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About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Senior Living in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Oct 23, 2013
I am pushing 60, and I witnessed what my now deceased parents chose to do as they got to this stage of their lives. I think it is instructive for how we vote on Measure D, and more importantly how Palo Alto develops a senior housing policy going forward.

My parents had a lovely home in an east bay suburb, sold it and moved to a retirement community near Sacramento. So far, so good. Missing some of the variety of activities available in the Bay Area, but the community had great activities and resources, so they got involved.

Driving a car was needed to get to a market or a drug store or a doctor. This became increasingly difficult for my parents as they devolved into compromised health conditions. All of a sudden, a retirement community with a golf course, and a rec center were not amenities, and my folks were 90 miles away from any family. It did not work any more.

Here is why I voted against Measure D: no nearby amenities, retail resources, access to health care. Those are critical to people in the senior part of their life, and Maybell does not provide it.

More importantly, I am of the point of view that our City of Palo Alto needs to develop a clear vision and strategy for senior housing. I do not perceive that such exists right now.

I live near downtown, and it is great to see seniors in the retail area of University Ave. There are several senior facilities, Lytton Gardens the most prominent, that are close to things that seniors value and need.

I am voting against Measure D, and my message to leaders in Palo Alto is that we need a strategy for senior housing in town. It is important for numerous reasons.

Comments

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

> More importantly, I am of the point of view that our City of
> Palo Alto needs to develop a clear vision and strategy for
> senior housing. I do not perceive that such exists right now.

This posting, and topic, would be more discussable if the author had provided some idea what a "senior housing strategy" might be--either his own, or another city government's.

Most people who are not seniors, who live in Palo Alto as property owners, are likely to own their own home by the time they retire. That means that given that they have provided for an income stream that allows them to pay for the property taxes, which will be $40,000 to $60,000 a year for these 2 million to 3 million dollar homes that they purchased in the 30s/40s, why wouldn't they want to live in those homes? It's hard to find anyone commenting on this topic who has said they they can't wait to get to be 62 so that they can move into a publicly-subsidized senior housing project.

People who aren't property owners might have another point-of-view, but it would seem that everyone has an obligation to recognizze that they need to provide for their own housing, and living expenses, as they become older.

So--what kind of "senior housing policy" would Palo Alto, or any City, adopt that doesn't somehow assume that people are not capable to plan for themselves, and that takes many/all key decisions about senior's care out of the hands of the individuals, and their families?

Such a plan seems to smack of "nanny state", unless it's well thought out, and identifies the people that for which the City claims it should be expected to provide for in their senior years.


Posted by whatnimby, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

Recently my end of Palo Alto witnessed a surge of development resulting in hundreds of attached single family homes, condominiums and townhomes that sold for 1 million or more. There was a minor campaign to stop it but the units were built, people moved in and traffic keeps going. I notice more families at the parks, walking to school and diversity in the town.

I think the initial wave of residents for the Maybell project will be seniors and who knows if that will keep up in the decades to come? Simply put, Palo Alto is more civic minded than cities with zoning rules of neighboring communities that preserve housing at multi-million dollar levels (Atherton, Los Altos Hills, etc.). Lets celebrate that proudly rather than strive for exclusivity.


Posted by IN NYC they call senior housing Florida, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Wayne,

"So--what kind of "senior housing policy" would Palo Alto, or any City, adopt that doesn't somehow assume that people are not capable to plan for themselves, and that takes many/all key decisions about senior's care out of the hands of the individuals, and their families?"

I agree the first point to address is the assumptions that people are not capable to plan for themselves.

By definition - if you are a resident of Palo Alto and you have been living here either renting or in a home you will eventually sell, you should not be the beneficiary of "affordable" housing by virtue of turning 62.

Maybe the PA seniors in need of senior affordable housing are the ones who are currently in PA affordable housing and now qualify for the "senior" label.

The sky is the limit to plan housing for people who do not reside in Palo Alto to begin with, but are seniors. THe greater Bay Area has the same sunshine and there could be some really great senior communities built for a fraction of the cost of building in PA.

By the way, would you know what law is in place that forces all this focus on senior housing in Palo Alto?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm

When I was a child a grandparent came to live with us. There were discussions with extended family as to which family should be the ones to take on the responsibility of taking on this elderly relative who was no longer able to live on their own. The house was sold, the relative arrived by car with a trunkload of possessions and became part of our household. We had no idea how long this would last, but the whole family agreed wholeheartedly that we would grow by one member.

The grandparent lived for about 13 years before eventual decease. During that time, the amount of care needed increased until such time as somebody had to be in the home all the time and we had daily nurses coming in to help with care.

The point I am making, is that families are often the ones who take care of the seniors if they are available to do so. When a senior does want to sell up and move it may not be to a senior complex, a residential home or a nursing facility.

