Resident seeks to get home off of historic inventory | January 6, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 6, 2012

Resident seeks to get home off of historic inventory

City Council to deliberate status of Palo Alto home Monday

by Sue Dremann

If a Palo Alto homeowner succeeds having his 1895 home taken off of the city's Historic Building Inventory, it would only be the second such instance in a dozen years, according to the city.

This story contains 1093 words.

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Posted by gt, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

they want privacy, so why is the media not respect that still take photo of their home and make a news about it????

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Where were the Historic Resources Board, the Planning Commission, and all the rest of boards and commissions in the "Palo Alto Process" when the 'new Walgreen's was approved and built?? The old building, tragically destroyed by fire, was tasteful, lovely, and very historic - and now with the new Walgreen's we have this 'prison architecture' monstrosity. The same has happened to the University Avenue 'circle' - on the approach to downtown Palo Alto from El Camino. Downtown Palo Alto is losing a lot of charm - and in my opinion is a now mish-mash 'tacky'.

Posted by Blame Game, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Kate, Don't blame the Planning Commission. The review process doesn't bring the downtown commercial projects to the Planning Commission unless it's a PC Zone or there's a Variance to zoning rules. ARB has reviewed the projects on University and University Cirlce, not the Planning Commission.

Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2012 at 8:44 am

@gt, it is a public matter not a private matter, because it is on the historic inventory, so the owners are not entitled to privacy and should have no expectation of it. They have the right to seek this change, but it is subject to a public airing of the merits of their petition. They knew what it was on the historic inventory when they bought it.

Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

"now with the new Walgreen's we have this 'prison architecture' monstrosity. The same has happened to the University Avenue 'circle' "

Palo Alto's architectural review board has never seen an abomination it didn't adore. If you want pretty buildings, go to Menlo Park.

Posted by frank, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

How ridiculous to "want" your beautiful historic home removed from the historical inventory. Palo Alto is so beautiful because of the historic homes. Let us never lose our history to ugly track homes....and also, there are so many new "Ikea" style fugly homes now.....its horrific to see these homes being built....they look like office bldgs.....there is one now at end of Embarcadero near underpass, so ugly. I thought it was an office building but its a house! Yuk.

Posted by CC, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

I don't know if anybody thought of this yet.. but ugly homes can be turned into things of beauty. All you need is the desire to do so.

Posted by likeit, a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

I would very much like to live in the tiny palo alto ugly house than moving to a town such as red wood city.

Posted by voter, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I have lived in a Palo Alto historically designated house for more than 30 years. During a remodel we found the city's approval process to be quite burdensome. I find it so hypocritical that there is this 'Williamsburg' attitude about the homes and yet the street parking is so out of control, so destructive, intrusive, littered and downright unsafe (can you even see around the cars parked beyond the stop signs to safely cross any streets??). The neighborhoods are so severely impacted by parking that the idea of historic or beautiful is laughable.

Posted by registered user, rem, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm


Posted by Charlotte, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Frank --
Your comment has provoked me to add in my thoughts. You call it "ridiculous" to want a historic house removed from the inventory. Are you serious? And "Palo Alto is beautiful because of the historic homes?" Really? Houses can be built in older styles, amounting to nearly the same thing as having a historic building. I don't see a mandate for "old-looking" buildings, the closest thing is how the house can't be atrocious. Would you like every house in Palo Alto to look old? Do solar panels bother you because they are not historic? Additionally, you seem to favor making it so that houses can NEVER be removed from the list. Brilliant! What happens when a run down shack gets deemed a "Historical building," and the owner can't update it? What if they want (visible) solar panels, perhaps helping the environment, and they can't?

And Concerned Citizen -- "it is a public matter not a private matter, because it is on the historic inventory." Exactly. But the historic inventory in Palo Alto accumulates homes that have gone without change for 50 years (I believe -- feel free to correct me. If it's not this commission, there certainly is one that tries to deem houses 50+ years older historical. Perhaps it's a mandate, I don't know). I think this is a complete waste, and the fact that people can spend $500,000 on legal fees is disgusting. Bureaucracy at it's finest. Do we REALLY need a historical commission (not to say that it needs to be abolished, just that they shouldn't be this powerful)? Sure, keeping historical homes is nice, but perhaps they shouldn't be this over-involved. Getting a house off the register only has happened ONCE recently? That's just failure. I honestly can't believe people still favor this commission to make their lives prettier (pretty houses = happy people, or so some claim) instead of considering how the OWNER of the house feels. Why can't they remodel it if they'd like too? Of course, because it makes someone else's life harder if they view the house.... really? Seriously?

Also, both of you, consider how unpopular historical homes can be. I believe that my house has been intentionally remodeled every now and then to keep it OFF the historical list because we certainly don't want to deal with this. I pity the people who receive houses that they can't remodel because the last owner forgot to inconvenience them self to stay off the historical record. They say 15-20% lower valued in the article, but perhaps it's not that. Even if it's a lower percentage than given -- 10%, for example -- that's still absolutely HUGE. Why impact the market by having this commission involved in everything?
And I agree with voter-- houses aren't the only thing that can be ""ugly."" How about gardens, cars, pets, lawn signs -- are they "ugly" and should be interfered with? If there's a car from 1895 like the house, then should we mandate that car be kept in use....?

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I lived at 935 Ramona in the mid sixties. It was divided into four apartments. The one I first occupied, while I worked at old St. Michael's Alley, cost $20 a month. Several of the earliest Grateful Dead songs were written there. The same orange tree grows in the front yard, but the condition has changed from quite rundown to reasonably upscale. This piece of my own history invites an occasional stroll past when I visit town. I truly miss all the great Victorian houses that characterized downtown, especially along Hamilton Ave. Portions of the town which were once venerable now look like more-or-less anywhere. Only us old-timers know or care. Once gone, gone forever.

Posted by bigger fish to fry, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

first world problems

Posted by homestyles, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I Agree with Robert.

Posted by Rose, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

The solution is simple: If you don't want to live in a historic home, don't buy one. They sell for less, but if you purchase a newer home, you won't have to pay for remodeling. Let people have their history and their heritage. Those things are more important than many realize. And if you don't care about those things, too bad, get over it; there are people who do.

I'm wondering where the Architectural Review Board was when the plans for the Koret Campus on Charleston and the new Elks Lodge on El Camino were approved. One takes up every available square inch of land to generate the most income, and the other couldn't possibly be any uglier. Urban blight without the passing of time usually required for that.

The article asks the opinion of a real estate agent. That's a waste of time. Real estate agents want newer, larger homes that will generate the most resale value and their opinions would be hopelessly biased.