News

Plan for megahome raises Palo Alto neighbors' concerns

Residents fear 11-bed, 14-bath house would become Airbnb rental or group residence

Neighbors in Palo Alto's Embarcadero Oaks are protesting a proposal to build an 11-bedroom, 14-bath residence with a one-car garage, which they fear could be used as an Airbnb rental or for another commercial enterprise.

The proposed 4,529-square-foot, two-story home at 1710 Newell Road, on the corner of Newell and Embarcadero roads, would replace an 1,878-square-foot, single-story residence. The home would also feature a 2,861-square-foot basement, according to plans submitted to the city's planning department.

At least nine neighbors on Newell and Guinda Street have sent letters to the city project planner stating their belief that is unlikely the home will be used as a single-family residence given the large number of bedrooms and baths. Most surrounding homes have three or four bedrooms.

"This appears out of balance for a single-family residence in an R1 zoning area," they stated in a form letter.

The 14 bathrooms, including two powder rooms, give the house the character of a hotel or another commercial enterprise, they wrote.

"There are a total of three stairways and an elevator. Between the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the elevators and the stairways, we are concerned that this house is not configured as a single-family dwelling, but rather a place for some kind of business. It could be a school, assisted-care facility, an Airbnb hotel or some other business use," the letter states.

The proposal includes a one-car garage with uncovered space for two or three additional vehicles in the driveway. Residents said they are concerned that cars will spill out onto the street for parking.

Father Bishoy William, a minister at the Archangel Michael and Saint Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Redwood City, is listed as one of three owners on the grant deed. In a recent phone interview, he denied that the home would be used for any other purpose except as a single-family residence for himself, his wife and two children. The other bedrooms are for visiting relatives. Some of the bedrooms will be used as study rooms or offices for family members, he said. William said he was an oncology surgeon who is now involved in research. He was ordained as a priest in 2001.

"It is not a community house. We have a big church in Redwood City, and if we do need community rooms, we have more than 25 rooms we can use," he said.

The proposed home would include a game room, an office and a large community room in addition to kitchen, living and dining rooms.

One resident expressed concerns in a letter that noise in the backyard could be an ongoing nuisance. Others feared that the size of the home and its basement would compromise the root systems of the heritage oak trees, which could then fall and significantly damage adjacent homes.

Jodie Gerhardt, the city's manager of current planning, said in an email that Palo Alto's Single Family Individual Review process goals are to preserve "the unique character of Palo Alto neighborhoods" and "promote construction that is compatible with existing residential neighborhoods."

The city has no limitations on the number of bedrooms for a home in an R-1 zone, nor are there restrictions on the number of unrelated persons who can share a house, Gerhardt said.

The largest home in the neighborhood has six bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths, according to the real-estate websites Zillow and Trulia. A half-dozen other homes have four or five bedroom. The majority of homes on the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Newell are single-story and have three bedrooms and two baths.

Group homes are allowed in the city's R-1 zones.

An "adult day care home" is a dwelling or part of a dwelling used for daytime care and supervision of 12 or fewer persons above age 18 and licensed by the state or county. A "large adult day care home," which is defined as daytime care of seven or more adults, would require a Conditional Use Permit application, Gerhardt said.

A single-family home must be "occupied ... on a non-transient basis" and not have more than one kitchen, according to city code.

Residents living within 150 feet of 1710 Newell received notices of the proposed project on July 6. A formal comment period ended about 21 days later, but Gerhardt said the city will accept comments at any time while the application is pending. Once a notice of a written decision by the planning director is mailed, only the applicant, owner or occupier of an adjacent property will be allowed within 14 days to file a request for a director's hearing. The city's municipal code does not limit the reasons to request the hearing. The director could deny a project if it is found to violate some portion of the city's municipal code, she said.

