to foist up red tape, they ensure less density and double digit increases in property values. Suburban city councils listen to homeowners because they vote in higher numbers than renters.


5 people like this
Posted by Trixie
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:06 am

[Post removed for using multiple user names on same thread.]


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

If "would be" builders of "affordable housing" were able to get "negative declarations" on their EIR with the ease which San Mateo Community College District did on their housing we would get more low income housing. This same argument applies to school buildings, and makes it near impossible for private schools to evolve.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Canada College and the SMCCCD housing built on that campus invaded the former habitat of the endangered "checkerspot" butterfly.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

This topic is about a school district which was poised to build more unneeded facilities based upon faulty enrollment estimates and is now contemplating its navel.


10 people like this
Posted by Checkerspot stand in
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:11 am

We seem to be more concerned about a butterfly than the collapse of the housing market for any low income workers. Didn't we find that car exhaust contributed to the loss of habitat at Edgewood Park, then took steps to correct that? When can we build more low income housing along the ECR corridor and other city locations for the increasingly endangered $12 (or less)an hour worker? I need them for my business to be profitable, what about you?


10 people like this
Posted by Trulee
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

We may be onto something with the golf course idea...can't we build housing on some of our less used golf course land rather than allowing an elite few to manicure the land with grass (water shortage you know) so they can hit a ball around? Yes, it's pretty to see fields of trimmed grass but let's get real. Of course the golf course workers might have to find another $10-15 an hour job, let's not forget...they barely make itjust so some of us can go prance around the field. Are we OK with that irony?


11 people like this
Posted by Tenaya
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:21 am

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Posted by Teemie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm

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Posted by Aramis
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:30 pm

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Aramis:

you could pay them $40/hr and probably not save them. That's how bad the cost of living is here. That said, if one wishes to make more money there are ways to do that. Like educating oneself thus making oneself more valuable in the market. People get paid what the market will bear. If the $20/hr workers quit showing up, wages will rise. They can't afford to live here, they leave, demand for the remaining work force rises and wages follow. Simple economics.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Oh boy. We get to see this for another week. Beginning to smell like old fish.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Apple - no, rent control doesn't do that. Due to Costa-Hawkins and urban job demand, there's a high enough rate of turnover that landlords do very well.


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Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

@Hmmm

Yes, rent control does do that, it's just milder with Costa-Hawkins types of regulations.

It's a given that if you're making money as a landlord in a rent-controlled situation, you'll continue to be a landlord. If you aren't making money, then you'll take your rental stock off the market to do something else with the building. For example, many SF landlords are turning their apartments into AirBnB rentals.

And some landlords in SF have decided to just keep their rentals vacant, rather than deal with hassles of a renter and regulations.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2016 at 12:28 am

Why would you even talk about SF, Apple? It's ridiculous to think that rent control in SF would be anything like a new ordinance in MP or Burlingame or MV. The old chestnut of bringing up SF rent control elicits a collective eye roll from those who know how it works in smaller cities. The mess in SF exists for a lot of reasons. Only a complete idiot of a landlord in this area would keep a rental vacant at the current market rate.


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Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 13, 2016 at 2:34 pm

@Hmmm

I talk about SF because you said:
"Due to Costa-Hawkins and urban job demand, there's a high enough rate of turnover that landlords do very well."

I wanted to address your point. Since there is no rent control right now in MP, Burlingame, nor MV, one of the places to show Costa-Hawkins in action is SF. While landlords are doing well, the rental market in SF still has lots of problems.

How rent control operates in smaller cities should be quite similar to larger cities. Economic principles don't change based on the size of the jurisdiction.


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Posted by Evie
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 13, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Evie:

You're missing the point. If people being paid $20 per hour isn't enough for them to continue to come to work here they will stop. When they do, those that remain will demand higher wages. It's simple economics, really. The reason wages for these folks continue to be a low levels is because there are many willing to work for lower wages. If the supply of workers willing to work for crappy wages disappears, the wages will rise. Part of that equation, if the employers truly "care," is to not hire illegals. I'm not holding my breath. The wealthy are bunch hypocrites that talk the talk when it comes to helping lower income workers, but they don't walk the walk.

My prediction; if the poorly paid workers actually stop coming to work here, wages will rise and they will come back. Supply and demand folks. It's not rocket science.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 13, 2016 at 10:16 pm

SUHSD is behaving very responsibly, and moving carefully to build much needed new facilities where they are most needed. I appreciate the good work of the school board on this issue.


