…for the rest of us. Kate Vershov Downing is a Liberal who has been mugged by reality. She is—or was until she resigned—a member of the Palo Alto, CA, Planning and Transportation Commission, the city’s central planning facility for all things a private citizen might want to do. Here’s an excerpt from her letter of resignation from that Commission, via PJMedia‘s Tom Knighton. (Unfortunately, she’s not completely learned the mugging lesson; she and her husband are moving to another California city.)
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.
There’s more—much more—in her letter of resignation.
It’s clear that if professionals like me cannot raise a family here, then all of our teachers, first responders, and service workers are in dire straits. We already see openings at our police department that we can’t fill and numerous teacher contracts that we can’t renew because the cost of housing is astronomical not just in Palo Alto but many miles in each direction.
But Palo Alto’s fellow commission members, Liberal Planners all, either don’t care, don’t understand, or perhaps worst of all: they got theirs, and the rest can go hang.
Small steps like allowing 2 floors of housing instead of 1 in mixed use developments, enforcing minimum density requirements so that developers build apartments instead of penthouses, legalizing duplexes, easing restrictions on granny units, leveraging the residential parking permit program to experiment with housing for people who don’t want or need two cars, and allowing single-use areas like the Stanford shopping center to add housing on top of shops (or offices), would go a long way in adding desperately needed housing units while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods and preserving historic structures throughout.
But the P&T Commission as a whole Knows Better and has steadfastly refused to allow private citizens, private enterprises, to do these simple things.
This Council has…charted a course for the next 15 years of this city’s development….
Because the Commission members are fortune tellers and seers; they Know what’s going to happen before it happens.
Downing closed with this bit of irony:
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.
This Know Better attitude is what we can look forward to nation-wide if the Progressive-Democrat Party wins the White House this year and with it the Senate.