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Comments

86 people like this
Posted by R-1 zoning
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2016 at 8:34 am

Residents are right to worry about such a large home. We have a neighbor on our street who rents out bunk beds to around 20 people. Already you can turn your home into a big boarding house business and code enforcement allows this. There's about 18 cars belonging to this boarding house, and often the tenants park in front of neighbors' houses. There is a large turnover, but code enforcement says they allow that as long as the stay is at least 30 days. But try proving that, as some do stay for less. While most of the tenants stay longer than 30 days, many are there only for six months.

Big boarding houses are not compatible with R-1 housing and the city needs to update the codes so that these bigger rental operations are discouraged.


42 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

Perhaps this is the type of home Downing thinks should be built all over town.


59 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:15 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

This location literally has no street parking. No parking on embarcadero and no parking on Newell from 7 am to 7 pm. And of course it is going to be full of people, why else would you ever need 11 bedrooms?


15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:42 am

Palo Alto needs more housing, not less. I have no problem with them building a B&B on that site. But make them build their own parking lot instead of relying on subsidized street parking.


54 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:41 am

Is it a game where they propose 14 bedrooms, the developer comprises at 10, then the city claims they won a big concession? I know that current house, and find it hard to imagine it being replaced with a 14 bedroom house. If it is within the current zoning, then current zoning is broken.


70 people like this
Posted by From Mtn View
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:50 am

From Mtn View is a registered user.

A single family for a family of 4, with three owners (one a minister), 11 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms and an elevator, and a large community room, yet he says it's a home for his family? I would think having 'offices' for family members is a violation of R1 zoning.

I think they plan to convert to a residential care home (allowed in R1) "an 'adult day care home' is a dwelling or part of a dwelling used for daytime care and supervision of 12 or fewer persons....And they just happen to have 11 bedrooms (each with bathroom) , also an elevator which would be necessary if residents are elderly/disabled. You wonder if they will make it a non-profit residential care home (associated with the church), eligible for tax-exempt status.

It would be interesting to see the specs for the bathrooms and bedrooms. The bedrooms must be quite small, if all the same size with ADA compliant bathrooms, that is a clear indicator of the planned future use. Also the kitchen would likely be more commercial than residential.

PA should never approve this.


69 people like this
Posted by ugyl house
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:50 am

This is an ugly house that is masking itself as an apartment building. Plain and simple. Do now allow this. I'm also tired of so many investment properties. The community of Palo Alto is being dissolved Anyone go to the last May Fete parade? Hardly a turn out and most of the people who were there just didn't get it. They don't get the cheerful camaraderie that this town stood on. Sad for a dying darling Palo Alto culture.


18 people like this
Posted by neighborA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:59 am

Maybe the father wants to turn it into a homeless shelter to accomplish affordable housing in Palo alto. Just my wildest thought.


27 people like this
Posted by More info
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:31 am

Who are the other owners?

>Father Bishoy William, a minister at the Archangel Michael and Saint Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in Redwood City, is listed as one of three owners

There seems to be no end to dishonesty no matter where you turn.


76 people like this
Posted by A Scam
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:38 am

[Post removed.]


62 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

This is outrageous. If it's allowed, we might as well forget planning and just say that in Palo Alto, "anything goes". We're close to that now.


18 people like this
Posted by internet tells all
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:40 am

ABDELSAYED HANY W AND ESCANDER NIVEN A are the owners.


25 people like this
Posted by Hermia
a resident of Triple El
on Aug 19, 2016 at 11:49 am

I know I need a separate full bath for my home office. Oh wait, I don't.

You would think a minister would get that even "best intentions", if there are indeed best intentions,
do not excuse lies.

I'd also like to know who the other owners are.
There is often a truck parked on that side of Newell, just where this house is, in violation of the no parking hours.
A glimpse of things to come.


44 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm

11 bedrooms and 14 baths--I don't think so. That is not a home that is space to rent out. And, 1 garage? That is such a no brainer "NO"! If you cut it in half you would still be at a 5+ bedroom home with 7 baths and I would still say, "reduce the number of bathrooms and add more parking.


37 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm

jh is a registered user.

