Palo Alto mayor: Housing can’t keep up with extremely high job growth


After a planning and transportation commissioner for Palo Alto bashed the city’s housing efforts in her resignation letter on Medium, the Mayor of Palo Alto Patrick Burt decided to go on record with Curbed San Francisco to give the city’s side of the story. 

In the QA piece written by Adam Brinklow, they dug into what exactly is causing the city the most trouble.

The interesting answer: Too many jobs.

From the piece:

Curbed SF: Everybody agrees that too many people can’t afford Palo Alto. So why is it like this?

Mayor Patrick Burt: There are a number of factors. First, we’re in a region that’s had extremely high job growth at a rate that is just not sustainable if we’re going to keep [Palo Alto] similar to what it’s been historically. Of course we know that the community is going to evolve. But we don’t want it to be a radical departure. We don’t want to turn into Manhattan.

Curbed: You want fewer jobs?

Burt: I know, it’s a strange idea to contend with. But this doesn’t mean we want no job growth. And it doesn’t mean we want reckless job growth. We want metered job growth and metered housing growth, in places where it will have the least impact on things like our transit infrastructure. We look at the rates and we balance things. That’s why we’re looking at increasing our developer fees and investing more in affordable housing. We have 2,500 units of BMR housing over the last decades, and a lot of hard work went into that.

The Palo Alto mayor decided to speak up after the recent resignation letter from the city’s planning and transportation commissioner went viral.

In her position, Kate Downing pushed city officials to build more housing and pass pro-development policies that could help solve the growing affordability crisis.

Problem is, even as a housing official in Silicon Valley, Kate and her husband Steve, who works as a software engineer, can’t afford to live there.

Due to the ironic circumstance, Downing took to Medium to shed light on exactly how bad the city’s housing problem has become.

Be sure to read the full QA with the mayor here. The mayor answers some tough questions, including allegations that a few wealthy homeowners control city government and whether it’s possible for the city to not be a place where families have to scrape by. 

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