News


Palo Alto Bowl, the Midpeninsula's last alley, to close Sept. 16

Local closure follows nationwide trend, leaving local bowlers in the gutter

Palo Alto Bowl owner Rhythm Smith sat Monday facing a sea of empty lanes, wringing her hands -- her left, with its long, milk-white nails, and her right, the bowling hand. She was distraught about the impending closure of the local institution, which still bears many of the sights and sounds reminiscent of its founding days in 1957. Its shutdown on Sept. 16 represents not only the loss of her business but the continuation of a nationwide downward spiral for traditional bowling alleys.

Palo Alto Bowl has been on death's door for some time. The fatal blow landed in December 2009, when the Palo Alto City Council approved a plan to demolish the alley, as well as the nearby Motel 6 and a small retail strip, and replace it with a mixed-use project consisting of a major brand hotel and 26 townhouses. Since talk about the closure began surfacing around six years ago, more than 5,000 Palo Altans and others have signed petitions, joined Facebook groups and protested the decision at City Hall in vain.

Demolition was initially scheduled for last fall, but Barry Swenson Builder chose to postpone the redevelopment and extend Smith's lease, citing economic constraints on construction. According to Smith, Aaron Barger at Swenson informed her of the current timeframe "two or three weeks ago."

Barger said he now hopes to begin construction prior to the end of the year.

At 4329 El Camino Real, nearly halfway between Charleston and San Antonio Roads, Palo Alto Bowl sits on prime property. Though Smith said the alley was and is financially stable, the revenue from the center simply hasn't been enough for the property owners to justify keeping a sizable parcel of Silicon Valley land wrapped up in recreation.

Since the owner of Mel's in Redwood City decided to shut his doors in May, the closure of Palo Alto Bowl leaves the Midpeninsula without a single lane -- a striking condition considering the former significance of the bowling alley within American community life. Smith said she doesn't foresee a new center opening anytime soon -- available land is too small and too expensive -- forcing local bowlers to drive to Cupertino or San Mateo.

For many avid league bowlers, the commute will be surmountable, if inconvenient. High school students will choose other activities.

But for others Sept. 16 represents the final frame in a longer, more meaningful game. Smith said that Palo Alto Bowl is the only house in the area that caters to special-needs groups such as the Special Olympics and blind and disabled veterans. Smith became particularly agitated speaking about the effects of the closure on such groups.

"My veterans are more upset than anybody," she said. "They're asking me to do something, but what can I do?"

Smith added that she has numerous regulars in senior leagues, including many in their 90s, who can't travel and will have to hang up their shoes in September.

"One woman who has a solid 110 average just bowled a 201 the other day. She was so happy," Smith said.

Opponents of the closure have cited the alley's importance to local special-needs and disabled communities as among the primary justifications for its preservation. In an email to the Palo Alto Weekly, Dan Mart, architect of the "Save the Palo Alto Bowl" online campaign, accused the City Council of "institutional discrimination toward the disabled." He also decried the loss of a locally significant establishment that has brought "character" to the city. Similar sentiments have been echoed throughout opposition efforts, which have targeted not the developers but the City Council, for voting for the redevelopment.

Smith, too, noted that she gets along well with Barger and has no animosity for Barry Swenson Builder or the property owners. But she had hoped the city would step in.

More than 52 million U.S. adults and almost 20 million children bowled at some point last year, making it the nation's No. 1 sport in terms of broad participation, according to studies provided by the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America. Bart Burger, vice president of development for the association, said bowling stands out because it has "very few barriers to entry."

However, he noted, while overall participation appear to be holding strong, the number of bowling facilities in the U.S. has been in steady decline for decades. At its height in the 1960s, Burger estimated that there were 7,000 to 8,000 alleys in operation throughout the country. Now there are only about 5,000.

A major contributor to the drop, he said, is that many proprietors who opened their alleys during the bowling boom in the 1950s and '60s have been unwilling or unable to upgrade their facilities to compete with larger family-entertainment centers, which offer bowling along with other amenities such as indoor climbing and laser tag. Rising property values, an enticement to sell properties, have also been a factor in other areas.

Burger said family-entertainment centers and smaller "hybrid" bowling centers that remove a few lanes in order to offer other amenities, may be the most viable means of survival for alley proprietors.

