News

How small can housing go? Developer proposes 'microstudios'

Latest 'planned home' zone project would shrink Alma Street office building, add 36 apartments

The development proposed for 955 Alma St. would include 36 microstudios over office space. Rendering courtesy Heather Young Architects.

Ever since Palo Alto introduced its "planned home" zone last year and invited developers to pitch residential projects that exceed the zoning code, it has received a diverse array of proposals, from the 24-apartment project proposed in College Terrace to a 290-apartment development eyed for Fabian Way.

Most applicants so far have relied on the new zoning designation to propose projects with more than 100 residences, with the most promising one preparing to bring 113 apartments to a Ventura neighborhood site near El Camino Real and Olive Avenue.

By contrast, Tarlton Properties is thinking small. Really small.

Its proposal for 955 Alma St., which the City Council plans to review in a "pre-screening" hearing next month, would replace an existing office building with a mixed-use complex that includes 36 "innovation" microstudios and office space on the ground floor. Consistent with the council's recent push to discourage new offices and encourage new housing, developer John Tarlton would reduce the total office space from the current level of about 8,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet, while adding the tiny units.

Located in SOFA-2 neighborhood, on the southern edge of downtown and across the train tracks near the Town & Country Village shopping center, the new building would feature apartments with an average size of 342 square feet. Each of them, despite the small size, will contain a bathroom, a washer, a dryer, a galley kitchen and a sofa that folds out into a queen-sized bed.

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Heather Young, the project architect, said each residence is designed to be a "very adaptable space."

"We have no wasted interior space," Young told this news organization. "We're planning for storage of removable tables and chairs that come out during the day and are tucked away at night, and a foldout desk that tucks away at night."

Each apartment, according to the application, would have about 34 linear feet of storage, with a retractable coffee table that is convertible to a dining table and that "slips snuggly into a media wall to make more floor space." On the adjacent wall, a fold-down desk will convert to a home office work station, with recessed storage for a computer and books. Four fold-out chairs will stack above the desk, hidden from view when the cabinet is closed, the application states.

Young said the project was inspired by the developer's personal experience. Her firm had designed an even smaller microstudio for John Tarlton's personal property in Palo Alto several years ago. He has been surprised by the strong demand he has received for the unit, which tends to rent out quickly.

"The couples or the singles who rent there always speak very highly of its efficiency," she said.

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To build the four-story project, the applicant is seeking two zoning exceptions that would allow it to exceed the city's regulations for, respectively, height and density. The property's zoning designation allows a maximum height of 35 feet; the developer is seeking an increase to 50 feet, consistent with the citywide height limit. It is also requesting that the building density be allowed to increase, with floor-area-ratio going up from 1.15 to 2.68.

Like other developers pitching "planned home" projects, Tarlton and Young face a long road ahead of them. After the council offers early feedback at the May 18 hearing, the developer's team will decide whether to submit a formal application, which would then go through the city's gamut of boards and commissions before returning to the council for approval.

Recent hearings on other planned-home projects should, however, give the team some reasons for optimism. Earlier this month, the council reaffirmed its commitment to steer planned-home projects away from single-family neighborhoods and toward commercial corridors and areas that are zoned for high-density residential use. Numerous council members — most notably, Greg Tanaka — have also talked frequently about their desire to see projects with smaller units because this would enable more — and more affordable — residential spaces.

When the council was reviewing the planned-home project proposed for 2951 El Camino Real, Tanaka asked the applicant, Acclaim Companies, to consider increasing the number of units by having more studios in its proposal.

"In general, smaller units are naturally more affordable," Tanaka said.

Young noted that studios are generally underrepresented in Palo Alto and the proposed project helps create a "balance of units types" in the community. Seven of the 36 studios would be designated at "affordable housing," with three of those targeting residents in the "very low" income level of 50% or lower than Santa Clara County's average median income.

The project, she said, is particularly suitable for the Alma Street location because of its proximity to the Caltrain station downtown and major retail areas. It is also more than 150 feet away from other residential buildings, she said.

"This site in particular is an excellent opportunity for the city to gain some much-needed multifamily housing with the win-wins of reduced current quantity of office space and the positive impact on the jobs-housing ratio," Young said.

