Sometimes you feel yourself to be a part of history. The wrenching changes that the cyber revolution has wreaked in Silicon Valley are coming home- to the North Coast- to roost. But let me begin at the beginning.
My aunt and uncle moved from Eureka to Palo Alto in the ’50’s when Ma Bell transferred him to the “Puzzle Palace” in San Jose. (The house they vacated in Eureka is the third house north of 14th and H, the one currently sporting a wheelchair ramp.) They bought a house in Palo Alto, a 3/2 with an attached studio unit. They paid $16K.
That place was my second home for the next 60 years. That was where we spent holidays, where prospective spouses were introduced, where I stayed my first few weeks after college. You get the idea. I always had a place to stay in the Bay Area. But when change comes, you’re never prepared for it. My aunt and uncle died and last summer the house was sold to a nice Indian couple. The husband works for Microsoft and they paid $2.2M .
(Incidentally, during that time Palo Alto changed beyond recognition. Once a liberal bastion, it recently decided to cooperate in evicting 400 poor, mostly Hispanic residents from the city ‘s only trailer park, which will be redeveloped for more extremely expensive housing.)
One of my cousins had already left the area for Minneapolis, the other did what so many other folks are doing-moved north to Sonoma, where housing prices have doubled in the past few years due to refugees from the high prices further South. If people are paying half a million dollars for small houses in Sonoma (which according to Zillow, they are) what does that mean for us?
I doubt we will ever see the instant millionaire phenomenon up here, although I don’t see how there cannot be pressure on prices. But the demand here will never be enough to send prices skyward, although I think anything in a decent neighborhood here is a good investment. People who have the option are moving to Seattle from the Bay Area if they’re still working and want a tech industry environment. What do we have? Weed. And it’s far from clear whether the prosperity generated by weed- pardon me, cannabis- will be pervasive or only for the few.
Which brings us to last Friday. A Palo Alto neighbor sent us pix of the old house being torn down. Along with it went the rhody my aunt had planted when they bought the house and a whole lifetime of memories.
And so it goes.