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Alma Plaza plans shaping up

Original post made on Aug 10, 2007

The latest site-design plan for Alma Plaza is conforming more to city wishes, according to Planning and Transportation Commission members who viewed the proposal Wednesday, but concerns about parking and pedestrian access remain.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 9, 2007, 2:47 PM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2007 at 11:25 am

I am not a local resident to Alma Plaza, but I think that not having a pedestrian entrance at the back makes little sense. I feel that so many people have stated that they want this Plaza to be community friendly, and it won't be unless there is a pedestrian entrance. Anyone who wants to go through with a stroller or bicycle should be able to get through, but the yellow stripes would stop grocery carts. Apart from this, there should be concrete posts to stop it being too wide, but designed so that cars would not find it desirable to park and shop.

Accessibility is key to making this work. We need to continue to make Palo Alto walking/bicycling friendly. More pedestrian walkways are needed all over the city. We have to encourage people to get out of their cars and out drive everywhere. A pedestrian entrance would help here not hinder it.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm

It seems ironic to me that people talk about walkable neighborhoods and user friendly developments, but when it comes to actually carrying it out there will always be a NIMBY group that will oppose it. I guess walkability and convenience are okay as long as it is not on Emerson Avenue.
It sounds like we are now in the "nitpicking" stage of the Alma Plaza redevelopment (13 years after the start of the soap opera). Let's see for how long "the friends of Alma Plaza" and others can tie up the actual start of building. Not to mention the threat of a lawsuit.


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Posted by Another Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2007 at 12:05 am

Does the aprox. 15,000 sq ft grocery store have a basement storage area that uses one-half of this 15000 sq. ft.. ? Does anyone know? Is the reatil part only about 7500 sq. ft.?

If this is true it won't be a real grocery store, but just a high priced conveience place and not for real shopping.


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Posted by Sheri Furman
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 11, 2007 at 10:25 am

As one of the "the friends of Alma Plaza," I don't believe we're trying to "tie up the actual start of building" nor are we the "nitpicking." Council sent the plans to the Planning Commission and ARB for site and design review, a normal part of any development process. As residents, the public has the right to comment on any design issues, the goal being to end up with the best possible design for the site. The Planning Commission (and staff) echoed many of our concerns. This commission is more than capable of thinking on their own. That their concerns and those of residents coincided is a result of actual design issues, not of them being swayed by the residents. Nor is anyone holding up the process; we're simply participating in it.

As for the grocery, of the 15,000 sq ft, 3500 of that will be for storage, so the actual grocery will be 11,500.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Ms Furman for your comments. I have been following the Alma Plaza saga for over a decade and I feel that there is a group of people who feel comfortable with Alma Plaza sitting empty and deserted--for the first few years it was "too much retail" complaint. then the group changed it's name and put forward new spokespeople (probably to hide the fact that it ws the same group stopping Alma Plaza development) and started complaining about "not enough retail". Now that we have the retail size figured out the group is "nitpicking" the project--no entrance on Emerson, streets too narrow, park in wrong location etc. etc. etc.
And if Ms Furman as you say "This commission is more than capable of thinking on their own" why are you poking your nose in from the Midtown area???
By the way the best possible design for the site would have been keeping it as all retail with a 30,000 square foot supermarket to anchor it--but we know that happened to that (yes, i know there has to be a level playing field in PA, i.e. no free market, so all groceries must be copies of one another).


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 11, 2007 at 3:50 pm

>why are you poking your nose in from the Midtown area??? <
For that matter, why are you poking your nose in from Duveneck/St.Francis?

As a matter of fact, last week's objector from Emerson St. has previously testified in support of the current project. He isn't part of the thousand people who want a larger market. He kept saying it's a good project, go ahead. Now that his street is negatively impacted, they are concerned about an entrance to Emerson.
Hating residents and neighborhoods has led you into saying so many silly things.


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Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2007 at 3:56 pm

I am not a local resident to Alma Plaza. I do miss the convenience of it. I occasionally used Albertsons when I needed something and it was handy on my way home. I did use Fandango Pizza. The one I miss the most is the British Food place, I loved the pasties and it was often a special trip to get them for a quick dinner.

So, I think that all of us in Palo Alto need to see Alma Plaza improved. I think that a vacant lot like that is a danger to us all as a place for drug dealing and other suspect activity. I feel sure that those in the neighborhood do not like having a derelict plaza next door to them.

I just want to see it happen soon. When you see how quickly Mountain View is getting Charleston Plaza ready and Michaels is opening soon, then it shows just how quickly things can be done. Please lets just get on with it and hurry up hurrying up.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Observer--why do you assume that putting a pedestrian entrance to the plaza on Emerson will negatively impact the people living on that street? Do you base it on the word of Rudy Batties? Does he have any studies that show that people will park on Emerson to use the plaza as opposed to parking on site?
As I said before it is ironic that people talk about "walkable neighborhoods" and "neighborhood serving centers" but are not willing to have pedestrian entrances to said centers.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Not so fast, I am not assuming anything. I am not involved in the plaza. I have no opinion about the entrance to Emerson.
I was just pointing out that your broad brush repetitive attacks on neighbors has led you to contradict yourself. Please, re read my posting.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Observer--not sure how I am contradicting myself, but i will leave that to your interpretation.
So my question is where did the term "his street is negatively impacted" come from. Is it your words to describe Rudy's comments or are you quoting Rudy? Either way how do you/he know that their will be a negative impact and isn;t Emerson Street the only street that you can put a pedestrian entrance on?

Bystander--Mountain View works differently they work fast and are open to big box stores in their city. PA would never approve a Charleston Center type shopping area--the usual complaints would arise--i.e. too much traffic, too much noise, big box stores will not agree to Palo Alto's "level playing field" rules (i.e. stored must be limited to a certain size so that they all can compete equally) etc, etc. BTW, the only reason we have a Fry;s in town is that they have been here for so long, these days the residents would object to a Fry's in PA


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Posted by Phil Ritter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 13, 2007 at 3:22 pm

I can understand the complaints from the people on Emerson, but I would not support retaining the blocked access to what will be left of Alma Plaza. There was a pedestrian/bicycle connection to Alma Plaza from Emerson for most of the thirty plus years I've shopped there. Yes, people used to park on Emerson (and Ramona), and a fence was put up some years ago after the residents complained loudly. However, I believe that public access and improved walkability needs to take precedence over the desires of a few people to have a private cul-de-sac. There should be strict enforcement against illegal parking (e.g. blocking driveways, which used to happen). Most of the homeowners knew they were buying on a street with foot access to the then larger and more active Alma Plaza when they moved there, and only those that have bought a house there in the last few years could have reasonably expected not to be impacted by living near a retail center. If shopper parking becomes a big problem, then the city could consider issuing free permits to residents (with hanging permits for their guests), rather than blocking public access.


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