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Proposal for Alma Plaza kindles debate

Original post made on Mar 3, 2008

A proposed 1,300-square-foot community room has emerged as the latest bone of contention in the decade-long debate about Alma Plaza, a boarded-up former shopping center off East Meadow Road.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 3, 2008, 4:17 PM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Wants Cubberley Back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2008 at 9:53 pm

> "There is a shortage of community meeting rooms
> in South Palo Alto. It just needs to live up to
> the promises that were made," Burt said.

The Palo Alto Utility Rate Payers are paying for the Cubberley Center--which has the capacity for many "public" meeting spaces. But the City has restricted the use of this facility to special interests--besides renting a goodly amount of the space out at below market rates to "artists", the California Law Review, some animal rescue operation, a Chinese reading room, and so on ..

There is no excuse for the fact that some of this space has not been made available to the public for meetings and the like.

There are a couple of large rooms that can be rented, but if a few people want to have a sitdown for an hour or two--there aren't any smaller rooms that have been set aside for that sort of purpose.

Rather than trying to shake down McNellis, the so-called "community leaders" ought to be demanding that some of the special interests are booted out of Cubberley and that space made available to the Palo Altans who are paying for rent on the place.

(Of course, most people would rather meet in a coffee shop and maybe have lunch, but the City has really put one over on the residents with the mismanagement of Cubberley).


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 4, 2008 at 12:37 am

What is available at Cubberly has nothing to do with the Alma Plaza project. It is a seperate issue and does need to be delt with as I understand there are very famous and wealthy artists that have been there for a long time and pay almost nothing to the city. If this is true the policy should change. There are other serious issues there also, but not related to Alma Plaza.

If the Alma Plaza project, dense housing, was approved with the provision of a "Community" meeting room it should not change to a community room for the residents of the housing. The Housing Corp. should have no say in this issue.
The housing Corp needs to publish info on who is living in the low cost housing they control. Specifically is it biased towards certain people, groups, who bring in people from far away. These are rumours circulating to this effect. Full public openness would dispel these rumours.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:08 am

It all depends on how you define community.


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Posted by Wants Cubberley Back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 5:42 am

> What is available at Cubberly has nothing to do
> with the Alma Plaza project. It is a seperate issue

While true, the point is that this "community room" is very small--and may not be worth fighting over. Particularly if getting open, and relevant retail stores working in the Alma space again. The place is current completely dead--and doing no one any good.

The post was in response to the claim by Pat Burt (never one to tell the truth) about a "lack of space in South Palo Alto". Clearly--with Cubberley in City hands, Mr. Burt's claim is false. But he has time and again made these sorts of claims--so there is little reason to believe what comes out of his mouth any more.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 6:41 am

Long Time Resident: I agree the future of the Cubberley complex has absolutely nothing to do with who shares the Community room facilities on Alma Plaza.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hm....
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 4, 2008 at 10:20 am

> Long Time Resident: I agree the future of the Cubberley complex
> has absolutely nothing to do with who shares the Community room
> facilities on Alma Plaza.

Agreed. Sounds like a classic debate tactic to distract from the real point, which is that the # of homes allowed is in direct exchange for providing *public* benefits -- including the community room.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2008 at 11:23 am

The headline is written so as to create hostility toward residents and shift focus on them.
A more accurate headline that reflects his takeover of a public benefit would be
Developer Tosses Monkey Wrench into Project.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I am sure that Burt's back yard is available for community barbeques.
Why this hatred for developers? Because they do something with hopes of a profit? Horrors!!!


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Posted by bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

WEW, not because of the profit motive. Not at all. Sometimes developers pursue it so extremely that love of city is thrown away. Permanently. Sometimes even deceitfully. To the permanent destruction of the crumbling remaining PA ambience. Profit, with constraint, and with respect for neighbors, is fine.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Dictate the profit when you share the loss. Like a prolonged strike, no one ever recovers the loss from a protracted quarrel over land use. There is a story about a middle East scorpion...


