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Profiling Atherton (kentbrew.github.io)
97 points by kentbrew on Aug 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments



I ended up with renting a mansion in Atherton right off of Fair Oaks for dirt cheap for about a year. If you look at the tickets, a lot of them are on the streets around Fair Oaks since that's also a short path to/from Redwood City and the highway.

I would bet a lot of money that the profiling is done based on the type of car you drive and intended to keep people from Redwood City out of Atherton.

I drive an older Civic and my girlfriend drives a really beat up old Civic. We would get followed home down El Camino and Fair Oaks basically every day. To the point that the police learned that our Civics actually belonged in that Atherton block and then stopped following us after a few months. I had friends come over in expensive cars and hang out and not a single one was followed. I asked them specifically to keep an eye on if they were followed because the profiling was so blatant with me. The expensive cars were never followed.

For what it's worth, I think that's what a lot people in Atherton pay their local government for. They don't want people there who don't live in Atherton. You go to Atherton to get away from people, e.g. lots are massive because you don't want to see your neighbors, and there aren't sidewalks or street lights in most of Atherton because they don't want people walking around at night. Because if you're rich and don't want to see your neighbors, why would you walk around at night? Funnily, the train station is right there too and the Caltrain only stops in Atherton on the weekends because they don't want the poor commuters being able to get in or out of Atherton during the week. So it's not surprising that the data shows the community police force is doing exactly what the community pays them to do - keep people who don't live in Atherton out of the city.


Caltrain only stops in Atherton on the weekends because they don't want the poor commuters being able to get in or out of Atherton during the week

FWIW Atherton was one of the least used stations on the Caltrain line, and the nearby Menlo Park and Redwood City stations get very good service. So eliminating service made a good deal of sense. I can't explain why they still stop there on weekends, though...


when jogging in Atherton, I'd sometimes not make it home before dusk, and on multiple occasions I had a police car follow me, shining lights in my face to make sure I'm "someone" that belongs in Atherton.


wowow wait... screw the police and story. How do you find these dirt cheap mansions for rent?!


The guy who owned the mansion was a former entrepreneur who didn't want to live in the Bay Area but owned this giant house, and several other very expensive properties. To pay the property taxes on all of these places, he bought/sold very expensive items, and this stuff would get shipped to his house. But he didn't want to leave it outside for long and needed someone trustworthy to bring it in doors. That person was me.

So I would once a week drag a giant box filled with something expensive into the garage, and some guy would come by later and load it into a truck and carry it off. The guy who owned the house could then live in Tahoe or Hawaii or Florida in his other mansions, with the peace of mind of knowing he could pay his tax bills with 0 effort on his part.

In return, I got to live in a 6 bedroom house with a pool, basketball court, 2 gardens...for the cost of the utilities. In case you're curious, I found this guy on Craigslist when he was trying to rent the mansion at the bottom of the real estate bust and he just liked me, so we set up this special arrangement.


It's a highly inefficient market. Very few people want to rent anything for >$5-10k/mo -- they'd usually (stupidly) prefer to "not throw money away on rent" and either pay $50k/mo for a mortgage on that property, or spend the same amount on a much cheaper house mortgage. (or, in more reasonable cases, pay $2-5k/mo on rent).

If you can keep your neighbors in check, I think $10k/mo mansions make awesome startup offices, too. That's what everyone does in the Middle East/Caribbean/etc., and works well enough in the Bay Area, too, until you hit a lot of employees.


basically you can rent a mortgage from home owners who bought their mansions when they were still reasonably priced. the rent/mortgage ratios are still reasonable - however, the baseline is just a lot higher than your typical 2 bedroom condo.

many times the actual home owner lives in a much cheaper place. maybe in an apartment in the city, maybe in a bigger house in south carolina where they have servants and a fleet of classic cars. who knows.

it's how rent vs. mortgage is supposed to work.


if you * really * don't wan't neighbors they should move to woodside or portola valley where lot sizes are even bigger. :p


It's kinda interesting to me to see what Californians consider a big lot. I grew up in the Northeast suburbs of Boston, and my parents owned an acre lot. I went to school in central Massachusetts, and many of my friends lived on 5-10 acre properties.