Burger also said that something must be done to compensate for a major decline in organized league play.

"Imagine a restaurant that had guaranteed patrons for 30 weeks straight," Burger said. "Unfortunately, people aren't making as many long-term commitments like that anymore."

After the last pins drop at Palo Alto Bowl, Smith said she's not sure what she'll do.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

At the hearing, the city council acted shamefully, sporting sarcastic and amused looks during public comments.

At the hearing, after public comments, the mayor instructed the council to ignore everything that had been said and written in support of Palo Alto Bowl.

At the hearing, now-former councilmember and vice-mayor Jack Morton said (before joining his associates in voting to proceed with demolition): "It is sad in this community that wealth doesn't make room, not only for special needs, but just for normal people. Most communities in America pride themselves on having things like bowling alleys. We tear 'em down and replace 'em with million-dollar condos."

Please sign our petition here: Web Link

We're not giving up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Daniel, your comments regarding the events at the city council meeting are ancient history. Your comments regarding the actions of the council during the public comments and the mayor's words after the public comments sound like a fantasy, put forth by someone who did not get what he wanted.
In fact your comments about Jack Morton's vote are wrong.
Web Link
"The City Council voted 7-2 Monday night, with Vice Mayor Jack Morton and Councilwoman Yoriko Kishimoto dissenting, to approve a proposal by Aaron Barger of Barry Swenson Builders to replace the bowling alley at 4309 El Camino Real with a new development featuring a 167-room hotel and 26 three-story townhouses. "

and

""I cannot, on (my) last night after eight years, support another wall on El Camino," Morton said. But his suggestion to send the project back to the Architectural Review Board for further revisions failed to win support."

If Mr Mart is wrong about Jack Morton's actions, what else is not true in his words and actions?

You guys got a reprieve of almost two years--what progress have you made on raising the money and buying the bowling alley. Does the current owner have the right to sell their property and retire or do you expect them to continue running the bowling alley for your pleasure?




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

I'm not lying; he really did say those words. Other people who were at the hearing can back me up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

"I'm not lying; he really did say those words. Other people who were at the hearing can back me up."
I did not say you are lying about his words, though the quote from the story seems to go against your Morton quote. However, I am saying you are lying about his vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

I never mentioned his vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

OK, I admit getting that part wrong ... but he only voted no because of the design.

He did utter that quote. That's what matters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

So, he "might as well" have voted for demolition.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Daniel Mart now says:
"I never mentioned his vote."

Daniel, go to your initial post in this thread where you wrote:
"At the hearing, now-former councilmember and vice-mayor Jack Morton said (before joining his associates in voting to proceed with demolition):"

It says "Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View, 27 minutes ago".

In fact, you are prone to exaggeration:
In a post from more than a year ago you accused the council of being "corrupt".
Web Link
"Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Daniel Mart is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I agree with the last two comments.
And yes, corrupt council may have approved demolition,"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm

"So, he "might as well" have voted for demolition."
But he voted against it and made his feelings very clear:
("""I cannot, on (my) last night after eight years, support another wall on El Camino," Morton said. But his suggestion to send the project back to the Architectural Review Board for further revisions failed to win support."")

How can you say that he might as well have voted for demolition?[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Because he supported the new development. Just not its design.

If you hate me for standing up for something, just go out and say it. This is a system that institutionally discriminates, and that in itself is completely messed up. If you believe it's alright, then it's fine. It's cool. Just stop arguing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Really sad to see this go.

To me, the most outrageous comment is the following

< justify keeping a sizable parcel of Silicon Valley land wrapped up in recreation.>

I think we should all be making sure that there is plenty of Silicon Valley land for recreation. We need our golf courses, our theaters, our parks, our hiking trails, our Baylands, and our other forms of recreation. There are a lot of people who live and work in Silicon Valley and we all need to recreate without having to drive an hour or so to do so. We have very few recreational facilities that we can just opt to do at a moment's notice. We can't all schedule our down time a week or so in advance. We can't always expect a day off in January to be dry enough to play tennis or basketball outside. There have to be other indoor, flexible activities other than movies.

