June 23, 2013

Landlords from Hell settle for jail instead

Here’s a cheery story for you if you don’t like your landlord, as it will set things into a much better perspective.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for alerting us to this development.

‘Landlords from hell’ accept prison terms for terrorizing tenants

130619-macys-mugshotsBy Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2013, 2:45 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — A software engineer and his real estate agent wife who terrorized their tenants in a twisted attempt to force them to move are back after fleeing to Italy, and each has accepted a four-year prison sentence and two strikes rather than face trial, Dist. Atty. George Gascon announced Wednesday.

Nicknamed the "landlords from hell," Kip and Nicole Macy employed tactics "so outlandish and brazen" in attempting to clear their building of renters that "it sounds like the plot of a horror movie," Gascon said.

They each pleaded guilty to two felony counts of residential burglary, one felony count of stalking and one felony count of attempted grand theft. In custody on $2-million bail apiece, they are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22.

Kip Macy’s attorney, Lisa DewBerry, said the couple could have faced a maximum of 16 years in prison if tried on all charges.

130619-macys-sawBe sure to read the whole article, cataloging not only what the Macys were accused of doing to their tenants and their apartments, but also the part where they paid bail and fled the country for Milan and spent a year fighting extradition.

Don’t forget the power saw that popped up into one of the tenant’s floor without warning (the photo at left shows what happened when he whacked the blade with a nearby hammer).  There’s even accusations of email spoofing.  And here’s an older piece from Palo Alto Online when they were first hit with the charges; what’s interesting are the comments defending the Macys from the evil San Francisco tenants. Why, some of them read as if they were written from the perps themselves!  Why Palo Alto Online for a San Francisco story?  This caring couple lived in Palo Alto when they were accused of all these shenanigans. Kip was a software engineer and Nicole was… a realtard.

130619-macys-clementinaHere’s the building where all the fun took place. Don’t you want to go out and buy an apartment building in SF right now?

This is also your weekend open thread! How’s the renter life treating you? Is it awful enough to make you want to look at a bunch of Open Houses and overbid up the wazoo?  How about chatting up the other people at the Open House so you can spoof email saying they don’t want the property you’re trying to score? Hey, in a competitive market Insane Real Estate Bubble, the only way to win is to prevent everyone else from playing.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

October 7, 2012

Palo Alto plagued by home burglaries

Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for bringing this to our attention.  Seems all isn’t as perfect as proclaimed in Palo Alto.

Residents fight burglaries with lights, cameras, action

Neighbors devising crime-fighting strategies

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff, Friday, October 5, 2012, 8:59 AM

121007-burglaries-incidentsMany Palo Alto neighborhoods are organizing in ways they have not since the rise of Neighborhood Watch programs in the 1980s, following a string of home burglaries that have plagued the city.

From surveillance cameras to neighborhood-warning signs, residents are strategizing to deter and perhaps even catch the thieves, who have made off with tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, cash and electronics since late last year.

Email lists from Crescent Park to Barron Park are crackling with the latest news about suspicious vehicles cruising residential streets. Last week, concerned north Palo Alto residents discussed a white van seen on their streets and gave information about it, complete with license number, to the Palo Alto police.

Neighbors’ increasing vigilance might help nab thieves like the ones who on Sept. 24 pilfered UPS parcels from a Crescent Park front porch within 30 seconds of the delivery. The resident, who asked that her name and home information not be made public, has shared images from her surveillance video with her neighbors and with police, she said.

121007-burglaries-94301What’s this? Crime rate up in Palo Alto, the most perfectest amazingest, wonderfulest Specialiest place in the universe? Nooooooooooo!

But we here at Burbed are confident that this approach of crowd-sourcing suspicious incidents will lead to these lowlife scum getting caught… until, as is often the case with crime in a wealthy neighborhood, the victims discover that the perpetrators were the teenaged children of their own neighbors.  We already know what those spoiled brats have been up to, hurling milkshakes at innocent pedestrians.

