Maybell aka ‘Orchard Park’ now epicenter for Palo Alto, Silicon Valley and civilization as we know it, according to the Chron

Maybell Street Palo Alto and new homes being staged


Lauren Hepler of The Chron has a Page 1 story about Palo Alto and housing equity, pegged to the new homes hitting the market at the controversial Maybell site in South Palo Alto.

Check back as I update about the fact that “The Residentialists” were Emily Renzel, Enid Pearson and Tom Jordan and opposed the trends inherent in the removal of 100 homes from Oregon Street to create Oregon Expressway, for the benefit of Hewlett Packard.

Forty-five years later, Tim Gray and I ran for City Council under the banner of “The New Residentialists” and got 6,000 or more votes each, as also-rans (voters chose: Marc Berman, Liz Kniss and Pat Burt in greater numbers, but to minimal effect or progress). My use was in tribute to Enid et al; she showed me clippings and pamphlets from her fight, in her foyer; Jordan had me to his home and suggested my “New Residentialist Platform” include a critique of “Planned Community Zoning”, a nexus of abuse; he later mentored Tom Dubois, who is now our mayor, and a source for Hepler’s procrustean and convoluted version of our housing woes.

Integral to the term “Residentialist” in 1964 and 2012 was opposition to corporate hegemony, or corporate creep. What are HP’s needs relative to those of We The People?

Maybell does not mean that Palo Alto prefers $5m homes to housing for seniors, the poor or Blacks. Maybell means that We The People are outflanked and outgunned by the industry, in this case the housing industry.

There is $50b (BILLION) on the tax rolls in Palo Alto. You can fairly state that real estate is a billion dollar per year industry here and multi-million dollar real estate lobby.

Meanwhile we don’t even tax corporations like Tesla, Google, Amazon, Facebook or Palantir.

San Jose makes $70M per year in business taxes, twice what it makes in TOT — hotel taxes– according to a recent report in the SV Business Journal.

Palo Alto likely could make $50m in taxes, but chooses not to. Why? Who knows. I’m guessing its because the landlords tell leadership not to.

In some ways, we could celebrate having 20 new houses in Palo Alto, even at market rate.

(Although initially I agreed with Mrs. Davis, the mother of Julian Davis, that there was merit in preserving Palo Alto’s last stone fruit orchard).

Also, why did we not consider Buena Vista and Maybell in the same breath?

Maybe we should use Buena Vista as precedent and buy the entire inventory at “Orchard Park”, even at market rate, and then lease it to artists or musicians at a subsidy, using taxes on Tesla and Palantir to make up the delta?

I also think we can tie Orchard Park to the skatepark initiative and build an amenity at Juana Briones Park, which actually already has some grassy dips and hills.

Apropos of reporting by Hepler, I never thought of Palo Alto Forward as progressive – -they seemed to be doing the bidding of developers.

Read George Packer, “The Unwinding”. Government fails, at local and national levels, because people do not put energy into the system. Special interests prosper in the vacuum.

The rich get richer. The richer get richerer using computers. Doh!

Hepler’s reporting reminds us that The San Francisco Chronicle is a Hearst paper, the people who invented “yellow journalism”. She implied that a racist act in 1946 in Redwood City happened in Palo Alto. Better would be to substantiate or refute my claim that real estate developers interfere with the ideal that local leadership like Dubois, Burt, Tanaka and Kou are responsive to or representative of their constituents  A related question is whether regional papers like The Merc or The Chron are independent of business interests (see Noam Chomsky “Manufacturing Consent” and Ben Bagdikian “The Media Monopoly” beyond George Packer’s more recent book, which borrows from Dos Passos; which reminds me: Palo Alto has a cluster of banks —plus town houses — where the Times Tribune and its press were situated; Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson project occupies a new building on University that was The Nevada Building that had office space for poet laureate Al Young: we are better at turning block chain into billions but worse at describing squirrels on our rooftops or divining meaning from such). Hepler’s fresh eyes on the issues could improve on the seriously flawed coverage by local rags like The Weekly and The Post.


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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