When I moved out to California, it was really depressing to see the rows and rows of townhomes on postage-stamp lots. A family friend would show me around Cupertino, where typical houses are on about 1/4 acre, and he'd say that the land alone is worth $1M as a teardown. Looking through some real estate listings, I found that if I wanted an acre lot, basically the only option in Silicon Valley is Atherton (or Portola/Woodside/Saratoga). And it'll cost around $5M.

My parents spent $60K on their home - granted, it was a while ago, but it's still not worth close to $1M. My friends' houses in Central Mass were maybe $150-200K. There are downsides to living where everybody is rich.


> When I moved out to California, it was really depressing to see the rows and rows of townhomes on postage-stamp lots.

Never move to the UK


It seems pretty natural that if the serious penalties are for being unlicensed drivers (14602.6 VC, the $1800 thing), and most of the unlicensed people have Hispanic names/are Hispanic (which I think is generally true, in California), most of the people who get serious penalties for being unlicensed drivers will be Hispanic. There's no particular racism there on the part of the Atherton police in that. You have to have sufficient cause for a stop (other traffic infraction) to pull someone over in the first place; if the initial infraction isn't worth citing, no big deal. If the initial infraction is valid, but still not worth citing, and the driver is unlicensed, then 14602.6 VC applies. There's no particular way to tell if a driver is unlicensed otherwise, and "I thought he was unlicensed" wouldn't meet the standard of suspicion needed to do a stop, as a result. Even if someone were unlicensed and caught, if you didn't have the cause to stop him for something else, he'd walk on the unlicensed driver charge.

(There's plenty of other racism in society, and maybe in Atherton, but I don't think their traffic stop stats necessarily show it.)

Otherwise, it seems like a pretty amazing place to live. A little far from SF, perhaps, so there's a point in Hillsborough's favor, but if I could afford it, I'd be in Atherton or Hillsborough for sure. Maybe Woodside as an outside choice.


I think the point of the story is that drivers with dark skin are (it appears) much more likely to be pulled over in the first place.

if the initial infraction isn't worth citing, no big deal

Well, no. The whole objection to profiling, whether Hispanic drivers in Atherton or black kids in NYC, is that the cops have no good reason to be stopping them in the first place.

This report provides no data on how many red-light running/speeding/drunk white drivers were not pulled over, or were let go and told to "be more careful next time."

While I'm sure that being very wealthy is amazing, I've never heard "amazing" used to describe Atherton.

Source: I live two blocks away.


Also, if it's totally not racist at all, then why did they stop providing the information as soon as this analysis was put up? That makes them look way more suspicious than they already did.


I think I just posted the same thing you did. Also:

Strawman: 'Well these people all drive crappy cars with stuff wrong with them' Teardown: Where's all the traffic violations for poor white people? Poor black people? Further, what about all the other kinds of traffic violation (drunk driving etc.)? Are Hispanics the only people who ever do anything wrong on the road?


There are not a lot of poor white or poor black people in RWC/Atherton; it's mainly rich white/asian people and poor hispanic people, in my experience. Poor people are relatively more segregated by race in the Bay Area than I'd expect -- poor white people tend to be in various parts of the East Bay, poor black people in a few specific neighborhoods of SF and EPA and Oakland/Richmond, poor asians in some parts of the South Bay (and maybe Oakland?), poor hispanics in ESJ, parts of the Peninsula, south of Oakland, etc.

It seems like poor people are actually more segregated than rich people here -- aside from the general shortage of rich black people in general, the rich people I see in PA/Piedmont/etc. are a pretty representative mix of white/asian/hispanic/etc.


And no poor non-Hispanic people driving through on El Camino, getting from A to B? I don't know the local geography, but I would assume that a main thoroughfare would get _some_ non-residents.


ECR is not a great road to take for any distance, since it has stoplights everywhere. It's parallel to two expressways (101 and 280), so it's really only applicable to maybe a 5 mile radius, otherwise you'd take another road.

As far as I can tell, there are ~no poor people living in Atherton, Palo Alto, or most of Menlo Park, unless you count startup founders, retirees who live on low retirement incomes in $5mm present-value homes, and the like. There are poor people living in RWC (sort of), who are almost exclusively Hispanic (at least from the neighborhoods I saw; I was looking at houses in North Fair Oaks and RWC at one point.) Even the poor people in RWC didn't seem that poor, more like working class or middle class (which is poor by comparison to Atherton.)

