How big is resident displacement problem in Menlo Park? | News | Almanac Online |


How big is resident displacement problem in Menlo Park?


How many residents in Menlo Park have been displaced due to rising housing costs and evictions? Considering the number of development projects in the works, how many will be displaced?

The short answer: No one knows. Landlords don't have to report to anyone when they raise rents or evict tenants.

It's "functionally impossible" to get accurate data, said Daniel Saver of Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, which has called on the city of Menlo Park to take action on the housing crisis.

Agencies that have tried to measure the problem use different metrics. Some databases track rent amounts for multi-family housing complexes, but that doesn't give the full picture for communities like Menlo Park, where many residences are single-family homes. Other databases track asking rates for rent but not actual rates.

U.C. Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project has an online interactive map showing indicators of displacement, broken down by census tracts across the Bay Area. The data, though, measures changes between 2010 and 2013 only. The data shows several census tracts in western Menlo Park had undergone or were undergoing displacement, but less displacement was reported in eastern Menlo Park.

Go to to see the map.

Since 2013, however, anecdotal information from residents, school administrators, police officers and others indicates residents of eastern Menlo Park face increasing threat of displacement.

A more recent and local study by MidPen Housing, a nonprofit housing developer, conducted in consultation with real estate analysts from the Concord Group, says that from 2010 to 2016, Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood lost 133 households that had annual incomes of less than $100,000, and East Palo Alto lost 699 households with incomes of less than $100,000.

Many of those households were replaced by residents with annual incomes greater than $100,000, the study said. One limitation of the study is that it does not account for combined households or households that had income increases that put them over the $100,000 annual income threshold.


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Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Roberto is a registered user.

Studies are great, if, and only if they contain useful data. This data is useful on a one-sided argument. Although I fundamentally agree with the findings, I disagree with the study. Historically, what has been the displacement over the last 60-70 years? No one knows, I doubt that... Cities like St. Louis can definitively tell you - why, because their population has had a steady decline since 1950. This does not tell me who retired, who moved due to retirement, has there been a trend of moving after retirement, if so, why. They mention displacement many times and factors, but fail to mention the study group. Surprising that UCB and UCLA author this. I think a true study would be beneficial, and the talent at said universities should be able to garner the funds and personnel required, I simply doubt the findings here.

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Posted by Gentrification is underway
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm

$5000/month 4BR in East Palo Alto
Web Link

New apartments built on previously undeveloped land do not create displacement, but gentrification is underway on the east side of 101.

20 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2016 at 4:36 pm

This issue was caused by a severe under-building over the last 6 decades. This area courted and built tons of office space and only a fraction of housing needed to support growth. That's why this is happening. It not just low income families it is many many of us who can't afford to live here. This was a deliberate action on those in power over the past 60 years and continue to block major growth initiatives. Thanks baby boomers!

5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


couldn't have said it better myself. The no birds have been so anti-growth, "I got mine screw you" that not enough housing has been built. Now it's a crisis. Thank the no birds.

3 people like this
Posted by Result of Prop 13
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Nov 4, 2016 at 10:23 am

"Prop 13 was a key linchpin in the growing fiscalization of land use, whereby land-use decisions are not made according to traditional planning criteria — such as proximity to transit or infrastructure, community needs or environmental impacts — but based on their ability to contribute to the tax base of a municipality or county, depending on jurisdictions.13 Prop 13 thus led to a simple hierarchy of land use (see Figure 4) — you'd take a Kmart over a Kmart warehouse, even though the latter offered good union jobs, and both over any form of residential development, especially more affordable units (Coleman, 2005).

