PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Kate Downing dropped the bombshell that she was quitting during her last meeting as a Palo Alto planning commissioner, talking about the kids she wants to have.
“We wanted them to go to school with people who weren’t millionaires. We wanted a future where we weren’t staying up at night wondering how we were going to pay the bills,” Downing said at the meeting.
What’s more, she posted a resignation letter on the internet, talking about how she rents this home in Palo Alto with another couple for $6,200 a month.
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The letter goes on to chastise the city council for not doing more to build housing, ignoring residents and is preserving retail that has “no reason to serve the average Joe when the city is only affordable to Joe Millionaires.”
Kate Downing, who is an attorney at a high tech company, and her husband Steve, a software engineer, are adamant: this is not a sob story about them. It’s about the service and blue collar workers in Palo Alto.
“If we’re treading water here, you know, they’re the ones commuting in 2 or 3 hours from Gilroy,” Steve Downing told KPIX 5. To me it seems that we are in the process of hollowing out our community.
Kate Downing addressed criticism from Baby Boomers who were able to buy homes decades ago.
“They didn’t have to deal with all cash offers. They didn’t have to deal with foreign investors. They weren’t saddled with $100,000 of college debt,” Kate told KPIX 5. “All those people thought it was normal and fine and sane for middle class people like teachers and plumbers to own homes in Palo Alto. But those same people are now turning around and saying you should be fine with renting forever. That’s your lot in life.”
Downing went on to say, “When the teachers came here and said, ‘We can’t afford to live here,’ nobody listened. When the firefighters came and said, ‘We can’t afford to live here,’ nobody listened. Why anyone is listening now that an attorney can’t afford to live here, I have no idea. But the point is, all the normal people who make a normal community are being priced out. And the question is, is that what we really want for our future?”
KPIX 5 tried to get reaction from the mayor. But through a spokesperson speaking for the City of Palo Alto, they had no comment, only saying that a planning commissioner’s position is voluntary and that they are now looking for her replacement.
The Downings have bought a home and are moving to Santa Cruz.