Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto eyes higher standards for new buildings

Original post made on Aug 22, 2013

The criticism began about five years ago, shortly after a 181-townhouse development called Arbor Real made its debut on El Camino Real in south Palo Alto. Now the city is looking at revising its zoning codes, to align with a vision of El Camino as a pedestrian-friendly, vibrant boulevard.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 22, 2013, 9:49 AM

Comments (87)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

Calling these monster developments "Village" is a big misnomer. A village gives the impression of an idyllic setting in a remote area, poor services, where every resident needs to get into a car to go to wherever. Sure they can walk to the village store which has exorbitant prices and perhaps hike in the nearby hills, but they also have nosey neighbors and lots of gossip.

These developments we have are more like rabbit warrens or ant farms than villages.


Posted by Neilson Buchanan, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

Let's step back and think. There is common agreement that there has be a lapse in quality. Designs were approved by all levels of PA Process. In my experience the first step is for each party in the decision making to examine the root cause of faulty decision making. Wouldn't it be wonderful to hear how the ARB, PTC, Council and staff self-examined their own actions in approving buidlings and designs no longer acceptable? The two most important ground rules in Quality Assurance process are to self-examine root causes and avoid blaming others


Posted by PA-n, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:37 am

I don't see what's so wrong with Arbor Real. The sidewalk is not so narrow, and one reason it's not as wide is because of the greenery - and that's great. And the greenery is by the road, separating the pedestrians from traffic, but in turn making them walk closer to the facade. I'd rather have that than a wider sidewalk with no greenery along the traffic, all for the purposes of the facade not being "in your face".


Posted by Judith , a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

If we take the space out of the roadway, we can make the sidewalks wider. If you try to take the space out of the lot, there won't be room to park. I say, make the street narrower by adopting one of the GRand Boulevard ideas.


Posted by ARB: Learn to Say "No", a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

Has the ARB ever rejected a project because it was too ugly?

Alma Village failed of a bad process by the City Council. The PTC rejected the proposal by developer McNellis. It then went to the Council. Then-councilmember Jack Morton made the motion to initiate the PC ordinance, per staff recommendation. Then-councilmember John Barton, seconded the motion, and changed it to a document by the developer that was given to the Council without public having access. The Council approved the confused motion on a 5-4 vote without several councilmembers who voted yes really understanding what they were voting on. The result overly constrained the future review of the process.

801 Alma failure is entirely due to the ARB review. It did not go before the PTC (except that the PTC rejected an even larger and taller project that would have included the hardware store). Why did the ARB approve that project?


Posted by Too late for this discussion?, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

It appears a little too late to be having this discussion. The damage has already been done, and the ARB, PTC and PACC keep making the same bad decisions that don't reflect the viewpoints of the majority of residents. I feel for those residents who will have to live in 801 Alma Street - affordable or not - it is a disaster. Should be taken down, and start all over. Unfortunately, the city has to live with the 801 Alma street disaster for centuries. Even some of the folks who are planning to live there, don't like the place, but shelter is shelter.


Posted by Gelato, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

Aptly put, Learn to Say No! THANX for the insider info. Everyone in PA could see this was a bad idea and wondered how it could have gotten approved. Now we know!


Posted by senior longtime resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

So finally we hear "Two of the government bodies that most frequently are on the receiving end of the public's blame -- the City Council and the Architectural Review Board -- this week agreed with critics."

Yes, the City Council agree with critics on disasters that they allowed at Arbor Real, Alma Village, 801 High St., but then they went right ahead and narrowed Arastradero causing major traffic problems and consequently causing major traffic problems on Maybell Ave. Most recently they rezoned Maybell for a project that will cause high density, more traffic problems and MOST IMPORTANTLY jeopardizing the safety of our children biking, walking and driving to four schools. They've done this in a mostly R1 residential area. Why do you think the residents of Barron Park and Green acres were so successful in geting signatures for 2 referendums so that the residents of Palo Alto will be able to vote on rezoning of Maybell and hopefuly stop these monstrosities from being built and maintining the quality of life that most residents of Palo Alto desire? Measure D in Nov. gives you the choice!!!


Posted by Profiteers, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm

>>Then-councilmember John Barton, seconded the motion, and changed it to a document by the developer that was given to the Council without public having access<<
Barton is an architect-developer. He supports every development without exception. His wife's development company built the Altaire MARKET RATE project 103 condominiums, next to the JCC.


Posted by Wait until the new street trees grow in..., a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Am I the only one who thinks Arbor Real turned out really well and should be a model for future development along ECR? It is much better than what was there before.


Posted by Please no rezoning, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Councilwoman Karen Holman, "Even something (that) can be a good design, if it doesn't fit in this community, I think there needs to be a sensibility and a sensitivity to that."

However, Ms Holman still voted for the Maybell project that is so out of scale with the neighborhood that the zoning had to be changed to accommodate the density. It is time to help council "get out" of the Maybell mistake before it is built. Seems they feel like something that is this scale is too big for El Camino then why put it in the middle of a neighborhood?

Help to keep one more mistake in Palo Alto from taking place. Vote No for the rezoning on Maybell (No on Measure D this November).


Posted by Oh well, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

....the damage is already done. The projects mentioned in this article are now the cornerstones of Palo Alto architecture. Bring on more oversized all-consuming structures with no archetectural or community value so that Palo Alto City Council and ARB officials can enjoy their trophy of deference to public opinion and acknowledging their sellout to developers seeking the ultimate community transformation that greed is good. The above mentioned projects will stand for decades to come. Congratulations! Job well done!