There are poor people in EPA and Belle Haven (Menlo Park east of 101). They would be very unlikely to take ECR through Atherton, though, since 101 is closer. (they used to be almost exclusively black, now it's partially black and partially hispanic and partially pacific islander). And even there, real estate is now becoming absurdly expensive again.

There are weird poor (white, and other) people living in the inaccessible parts of Portola, but they seemed really old, or rarely left their homes, and they probably weren't actually poor, just "people who live in the middle of the woods and are kind of weird."


For long-range through traffic, 101 is better, but routes through Atherton are ideal ways to access to parts of town with businesses which may be relevant to minority residents, such as Chavez Supermarket (great taqueria). It's also possible to transfer from 101 to 280 on routes which take you through Atherton. I've done it many evenings myself.


Woodside certainly isn't a consolation prize. It's beautiful, and features the stunning Skyline Blvd drive and Alice's Restaurant!


I also like Portola Valley, but while I like driving on winding roads sometimes, I think it would get a bit lame to do every time I wanted to come home late, etc. And the cellphone reception/internet access/etc. thing, although I suppose a lot of places have decent LOS for a point to point free space link.


not sure if i should upvote the alice's reference. I love it place but those roads are crowded enough around there. too many cagers to enjoy the twisting roads already :(


So... if being unlicensed is not a sufficient justification for a traffic stop, then why are these drivers being pulled over in the first place?

Are you saying that they get pulled over for something else, and it so happens that they are also unlicensed?

In that case, why is it only Hispanic drivers being pulled over? Are Hispanics the only ethnic group in the areas north and south that commit traffic infractions?


I'm assuming lots of people get pulled over for various infractions, and the Hispanics among them are the ~only ones who are unlicensed and are thus the ~only ones cited for being unlicensed. Other citation types appear less biased (I just scanned, I didn't do actual analysis, I'm trying to finish my RSA 2014 submissions right now).

There may be profiling in pulling over "old/cheap" cars more for the same violations, but I have a hard time telling if someone is white/hispanic/whatever in another car, particularly from behind. I can identify black vs. white from sides/front in a car, but doing so from behind is quite hard, too. So I am less likely to believe there's racial profiling in who is stopped; the greatest potential for racial discrimination would be in cite vs. not cite on specific violations committed (like, letting white people have a pass on speeding, while citing nonwhite people) after the car is already stopped. I don't think most police would let anyone have a pass on unlicensed/suspended, though, regardless of race (or, in some cities where immigration status prevents being licensed statewide, but the city/local people support undocumented/illegal people, maybe they'd be more likely to give an unlicensed driver who was otherwise not at fault a pass if stopped for something really not his fault like being in a non-at-fault accident.)


Are Hispanic people unlicensed at such a high rate relative to the general population that it would fit this data?

Also,

> I don't think most police would let anyone have a pass on unlicensed/suspended

is a direct contradiction to:

> Even if someone were unlicensed and caught, if you didn't have the cause to stop him for something else, he'd walk on the unlicensed driver charge.

Which you posted above.

[edited to fix bad c+p]


1) Most Hispanic people in the Bay Area are US citizens or lawful residents, and licensed (and pay taxes, and are otherwise generally representative of everyone else). We're talking about the set of people who get caught for unlicensed/suspended, which is already a pretty small subset, and not representative of the overall population at all.

However, most unlicensed people are that way due to immigration status, which is almost entirely Hispanic people (since our illegal immigrants are essentially all Mexican or Guatemalan). Suspended license people are often DUI or other things like that, which I'd assume is much more universal. I don't know the breakdown between unlicensed and suspended; generally I think suspended/revoked are punished more harshly than unlicensed, partially because you have to be a fuckup to get your license suspended in the first place, and it's a bit more willful to continue driving at that point. If there were no legal way to get a license, it's a lot more morally defensible to drive anyway (although, insurance...); fortunately CA seems to make it possible to get a license anyway, so failing to do so is an affirmatively lame action.

