NEW DAY, NEW VISION ... The area around East Meadow Circle in south Palo Alto has fallen victim to a housing boom over the past two decades as about 500 housing units popped up during the dotcom bust at sites once occupied by industrial and commercial businesses. Now, Palo Alto's planning officials are looking to reverse this trend. On Wednesday night, the Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously endorsed a new vision for the neighborhood near the Mountain View border when it approved a "concept area plan" for this section of the city. The plan, which would become part of the city's official land-use vision, seeks to encourage high-end research and development businesses around East Meadow Circle and Fabian Way by allowing increased density for these types of developments. Day care facilities, schools and housing would be severely restricted. The city also hopes to welcome a large, revenue-generating business such as an auto dealership or a hotel, to the undeveloped parcel on the corner of Charleston and San Antonio roads, across from the Taube Koret Center for Jewish Life. "We're taking a third of this area and essentially allowing it to be transformed to a very different use and different intensity that exists now," Planning Director Curtis Williams said at the meeting. The City Council is scheduled to review the concept plan this winter.
BLACK AND BLUE ... Admirers of Apple icon Steve Jobs, who died Oct. 5, are showing that imitation is the best form of flattery. An online push declaring today (Oct. 14) as "Steve Jobs Day" urges fans to sport Jobs' typical attire — a black turtleneck, blue jeans and tennis shoes — throughout the day in honor of the computer guru's life and legacy. The website, stevejobsday2011.com, encourages people to post pictures of themselves dressed as Jobs on Facebook and Twitter, discuss favorite Apple products, and read about how others are celebrating Jobs' worldwide influence. The website states: "We admire his work. We've embraced his vision. And we love what he's brought to the world. Let's take a day to honor the man himself and say thank you." The day had been planned since late September, prior to the Palo Alto resident's death.
KEEPING THE BOOKS ... Palo Alto's effort to rebuild the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center — the centerpiece of the city's $76 million library bond in 2008 — is facing greater scrutiny these days because of rising costs. The City Council reluctantly agreed last month to add $3.7 million to the project and authorized a 20 percent "contingency" ceiling for unanticipated construction costs. The request for more money was prompted at least in part by incomplete design plans from project architects, Group 4 Architecture. Now, the council is considering if there's anything the city can do to combat these cost increases. The council is scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Monday night to discuss both the city's "potential exposure to litigation" and "potential initiation of litigation" relating to the $41 million project. The council also requested monthly reports about change orders for the construction project. According to the first such report, which was released this week, the city has already approved eight change orders with the construction company Flintco — changes that added more than $1 million to the cost. A ninth change order, which would add $223,816 to the order to pay for tube steel and "curb changes," is now being processed. The project, which is about halfway done, remains about $8 million under the engineer's initial cost estimate.