The current owner(s) may swear up and down this is building will be occupied as a family home. This may be his intention now, but circumstances change and there is absolutely no guarantee the property won't be sold as soon as planning permission has been granted. Given how valuable land is, and a building with the possibility of generating income from up to 22+ renters, conversion to mini-studio apartments, offices, and/or Airbnb, hard to believe any non-profit could compete with someone looking to buy this property as a commercial investment.

At a minimum additional onsite parking should be provided with so many bedrooms.


42 people like this
Posted by Betty Jo
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

The Comprehensive Plan Land Use and Community Design element states that Single Family Residential “population densities will range from 1 to 30 persons per acre.”

The lot at 1710 Newell is 12,600 sq ft, or 1/3 acre. The proposed construction of 11 bedrooms, at two persons per bedroom offers potential occupant density of 22 people. On a 1/3 acre lot, this appears
to be over twice the allowed occupancy density of Single Family Residential R1 zoning.

4 of the bedrooms and 6 of the baths are in the huge basement. Cal bldg code mandated fire egress from the basement bedrooms will be into 10 foot deep "light wells".

No problem, we might say, the building code requires a ladder if the light well is more than 40 inches deep.
Try climbing that sucker when the power is out, the sump pump is hence offline, and the light well is filled with flood water.

No worries, we might say, there's an elevator. Oh wait! All the mechanicals (including the elevator, sump pump for storm water and up-flow pumps for all those toilets are also in the basement.

No ADA compliance is required for Single Family Residential.

This project doesn't pass the smell test.


33 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm

jh is a registered user.

Wow, just read the posts about who the owners are. Hope some of the neighbors do some sleuthing to find out what exactly the backgrounds and track records of the owners.


8 people like this
Posted by Ender
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I make no judgement about the circumstances for this particular property... But our family could certainly use eleven bedrooms: one for each child (6), one for us parents, one for a home office, and three for guests.


21 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

No one should be above the law. This is NOT the way the rules should work, Palo Alto and code enforcement: Our Father, who art in mansion, ... Thy will be done ... For thine is the kingdom ....


22 people like this
Posted by bettyjo
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:49 pm

re: 1710 Newell Rd

You can see the proposed plans for this project online by going to:

Web Link

There, enter the address: 1710 NEWELL RD

Click on the blue button on the map, then the “MORE DETAILS” button on the project description that will appear to the right of the map.
You’ll get the Record for 16PLN-00222.

To view the project plans with floor layouts etc., Click on “Record Info”, then “Attachments” where you’ll find “1710 Newell-Complete Set.pdf”


39 people like this
Posted by Karen H
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Wow. I should have looked at that more closely. Where exactly will all those people park? There is one side for parking and there are already multiple rentals and Air BnBs with multiple cars. We also have a mega "ghost" home on another corner. Oh yeah - those people "promised" it was just them. At least they don't take up parking since no one is there.


52 people like this
Posted by Insane
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm

City staff - stop this one now!

We don't need hotels / hacker houses / boarding houses in the midst of our neighborhoods.

Aren't boarding houses already not allowed in this zoning?


24 people like this
Posted by R-1 zoning
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

@insane -- you would think boarding houses are not allowed, but then you would be wrong in Palo Alto (some other cities do have regulations), sorry to say. Of course, boarding houses change the neighborhood, just like an extended stay motel would. Only difference in Palo Alto, there is no oversight/regulation/licensing of these do-it-yourself boarding houses. R-1 is supposed to be low density, but when your neighbor starts stacking up bunk beds, it turns into a big business. Code enforcement will tell you that they have no say in how many tenants you can rent out to in a R-1 home.

So until the city tackles this problem, we are stuck with the "stack and pack" beds in R-1 homes.


24 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Thanks @BettyJo for the link. The project is planned by mplanninggroup which has 40+ people with "a wealth of real-world planning experience gained while working with over 55 Bay Area cities." It sure is getting complicated to build a little home for your family in Palo Alto...

A shared bedroom in assisted living runs about $8k per month in Palo Alto ... so with 11 bedrooms $1M+ per year.