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How small can housing go? Developer proposes 'microstudios'

Latest 'planned home' zone project would shrink Alma Street office building, add 36 apartments

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Apr 22, 2021, 12:53 pm

Ever since Palo Alto introduced its "planned home" zone last year and invited developers to pitch residential projects that exceed the zoning code, it has received a diverse array of proposals, from the 24-apartment project proposed in College Terrace to a 290-apartment development eyed for Fabian Way.

Most applicants so far have relied on the new zoning designation to propose projects with more than 100 residences, with the most promising one preparing to bring 113 apartments to a Ventura neighborhood site near El Camino Real and Olive Avenue.

By contrast, Tarlton Properties is thinking small. Really small.

Its proposal for 955 Alma St., which the City Council plans to review in a "pre-screening" hearing next month, would replace an existing office building with a mixed-use complex that includes 36 "innovation" microstudios and office space on the ground floor. Consistent with the council's recent push to discourage new offices and encourage new housing, developer John Tarlton would reduce the total office space from the current level of about 8,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet, while adding the tiny units.

Located in SOFA-2 neighborhood, on the southern edge of downtown and across the train tracks near the Town & Country Village shopping center, the new building would feature apartments with an average size of 342 square feet. Each of them, despite the small size, will contain a bathroom, a washer, a dryer, a galley kitchen and a sofa that folds out into a queen-sized bed.

Heather Young, the project architect, said each residence is designed to be a "very adaptable space."

"We have no wasted interior space," Young told this news organization. "We're planning for storage of removable tables and chairs that come out during the day and are tucked away at night, and a foldout desk that tucks away at night."

Each apartment, according to the application, would have about 34 linear feet of storage, with a retractable coffee table that is convertible to a dining table and that "slips snuggly into a media wall to make more floor space." On the adjacent wall, a fold-down desk will convert to a home office work station, with recessed storage for a computer and books. Four fold-out chairs will stack above the desk, hidden from view when the cabinet is closed, the application states.

Young said the project was inspired by the developer's personal experience. Her firm had designed an even smaller microstudio for John Tarlton's personal property in Palo Alto several years ago. He has been surprised by the strong demand he has received for the unit, which tends to rent out quickly.

"The couples or the singles who rent there always speak very highly of its efficiency," she said.

To build the four-story project, the applicant is seeking two zoning exceptions that would allow it to exceed the city's regulations for, respectively, height and density. The property's zoning designation allows a maximum height of 35 feet; the developer is seeking an increase to 50 feet, consistent with the citywide height limit. It is also requesting that the building density be allowed to increase, with floor-area-ratio going up from 1.15 to 2.68.

Like other developers pitching "planned home" projects, Tarlton and Young face a long road ahead of them. After the council offers early feedback at the May 18 hearing, the developer's team will decide whether to submit a formal application, which would then go through the city's gamut of boards and commissions before returning to the council for approval.

Recent hearings on other planned-home projects should, however, give the team some reasons for optimism. Earlier this month, the council reaffirmed its commitment to steer planned-home projects away from single-family neighborhoods and toward commercial corridors and areas that are zoned for high-density residential use. Numerous council members — most notably, Greg Tanaka — have also talked frequently about their desire to see projects with smaller units because this would enable more — and more affordable — residential spaces.

When the council was reviewing the planned-home project proposed for 2951 El Camino Real, Tanaka asked the applicant, Acclaim Companies, to consider increasing the number of units by having more studios in its proposal.

"In general, smaller units are naturally more affordable," Tanaka said.

Young noted that studios are generally underrepresented in Palo Alto and the proposed project helps create a "balance of units types" in the community. Seven of the 36 studios would be designated at "affordable housing," with three of those targeting residents in the "very low" income level of 50% or lower than Santa Clara County's average median income.

The project, she said, is particularly suitable for the Alma Street location because of its proximity to the Caltrain station downtown and major retail areas. It is also more than 150 feet away from other residential buildings, she said.

"This site in particular is an excellent opportunity for the city to gain some much-needed multifamily housing with the win-wins of reduced current quantity of office space and the positive impact on the jobs-housing ratio," Young said.

Comments

Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Apr 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Parking?

It's encouraging to see the realism in this proposal -- given the cost of land and the cost of construction, the only way new housing here is going to be affordable is to make it very small. That's consistent with the pattern in dense areas elsewhere. Not reassuring for families, unfortunately.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 22, 2021 at 2:10 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 22, 2021 at 2:10 pm

" Seven of the 36 studios would be designated at "affordable housing," with three of those targeting residents in the "very low" income level of 50% or lower than Santa Clara County's average median income."

