From 60 Affordable Senior Apartments to 16 $5 Million Homes

A long development saga has finally concluded in the South Bay Area city of Palo Alto, following a common narrative in the development resistant city.

2 minute read

June 28, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

"When a nonprofit housing developer won approval several years ago to build 60 apartments for low-income seniors in Palo Alto, neighbors revolted," writes Louis Hansen to introduce a development saga that included a citywide referendum and recently ended in a much different final form. 

"Now, the long-awaited aftermath of that referendum has emerged: the first batch of 16 new single family homes are on sale, starting at around $5 million, each with about 4,000 square feet of space for home gyms, theaters, offices, pergola-covered patios and multi-car garages with electric vehicle charging ports," reports Hansen.

The development, previously known as Barron Park, was killed by the referendum. The new development, known as Orchard Park, also had to be cut in half to make it past city staff and local residents. 

According to the article, this isn't the first time Palo Alto has rejected a proposal for affordable housing units to be developed in the city. "Silicon Valley cities have widely and prodigiously failed to meet state goals for affordable housing," writes Hanson. "Palo Alto is near the bottom of the pack, providing just 6 percent of its target for very low income housing, and 13 percent of its low income housing in the most recent development period."

State legislators have passed laws in recent years designed to prevent local opponents from blocking projects. Previous Planetizen reporting on the legal battles that have tested the legal limits of the new laws can be found in the links below:

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