News

Saturday in Portola Valley: Community conversation about affordable housing

 

A conversation about the crisis in affordable housing is happening in Portola Valley on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Community Hall at 765 Portola Road.

The event, called "Home for All – a Community Conversation About Housing," is intended as a neighborly forum for the sharing of opinions, concerns and ideas about affordable housing, and as a venue for stories about the impacts on housing affordability in light of the high cost of living in the area.

"Young people who grew up in Portola Valley are unable to live in their hometown," town officials say in a statement. "Seniors who wish to downsize from their homes are unable to do so as options do not exist, and the Town’s workforce must drive long distances and pay high rents to be able to contribute to our community’s wellbeing."

Officials ask anyone planning to attend to RSVP, either by calling 851-1700, ext. 259, or by emailing PVConversation@portolavalley.net. Space is limited.

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Dave Boyce

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 2, 2018 at 12:23 pm

To me this seems like an odd topic for Portola Valley. The intent is genuine and comes from a place of caring and community, but Portola Valley? It is by its very nature an affluent community, one of the wealthiest in the USA...People work hard to achieve the riches to live here. To me it is sort of like saying that we need low income central park view skyscraper luxury apartments in manhattan. Of course it’s not affordable, it is incredibly desirable and millions of people would love to live here.


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 2, 2018 at 5:23 pm

I wonder what the tag price would be for “affordable” housing in Portola Valley? It’s one thing to call it affordablre but quite another to specify what would be considered affordabl and who would be able to pay.
Does anyone know the price being considered?


9 people like this
Posted by Dee
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Mar 2, 2018 at 11:57 pm

Houses are selling for over $1M even in the less desirable neighborhoods of Redwood City, so it is hard to imagine how truly affordable housing could be established here in Portola Valley without destroying the rural character on which is was founded, and that is so precious to those of us who worked hard to be able to live here.


4 people like this
Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:08 pm

I thought Portola Valley. Woodside and Atherton found a loophole to the affordable housing requirement, by saying they house workers onsite, such as live in nannies, or stable worker housing like trailers on the properties. I also wonder where all the service workers are expected to commute from (and add more vehicles to the road) since no one wants them to actually live in the town where they work. Does anyone else remember how workers lived on the property in the '50's and '60's, so there wasn't a commute? And why is there no Samtrans bus for adults (only a school bus) in Portola Valley? We have a long way to go to stop the backwoods attitude of segregation by class.


4 people like this
Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 5, 2018 at 4:12 pm

The rural character of Portola Valley was BUILT by the working class, the gardeners and landscapers we all employ. Who isn't impressed by Walter Jelich and his farm legacy? Have we forgotten our roots? Rather than exclude service workers, isn't it time we honored them?


7 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 5, 2018 at 10:54 pm

Cayo, you're incorrect on several fronts. Woodside and Atherton have always been affluent, it's true. Portola Valley, as well as Ladera, started as a community for teachers, Stanford staff, and regular people (dentists, contractors, people owning the hardware store, etc). These people wanted to live out in the country, and Portola Valley was it---too far even from El Camino to be considered convenient. When 280 was built, all of that changed. I know a number of people who were brought up here, certainly remember riding their bikes on 280 before it opened to traffic, etc. Some of those people still live here, while others left for college and career, and ended up coming back.

I don't know who exactly you mean by "service workers." Do you mean Town employees? People who work in Roberts, the hardware store, restaurants, etc? Firefighters? Or are you referring to gardeners, grooms, and other people who work on our homes? It's not a question of who we want or don't want---or even who "we" is. It's a question of who makes enough money to afford to live here. Same as any other town, in any other part of the country.

Frankly, I do think it's important to maintain the town's character by keeping the mix of ages, class strata, and
so forth here in Portola Valley. The problem, though, is twofold: (1) There really aren't any areas that would support more than a few townhouses; I can only think of two spots that would support perhaps five. (2) How do you allocate the housing? Is it rent, or buy? What if the person or family leaves the district or quits their job---do they get evicted? Who manages the properties, and how are they maintained? All of these are serious questions that need to be answered BEFORE starting to think about building.

