As tenants of President Hotel brace for eviction, a local nonprofit that focuses on fair-housing services issued a letter on Jan. 25 to the building owner, requesting that two of the remaining residents be granted a temporary reprieve because of their disabilities.
Project Sentinel, the nonprofit that provides housing mediation services in Palo Alto and other jurisdictions, is urging AJ Capital, the new owner of the building at 488 University Ave., to provide "reasonable accommodations" for two tenants who have disabilities, the nonprofit's Executive Director Ann Marquart told the Weekly.
The two residents, Dennis Backlund and Michelle Kraus, had both publicly appealed to the council in recent weeks and months to reach out to AJ Capital to grant them a temporary stay. AJ Capital had purchased the historic building last year with the goal of converting it into a hotel.
"We are requesting reasonable accommodations on their behalf," Marquart told the Weekly.
Backlund, a former historic preservation planner in Palo Alto, personally addressed the council on Monday and asked council members to request "in a non-binding manner" that AJ Capital extend the lease of remaining tenants until the end of June.
While the city opted not to intervene with AJ Capital, Marquart said her agency plans to do just that. The agency is relying on the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability. The act also makes it unlawful for people to refuse to make "reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford ... person(s) (with disabilities) equal opportunities to use and enjoy a dwelling."
Transitional kindergarten program to expand
The Palo Alto school district is expanding its transitional kindergarten program to provide early education opportunities to children who might not otherwise have access to them.
The program, which aims to prepare children socially and academically for kindergarten, is currently housed at Greendell School on Middlefield Road. Starting next fall, there will be transitional kindergarten classes at Barron Park and Duveneck elementary schools, which the district hopes will make it easier for families who live far from Greendell, particularly in East Palo Alto, to enroll their children. It's possible that a 4-year-old could get on the first school district bus of the morning in East Palo Alto at 6:56 a.m. and wouldn't arrive at Greendell until 8:25 a.m., said Anne Brown, chief academic officer for the elementary schools.
The program expansion was announced as part of Superintendent Don Austin's proposed three-year district plan last week. Brown said it was prompted by Barron Park's new principal, Eric Goddard, who wanted to find ways to better serve children who arrive in the district without any preschool experience.
"Some know how to write their names (and) some have never held a pencil," Brown told the Weekly.
"Children who have had a quality preschool education come in with better social skills" and stronger literacy readiness, she said.
The publicly funded transitional kindergarten program, which started in California in 2012 and is not mandatory, serves 4-year-olds who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. There are currently 76 students enrolled in the Greendell program.
Suspected home burglar nabbed by K-9
A Palo Alto police canine took down a man Tuesday who'd allegedly entered a historic Crescent Park home in the 900 block of University Avenue and resisted arrest when confronted by officers.
Police were responding to a 911 call made at 5:08 p.m. from a woman in her 60s who reported that she'd arrived home to find her kitchen window smashed, according to a police press release.
Officers arrived, entered the three-story house and heard rustling sounds coming from upstairs, the police stated. They called out to the suspect, who allegedly came down wearing a shirt that belonged to a resident of the home. The 53-year-old man told the police that it was his house.
He resisted officers' commands, at which point a police canine was used to take him into custody, the press release states. He received minor injuries from the canine encounter and was treated by Palo Alto Fire Department paramedics. He was taken to a local hospital, which is standard procedure following a canine apprehension.
The man, a San Jose resident, was arrested for felony residential burglary, misdemeanor possession of stolen property, and misdemeanor resisting arrest and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
Detectives will be investigating to determine if the arrestee is connected to any other residential burglaries.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to email@example.com.
—Palo Alto Weekly Staff