Hotel California rooms to be reserved for affordable housing

Palo Alto Housing Corporation to manage 20 studios at California Avenue residential hotel

Hotel California will be converted next month into an apartment complex for low-income residents -- a project that will bring 20 units of affordable housing into the heart of Palo Alto's "second downtown."

The building at the corner of Ash Street and California Avenue will be made available for individuals with incomes between $10,000 and $40,000 a year, said Candice Gonzalez, CEO of the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, the local nonprofit that will be managing the single-room-occupancy units. Rents will range from $400 to $800 a month, depending on income level, Gonzalez said.

The project was made possible by the building's recent change in tenancy. The new tenant, which Gonzalez described as "a local, faith-based Christian organization," recently signed a lease for the building and approached the Housing Corporation to ask about ways to convert the hotel to allow longer-term residential use.

Gonzalez declined to say who the tenant is, saying that the organization has requested to remain anonymous while the project is getting established. The Weekly wasn't able to immediately confirm the identity of the tenant.

"They really wanted to give back to the most vulnerable in the community, and we agreed to help them convert and to be the property manager," she said.

Gonzalez said the nonprofit will start accepting applications for rooms at Hotel California on Aug. 1. The nonprofit will not be using the lottery system to fill the units, Gonzalez said, because that system takes several months to fill the units while "the need to house the most vulnerable in our community is urgent."

Interested parties can call the Housing Corporation's main office at 650-321-9709.

For the Housing Corporation, which manages more 700 units of affordable housing, the project in the heart of the California Avenue Business District represents a small victory in what has been a challenging few years. In 2013, the organization sought to build 60 apartments for low-income seniors at a former orchard site on Maybell Avenue. The project, which also included 12 single-family homes on the site's periphery, was approved by the City Council but was ultimately shot down by the voters in a referendum later that year.

The nonprofit subsequently sold the land, and the new owner, Golden Gate Homes, last month secured the city's permission to build 16 single-family homes there.

The Hotel California project isn't nearly as costly or ambitious. The nonprofit did not purchase the property, and no public money is involved in the conversion, Gonzalez said. The main difference is that the units will now be leased to low-income residents.

Each of the 20 units in the building will have a microwave (the nonprofit is also trying to add refrigerators, she said). There is also a community kitchen and an outdoor deck area.

The project comes at a time when the City Council is increasingly shifting its focus toward addressing what some members refer to as the city's "housing crisis." Earlier this year, when the council commissioned a poll to gauge the public's appetite for a November tax measure, "cost of housing" topped the list of the city's most urgent problems, with 76 percent of the residents calling it either an "extremely serious problem" or a "very serious problem" (drought conditions and "traffic and congestion" followed with 65 percent and 53 percent, respectively).

In June, when the council was discussing a proposal to preserve the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, Councilman Cory Wolbach talked about "the housing crisis that is destroying our community and our region" and made the case for doing more to encourage the construction of affordable housing.

And this week, the Planning and Transportation Commission is set to discuss two separate proposals aimed at helping with this endeavor: encouraging more secondary-dwelling units (also known as "granny units") and charging developers higher fees to support the city's affordable-housing programs.


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8 people like this
Posted by Mat
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

How could anyone making $4000/year ($333/month) afford the lowest rent of $400/month? Did you mean $14,000/year? This would include those trying to survive on social security/disability.

7 people like this
Posted by My Nguyen
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jul 27, 2016 at 10:14 am

My Nguyen is a registered user.

@Mat It should have said $40,000. It's been fixed in the story.

19 people like this
Posted by revdreileen
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2016 at 10:57 am

revdreileen is a registered user.

Great news! I am grateful for the faithful stewardship of this Christian organization and PAHC in finding a way to serve the needs of our sisters and brothers in need of affordable housing.

20 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:14 am

At last, an item I can be so very happy about! This is wonderful. So much has been done to remove affordable housing. This is very heart-warming. Yeah whoever you are.

19 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:34 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

What system will be used to determine who gets in? Specifics please. I've always liked that building and what a great location.
Who will oversee use of the community kitchen? Great news for 20 lucky people.

