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Portola Valley creates affordable housing panel

Original post made on Jan 25, 2013

Affordable housing was a key topic again at the Portola Valley Town Council meeting Wednesday (Jan. 23), as the council tentatively discussed whether the town should look at transferring its housing obligation to another town.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 25, 2013, 11:03 AM

Comments (16)

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Posted by JL
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2013 at 11:39 am

Portola residents need to reject these unconstitutional mandates. They are not state mandates...these are from ABAG, and they are trying to implement the UN Agenda 21. Why should these filthy leftists be able to mandate whether or not a town needs to build more housing, and what price to sell them at?

You need to demand that your leaders get out of ABAG and reject Agenda 21 high-density development and communistic subsidies.

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Posted by JGM
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I don't think towns like Portola Valley and Woodside should be subject to these requirements. I may be a communistic "filthy leftist" but this is crazy. A home in Woodside just sold for over $110M. Lets build some high density condos next door?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:03 am

Sounds like a plan, just move your housing mandate to another city. What about their mandated number of units? Just keep moving housing around, build somewhere else.

A house sold for 110 million dollars, Facebook, Samsung and Google are expanding, new jobs for new hired from college. Some of these new hired are going to live in each city, expecting people to serve them and their families, property will become worth more. The cost of rents will go up.

Here is a kicker, where is your house cleaner, your local cashier, your school teacher are going to live. You will have to pay more, costs will easier.

Yet I read gripes all the time about costs of public servant.

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Posted by Garrettg
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:10 am

Ack, the attack of the spell checker. Suppose to be new hires, but anyway these newly hired people for all those newly created jobs are going to increase the costs of living here.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

"where is your house cleaner, your local cashier, your school teacher are going to live. "

How about where they can actually afford to live. Redwood City, San Jose, Sunnyvale? Sorry, we don't owe these folks "affordable" housing that is cheaper than the going rate in various locations. Remember real estate values are all about "location." Can't afford to live in Portola Valley or Menlo Park or Atherton? GO BUY A HOUSE OR RENT IN A COMMUNITY YOU CAN AFFORD!!! What's so damn hard to understand about this concept? Don't like living where you can afford? Do something about your earning ability so you can. That's what those of us that live in these communities did. We went to college. We worked hard. We saved our asses off. I didn't get any hand outs why should anyone else?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2013 at 10:21 am

While getting a college degree is a plus in getting that career in the right path, but will it enable you to buy a home. While I understand that you live where you can afford a home. Moving to San Jose or Fremont is what you have to do, most likely you will drive.

More traffic on already on traffic choked freeways or routes that no longer handle the amount of cars. Forget bikes, no one is going to ride from Fremont or San Jose.

Low incomers aren't going to ride bikes or public transit for 2 very long shifts, anyone can be low income.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Menlo Voter, you just don't get it. You think going to college and working hard and saving money is some kind of equation for financial success. Those are the containers, not what the containers hold. And it is what the containers hold that makes the difference -- and it is patently unfair. There's very little meritorious about it, argue though you may. It's mostly about luck and connections.

This is why such mandates to increase socio-economic diversity are important, but I suspect there's nothing I can say to change the mind of people who articulate this tired GOP dogma -- "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps." -- as if it's the truth so I'm not going to say more.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm


so socialism is the way to go huh?

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Not socialism, and not the kind of obligation-free, "I've got mine" capitalism we have been practicing in the US for the last 30 years. A mix. Everyone loses by gated communities, whether the gates are real or metaphorical. Suburbs have been a bastion for such communities.

It's simplistic and anti-democratic to retreat into and live in a bubble.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:02 am

It's socialist to pay others' way. I'd like to live in Atherton. Where's my house there that I can afford?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 7:20 am

I make over 30,000 dollars year, self employed, buy my own health and dental. Have my own IRA which I working on self funding via my stocks.

When I was younger worked to open my own business, which did happen. Big risk and mostly likely lead me down this path. Hey I tried and had fun.

Now on to the housing issue, while I am not asking any of you to provide me a home or some kind of unit. Just the chance to purchase a unit that I can afford. Not looking to buy a large place, maybe 800 square foot cottage with small yard. A mate of mine in London owned the same sized unit by the Isle of Dogs, paid 60,000 dollars in 1996.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:27 am


I doubt you will find anything like that anywhere in the Bay Area. Even BMR housing isn't that cheap.

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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:54 am

Oh boy, the Agenda 21 nuts come out of the woodwork again...

Apparently they love freedom, just not the freedom to do what you want with your own property.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm

While I read Agenda 21, would rate this piece work with my attempt to read War and Peace.

While I don't want to tell property owners what they can and cannot do. But face it we do a pretty good job.

Build a second floor, put up a fence, even paint your house a certain color.

Try opening a home based business, try opening a shop in your garage, rent rooms it house for short term.

Build a granny flat. See how far that gets off the ground.

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Posted by Louis Ebner
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 29, 2013 at 10:45 am

Once again, your “reporter” David Boyce has misrepresented both the letter and substance of the ongoing debate over BMR housing in Portola Valley. {Portion removed.]

In the present instance, Boyce paints a scenario in which a “critic of the town’s efforts so far” (this refers to me) appears to advocate using the proceeds from the Blue Oaks sale to “subvert what (the town) is required to do by law (in the way of BMR housing)”; this, against the cautionary observations of two Councilwomen who are cast as staunch and consistent advocates of “the spirit of the law” in all matters BMR... The (evidently) soulless critic concedes that “the housing situation for people of low incomes is unfortunate”, but implies that this unfortunateness shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of ‘obligation trading’. This “reporting” of both the context and the exchange of comments is a whopping, if not laughable, distortion of what actually took place.

