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Board to affordable-housing group: Be a good neighbor

Original post made on Sep 5, 2008

A plan to build affordable housing for Palo Alto's service workers, their families and seniors is meeting with criticism from neighbors — and vows of cooperation from architects and city officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 5, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Sep 5, 2008 at 7:48 am

Ironic that a representative from 800 High is opposing this 'large' building.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2008 at 8:05 am

So the architect for this new project is the same one who designed the Opportunity Center - often labeled the worst designed and ugliest building in Palo Alto? And will this project have a supermarket? Let's get real here. WHERE are the tenants going to shop for basics? How many autos will be allowed? WHERE will these children go to school? If the Council doesn't address these issues NOW, it is allowing a major disaster, and this will be a 'model' for every square foot of Palo Alto.

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2008 at 8:10 am

Since this housing scheme is for "Palo Alto's service workers, their families...", will there be a requirment that they work in Palo Alto? Or is this just welfare housing, under a different name?

Have surveys been done among current service workers, such as firemen, police, utilities, etc. to determined if they would actually move into these small units?

Since this is "along a transit corridor", will the residents be required to take public transportation? If not, what difference does it make if it near public tranportation...they will just drive their cars to where they want to go (like the rest of us).

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Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2008 at 9:27 am

A wonderful project, in keeping with traffic reduction. I can't wait to see this project completed!

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Posted by No more derelict sites
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2008 at 9:39 am

Since nothing is yet decided, I expect that this site will soon become another blight on our city landscape like Alma Plaza and the one on Embarcadero plus the gas station on Middlefield. While there are no occupants here and the buildings are left alone to deteriorate, it will be a source of crime, vandalism and other problems.

We must stop these sort of things happening. We can't just desert a few buildings and then wait for the Palo Alto process to do its thing while the site sits empty. In many ways I don't care what is built there just that it will be done in the very near future. We do not want any more derelict sites rotting away in Palo Alto.

No more derelict sites, please.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2008 at 11:49 am

"Joseph Mallon, a member of the board of directors of 800 High Street's housing association, said the size, height and density of the project were "pushing the limits." He said a proposal for the entire block to share a traffic ramp on High leading into underground parking below 800 High would create congestion and possibly be a safety hazard."

This is all too predictable. The city allowed 800 High Street's developers to not only push, but to egregiously exceed size, height and density limits in return for a promised package of "public benefits" that prominently featured sharing the 800 High Street traffic ramp with this affordable housing project. Now 800 High Street has second thoughts about its muchly-touted bargain. Why am I not surprised?

One hopes this pledge will not follow the other "benefits" of 800 High Street, like the "public" plaza on Homer, into oblivion. However, given our town's sorry record of collecting the "public benefits" of the grossly overbuilt projects it trades for them, it likely will.

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:24 pm

There is another 35 unit BMR project in the works:

Web Link

Does the city council even consider what the effect on schools, infratructure & traffic is going to be?

And has there ever been any annual survey to see how many of these units are occupied by people working in Palo Alto?

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Posted by Disappearing Benefits
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 5, 2008 at 12:55 pm

The developer of 800 High actually appeared before the ARB to speak for his project.
The benefits he reneged on include
a "pocket park" at the Channing corner with seating and landscaping.
an "outdoor plaza" on the Homer corner with substantial landscaping, a water feature, etc. and seating for the public.
a 63 car garage for the public (not happening).
11 below market units (he reduced it to 10 at the last minute).
The architecture would be compatible with the neighborhood.
I'd be curious what Steve Emslie, who shepherded this thing through the Planning Dept. has to say about it now.

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Posted by Work Neighbor
a resident of University South
on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Yes -- 800 High is toooo big. And the developer reneged on several important public benefits that have added to the sore-thumb feeling of the development. But it seems to me that the current plans for the affordable project, if carried forward, would only make the situation (much) worse. We'd be going from an eye-sore to an open wound.

When 800 High was being built, the city's affordable housing plan was for a much smaller development, located only on the power station. But what began as a 50-unit project has turned into a behemoth: a record-breaking 53 feet, five full stories, and 101 affordable and elderly units plus another 22 retail units. 20+ new parking spaces in the alley, residents trying to get in and out, deliveries for St. Mike's and Ace Hardware, garbage, and of course lots of pedestrian traffic. We're talking about feeding two 50+ foot tall, block-wide buildings separated by some 20 feet. Holy Moses!

That sounds like a *really* bad idea -- the kind of bad idea that turns a neighborhood into a liability. SOFA is just getting going -- and this is Palo Alto. We should be building a low-income development that is amazing in every way. One that balances the push for as many units as possible with the factors of neighborhood traffic, ambient light, safe acccess, parks and greenspace, and sustainable building materials and processes. We can do it -- we're a 'tall tree' among cities. Why settle for something less?

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Posted by Grandma
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 6, 2008 at 11:00 am

I presume this BMR development is on the spare lot next to the cemetery and within walking distance of Juana Briones, Terman and Gunn. It has been a spare lot for many years so it will not become a blight on our City landscape as described by No More Derelect Sites.

This is an excellent location for BMR units and I commend the Palo Alto Family Limited Partnership, a joint development by the nonprofit Community Housing Alliance of Palo Alto and Eden Housing Inc., a Hayward nonprofit with 40 years of experience in affordable-housing development for pursuing this site for BMR units.

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Posted by Grandma
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Ooops I got the wrong BMR site. Must have had a Senior moment!!

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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Grandma -

LOL! I loved the mention of the cemetery near Gunn.
I think that they (the cemetery and Gunn) may be near capacity.
I heard that they are stacking now.

I guess that we can now add to our list...

1) Schools are full
2) No affordable place to shop for food.
3) Water shortage
4) Physicians are not accepting new patients
4) No room for us to be buried

And we keep building more housing and commercial sites.

I guess that I'll have to tell my kids to bury me in one of the more affordable communities in the Central Valley or East Bay.

Does anyone know why there are so many empty commercial buildings with "For Lease" signs on them, and the reason why we continue to build more?

Are the rental homes/duplexes/apts. along the Alma corridor calculated into the available affordable housing?

We have a lot of apartments in this city buried within neighborhoods.

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Posted by anon.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2008 at 10:16 pm

ha ha, funny about the cemetery. But actually, there is quite a lot of open spaces there. My mom and i inquired about it.

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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Have you considered cremation?

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2008 at 7:16 am

800 high st sold for $750,000 for a small 2bed 1 bath. After a heafty 20% down this implies a mortgage, HOA fees and taxes of about $5,000.00/monthly which in turn demands a salary of $180,000.00 annually. It is far fetched to imply (and certainly not credible) that 800 high st is affordable (whatever else it is). I went to visit once and the place is extremely well appointed with the same up market features you would find in a in a Manhattan loft.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

I recall the firefighters union joined the movement against 800 High after it got tired of the developer's propaganda about providing condos for firefighters. Both the firefighters and the developer knew that firefighters didn't qualify to live there, unless the city were to raise their pay enough to buy the market-rate condos.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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