Posted by Question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Aug 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm


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24 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 19, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Does anyone know what happened with the 11 bedroom (approximately) home that was proposed in College Terrace a year or 2 ago? Did it ever get built or was it rejected? If it was built, does anyone know how it has been used? And if it was rejected, how was that accomplished.

Thanks

And just a note to the resident that said they think this corner of Newell is an acceptable place to build this complex, I'm wondering would you feel the same if you lived next door. Is this something like, do it elsewhere but not next to me? We all have to remember, once this type of building gets approved, we will see this popping up all over the place. Maybe even next door to you.


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm

At least the owner is upfront with his plan. The newly finished house two blocks east submitted a plan for a decent sized two-story house with one car garage and a carport. After the plan was approved, the owner submitted a "change" for an addition of 2500+ sq ft basement. This "change" does not need to go thru the normal review process nor the notification to the neighbors. No one would know shout the "change" until water was being pumped out from the construction site. Now the house is completed, garage is never used, and there are constantly three cars in front of the house plus one or two occasionally parked nearby.


23 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:15 pm

I oppose this appalling structure. Doesn't look like a single family home to me, regardless of "taste" or lack thereof. And....ONE car garage, ridiculous in this context
Something is clearly afoot and it won't benefit the neighborhood. I would be sad if something like this went up on my street.
I send my sympathies to the nearby neighbors who I assume are homeowners in the popularly known sense.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:22 pm

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."


22 people like this
Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm

This is a joke, right? [Portion removed.} Who would believe that a family of four needs all those bedrooms, and 14 bathrooms?!? Welcome to Hotel Palo Alto.


9 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2016 at 12:36 am

People can talk about the project, but, please, don't attack the project owner personally. It’s really sick to see so many unfriendly neighbors around...


2 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:11 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Absurd!

Taj Mahal?

Not so.

Respectfully


23 people like this
Posted by Eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:21 am

Eileen is a registered user.

Unfriendly neighbors? Really? I think they are concerned neighbors! Most of the people posting have only talked about their concern that this owner might use the house as an airbnb or hotel. Its also under parked for so many bedrooms...


12 people like this
Posted by Insider
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2016 at 9:57 am

I have heard he wants to create an AIDS hospice for Stanford patients.


26 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2016 at 10:17 am

@Insider - He'd be better off admitting it and making the case for than lying about it and saying it was for his family and would be used for no other purpose. He is setting a poor example for his church with the dishonesty.


6 people like this
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Aug 20, 2016 at 10:57 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Insider -- I am the reporter for this story. Would you please contact me? sdremann@paweekly.com


19 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

> 11-bedroom, 14-bath residence with a one-car garage

Bwa-hahahahahahaha ... that is ridiculous, just for having the toxic gell to even suggets that they should be banned from buying or building here at all. Sorry, but that is disgusting, and sad to say typical of the 0.01% to think only of themselves.

Even if the plan to build an AIDS hospice or whatever, there is no reason to think it will remain forever as that. The City Of Palo Alto must have been given on very, very pro-developer vibes for people to even think of this ... so it would be interesting to know, say going back to 2000 do some kind of big data statistical dump on how civicly respoonsible the development allowed by our city is. Is anyone in a position to do that?


18 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2016 at 5:27 pm

The claim that the project proponent make of being a researcher seems a bit curious given that per Google scholar there is no record of him ever having been the author of any kind of publication.


26 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

So much to discuss.... the residence is not a residence; it will become a hotel or care facility or stop over location all of which will generate income. how does a minister afford such extravagance?

Please please send you comments to the Planning and Transportation Commission, the Planning Director and the City Council... all email addresses are available @ City of Palo Alto.

Don't limit your discussion to this site. One way to stop this monster and others that will surely follow is to become very, very involved. Show them your concern!

Show up at the 8/22 City council meeting,speak to this subject.

Also consider requesting better Code Enforcement of which there is little.

