News


Palo Alto skirting zoning law, residents say

Neighborhood leaders, city staff spar over plans to redevelop downtown building

In the latest skirmish over downtown development, a Palo Alto neighborhoods group is accusing the city's planning department of violating municipal law in what the residents claim is a "huge giveaway to a developer."

Palo Alto-based Cody Anderson Wasney Architects is petitioning the city to rehabilitate 261 Hamilton Ave., which until recently was the longtime home of University Art. The proposed redevelopment would add to the 41,900-square-foot building a three-story, approximately 6,000-square-foot office wing along Centennial Walk, an alley that runs from Hamilton to the north and parallels Ramona Street. Currently, the 1927 building, designed by architect Birge Clark, consists of a four-story, tile-roofed ″L″ along Hamilton and Ramona and a one-story ″wing″ along Centennial.

The plan has passed review by the city's Architectural Review and Historic Resources boards. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the project on June 23.

But Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN), a coalition of neighborhoods leaders, stated in a June 16 press release that Palo Alto's municipal code shouldn't allow for the building's expansion. At 66 feet, 7 inches, the building already exceeds the city's 50-foot height limit and is too massive for its site, PAN leaders said.

Though the historic building is "grandfathered" -- that is, allowed to not be in compliance with city code -- its redevelopment cannot "increase the degree of noncompliance,″ according to city documents presented to the Architectural Review Board on June 5. In other words, additions and changes that make existing zoning violations worse are not allowed.

Section 18.18.120 of the Palo Alto municipal code, "Grandfathered Uses and Facilities," allows a developer to remodel, improve or replace on the same site of grandfathered structures, provided the remodeling does not result in increased floor area and does not shift the building footprint. The remodel "shall not result in an increase of the height, length, building envelope, or any other increase in the size of the improvement," the ordinance notes.

The "building envelope," PAN leaders maintain, is the sticking point. Defined in city code as the three-dimensional spatial configuration of a building's volume and mass, 261 Hamilton's envelope would change with the proposed remodel, they say.

City staff have a different interpretation: Planners say the building envelope is the three-dimensional "building area" of a project site and does not refer to the shape of the building, according to documents provided to the Architectural Review Board.

As long as the proposed additions and renovations conform with city code, the project is allowed, staff said. The new wing would be 49 feet, 8 inches tall -- a hair below the city's 50-foot height limit.

In addition, according to the developer, the wing is not adding square footage to the building. An existing basement, currently used for storage and work space, would be converted to 14 parking spaces, and the rearrangement would result in a net-zero gain in floor area for the building, according to the developer's plans.

Residents brought their concerns regarding staff's interpretation of the "grandfathered" zoning code and building envelope to the Architectural Review Board on April 17. However, zoning regulations are outside the purview of the ARB, and the board could only make recommendations on the character and quality of the project, ARB Vice Chair Randy Popp said. The board voted on June 5 to recommend the project for council review.

"To claim the new wing won't violate the law, city staff opted to ignore the municipal code's definition of 'building envelope,'" PAN members wrote in the press release. "They maintain these words instead refer to the maximum size a building is allowed to be. But since owners can never increase the maximum allowed size of a building ... the staff's interpretation makes the building-envelope clause meaningless."

The municipal code also bans any expansion to the building's floor area, footprint, height and length. It further prohibits any other increase in the size of the building, PAN members said.

"Since the new wing will greatly increase the building's total volume, the proposal will also violate this provision," they said.

In its June 5 report, city staff said there are two interpretations of the grandfathered code: that no more square footage than is currently now on the site can be permitted, and that the proposed addition does not further increase the legal noncomplying conditions of the site.

"Staff is of the opinion that the second interpretation is the better one," staff wrote in the report.

Hillary Gitelman, the city's director of planning and community environment, said the staff report submitted to the council later this week "will be very clear that the proposed project rests on an interpretation of the term 'building envelope.'

"In the staff report, we will present both possible interpretations and explain staff's rationale for the interpretation of 'building envelope' as something akin to 'buildable area' rather than 'building.' We will also describe several downtown projects approved between the years 2001 and 2008 using this interpretation," she wrote in an email to the Weekly.