And don’t get too smug looking at that incident map on the top right. While that was what spotcrime.com generated for “Palo Alto, CA,” entering specific zip codes yields more crime events away from the Middlefield and Embarcadero area.   This incident map for 94301 shows more burglary and theft further northwest, and in only half the time period covered.

And dang it, that time period reported just missed the hurled milkshake.  But good news. There has been at least one arrest for car burglary.


Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

September 15, 2012

Buenas Noches for Buena Vista

We’ve dropped by the Buena Vista “Mobil Home Park,” the only trailer park in Palo Alto, a few times.  But Burbed reader Stefan alerts us that the much-maligned mobile mews may be moving on.  Thanks very much!

Burbed reader Real Estater also mentioned this article in comments.

Palo Alto mobile-home park faces redevelopment

Buena Vista residents could be forced out to make way for apartments

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

120914-bvista-overviewBuena Vista, the only surviving mobile-home park in Palo Alto, could soon be history, according to city officials.

Residents in the 117-unit park located at 3980 El Camino Real received a letter from property owner/manager Joe Jisser last week informing them that his family is exploring redevelopment options.

The family has owned Buena Vista, located near Los Robles Avenue behind a strip mall, since 1986, Jisser said on Monday. They are working with Prometheus Real Estate Group in San Mateo.

Prometheus specializes in the acquisition, development and management of residential and commercial properties and builds apartments, according to its website. It also focuses on transit-oriented development in areas that are close to corporate campuses, such as Apple in Cupertino and Google in Mountain View.

You think 15 units per acre is too dense for Palo Alto?  Promethius Development has many more rent-paying people per parcel planned for what they’re putting in.  Try 40 units an acre.  If you’ve read this book, just imagine life in The Stacks (which are literally mobile homes stacked into slum towers).

120914-bvista-pride-of-ownershipWhy is the owner finally considering selling out, after owning the park since 1986?  Infrastructure.  Water pipes and electrical wires and transmission are nearing the end of their useful life, and state codes have changed.  It isn’t enough to replace them, they’d have to be upgrades.  Not only that, most of the mobile homes in the park are too old to handle new systems.  And not only has the electrical code changed.  So has the law on spacing the units themselves.  Keeping the park legally open is going to become very, very expensive.

Meanwhile, the City of Palo Alto has a plan for development, and that includes multifamily homes along El Camino Real.  So apartment blocks are looking pretty likely.  And the low-income folks living here may well be SOL.  There is a city law that says they should get moving-out money, but realistically, there aren’t a lot of places they can go.  Many of them will move out in advance of the paid relocation, simply to ensure finding subsidized housing elsewhere.

Be sure to check out the comments on this article.  Some posters are glad to see the park go, and some prefer it stay in favor of a denser apartmentplex.  Of course most of them are worried about all those extra kids moving into THEIR SCHOOLS.  Because anyone moving into an apartment isn’t a Real Palo Alto Resident and should never be allowed to enroll.  We can’t understand why the trailer trolls are allowed, either.

But fear not.  Even if the BV is scraped to the ground and a shiny new (and dense) apartment complex goes up in its place, there will always be mobile home living in Palo Alto.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

July 14, 2012

Call the Doctor, Call the Nurse: Assault with a Frothy Weapon on the Lady without the Alligator Purse

And OF COURSE it’s in Palo Alto!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader PKamp3 for this one!

Woman hit with milkshake loses $2,000

Purse flies into vehicle after altercation in downtown Palo Alto

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

A woman who was struck with a milkshake and angrily threw her purse at a vehicle full of teenagers lost $2,000 after the handbag flew into the open vehicle window, Palo Alto police said Monday.

The incident started Sunday, June 24, just before midnight, Sgt. Brian Philip said. The woman was walking east on University Avenue near Rudy’s Pub when a white Range Rover full of male teenagers driving recklessly southbound on High Street approached.

View Larger Map

120711-milkshake-rangeroverCould this incident have any more “Yup, this is definitely Palo Alto” touches?  A Range Rover full of rowdy teens and an alligator purse with two thousand in cash?  Too bad it doesn’t mention whether the milkshake was garnished with Madagascar vanilla bean shavings.