Only 3 BMR units. Not enough.

"Consistent with the council's recent push to discourage new offices and encourage new housing, developer John Tarlton would reduce the total office space from the current level of about 8,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet"

6,000 sq feet of offices?? Why any???



felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:43 am
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:43 am

I look forward to many single parents with a child living here.
Bet the developer may be thinking singles.
But if 2 can live in a unit, it’s illegal to not allow children.


Yo
Registered user
St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:36 am
Yo, St. Claire Gardens
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:36 am

Will the units be for sale or rent?


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2021 at 8:45 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 8:45 am

These micro units will grow stale very quickly. The idea that someone is going to be tidy enough to store tables, chairs, desks, before going to bed and then store the bed before being able to eat or work, mean that only the tidiest of people will find this practical after the initial excitement has worn off, just like New Year Resolutions!

There has to be enough space somewhere to store a bicycle, camping equipment, sports equipment or whatever outdoor pursuits a resident wants. Inside they will have to be minimalistic in nature. No space for a cello, or even a guitar, no space for hobbies such as crafts or even serious cooking. No space for childhood memorabilia - our own have left most of that behind and told not to throw their stuff out, so they won't have space to take it with them.

Expect nerdy individuals who spend non-working hours at home playing video games, unsociable, and happy to live surrounded by stuff they are too poorly motivated to cook, clean or put away clean laundry!

Sorry about the negativity, but unless they are second homes (think divorcees or someone who works and lives locally during the week and returns to their "real home" at weekends), I can't see anyone living there more than a year. Perhaps that is the plan!


tika motumbe
Registered user
Stanford
on Apr 23, 2021 at 9:42 am
tika motumbe, Stanford
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 9:42 am

*apartments with an average size of 342 square feet. Each of them, despite the small size, will contain a bathroom, a washer, a dryer, a galley kitchen and a sofa that folds out into a queen-sized bed.

^ This is very compact living to say the least. Perhaps ideal for a single person or weekday Silicon Valley commuter.

I would like to see more communal loft residencies in Palo Alto where people live together and share household duties OR the conversion of former business and office buildings into studio apartments.


Here SInce 1979
Registered user
Green Acres
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:01 am
Here SInce 1979, Green Acres
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:01 am

Again, why are we building housing when our water supply is in danger? Currently we are at 29% with no forecast of significant rain in the future. Each one of the last three major droughts had people taking "military" showers, manicured lawns turned brown, people started reporting each other for 'suspected water abuse', etc. Not fun.

Most major construction projects will use a large amount of water just in the building phase. Then include the water needs of the additional people who would then live there. It would be a large number.

The need for housing (and the desire for big bucks by the developers) is high here in Palo Alto. Can we be reasonable and think things through? Water is essential for life. Why would we make life more difficult? Why ignore the needs of your current residents? I acknowledge the need to find other ways to help people with housing difficulties/ commutes. Can we find a way for everyone to 'win' and get what they mostly need?

Think about water supply as you sip water from your water bottle. How would you feel if your access to water was limited?


palo altan
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:28 am
palo altan, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:28 am

I think this is a great idea. It's the perfect place to build these so call micro units being downtown and right across the street from Caltrain. Majority of the residents shouldn't even need a car, and for those who do, they can buy residential parking permits at one of the garages perhaps. I hope this project gets built quickly, despite the shocking increase in development fees.


Mama
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2021 at 11:19 am
Mama, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 11:19 am

Story covers everything but parking. What about it in this already over-parked area? Also, I wonder what will stop people from turning these into offices?


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2021 at 11:46 am
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 11:46 am

This project sounds great. Very creative to create small living spaces. I hope this is approved.


Jayson Lane
Registered user
Stanford
on Apr 23, 2021 at 12:37 pm
Jayson Lane, Stanford
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Outstanding concept. Not for everyone but a minimalist approach to providing much-needed housing.


felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2021 at 2:15 pm
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 2:15 pm

Will there also be micro rent for the market-rate units to keep things consistent?


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm

If we are going to try this housing experiment, this is a good location to do it--2 min. bike ride or 9 minute walk to the Caltran station. Easy walking distance to downtown shops, including Whole Foods, pharmacy, and restaurants.

