Converted hotel shut down

The fenced-off entrance to the Stanford Terrace Inn on El Camino Real. Post photo by Braden Cartwright.

The following story was first printed in the April 12 edition of the Daily Post. If you want to stay on top of local news, pick up the Post.

Daily Post Staff Writer 

The city of Palo Alto has cleared out a hotel that had been converted to apartments for 26 Stanford graduate students who were living among exposed wires, corroded pipes, locked fire exits and a balcony at risk of collapse, according to building inspectors.

The Stanford Terrace Inn at 531 Stanford Ave. was red-tagged Tuesday night after the final residents moved out.

Firefighters required the owner to set up cameras and hire someone to watch the property 24/7, according to notices taped on the building.

Alleged violations included “high combustible storage,” “plastic film on ceilings,” and “potential failure of second-floor exit balcony that appears to be shored for stability,” Chief Building Official George Hoyt said in a notice of violation.

Inspectors found mold growing in the basement and “signs of vermin throughout,” Hoyt said.

The owner didn’t have permits for people to be living there or to remodel the building, Hoyt said.

Property manager Sophia Huang and her attorney Isaac Winer insisted on an in-person interview with the Daily Post on Wednesday.

Winer did all of the talking and told Huang not to answer any questions. 

Huang whispered to him a couple of times but otherwise didn’t talk.

Winer said Huang is cooperating with the city to try to avoid fines and make sure the building is safe.

County records list the property owner as “Aurora Rising Inc.”

Winer wouldn’t say what Huang’s relationship with the owner is — only that she represents the owner.

Winer called the hotel-turned-residence the “Stanford Lodging Club.” It started up after the hotel closed during Covid, he said.

Residents had written agreements with the owner, Winer said.

Winer wouldn’t speak to the condition of the building because that’s not his area of expertise, but he said he had no reason to doubt the city’s building inspectors.

“It’s an old building,” he said.

Stanford students have posted on forums asking whether the Stanford Lodging Club is a scam. 

Many of the residents moved to Extended Stay America in Mountain View or found somewhere to rent closer to Stanford, Winer said.

“Ms. Huang has been working day and night, seven days a week, sleeping three to four hours a night — since I got involved, anyways,” said Winer, who was hired a couple of weeks ago. 

The city started looking into the Stanford Terrace Inn in September after firefighters responded to a medical call and noticed the fire safety systems, like sprinklers and alarms, needed to be looked at, city spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said in an email.

Code Enforcement Officer Brian Reynolds first reached out to the owner on Feb. 28 and then inspected the building on March 18 and found 16 alleged violations, according to notices provided by the city. 

Since then, Reynolds has sent four notices of violation to the property owner, records show.

Huang was initially delayed in responding to the city because she had “inadequate legal representation,” Winer said.

The city requires landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants who are evicted at no fault of their own. 

The payment is the equivalent of two months of fair market rent — $4,766 for a studio, $5,388 for a one-bedroom unit and $6,264 for a two-bedroom unit.

Winer said that Huang has offered “promises to pay” to the tenants because a large amount of cash wasn’t immediately on hand.

“My client has every intention of paying the occupants everything that they are entitled to, and has done so in part,” Winer said.

Winer said the goal is to demolish the building.

The owner submitted a preliminary application with the city on Wednesday to redevelop the hotel and neighboring properties at 2080, 2086, and 2098 El Camino Real.

The properties on El Camino currently have a mattress store and two empty storefronts. Combining the four properties will create a 1.2-acre site, attorney Dana Kennedy wrote in the application.

The owner wants to build 30 detached single-family homes and six apartments in a standalone building, Kennedy said.

The owner is invoking the “builder’s remedy,” a provision in state law that prevents cities from denying housing projects as long as 20% of the units are rented below the market rate. 


  1. Deny any and all Builder’s Remedy project approvals to the unidentified slumlord owner.

    Seems simple enough but probably not to all of the deep-pocketed lobbyists.

  2. The property at 531 Stanford Ave is labeled “Stanford Group Extended Stay” on Google Maps. But it doesn’t look like it’s associated with Extended Stay America, which is a well-known chain. The site does not appear on the official Extended Stay America website. Is this fraud?

Comments are closed.