I think Palo Alto enabling family to build "inlaw quarters, or granny flats" without it taking longer than the need may be necessary. The typical time it takes to get plans, permits, construction and inspection of even a modest remodel is about 2 years. By that time it could be too late. In my family's case, we had to act within a few short months.

If Palo Alto really wants to help seniors, then how about making it easier for families already here to be able to take in an elderly family member. I would like to be able to take in a parent if necessary rather than have them put in some sort of senior housing complex where they may feel cut off from the world they used to enjoy taking part in. The problem of being able to fit them into the home we have would not be easy and it might involve us having to move to a more suitable house to do so.

Seniors are people and one size does not fit all. I think it would be asking some of the seniors who live in Palo Alto what they think of what they would like to do in their futures.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm

@Resident - well said and a great idea. There are many families, ours included, that would add an in-law apartment for elderly parents,


Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Wayne, there is no way residents who bought their homes years ago in the $30's to $40's (thousand) $$) are paying $40-60 thousand a year in taxes, That must be a misprint. My aunt and uncle bought theirs in 1966 for $32K. Their taxes now after an increase of 2% each year after the rollback in 1978 from humongous taxes pre-Prop 13 crushing taxes to 1975 assessment then an increase of 2% a year - like everyone else. How did you get those figures because you are usually right on. Maybe I don't understand. Thanks for all you do.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Wayne, there is no way residents who bought their homes years ago in the $30's to $40's (thousand) $$) are paying $40-60 thousand a year in taxes, That must be a misprint. My aunt and uncle bought theirs in 1966 for $32K. Their taxes now after an increase of 2% each year after the rollback in 1978 from humongous taxes pre-Prop 13 crushing taxes to 1975 assessment then an increase of 2% a year - like everyone else. How did you get those figures because you are usually right on. Maybe I don't understand. Thanks for all you do.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Wayne, there is no way residents who bought their homes years ago in the $30's to $40's (thousand) $$) are paying $40-60 thousand a year in taxes, That must be a misprint. My aunt and uncle bought theirs in 1966 for $32K. Their taxes now after an increase of 2% each year after the rollback in 1978 from humongous taxes pre-Prop 13 crushing taxes to 1975 assessment then an increase of 2% a year - like everyone else. How did you get those figures because you are usually right on. Maybe I don't understand. Thanks for all you do.


Posted by New in Town, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

to Bob.

There was no dollar sign on Wayne's 30s/40s. I believe he meant "in their 30s/40s" because he was discussing those that are not seniors making plans to afford the homes they are buying now in their own future retirement. I had to re-read it, but that appears to be what he meant.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Low-income seniors who want to live in Palo Alto run the gamut from those who have rented for years in PA to those who move here (or, more often, are moved here) to be close to adult children and many categories in between. At 89, my mother who lived in the middle of the country in a large house wanted to move here and I needed to be near her to look after her. Stevenson House which has small federally subsidized apts for low-income seniors was an ideal solution. She was able to maintain independence as long as possible and be surrounded by others. It was far superior to having her live with her 60s something daughter and son-in-law or in a nursing home whose services she did not need. Some of her neighbors were recent immigrants from Russia and from China also coming to be close to families. Not all home owners in PA can house their elders.

Being close to a grocery store, drug store, and services is ideal but transportation through Avenidas and others is available to seniors at no or very low cost.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Jane - I too have elderly parents that live in senior housing, it is the services (meals, transportation, optional medication management, social activities, etc.) provided that make the difference.

The proposed housing at Maybell would provide simply that, housing to low income seniors. Not Palo Alto residents or their family members, just people off their waiting list. No additional support services, just housing.

The proposed Maybell senior housing would provide a "community room, laundry rooms on each floor, photovoltaic water heating and electrical systems, a resident services office, exercise room, roof terrace, outdoor common areas and 42 parking spaces" (from the City Attorney's Impartial Analysis in the Sample Ballot). No meals, not transportation, no nurse visits, no emergency services, no social activities. Just housing.

In contrast, Stevenson House provides: Meals, Health Services, Transportation
.Care Coordination
 24-Hour Assistance
Emergency Translation Services
, Special Equipment
 upon request and at no cost to the borrower. They also provide social programs such as "international celebrations; computer-based activities; gardening; Tai Chi and biking; book and thespian clubs; exercise classes; music and singing parties; lively discussion groups; intergenerational learning with students; and visits from therapy dogs." (From their website).

Stevenson House is also not in a residential neighborhood and is walking distance to many amenities such as stores, the library, Cubberly, etc.