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by measuring displacement is like measuring the invisible
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Nov 4, 2016 at 10:30 am

For half a century the dispossessions of residential displacement have been at the
center of intense debate, with controversy often inversely proportional to the availability of empirical measurement. As Atkinson (2000) notes, measuring displacement is like measuring the invisible: since most social surveys are administered at place of residence, displaced households are, by definition, gone from the places where census takers go to look for them. Moreover, when people are displaced, the survival strategies they are forced to choose - doubling up with friends or family, moving to another city, couch-surfing, slipping into homelessness - usually render them invisible in social surveys. Web Link

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Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

@ Result of Prop 13 "Prop 13 thus led to a simple hierarchy of land use (see Figure 4) — you'd take a Kmart over a Kmart warehouse, even though the latter offered good union jobs, and both over any form of residential development, especially more affordable units. "
Please explain why a Kmart warehouse would be better than residential development for property taxes? Is it just the initial building construction? A Kmart store would have ongoing sales tax revenue but a Kmart warehouse's property taxes wouldn't grow much over time because of Prop 13. On the other hand, residential development tends to change hands fairly frequently. From an ongoing property tax perspective, residential development is better over time because the land is reappraised on the sale of the property.

The real impediment to residential development in a community like Menlo Park is the way schools are funded. Basic Aid districts like most of Menlo Park except Belle Haven, get less funding per student if there are more students. So there is a built-in bias against more residential construction unless it's someplace else.

15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

There are very few people who won't be impacted by high levels of residential displacement. If the housing market existed in a vacuum, I would have no problem with people just relying on the market to control itself. It does not. Our community relies upon workers at a variety of income levels to do jobs that are important to us.

Take a stroll down University Avenue in Palo Alto some time and see how "Help Wanted" signs appear in nearly every store. Talk to the small store owners and see how difficult it is to find employees willing to accept lower paying jobs AND commute to the peninsula from great distances.

Then consider the teachers, police force, fire fighters, social workers, etc., etc., and try to picture a community that thrives while struggling to keep these important folks employed in our area.

I'm a homeowner myself, and I hope my property values continue to increase, but I worry about the long term health of our community if it continues to become harder for people to live or commute to the peninsula. It's not just an "If you can't afford to live here, then move!" attitude. That's short sighted.

2 people like this
Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 5:28 pm

The market rarely controls itself for the benefit of a residential community. The market is designed to support the highest bidder who is out to make the biggest profit. It is a local government's duty to look out for its constituents and make their quality of life the highest priority. The market will not do that on its own; it is the constraints applied by government that keep greed in bounds.

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Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 5, 2016 at 10:13 am

@Result of Prop 13,

Thanks for the link to the research paper - a very inciteful narrative on the past 50 years of Bay Area development. I'm not sure that the paragraph you excerpted, best expresses the main vector of Menlo Park's displacement issue. Much of the current MP development is focused on stepping down Coleman's hierarchy of land use, from manufacturing to services (Facebook bayshore) or from high tax retail to services (former auto dealers on El Camino). I believe the bigger issue is the one we need to take aim at - selfish single town land use, services and transportation decisions roiling the entire region.

"The end result is a troubling tapestry of inchoate communities — wealthier inner-ring suburbs with a politics of exclusivity and inertia, older cities with a sclerotic politics of infighting amidst polarizing wealth and poverty, and outer-ring industrial and agricultural towns whose developer/landowner growth machines saw rampant residential development as a path towards both economic growth and more local amenities in an increasingly competitive and cut-throat era."

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Posted by Matt
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Nov 5, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by The market
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm

The market would control itself by building more housing, if it were allowed to. It's not market forces that have prevented building any apartments since 1974. Look how much trouble it's been getting housing at the Derry site! Greenheart still isn't approved yet, and they are the second developer that has tried.

I say hooray for Facebook for asking to build apartments on its property and its willingness to make 15% affordable. Now we need to make sure it doesn't get stopped like all the other developments over the years.

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Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

Isn't the major upzoning approved for the Cadillac dealer property as part of the DSP the real reason the prior projects were not built?

Why cheer projects that add a lot more need for housing than the amount of housing they add? That just causes more dislocation.

The market heads for the MOST profit. Housing is profitable, but it is not as profitable as offices. So as long as a lot of offices are allowed, that is what will be built by the market.

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