Senior housing planned for old orchard property | September 14, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 14, 2012

Senior housing planned for old orchard property

Palo Alto could gain 59 homes for seniors if an affordable-housing project by the Palo Alto Housing Corporation becomes a reality. Officials unveiled plans for the apartment project at a meeting Wednesday night, Sept. 12.

If approved, the Maybell Avenue project in the Barron Park neighborhood would add to the city's supply of very-low and low-income housing at a time when the need is growing. About 20 percent of Palo Alto's seniors live near or below the poverty line, according to the Council on Aging Silicon Valley.

Residents from the neighborhood Wednesday voiced mixed reactions to the project, which would also include 15 three-story, for-sale single-family homes with two-car garages and parking pads for two other vehicles.

Most people agreed the project is needed and a noble one. But residents expressed concerns over increased traffic on already bustling Maybell, which is a major school route.

Housing corporation officials plan to release a traffic study at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The 2.46-acre Maybell project would be located at the corner of Maybell and Clemo avenues, where there are currently four homes and an orchard. Other multifamily residences surround the site, including Arastradero Park Apartments and the Tan Plaza Continental. Single-family homes lie to the west, and Juana Briones Park is to the south, across Clemo.

The project would offer one-bedroom apartments for approximately $551 to $918 per month, said Georgina Mascarenhas, the housing corporation's director of property management.

Penny Ellson, a longtime proponent of Palo Alto Unified School District's bicycle-safety programs, said she will be interested in the traffic-study results. But she said that, anecdotally, seniors don't appear to generate much traffic.

"I live across the street from Stevenson House, and they don't generate a lot of trips," she said.

Barron Park resident Doug Moran called the proposed three-story homes "not very useful."

"People in Palo Alto are looking for three-generation housing, so grandma can take care of the kids," he said. The homes proposed are tall and narrow — difficult for older people to negotiate stairs, he added.

The housing nonprofit anticipates closing the land purchase by Nov. 30. Officials are in the process of securing financing for the project, including a request of the City of Palo Alto for $6.5 million.

— Sue Dremann


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Posted by Affordable Housing Out of Control
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

We all know what the City Council will do with this one. They will blindly approve the 6.5 million because they think that the Palo Alto Housing Corporation is a non-profit ally of the city, that provides a good benefit to the city and its residents. Unfortunately, the city of Palo Alto, and its council does not realize that most residents who reside in Palo Alto Housing Corporation rental don't want to live in those rentals because the property management of Palo Alto Housing Corporation is brutal to its residents, and discrimanatory to all the ethnic and minority residents of those projects. Of course, the city of Palo Alto and the council do not want to hear or validate any of those resident stories. People who reside in those properties are basically stuck, but that is how low-income and minority people are treated. This agency is a horrible agency, but the city of Palo Alto, and the council are in bed with them, and we all know what will happen. And, what seniors are they really serving with income ranges of $31,000 to $63,00? This is bogus. And, why does the proposal include market rate homes when Palo Alto Housing Corporation's mission is to build affordable housing? This is an indicator that the city has already given a thumbs up to this project. Sad but true, we never seem to vote in the right people to council, and this is what we get in return. Perhaps, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation should change the goal of their housing in this location to help those folks in the Buena Vista Mobile Park to have more affordable housing when they lose their homes in the par. That would be the noble thing to do. But of course, Palo Alto Housing Corporation is not a noble agency. They are however a very self serving, and discriminatory agency.

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Posted by Supporter of the project
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Seniors in Palo Alto are deciding to age in place and many will opt to live in smaller, one-level units. The sale of the 15 market rate houses will subsidize the land purchase and construction of the senior apartments. The Palo Alto Housing Corporation's apartments around the City are very well maintained and blend in with neighborhood settings. I expect the same to hold true with the Maybell project. Palo Alto seniors deserve affordable housing options and this project will fill this need and at the same time provide high-value market-rate family homes in Barron Park.

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Posted by Long time Palo Alto resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Creating market-rate units to subsidize affordable housing, particularly senior affordable housing (much needed in this area), is a win-win. I commend Palo Alto Housing Corporation for their ingenuity and straight-up willingness to take on such a difficult project, all for the sake of providing clean, affordable homes for seniors that would like to stay in the area and need to downsize (but can only accomplish this with subsidized housing options). I live in downtown and are familiar with 2 particular affordable housing complexes owned and managed by Palo Alto Housing Corporation. They blend in well with the neighborhood and are impeccably maintained and managed. Big supporter of more affordable housing in Palo Alto (I live in a market-rate home and have for 7 years), and a big supporter of any organizations who take on the burden of providing the latter with such dedication and professionalism.

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Posted by Former resident who is now happy
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

To all you supporters, I moved out of one of Palo Alto Housing Corporation's apartments. I had lived there for 3 years. The management became unbearable. I figured it was better to struggle and live in market rate rentals, then to reside in a complex that supports economic and racial intolerance. To all of you who just see that the Palo Alto Housing Corporation's apartments "fit" in with the community, you are not the ones who live in their apartments. If you were to survey the residents in many of their complexes, you would find as the first person wrote, the residents feel stuck in these places due to their economics. Basically, it is a much needed roof over your head, but the management of Palo Alto Housing Corporation, at the sites and in the Alma Street offices are just below human. One wonders why these folks even get into this business, but to all you people in Palo Alto who don't have to live in these places, be happy you have enough money to avoid the low-income housing trap.

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Posted by Supporter of Senior Housing
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

This City needs housing for our seniors; these people need to stay close to their families and friends and should not be "shipped off" to some other community. This is exactly the type of development that keeps our City vibrant and diverse, both ethnically and economically. The fact of the matter is that the Palo Alto Housing Corporation does a wonderful job operating and managing their apartments. This is exactly the type of housing our City needs!

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Posted by Posted by Former Resident who is no happy
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm

To all those who think that Palo Alto Housing Corporation does a good job managing and operating their properties, obviously you never have, and probably never will have to live in or at one of their sites. Basically, affordable housing is needed in every city across the country. This agency, Palo Alto Housing however should not be in the business of managing, operating or owning affordable or low-income housing as they treat their residents in a manner bordering on illegal. Again, don't make positive comments about something you know nothing about via personal experience. Just because the agency has been doing business with Palo Alto, and in Palo Alto for over 40 years, does not mean it treats its residents fairly. They treat people as if they are sub-human. No one should be funding them just to build a facade of low-income housing, when living in their properties is like a jail sentence.

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Posted by g.eichberg
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

The negative comments about the treatment of seniors living in subsidized housing in Palo Alto very well describe the conditions in my community of Vancouver, Washington. Even the maintenance of the units which could be described as health hazards in any other dwellings is often neglected. The prison sentence analogy well describes the situation as many seniors are unable financially to make a move.