Posted by Andrea Schneider, a resident of JLS Middle School,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:25 pm

There is a difference between assisted living needs and affordable housing for our residents. Having lived and worked here for most of my life, I\\\'m having difficulty with the images of what 62+ looks like for those voting against Measure D. Smacks of "not in my backyard" (NIMBY).
I think we are forgetting our local values and empathetic traditions, which is another reason people live here. There is something wrong with this exclusive picture of Palo Alto. Increasing property values does not mean losing our empathy for others, whether seniors or families with kids.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm

> there is no way residents who bought their homes years ago in the
> $30's to $40's (thousand) $$) are paying $40-60 thousand a year in taxes

That's not what I wrote. Perhaps I should spelled it out, but at least one other poster read it properly.

For houses costing $2M, the yearly base property taxes in 30 years will be about $35K.year. A $3M home will see a base property taxes of over $35K/year. $4M homes will see a base tax of $71K. The PAUSD Board authorized Measure A bonds (or at least a ballot item to allow the voters to authorize the bonds) based on the belief that the housing prices in Palo Alto will double every 10 years for at least the next thirty years. While I doubt that this will come to pass, we are seeing Eichlers being rebuilt as much larger homes--allowing higher prices.

My point for posting this is that downstream, because the homes are all costing at least $1M, the property taxes are going to be pretty steep for seniors who want to stay here after they are in their 70s. At the moment, many Seniors are paying less than $1,500/year in base property taxes.

And keep in mind that there will be a every effort by the Schools, and the City, to impose extra taxes--which will likely add $3K-$5K to people's taxes, before the Stare/County add-ons are considered.

I still have no idea what Palo Losch is talking about, but we all need to consider how expensive it will be downstream, for the people moving into Palo Alto, of late, spending $2M-$3M for homes.

BTW--was it necessary to repeat your post three times?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

>Smacks of "not in my backyard" (NIMBY)

Andrea, there is absolutely nothing wrong with NIMBY. What street do you live on in the JLS neighborhood? With all your empathy, perhaps you can lead a drive to have welfare housing jammed onto your street. Are you willing? Are your neighbors?


Posted by Jane, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

In response to 'palo alto resident' Embarcadero Oaks, the services you cite provided by Stevenson House will also emerge at Maybell. Stevenson House has them because ( 1)they write grant proposals (again and again), (2) residents create them, or (3) outside volunteers provide them. Weekday dinners are the only "service" that is included in rent. Lunches are provided by La Comida. Maybell would undoubtedly follow the same path as Stevenson House which tries to help its residents maintain their independent living as long as possible.


Posted by zayda, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

@Andrea
I'm 77 and I'm not only voted against measure D, I am working hard to help defeat it. I strongly support affordable housing for seniors, built the right way in the right place (for the seniors). But I very strongly oppose the dishonest way this project has been pushed through by PAHC and the City Council as a mechanism for removing zoning restrictions for developers. I oppose the OVER-development which has been allowed in the name of greed. And as for NIMBY, ask the mayor how many affordable housing units he would be willing to accept in the EMPTY 10,000 sq. ft lot next door to his house.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Let's not forget that the affordable senior housing at Maybell is enabling a for -profit development on more than half the property at Maybell. While the money from the sale of the upzoned land will go to the affordable side, the millions in profit from the selling of the dense homes ala Miki's market will all go to the for-profit developer, not to help fund the affordable side. People seem to confuse the two.

When neighbors asked why pahc couldn't simply build fewer houses along with the main building - more consistent with the neighborhood - and sell those houses to make enough money to minmize the imact on the neighborhood, because it would bring in millions more to support the affordable housing, they said it's because it's not their mission.

The point us, they and the city pushed this through without ever having to really consider what's best for everyone, including thousands of kids safety. Please vote No, they are welcome to put in the housing then, the City would know it has to do ths right, though.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

@jane - while services may emerge at the proposed Maybell housing, that location will not suddenly be in walking distance to a grocery store, restaurants, community center or library.

Just as we want to locate housing near transportation centers, senior housing should either provide 3 meals a day or be close to shopping. I wish there was a viable location downtown, near Cal Ave, in Midtown or near Town and Country where shopping is easily available.


Posted by Kenneth Scholz, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I'm a senior and believe that housing is a fundamental human right. I'm fine with the Sr. portion of the Maybell proposal - 60 units, 4 stories. I'm working against D for the following reason: The second and far less mentioned part of this project employs PC zoning to squeeze 12 full market rate houses (5 are three stories) into over half the land area and all of the frontage. This portion is way out of character with the neighborhood and adds a good bit to the burden the project will bring to the area with its substandard street, already overloaded with school traffic. PC zoning was intended to bring benefits to the community, but its purpose here is to raise the value of the property before it is flipped to a second developer to build the for-profit houses, and to the city which will collect $1.5M in in-lieu fees from the 12 units (after 4 viable existing homes are destroyed to meet the requirements). This is PC Zoning for financial gain at the expense of the neighborhood and, if Measure D is not defeated, will become the model for high density development in other neighborhoods (Cubberley anyone?) In the past Palo Alto has funded below market housing with in-lieu fees and other funds, it should do the same here. Let's defeat D and get back to planning Sr. housing, and just Sr. housing - with zoning variances as necessary to improve the building. Vote "No on D".


