Palo Alto Housing seeks new leader | News | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Housing seeks new leader

CEO Candice Gonzalez announces move to Sand Hill Property Company

Candice Gonzalez is stepping down as president and CEO of executive director of Palo Alto Housing in late August to take on a new job at Sand Hill Property Company. File photo by Veronica Weber.

Palo Alto Housing, the nonprofit developer that manages the city's affordable-housing program, will be looking for a new leader after its President and CEO Candice Gonzalez announced her plans to leave the company next month.

Gonzalez, who has headed Palo Alto Housing for the past 10 years, is stepping down from her position to join Sand Hill Property Company, a commercial and residential developer whose recent Palo Alto projects have included the redeveloped Edgewood Plaza and the reconstruction of the recently demolished commercial building at 2600 El Camino Real. Gonzalez will leave in late August to serve as the chief housing officer and managing director for Sand Hill.

In a Monday announcement, Gonzalez called the shift "bittersweet" and said she was proud of Palo Alto Housing's recent accomplishments, including a new strategic plan, a stronger financial position and a "significant geographic and organizational expansion," which includes new projects in Redwood City and Mountain View.

Palo Alto Housing currently has about 600 residential units in various stages of planning and development, according to the company.

"With our substantial pipeline, we are on target to nearly double our number of housing units in the next few years" Gonzalez said. "More importantly, we will more than double the number of people we house, while also increasing the scope and quality of support services we provide.

"We will continue to change lives and create more vibrant communities."

Gonzalez said she is passionate about "housing for all income levels" and that her position at Sand Hill will allow her to make a positive impact in the housing world.

"I am confident that Palo Alto Housing will continue to be a strong force in the affordable housing industry," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is departing at a time when housing -- particularly affordable housing -- is one of Palo Alto's highest priorities. The City Council had adopted as its goal the creation of 300 units annually. So far, the only project it has approved this year is a 57-unit development proposed for the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road.

Sheryl Klein, chair of the Palo Alto Housing board of directors, will oversee the search for the new CEO, according to the announcement. Klein said the organization is grateful for Gonzalez's leadership over the past decade and for the strong team she has assembled, which she said "will make this transition seamless."

"Candice is leaving Palo Alto Housing in a very strong position with a healthy pipeline of projects," Klein said in the announcement. "We are looking forward to the next chapter at Palo Alto Housing and wish Candice the best in her new role."

For Sand Hill, the hiring of Gonzalez is part of a broader "pivot toward housing," according to the company. Sand Hill is now in the process of redeveloping Vallco Mall in Cupertino and construct 2,400 housing units at the site. It had also bought Woodland Park Apartments in East Palo Alto, which includes 1,800 units and makes up the city's largest portfolio of rent-stabilized apartments.

Gonzalez praised Sand Hill for the Vallco proposal, which is subject to the streamlined approval process created through Senate Bill 35, which was recently passed as a state law. Half of the 2,400 units in the Cupertino plan would be designed as below-market-rate units.

Peter Pau, principal and co-founder of Sand Hill, said the company looks forward to Gonzalez's expertise "as we look to grow our housing portfolio through our company's commitment to increasing housing supply and crating more affordable housing opportunities," Pau said.

This won't be the first working partnership between Pau and Gonzalez. The two worked together in 2016 to convert Hotel California on California Avenue into a single-room-only complex with below-market-rate units.

That, however, was the only glimmer of good news in what has been a frustrating few years for the nonprofit in its hometown. After Palo Alto voters overturned in a 2013 referendum a zoning change that would have brought 60 units of housing for low-income seniors, as well as 12 single-family homes, to a former orchard site on Maybell Avenue, Palo Alto Housing changed its name (it was formerly known as Palo Alto Housing Corporation) and began looking for opportunities beyond the city borders.

One Palo Alto Housing project, known as Eagle Park Apartments, would bring 67 below-market-rate units for veterans and residents making up to 60 percent of the area's median income to 1701 El Camino Real in Mountain View. It is set to be completed later this year, according to the company.

