What is the mission of PAHC?
In their own words:”PAHC’s mission has always been to foster, develop, acquire, and manage low- and moderate-income housing in Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area.”
How will the property be divided?
The 60 senior apartments will be on 1.1 acres. The 12 market rate homes will occupy 1.36 acres.
Who is on the Board of PAHC?
It is mainly made up of developers, attorneys and contractors. There are also a few other professionals on the board. The complete list is on the PAHC website.
How large are the market-rate homes?
Lots are about half the smallest size allowed with present zoning practices in residential neighborhoods. 5 homes are three stories, also not allowed with present zoning rules.
Is the neighborhood against low income housing?
Not at all! We welcome a senior apartment complex if it is built within the current zoning.
Why do we object to this project?
- We don’t believe that the city should create special circumstances for developers to build high density developments in residential neighborhoods anywhere in Palo Alto.
- The development would provide fewer parking spaces (36) than would normally be required (97) for such a building. Tenants will be parking on neighborhood streets.
- The land purchase and density rights for the 12 high-density for-profit houses are being used to pay for the senior apartments. In essence this is a gift from the taxpayers to a developer, and the neighborhood takes the burden of inadequate parking, unsafe roadways for kids on bikes, and more traffic.
What would the neighborhood like to have built instead of this project?
40+ low income senior apartments can be built within the existing zoning. That way the seniors can have enough parking spots as well as private outside spaces like patios. Although this is not an ideal location for seniors, we could live with the development if built within existing zoning rules.
What could be built under existing zoning rules?
There could be a maximum of 42 units built on this site vs the proposed 72 units. If no apartments were built, there could be a maximum of 15 single family homes.
What is the Maybell Avenue Project
The proposed plan is to rezone property in a residential neighborhood to build 12 high-density single-family homes and an apartment building with 60 units for low-income seniors.
Where is the Project located?
The property is located on Maybell Avenue in the Barron Park neighborhood of Palo Alto.
Is this less expensive to the taxpayer than a direct housing subsidy for seniors?
No, as far as we can tell. But we know of no such accounting.
How was the purchase financed?
The project is being financed by a $13 million construction loan from Bank of America, secondary loans from Santa Clara County and the City of Palo Alto and Tax Allocation Credits. The City of Palo Alto loaned PAHC $7.3 million towards the purchase, including $1.5 million of ‘in lieu’ fees from the developer of the private homes.
What is the direct dollar cost to the tax payer for this project?
There is a one-time state tax credit of $3,623,745 and an annual Federal credit of $1,087,124.
What is a tax credit?
Tax credits are government subsidies that reduce a company’s taxes by allowing it to deduct all or part of certain expenses from its income tax bill on a dollar for dollar basis. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is a direct subsidy to lending institutions and exists to serve high-need populations in distressed housing areas, both for residential purposes and other community services.
What is an impact fee?
Impact fees are charged by the city to support city services: there are traffic impact fees, parkland dedication impact fees and community facilities impact fees. For more information you can look at: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/27226.
The city waived the impact fee for PAHC. How much was that?
Is it true that I can have a million dollars in the bank and still qualify to rent in this apartment building
Yes. For details please look at the article “Who is a low-income senior?“.
What services for seniors are nearby to this site?
Briones Park is next to the property. There is a Walgreens store 1/4 mile away on El Camino Real. There is no grocery store or medical clinic close by. To get to the nearest bus stop with regular service you have to walk 1/3 mile. The closest full service grocery stores to the apartment building (Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Piazza’s and Sprouts) are all 1.5 miles away. PAHC lists Planned Parenthood in Mountain View as the closest medical provider.
Is this a continuing care or assisted living facility?
No, it is simply a rental apartment building for low income seniors.
What is the size of the senior rental apartments?
59 of the apartments are 1 bedroom and about 600 sq ft each. The 60th apartment is for the manager and is a two bedroom unit.
What are the eligibility requirements for tenants?
To qualify, a tenant needs to have income between 30% and 55% of the median income in Santa Clara County and be 62 years or older. As of January 2013, the lower limit (30%) was $21,300 for one person and $24,350 for two people. We do not know how many seniors living in Palo Alto qualify: this information is not available.
What are the proposed rental rates for the apartments?
The monthly rent of a unit depends on the income of the renter. Here is the rental rate schedule for tenants in different income brackets. The higher the income of the tenant, the higher the rent.
Will the renters be restricted to low income Palo Alto residents?
Not at all! By law PAHC cannot restrict the rentals to any group. Our limited research is showing that most of the PAHC senior tenants are coming from outside of Palo Alto to rent a low cost apartment. It is the availability that matters to them, not the city.
Parking and Traffic
What are the safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists on Maybell?
Maybell is a narrow street that houses many different establishments, including the orthopedically handicapped wing of the Juana Briones School, a parking lot for a car dealership, a number of apartment complexes, a park and many houses. Though a large number of children bike and walk there to get to school and back it does not have a bike lane. Maybell is too narrow to accommodate a bike lane. Any amount of added traffic to Maybell will be detrimental to the safety of the children who use it on a daily basis.
Will there be issues with parking for this development?
Almost certainly! Imagine 60 apartments with an average of 2 persons per apartment having to live with 36 parking spots.
How does PAHC justify allocation of so few parking spaces?
PAHC claims falsely that this apartment building has the same parking needs as an assisted living facility. They use Stevenson House as a comparable facility. But Stevenson House is a senior community where 2 meals are served to the residents and it sits right across from a shopping center with many businesses including a grocery store. Many residents walk to the store to buy their groceries. For more information on Stevenson House’s programs and services please look at: http://184.108.40.206/~steveof2/independent-living/programs-and-services/
Supporters of the project also refer to data from an old Institute of Transportation Engineers paper from the 1990′s. This paper is mainly discussing the parking needs of seniors in continuing care or assisted living facilities where meals are served and there are many other amenities. These kinds of facilities have many residents who are in nursing units and would have no parking needs.
What are the traffic issues associated with the site?
Maybell Avenue is a major route for students going to four schools – Briones, Terman, Gunn and Bowman. After Arastradero was restriped, commuters reacted by cutting through the neighborhood: traffic on Maybell increased over 24% to more than 3350 cars/day. The traffic study that was done for the project used out-of-date traffic models and underestimated driving by seniors. Using current data, the 12 market rate homes will generate over 80 more car trips/day than the 4 homes there now. Between the senior apartments and market rate homes traffic on Maybell could increase by well over 200 trips/day.
What kind of traffic study was done for the project?
They used an obsolete VTA model based on 1999 data (revised in 2008.) The study ignored bicycle and pedestrian traffic and any traffic that will be generated by new developments under construction or in process, such as the hotels next to Hobee’s and at the former site of Palo Alto Bowl. Immediately after the Maybell project was approved, staff recommended and Council approved switching to the 2012 VTA model for all traffic studies. Staff also recommended taking into account all projects under construction and in the pipeline when doing traffic studies. This has been our position on the Maybell project and city staff has ignored our request.
Do seniors drive less than non-seniors?
Between 60 and 70 percent of people over the age of 70 identify themselves as drivers. In 1996 they were 19 percent of licensed drivers. The upward trend in the number of senior drivers reflects the upward trend in longevity and a longer active or working life.