Palo Alto sends massive office proposal back to drawing board | February 8, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 8, 2013

Palo Alto sends massive office proposal back to drawing board

Planning commissioners ask developer Jay Paul to revise its package of 'benefits' for Page Mill Road proposal

by Gennady Sheyner

An ambitious proposal to build a dense office complex next to the AOL building on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto received a cool reception Wednesday night from the Planning and Transportation Commission, which directed the developer to come back with a stronger package of public benefits.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by I love Palo Alto, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Domestic terrorism? Really?

I don't necessarily like the plan either but, really? Can't we come up with a better reason than that.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Just remember that when the City Council pushed for the California Ave lane reduction, the city staff said they don't anticipate any more projects that would generate traffic!

Posted by Voter, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2013 at 8:14 am

It's finally time for a ballot-measure moratorium on all Planned Community exemptions.

The so-called "Palo Alto Process" should be simple: a one-box questionnaire, "does it meet zoning laws?"

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

@Voter: Hear! Hear! I agree. This planned community loophole needs to be closed for developers.

Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

I certainly believe the "planned community" exception is a terrible idea. Regardless of the size of the "public benefits" being offered, it is clear that this law allows for immense corrupting pressure on our public officials. When many, many millions of developer dollars are at stake based on the decision of a few officials, that sets the stage for the temptation of corruption.

Besides, these are not planned communities. These are the ad hoc results of an adversarial negotiation.

Zoning should be adjusted based on what makes sense to exist in a certain place.

Posted by registered user, the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

That set of corners is already built-out. Any more traffic becomes a problem if you add the density proposed. Not to mention the LEO and public safety traffic offered by this " carrot ".

The zoning " ground rules " are there for a reason; a " fix " ( take that meaning any way you want to ) just creates more problems..

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Houston, here we come!

Posted by Whoa there, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

@A: corrupt: Cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

What personal or monetary gain are the City Council Members getting when they approve a project that has "public benefits"?

Are you really accusing our elected officials of corruption? If so, please provide your evidence.

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I don't believe the project presented to the Planning and Transportation Commission is a genuine proposal, because (1) the city staff has wanted a different site at 2747 and 2785 Park Boulevard as the location of a new police building since Lynne Johnson was Police Chief and Frank Benest was City Manager, and (2) Jay Paul, operating under the name "2747-2485 Park Boulevard LLC" recently purchased that site. (See Santa Clara County Recorder's Document Number 22052284, and Secretary of State Entity Number 201232610096.) I expect a future proposal to include locating the police building on the site city staff wants in exchange for the intensive development the applicant wants. In my opinion, the site at 2747 and 2785 Park Boulevard is being held hostage. The Palo Alto Police Department has hostage negotiators who work with their SWAT team, but I don't know whether they are trained for this sort of hostage negotiation, or whether they should negotiate.

Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm

To Whoa There:

If you re-read my first post you will see I am not saying that our officials necessarily are corrupt, but rather, that this type of exception -- that depends on the fickle judgement of a few -- creates an environment where corruption and underhanded tactics on both sides COULD flourish.

Still, I have to wonder when I see all the horrible developments in South Palo Alto with so little "public benefit".

Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

Yes, send it back again and again until it is as ugly as all the projects you let through. The new library on Middlefield looks like a stack of unmatching boxes, the JCC is just awful. Let's make sure this one is hideous as well and a pain in the neck for everybody concerned.

Posted by belrt, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 9, 2013 at 11:21 am

when city hall talks of "public beneft", it is usually all private developer benefit and little public benefit. I find a new police station to be too good to be true. Is it?

Also, the constant cry for a new police station is that the current facility is seismically unsafe. Unless I'm mistaken, the police dept occupies lower floors in city hall. If the police dept is unsafe, what about the rest of city hall?