We need our recreational activities and losing this one will hit our youth and those who are disabled very hard.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

So true.

And if the council was instructed to ignore everything showing support for PA Bowl...

That's not government; it's not what government is supposed to be. Or supposed to act.

If the council is serious about having more places for teens (which they have reiterated in the past), then they had better shape up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by buy it
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Did you folks who wanted to save the bowling alley even try to buy it? This sale has been in the works for years. That is plenty of time to raise the money if you are serious and have a decent business plan. If you don't have a plan, it is not worth doing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Just sent this letter to the city council:

"If the council is serious about having more places for teens (which they have reiterated in the past), then they had better shape up. Stop giving into rich special interests who, if given the opportunity, would demolish everything and replace it all with hotels and houses.

And stop doing it at the expense of the youth and the disabled.

For "far" too many years, Palo Alto city government has acted in an extremely shameful manner: ignoring the public, misinforming the public, and being a government "solely" for themselves and special interests.

The Palo Alto Bowl hearing only solidified this; with the mayor instructing council to ignore the results of Open City Hall, and the hundreds upon hundreds of comments by various other means.

And I am SICK TO DEATH of it.

If you keep going down this path, Palo Alto will be in huge trouble. And very soon. I can guarantee you that."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by battle?
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

What is your plan then?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tear it down
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Daniel mart seeks to be big on calling our council corrupt, twisting the words and actions of city officials and seemingly guaranteeing our city will have big trouble. He does not even live here! How much of a voice should he have on city affairs? In the meantime I would have thought he would have worked to buy the site and preserve it. Does he expect the city of palo alto to buy the place now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SayitAintSo
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Hangar One strippping down to steel bones and now this? Just drove through a stretch of Route 66 where people are preserving history and old fashioned American establishments. Here it's all tear it down and replace with cookie cutter housing and blockish office buildings. Such a shame. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Community Values
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:06 am

What a shame. The value of places like bowling alleys where kids can hang out and my own children have celebrated birthdays cannot be measured solely in dollars and cents. How in the world can we possibly need another set of townhomes or condos? This city continues to bring in more people to overstrained infrastructure while chasing out recreational options. Is Palo Alto really a community that values well-being and youth with decisions like these?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 6:26 am

"Is Palo Alto really a community that values well-being and youth with decisions like these?"
COnsidering that PA has 5 libraries, a children's theatre, a junior museum and zoo--all funded using taxpayer dollars, while our infrastructure crumbles around us--I think we are doing okay as far as valuing well being and youth.
The bowl is a private business, that the city has no business interfering in the sale of. This property was for sale for a long time and the people that think it is so valuable could have made an effort to buy it.
I do not think that at this time the city of Palo Alto and it's citizens should be paying for the pleasure activities of people who reside outside of the city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ConcernedParent
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 22, 2011 at 6:37 am

What am I going to tell my daughter, who has been asking me to plan her birthday party at the Palo Alto Bowl? Her birthday is after the planned closure... :-(

I am sure the rent is outrageously expensive. But isn't there someone else willing to step in and take over the business? I would think that if several of the lanes were converted to provide some other functionality, it could possibly work out very well...Maybe the City could take it over and convert it into a community center(?)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

"But isn't there someone else willing to step in and take over the business?"
What I think some people do not understand, is that the bowling alley is now owned by the builder. He is only leasing it to Rhythm Smith for the time being. The place was sold and supposed to be demolished a couple of years ago, but that was postponed.

"Maybe the City could take it over and convert it into a community center(?)"
You are kidding. The city cannot afford to buy this place and run it. We already fund plenty of activities for children and with our infrastructure issues, we cannot afford this.
Plus, just because a small vocal group form another city expects Palo Alto to fund their fun and games, that should not happen. They had 6+ years to buy the place, but did nothing


 +   Like this comment
Posted by We will miss you.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 22, 2011 at 6:54 am

I am so sorry to see Palo Alto Bowl close.

It is such a sweet and happy place to visit.

They have been angels to the disabled in our schools, hosting monthly bowling fests for our kids.

They have such friendly staff...never a curse word or foul look passed out of anyone. Just smiles.

The music isn't too loud, nor coarse.

In other words, rare evening wholesome fun.

