The redlining which they alluded to is the racist discrimination widely embraced in the region—specifically in towns like Menlo Park, Atherton, and Palo Alto—that sought to segregate minorities by excluding them through a variety of methods ranging from rejecting loans for home mortgages to outright banning non-white prospective home buyers from purchasing a home in certain neighborhoods."If the town decides to pursue overlay zoning because 'their hands are tied,' that would be ignoring all these voices. It would be short sighted if this is done for the expediency of low hanging fruit to reach the state mandate," one resident said at a July 20th meeting, referring to the rezoning mandate. "The state doesn't care about Atherton's uniqueness. I think they should and I think that should inform it." The resident promised that if overlay zoning was talking about, he and other community members in Atherton and Oakwood to "do whatever we can to stop or limit the scope of development."
Do you work in Atherton or for the town itself? Or do you have information about community plans to turn schools and other buildings into housing units? We’d love to hear from you. From a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Edward Ongweso Jr securely on Signal at +1 202 642 8240, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
"I mentioned to the mayor when this came up, I have a concern that if our excuse is just high value of land that we automatically become a target, not just by the state but by housing advocate groups out there that can really call attention to members of our community."When reached for comment, Rodericks directed Motherboard to a recent update from his office about the town's housing plan. That update states that "affordable housing in the traditional sense in Atherton is not soon to be realized" and says the town will try and meet the state's goals through "accessory dwelling units, workforce housing at schools, and through the potential of Senate Bill 9 lot splits."Another resident at the June 15 meeting expressed concerns about safety—not just from traffic, but from crime—that they believed the housing update would make it worse. "The crime has increased substantially in Atherton—I was driving down the street and got pulled over by a police officer thinking 'Why are you in the neighborhood?' I do believe that if you put many homes on that block, that it will affect the crime rate. I'm concerned about that: parking at my home, coming in and out of my house at night."It’s a little more complicated than that. The last year we have crime data for Atherton is 2019, where crime had slowly risen over the previous few years yet still remained much lower than surrounding wealthy areas with already low crime rates (e.g. Menlo Park and Palo Alto). But not only is Atherton a relatively safe place, but it’s not entirely clear that increased population density results in increased crime rates. To take New York as an example, population density has increased over the past 25 years but crime rates have plummeted. In New York City, we see crime rates increase with density, but outside of it, there is a plateau before the correlation disappears again. That is all to say, there are other factors behind crime increases and decreases than population density. One factor, of course, is the systematic impoverishment and disenfranchisement of large sections of the population by the wealthy. And with all its focus on zoning to "preserve the character" of the town, that's exactly what Atherton achieves.