Points about adequate storage are well-taken, but I think someone would have to be an idiot to rent one of these places if they were car-dependent. It could work for a young person or couple who mostly walk, bike and use transit. For those trips that require a car, there's rideshare and one can always rent a car for long trips. It would be interesting to see the visuals for the concept plans for interiors. I wish they were attached to the article. I know couples who live this way in Palo Alto--with kids. They seem to make it work. Not everyone needs space to accumulate and store stuff. What works for you, might not be what works for others. Let's keep open minds.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:52 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:52 pm

Where is the utility closet located for bike tools, camping gear, ect. What about additional storage for holiday decor or religious faith based items? No mention of bike storage, safe enclosed lock-up or ebike charging station. What about community room to have celebrations and a gym??? Micro units are great but this is not Munich — This means attention must be paid to things like a musician, artist or something else that includes individuals who must live life in their home without worry of being shamed because they practice an art . What about a single parent w a small child? Again PA using the “tiny” RV mobile or ADU as home model for housing humans and expect them to call home it home. Across from cal train good but doesn’t solve the job/housing imbalance within Palo Alto’s city borders. I guess it’s a plus that the uber expensive Whole Food’s market is near. Yet low-wage cashiers working at the Homer store live in their pick-ups and RV’s along ECR!


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:57 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 6:57 pm

Where is the utility closet located for bike tools, camping gear, ect. What about additional storage for holiday decor or religious faith based items? No mention of bike storage, safe enclosed lock-up or ebike charging station. What about community room to have celebrations and a gym??? Micro units are great but this is not Munich — This means attention must be paid to livlihoods like a musician, artist or something else that includes individuals who must live life in their home without worry of being shamed because they practice an art . (After all this is the birth place if the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane. And writer like Ken Kesey worked). What about a single parent w a small child? Again PA using the “tiny” RV mobile or ADU plan as a home model for housing humans and expect them to call it good. Across from cal train is great but this doesn’t solve the job/housing imbalance within Palo Alto’s city borders. I guess it’s a plus that the uber expensive Whole Food’s market is around the corner. Yet low-wage cashiers working at the Homer WF’s store live in their pick-ups and RV’s along ECR! Hell’o?!


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:07 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:07 pm

"Majority of the residents shouldn't even need a car," -- Keep up your DELUDED thinking.
" and for those who do, they can buy residential parking permits at one of the garages perhaps." -- PERHAPS? Try to learn something first before talking about it. Get ready to compete for parking in the neighborhood AFTER you bought a permit to park downtown.
"I hope this project gets built quickly, despite the shocking increase in development fees." -- It should never get built but if it does, I regret not being able to see you trying to park downtown while your reservation is expiring.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:38 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 23, 2021 at 7:38 pm

I wonder if this is a future trend for the Bay Area. I spoke with a friend (from the East Bay) via Zoom. Her brother began to rant about how "large" homes and apartments are a new barometer for "racism" and "climate murder."

In other words, he was arguing that large homes were emblematic of "systemic racism" in society as well as an utter lack of caring for the environment. When I asked about how large is "large," he said "anything over 300 square feet per person."

While he didn't go into detail about how large homes are somehow linked to racism (other than the obvious average home size by race), he said that this was one of the underlying principles for the social justice group that he belongs to.

As a knee-jerk response to this article, I'm on the fence with this proposal. I'm not sure if this size would constitute "affordable housing" -- because it would limit the amount of things that can actually be "housed." I suspect that this isn't much bigger than my undergraduate college dorm. In fact, my dorm room didn't seem large enough as a short-term housing solution in college either.

I wonder if this project is more about maximize profit per (limited) square foot than a viable plan for affordable housing solutions.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Apr 24, 2021 at 8:57 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 8:57 am

Maximizing profit per square foot disguised as "affordable housing" is correct. As a Palo Alto homeowner (and taxpayer) living elsewhere I see right through this. Parking is a concern as well.

There are people who are okay living in close quarters, but it's hardly the norm. Maybe a college student who is never home (school, work, active social life). Enjoy.


Archie Redmond
Registered user
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Apr 24, 2021 at 9:12 am
Archie Redmond, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 9:12 am

Some developer should build a micro-tract of miniature houses in Palo Alto.

It's really no different than a duplex or triplex but far smaller with maybe 8-10 studio-style houses on a 1/4 acre parcel.