I am so very sorry the rent can not be met while keeping the bowling alley.

We will miss you, PA bowl. Another classic icon gone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 22, 2011 at 7:00 am

What a shame? It was reported in San Jose Mercury First. It does not seem like we value our city anymore. Our city counsel seems only interested in giving us more of what they want not what the citizens want. Believe it or not the City Counsel doese igonore the disabled, the veterans, and the senior citizens. We take away more and more spaces for groups to go and have some fun. I wonder if they talked to Foothill College they were signing students up for boweling classes. Our city counsel does not value it citzens, it only values those people who can give them something. The disabled, the senior citizens and the veterans don't have enough of a voice for city counsel to pay any attention to them, so they don't care. Let's face it the whole narrowing of lanes for Arastadero is just one example of our city counsel not really caring about what the citizens want because lets face it the city counsel only belives that they know what is best for the citzens, we as citzens don't know what's best for ourselves. Sad as it maybe we have no voice soon our city will be filled with more housing, more students, overcrowding and City counsel will only be interested in getting more housing built.

We have lost a lot of what made Palo Alto a wonderful place to live, too bad the city counsel does not care about the very citzens who live here. Its their lack of empathy for anyone who is not able to vote or have a voice that is scarey.

The boweling alley is just the begining there will be other businesses and projects that we don't need.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Laurie M
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:41 am

Isn't BelMateo Bowl mid-peninsula?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Sign our second petition here, you all!

Web Link

I am looking into things; we're not done yet. Gonna keep going up to the last minute.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Please e-mail and call city hall and make your voice heard!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

I expect to see the complainers run for City Council seats next time around. Then they will find out what the majority of Palo Alto citizens really want. It will be said that our elections are not fair. Democracy answers to the rich because the votes of many are for sale to the highest bidder. Not mine of course...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

There are a number of overexaggerations in this petition:

"I am the founder of the campaign to save the historic Palo Alto Bowl, which is slated for closure on September 16th, and am doing everything I can to make people really think about what will happen if the 55+ year-old landmark -- and a pristine example of post-war architecture -- is destroyed."

This building is not historic and it is not a landmark.

"the entire council was even instructed by the mayor to ignore all comments in support of the bowl"
That did not happen

"For without this historic alley, Palo Alto will be stripped of everything. There won't be anything to do. And to add even more fire, the disabled community is institutionally discriminated against even further."
That is a gross exaggeration--not based on any facts whatsoever. It is easy to claim discrimination--sounds good and casts those that do not agree with you in a bad light. But as we have seen before, the claims of those, who had the opportunity to buy the alley and preserve it, but instead did nothing, are based on on hysteria and not the facts.

What Mr Mart cleverly ignores is the fact that this property was sold to the builder a long time ago-with the consent of the owner and the council has voted to allow demolition of the site. Trying to stop this now will result in lawsuits that our city will have to spend money on, that it can ill afford now. Not that someone else's money means anything to the keep the bowling alley people.
Perhaps Mr Mart should approach the Mountain View city council and have them purchase the land and maintain it. Or with the remodeling of San Antonio Center, that would be a perfect location for a new bowling alley. Perhaps Mr Mart can suggest that to the MV city council. I do not think that in these tough economic times the city of Palo Alto should be paying for the fun and games of MV residents


 +   Like this comment
Posted by deal with it
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:15 am

I live behind the Alley. I love to bowl. I thought it was ridiculous that our City denied Hyatt's desire to significantly upgrade at a major intersection (Charleston and El Camino) then approved the conversion of that space to medium-density residential, then agrees to convert commercial space where PA Bowl to Hotel?

Having said this, I believe that private property owners have the right to develop the property. Bowling is not a fundamental right, it is not a charity. Bowling has been in steady decline for decades.

If you want bowling to remain a nearby recreational option, I see that you have three reasonable options:

1. raise capital and buy the site from the developer owners.

2. raise capital, identify a new site, and build a new bowling alley. (I would even consider investing in such a venture)

3. contact one of the national bowling chain operators and convince them to build a bowling alley nearby.

#2 / #3 might be a viable alternative at the redevelopment of San Antonio shopping center. Perhaps it could be like that bowling alley at Vallco?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ImSadToo
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Once again a fascinating, sad, frustrating example of democracy, personal/property rights, economics, and changes in our culture/demographics.