Land-use attorney and resident Tom Jordan said the law doesn't leave room for interpretation.

"I've never seen such an egregious attempt by city employees to pretend a law doesn't say what it says. Their job is to enforce the law, not redefine it to be meaningless," he said in the PAN press release.

PAN Chairwoman Sheri Furman said, "We call upon every member of the City Council to turn down this project and redirect staff to uphold city laws."

Doria Summa, a PAN member, said she doesn't object to the remodel per se.

But "there's a general feeling that these things should be done legally," she said.

There have been too many "'exceptions to the norm' being the norm -- rather than 'the norm' being the norm," she added. "I think we'll all have a better place to live together if the same rules apply to all of us.″

The city's Historic Resources Board unanimously recommended approval of the project on April 16, finding the revisions comply with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.

The building is currently on the city's local historic inventory as a Category 3 historic resource. The developer wants to reclassify the building to the higher Category 2 standard. Following reclassification, the developer can request 15,000 square feet of Transferable Development Rights (TDR) because the building will undergo historic rehabilitation.

TDRs allow a property owner to sell that square footage to another developer to expand a project beyond what is allowed under zoning for the property.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by annoyed
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Does anyone else feel like they're getting boxed in around here. Palo Alto is being destroyed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm

So staff 's justification for not following the law is that they haven't been following the law since 2001…..Huh…..

Doesn't pass the smell test ….


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pares
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Agree with annoyed. At the end of our street, there is a huge house going in that looks like an apartment building. It's not -- we are zoned R-1 and it is supposedly being built for a couple with in-law quarters for the parents. But it looks like a duplex and out scales other surrounding houses, some of which are two stories. This new house could be turned into a boarding house easily which is not what R-1 zoning should be. I don't understand how it gets through planning!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Since Hilary Gitelman has started, she has approved one violation after another of the zoning rules: signage at Alma Plaza, Tesla, etc, the violation of street width at the Stanford housing development at College Terrace, and now this. City Council needs to vote this down with prejudice, and put Gitelman on probation.

And City Manager Keene needs to manage his staff - he has opened and hired additional management staff (chief PR hack, chief greenie, assistant city manager this and that), so he should certainly have the time to "manage" Ms. Gitelman, and her clear violation of the zoning rules. And he needs to be put on notice as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Who the hell is PAN? I gather that it's a group of neighborhood association leaders. From what I can surmise these leaders are self appointed, or voted in at sparsely attended and unpublicized meetings. Then they go to council saying they represent us. And I've never been asked to vote for a PAN representative. This group sounds truly bogus.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm

And are PAN's meetings open to the public? Are their agendas available to those whom they claim to represent? Do they post their minutes, like the minutes where they decided to target this project?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:37 pm

should you choose to become informed: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Answer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

@Question. COOL MOVE changing the subject from the violation of the city codes to attacking the messenger. Really cool!
Why not just say you like it that billionaire developers make more money uglying up the town with oversized buildings? And that it is OK with you that the Planning Dept helps them do it.
That's what you believe, isn't it? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Also, you sound uninformed. This article is well-written and full of information. Please read it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2014 at 4:24 am

Article may be full of information but it sure doesn't elaborate when it comes to the TDRs. It throws that bomb out there and runs out of steam. Weak finish.
Fact is TDRs are city law and if the city population wants to change its laws there are ways to go about it. Accusing city officials of breaking the law with sensational headlines like one on this article is not one of them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:18 am

I recall staff reports which recommended approval of at least a couple of mixed use underparked office projects Downtown which were contingent on providing the required TDR's or providing additional parking spaces. These projects went forward. Were the projects ultimately in compliance? Did anybody ever verify that the requirements were actually met? When the
culture of City Hall is to promote development and serve developers
everything must be questioned. I'm sure everything is above board here,
of course, but City Hall has created a climate of distrust by its obvious
biases. And the end result of all this- we are all experiencing it every
day as we live our lives in this new environment and "it's not pretty".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:53 am

"In addition, according to the developer, the wing is not adding square footage to the building. An existing basement, currently used for storage and work space, would be converted to 14 parking spaces, and the rearrangement would result in a net-zero gain in floor area for the building, according to the developer's plans."