Similar in some ways to a mobile home park except that the units are permanent and on a slab foundation.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2021 at 12:55 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Certainly creative. Small housing beats no housing in a heartbeat, but Is there demand for this post-Covid? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to build anything that isn't going to be occupied.

I would love to see Palo Alto, this region, and even the State prioritize housing needs so that we build first what we need most. I do not have statistics on this, but I'm guessing we do not need more grand homes or more workforce housing for the well paid. The Daily Post alone is full of housing opportunities in those categories.

What we need is what doesn't pencil out around here. Until a developer comes along who is willing to take a financial bath, I doubt this reality is going to change.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2021 at 1:19 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Archie, there is no room or money for micro mini-houses. The land is way too
expensive everywhere in the Bay Area. That is why developers want to build tall, dense, housing projects with as many micro-units as possible and no real amenities like pools, gyms, gathering spaces. These units are anywhere from 300 sq. ft. to 450 sq. ft. Most just a little bit bigger than a dorm room! Outside garden, parking and trees are eliminated to make room for more "profitable" housing for the developer. The average rent will be the market rate.

Micro-Apartment Cons
Not always cheaper than average rent in the area.
Minimal storage and living space.
No-pet policies or strict limits on pets.
Not family-friendly or fit to grow into.
Not fit for couples.
May be costly to furnish due to the need for specialty furniture.

Most people who rent will leave after a couple of years for more space and some sort of nature! In other words, these are temporary dwellings.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2021 at 1:27 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 1:27 pm

I lived in a studio with 300 square feet in the old hospital on Cowper for a couple of years, and it was fine. Had a futon for a couch/bed, a full kitchen, and bathroom. The washer and dryer was community though, which makes more sense. But I also went to work every day, and spent a lot of time there. And I went to the bars on the weekends when they used to exist downtown. I wouldn't want to be living AND working in such a small space. And I was very happy to move into a bigger place. You can only take such a small space for so long.


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm

In case anyone's curious, the Planning documents for this project can be found here: Web Link The City's website apparently makes it impossible to link directly to the PDF files, so you'll have to click the "Record Info" tab and select the "Attachments" menu item. In the table that shows up you can find links that will download the PDF files for the plans and project description.

As for parking, there are 15 existing spaces on-site for the offices. Those will be replaced. The 36 housing units would normally require 36 spaces, but the project requests a 30% reduction to 25 spaces. The grand total of 40 spaces will be provided by a mix of 32 spaces using triple-high stackers in an underground garage, plus 8 surface spaces. It'll be interesting to see whether those stackers are actually used, or whether the residents just park in the neighborhoods nearby.

Looks like there's outdoor bike parking for maybe a dozen bikes. I don't see any interior bike parking, but I might have missed it.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:15 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:15 pm

Allen,
It was impossible to find the plans. Very unfriendly site!


Allen Akin
Registered user
Professorville
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:36 pm
Allen Akin, Professorville
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 2:36 pm

@eileen: I've made temporary copies here: Web Link and here: Web Link


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2021 at 3:12 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 3:12 pm

Thanks, Allen! I got the link.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2021 at 3:50 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 3:50 pm

And the city crows about its wonderful new web site. Maybe they intentionally make it tough to use.

This project reminds me of the Asian "coffin" homes that have been around for more than a decade where a person slides right in to his slot. Common in Japan but my search shows they're also used for techie housing in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Has anyone thought of the perils of backing out onto Alma?


Paly Grad
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 5:26 pm

“ Midpeninusla buyers seek more space”

Web Link


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2021 at 9:59 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 24, 2021 at 9:59 pm

Plan to use The Container Store for walk in close solutions. That’s what “micro?units “ are the size of. Electronic car lifts are stupid unless it’s for very, very long term auto storage. Not safe, break down all of the time, no ADA accessibility (think toy erector set) . The German company is just that . The parts come from Germany (when did Germany have an earthquake). The repaitlr office is in Walnut Creek. These are way crummy and break often. One cannot get a car in or out when electric grid ceases. horrible in case of emergency or when a home health aid / nurse needs to park. The robotic lift does not fit small utility trucks for those working Blue Collar jobs. Any plan that includes these or who installs these lifts should be sued for liable. Yes. Resident parking will overflow into street parking because the lifts are cumbersome, poorly designed and unsafe for frequent use and frequent breakdowns.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2021 at 10:23 am
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 25, 2021 at 10:23 am

This is an article from 2013 but is still true today.
Web Link

Investment firms and developers are trying to push the micro-apartment unit craze into Palo Alto.

