Since 2017, Facebook has offered free and heavily subsidized produce and food products to Belle Haven and East Palo Alto residents through its "mobile market" — a farmers market on wheels. Now, the Menlo Park tech company is expanding its mobile food market to meet new needs.
Since the pandemic started, the program has dramatically increased the number of produce bags distributed weekly to more than 1,500. About 800 are distributed to local nonprofits, senior centers and churches, and 730 are provided at a heavily subsidized rate directly to local families. Before the pandemic, the program was distributing about 200 subsidized grocery bags to local families.
Supplies come from local farms, restaurants and vendors, according to Dena Grimm, Facebook's manager of community outreach and events in the Bay Area.
To date, Facebook has spent around $3.5 to $4 million on monetary contributions, the mobile market and other efforts to promote food stability locally, she added.
For more information, go to communitymobilemarketorders.com.
President Hotel picks up key victory
For nearly two years, the proposal to convert the iconic President Hotel on University Avenue from an apartment building to a hotel has been widely criticized by residents and city officials for reducing the city's housing stock and violating local zoning laws.
But even as the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the local hotel industry, the project continues to move ahead. And last week, it picked up a key victory when the city's Historic Resources Board unanimously supported the developer's plans to renovate and seismically upgrade the 1930 building at 488 University Ave.
The May 14 vote does not, in of itself, allow the project to move ahead. The board did not comment on the most controversial element of the project, the conversion of 75 apartments into 100 hotel rooms. It will ultimately be up to the City Council to grant the property owner, AJ Capital Partners, a waiver to convert residential space to non-residential space.
But the vote by the Historic Resources Board hands a rare victory to a project that has generated significant community opposition since June 2018, when AJ Capital bought the building.
In advocating for the project, Alex Stanford, chief development officer for the west coast at AJ Capital, cited the state of disrepair that the building has fallen into over recent decades.
Palo Alto Housing rebrands itself
Palo Alto Housing, a nonprofit developer that has been building affordable housing for 50 years, has changed its name to Alta Housing, a move that signals the expansion of its ambitions beyond the confines of its hometown.
The nonprofit, which also has been known as the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, will remain headquartered in Palo Alto, a city that has struggled over the past decade to build affordable housing and that is now in the midst of implementing a Housing Work Plan with incentives for residential construction. The only significant affordable-housing project in the city's pipeline is Wilton Court, a 59-unit complex for low-income residents and adults with disabilities that is being developed by Palo Alto Housing at 3805 El Camino Real.
Since its birth in 1970, the nonprofit has focused its development efforts in Palo Alto, which is home to 23 of its 24 existing residential complexes. The nonprofit also administers the city's below-market-rate program.
Not all of its local efforts have borne fruit. In 2013, the nonprofit found itself at the center of a heated citywide debate when residents challenged the City Council's approval of a housing development in the Barron Park neighborhood, which included 60 apartments for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. The referendum passed, killing the project, and the land on Maybell Avenue is now being redeveloped with 16 single-family homes.
Since the 2013 referendum, the nonprofit began to look for new opportunities beyond the borders of Palo Alto, where affordable housing had screeched to a halt.
Alta is currently moving ahead with a 67-unit development at 2821 El Camino Real in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in San Mateo County that is slated to be completed in October. Randy Tsuda, president and CEO of Alta Housing, said the nonprofit is also preparing to break ground next month on its second Mountain View project, a 71-unit development at 950 W. El Camino Real.
This story contains 715 words.
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