Basement area is not counted in FAR calculations. The 6,000 SF new addition area would be counted in the FAR calculations. Thus, the planned addition would NOT result in a net-zero gain in floor area in the way that should be deemed relevant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

> These projects went forward. Were the projects ultimately in compliance?
> Did anybody ever verify that the requirements were actually met? When
> the culture of City Hall is to promote development and serve developers
> everything must be questioned.

In general, the answer to this question is that promises made by developers, or conditions laid on developers for project approval, are not verified by the City, or anyone else for that matter. The process is intended to all developments to proceed, and the City to act as their "process agent". In short, "the public be damned."

One would think that it would not be that hard to construct a database of projects, with contingencies identified, and suspense dates determined, so that varification of the requirements could be performed in a timely fashion.

But we have never seen anyone in the Planning Department act like they have any idea what information technology can do for them, and the City Council has no idea what computers are about either.

Time and again, the public points out to the Council that this project, or the other, had promised various "public benefits" as part of the coveted PC-zoning award and had failed to deliver. Time and again, the Council dismisses this information and grants the project approval knowing full well that promises made by developers aren't worth the paper they are printed on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:34 am

"Who the hell is PAN? I gather that it's a group of neighborhood association leaders. From what I can surmise these leaders are self appointed, or voted in at sparsely attended and unpublicized meetings."

Who cares about all that? They are doing Palo Alto a valuable service.

Which is maybe why they're on the hot seat. This looks like another covert smear-the-whistleblower campaign by the developer and/or city staff.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:20 am

@Joe
If developers are not fulfilling the requirements of the zoning, even with
the loopholes and exemptions provided, and the city staff is approving these projects ,then there should be an injunction filed against the City
prohibiting any further approvals.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:34 am

> then there should be an injunction filed against the City
> prohibiting any further approvals.

An injuction filed against the City by whom?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

Agree with JS....basements don't count against FAR. Therefore architect's claim of net-zero increase is bogus.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

@Joe
The plaintiff seeking an injunction against the City could be any resident suffering damages or harm from the City's actions and claiming that the injunction serves the public interest. Both of these requirements appear to be easily met.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by enough
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

Once again city staff and the architectural and historical review boards are giving the developer wide latitude in which to exceed letter, intent, and spirit of legal building code limits at the developer's discretion. The results of past developments given special exemptions by the city and the impacts of those exemptions are clearly evident.

If by now the City Council does not understand that residents are fed up with the impacts these exemptions are having on quality of life in this city, then its time for real change.

If the City Council approves this plan as is on June 23, elect a new City Council in November. Its time for voters to make their desires clear


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

> The plaintiff seeking an injunction against the City could be any resident

So .. that means folks like you?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

"If by now the City Council does not understand that residents are fed up... "

They understand; they just don't give a damn. Maybe a referendum/recall combo would get attention.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:26 am

@Question - PAN (Palo Alto Neighborhoods) is an active group of Palo Altans organized by neighborhood and doing a good job of getting residents prepared to deal with emergencies. That PAN is also paying attention to issues other than emergencies should, I think, be taken as in indication of the level of concern that exists with regard to development. The finger of blame is often pointed at those who object to a project. More and more I think Staff, ARB, and PC are responsible for stirring controversy by approving projects that have at least one element such as parking, height or excessive FAR that is exceedingly out of line. As the ugly stepsisters learned, it's simply not possible to squeeze a size 10 foot into a size 8 shoe. Smart, legal development doesn't invoke the sort of controversy that defines the current state of affairs in Palo Alto. Ignoring established rules does.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by former resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:38 am