This is a boom for profit-making developers who will make money on this land grab but horrible for people that want real viable housing. Why are we building "temporary", workforce dormitory housing? The city must look long and hard at this trend before we ruin this city. Look at Seattle, NYC, and Vancouver.


chini
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 25, 2021 at 11:28 am
chini, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 25, 2021 at 11:28 am

Clear message to next generation: "Dream small. No, try smaller."


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2021 at 2:05 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 25, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Chini, dream smaller, not micro! We need beautifully designed smaller, livable, family-friendly apartments or condos with outdoor landscaping, trees, and gardens to enhance life. A rooftop garden is essential for social interaction too. Living in a dorm room size apartment will be a one or two-year experience and then you will move on! Again, these micro-units are not affordable and not for couples or families. Developers are buying up land and creating 350 sq. ft. units so the investors can make more profit.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2021 at 5:14 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 25, 2021 at 5:14 pm
Hinrich
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2021 at 8:25 am
Hinrich, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 26, 2021 at 8:25 am

I hope these micro units are discouraged and this one rejected. The city should never approve any residential housing that doesn't support the humane and social needs of at least two people. People don't belong in broom closets. In a misguided effort to do something after doing little to provide housing for all the commercial expansion that was approved, the city is generously offering residencies in autos, backyard sheds, and now stacked dresser drawers. It's too little. People need space to get their lives started, to have hobbies, share a meal with others, start a relationship. You're not helping the service worker much if you give them a box that can never house more than one. Same for single parent and elderly. If the city can't build to house it's workers then it is built and Facebook will have to grow elsewhere. We should make a strong statement in favor of decent homes and suitable living environments - not shoeboxes.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 26, 2021 at 4:50 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 26, 2021 at 4:50 pm

Amen Henrich!

Instead of creating dorm rooms for 2o year old's, how about we build liveable,
beautiful, nature-filled, small homes?



NeilsonBuchanan
Registered user
Downtown North
on Apr 26, 2021 at 5:54 pm
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
Registered user
on Apr 26, 2021 at 5:54 pm

Gotta love PA Online to surface the spectrum of opinions.

Just a word about where to park. After 11 years of studying parking policy in Downtown Palo Alto, I can risk a bet.

I am willing to bet one person $100 that residents of this project are ineligible to buy a parking permits in any University Ave commercial core public parking lots and garages. You can inquire at the Office of Transportation. [email protected]

The most likely option for those new resident would be to buy up to 4 resident parking permits and park anywhere in the residential neighborhoods only a short block away. I think a lot of those residents will prefer safe, tree-lined residential street parking over the triple decked mechanical lifts. If one person wants to place a bet, text me at 650 537-9611 First come, first serve!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 26, 2021 at 5:58 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 26, 2021 at 5:58 pm

Why not just build the micro-housing for techies in the big tech companies' parking lots? In no way is the current project designed for low-income families!

Also the electric-powered car-lift parking will be incredibly dangerous in the event of a disaster where people need to evacuate but can't get at their cars. Is anyone paying attention to the dangers there or are they too blinded by their greed?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2021 at 8:06 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 27, 2021 at 8:06 am

In NY apartment buildings there is usually a basement section that has storage for the residents. In senior homes there is usually storage in the garage area where personal and sports equipment can be placed. And in SF a section where bikes are stored.
Comments from SU residents are not looking at their own campus which now has a lot of houses and apartments on campus. Check out the SU West housing on north side of Sand Hill Road. SU is trying to build additional housing in Portola Valley but that city is trying o prevent it. SU has a second campus in RWC that has extensive housing now in apartments on Jefferson next to the shopping center and train.

PA has apartments end to end in the city - high end and low end. Most next to ECR which has the big busses. This city can make decisions on the best outcomes without the pressure of people saying there is no housing. Many advocacy groups have the agenda which may not be the best outcome for this city which is rich in housing of all types.