Including all basement sq footage in the Floor Area Ratio is another way to stop these monster houses. It is overdue esp. as basements are now called lower levels in Real Estate ads.

join savepaloaltosgroundwater.org; stop the wasting of precious groundwater. It really is all interwoven.

This year is a City Council race; get to know the candidates and their true positions. Look back into their records; 3 candidate debates are scheduled; attend.

Look for community involvement rather than a one issue candidate. You do have a choice; your vote will determine what type of City Palo Alto becomes. Thanks so much.


28 people like this
Posted by Might get worse
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm

This is a cautionary tale for what might happen in the future if we drink too much of the Kool Aid offered by Palo Alto Forward and those candidates sympathetic to their agenda. Of course they'll articulate their pro-growth goals in much more digestible and politically-correct terms, but I can clearly see their agenda for additional housing units, regardless of the impact to the existing infrastructure and neighborhoods.

This upcoming election is extremely critical, and if you care about maintaining the character and charm of your neighborhoods, please get informed about the candidates and their positions, and don't be too naive to fall for candidates with sleek campaigns pushed by Palo Alto Forward and developers. They don't care about preserving the charm of this city.


21 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 12:16 am

The Facebook campus,expansion, including housing will have life long impacts on all neighboring Cities. It serves as a cautionary tale of far reaching impacts, perhaps unintended but still immense.

Build it and they will come...but slowly because of even more massive traffic jams. Am interested in why ACLU is joining the fight against this expansion. Hopefully PA will comment or sue based on regional impact and the scale will be adjusted. Menlo Park sold out for 15 million....a short sighted agreement which they will regret in time. How much will Menlo Park end up paying for roads, schools, libraries, parking spaces, etc.

Stanford's campus expansion in Redwood City and Google's plans in Mountain View will compound traffic and other critical problems.

Let's not do the same by continuing to overbuild in Palo Alto. Let's not create the same problems with housing that we have with office space.

Let's think this out and build the right kind of housing in the best areas possible so as to avoid the mistakes we will see all around us. Slow and steady; we can always build more but once it is up it stays for a very, very long time.


8 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2016 at 1:40 am

@Rita, I believe there is still time to reroute High Speed Rail through the Altamont Pass and bring it across the old Dumbarton trestle. Then Facebook could have their own station and house their employees in Fresno.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 8:51 am

I think transportation should be a bigger topic for this election. Everybody is talking about housing, but I don't hear very much from any prospective candidate about what they are going to do to improve public transit.

I agree that a 90 minute commute is not a good idea for anybody, but a 30 minute fast train or efficient bus service might make a good option. We have Caltrain which when it is electrified and service is improved can help. But there are other options that are not being discussed. Google and others are providing efficient bus services for commuters that use highways, but we don't even have buses to airports let alone for non Google employees to use. Efficient high quality buses that run along highway 101 with stops every 5 miles or so at an offramp parking lot, with efficient shuttle services to business areas, could be investigated as options.

VTA seems to think that they are only an option for lower income people who have all the time in the world to get around. Instead they should be improving efficiency as an alternative to solo driving. Where is the political pressure for them to investigate better options? In fact Palo Alto and Mountain View are completely disregarding them and working on their own shuttles. This is a piecemeal solution which doesn't help when people work in one town and live in the neighboring town but only 5 miles inbetween.

In fact, calling all these different places a "city" is a misnomer, in my opinion. They are townships within a regional urban (or suburban) metropolis. We have too many transit agencies, too many separate councils and too many invisible lines drawn which are barriers to integration of travel. It matters not whether working and living are close together but are separated by a city or county barrier making piecemeal decisions without taking any notice of the reality of people's lives.

I feel that improving transit is the key, but politically speaking a non-happening discussion.


20 people like this
Posted by From Mtn View
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:46 am

From Mtn View is a registered user.

As mentioned previously, I am putting my money on a residential care home for the following reasons:

- A residential care home (aka Board and care) for 12 persons or less is allowed in R1. 11 bedrooms would fit the bill, the parking would not be an issue as the residents would not have cars (although there would be caregivers on site)

- If it was just intended to be a boarding house they would not include an elevator which is a very expensive item to install and maintain.