2) No -- I meant if you wanted to prosecute someone for the unlicensed, but your PC to stop him originally was bad (i.e. you claimed he ran a red light, but it turns out he didn't), the court would let him walk (rather, it'd never go to trial).

If a cop had legitimate PC to stop, and then stopped and found suspended license, the cop would almost certainly cite/arrest/whatever for the suspended license.

Those are two entirely different cases. (It's pretty easy to generate legitimate PC to pull ~anyone over, though, due to how the vehicle code is written and how people actually drive.)

(Another unanswered question is "is there a variation in vehicle maintenance or driving rule compliance in different race/ethnicity drivers?" -- I tend to think there isn't. Even if you wanted to go by rich/poor, I've even seen plenty of expensive cars with maintenance issues, and obnoxious rich people with huge numbers of bikes on bike racks obscuring license plates, unsecured loads, etc. The only real distinction I've seen is that pickup truck drivers, in general, are the cause of almost all object-in-road problems.)


Ok, after reading your response, I was somewhat confused, and now looking at the code, it seems like the drivers licenses are done in California is quite a bit different than here, in Australia.

It seems that in California, at least, there is a legal distinction between a 'revoked' license and being 'unlicensed'.

In Australia, AFAIK there's no distinction; if you commit an offence serious enough to have your license revoked, then you no longer have a license and are unlicensed; i.e. it's the license that gives you the right to drive, and if your license is revoked then you don't have a license any more.

It's the same deal for suspensions - in Australia, if your license is suspended, then you're by definition unlicensed for the period.

So there may be a semantic mismatch where I misunderstood you.

It would seem that in California, pretty much the only way you could get a 12500(a) is if you'd never held a license at all; in this case, it fits your assertion that Hispanics are the only _unlicensed_ drivers.


There are a tiny number of people who don't get licenses because they don't believe the state should have the authority to license them, and maybe a few others who don't because they're otherwise on the run for other crimes (but never got a license), and others who have licenses but are living under other identities (which isn't strictly illegal; only if it's being done to defraud. If you thought MS-13 was out to kill you, it might be prudent to give up your identity, including your license, assume another identity, and thus be "unlicensed")

There are also people who have non-valid licenses by being in-state for a long time with another state license, or perhaps a foreign license (i.e. they had a UK license, came to the US for a long time, failed to correctly get a CA license when they were able to do so.)

But those are all in the statistical noise, I think, vs. undocumented immigrants who either can't get licenses (most states) or don't (because they're afraid CA DMV will turn their records over to DHS ICE, I guess?)


It's a "all squares are rectangles, but all rectangles are not squares".

Hispanics are statistically far more likely to be illegals and thus unlicensed or uninsured. The problem is, most people of hispanics are 100% legal. Some have ancestors that have been in California since before it was a US territory.


The author is cherry picking his data. He has a pool of 12,500 tickets, and is looking at a very narrow type of infraction that affected 182 drivers of 12,500. In that small pool, why do hispanic names show up disproportionately? Maybe they are more likely than your typical Atherton resident to not have a license due to immigration status.


12500 refers to the section of the vehicle code under which 182 tickets were issued: http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d06/vc12500.htm


You are right! I read, "Why were so many (over a hundred) of the 12500 tickets," incorrectly. Looks like there were actually 1509 records in the author's JSON object.

Nonetheless, it is an infraction type that will disproportionately target illegal immigrants since they can't get driver's licenses. If the author wanted to show racism, he'd need to pick something like speeding and show that hispanic names show up more than their presence in the area.


This. He is ignoring the rest of the data and looking only at "vehicle code violations" - and then irresponsibly reporting it to seem like Hispanics driving without licenses is a disproportionally large drain on police resources when in fact, as you say, this is only a narrow violation comprising a small minority of total tickets issued.


Sorry, that was poorly worded. Will fix, thanks!

What's shown on the report is every single traffic ticket, not just a small selection.


Cruise down Middlefield past Marsh and somewhere around 5th you'll understand. There are two very different groups of people living very close together.

In the daytime, workers motor towards the money to toil in the plutocrats' homes and gardens. A lot of them are illegal immigrants driving marginal toyota pickups overloaded with tools and co-workers.

Nighttime brings-out the drunkards and the criminals. The police ward off the latter and move the former back into RWC.