The property is privately owned. From that person's economic viewpoint, it does not generate as much revenue as it could if put to a different use (or built on and sold). Such economic decisions are not always to the benefit of the patrons, or of the community. But (within certain constraints) we cannot deny the owner's rights.

If running the PAB were viable economically, then presumably someone would have raised the capital to purchase it and continue operating. But no one or group has. And even if the City had the money and resources (which it does not), it is not clear that running a bowling alley would be a priority of its citizens.

We can build more TVs, or even mine more gold, but we cannot create more land. Overall, its price inevitably rises, and for commercial property (e.g. not homes) the demand for return rises with it.

I grew up with bowling. I was in a small league that bowled at PAB, but have not bowled in 4-5 years. We can also lament the loss of drive in theaters and drive in eaterys; our favorite local store replaced by a chain; each of us can add to this list. Just as humans, such entities (businesses in this case) live their lives and then pass away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Oh no, I live in Mountain View! Who is going to subsidize the fun and games of us Mountain View residents now!?! I know that us M.V. people depend on Palo Altans for handouts and giveaways constantly. Without them we just wouldn't know what to do with ourselves!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by moveon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Mv collects way more sales tax than pa does,they are not depending on pa services.So,be it,move on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Aside, unfortunate technical correction to "we cannot create more land." Foster City managed to do it, SFO wanted to, and Cargill is trying. Economic and demographic pressures will always be with us. Or I should say, against the status quo and against the environment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

It is a ridiculous comment to say that Palo Alto should not be obliged to provide fun and games for Mountain View residents.

PA Bowl is a business designed to provide bowling for its customers - regardless of where they live.

Laserquest, is a business designed to provide laser tag for its customers - regardless of where they live. Likewise Shoreline Ampitheatre, and Shorline Movies, etc. etc.

No one is putting up boundaries to say that we have to only consider Palo Alto residents. We are to consider all paying customers regardless of where they live.

It is a shame for local youth that the PA Bowl is closing. It is a shame as there is now one thing less for local youth to do. The only other local amenity for youth in Palo Alto seems to be the Winter Lodge, and that is for everyone not just PA youth.

It is probably too late to alter this closure, but I think that both PA and MV councils and the San Antonio Centre owners could consider a youth orientated activity in the new Centres of all developments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Mr Mart may have burnt his bridges with the city council with his words and postings:

Web Link

"I mean, when the mayor even instructs city council to "ignore" the thousands of comments in support of the bowl from around the world... This really did occur at that joke of a hearing last year. In addition to the mayor and many other city council members sporting sarcastic looks and slight grins during the public comments."

"The council knows what it's doing is wrong, but they don't care; they want money for their city, and will do whatever it takes to get it. "

"Power corrupts; for years, Palo Alto's government has been one of the most corrupted."

"all the while completely unafraid to stomp all over the group already most institutionally discriminated against (the disabled). "

In all the threads in which Mr mart has posted his comments, I have yet to see an actual plan for keeping the bowling alley.
I have come to believe that Mr Mart feels that the city of Palo Alto owes him, a mountain view resident, a place for him to come and entertain himself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm

@ svatoid

Totally. I know that's what I want and I live in Mountain View. All of my neighbors too. They have high paying jobs at Google, but mostly they're just thinking up ways to get what they feel they're owed from Palo Alto. We're coming for everything and we've started our demands with a place to bowl. Next we come for your homes!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Thanks for the chuckle, PA Native.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by moveon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Mv can do much better on its own,there is no need to make demand from pa, these are two different cities,two watersheds,no connection no obligation whatsoever.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Empty bowl?
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

For all those who decry the loss of this important recreational tool, and who ask the citizenry to buy it to prevent its demolition, do you have any idea what such a facility would cost. When the bowl was bought by a home builder, the writing was on the wall. It was just matter of time for the ink to dry. I am totally disappointed in the city of Palo Alto, first for approving the demolition, second for approving more expensive cookie cutter townhomes and third, for building a hotel when it didn't allow Ricky's to modernize, then approves a new hotel. Only the builders benefit. I would love to know if there were any coercion and bribery here???