- The Minister was an oncology surgeon, thus has connections to the medical community.

- A residential care home in Palo Alto with 11 residents would be quite profitable and if you can declare it to be a non-profit, all the more profitable.

My 2 cents.


8 people like this
Posted by Tall Tree Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

The two additional names listed have LinkedIn profiles. They relate to a Palo Alto banker and a Medicare specialist out of Sacramento. PA Online should contact Hany and his company (Tower MSA Partners) in Sacramento for a follow-up story.


12 people like this
Posted by Experienced Cyclist
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

I think the LinkedIn profiles mentioned above are probably not the right people. Apparently those names are not unique. With a little creative googling, I was able to find two people named Niven Escander and Hany Abdelsayed who apparently live in the same house in Englewood Colorado:

Web Link

(Search on that page for "Escander"). We can see from Bishoy William's bio that he also used to be a Coptic preacher for a congregation in Colorado. Another google turns up a Coptic church in Englewood CO which is a few blocks away from the house at 4049 S Washington Street Englewood CO, where Messrs Escander and Abdelsayed reside.

Web Link

Web Link

I think that it is likely that the property at 1710 Newell is actually owned by some national Coptic Church organization.


15 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Speaking of traffic, this particular site has no street parking. There's a no-parking bike lane on Newell and it's directly across the fire station on Embarcadero. Sure the residents might not have cars, but all the people tending them will. Meanwhile, the owner proposes a massive expansion with a single-car garage.

If it's not *really* meant to be a care facility in disguise then the owner should have zero problem getting rid of half the bathrooms--particularly as he claims that some of the bedrooms aren't really bedrooms--but studies and game rooms. A study doesn't need its own bathroom. Can't see why a home for four people needs more than four bedrooms--one for each kid, one for the parents, one for guests. Hey, I'll be generous--one more for visiting grandparents. But 11? Tell me we're not that dumb.

I'll just add that the fire station across the street is due for a remodel so Embarcadero could have massive building projects across the street at the same time. More traffic fun.


13 people like this
Posted by Board and Care isn't bad
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2016 at 12:04 am

A Board and Care facility provides an important community service. If this is the intention, I agree they should be honest and up-front about it. And it probably needs more onsite parking (Doesn't have to be closed garage). But Board and Care facilities are needed in this area.
Would be a better use than AirBnB certainly.


5 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2016 at 2:04 am

Neighbors should check their CC&Rs. They sometimes have interesting prohibitions. The Seale One Addition (northern Old Palo Alto) allows no home brewing and no stables. Some allow no home businesses. These CC&Rs are often tougher than zoning rules.


8 people like this
Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 23, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Three people are on the title and the house is being way overbuilt. I'm all for "doing whatever you want" with your property but this is not the case here and PACC should step in. If you don't this guy and his pals are up to something very fishy then you are stupid. I would be pissed if this was my neighbor.


21 people like this
Posted by CC&Rs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I find that CC&Rs are rarely adhered to.

Our last home was in a planned Ponderosa Community, and there were rules about no home businesses, no board-and-care, no more than two people per bedroom, and no homes to be bought as investments-- nor rented out--they were to be primary residences of the buyers only.

The first, third and the last rules were broken within six months of completion of the community. One four bedroom house had fourteen people and six cars! Many realtors and lawyers set up shop in their homes. And about one in every six houses was bought to be rented out-- in fact, a Japanese consortium bought three as investments ( and quickly lost their shirts in 1992).

Within two years, there were drug dealers living in some of the rentals, doing business from their homes. Within four years there were two homes converted to drug rehab centers, another into an alcohol recovery center, yet another a board-and-care, as well as two senior assisted living homes.

None of these homes had more than five bedrooms, most were two-story. The only single level homes were three bedrooms, but those were some of the most egregious rule-breakers.

None, but none of these rules were enforced by the architectural committee once the builder finished the development!