This story was picked up by NBC Bay Area and even nationally, but there isn’t anything new in either of those stories.  Miss Lucy, reached on her belled steamboat enroute to Heaven, says to be sure to read the comments in the Palo Alto Online story.

Oh yeah, and this is definitely an Open Thread.


Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

May 7, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg Done with Renting

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg buys house in Palo Alto

By Mike Swift and Pete Carey, SJ Mercury News
Posted: 05/05/2011 07:30:35 AM PDT, Updated: 05/05/2011 07:30:42 AM PDT

imageLong after he became a billionaire, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still rented modest digs. But now one of Silicon Valley’s top tech celebrities has become a first-time homeowner, recently buying a large house in Palo Alto that is a 10-minute drive from what will soon be Facebook’s new corporate campus in Menlo Park.

Zuckerberg has lived in Palo Alto almost continuously since he moved Facebook to Silicon Valley straight from his Harvard dorm room in 2004. Now, with the fast-growing company preparing for a widely expected initial public stock offering and a move into its first permanent home in the former Sun Microsystems campus, Zuckerberg also appears to be settling down.

While the subject of the Hollywood hit "The Social Network" isn’t expected to move in for several months, his new home in a leafy and affluent Palo Alto neighborhood has more than 5,000 square feet, with a saltwater pool, a music alcove and five bedrooms for when friends and family of the Facebook founder come to visit.

Sources close to Facebook confirmed that Zuckerberg bought a house in Palo Alto, but declined to say which one. The real estate transaction did not close under Zuckerberg’s name. However, public records requests revealed a trail of clues leading to a property purchased for $7 million.

This newspaper is not printing the address because of concerns for the privacy of the sellers, who still live there, and Zuckerberg.


Don’t worry, this blog wouldn’t let a little thing like privacy stop us from Liking Mark’s new Mansion.  Or at least Friending it.  So, since the Merc was kind enough to give us a few details, such as more than 5000 sf, 17,000 sf lot and a $7 million dollar purchase price, it wasn’t that difficult to find:

1456 Edgewood Dr, Palo Alto, CA  94301


BATHS: 5.5
LOT SIZE: 16,995
STYLE: Single Family Residential
COUNTY: Santa Clara County
APN: 00311038
LAST UPDATED: April 14, 2011

Nobody would ever have suspected that “1456 EDGEWOOD DR HOLDINGS LLC” was actually the Facebook Dude.  Free Clue: Next time you buy a house, name your holding corporation after some people.

Here’s something fascinating, the house was listed for $5,850,000, which means the Zuckster overbid on this hot property down the street from the Beautiful Eichler with Poo!  Here’s what the GoogleCam has on this house:


We can give you a better view than that.  Whoever set up 1456edgewooddrive.com forgot to take all their pages down!


There’s page after page of house pr0n on this fact sheet, but just a look at the master bedroom suite description makes me wonder if this is really the ZuckerFriend we’re talking about:

  • Double interior French doors open to this personal retreat complete with crown molding, built-in speakers and a pocket door accessing the walk-in closet with custom built-ins
  • The light-filled spa-inspired master bath is opulently finished with Carrera marble flooring and slab countertops; marble slab baseboards are set beneath paneled wainscoting; two windows over the deep soaking tub with exposed nickel features welcome floods of natural light; additional appointments include Nuheat® electric heated floors, his and hers sink vanities with built-in mirrored medicine cabinets flanked by two wall sconces, a tremendous Carrera marble lined stall shower with dual showerheads and hexagonal tile flooring & a separately enclosed commode with skylight 


Bonus: Thrilling history of the property document has the address wrong on starting on the second page!

Update: Literally right after I uploaded this, Burbed reader San Matean shared this post from the Chronicle, with more pictures.  That’s the downside of a one article a day kind of blog.  However, the Chron in turn quotes the LA Times, which has this terrific description of the area from one of Mark’s new neighbors-to-be.