These folks are just like you coming to Sand Hill to pitch your startup: they want money & this is where it's at. They're the same in that some will toil & some will grift. They're different in that the deviant poor are more likely to turn to violence and theft, while the psychopathic want-to-be-rich become consultants at Accenture or KPMG.

The rich & the poor look & behave differently. A battered PU stands-out as much as an Athertonian's Fisker just 2 miles down the street the "wrong" way.

They need to be protected from one another. Atherton is way too nice to be real, yet it exists, so it has to be buffered. That requires vigilance. Bay Aryans have delicate sensibilities around inegalitarianism; i.e., you need good police who will go about the business w/o putting it on display.

Same thing in Palo Alto. It has a stark socio-economic border with East Palo alto that requires sophisticated social policing. As a Palo Alto resident (or high-tech gastarbeiter) you feel safe and secure in a shared culture of prosperity. Yet (underreported) property crime and (unreported) deportations tell a different story: safety isn't a given, it's provided by vigilant, sophisticated police & enabled by a populace willingly suspending disbelief.

Catch a glimpse by spending your lunch at the transit center or your evening smoking in any alley off of University. People-watching at the PA Caltrain socio-economic nexus radically changed my "feel" of PA.

It's hard to overstate the difference between (poor parts of) RWC & Atherton, EPA & PA, or Belle Haven/Ravenswood & Menlo Park. If you're local, it's well worth driving (or better biking) from one to another to get the sense: incredibly, unbelievably nice on the one hand; fucking shit awful on the other. My gut says: there's something really wrong with this. But my head can't figure-out what to do about it.


Insightful.

However, since we live in such hyper-partisan times where news outlets toe the political line and play to the cheap seats, this story will never be picked up by the national media.

I'd be astounded if (or especially) a Krystal Ball or Tamron Hall or Chris Matthews gave this even a passing glance or the sundry treatment in one of their segments.

Why? Because this is Northern California. Scratch that. This is the Bay Area. The No-Daily-Limit ATM for the DNC.

Facts unchanged, if this were to have happened in a wealthy exurb in Florida or Texas, then any news producer who stumbled on this would have just struck prime-time Nielsen gold.

Every two-bit Latino Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow coalition would be all over the story.

Since this happens to be in a hyper-affluent town, the residents of which bundle and bestow generously to all sorts of progressive causes, both political and societal, they make an exception.

I'm certain this sort of thing happens in the toniest parts of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and other liberal bastions in the Northeast as well.

It is precisely for those like the residents of Atherton who presumably demand tough law enforcement within the city limits, for everyone besides them (and yes this is largely a presumption since there are no facts to suggest that the residents have any say in this selective enforcement), the terms limousine liberal and champagne socialist were coined.

This is why I heavily loathe all forms of partisanship and frown on extreme positions to both the left and right of the center.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limousine_liberal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne_socialist

Edit: Additions


Is this really insightful or is this another case of "correlation not implying causation"?

Have you paused to consider the geography of these cities, their respectful populations, commute profiles or other socio-economic data? Of course not - you're a busy person just like all of us and we all rely on others to provide digestible, bite-size chunks of information arranged "just so" to help us come to the same conclusion as the author.

But I digress. Please look at the above replies and consider that few things are as black-and-white as people want us to believe.


All the statistics gleaned from incarceration surveys and law enforcement records cannot indubitably frame a police department for clear racism.

and

Conversely, all the statistics gleaned from incarceration surveys and law enforcement records cannot indubitably absolve a police department of clear racism.

It's just the nature of the beast.

Even if you were to be able to prove it, there will always be concern-trolls who argue,quite convincingly, that preventing police departments from aggressively enforcing the law (even with provisions such as Stop and Frisk in NYC) is in itself an injustice to the poor and vulnerable (many of whom might in fact be of the inflicted race, themselves).

Eg:

Barney Frank argues in favor of more policing of black neighborhoods as not doing so would be a disservice to the law abiding (black) residents who are also themselves victims of crime albeit from gang members who might be black,themselves. So STOP and FRISK is in essence justified, one could imply from Frank's rationale. This from an openly gay and progressive Democrat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW3xFGeGIWk&t=2m12s

General perception has always been the scale used to judge whether a party is at the receiving end of overt or covert racism.