Posted by A neighbor, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

@Jane is assuming that PAHC will all of a sudden change and start serving meals to its tenants. PAHC is not a senior assisted living provider. It manages rentals of low income housing to seniors or non-seniors. Their charter just doesn\\\\\\\'t include food preparation.

Stevenson House has a number of other amenities. First and foremost it is very near a medium size shopping center with a large grocery store, restaurants, etc. I see some residents walking to the store. There is also a bus stop immediately in front of it though I hardly ever see the elderly catching buses. There are 3 small libraries on site. There is a nurse who visits once a week in case the residents want to discuss minor health concerns. Stevenson House is a senior community not an apartment rental. You sense that as soon as you enter the place.

Maybell is 1/3 mile from a Walgreens and a bus stop. Jean MacCown said during the debate that Walgreens is perfectly suitable for the Maybell residents to do their grocery shopping in. I find this assumption that just because someone is low income they can do their food shopping at a drug store a very cruel one. Walgreens is not a viable substitute for a grocery store.

Maybell is far from any clinics. PAHC has said that Planned Parenthood will serve the residents of Maybell. This is another offensive put down to the low income seniors.

Maybell is a terrible location for older seniors. It is only close to car dealerships and oil change places and motels.

Maybell does not have anywhere near enough parking spots for the residents, either. PAHC says the residents won\\\\\\\'t have cars. That is a false statement. All of the government statistics point to seniors staying active longer and driving in order to take care of their basic needs.

This project is meant to help PAHC with its corporate goals not to help low income seniors.

Please VOTE AGAINST MEASURE D.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm

@Kenneth Scholz,
With all due respect, many people including me are against a 50-ft 4story building, nearly twice the height of the zoning limit. There has still been no legitimate safety analysis to bikes and pedestrians, on a route used by hundreds of kids. I wonder what's going to happen with the new bike law where you have to stay 3feet from a bicyclist, impossible to do on Maybell when it's busy.

Not only does Stevenson House have many walkable amenities, they still have overflow parking, they use the church next door to park their extra cars. It's a joke that they convince anyone it's enough. Who gets hurt by the overflow parking? The disabled kids in the OH across the street and the families who use the elementary and park.

Vote against measure D and so the City and PAHC have to come up with a better plan, knowing they can't ignore safety, parking, etc, but that neighbors will work with them. Yes just means yes to lawsuits, I think.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Thank you, Paul. If Against side wins, will you support finding a way to repurpoe that $15 million of public money at Maybell to save the Buena Vista mobile home park? Students from the park make up 10% of the student body at Barron Park Elementary. It's 4 acres and more than 400 low income residents, mostly longtime Palo Altans. If they had that money, there would be a competitive bid for the land, and the city and county could basically own half the property to eventually build affordable housing. It would be a decent public investment in the land regardless, and save far more real affordable housing spots. Would you support that? City Hall has kind of divided and conquered at Maybell, it might heal a lot of divisions.


Posted by Ruth Lowy, a resident of Barron Park,
on Nov 1, 2013 at 8:13 am

Ruth Lowy is a registered user.

We are in support of affordable senior housing FOR PALO ALTANS in Palo Alto. however, Here are some reasons why we are VOTING AGAINST MEASURE D.

1- This is a very inappropriate location for a senior housing complex. It is far from adequate shopping, transportation, recreation and other services, seniors will need daily. Seniors living in that location will be forced to drive to all the services and shopping they will require or be stuck at home waiting for others to drive them or bring them supplies.

2- The parking study conducted by PAHC to assess the impact of traffic from this project was inadequate and based on out of date protocols. Even the City Council acknowledged the need for a new study after receiving two critiques of that traffic study from other experienced professional sources.

3- This building will have a severe shortage of parking, only 36 spaces for 60 units. Residents, guests and caregivers will need to search for parking a block or two away from their home on the adjoining streets. At night, seniors and senior's guests will have to walk along dark roadways with no sidewalks if they can not locate parking on site. It is our belief that PAHC misrepresents senior driving habits when they say that 'seniors will not be driving and especially not during peak hours'. This simply can not be true. People are being misled if they believe that characterization of senior driving profiles and habits.

Barron Square Senior Citizen Family
Palo Alto


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