[The neighbor] described a neighborhood that is friendly but not that friendly. "Generally people do know who lives next door and across the street and say hello, but that’s about it," [he] said. He recalled that the most recent block party was held in 1976. "Everyone agreed we’d have to do it again," he said.

Palo Alto Online has the story too.  Honest, we had all this two days ago!

Comments (43) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

April 3, 2011

Palo Altan Angered by Cellular Tower, Says No More Free Internet for You

Usually if your city lets a mobile carrier put up a cellular tower across the street from you, you could show up at meetings and maybe file a lawsuit.  Today’s antenna opponent takes much more direct action.

Cell-tower foe to axe city’s Web connection

Angered resident ends 17 years of free service he created for the City of Palo Alto

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

Stephen Stuart, a Palo Alto resident who has provided the City of Palo Alto with a free connection to the Internet for 17 years, gave notice on Tuesday (March 29) that a nonprofit organization he works with, Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), will sever the city’s connection in two weeks.

The decision is a consequence of the planning department’s conditional approval last week of a 50-foot cell tower, to be erected across the street from Stuart’s home. The permit is scheduled to be considered by the Architectural Review Board on April 7.

Stuart maintains the planning department chose to ignore city laws when it approved the AT&T tower. City planners have said they have little legal leeway to deny the permit and cannot under federal law deny the permit on the basis of radiation levels, so long as those levels are within federal guidelines.

But Stuart and his wife, Tru Love, said that the city is misreading the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and ignoring ordinances it has in place that would protect residents.

"This is not a threat. This is not a punishment. This is the consequence of the city not enforcing its laws," Stuart said.

Okay, I am going to do my dangdest to ignore that this guy’s wife has a stripper name and I won’t make any comments about the 50 foot pole going up across the street.  Bwahaha!


imageThis is the neighborhood in question; Stuart’s house is marked with the little blue icon, and the church/school property is across the street with three red-roofed buildings, parking lots, and playing fields.  The tower will be in the west end of the church sanctuary itself, disguised as a steeple with a cross atop it (see AT&T’s render at right, taken from the back of the church). 

A large group opposed to the tower is trying to stop it the conventional way.  Stuart one-upped everyone by pulling the plug to teh internetz.

It’s an interesting situation.  How many cities had someone set up a free service for them and then after 17 years, “Hey, that antenna across the street sucks, I’m shutting off your tubes.”  According the article, Stuart is giving the city 2 weeks to find another service.  He is also cutting off the Palo Alto Arts Center, but not the schools or the other cities in the consortium.

Even if the city were to deny AT&T’s permit, Stuart said he would not reconnect the city.

When the city failed to exercise its own laws, "it discouraged people from investing in the city. I have invested my time. I’m done," he said.

imageNot explained in the article or in this one by the SJ Mercury News is why the nonprofit ISC agreed to Stuart’s demand that Palo Alto city offices be cut off, and in only 14 days, to boot.  The notification was sent by ISC’s Director of Business Operations Laura Hendriksen, not by Stuart. Several commenters on the PAO website suggested these actions could endanger ISC’s 501(c)3 status.

Meanwhile, Palo Altans had best gets used to cellular antennas at houses of worship.  Unlike Los Altos Hills, where residents can put up multiple cellular towers in their front yards, in Palo Alto it’s the religious sites that erect profitable ziggurats.  Watch the fur fly as T-Mobile (soon to be acquired by AT&T) puts in a 65-foot tower, disguised as a tree, at Congregation Etz Chaim in South Palo Alto.

imageStuart may be miffed because he doesn’t see moving as an option.  He and his wife bought their Channing Avenue house in 2005, and built a new house on the site which was completed in 2009 (photo above). 

The couple claim the tower will reduce property values.  Given the number of commenters complaining about terrible AT&T service in Palo Alto (blue pushpins in map, right, show current AT&T cell towers, red circle shows the neighborhood), it may actually increase them.

Meanwhile, AT&T wants to erect 80 Distributed Antenna Systems in Palo Alto.  These smaller antennas would be mounted on existing utility poles.  The city has not responded to this proposal yet.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

March 12, 2011

Palo Alto is the New Cupertino

And now, some local news from one of our favorite location, location, locations.

