Graphic hilarity ensues when Silicon Valley ventures to East Palo Alto [Recap: season 1, episode 5]


Small correction: I think you mean “blighted district to the north.” The area south of Palo Alto is pretty much the opposite of blighted.


I really think East Palo Alto is prime for gentrification, and I don’t really understand what that hasn’t happened yet.

Richmond on the other hand will always be shit. No one wants to live next to an oil refinery.

At this stage of a company, isn’t there always one person that everyone agrees should be drowned in the bathtub, but they talk themselves out it, but he turns out to be the classic Judas after all?

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Claiming that “East” Palo Alto is a misnomer fails to understand the notion of Logical North that bay area natives use. (I’m one.)
Logical North is the direction you’d travel towards San Francisco (and thus away from San Jose) on the nearest major artery. If you’re on the east side of the bay, Oakland is the cardinal point. So, as EPA is to you’re right as you’re on 101 Northbound, that’s East. Note that Logical North is due west in much of Silicon Valley proper.


It may not be clear if you don’t live here, but the main artery dividing Palo Alto from East Palo Alto is Hwy 101: 101 North runs to San Francisco and 101 South goes to San Jose, even if it’s sometimes actually travelling nearly east-west. Thus, “west” is anything towards the ocean, and “east” is towards the bay.

Also, I don’t think the comment about EPA being “left out” of Palo Alto’s incorporation is quite accurate. Palo Alto is in Santa Clara County, and EPA is in San Mateo, as is Menlo Park. There is a long connection between MP and EPA: after WWII, real-estate agents steered African-Americans towards EPA and away from MP.


We don’t really want to gentrify and therefore drive out long term residents. The growth has so far been fairly careful and thoughtful.

East Palo Alto never has nor wanted to be part of Palo Alto when it seriously considered incorporation. Like you’ve said it’s a different county.

The racists in Menlo Park and Palo Alto wouldn’t allow, by law, Asians or African Americans to buy homes in their towns, which is why so many settled in unincorporated E. Palo Alto post-WWII.

The name East Palo Alto also has nothing to do with Highway 101; it had this name before the highway existed and a good chunk of it is on the west side. The divider from Palo Alto is the San Francisquito creek and we are considered east of the creek from Logical North.

Isn’t this segment of the show involving E. Palo Alto because Judge lived here for awhile?

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There’s a bit of East Palo Alto on the west side of the 101. The commercial part used to be called Whiskey Gulch, and once had the nearest liquor stores to Stanford University (which is on the west side of Palo Alto, in a separate town so the students couldn’t vote in Palo Alto elections). Eventually Whiskey Gulch got gentrified, torn down and replaced by high-rise law offices that probably wouldn’t have been legal to build in Palo Alto.

When I moved to the area, East Palo Alto had a very high crime rate, but I was pleased to hear the police chief there giving a radio interview where he said they didn’t have a gang problem, they had a problem with not enough recreational activities or jobs for kids to do to keep them out of trouble. Most of the crime was drug-related, as opposed to the other side of the freeway where it was mostly white collar.

Bill - where do you think the white collar folks get their drugs? I’ve seen many a drug arrest of non-EPA residents. And we do still have gangs. Most of the violent crime is gang-related.

It’s not a “bit” of E. Palo Alto on the west side; it’s the most densely populated area of the city and runs from Menalto Ave to south of Newell.

As a Geography major, I highly support the concept of logical (vs magnetic/“true”) directions – for California overall, the NW-SE axis of the state is generally read as North-South, to the point that few realize that Reno, Nevada is West of San Diego, California.

My favorite Bay Area directional challenge is in the Oakland-Emeryville-Berkeley-Albany-El Cerrito area, across the Emperor Norton San Francisco Bay Bridge: if you’re heading to Sacramento/Tahoe/Chicago/New York, you’re travelling North for a few miles on 80 East and 580 West.

PS If you silently inserted the word “the” before the freeway numbers while reading this, you belong in Southern California.


He should have been 1/9th as angry.


I do hope they keep the Peter Gregory character and simply state “Peter Gregory will now be played by …”

Mike Judge was on NPR’s Fresh Air, and discussed the actor who plays Peter Gregory in such a way that suggests there’s no way they’d try to simply replace him. He does the character so well (balancing on a fine line of pushing the supposed disconnect from reality too far) that though you could replace him, you could never actually replace him.

Assuming the show gets another season (and I hope it does, I felt it started slow and had some problems but it’s shaping up really well IMO), I suspect they’ll have the character die - perhaps in a small plane crash, as has been known to happen.

Also, on a different note mentioned in the recap, I don’t think the romance that is obviously supposed to be brewing is going to be typical in any way. I think the woman character does legitimately feel bad as she claimed to (and isn’t just using him again), but there’s no romance from her side. Though surely he’s already misinterpreted all of her signals, as we’re meant to expect from him, whatever happens I doubt will be groan-inducing which is the fear when romance is shoehorned in. I don’t think it’s shoehorned in here, is my point, and this sort of romantic confusion is undoubtedly typical in these settings.

I’m pretty sure 99% of us that don’t live there couldn’t give a sh|t.

Did they actually mention they were in EPA during the episode? I just thought it was somewhere in south San Jose (maybe because I knew they where filming down in LA).

  • life-long Palo Alto native

It’s not about planning, or and trying not to gentrify. It will happen whoever there is a relatively cheap location near relatively expensive and desirable neighborhoods. In all honesty, I think the real reason why EPA hasn’t attracted the more affluent (i.e. those with six-figure incomes) is stigma brought on by racism.

There’s just less “risk takers” on the peninsula than there is in The City. It’s not like SOMA 15 years ago, or The Mission the mission 5 years ago, was perceived to be a nice neighborhood either.

I’ve never lived in the area so I’ll defer to you on the role of racism but I have to wonder if the name isn’t also a small part of EPA getting overlooked. Places with a direction in their name are usually perceived as inferior to a place without a directional, especially when they’re near each other. East Saint Louis < Saint Louis, West Virginia < Virginia. Why go with the imitator when you can have the original? While likely not a primary cause of East Palo Alto being in a lesser position than Palo Alto, I have to wonder if changing to a unique name would improve the city’s fortunes.

Or would this simply lead to California having a city named ‘The City of’?

What I would hate to happen here, and what would really tank Silicon Valley after its already precarious position of having one significant female character, is for a romantic plot to develop between Monica and Richard.

You can feel it coming. Not necessarily a plot per se, but you can feel they’re going to do something.  Tv is tv, you can’t tell it not to be what it is.

The lack of gentrification is by design. The residents don’t want it. They want to maintain affordable living. However, as in other nearby cities, there’s been a lot of foreign cash used to buy up houses.

More than racism, others are concerned about the poor quality of some of the schools and the crime rate and lack of overall city services. I’m not guessing about these things; what I’ve written here is the result of info I’ve learned from civic engagement - attending meetings, active neighborhood groups, etc.