I would hate for this town to become another bastion of entitled jerks and social climbers. Plenty of us who live here were born and raised working and middle class; we became successful and were lucky enough to buy before the giant boom and bust, or were able to buy a foreclosure or short sale when the market tanked in 2007. Some became extremely successful and yet, maintain their middle class values. These are the people who match donations for CMS, sit on the board of Woodside High School, make anonymous donations to the library, etc.

The Peninsula has a finite amount of land. We are squished between the Bay and the mountains. There just isn't room for expansion. Therefore, as demand goes up and housing availability remains the same, prices go up. This does not mean that people who own several acres are obligated to divide their property or add housing to it simply because you think they are.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm

"This does not mean that people who own several acres are obligated to divide their property or add housing to it simply because you think they are."

This has never been the issue. The problem has been people who don't own said property feeling entitled to keeping it from ever changing, because god forbid a multi-family housing complex get built nearby them.


8 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

YIMBY, what? "People who don't own said property feeling entitled to keeping it from ever changing."

This is a town of less than 5,000 people, and, frankly, we like it small and at least semi-rural. No, mostly, we don't want a multi-family housing complex here. Again, this is a small,semi-rural town. We would love to be able to integrate lower-cost housing in smaller bundles, within the community. I think a lot of people would support that. That way the problem would be somewhat addressed without massively affecting traffic, noise, parking, etc.

Unfortunately, there is very little available land in Portola Valley for this that isn't wetlands. Therefore, even land itself is very expensive. Just like everywhere else in the Bay Area.

Look, if you don't like the prices here, there are many very pleasant places in the US where you can live and work in a much more balanced way. Just because you went to Stanford and now want to stay, doesn't mean that you get to do so. So go to Austin, St. Louis, Bend, Chicago, Madison, Raleigh, Minneapolis, any of a huge number of other wonderful cities with much more affordable suburbs. You CAN have the nice home, great schools, University or tech job, and culture. It's just that not everyone gets to have it in the Bay Area. Deal with it.


7 people like this
Posted by Fan of Hmmm
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Mar 6, 2018 at 11:27 pm

Right on Hmmm, well said


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:39 am

"Just because you went to Stanford and now want to stay, doesn't mean that you get to do so."

Thank goodness this mentality has about 10 years left before it withers away with the generation that fostered it.

In the meantime, bills are already getting passed on the state level that will give teeth to the penalties localities will endure if they keep trying to pull up the drawbridge. The Bay Area is not off limits just because you were here first. An entire generation of adults is on track to being permanent renters because another generation doesn't want to make room.

The generation before yours made room and built up and took over orchards to get housing built in numbers that made it affordable for you. You can deal with an apartment complex.


9 people like this
Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 9:03 am

It is clear and the residents have spoken. There is no need for affordable housing here in Portola Valley. We are fine with outsourcing household workers to other towns (for example our Gardner lives in Menlo Park), where there is more space available and thus cheaper housing. It’s the simple law of supply and demand. Sorry for those who want a free ride, but that is just the way capitalism works.


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2018 at 10:48 am

"Sorry for those who want a free ride, but that is just the way capitalism works."

More accurately, this is what happens when Prop 13 is given to you as a shield to keep you in your home, but then you turn around and use it as a weapon to keep others from having homes of their own. Otherwise as supply and demand raises the value of your home due to you artificially restricting supply, you'd have to either pay the cost or leave, just like everyone else.


6 people like this
Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2018 at 10:49 am

Dear Hmmm, You stated: I don't know who exactly you mean by "service workers." Do you mean Town employees? People who work in Roberts, the hardware store, restaurants, etc? Firefighters? Or are you referring to gardeners, grooms, and other people who work on our homes? It's not a question of who we want or don't want---or even who "we" is. It's a question of who makes enough money to afford to live here. Same as any other town, in any other part of the country."
I mean all of the above, many of whom commute from Antioch, Watsonville, etc. because they can no longer afford to live in Menlo Park or other closer areas. They have worked very hard in PV for generations, but will never make the kind of money that would let them live anywhere nearby. Where does your child's teacher live? Where does your parents' caregiver live? PV has a 3 to 4% poverty level, have we asked ourselves if we can make things a bit more fair for them? A few cottages on a town owned (like a corner of the Woods estate) property would satisfy the requirement, and allow an employee at Robert's to even walk to work. Associations like Mid-Pen Housing will screen, verify incomes and manage housing units, with preference given to employees of PV. Is that so awful?