Census: Big spike in Palo Alto’s Asian population

City’s Asian population increased by 73 percent over the past decade, fueling overall population growth of 9.9 percent

by Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Online Staff

Palo Alto’s population spiked by almost 10 percent over the past decade, fueled in large part by a growing Asian community, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

The data, which the bureau released Tuesday afternoon, indicate that Palo Alto’s Asian population jumped from 10,090 in 2000 to 17,461 in 2010 — a 73 percent increase. While Asian Americans made up 17.2 percent of the city’s population 11 years ago, the proportion spiked to 27.1 percent last year, according to the census numbers.

Statewide, the Asian population went up by 31.5 percent over the past decade, census data indicate.
The new data confirm what many Palo Alto officials have publicly acknowledged in recent meetings: The city’s population is growing and become more diverse. The city’s listed total population grew from 58,598 in the 2000 census to 64,403 in the new one — an increase of 9.9 percent. At the same time, the city’s population of white residents dropped from 44,391 to 41,359 over the past decade — a 6.8 percent decline.

Well, isn’t that special?  Seems whatever made Palo Alto so different than its neighbors is less and less the case every day.  Yes, they knew they were rich, but they could also say they were white.  Oh, where are those restrictive covenants when you need them?

Time for a little history, then.

California used to have the Alien Land Law which prohibited non-citizens from purchasing land, but was used primarily to prevent Asians from purchasing property.  The law was found constitutional in 1923 and upheld in 1946, despite the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 (which grew out of wartime diplomacy rather than any concern for civil rights).

When the Supreme Court overruled themselves and barred restrictive covenants in 1948, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) quickly came to the aid of racial separatists with this delightful item added to their ethics code:

“A realtor should not be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or use which clearly will be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.”

California law also permitted school districts to set up different schools for Asian students, and if such a school was set up, all Asian students must attend that school.  San Francisco had such a school and triggered an international incident in 1906 when they required Japanese-American children to attend this hitherto Chinese-American school.  Yet California never specifically set up schools for black students, as was typical in the Southeast.  Racially segregated schooling, at least by statute, ended in 1954 after Brown v. Board of Education.

Also look out for the legal phrase “alien ineligible to citizenship” when reading these old laws and statutes.  That’s code for Asians again, and which Asians was spelled out in terms of longitude and latitude.  It sure didn’t apply to Russians and Middle Easterners.  It wasn’t until 1952 that racial restrictions to naturalization were done away with.

And now, in 2011, Palo Alto is getting a little bit more diverse than it has been.  Formerly a city for wealthy, high-achieving white people, Palo Alto will become a city of wealthy and upper-middle class high-achievers, of both European and Asian ancestry.  Diversity rocks!

Meanwhile, we can celebrate the return of de jure segregation, as the article mentions Hoover Elementary School has 78 percent of their students with Asian ancestry.  The photo at left shows what Hoover classes looked like back in 1951.

Check out the highly-charged comments in the online story, the editors of Palo Alto Online are yanking quite a number of them.  Seems there’s a few longtime (or not so longtime) residents who don’t appreciate any changes coming to Palo Alto, because, after all, It’s Special Here.

Comments (37) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:34 am

June 16, 2008

What is low income, moderate income in Silicon Valley (aka the Real Bay Area)

Palo Alto Online Palo Alto Weekly: Who Palo Alto’s 2,860 homes are planned for (June 11, 2008)
Who Palo Alto’s 2,860 homes are planned for

690 homes: very low income (less than $53,050)

543 homes: low income ($53,050 and $84,900)

641 homes: moderate income ($84,900 and $126,600)

986 homes: above moderate income (more than $126,600)

* Income for a family of four

Honestly, if you don’t make at least $84,900 for a family of four, you really shouldn’t be allowed to live here. There should be some sort of income police that checks your W2’s and 1099’s, and has the power to forcibly relocate you to Vallejo or Gilroy if you don’t meet that criteria.

Don’t take it personally. It’s all about protecting community.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:44 am