On Monday, July 30th, SV@Home joined numerous Palo Alto residents and advocacy partners, including the Law Foundation Silicon Valley and South Bay YIMBY, to speak out on the proposed conversion of the President Hotel Apartments in downtown Palo Alto.

The President Hotel is a 75-unit apartment building that is accessible to downtown amenities and has naturally affordable rents due to small unit sizes, low parking requirements, and high density. There is a proposal under consideration to convert the apartments into a hotel and eviction notices have been given to current residents.

In remarks to the City Council during Oral Communications, SV@Home noted that the potential loss of the 75 naturally affordable homes at the President Hotel would not only displace residents, but also severely undermine Palo Alto’s affordable housing production goals.  Palo Alto has permitted 143 new affordable homes (101 for lower-income households) since 2015; the city’s  2015-2023 Regional Housing Goals include the need to plan for 1,123 lower-income homes.  The loss of 75 affordable homes amounts to 50% of the units permitted this RHNA cycle.

While producing more housing is one component of addressing the housing affordability crisis across Santa Clara County, SV@Home also advocates for the preservation of affordable housing and the protection of vulnerable residents. Eviction can be a debilitating process for families with little or no savings, which is only exacerbated by the region’s exorbitant housing costs. To that end, SV@Home stands behind any efforts to provide the residents at the President Hotel with some relief.  We also encourage Palo Alto leaders to expand the city’s land use and zoning regulations to allow for the construction of more buildings with the low-impact, affordable characteristics of the President Hotel, including smaller unit sizes, minimal parking, and walkability to jobs and transit.

In response to the concerns raised by residents and advocates, the Palo Alto City Manager commented that the city stood ready to act on Council direction, including an urgency ordinance that could stay the evictions of residents.

SV@Home will continue to meet with residents of the President Hotel, engage with city officials, and collaborate with advocacy partners to support actions that help Palo Alto meet, and exceed, its affordable housing goals as well as protect vulnerable residents.

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