18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:59 am

This is good news. I hope that there is a way that the tenants can be vetted to check they have a Palo Alto connection rather than outsiders.

3 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Will this property be removed from our property tax base?

3 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 27, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Be Positive is a registered user.

@Sally, the ownership of the building didn't change so there is no property tax change.

6 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2016 at 8:20 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Nice that there will be housing here in Palo Alto for low income residents. I only hope that this housing will be for people who work or live in Palo Alto! We need housing for the many workers and residents who live and work here, not people coming from another town. Is there a way to make that happen?

6 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2016 at 9:03 pm


Outside of regional planning (God forbid) to insure other cities house their low income residents, no. There's no litmus test to differentiate "true" Palo Altans from "outsiders", as Resident disgustingly put it.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2016 at 9:56 pm

As the person who was disgustingly referenced, my comment about Palo Alto connections v outsiders referred to nothing more sinister than hoping that they lived, worked, had family, were schooled, etc. in town rather than someone hoping to live here without these type of connections.

There are many people who work here or have connections who should be further up the list than someone who isn't. If that is a disgusting comment, then I will accept your criticism.

7 people like this
Posted by formerteacher
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Hopefully some teachers will be able to live there. I made about 40k a year 9 years ago when I was a teacher and had to pack it in a house with 5 other girls paying $600/ month. so I'm a fan of this. hopefully the construction won't be causing too much distruption because we already have enough of that around here.

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 7:01 am

@former teacher,
If you were young, you were no different than anyone else in Silicon Valley. The majority if Pal Alto teachers now make over $100,000 a year, far more than the median salary. When you choose to live here, you choose the realities of life in a desirable place.

That said, I agree with you that it would be nice to reserve a portion if the spaces for newer teachers who make less - they shoukd be able to live in the community. Or, the City ir district should consider a housing subsidy for newer teachers.

6 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2016 at 11:14 am

So what happens to the 20 or so cars these folks will own.? Or are we to assume they won't own cars? And we wonder why there is no place to park? Am I being negative or realistic? Or both?

9 people like this
Posted by A Great Idea, But Needs Work
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 7, 2016 at 11:58 pm

In reality, the place is a dump. It has so many electrical and water leakage issues. Don't be surprised if in a couple of years from now, there is some major habitability issue with the place. The owner basically should sell the entire building (Bakery, Cigar store, Cleaners and Pet Grooming, snd hotel), and let someone tear down the building and rebuild in its place. One the one hand, it is great the hotel will become a living quarters for affordable housing. On the other hand, if it is not a habitable and safe place, why are we allowing people to live there? This is not fair to be low-income people.

14 people like this
Posted by Baloney
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Baloney is a registered user.

The Pau's are part-owners of Sand Hill Propertiess--a company with an awful reputation. Can they really be trusted to bring this place up to code? To be honest and not cheat people? Look at their history--they have cheated people in the past AND present.

GOOD LUCK with this--it will be badly needed!@

1 person likes this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 9, 2016 at 8:25 am

> @former teacher wrote:
> If you were young, you were no different than anyone else in Silicon Valley.
> The majority if Pal Alto teachers now make over $100,000 a year, far more than
> the median salary. When you choose to live here, you choose the realities of
> life in a desirable place.

Santa Clara County's median income is $106,300. (This is from 2015 data; it's probably a bit higher now.)

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by CarOline Hart
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 9, 2016 at 11:25 am

Great! I am 75, divorced for 50 yrs., and still work part-time. I live on my salary ($16/hr) plus my Soc. Sec. Benefits, and I pay $1,200/mo. for a tiny studio. My daughter also lives in Los Altos and I was willing to pay that much to live close to my family.

Where do I sign up?

2 people like this
Posted by Bobber
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2016 at 9:04 pm

What happens to a renter of this low income housing program that makes under $40k per year when they moved in but makes more than $40k the following year?

Will they be forced to move out to make room for those who make less than $40k per year?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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