First affordable-housing project in seven years approved | January 18, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 18, 2019

First affordable-housing project in seven years approved

City Council OKs 59-apartment complex on El Camino Real

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto reached a rare milestone Monday night when the City Council approved the city's first development for low-income residents in more than seven years.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:30 pm

Congratulations. I am thrilled to hear that all units will be for low income residents and that so many are designated for residents with developmental disabilities. This will no doubt be followed by community-building and support services at the site. I am glad to hear of the collaboration and compromises to get to win-win.

This says it all:
"Noah Fiedel, a Wilton Avenue resident who represented his neighborhood in discussions with Palo Alto Housing, told the council that he didn’t initially expect to be backing the project. On Monday, however, he said he was “excited” to support it and called the nonprofit’s leaders “incredibly collaborative” and “very flexible” in making sure the project works for neighbors. "

What a change from before. I hope this project changes a lot of lives for the better.

Posted by all-aboard
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 15, 2019 at 1:26 am

"3,000 people on its waiting list" -- so will local Palo Altans get priority on these 59 units, or is it a lottery among everyone in the State? I think it was asked but unsure whether I heard any clarification at the council meeting.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 10:17 am

Good outcome.
Thank you to Council member Kou who added a list of simple but important amendments to ensure that the final project will not be different from the expectations created by application at the time of approval.
Especially important after the 429 university “situation”.

Thank you Ms. Kou!

Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 10:47 am

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

Typical Liberal Progressive manipulation of language. Rather than "Car Light", it should be called "Parking Light" or "Traffic Heavy".

Ventura is already the most diverse neighborhood in Palo Alto. It doesn't need to "accept certain trade-offs to achieve that". Rather, it is being intentionally targeted for exploitation by a half a dozen developments so that other less diverse parts of Palo Alto can protect their way of life while insulating themselves from the repercussions of their politically correct policies.

If, as the Mayor says, these types of developments benefit all neighborhoods should we not expect the next one of these projects to go into Crescent Park or Old Palo Alto? Otherwise, this trend is simply a form of residential colonialism. Even the houses have high fences, big lots and columns on their porches. When driving down the streets, the symbolism is inescapable.

Perhaps, it is time for others to put their virtue signalling where their mouth is and do their part to increase diversity and "lighten" traffic in their neighborhoods too.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2019 at 11:14 am

[Portion removed.]

>> Ventura is already the most diverse neighborhood in Palo Alto. It doesn't need to "accept certain trade-offs to achieve that". Rather, it is being intentionally targeted for exploitation by a half a dozen developments so that other less diverse parts of Palo Alto can protect their way of life while insulating themselves from the repercussions of their ... policies.

>> If, as the Mayor says, these types of developments benefit all neighborhoods ...

You are making a number of errors regarding what forces are at work here. Why do you think that an RWA plutocracy will treat you any better than a socially-liberal plutocracy? The problem is the self-serving plutocratic decision making process. Self-serving Developers, regardless of where they stand on your socially-conservative hot-button issues.

Posted by ParkingLite
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 15, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Replace car parking and include a white and yellow striped loading/unloading zone, day parking for In Home Supportive Services/Social Workers, plenty of covered bike lock up storage - and room/big enough for bike trailers. Make it truly ADA accessible - automatic door openings, reachable cupboards, washer and dryers. Also please design the apartments with good efficient kitchen, bathroom, hallway storage like deep sturdy drawers. Don't cheap out on this like Stanford, Segue Construction and Related California with Mayfield Place. EVERYTHING breaks and falls apart in the apartments: dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators - including drawer fronts falling off hinges. It's not built for families, to last and is even at times, poses danger. Only 7 washers and dryers for 71 1,2, 3 bedroom apartments and 150-170 residents. It's reasonable to ask for a reliable, livable, affordable space so all can do-exist with safety, comfort and ease. Housing must be built to be permanent not temporary or a quick fix. Poverty is forever, wealth only temporary - crunch the numbers.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2019 at 1:13 pm

And the parking and traffic issues...

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 15, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

A great and civil CC meeting to watch. Our new mayor and council members shined last night. A good, respectful, and hopefully a great start to a new year that offers many challenges. I think our new council member, Ms Cormack, will work out very well. She appears to be humble, respectful, and willing to learn.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 15, 2019 at 4:37 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:40 pm

> A great and civil CC meeting to watch.

I agree. Don't know it if was the lack of Liz Kniss, or that Eric Filseth is just better at running the Council meeting. Although we don't agree with the size and location of the project, City Council did a terrific job last night bringing this effort to closure.

Posted by Lets delay
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Bill- it was the lack of karen Holman. She would have argued to either oppose the project or delay a decision

Posted by Facts Matter
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 15, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Holman opposed most office development, but was a strong supporter of affordable housing and retail, including having been a key backer of the Maybell project.
The main reason the approval went so smoothly last night was that the new leadership of Palo Alto Housing really engaged with and responded to specific concerns of the neighbors so that the neighborhood enthusiastically supported the project.

Posted by Right on! And Really?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 15, 2019 at 7:58 pm

@Facts Matter, thank you for correcting the fake news. You are also right that it is the new leadership at PAH, especially Sheryl Klein who is humble and patient. [Portion removed.] Sheryl Klein made Wilton Ct happen, not even that Randy guy, who replaced Candice Gonzalez.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 15, 2019 at 8:16 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user. article that that uses, properly, the true meaning of affordable housing...not the mumbo jumbo stuff...120% AMI.

Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Glad to hear the additional comments in support of the new director of PAHC and how they handled things. In contrast to the above, what I saw at Maybell was many people in the neighborhood who went into it expecting to support it and who ended up being against it because of how arrogant, untrustworthy, and unwilling to work with people the PAHC leadership were. But I think in that case, the City was trying to use the affordable housing to zone bust a residential neighborhood -- in this case, the project is maybe a little too big, but it's on El Camino, they were willing to work with residents, and most importantly, there is no Trojan Horse, it is what it is. I do hope there is a way to ensure the needs of people in Palo Alto are met first, so that people with developmental disabilities who live here and know this place can live in the community they already know.

I also, hope against hope, that this project going in here will mean there is some willingness at the nearby Fry's site to create community space instead of just paving it over for transient entry level workers. I would actually hope for more units there for people with developmental disabilities, and community-building and recreation space at Fry's. A little parity with the other side of town, such as a community pool would make sense, although Sanctimonious (despite the politicization) does have a point that people in the North tend to treat Palo Alto like the South is some kind of outback not deserving of the amenities, that it can treat as a junk drawer for all the things they don't want near them.

I wish Mayor Filseth would remember his calculation of the open space the City owes us, and really, should be creating on the SOUTH side of town, given where the biggest development impacts have been.

Posted by As long as it's not in Barron Park
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 16, 2019 at 8:52 am

Let's be clear. This was supported by PASZ and the 3 Council members (Kou, Dubois, and Filseth) because the project site is not in Barron Park like Maybell was. We are in the Wilton area and did not see the leadership make any substantive changes to the project. It was the same project presented by the old leadership last summer with really no changes except maybe color. Adults with developmental delays were always included, no changes to height or # of units or massing. I don't see the compromises except that it's in Ventura and not Barron Park. Keep it real.

Posted by Stop the insults
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2019 at 9:02 am

I used to work for Candice Gonzalez when she was at PAHC. She is humble, compassionate, and kind and was unfairly attacked during Maybell for wanting to build low income senior housing. I'm glad that Wilton was approved but I don't think the new leadership should get all the credit for a project they inherited. Candice came up with the project including wanting to house adults with developmental disabilities. There were very little changes to the project made since she left PAHC just a few months ago. I agree with other post that it was supported to make up for killing Maybell and it is not in Barron. We can celebrate wins without attacking people trying to do good work.

Posted by Extra Point
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 16, 2019 at 9:23 am

Pleased to see this project win approval which is the ultimate reward for a collaborative amount of hard work. The project had been in process for quite some time while PAH was under the leadership of Candice Gonzalez. She scored the TD here while the board members, randy and others that are being lauded got to chip the extra point.[Portion removed.] Did anyone read the bio on her in the Mercury News and understand her background more? She is a housing champion. Nice win for PAH, Palo Alto and people who need housing!

Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 16, 2019 at 2:23 pm

[Portion removed.]

You are maligning PASZ for no reason also. Buena Vista is in Barron Park, and there was strong support in PASZ for saving BV, including that leaders in PASZ and the Maybell referendum felt more motivated to win at Maybell because if Maybell were upzoned, it was understood that there would be no way the developer at BV would have left (as they did right after the referendum results) or that residents could have worked out a deal to save the park. That was the gist of conversations even as residents were falsely excoriated (and still are) by people like you.

The fact is that residents tried hard in many ways prior to the referendum to get the City and PAHC to work with them, and the way things were handled by PAHC and the City throughout was thoroughly untrustworthy. [Portion removed.]

As for this not being in "Barron Park" - this is the same side of town, right across from Barron Park, which is so linked to Greenacres, to this day no one is really clear where one ends and the other begins for a whole chunk of it. [Portion removed.] I think most people over here are very glad to see how things changed, and supportive of an all-low-income place to live for people with developmental disabilities.

Posted by Latitude 38
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2019 at 2:34 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Katie
a resident of Addison School
on Jan 17, 2019 at 10:37 am

I heard Marissa Mayer might donate the funeral home property for affordable teacher housing. Is that true? That would be a perfect location.

Posted by New affordable housing...very good news.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 17, 2019 at 2:02 pm

New affordable housing...very good news. is a registered user.

This is good news. We need more new affordable housing--especially now that we have lost the Presidents Hotel. We need to offset that very sad loss. I will never book a room for guests at that hotel. Their behavior was awful through the entire process.

Posted by Grateful Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2019 at 8:36 pm

As a parent with a child with a developmental disability, I met Candice Gonzalez several times over the last 3-4 years as she spoke to us about Wilton Court and trying to house adults with DDs there. She was compassionate and this was her passion project (she has a special needs child too). We saw her work hard on the affordability housing code over 1-2 yearsthat made this ultimately happen since the city used Wilton as the model project. While Randy will do great things, it takes more than 1 or 2 months to get a project done. Candice passed on a great project and we thank her. The project that got approved was almost almost identical to the version she shared with some parents last year. Hopefully it’s just a more accepting time.

As for the Maybell zone busting comment, the senior project was only something like 30 units/acre. Wilton is over 100+ units/acre. Only difference is that it’s not in BP or people have post Maybell guilt. I say this as a BP resident wishing the senior project happened.

Posted by Remembering
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Candice Gonzalez may have been a great person but she has gone to work for major developer Peter Pau at Sand Hill Properties. No way to wash that away.

Sand Hill is the developer of Edgewood Plaza where they violated their agreement many times. Now they are trying to get out of the fines they owe.
Sand Hill owns shopping centers in, I believe, Cupertino.

Also, if I remember correctly the developer of the private homes at Maybell was/is her husband.

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