I lived in P.A. from 1970-2008. At the time I moved there, many residents were still upset and talking about the high-rise office building that had just been built on University Ave. It was the first and stuck out like a sore thumb (same thing in downtown Mountain View at the time, and that high-rise sat empty for years). The locals were also unhappy about Oregon Expressway which so effectively cut the city in two, physically and otherwise, and had been built with an awkward swerve in it to make H.P. happy as they occupied the building by the underpass and wanted convenience for their employees. The city council has nearly always been blatantly biased in favor of developers. By the time I moved I could hardly recognize parts of the town. Change is the natural way of things but we always hope that the changes will be for the better. Not so in Palo Alto. One of the last things I was involved in before moving was the Town & Country re-development. The way that progressed, the way the long term tenants were treated, the way the city kissed the ass of that developer, was just totally sickening and disgusting. I never shopped there again. In fact, for years I'd done very little shopping in Palo Alto as they'd allowed all the upscale businesses to drive out those serving the non-rich. It kept getting less friendly and more nasty. The Children's Theatre fiasco was playing out the year we moved and that was a Keystone Cops "investigation" if there ever was one and people's lives were greatly upset. FINALLY, years later, I read there had been an apology to the wonderful woman who had been the heart of that theatre for generations. That was very poorly handled, in every possible way it could have been poorly handled, and was heartless mess that ruined some lives and may have cost one. It made me sick to my stomach. I was among the first who was out here complaining about the direction the city was going with so many high density, high-rise structures, some built out to the sidewalk. Letting the Cheesecake Factory build that Hollywood structure downtown (rather than in Stanford Shopping Center where there was a lot of expensive pretentiousness) was another stick in the eye as it was totally out of proportion and character of the downtown. Shopping was totally ruined except for the rich. I once had shopped at Stanford, downtown, Calif. Ave., Midtown but for some time had done most of my shopping outside Palo Alto as I couldn't afford, nor was I comfortable in, most of the places that had come along. My hair stylist had been forced out of Town & Country so I followed her to Menlo Park. There was no place to buy reasonably priced clothing, especially once Ross left downtown (they weren't fancy enough and probably offended the delicate sensibilities of the ruling elite). By the time we moved I felt like a lot like I'd already moved to a strange place some years before. Please don't lecture me about change and progress, I'm 75 and not naïve, I've experienced plenty of change (including being driven from my home by flood waters in 98). It boils down to this: If you like big high rise congested places you are going to increasingly love Palo Alto. If you love downtown San Jose you'll love the way Palo Alto is going. As for me, I'm back living in a great smaller city that is so quietly, efficiently and well run that it boggles my mind, compared to Palo Alto. And it's a forward facing town too but they are being thoughtful and considerate of all factions and issues. All of the key city buildings (fire dept, police station, civic center) are relatively new, a former granary area is being re-developed, there are numerous parks, the town is very clean, in summer huge baskets of flowers hang from the lamp posts downtown. The historic downtown (as Palo Alto just ruined) has instead been restored, there are pedestrian crossings mid-block, each with a covered seating area. Things are really buzzing all the time here but the approach is so different and so are the results. I know that Silicon Valley is not the Willamette Valley and our small Linfield College is not Stanford University and there are certainly differences that must be accounted for but the people running and living in this town are just a different sort from those that came to dominate Palo Alto in recent times. I have no interest in even visiting Palo Alto as I know it would result in a temper tantrum on my part, that everything that was driving me crazy by the time I moved are many times worse now. I do read the Palo Alto Online so I keep up with what's happening down there but I don't want to live in it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Please correct the year built. It was not 1972.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

How is it not relevant for the reporter here to mention that the developer here is Roxy Rapp, one of the biggest developers in town?

Web Link

Others have written that some developers get even more favoritism in staff rulings than the average.

You mention the architect firm in first reference and don't mention developer at all until the next to last graph, and omit his name? Why is that?

The Weekly does not comprehensively cover the Real Estate Industry, it merely piece by piece, trumpets a proposal and occasionally like here covers the opposition.

Mr. Rapp, is not, just to be clear, the Big Three developer who helped the Weekly's recent investment in its own building on Cambridge.