The nonprofit also plans to break ground early next year on another 67-unit complex in Redwood City, at 2821 El Camino Real, according to the company.

It is also looking to build a 61-unit affordable-housing complex Palo Alto -- its first new development since the 2013 referendum. If approved, that development would occupy a site on El Camino, near Wilton Avenue.

In announcing Gonzalez's hiring, Pau pointed at Bay Area's housing crisis, which he said has been caused by the "decades-long failure to build an adequate housing supply." The region's failure to address this housing crisis is "placing tremendous strain on our quality of life by exacerbating traffic, pushing people out of the communities where they live and forcing long commutes."

"We believe the solution to these main challenges is to increase housing supply at all levels of affordability," Pau said in a statement. "We know Candice will support and lead Sand Hill's effort to develop more mixed-use, standalone housing, and even some 100% affordable-housing developments."


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65 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2018 at 10:00 am

""placing tremendous strain on our quality of life by exacerbating traffic, pushing people out of the communities where they live and forcing long commutes." "

The overbuilding, and especially the overbuilding that is pushing out all semblance of civic life such as ordinary retail, is what is placing strain on our quality of life, exacerbating traffic, pushing people out and forcing long commutes. (And by the way, most people I have known over the decades in this area do the long commutes not just for affordability, but so they can get a higher quality of life - single family home that is not an absolute tin can dump - for the money. We have been among these.)

Gonzales is part of the Build Baby Build mentality that is ratcheting up real estate values (density makes the properties worth more to developers) and pushing people out. We do not have overdue housing backlogs, we have failed to deal with the possibility that too many job generators concentrated in one place could cause problems and not always be a good thing.

It is far easier for companies to move where there is room for them to expand than it is for areas without the infrastructure to keep building office space and housing. Ultimately, when companies decide to settle in places that need the jobs, especially if they are willing to invest in the kind of civic infrastructure they want, everyone benefits. The US is not a tiny island like Hong Kong. It isn't even a good thing to concentrate all the job generators here.

10 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:11 am


[Portion removed.]

If people felt this was becoming a less desirable place to live, housing prices would not be so strong and increasing.
People pay a premium to live here because they want to live here. They have a lot of other choices about where to live.
There are tech jobs in many other parts of the country.

[Portion removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:11 am

What a job Ms Gonzalez did in helping those who can’t afford housing in this area. She was a tireless leader and advocate for those underserved in our community. It is a great loss to our community that she is leaving. I hope thear Palo Alto Housing can find another leader with her passion and vision. Thank you Ms Gonzalez for your service.

7 people like this
Posted by Onward
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:28 am

Good move for Gonzalez and Sand Hill. Big opportunity and challenges to create housing in our region ahead. This will be a formidable and capable team going forward. Excelsior!

7 people like this
Posted by Caring Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:30 am

I know many families served by Palo Alto Housing, and what a difference they have made in their lives. PAH has fostered a much-needed diverse community in Palo Alto. It is such an important job to help those who work in our community find housing. I’ve heard Candice speak at a groundbreaking, and I her passion and commitment to housing was immediately apparent. This is a big loss, and I hope they can find someone equally as driven!

20 people like this
Posted by New Palo Alto Housing leader
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:32 am

We need a new leader of Palo Alto Housing Corp who focuses on subsidized housing that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, like the Oak Court Apartments in the picture. We need a new leader that focuses on true affordable housing, like Oak Court Apartments. [Portion removed.]

27 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:34 am

[Portion removed.] This is a desirable area and there is global demand for it for a lot of reasons. But the demand right now is being driven by too many jobs in this area for the amount of housing. Are you saying that is not the case?

Building without regard to the infrastructure, the environment, other civic needs, safety, as Gonzales and the Build Baby Build types are advocated because of a supposed housing crisis, is causing these traffic and other problems. Building more invites companies to entrench and bring in more employees, whose presence in turn creates more jobs and need for housing. Hong Kong found this out, and chased the "more housing" for decades. It never made things more affordable, the new housing never met demand because it remained a job center; it just made things more dense. But they are an island, we are not, we are in fact a vast nation where companies can even found new cities tailor made for their own desires, and where the housing will, at least initially, be new, desirable, and affordable.

