A bid by the Ronald McDonald House to build a three-story addition at its Palo Alto facility scored a major victory Wednesday night, Nov. 14, when the Planning and Transportation Commission voiced enthusiastic support for the project.
The commission voted 6-0 to support a requested rezoning of the property at 50 El Camino Real, to amend the city's Comprehensive Plan and to approve the "site and design review" application submitted by the Ronald McDonald House. The facility, which is located near the intersection of El Camino and Sand Hill Road, offers shelter for families with children undergoing treatment at the nearby Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
At the Wednesday meeting, officials from the Ronald McDonald cited the heavy -- and sharply growing -- demand for its facilities. Recent medical advances have created a surge in demand and the trend is expected to continue as the children's hospital proceeds with its major expansion project. Some parents currently sleep in cars because they want to stay close to their children and there isn't enough room to accommodate them in the facility itself, said Gregg Davis, a member of the Ronald McDonald House board of directors.
Laura Boudreau, the facility's chief operations officer, said the facility is seeing "unprecedented demand."
"We are currently turning away 40 to 50 families every night from the Ronald McDonald House," Boudreau told the commission. "We recently hit an all-time high of 67 families on our waiting list."
The three-story addition would add 70 rooms to the facility, which currently has 47 rooms.
The commission had some quibbles about the application process, with Chair Eduardo Martinez arguing that members should have had a chance to review the application before the City Council launched the rezoning process in February. But they agreed that the project is a good one and that the zone changes is well justified.
"We have a good project that should move forward for the benefit of the community," Commissioner Arthur Keller said.