Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 14, 2014

Controversial sign installed

Yet-to-open south Palo Alto grocery gets regulation-busting signage

A 26-foot-tall sign for the new Grocery Outlet in south Palo Alto's Alma Village was erected last week, but one of its most controversial features — illumination — is yet to be seen.

The red and white sign at 3445 Alma St. was approved by the City Council on a 6-3 vote in December.

At the time, council members who supported the approval acknowledged the signage's regulation-busting square footage — 104 square feet, which is 30 times what is normally allowed in the area — but said that helping a grocer to be successful was paramount.

Just last April, Miki's Fresh Market, which had been heralded upon its opening, shuttered after less than six months due to financial problems.

Council members in December criticized the Alma Village development for its poor visibility from the road, among other drawbacks, and acceded to Grocery Outlet's request for a "cabinet" sign that some in the neighborhood called excessive and unsightly.

Tom DuBois, a resident who had appealed the sign's approval by the city's Architectural Review Board, argued to the council that allowing such a sign would put Palo Alto on a slippery slope.

"Small signs work when everyone has them," DuBois said. "Once we have large signs, it will kick off an arms race. If I owned a store and saw a large sign, I'd definitely want one too."

The Grocery Outlet market expects to open in April.

TALK ABOUT IT

There's a conversation about the new sign taking place on Town Square, the discussion forum on Palo Alto Online. Express your opinion about the sign there.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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