6 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

The Housing Allocation requirements for Palo Alto are too much, too big, too close together, and generally just someone else's idea of what they want. Palo Alto has been a mostly residential city with a large university next door. Fortunately Stanford is beginning to build more housing for their students and employees on the campus. Unfortunately they have been allowed to build multi-unit housing on other areas in the surrounding cities.
The Housing Allocations should be dealt with as a regional item, not requiring each city to provide housing for low level employees. Thus, housing for Menlo Park, Atherton, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mt. View, Sunnyvale, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Cupertino,and Woodside should all be put together. Just because Atherton, Portola Valley, Los Altos, and Woodside do not have as many employees and the other cities cities does not mean that they are not part of our housing problem.
Palo Alto has always had a housing problem. It seems that everyone wants to live here. Except for the snob appeal and Foothill Park which is now grossly under used, I fail to see why. The movie theaters and bookstores and locally owned businesses are largely gone. Even many of the restaurants are now chains or so noisy that it is impossible to have a good, relaxing dinner in them.
Why has no one reminded the millineals that they are not entitled to live here? If they work at Apple, Google, or Facebook they do not even work in Palo Alto! Yet they, too have become part of our housing problem.
Many who have lived here much of their lives do not want to move as they get older. They want to live in an established neighborhood. Many who are still here worked in San Francisco and commuted by rail. Many companies and the city of Palo Alto have busses that run from the Caltrain stations and the downtown transit terminal to each of the major companies.
Please do not penalize those who worked hard, saved their money (no stops at Starbucks or Peets, no lunches and dinners at restaurants, no fancy vacations) for many years in order to purchase a local house. These residents often did it themselves--built and fixed things, did their own gardening, used local day care instead of an in home full time nannies and housekeepers.


8 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:27 am

Comment on the proposed mega-house:
Do they plan to run an airBnB? Or a boarding home? Or a shelter? Or do they have 10 children or many relatives who want to enter the US?
This is truly out of line with the ambiance of Palo Alto in any neighborhood.


16 people like this
Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm

We fled PA in '98 when massive 2 story homes were built on each side of us in the Community Center area, which historically was 2/1 or 3/2 sub-2000sf homes and blue collar. Some friends tell us we picked the worst time to sell, but we didn't want to live where we felt so boxed in. And cashing out of PA then was an excellent choice as other areas hadn't started climbing. We laugh about how much we got in exchange and how frustrating it must be to live in the center of an area where the road capacity is so inefficient. PA is wonderful in many ways, but it won't be "our town" anymore if things continue as they have been -- esp with DeLeon realty trying to sell it all to the Chinese, leaving ghost houses.

PACC, please gird your loins, stiffen your back bones, and act smartly to protect the PA culture before it completely dies. It won't take too many more years as it is.


10 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I'll buy that Downing is sincere in her belief that the high cost of housing is due to retirees and NIMBY's. But she and PAF aren't looking at the evidence: more housing has led to rental increases. More stack and pack will increase real estate even more. This is not the retirees fault. It makes more sense to spread out the jobs to other areas of California and other states.

The stack and pack not only enriches the developers, it also enriches the investors in these apartment buildings. The highly paid tech worker makes a lot but also must pay a lot to live here. Those investors wouldn't make so much profit in other states.

There's another thread about a lawsuit against HP for age discrimination. HP used to be known for the "HP Way". But no longer does the company support the loyalty of its workers. These highly paid tech workers who are squeezed out of their jobs around age 50 will not have any equity to fall back on.

If you care about the workers, then it makes more sense to expand new jobs where the real estate is less expensive.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I was talking to someone recently about this issue who told me that their problem was student loans. Both people in this couple had large student loans to pay off and that along with car payments were the main reason that they could not afford to buy. This was not in Palo Alto but another Bay Area town.

Student loans are a big part of the problem. There is a trend nowadays for young people to do grad school because they are not sure what to do next in life. This is quite often putting off getting a job and extended the amount of debt they carry. I question whether all these extensions into grad school are completely necessary? If a delay in earning while getting further education makes financial sense? If the amount of an increase in potential earnings, particularly while still fairly young, is a wise decision when it puts off things like home ownership until nearer 40 rather than 30?