4 people like this
Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2018 at 10:54 am

Have you noticed that there is plenty of room for expansion in Portola Valley if you have the money to build a mansion? So many are being built as we speak, I see the hills I knew as a child in the '50's disappearing rapidly. Notice how that issue isn't an issue? Double standards?


7 people like this
Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Why are menlo residents commenting? This is a Portola Valley specific issue. If mp takes such an interest in affordable housing, they should be taking the initiative. Like I said, the residents of PV strongly oppose affordable housing.

[Editor's note: I will offer a variation on a classic John Donne line: No community is an island. The Almanac invites people to comment on issues they choose to comment on, and supports the principle that what happens in one community affects the wider community.]


5 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Cayo: First of all, the teachers at Ormondale and CMS prefer to live outside of Portola Valley. Ask any of them. They prefer not to have their private lives scrutinized by the parents that they interact with on a daily basis, and I cannot blame them.

Second of all, "A few cottages" is not what is being suggested. As I stated previously, there are a couple of spots for perhaps 5 townhomes. However, if you look into the issues I mentioned re: Town-owned housing, you will find an enormous snarl of difficulties in terms of allocation, management, and so forth. Offering a contract to an outside firm to manage Town Owned properties like this does not seem like a good solution.

Thirdly, you mention employees of Roberts Market as an example. They do not work for the Town of Portola Valley, so that argument is moot. What about the people who work in the hardware store, and at businesses all up and down Alpine Road? By your argument, they would also be included in this housing solution.

Therefore, we would have to focus solely on Town employees. Does that include firefighters? Everyone who works for the PV School District? Only full-time employees, or part-time as well? What if this worker moves or is fired during the duration of their lease? How do you cherry-pick the few employees who get to rent these townhomes?

Cayo, if you know of public land being developed for private homes, please clarify that. I don't know of any. So your argument about developing for "mansions" doesn't apply. People are free to sell their properties---whatever size then are---to the buyer of their choice, who is then free to develop it however they like, within the Town and County ordinances. Just the same as in any other town or city.

Proposition 13 was enacted in 1978. I fail to see how this has affected your ability to buy a home. Are you insinuating that anyone who owned a home prior to that should not be able to own it later---should be forced out by a 3% property tax on an appreciating home? Really?

At any rate, it's a moot point.






4 people like this
Posted by Quiet Cayo
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Cayó please go back to MP and let the affluent PV residents go on with their business. We don’t want to have to be bothered with “undesirables”. The story is simple, if you can afford it here then you can, and if you can’t you can’t. And if they can’t, then they can still live in poorer communities like Menlo Park or Redwood City. We shouldn’t have to give up land To house workers, we are not responsible for them. Who cares if they have been here for a long time or their families for generations have worked in homes, they cannot afford the homes because they have not pursued proper education to set a career goal for themselves. We have achieved proper education with the right connections and that is why we are making money and we can live in one of the most affluent communities in the world. Thank you!


7 people like this
Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 2:01 pm

I agree with the previous poster. It seems some people are jealous of the Portola Valley lifestyle. They are taking the mindset of “If I can’t have it, no one can!”. We will not let others attack our town values and for what we believe in. So, again, I ask menlo residents to be respectful of and take into account the vast differences in our towns. What may work in one community is definitely not ideal for the other. Thanks!


7 people like this
Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Cayo—Menlo Park has a poverty rate that is TWICE the rate of Portola Valley. Also, the per capita income in Portola Valley is twice that of Menlo park. Maybe there is a correlation?


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm

@PV Res

Quiet Cato is making an argument via Poe's Law. That you agree with it really says something.

@Hmmm

"Proposition 13 was enacted in 1978. I fail to see how this has affected your ability to buy a home. Are you insinuating that anyone who owned a home prior to that should not be able to own it later---should be forced out by a 3% property tax on an appreciating home? Really?"

I'm saying maybe you'd be less passionate about restricting the supply of homes if you didn't have Prop 13 to shield you and externalize the resulting housing cost increases entirely onto everyone else. Otherwise you'd have to keep adding supply to keep your home value stable.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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