One family's battle to stay in Menlo Park | April 11, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - April 11, 2018

One family's battle to stay in Menlo Park

by Kate Bradshaw

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, one Menlo Park household is a flurry of activity. Twin almost-2-year-olds Khloe and Kaitlyn toddle around their Coleman Avenue apartment, their palms sticky with mushed crackers and cheese snacks; 9-year-old Kenneth observes his family quietly from behind his glasses; and a beaming 11-year-old Kaileen shows off her doll collection. But the setting of their idyllic family life has been precarious since they moved in a little over two years ago.

This story contains 1574 words.

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18 people like this
Posted by Gimme Gimme?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2018 at 8:49 pm

Wow. If everyone reading this can please tell me where 3 adults and 4 kids can live together for $2600 per month in a premier area please let me know! From this lady: I want to almost double my occupancy (one adult and two infants) without a rent increase. I want it to be in the best area with the best schools. Oh, and I want a pool where I can entertain friends and family. I don't want to work because my skillset will not offset the cost for caring for the kids I had so I want my uncle to come live with us for free (no rent increase) so he can help me care for two infants while the older kids are in premier schools all day. My husband will come home and help during the day sometimes too. My middle school kids are old enough to help me after school, but I still need my uncle and my husband because I think every stay at home mom of twins should have four other people to help at least until the taxpayer funded subsized daycare kicks in. If I don't get what I want, I am going to get a free lawyer to fight for me in the taxpayer-funded court system. Oh, one more thing. When I am having a party please don't exercise your legal rights. Just wow.

5 people like this
Posted by Coleman
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 11, 2018 at 10:14 am

After reading this article light bulbs went off- I have heard this story before, there is one Coleman Building notorious for this and it sounds like the same one.... I would find other tenants from this building and ask them why they left, you may be very surprised.

2 people like this
Posted by Sleepy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 11:40 am

So sorry the family could be evicted, but a family of 6 (+ uncle =7) should not be allowed to rent a two bedroom apartment in this area. I've lived in apartments most of my life and when neighbors are noisy, especially if the neighbor has FOUR children in a two bedroom apartment, it's really difficult to have to listen to constant noise, especially if children are running/jumping in the apartment. Residents don't get any sleep and have to struggle through their work day. It isn't fair.

Most apartments in Menlo Park are constructed with thin walls and a lack of instillation that help to block out noise. All residents need to realize that they share walls with their neighbors, and that the noise they make affects others. If residents can't keep the noise down, and other residents are complaining, they need to go. I have no sympathy for people who deprive others of peace and quiet and a good nights sleep.

10 people like this
Posted by Shalene
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Shame on the owners or whoever their representatives are. They've owned their complex since THE 1960s and therefore pay an absolute pittance in property taxes on their old, un-modernized building.

8 people like this
Posted by Shalene
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm

The owners have had this property since the 1960s. They must pay a pittance in property taxes and maybe don't even have a mortgage. Why are they gouging their tenants like this? Very sad.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Entitlement at its finest.

15 people like this
Posted by Katharine
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Thank you so much for running this story. And thank you to Karla and Chad for their courage in sharing it. We need to hear these stories! These issues are never simple and it really helps to listen and understand the details, nuances and perspectives of all involved so that we, as a community, can offer helpful solutions.

8 people like this
Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Wow, that is ridiculous. Mean spirited rent increases. Seems odd that the owners were unaware of the increases - or did I read that wrong? I'd be curious to hear from the property mgr, I hope she is forced to talk if there are any court proceedings. Side note, I hope this isnt a reflection on the rest of the city govt that we have in Menlo Park.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2018 at 3:20 pm

These people to me just seem like they looking for trouble. Time to get a court order and get them out the apartments complex if it was me. Nothing wrong with increasing rent to pay for services and to maintain the apartments complex.

7 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm

It is unfortunate that some landlords exhibit predatory pricing behavior, but as the article points out, it's hard to regulate pricing with unintended negative consequences. Rent control, for example, is hardly a panacea.

Also note that no matter how much dense housing we cram into our city, we will probably never have enough supply to accommodate everyone who would like to move here and send their kids to our great schools. I notice these stories always focus on Menlo Park, as if we residents are somehow supposed to move over and make room for more people. Why not run a story about those among us who'd like to live in Atherton, Woodside, or Portola Valley and can't afford those communities? My family would love an acre or more of property in Atherton! But the uber-rich aren't expected to accommodate everyone, whereas middle class MP residents are constantly being guilt-tripped into more development.