10 people like this
Posted by What Local Employers Want
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:08 pm

A bachelor's degree is as necessary today as a high school degree was 70 years ago. What employers REALLY want these days is AT LEAST a master's degree.
Not a few require a PhD.

Most teachers who recently acquired their credentials are paying $500/month in student loans.

Most newly-minted MD's and PhD's are carrying in exces of $200,000 in student loan debt. Many owe $400,000 to $500,000, depending on their specialty.

The US is one of only five countries, worldwide, that doesn't pay for the advanced education of qualified students. The other four are third-world countries in West Africa ( Liberia, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Gambia).

Education is an investment this government refuses to make. It is one of the main reasons, along with loss of manufacturing, that we can no longer compete in the new world order!


3 people like this
Posted by Experienced Cyclist
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Exactly what do the last two comments have to do with the topic at hand? Just curious. What do student loans have to do with Mega-Houses which attempt to subvert zoning codes? The second looks like automated spam or perhaps a standard message that gets "copy-pasted" onto any thread related to housing.


3 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Duveneck School
on Aug 25, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Haha, "Experienced Cyclist", I agree. Maybe "Resident" is implying that the rooms will be rented out? Unfortunately, there is no restriction on Airbnbs yet, and with the Palo Alto bleeding heart liberals, doubtful there will be until it's way out of control.


13 people like this
Posted by Chapped Hide
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Chapped Hide is a registered user.

What really irritates me about all of this is that we REALLY need a bigger house, cannot afford one, and were turned down in our request for a permit to add a fourth bedroom and third bathroom over our garage-- even after the garage has been reinforced for this. The permit dept's reason is that a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house is too large for a 5,000 sf lot!

Strange: the addition will not change the footprint of the house on the lot -- the house is already two story. AND, they approved houses of 3-5 bedrooms and 2-4 baths on
2200 sf lots in Alma Village!!!!


7 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

@Chapped Hide -- I sympathize with you. We checked out adding a cottage to our property for our son to use. We have a big enough lot to do it, but there's a requirement of adding on two additional off street parking spaces. With the way our house is configured, we can't do that. Meanwhile a neighbor down the street has multiple tenants and multiple cars that take up spaces in front of other neighbors homes and code enforcement says that is allowed.

Doesn't make sense. The city needs to get a handle on their codes and lack of code enforcement. These megahomes can be used as hotels/businesses and can have a very negative affect on the neighborhood.


7 people like this
Posted by PAULI
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2016 at 8:22 pm

We lived on Greer Road in Palo Alto from 1950 until 1959. I graduated from Palo Alto High in 1958. The girl I took to my senior prom was named Leslie, who lived in the house at 1710 Newell.

I love the city and visit frequently to see old friends. I agree the proposed new house would be a monstrosity, totally out of scale with the other neighborhoods. And it's going to be a residence for 4 people. Please!!!! That is complete _____!

City of Palo Alto: Do not let this happen!!!!! It would be ridiculous!!

Pauli


14 people like this
Posted by Edward Hogan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Under the kitchen in the basement is a blank space. I bet it will be plumbed and electrified for a second kitchen. Appliances installed as soon as the inspectors sign off on completed project.
A thought: space for a dozen out of district high school students going to Paly and using this as an address.

More likely some kind of care facility or B&B.
Not coming clean on purpose is appalling. 14 bathrooms for 4 people and an occasional relative. Come On! These people must think we are idiots or weaklings.
I am shocked this well known architect would submit this plan.


4 people like this
Posted by concerned
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

I'm appalled that the City of Palo Alto, during an extended drought, would even consider a project of this magnitude on a relatively small lot. Fourteen bathrooms -- really?? We frequently get mailers from the City, asking us to conserve water, etc. Are the individuals who review potential projects for the City unaware of the drought? This project should be sent back to the drawing board.


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

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