Statistics have always been a sideshow. A sweetener, if you will, to seal the argument but not the primary means of smelling that something's awry in the way people are treated.

Whether it is community policing or non-discriminatory housing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/business/economy/discrimin...

Justice Potter Stewart's thumb rule for ascertaining whether something fits the definition of hardcore pornography applies here: "I know it when I see it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

Whether Atherton is the most fitting poster child for the kind of limousine liberalism that I described, is another matter altogether.

I wouldn't be one bit surprised if this happened in any of the most educated and virulently liberal nooks of the country.

The fact is it does exist and yes it is a thing.

It has been called the "Oh, don't give me any of that racist crap! My Husband and I gave money to Colin Powell!" strain of racism.

To remove the last remnants of niggling doubt from those who genuinely suspect that such a pattern of behavior actually exists among the most gifted, accomplished and refined, while wealthy, members of our society, I give you this memorable exchange from the movie Cruel Intentions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb2XlqE9OUg

This has always been there and given the current mores of our society, is likely to persist unless we shed our partisan coats and overhaul our approaches to solving societal problems in a wholesale way.


Is it really that mysterious? Middlefield Rd in Atherton feeds into Middlefield Rd in Redwood City, which is a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, with some bodegas carrying no signage in English.

Next up - Cupertino police profiling Asian drivers.


except Cupertino itself is now predominantly Asian so they wouldn't be profiling drivers who are more likely than not actual residents :p


presumably that was prostoalex's point


> I have in no way, shape or form "hacked" Atherton or its police department to produce this site.

I think it's sad that the author felt compelled to include that.


I used to go jogging in Atherton a few times a week and I always wondered about all the cars getting pulled over. I wanna say in all cases it was a Hispanic driver in an older/beat-up car. Never once in the years I lived here have I seen an "expensive" car getting pulled over.


I've lived in Atherton since 1988 and decided to create a Hacker News account just so I could comment on this issue.

First, I applaud Kent Brewster's compilation of the data and I believe his suggestion of racial profiling was done with good intentions. Racial profiling is a terrible thing and it should be pointed out if it exists.

Having said that, racial profiling is not the reason that 175 of 182 people cited for driving without a license (DWOL) were Hispanic. I do agree that being cited for misdemeanors instead of citations is wrong. That's something that either needs to be stopped or perhaps has an explanation.

Anyone living in the Peninsula or South Bay knows that a lot of gardening, moving, and repair work is done by Hispanic people. These are the people being pulled over by the cops. They aren't local residents being pulled over.

It shouldn't be surprising that many of these workers are illegal immigrants. With the exception of some loopholes, it's not possible for illegal immigrants to have a driver's license. One California State Assemblyman estimates there are one million illegal immigrants DWOL in California (see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2013/01/...)

Since the Trayvon Martin ruling happened recently, I can understand that people's awareness of racial profiling is much greater. But in this case, it's really about illegal immigration and that these workers aren't allowed to have driver's licenses. Remember, they aren't being cited for drunk driving, speeding, or illegal U-turns. They're being cited for not having a license, which they don't have.

By the way, I've been pulled over in Atherton (my home town) three times for speeding. And I'm not Hispanic.


FWIW, I've been pulled over in Atherton. Something about an "illegal" left turn.

In an expensive car. At the time, I owned a property there too, and my license had that address. Got a ticket. Went to court. Judge agreed that it wasn't illegal turn.

Just sayin.


My [non-Hispanic] girlfriend lives in Atherton. Hispanics run that city. At first I thought it was great for my taco habit, but after our second or third burrito date I quickly realized the locals were not as thrilled to have us. We were glared at often, and my rusty Spanish was good enough to pick up murmurs of "puta madre" and other various obscenities as we walked by. Needless to say, she's moving up to the City soon, which means less $1 tacos for me...

On a happier note, she drives a brand new luxury SUV. I don't think I've even seen a cop drive near us.


Hispanics run that city. At first I thought it was great for my taco habit, but after our second or third burrito date I quickly realized the locals were not as thrilled to have us. We were glared at often, and my rusty Spanish was good enough to pick up murmurs of "puta madre" and other various obscenities as we walked by.

