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Senior housing planned for old orchard property

Original post made on Sep 15, 2012

Palo Alto could gain 59 homes for seniors if an affordable-housing project by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation becomes a reality. Officials unveiled plans for the apartment project at a meeting Wednesday night, Sept. 12.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, September 15, 2012, 10:23 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

> "Most people agreed the project is needed and a noble one."

Noble? To get a free pass to build twice as many units (600 sq ft average) as the zoning allows while getting the city to pay for the privilege?

Here's an example of why developers like tiny apartments: In SF, average rent for a 493 sq ft studio apartment is $2,075 month or $4.21/sq ft. Proposed 220 sq ft units would rent for $5.91 - $6.82/ sq ft.

See Tiny living space: S.F. looks at reducing minimums for apartment size at Web Link Web Link

"It's disingenuous to say it creates affordable housing, it's just that you get significantly less space," said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. "This doesn't create affordable housing, it simply creates another lifestyle option."

She also worries that the "shoe-box" units could create a slippery slope of allowing other exemptions on considerations like natural light and ceiling height.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2012 at 7:05 am

What about a row of cottages, some apts and flats. Unit space in different sizes, different heights, but most important have some green space.


Posted by Penny Ellson, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

Actually, I said, "Anedotally, I have observed at Stevenson House that the seniors there don't generate many trips during the morning peak hour." which is the time of day when Arastradero has always had severe congestion. The senior housing and some of the proposed market rate single family homes in the current proposal would feed to Arastradero.


Posted by ped, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm

More traffic for already overtaxed Arastadero? No!


Posted by Floyd, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

More than one storey for seniors?? Old like me says NO.


Posted by A., a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I have mixed assessment of the proposal:
We have many low income housing already in this part of Palo Alto:
Stevenson House 120 apts; Arastradero Park Apt. 66 units of all sizes; the new 488 W. Charleston 33 studios; 630 Los Robles 33 apts. plus units embedded in every community as required by the City. Although it is an undeniably noble mission to house low income seniors, we are inadvertently squeezing out the middle income seniors to move out of the area.
Regarding traffic issues, this project is a prime location for families with kids because they can walk/bike to all three schools instead of generating more traffic in the rest of the City. Furthermore, if we have property tax yielding housing, it would benefit the entire Palo Alto community and schools. Please weigh out these multidimensional issues good thought before approving or disapproving the fate of this piece of valuable land.


Posted by Same old lies, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

In response to the comment above, The Terman Apartments are also located further down Arastradero Road. It has section 8 and below market rate apartments for those who qualify. The challenge with this Palo Alto Housing Corporation property proposal is that not many seniors in that income range want to live in such a small living space. Particularly, the higher part of the income range, which would result in the upper rental rate of $900 monthly. The lower rental rate is a bargain for Palo Alto, as most seniors live on social security, and some pension. Those with higher social security, higher pension and larger savings usually would rather live in a more spacious environment. Unfortunately, I don't trust the Palo Alto Housing Corporation to keep its word with respect to the type of housing it is proposing. Look what happend to Tree House. It was originally intended to be housing for young adults coming out of the foster care program, and that never happened. The people who reside in Tree House are your typical people who are on SSDI, some low paying workers, some seniors, etc. There are many young adults coming out of the Foster care program who are homeless, I believe the rate is 40 percent homelessness amongst this group. Why didn't Palo Alto Housing Corporation keep its word with respect to its initial plans with Tree House? Because just like any developer, they just want to develop as many properties as they can, and expand wherever they can. In my small opinion, there management operations is truly uncivil, and I don't see why the city of Palo Alto continues to support this group.


Posted by Same old lies, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

In response to the comment above, The Terman Apartments are also located further down Arastradero Road. It has section 8 and below market rate apartments for those who qualify. The challenge with this Palo Alto Housing Corporation property proposal is that not many seniors in that income range want to live in such a small living space. Particularly, the higher part of the income range, which would result in the upper rental rate of $900 monthly. The lower rental rate is a bargain for Palo Alto, as most seniors live on social security, and some pension. Those with higher social security, higher pension and larger savings usually would rather live in a more spacious environment. Unfortunately, I don't trust the Palo Alto Housing Corporation to keep its word with respect to the type of housing it is proposing. Look what happend to Tree House. It was originally intended to be housing for young adults coming out of the foster care program, and that never happened. The people who reside in Tree House are your typical people who are on SSDI, some low paying workers, some seniors, etc. There are many young adults coming out of the Foster care program who are homeless, I believe the rate is 40 percent homelessness amongst this group. Why didn't Palo Alto Housing Corporation keep its word with respect to its initial plans with Tree House? Because just like any developer, they just want to develop as many properties as they can, and expand wherever they can. In my small opinion, there management operations is truly uncivil, and I don't see why the city of Palo Alto continues to support this group.


Posted by R. U. Kidding, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Folks, get used to this -- its our future. We can change it, but I see no political will for that, nor coherent opposition. To change it we must speak simply and in one voice: NO MORE GROWTH! Anything that sounds like there are "mixed opinions" will be lost in the turbulence. And we should be prepared to back it up with a recall of our pro-developer city council!


Posted by Get Used To It, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

Whether we like it or not, Housing Corporation's proposal will be approved. Also, the City will give them funds to purchase and develop the Orchard site. Since its inception, Housing Corporation receives project approval rate of close to 100% because of its special relationship with the City. Let us just work with them to ensure that the project will have less adverse impact to our community and neighborhood. No strong voice will stop this project from moving forward and getting approval from the City.


Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Sep 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

why doesn't the city give funds to purchase this land for additional park land. Perhaps PA community services can develop a youth center there??


Posted by BG, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm

More freakonomics up close and personal....

Although i cannot argue against senior housing, this is another case where city staff is clearly in bed with special interests (eg, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation) to finance out-of-control public employee pensions and fat budgets.

This project s/b done w/ no changes to existing zoning - any changes to zoning s/b quantified, paid to the city and used to acquire new parkland/open space.


Posted by Power for our Seniors, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:23 am

Oh, let me in on this one...
I am horrified that buildings are thought of being built for Seniors that are so dinky that they obviously would only have two windows in the whole apt.(if that!)..It's like a jail cell..dark..you would have to use your lamps even in the day time to make the place a little cheery...plus probably would have no bathroom window, a sure catch all for mold and stuffy smells..(yuuch.) How about looking into some "futuristic" type of building...it's 2012, time to quit building more cracker box units and get a little creative. Palo Alto needs to lead the way AGAIN in something other than silicone.
AND. Financially~ some of these apartments are "to be for LOW INCOME Seniors." ??? That's a joke as the max amount for an SSI person TOPS OUT at a little over $800 a month. Doesn't leave much for utilities, phone and 30 days supply of food..plus transportation to medical appointments, etc.
It all sounds like a lot of hype going on downtown between the City Council and the Palo Alto Housing Corp. Guys, get your heads together and help preserve the future of our town. Put something together that will make a difference for a change.


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