6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Member
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:47 pm

How terrible. Landlords should work very hard to make sure families can have affordable housing in Menlo Park. It's their job. Families are the heart and soul of our city!

2 people like this
Posted by Sleepy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 13, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Shalene: this is not just about the owners of the building. Think about the other tenants who have to listen to almost constant noise of a family of seven who shouldn't be renting a two bedroom apartment. Think about the frequent toilet flushing, noise from showers, baths, dish washing, 7 pairs of feet walking back/forth, etc. It's too much noise for the other tenants and it isn't fair. The family should rent a stand alone cottage or a trailer, not a two bedroom apartment.

I also don't think it's okay for a family to cram several children into an apartment to remain in a particular school district. Imagine if more families did this; if every one and two bedroom apartment housed four children. How will the school district accommodate all the children? Think about it.

11 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Landlords are not responsible for providing affordable housing, communities are.

The entitled long term residents of MP decided a long time ago that affordable housing was not a priority. Courting office space and high property values was and still is the priority, all while paying ridiculously low property taxes and sitting on some nice appreciation.

The baby boomers don't care if there kid or grandkids can afford it here. Never did, never will. Money is too important and the cost of having decent housing, schools and infrastructure is too great.

7 people like this
Posted by Sleepy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm

MPer: Why are you blaming the baby boomers? Mark Zuckerberg isn't a baby boomer, and yet Facebook and similar companies are bringing thousands of workers to the area who need a place to live, driving up the cost of housing and driving down the availability. It's not the fault of the baby boomers.

I'm at the very tail of the baby boom. Most of my classmates and their parents have moved away because they can no longer afford to live here. I live in an apartment that I can no longer afford. I hate seeing all the once open space, especially near Stanford, developed. I hate seeing the one story houses torn down and replaced with Mc mansions. I hate seeing El Camino turned into a condo development. Even though I can't afford to live here, I agree with those opposed to cramming in housing everywhere, lessening the quality of life. The tech companies don't all have to be here, they can bless other parts of the U.S.

10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2018 at 1:41 am


What do you hope to accomplish here? The job growth isn't going to stop, and the Bay Area isn't going to stop being a desirable place to move to. It's always going to grow. Are you just going to fight against new housing until you eventually can't live here anymore and get priced out, just as your friends and family have? Are you going to fight every step of the way while the Millenial generation and then Gen Z fight to have housing here, too, not just the Boomers?

What's lessened quality of life around here has been unceasing suburban sprawl and the inability of job centers on the Peninsula from upzoning. This means commuting from far away, lots of traffic, lots of pollution, and lots of fighting over how much parking to build for new developments. All thanks primarily to Baby Boomers who fought tooth and nail to keep everything zoned low for decades, and to stop any new mass transit investment until very recently.

I'll give you this though. You, unlike the homeowners around here with Prop 13, are willing to be against new housing and at least pay the costs that come with that through your ever-increasing rent.

25 people like this
Posted by Neighbors
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2018 at 4:51 pm

The uncle was only visiting. This is a couple with 4 kids, 2 in elementary and two preschoolers.

You do know that it's illegal to discriminate against families with children when it comes to housing? They increased the rent 33% on this family and not on any other tenants. That's called retaliation.

Retaliation is also illegal. I hope they win their lawsuit, or come to an agreement with the landlords.

Kids make noise. So do adults. A reasonable amount of noise is permitted. It's none of your business if they have more people in their apartment than you personally approve of.

2 people like this
Posted by Another renter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2018 at 1:05 pm

There are several sides to every story.

Katie Cage and the management appear to have violated the law on several points, and I am dismayed to hear that someone of her actions and views has been advising the city of Menlo Park in any capacity. The only claim I see the landlords having is re: the suddenly appearing uncle, because management is allowed to specify how many adults may occupy a unit.

That said, when you move into a new neighborhood it's important to take the local pulse and act accordingly. Where I live in Menlo, it's polite to go around to your neighbors before you have a kid party and let them know in advance. You don't ever want to be the noisiest household in the complex: it's a lightning rod.

I perceive that more is needed here besides housing. Including: More affordable day care, including for Stanford employees like Chad. Karla, the mom, may also need counseling if she is being overwhelmed by the kids. It seems from the story she is a first time mom, and of twins yet, and is a stepmom to the others. Hope someone who knows the family can point them toward resources, which are inadequate but do exist.

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

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