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

empty bowl?

"For all those who decry the loss of this important recreational tool, and who ask the citizenry to buy it to prevent its demolition, do you have any idea what such a facility would cost."

SO what do you suggest? THe owner decided to sell. Was that wrong? As others pointed out there are such things as owner's rights. Should the city of Palo Alto have told the owner he cannot sell? Should the city have bought the property?
If you have evidence of bribery, I suggest that you provide it to the police. Otherwise you are sounding like Daniel Mart


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2011 at 11:39 pm

"High school students will choose other activities." My kid went to this bowl while a student at Paly just 6 short years ago. It was one of the few things the kids had to do, that plus miniature golf and the movies. I'd like to know what "other activities" are out there after this bowl is gone. Raising a kid taught me very quickly that our kids are invisible, second-class citizens as to recreation in the society in general. There are very few things for them. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, nightclubs, etc. for adults, but not much for our kids unless it is a money-making deal like fancy carseats. Check it out. A sad thing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 12:27 am

I think, despite its flaws and the probable short-terms results, that the grass-roots support for the bowling alley is a significant local development in terms of community organizing and finding a voice for "civic engagement" and "residentialists" as opposed to (literally and figuratively) the developers and real estate interests.

At one point I considered labeling the movement "Let's Go Bowling" which is also a nod to a popular rock band. (I have not actually been involved with the movement, just read about in media and attended some related council meetings).

I wonder if the energy behind the bowling movement overlaps with the nascent "Save The Varsity" movement?

For what it's worth, my involvement in that issue I am calling "The Last Picture Waltz" or "TLPW 456" -- too many years in advertising makes me want to give everything names -- I guess it worked better for former mayors Mike Cobb and Jim Burch -- both ad guys -- than it has for me so far.

Also, perhaps relevantly, there is a famous sociologist who tracked the demise of American community based on the study of bowling leagues. I think his name is Robert Putnam.

I think Mr. Daniel Mart is doing a great job. Keep it up! In bowling terms, you are rolling like a 235 or 240, not quite a perfect game but pretty darn good!!

(My memories of the old bowling alley, Fiesta Lanes, was going there with Nick Sturiale and Mark Leland during a rainy day back in 1980 or so and coming in last and then covertly joining a league there -- where I recall meeting Meg Mongillo and Jerry Sher -- and rolling a 210 or so and gettng a little trophy for a "high handicap" top game --- 270 or so?? -- not so much in recent years...I would probably roll a 100 or so)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BB
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm

There's plenty of vacant land in East Palo Alto, maybe someone can start a bowling alley over there. It's obvious that Palo Alto is more interested in building new housing than preserving or building recreation centers, gas stations, grocery stores, or other retail centers. Unfortunately, the Palo Alto housing blob is here to stay.


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Posted by D. Williams
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

For all those that say it's all about the landowner's right to sell, and the city has nothing to do with it, remember, the city does have a lot to do with something called "zoning". I don't know what the site is zoned for, but if it was commercial only, and the city voted to change it to mix use/housing, then the city is indeed partially responsible for the alley's demise. Maybe the owner would have left the alley as is if a buyer/developer couldn't get the zoning change. The city has a lot of power in many of these projects, let's not forget that!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I would like to thank Daniel Mart for his brave attempt to save the bowling alley.

Having read his pages it is worth noting that Daniel is a Gunn graduate from the special ed. program and needs a walker for mobility. When he talks about what this bowling alley meant to the disabled, he was speaking from personal experience. He may not be able to rally business owners, but he was certainly able to make a noise on behalf of his fellow disabled bowlers.

Not all people are able bodied and savvy enough to create the type of effort that Daniel has made over the past few years to help keep a facility that is dear to his heart. Daniel may not have succeeded in keeping the bowling alley open, but he has put in the effort and that is what counts. If every special ed. PAUSD graduate turns out like Daniel, then we are doing well with our special ed students.

Daniel, I for one, wish you the best for the future and hope that you find somewhere else to bowl and get the recreation and sporting challenge you crave. Thanks for all your hard work.


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Posted by So sad.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

So sad. ...years of bowling for us and our family..gone.

I understand why...but still...


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