11 people like this
Posted by Erin
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm

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Posted by Johnny Lough
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 14, 2016 at 12:38 pm

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2 people like this
Posted by Kellye
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm

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Posted by get a clue
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Kellye, I don't think anyone on this thread is talking about low-wage workers who WANT to leave the area. The people we're talking about are essentially being forced to move because of huge rent increases that make their homes no longer affordable.

Do you ever wonder who is going to bus your table, or clean your office space or home, or care for your frail and vulnerable parent when these people have been forced to relocate?


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Posted by Torrie
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm

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Posted by Mauvin
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2016 at 1:39 pm

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

If these workers can't afford to live here, they will leave, either that or they will demand higher wages. If ALL workers can't afford to live here then what do you suspect will happen? Providing government subsidized housing (affordable) is socialism. Socialism doesn't work.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Rent stabilization in smaller cities certainly doesn't work the way it does in SF. This is also a highly mobile urban area, comprised of smaller cities, which is my point. (Even a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinsnce, solo, in these smaller cities, can make a difference to tenants.) Your argument is, frankly, apples and oranges - pun intended.


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Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 14, 2016 at 4:54 pm

@Hmmm

If SF rent stabilization laws were applied to smaller cities, how would it have a different effect? I'm not aware of any academic studies that shows the same rental law would have different effect based on city area size nor population.

If the same rental laws have a markedly different effect on cities of different sizes, legislators would have set different rent control limits based on city size. Yet, this doesn't exist in Costa-Hawkins or similar legislation.


4 people like this
Posted by Austin
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 16, 2016 at 11:46 am

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Posted by Alice
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2016 at 11:58 am

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Posted by Eugene
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Feb 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm

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Posted by Lady Mary
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

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6 people like this
Posted by Jeannette
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2016 at 12:34 pm

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Greed has become a respectable motivation. If there is a moral problem at the root of this crisis, greed is certainly there.

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, you effervescent villain, you emissary of avarice, for leading the wave of destruction that left the wonderful sentiments of noblesse oblige and "I am my brothers keeper" in its wake.


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Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Jeannette:

" In time rents may drop, but in the short term we all suffer a hard lesson in the lack of diversity and moral upbringing."

I'm almost sure the people jacking up our rents don't care about "the lack of diversity and moral upbringing", as evidenced by their continued ripping off of their fellow citizens.

For example, I am 74 years old. The new owner of the apartment building in which I've lived for the past 14 years, recently raised my rent from $1,350/mo to $2,000/mo, without batting an eyelash. I am living on a fixed income (Social Security). Where am I going to get this extra $650/mo to cover the rent hike? What am I to do? Where can I go? The new owner doesn't care. It's all about money to him. He isn't the least bit concerned that I will be homeless in just a matter of weeks because my fixed monthly income cannot accommodate a $650/mo rent increase. The only thing that sustains me at this point is, "What goes around, comes around". Some day, sometime, somewhere, his despicable treatment of his fellow men will come back to bite him. Life has taught me, you don't get away with dumping on other people.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 16, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Stand proud, Alice. Don't lose your self-esteem.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Apple - that's exactly the thing - the various rent control and rent stabilization ordinances, as well as tenant protection ordinances around the state do vary. The square miles and population of the city and number of rental units are part of a vast amount of info that legislators, staff and stakeholders sift through in order to develop what they believe are their best options, or they decide not to adopt any. The recent changes in Alameda, Richmond and possibly Santa Rosa have been in the news, as well as East Palo Alto's robust set of laws (which include a rent stabilization ordinance, just cause for eviction ordinance and a new tenant protections ordinance).

Apparently, Calif cities with various forms of rent control/tenant protections have had an unprecedented number of other cities asking them for information. San Francisco isn't the default by any stretch of the imagination - except to those who generally know very little about the real workings of these ordinances.

Menlo could have - and still can - follow Alameda's current model, except that city officials don't care enough to do so and residents, IIRC, haven't bright anything forward recently. It's a shame, because Menlo has a great working model literally next door that they could've easily riffed from. That's part of why I find it both sad and amusing that so many locals refer to SF.

When a member of the executive team from the biggest local landlord admits rent control can and does work well, that's saying something: 1. The exec knew what he was talking about and 2. Economists aren't always right (hopefully most of us do know that).


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