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Palo Alto set to review teacher housing proposal

Original post made on Sep 11, 2023

As Palo Alto gets ready to rule on a contentious housing project at the Ventura site formerly occupied by Fry's Electronics, city leaders are also considering a very different residential proposal about a block from that site.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 11, 2023, 8:04 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 11, 2023 at 9:01 am

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How many parking spaces on site?

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 11, 2023 at 9:05 am

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I like the concept. However, where the rubber meets the road is affordability. Would these be market rate, workforce or below market housing? What would the average rent and rent per square foot be?

Posted by Lightning Man
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 11, 2023 at 9:13 am

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I hope that only Palo Alto teachers will be able to rent these units. It looks like a good area for housing.

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 11, 2023 at 11:49 am

Amie is a registered user.

A great project in a great location with ZERO public funding that will support local retail, services, and (obviously) our schools. I am so excited to see this project move forward.

The city's recently adopted Economic Development Strategy calls for projects just like this - more housing near retail. Being less than 0.5 mile from transit and is adjacent to numerous safe routes to school, it is a dream location in terms of quality of life and connection to community.

Let's get this one approved and built ASAP!

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 11, 2023 at 12:56 pm

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Agree with Amie and both teachers, students and their parents benefit when teachers do not have to do long commutes and have more time to be there for students.
And the idea is to focus on Palo Alto teachers and, possibly staff.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 11, 2023 at 1:53 pm

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Council packet says 22 garage parking spaces in stackers for 44 units. I hope half the teachers can get by without cars!

Posted by j teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 11, 2023 at 5:01 pm

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The Paly Voice published a story on this topic over the weekend. Web Link

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2023 at 5:15 pm

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Some teachers do not want to live in/nearby the communities where they teach.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 11, 2023 at 5:33 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"The five-story building would include 24 studios, 20 one-bedroom apartments and a rooftop deck for residents, according to project plans."

"Council packet says 22 garage parking spaces in stackers for 44 units. I hope half the teachers can get by without cars!"

Guess teachers don't need cars to get to work AND don't have kids since there are no 2 bedroom apartments.

Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2023 at 5:10 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

This project will consist primarily of tiny studios (24) and small one-bedrooms (20). Zero 2-bedroom units. Meanwhile, the majority of teachers need TWO-BEDROOM apartments, not tiny studios. This sounds to me a lot like tech bro singles housing being marketed as teacher housing, which is likely to remain empty just like the current empty building of tiny studios located on the corner of El Camino and Oregon Expressway.

For evidence of what housing teachers need, see a recent PAO article which reported:
Web Link
"Palo Alto Unified conducted a survey of its staff in fall 2022 and received 292 responses. The results showed that 7% of respondents wanted a studio, 34% a one bedroom and 60% a two bedroom."

This is important because the other teacher housing project (the subsidized one) will contain mostly one-bedrooms rather than the housing stock most in demand: 2-bedroom units.

This is exactly why corporate for-profit developers are rarely a good fit for affordable housing. In their quest to achieve profitability, they often/usually/always shrink the units so that no couple (let alone family with kids) can live there remotely comfortably.

The other benefit of filling these buildings with liveable 2-bedroom units is that it would reduce the need parking spots. In other words, 24 2-bedroom units almost always create less traffic than 48 studios.

For those who argue that we need homes of all sizes, I agree! Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, every housing project proposed by private developers in Palo Alto in the past three years has involved postage-stamp sized units. That does not create a neighborhood; it creates either overcrowding or else an influx of tech workers, many of whom will use the units as second homes near their offices.

We need to build what people NEED, and for teachers, that means 2-bedroom apts, not studios.

Posted by Paige
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2023 at 6:31 pm

Paige is a registered user.

I appreciate the project, and I'm concerned about weasel words like "affordable" and "teacher focused."

In particular, I don't see anything in the description that would suggest that rents on units will be deed restricted by income category as are traditional BMR units, and I don't seen any conditions of approval or description of a developer's agreement that would give occupancy preference to teachers and or any other "workforce" members.

Hopefully council will get rents and occupant priorities nailed down contractually rather than trusting the good will and marketing of the developer.

Trust but verify through conditions of approval, deed restrictions that run with the land, and developer's agreements.

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