Housing unaffordable for young people in Vancouver? It could be worse. It could be Palo Alto – a small city that’s part of the Silicon Valley complex. But the symptoms are the same.
Dear City Council Members and Palo Alto Residents,
This letter serves as my official resignation from the Planning and Transportation Commission. My family has decided to move to Santa Cruz.
After many years of trying to make it work in Palo Alto, my husband and I cannot see a way to stay in Palo Alto and raise a family here. We rent our current home with another couple for $6200 a month; if we wanted to buy the same home and share it with children and not roommates, it would cost $2.7M and our monthly payment would be $12,177 a month in mortgage, taxes, and insurance. That’s $146,127 per year — an entire professional’s income before taxes. This is unaffordable even for an attorney and a software engineer. …
Over the last 5 years I’ve seen dozens of my friends leave Palo Alto and often leave the Bay Area entirely. I’ve seen friends from other states get job offers here and then turn them down when they started to look at the price of housing.
I struggle to think what Palo Alto will become and what it will represent when young families have no hope of ever putting down roots here, and meanwhile the community is engulfed with middle-aged jet-setting executives and investors who are hardly the sort to be personally volunteering for neighborhood block parties, earthquake preparedness responsibilities, or neighborhood watch.
If things keep going as they are, yes, Palo Alto’s streets will look just as they did decades ago, but its inhabitants, spirit, and sense of community will be unrecognizable. A once thriving city will turn into a hollowed out museum. We should take care to remember that Palo Alto is famous the world over for its residents’ accomplishments, but none of those people would be able to live in Palo Alto were they starting out today.
If you’d like to look into the belly of the beast, read the comments on our local paper: Palo Alto Online. The loudest voices in the community feel that the desire to create more affordable housing is spoiled entitlement. Until renters, younger people, and people of more modest means organize, this problem will continue throughout the Bay Area.