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How a condo project is helping to finance Palo Alto's largest affordable-housing development

Original post made on Aug 1, 2023

Two Palo Alto housing projects eyed for adjacent sites in Ventura bear little resemblance to one another. One includes 16 condominiums; the other is a five-story complex with 129 apartments. The two are, however, intimately connected.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 31, 2023, 8:43 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2023 at 8:06 am

Dave is a registered user.

On the one hand, these properties have been junky for over 50 years. But on the other hand, it’s sad to see PA continue to build more soul-less high rise condos.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2023 at 12:16 pm

Silver Linings is a registered user.

This perennial mischaracterization of the Maybell referendum to suit an agenda gets tiresome. PAHC was NOT going to build the 12-15 houses on the majority of the property, nor was the affordable housing going to benefit from the home sale profits of any single-family homes. In fact, neighbors asked if that could be done to provide the funding for a better project, and were rebuffed—by PAHC.

The profits at Maybell were going to come from selling grossly upzoned land to a for-profit developer, so they could put up tall 3-story houses on 2,000 sq ft lots, on a substandard road, incidentally nearby a school program for disabled children who could never even stay in such homes. The profits from selling these homes was NOT going to the affordable housing, only the sale of the upzoned lot, i.e., the profit wasn’t from selling land or houses as in this article, but in selling the neighborhood’s ZONING.

The neighbors, per an internal survey, always welcomed a development on that lot that was ONLY affordable housing.* Or, subdividing and upgrading the existing 4 homes and selling them at a profit that would have exceeded the lot sale to help fund the affordable housing. PAHC at the time wouldn't consider the latter or anything else that neighbors would have compromised on.

The inflexibility of PAHC and constant mischaracterization of neighbors during that debate led to a schism that made collaboration impossible. It got people afraid of a movement against affordable housing that just wasn’t real. What ’s described in this article is different, no one is trying to sell upzoning on substandard streets, with zero awareness of safety or context, like at Maybell.

*In fact, the very same neighbors were why, 20 years prior, Terman school wasn't turned into a for-profit development but instead the school was saved and an affordable development next to the school was built.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2023 at 1:49 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I think this all sounds great. WE are in the cross hairs of out-of-state developers who are waiting for the go ahead to pounce on us with all type of projects that we have no control over. At least here we have recognizable, local companies that need projects to stay in business. It is concerning that so many twists and turns have taken place when if everyone on board this all could have happened much earlier.
ECR is suppose to be where large building are placed - it is a major commute route for business and sports events. Help facilitate this effort and move it forward. WE need to show forward momentum on projects by local builders.

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2023 at 6:17 pm

Amie is a registered user.

Using market-rate development to fund affordable housing - and quick action by the city under SB 330! This is how we get housing built, creative solutions like this are the key. I am excited to see such a beautiful project on this stretch of ECR. Well done to everyone involved.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2023 at 7:18 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

People just don't get it. "Affordable housing" is just a code word. The only beneficiaries are the developers, and the architects; both of which can "sell" their tax credits to improve on cronyism. The "affordable housing" buildngs that are developed under LIHTC are discussed at the California Treasury's website here Web Link The rents may be "affordable" when they initially lease-up, but increases are limitless for the first 10 years of occupancy. "Per Section 3 1947.12(d)(1) of the legislation, the Tenant Protection Act does not apply to “Housing restricted by deed, regulatory restriction contained in an agreement with a government agency, or other recorded document as affordable housing for persons and families of very low, low, or moderate income ... or subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing for persons and families of very low, low, or moderate income....”Since the LIHTC program is a federal regulatory restriction, with a recorded Regulatory Agreement, by a government agency (CTCAC) for affordable housing for households that are considered low or very low income (50%-60% AMI), the protections under AB 1482 do not apply."

You can call it low income housing, or workforce housing, or granny flats, ADU's or anything you want. But if it's built under CTCAC rules, it's kind of like people who work a cheat system at a poker game, passing cards under the table. Here is a good description of the scheme, as described by the Tax Policy Center: "The federal government issues tax credits to state and territorial governments. State housing agencies then award the credits to private developers of affordable rental housing projects through a competitive process. Developers generally sell the credits to private investors to obtain funding."

Does anybody really believe these lego's are built to help the poor? They aren't. If the AMI goes up, the rent goes up without restriction.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 5, 2023 at 9:51 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

@Silver Linings

Re: " very same neighbors were why, 20 years prior, Terman school wasn't turned into a for-profit development"

Terman Park is now on the way to being bulldozed and turned into a development. The City and School District are discussing stripping park status from Terman Park and turning it over to the school district. Since the district *already* has full access to the park for students etc, the only reason for "deparking" and transferring is presumably so it can be bulldozed for development.

Write the City Council and School District - save Terman Park!

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The City of Santa Clara has big issues - Luckily the appearance of big shows at the stadium help fund other city opportunities. Lots of congrats of the public transit that moved many people to the event from their hotels. Their Community Center is a closed high school that now has the Heritage Theatre and a private charter school, and the vast athletic fields for everyone' use.

SU/Palo Alto has a huge sports stadium and TV coverage for the teams that play there - including basketball and tennis. PAHS and Gunn are in the news with all of their great sports teams. The SU hospital, including the Packard Children's hospital, as well as the Sutter Health anchor world wide attention for people coming here for the best in medical care.

At a lunch the other day a big conversation concerning the price of housing and a Los Altos person was looking for PA to solve problems. WE are a target since we have Caltrain. But Caltrain does not stop except at two locations in PA. What we need is a dedicated bus line on ECR to service all of the great institutions that are on that street. Other cities are benefiting from public transit. This set of projects will benefit from public transit.

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