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm

To "Wants Cubberly back" : Most of Cubberly belongs to the school district and not to the community! With the high density housing going in now and more planned for the future this could be converted to school use entirly. The city owns 8 acres that they are talking about selling to an outside orginization for outside people ,primarily. ]
Cubberly in only temporarly a community asset or availabe for use by the community until it is converted back to school use.
This is why the Alma space should be a permanent community asset. It is not that small either. And it should not be on the second floor unless there is an elevator installed to reach it as many people can not climb stairs, especially disabled and elderly people. It must meet all laws concerning accesability for all disabled people.

A lawsuit is sure to come about if this issue is not taken care of.

I think someone did an analysis of how much profit the developer might make on this site and I recall it was $20,000,000. !!!


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Who are some of the groups that would routinely use the Alma Plaza community room?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm

I can't believe this thread. What has Cubberly got to do with Alma Plaza. Community Centers, Libraries, have nothing to do with renovating Alma. A meeting place is what used to happen with Church Halls. Apartment developments often have club rooms. Who cares what you call them. Who cares how big they will be or what they are called. For Pete's sake, stop holding up the redevelopment and get that eyesore up to scratch.


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Posted by in utter disbelief
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:22 pm

> Sometimes developers pursue it so extremely
> that love of city is thrown away.

"love of city"? You have got to be joking!

Any developer that doesn't pursue profits aggressively will soon be "blown away".

Another example of why this town is so screwed up!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wants Cubberley Back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:32 pm

> Most of Cubberly belongs to the school district
> and not to the community!

It's been almost twenty years now since the City started leasing Cubberley from the PAUSD. As long as it is leased, the PAUSD is not in operational control. The concerns expressed in the post about Cubberley focus on the mismanagement of the resource by the City of Palo Alto--which has the right to sublease--and has done so at less than market rates.

> Cubberly in only temporarly a community asset or availabe
> for use by the community until it is converted back to school use.

True again--but until that time, it is under the full operational control of the City. There is no evidence that the School District will be taking Cubberley back. There is more than ample room on the Gunn campus and the Paly campus to absorb any additional high school students. The two campuses sit on over 100 acres of land. The room needed to absorb more students would not be very great--particularly if two story buildings were utilized.

As to "community assets"--all of the public schools have rooms up the wazooooo -- so there is no reason to claim that Midtown needs another "public meeting" room that will ikely sit idle most of the time.

This is another example of "community engagement" run amuk!


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Deja vu with a classic tactic: distract, divide, confuse and conquer. McNellis has been gaming this process for years instead of bargaining in good faith, hoping (with no small success) to wear down the city and the neighborhood and receive extraordinary concessions.

Now McNellis has received special development privileges from the city in return for pledging certain compensations to the community, including this facility. It has agreed to this deal with its eyes wide open and should be held to the letter of its contract. However, the city has a very poor record of collecting its due from these development horse trades, and the neighbors are right to be vigilant.



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Posted by PAUSD watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Who says that PAUSD would want Cubberly back as a high school? The biggest crunch for space is at the middle school level. Also, putting on the language immersion and boutique programs in one campus would make sense and Cubberly is ideally situated for a commuter school.

Think outside the box, Cubberly will be needed for schools, just which is the question.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2008 at 4:59 pm

If they put in a railroad siding, the plaza would be a nice place for a botique slaughter house. The neighborhood deserves no less.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wants Cubberley Back
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm

> Cubberly will be needed for schools,

Not very likely .. the PAUSD is awash in space. They might tell you otherwise, but they would not be telling you the truth!


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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Who will be paying to maintain this community room at Alma Plaza? Unless a separate fund or entity is set up, I believe it would be the new HOA. Usually HOA community rooms are only for use by persons belonging to the HOA. That is what I would want if I was in the HOA.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 7:08 pm

So, the extended community beyond Alma Plaza wants to be part of the Homeowners Association so they can use the "Community Room." Presumably they are willing to pay the hefty monthly homeowners association dues which will pay for cleaning and maintaining this neighborhood facility.

Meanwhile, McNellis must comply with the Americans for Disability Act and install handicapped bathrooms and an elevator etc. Seems to me this "community room" gets more and more expensive.

Folks, can't we just get Alma Plaza built so we don't have to look at that boarded up trash heap any longer. Let's settle community room issues after the place is built, if you're still willing to pay for it's maintenance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:10 am

A pity we aren't Chicago where you need to pay off just one mob.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Francis Niti
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 9:59 am

You obviously have never done business in Chicago


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