[Portion removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:35 am

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Revolving Door? Of Course Not
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

[Post removed.]

15 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm

[Portion removed.]

The worlds of affordable housing production and the for profit world are entirely different.

Surprising that she would consider Sand Hill a good choice as they are currently suing the city and the hearing officer that contemplated the fines at Edgewood Plaza.Sand hill also destroyed a historic building at Edgewood they were required by law to preserve!

[Portion removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Good Luck
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2018 at 1:18 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

40 people like this
Posted by Shocked
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Shocked is a registered user.

Of all the for profit companies that Ms Gonzalez could work for, many will be shocked and disappointed she chose this most ethically challenged one doing business in Palo Alto. Sand Hill demololished the historic building at Edgewood Plaza that they agreed to preserve as part of the City letting them develop there. Then for years they let the agreed upon market remain closed, contesting the fine for doing so. [Portion removed.]

A new Director could be good, and a shakeup of the Board would also help. Some of the board members have been there forever. That’s not good for a board [portion removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Fletcher
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2018 at 3:04 pm

What an incredible loss for Palo Alto Housing and affordable housing in Palo Alto. Under her leadership and perseverance PAH has increased the number of affordable housing units by leaps and bounds. I have had the opportunity to meet her and talk to her; her passion and commitment for helping people is immediately evident. Sandhill is very lucky to have her on board. My only prayer is that PAH finds someone equally hard working, caring and committed to affordable housing. Difficult shoes to fill!

17 people like this
Posted by Remember
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 16, 2018 at 5:24 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by This town...
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2018 at 10:08 pm

The comments on this page are just a perfect example of the reason this website sucks. Require people to use their actual names, please. Your failure to do so renders every comments thread suspect.

If you want to keep a section for anonymous comments, leave one forum open for that, but the rest should require real names. This woman is amazing. She worked in a town where a good deal of residents hated the very mission of her organization.

Use your real names. Stand behind the words in your posts. Only then will we see a more respectful back and forth in these comment strings.

17 people like this
Posted by Cupertino Resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:19 pm

Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities watch out. Sand Hill has set a precedence in their SB 35 application for the Cupertino Vallco project by claiming a project with only 9.7% of the total square footage for below-market-rate (BMR) housing as compliant under the Affordable Housing Act (AHA). They might be using the same tactics for a project in your city soon. Here is how they get away with it:
1. The 1202 BMR housing units are all studios and one-bedrooms of 550-650 sqft. Yet, the other 1202 market-rate units are much larger with many 4-5 times larger than the BMR units.
2. Claim residential parking, open space, swimming pool as "residential amenities" to count towards the total "residential square footage" in order to quality for 2/3 residential under AHA. So, the total project is 7.43 million sqft with 4.96 million sqft for residential use (over 2/3 residential) . Yet, the BMR units only account for about 0.72 million sqft, which is only 9.7% of the entire project.
3. Claim green roof to fulfill the parkland requirement so that more acreage is available for buildings. The project is supposed to provide 13.08 acres of parkland. However, if your municipal code does not require the parkland to be on the ground level, Sand Hill will find a way to get away with providing any parkland on the ground.

In the end, the Vallco SB 35 project, which is supposed to help with housing shortage, will generate 9000 more workers from the 1.8 million sqft office space, while providing only 2402 units of housing. And less than 10% of the square footage is for BMR housing.

6 people like this
Posted by That Guy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2018 at 2:33 am

@This town...
a resident of Crescent Park “Require people to use their actual names, please. Your failure to do so renders every comments thread suspect. “


3 people like this
Posted by Names
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 17, 2018 at 10:51 am

Great idea That Guy. How about "Remember...." and "This Town" respond with their names. Who is first? I'd say the one who threw the first stone.

17 people like this
Posted by Money money
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm

That she chose a company that has a history of not living up to its development contracts with the city, like Edgewood Plaza, speaks loud and clear about where her values are, and have been. Her husband is also a private developer.