That wasn't Atherton, that was Redwood City. I know, on the peninsula it kind of all blurs together...


What's weird about North Fair Oaks (unincorporated SMC) is that it's not really "Hispanics", it's "people from Michoacan state (in Mexico)". I'm not sure what causes large numbers of people from one relatively small area to move to another specific relatively small area far away.

They do make really good bread.


No it was literally a block from the Atherton Caltrain haha


Atherton is all of the mansions with huge yards, gates, tons of trees, and no commercial zoning. Driving north, you hit little mexico or whatever, then Redwood City.

Learn to baylife.


Where do you buy tacos in Atherton? And $1 tacos at that?


Really Redwood City: http://www.emeraldlake.com/tacos/

EDIT (and environs):

"Although there are excellent tacos to be had all over Redwood City, any first-time pilgrim should focus on "Little Michoacan," the unofficial appellation for all the neighborhoods bounded by Highway 101, El Camino Real, Woodside Road and Willow Road. (It includes the North Fair Oaks neighborhood that lies just outside Redwood City proper.) The area is home to thousands of families with ties to the Mexican state of Michoacan. Thus, the roster of taquerias and other businesses along Middlefield Road reads like a roadmap of the Mexican state's municipalities -- Morelia, Uruapan, Arteaga, Apatzingan."


There are at least five El Grullense's ($1.25 tacos) and tons of competitors that advertise $1 tacos. Definitely merges into RWC territory though.


We also live on the border of Atherton and when we drive the BMW no one bothers us. We also have an older commuter car, and when we pull out into Atherton a police cruiser will follow us along El Camino. The police wait at spots that are exit and entrance points to Fair oaks, such as Fifth and El Camino or Middlefield rd going into Fair Oaks, and by Selby Lane School. These aren't just peoples maids or gardeners, but simply people driving older beat up cars, which evidently is probable cause to stop by the Atherton PD


I got pulled over in Atherton. I was driving a filthy 15 year old Toyota I'd bought for $800. The cop said he'd only pulled me over because "dirty cars are often stolen." I didn't get a ticket since I hadn't done anything wrong, but I really don't think he had reasonable suspicion for that stop. I'm not Hispanic, but he was basically profiling me for driving a poor person's car.


I guess I had better wash my 12 y/o car before I drive through Atherton again. I only have to go through there about once a month though.


If you are an undocumented immigrant, you might not have a valid driver's license, and you might have to leave your car at the site or have it impounded. Some towns in the Peninsula don't allow traffic cops to ask for immigration papers or mix up their jobs with Federal immigration laws, - I don't know about Atherton. But if you're stopped and you don't have a license, the police can ask you to leave your car by the road, and you walk home. I teach ESL, and many of my students have had to walk away from their cars. If the police do impound the car, the owners often don't have money or are afraid to go get them, so they lose their car. This happens all the time, and often causes big logistical and financial problems for the families.


I think you have incomplete data and your conclusions are, therefore, suspect.

To illustrate my point, you have no data points for infraction offenses (speeding, equipment violations, etc). Your data is only for misdemeanor licensing violations.

Given that one can't obtain a California license without a valid social security number, doesn't it make sense that the large Hispanic undocumented population would be well represented for these violations?


Only semi-related, however a parody account of Atherton made for Mountain View recently got a lot of press when some news outlets thought it was real: http://mv-voice.com/news/show_story.php?id=7229


Virtually non-existent chance the 175 tickets to Hispanic-named drivers happened by chance alone: http://statisticalideas.blogspot.com/2013/08/profiling-ather....


I've taken a few minutes to update Profiling Atherton with the most recent month's worth of data from Menlo Park, the city just south of Atherton. Lots of confiscated cars, but the ethnic mix is much closer to what you'd expect in Silicon Valley.


What's interesting if you look at a map of Atherton on Google Maps is that exactly will the city lines are drawn, it is much more green (trees, vegetation, etc). I remember reading something about how the greener the area, the wealthier it tends to be.


Speculation: by booking them for misdemeanors rather than infractions they can run them through an immigration database.


goes to show you never know what you'll find when you start digging. Incredible work, OP.


Nice work.




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