Two Palo Alto watchdogs, Bob Moss and Tom Jordan, have initiated a citizens' lawsuit against the City of Palo Alto and City Council over a controversial project at 195 Page Mill Road.
"A lot of us are just totally fed up with that project and the way that it was approved, and that includes four ninths of the City Council and the staff," Moss said.
The three-story, 150,000-square-foot research and development building with 84 apartments on top was conceived by developer Harold Hohbach and received sharp criticism from many neighbors for being oversized -- several times larger than existing zoning would normally allow.
The project received a narrow, 5-to-4 council nod in November after Hohbach redesigned it and appealed a staff-level rejection. Hohbach over the years has developed several other projects in the California Avenue area.
The lawsuit also names Hohbach's Courthouse Plaza Company and lists 40 "John or Jane Does" -- fictitious names reserving spots for specific names to be added later.
Moss, Jordan and a newly formed association, "Citizens for Upholding Zoning Regulations," assert that the city failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and the city's zoning and planning laws when it approved Hohbach's project.
The group is represented by the Palo Alto law firm, Miller, Starr & Regalia.
Moss said he put up the money for initial legal fees, and that many people have been sending him checks to support to the suit.
"Anybody who wants to contribute, we'll accept it. The developers aren't the only ones who can sue," Moss said.
"We have to put a stake in the ground, if not in the developer's heart."