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Housing crisis: Locals open up about housing struggles at Kepler's

Original post made on Aug 30, 2016

A group of children sat at the back of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, as they fidgeted with their marker and glitter-paint posters. Their posters read: "Stop, this is our home. East Palo Alto is not for sale; community is priceless."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 30, 2016, 1:50 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2016 at 2:42 pm


You write "There are as many explanations for the lack of affordable housing as there are stakeholders in the issue."

Yet there seems to just be one explanation and you illustrated it beautifully below.
Prior to current construction projects, there had not been any market-rate apartment buildings of 10 units or more built in Menlo Park since 1974, and no deed-restricted, below-market-rate apartment buildings added to the city's stock since 1987, according to City Councilwoman Catherine Carlton, who cited Costar, a commercial real estate database. Those were buildings on Willow Road that had been built in the 1960s but purchased in 1987 by MidPen Housing to maintain for low-income tenants.

Over the 40 years between 1970 and 2010, Menlo Park built 2,699 housing units, according to, a website that collects statistics on cities. The city was sued in 2012 for not updating for 20 years its housing element, part of the city's general plan for development.

Basically, MP has failed to build housing for the growth that it and it's citizens have enjoyed for years. Meanwhile, this lack of doing much of anything has lead to dilapidated, low density car centric downtown (instead of the urban village some city council members think it is) acres of empty lots on ERC near transit and out of control residential and commercial rents.

The bay area is not full. It is time for a generation that benefited from growth a 1/2 century ago to to stop getting in the way of the next generation to do the same.

Posted by Mike DiMartino
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 30, 2016 at 9:10 pm

City zones a plot of land for a high-density condo project 2br/2ba and minimum square footage. Owner receives lowest land sale value on books within past 5 years plus offset to current value on fees for future commercial construction to sell this land to city.

Architect designs it.

City offers builder cost plus x percent profit to build or takes low bid.

City runs lottery with qualified local employees having access to ~75% of occupancy. Price per condo is pro-rated pct of land purchase fee + architect + builder cost. Condo owner owns residence but not land. Owner pays HOA and city property taxes.

Appreciation level of unit is capped. Existing lottery list has priority at time of transactions with no transfer, sublet, rental or home-office usage rights and subject to a 90-day transaction window. City gets small transaction fee.

Posted by Stop
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm

What is so awful about stopping the commercial growth? The land is finite. How much will cities lose if Facebook and the development planned on El Camino is curbed to 1 story offices with reasonable green areas. If these entities move to another city MP will go back to an uncongested town with a schools and roads that can accommodate the residents.

Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 31, 2016 at 3:41 pm


apparently you completely missed the point of the article. I am dumbfounded that you would promote the exact policies that have created this mess in the first place, LACK OF BUILDING HOUSING FOR DECADES.

I am happy that your generation was able to buy/rent affordable housing in this area. I am saddened that the same generation feels that subsequent generations should just accept it or move.

Aren't you sad that your kids, grandkids and further generations will not be able to live in this area.

Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 31, 2016 at 3:51 pm


so your idea is to just have facebook, google and other leave the area. do you know that the appreciation of your house is because of them, if they go away this area suffers.

amazing that you have benefited greatly from the local economy yet think your mansion in Atherton is immune to the consequences of a vibrant economy.

I am sure you can cash out and find a nice uncongested place to live. My guess is you wouldn't want to live there.

Sad, so sad

Posted by Susanne C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

I read this article and the comments,nobody has mentioned the "ghost" houses! I know of two near where I live. My landlady who lives in a different nieghborhood also knows about some in her neighborhood too.An older house is torn down and a newer one is replaces the original house" an overseas investor buy the house and there is nobody living there! This is only advantageous for some when the newer houses are being built and realtors. Is there any way the city of Menlo park can discourage this practice.

Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 2, 2016 at 10:30 am


Actually, what is wrong with the ghost house practice? There's lot of benefits that come out of it.

1) The house is sold and/or rebuilt increasing its tax basis. Thus, your locality now sees a large influx of new tax revenue for city and school services.

2) No one lives there, which means they don't use any city services, saving those save government entities from spending more money. This means they don't have to raise your taxes but still provide a high level of service.

3) The owners do not add to traffic, take up street parking, use water, etc.

If you're worried about not enough affordable housing, the solution should be just build more housing and/or limit job growth. Unaffordable housing is merely a byproduct of faster regional job growth than housing growth, which has been occurring for decades.

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