At the ball game I buy a scorecard, and in Palo Alto I advise we start tracking properties by their owners, and track their tendencies. I heard an interview with John Madden recently describing early in his football coaching career going to a lecture by Vince Lombardi which consisted of five hours discussing one play -- with their literally billion-dollars incentive the industry certainly knows its business to a degree of high sophistication. We the People, even if leadership won't or cannot, would be well-advised, if we want a chance to win, to learn the nuances of this problem beyond just our sense that this or that project is too tall or ugly.

How about a chart of downtown showing the holdings of each of the biggest 20 landlords? (How about a chart showing holdings, here and otherwise, of current council?)

Kudos to Tom Jordan, Doria Summa, and Sheri Furman for their tenacity, diligence and courage here.

By the way, the artist Greg Brown tells me it's okay if the interior mural at 261 Hamilton gets destroyed in the process -- it depicts a fiend cutting the wires to the elevator which he says Roxy ordered as a way to drive out a tenant he disfavored, a shrink treating paranoics.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Under further review, I meant to say that the developer is mentioned seven times but not by name: Roxy Rapp.

His building at Bryant and Uni used to have studio space for Al Young the poet laureate of California and now has office space for Laurene Powell Jobs the billionaire widow throwing coffee klatches for uber-wealthy and uber-powerful who require Secret Service and PAPD escorts, if that is Palo Alto today in a nutshell. "Our Palo Alto" -- who is the "we'?????


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

"who is the "we'????? "

Not Palo Alto residents. Rapp lives in Portola Valley.

Our developers prefer to live elsewhere, out of sight of their developments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtown Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Why all this vituperation? It, to me, is indicative of the polarized political atmosphere that is poisoning this country. I am not in favor of rampant development - in fact, I have made it my business to preserve and rehabilitate at least two structures in Professorville and downtown that are considered "historic". Do I like all the buildings that have been constructed downtown? No. However, the self-anointed critics of all change, who trumpet keeping PA exactly as it was, seem to me to be sort of like the French who try to prevent the "corruption" of their language. PA is not the same place it was 40 years ago - the incredible prosperity from which many of us have profited (surely including some of those who are critics of change) has resulted in a very different place - one that is exciting and full of energy. What is being proposed for 261 Hamilton is similar to what has been accomplished at the Pacific Art League building which is enabling that organization to remain downtown in its own space. The whining sort of gets to me (I am also in my 8th decade).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Answer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I can't wait for Roxy's well-rehearsed speech about how much he loves Palo Alto and he would never do anything to hurt us. And his father had a shoe store on University Ave. My eyes are filling with tears just thinking about it. :)
Except that Roxy hasn't lived here for over 30 years. He has delivered that speech several times.

Remember the Cheesecake Factory!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Original Question
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

To find out who PAN is I went to the website mentioned above and there were notices of meetings, no agendas, no minutes -- nothing to indicate this group operates openly or in a transparent fashion. So I don't understand how they can portray themselves as a representative of Palo Alto residents. If the city operated in such a secretive manner, people would be screaming.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bambi
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

If Mr Rapp is involved it will be a lovely development. I have no doubt. Living in Portola Valley has nothing to do with the fact that he is a business owner and developer in town. He is in Palo Alto more than he is in Portola Valley. His office is here. He is committed to doing great work and cares about the town of Palo Alto. That building has been in need of some attention/repair for 20 years. It is time for this to happen. Be thankful it was him and not some out of area developer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I don't know if my concerns are "poisoning" or "polarizing" or "French" but I would note, with due respect, that of the 30 posts so far on this topic no one else feels strongly enough about their opinion to add their full name to their statements, which to me leaves plenty of room for improvement in the discourse.

I've had some familiarity with the Rapp family for about 30 years, his two daughters Shannon and Kelly were classmates of mine at Gunn, I dressed in his Euro-clothing (yikes, was it...French?) even back east at a conservative preppy college -- and was duly chastised even, for my look -- and have eaten at some of the restaurants that were his tenants -- Croutons, Machisimo Mouse, etc -- and I think that on balance the Rapps have done a lot of good for Palo Alto. Yet the current environment, here and nationwide, world-wide -- makes me worry about the effect of certain types of capital and capitalists. Read George Packer, Gunn 1975, "The Unwinding".