I did NOT “describe the housing for people of low incomes as unfortunate”: don’t know who Boyce is quoting here, but it isn’t me. In fact, I do not recall Mr. Boyce as having been in the room during this exchange—there were only six or eight present in the audience. If he had been, surely he would have noted that I rose to speak in response to an apparent effort on the part of the councilwomen to dismiss out of hand any serious consideration of ‘obligation trading’—in favor, presumably, of their pet project in acquisition of 900 Portola Road. What Mr. Boyce fails to mention is that the issue as raised by Ms Derwin and chimed by Ms Wengert was framed first NOT as a matter of possible subversion of the law, but as “concern over the image that Portola Valley might be seen as a rich town buying its way out of an obligation...” This, a more astute “reporter” might have noted, was richly hypocritical homily coming from the two town officials who, as 2/3 of a council-appointed (and thus, intramural) ad hoc committee, had (politically) cleared the way for the Blue Oaks development to “buy its way out” of a charter-obligation to build BMR housing in their own “high end” neighborhood.

The current Housing Element for the Town of Portola Valley, at Section 2480b, instructed that same ad hoc committee to “identify and explore alternative locations (for application of potential revenue from a sale of the Blue Oaks lots) including the feasibility and cost of each possible site (and to) compare the cost of each site with the income that could be expected from the sale of the Blue Oaks lots.”

A scrupulous journalist would by now have noted and reported the failure of that committee to act as instructed. No report comparing sites, no economic feasibility study, was ever produced. Instead, the (intramural) ad hoc committee devoted its time and considerable PR efforts to the idée fixe of 900 Portola Road, and to secret negotiations to pour the revenue from Blue Oaks (whatever that should prove to be) directly into 900 PR without ANY serious consideration of that site’s viability, or of any alternative site, or of any alternative use of those BMR funds in (potentially) more housing-effective ways. It was the specter (and embarrassment) of this potential waste of millions of Town dollars, and the rather shabby treatment of potentially affected townspeople who questioned the “committee’s” maneuvers, which led to the request that a new, more open process be pursued, and that a new, more democratically composed ad hoc committee be formed to examine these issues. Wake up, Mr. Boyce.


Mr. Ebner:

I deleted part of the comment that is an attack, and not a discussion of facts.

Speaking of "misrepresentation," the comment above completely misrepresents the story, which I think any reasonable reader can see, and contains several statements that are untrue.

A few examples:
- The reporter Dave Boyce did not "paint a scenario" as described. He simply reported what Councilwoman Wengert said and what you said. He did not connect the two. You did that.
- He did not cast the councilwomen as "staunch and consistent" advocates of the spirit of the law. Those are your words.
- He did not say or imply that you are a "soulless" critic. That is your word. In fact, he quotes you as saying, "Where could we do the most good for the people we're trying to help?"

With regard to your not recalling whether Dave was "in the room" among the six to eight people in the audience at a council meeting, Dave was in the room, sitting two rows immediately in front of you, and heard you use the word "unfortunate" twice, at least once with regard to the housing situation for low-income people.

The quote by Ms. Derwin that "rich communities should not be able to buy their way out of the obligation" is contained in the longer story in the paper, which is also online: Web Link

> Richard Hine, Managing Editor, The Almanac

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Posted by Louis Ebner
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

As the Editor well knows, impressionistic quotation, in a ‘news’ story, is tantamount to ‘shading’ or ‘coloring’ or (yes, even) ‘painting’. Such ‘shading’ is also accomplished by simple juxtaposition, and has cumulative effect where practiced over a series of articles. The fact is that Mr. Boyce did NOT “simply report what councilwoman Wengert said and what you said”, but rather summarized and edited both: the former (as the Editor concedes toward the end of his note) by elision, the latter by a creative conflation of my comments with those of a Mr. Eckstein, who spoke just after me. (Seated one row behind the reporter, I believe, and to the far left.) The glib suggestion that Mr. Boyce must have left the room during that exchange at least accorded him the benefit of the doubt. Contrast the import of such tom-foolery on the part of a mere letter-writer with the import of this gratuitous statement (centrally-placed in the article) by the reporter:
“Opponents of an affordable housing project at 900 Portola Road regularly accused the Council of not being open and forthcoming in its deliberations, accusations that are at odds with the record.”
(a reference, presumably, to exchanges in prior meetings)
This statement paraphrases another made by Boyce in a Dec 19 article (also unsupported), is a classic example of ‘shading’ under cover of ‘reporting’, and its implication is in fact untrue. The ‘record’, gradually coming to light due to public pressure, has revealed that various current and former members of the council ‘deliberated’ behind closed doors for years over the acquisition of 900 Portola, opening the floor for discussion only after the Town had entered into a commitment to purchase the property and after residents of the contiguous neighborhood, who had never been advised of the Council’s intentions nor consulted about their views on the matter, insisted on a public hearing.
An editorial in the Palo Alto Weekly of 9/12/12 entitled “Stretching the Brown Act” does a marvelous job of examining the pitfalls of this approach. Of course, before you can seriously address a problem, you first have to acknowledge it. I had always thought this was, in part, the province of the Fourth Estate.

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