Like Steve Emslie who went from Asst.City Manager to working for developers, now working for the Castilleja developers, among others, Ms.Gonzalez joins a list of city officials who have gone to work for development interests. Others who come to mind are Jean McCown, land use attorney who leads development at Stanford,(regardless of her title), and Judy Kleinberg, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

8 people like this
Posted by Remember, She Needed A Place To Live
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm

We will never forget those words by one PAHC board member. See The Daily Post News today. No matter how many times you delete posts, it does not change what really occured. You cannot delete history.

That being said, she knows Peter Pau from college days, hence the career move. And whether you accept it or not, many PAH residents don't even know who she is by sight.

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 17, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Coocoo for Cocoa Puffs! What fiction you create. Pau is 60-70 years old. Gonzalez several decades younger. What times they must have had at the UC keg parties. Nice altered universe.

2 people like this
Posted by Samuel Johnson
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Anonymous poster "This town..." complaining mightily about everyone else posting anonymously.
Lots of good words come to mind.

Like this comment
Posted by nonsense
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 20, 2018 at 10:57 am


The problem is not that there are to many jobs... People need jobs so that they can pay for housing. The problem is that the jobs that people have, still cannot pay for the housing that they need. That is evidenced by the bay area being top three most expensive places to live in the nation.

This lack of adequate, dignified, affordable housing is not happening because jobs are being created... It is happening because people do not want to move...

It is not the companies (and the people that work for them) that are entrenching themselves. It is the people who are and have been here already.

I wonder how affordable things would be, how much available housing stock there would be, or adequate infrastructure there would be, if... Instead of sending jobs to an imaginary city (where would the employees come from?), we send all of the retirees who don't have jobs to create a city of their own!

I mean... if we are talking the economics of it, at this point, the only thing they are good for is economic stimulus and a tax base. Wait... if we stop moving jobs and businesses to an area because it is too crowded, and stop the employees that work for those businesses from serving its customers, what are the retirees going to do with themselves? Go on vacation? that would remove a car from the road for at least a little while. Would that help solve your congestion problem?

Of course you would never implicate yourself in causing this crisis. Were you born here? Did you move before the "crisis" happened.? Did you have a good job that did good things? Did you start a company that employed others? cool story bro... whats the equity in your home look like? Bet you don't want to move... So, you must be right in saying these things because your older... Doubt it.

You probably enjoy all kinds of innovations from companies that you deplore. Why are they deplorable? because they want to live where you live? Would PayPal be a better company if it was located in Iowa? Probably for you, but that doesn't fix the problem does it? Are you really suggesting that the San Francisco bay area, turn into some kind of huge suburb? Remove the global reach of industries such as technology, finance, and media, so that you can feel more comfortable in your little slice of California heaven? YOU get out. Go start your favorite restaurant in your new town, built the way you want it.

You complain about traffic because you probably don't have to complain about RENT being higher than a MORTGAGE...
that doesn't happen because there are a lot of companies creating jobs, that happens because people want to remain where they are. Your self preservation is transparent,its also expected and understandable. It doesn't make it right.

You want to live here right? its an amazing place to live. How blessed we are to have this opportunity to experience it. Don't get too comfortable. Everyone leaves it behind in the end.

I am born and breed in the Bay. I spent my time in the military and now I have come back to educate myself and take advantage on the benefits I have access to. I want to live here as well. I am not ignorant or benighted about reality though. I don't have the solutions. But I know that anyone working on behalf of peoples rights to food, shelter, and water should be commended.

Like this comment
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Retirees “without jobs” all do leave. Jobs don’t.

Retirees leaving hasn’t and won’t lower housing costs.
Jobs leaving will.

People come and pay more to be here because of the jobs and the property investment value supported by jobs.

Rent is periodically higher than mortgage payments here. It’s a function of interest rates as well as the rent market.

(Even in the 80s, it was common to save 10-15% of income for 8-10 years for a down payment of a starter home in Palo Alto. And the 20% down requirement was more strictly enforced by mortgage lenders than it is now.)

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