Carol Scott
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Apr 27, 2021 at 12:25 pm
Carol Scott, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Apr 27, 2021 at 12:25 pm

This is so sad. Lower income people are still people, and they want a decent place to live, which this is not. There is no provision for any increase in park or other outside area in the neighborhood to accommodate increased density. There is no provision for parking except using the adjacent neighborhood as an overflow parking lot in order to enrich developers. Another commenter is correct -- the housing we need most does not "pencil out" for developers who require top dollar returns. Public-private financing needs to be investigated as an option for creating homes for families.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2021 at 1:03 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Apr 27, 2021 at 1:03 pm

My 2,000sf single family home provides 500 sf for each of my four family members. That includes the garage which we use for storage and a workshop because we have no basement or attic. This is a fairly typical home in my neighborhood.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2021 at 7:24 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 27, 2021 at 7:24 pm

I was in San Jose today. That city has every category of housing and every category of neighborhood. That is where people can find every category of housing that they want. As a city goes it looked very good today but was parched. The sky was not blue - lot of building in process. Coming back the freeway was filled with very large trucks that carry earth. This is not going to be a good year for weather - very dry and parched.

This city does not have to respond to every type of living conditions - we are built out to the borders. The big cities are where the brunt of the housing issues belong. If this particular apartment layout is prohibitive to healthy living then maybe it belongs in a bigger city.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2021 at 1:05 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 28, 2021 at 1:05 pm

Gennady, the projects proposed are anything but "diverse." They all, without exception, include homes no larger than 400 square feet. Every. Single. One.

These boxes would be 342 square feet. These units would not include kitchens, bedrooms, or bathrooms with sinks. They are approximately the size of jail cells. This is the inevitable consequence of relying solely on for-profit developers to provide affordable housing.

Palo Alto's strategy of relying on commercial developers for affordable housing was designed to fail, and fail it is doing. A home that costs $10,000/square foot to rent is not affordable.

Meanwhile, the state of California announced it is giving away almost $2 billion to cities (NOT COUNTIES) to build affordable housing, yet Palo Alto refuses to apply for this funding.

And, the federal government is beefing up its own programs, including section 8.

Given all the free money, existing and new nonprofits are asking cities like Palo Alto to work with them to use public funds to develop housing that is big enough to house more than one human being, in homes rather than shoeboxes. Every city other than Palo Alto is doing this.

Palo Alto devotes multiples of more time and money on housing automobiles than it does to house humans.

If Palo Alto City Government was willing to (and did) spend $400 million for parking garages in the past several years, shouldn't it spend an equal amount on affordable homes? Instead, our city spends ZERO on homes for people, and half a billion dollars on homes for cars.

The money is there. We must stop putting the essential work of housing into the hands of organizations that couldn't care less about sanitary and safe living conditions.

It is time for Palo Alto to do the work it is legally obligated to do -- the work every other city in California has been doing better than us -- using public funds to provide safe, humane, and affordable homes.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2021 at 3:38 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Apr 28, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Good points, Rebecca.

Why HASN'T Palo Alto applied for any state funds? Why hasn't it followed the examples of Mountain View and others in converting hotels to homeless / BMR housing? Remember when it gleefully allowed Casa Olga to be replaced by the Epiphany Hotel now Nobu? And of course there's the long-gone President Holtel and its displaced tenants.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 28, 2021 at 3:46 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 28, 2021 at 3:46 pm

In the SJM/BAN 04/28 -"Biggest Bay Area Cities denied key housing funds." That would be San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco. Smaller cities that did get affordable housing funding are Richmond, Morgan Hill, San Ramon, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, and Hayward. This was inconsistent with the intentions of Scott Weiner, Nancy Skinner (Berkley) and David Chiu of SF. There are obvious problems with how funding is allocated and it is not as easy at it would appear. Possibly funding to smaller cities is easier to track for success on projected housing projects. The big cities listed may have demonstrated some lack of ability to correctly fund projects.

Reading the description of the apartments they sound awful. PA does not have to respond and approve every project offered up. That property can be put to better use with larger apartments. This is going to be a horrible summer and people have to be in a living space that is habitable.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Apr 29, 2021 at 6:34 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Apr 29, 2021 at 6:34 am

Fully agree with Online Name that Rebecca Eisenberg makes good points in her post. Wake up, Palo Alto!

Frank Sinatra told us why micro units work in New York: it is a city that never sleeps. Residents of tiny apartments rely on access to grocery stores, all-night all purpose stores like Duane Reade, restaurants, and a robust transportation system that eliminates the need for a car and even assures that a taxi can be quickly available should an emergency occur. To state the obvious: Palo Alto is not put together that way.


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