It sounded like a cute story when Roxy Rapp hired the Stanford Band to serenade his girlfriend the day he proposed. Mazel tov to them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Palo Alto, sadly, has invented a new word....the "Uglification" of Palo Alto.
Downtown Palo Alto is becoming a high rise office park. The noise, construction and traffic in Palo Alto is becoming intolerable. Many of the new buildings are hideous and oversized. The streets are full of potholes. There is little downtown parking available. The city council doesn't listen to its constituents, and is doing irreversible damage to Palo Alto. [Portion removed.] One day people will wake up and realize Palo Alto has been ruined.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by huh?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

[Portion removed.] Even though it's presumably their job to KNOW relevant laws with respect to approving significant building modifications like this, they seem to be deliberately ignorant and/or deliberately flaunting the law with the blessing of our illustrious city manager Keene.

It sure seems that city hall is as concerned as ever with doing what ever it takes to uglify Palo Alto, approve projects that violate the law, and continue the grotesque payday for developers at every chance they can.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hung Low
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 10:30 pm

@Mark Weiss
regarding your "on balance" comment - I guess it depends on how much weight you give to putting a Cheesecake Factory on University Avenue. The
"former resident" above highlighted it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by You Betcha
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

We have two new, 3-story condos and an apartment complex recently built in our neighborhood of single-story homes. This should never have been allowed, but....

Several,of us from our block went to the meeting concerning this construction at the location and on the day and time indicated on the postcards mailed to us by the city. We waited for an hour, but the builder, et al, never showed up. We then went en masse to the front desk to ask what happened to the meeting, because we had objections as neighbors. After several minutes of inquiry, we were told that the meeting had been moved to a different floor of the same building, and that the construction project was passed because no one showed up to object!!!!

The location was changed without the knowledge of anyone but the city officials and the builder! Sleazy, slimy behavior!

To make matters worse, the builder tried for months, during construction, to get fences around his projects built at the neighbors' cost. Cheezy little dude!

Now we have excessive parking issues that have actually come close to physical violence, and the police had to be called, because there were not enough parking spaces built for these projects. Plus, the look of the block is ruined, and people's privacy has been infringed on by these tall buildings...and we are an R-1 neighborhood.

A pox on the planning department'!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ducat hutch
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

You betcha-- quite the tale. Care to tell us which enghborhood this happened in and the name of the condo and apartment buildings? So that we can see if this is fact or just some over exaggeration?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

To: "a resident of Crescent Park"

Get your info straight. Roxy has lived here since early 1940's, going to jordan junior high and Paly for high school. Think that is a little more than 30 years. Also to correct you that it was his own shoe store and clothing store, but grew up working in his fathers shoe store.

What have you done for palo alto?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Answer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Defend Roxy
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Information about the city's TDR program. It seems to be designed to encourage historic preservation which most people seem to favor.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

Another expansion project requesting exemptions. They must all be stopped. We can not turn my town back to those 1960s but I sure do not want Palo Alto to continue on this overdevelopment curve.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Harry Angus
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:35 am

Anyone here know anything about the basement stage under University Arts? The former owner of Ramona's Pizza told his son that Jerry Garcia and the pre-Grateful Dead rehearsed there!
Please email me at slipnut01@gmail.com


 +   Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm

"Get your info straight. Roxy has lived here since early 1940's..."

The straight info is that "Roxy lived here in early 1940's..." His current Palo Alto address is post office box 1672 94302, rather cozy quarters, I'd judge. Web Link

Rapp's political contributions disclosures, on file at the city clerk's office, used to show his and his wife's address as 10 Hawkview Lane, Portola Valley, 94028. Further digging indicates he is now in somewhat larger digs at 10 Foxtail, Portola Valley.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Easy Living
By Sally Torbey | 11 comments | 2,383 views

I Told My Mom She's Dying
By Chandrama Anderson | 10 comments | 2,313 views

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,488 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 893 views

Campaign Endorsements: Behind the Curtain
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 585 views