Please join eight former Mayors and over 1000 community members in asking City Council to exercise leadership and address Palo Alto's housing shortage now!
The cost of living in Palo Alto has skyrocketed. As a result, we are seeing long-time neighbors move because they can no longer afford the rent. It is not unusual for Palo Alto workers to commute in from areas as far as Stockton, Gilroy, and Tracy, putting severe strain on our roads and our climate. We are on the path to being a city composed only of long-time landowners and wealthy newcomers.
This situation is the result of city policies that have discouraged new housing while encouraging more office space. As a result, Palo Alto has the nation’s highest median rent and the region’s highest jobs-to-housing ratio. City Council has taken measures to address the jobs side of the equation by limiting office growth. Now, it is time to address the housing side of the equation.
A true fix will require a long-term focus and deep commitment; we believe, though, that we can maintain the character of our community while making changes to alleviate this imbalance. Council can show leadership by crafting policy to achieve the following goals:
1. Encourage construction of more studio apartments and other naturally affordable smaller units.
2. Encourage buildings composed of apartments and condos over ground-floor retail. Current policy requires developers to build office space into any new four-story building in a commercial district.
3. Make it easier for homeowners to build second units on their property, especially to accommodate multiple-generation households and caretakers.
4. Allow car-light and car-free housing in walkable, transit-accessible areas for residents who are able to not own a car.
5. Facilitate the development of new senior housing, including alternative models such as co-housing, home sharing, and mixed-use senior communities with retail and services.
We ask the City Council to plan for more housing so that Palo Alto can be the community of opportunity it has historically been: a family-friendly city that welcomed interesting thinkers and doers of all ages and all incomes. Many of the above ideas were implemented successfully in Palo Alto’s South of Forest (SOFA) plan. We know that this can be done!
To find out more see our blog post.