Posted by Dena, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

The PA City Council needs to be recalled. And the Architectural Review Board needs to be asked to step down and shown the door. Irreparable damage has been done to this town. The comment above stated it well, "too little too late." The damage has been inflicted and we will have to live with these architectural abominations for centuries to come. What a pity for this once charming town. We are the laughing stock of other communities.


Posted by Chris, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Nancy Schwartz, a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I think Arbor Real turned out great. I too like the greenery in between the sidewalk and the facades. The buildings are very attractive. Yes, there is density there, but how else can a younger person afford square footage? Land is so pricey. Not everyone wants a yard to care for or to pay others to care for. I think the suburbs need to offer the choice of higher density living. {BTW, Why are no duplex, four-plexes, etc. ever built anymore?] I would say Arbor Real is a good project.

As for Alma, yeah an extra 5 feet between the sidewalk and the buildings should have been there. I would never willingly walk along there with cars whizzing by at 50mph. And I feel sorry for the independent high-end grocery that tried to make a go of it there. Lasted less than 6 months? Yeah, this Alma project is a fail. I guess the new houses behind it are selling ok though.

I wish we could get some more density in Los Altos, but our residential zoning is so anti-growth. People in charge like to pretend LA is a village. Be sure to check out the weird looking little fake French hotel going up in our downtown.


Posted by Less hypocrisy, too, please, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Wow, it is just TOO MUCH to hear the City Council talking like this after their shoving the rezoning of Maybell down our throats.

And Maybell is in the middle of a residential area, not on El Camino. And they decided just days ago, after historic levels of opposition to the rezoning -- instead of rescinding the rezoning and starting over to put the affordable housing in with a plan that would have fit the neighborhood better (and which the neighbors invited them to do with their blessing) -- they are making the taxpayers shoulder a $600,000 bill for a special election this November.

[Portion removed.]

I'm also really disturbed that there seems to be no place in any of these people's heads for being inclusive of the disabled, elderly, or those with mobility problems (who make up 10% of the population) in new development. Despite the housing element including a major section on inclusivity and diversity, apparently the City doesn't mean disabled people. Instead of the land of tall trees, we are now the land of tall skinny chimney-like houses. Maybe we should rename ourselves since that seems to be where we are headed -- now how does one say "tall skinny stovepipe houses" in Spanish?



Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I understand why architects are on the ARB. But most of them don't live in PA. And I don't understand why we can't habe some concern citizens (who don't have to be architects) who can at least represent the folks who pay the property tax bills around here.

Honestly, I think if Birge Clark showed up to the ARB and presented his plans for the post office they would tell him to get lost. Not modern looking, not up against the sidewalk, too much stucco and tile, etc.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

"I think if Birge Clark showed up to the ARB and presented his plans for the post office they would tell him to get lost."

That's why we have architects on the ARB. Residents would insists our new buildings be pleasant to look at, with balanced innovation. Only truly talented architects can meet that standard.

On the other hand, having our local architects on the ARB ensures that architects' designs will get built with only a casual regard for their merit. Palo Alto's ARB has never encountered an abomination it couldn't adore. That's why we get radical, beauty-be-damned erections like 801 Alma, 800 High, Cheesecake Factory, JCC, Alma Village, Arbor Real...


Posted by Battu, a resident of University South
on Aug 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Palo Altans very often try to resist change instead of embracing it. Instead of channeling change for the common good, change runs over us with rather unfortunate results. Change is inevitable and constantly occurring in our city. Rather than opposing high-density development projects and public works, we should find ways to make it work for us. This won't happen unless the citizenry changes its tune, and then starts to actively participate in government. Simply taking the not-in-my-backyard stance and then leaving city government to its own devices is a recipe for disaster. The eyesores curmudgeon cited are good examples of such an outcome.

High speed rail and high-rise business and residential towers nearby will come to Palo Alto whether we like it or not. A rapidly increasing population and mandated housing unit minimums guarantee it will happen. Wouldn't it be best if we planned to make these developments as beneficial as possible? It certainly beats cobbling them together at the last minute.


Posted by 800 High?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

What's wrong with 800 High St? We got out-bid on a condo there and ended up elsewhere, but it seemed like a nice development IMO.


Posted by What's-Wrong-With-800-High?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm

> What's wrong with 800 High St?

It's big. It's ugly. It doesn't belong in downtown, Palo Alto.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm

"What's wrong with 800 High St?"

Like Maybell, it was rammed through the city approval process, and then referended by citizens concerned about the ugly tendencies in Palo Alto development and the precedent this goofy outsized project would set for other neighborhoods. Despite being outspent 10:1 by the developer, they only narrowly lost the election.

Developments since then have compellingly shown how spot-on their message was. A winning Maybell referendum will pound that message into city hall. Let's hope they comprehend it.


Posted by PA Dweller, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

It's not frequently mentioned, but the problem started years ago with the construction of the Taube Koret Campus at the corner of San Antonio and Charleston.

It takes something to design such intrusive, unsightly buildings, and then have an "Architectural Review" board give it a stamp of approval, all in a city that's known for having strict building codes and lengthy review processes.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

The council members are worried about getting re-elected next year - look who wrote and is mentioned in the article: Holman, Scharf & Price.

They will say whatever to pacify voters, hoping that no one remembers all the projects they voted for. After the election, it will back to business as usual.

Has anyone noticed that in all the major issues, if it's their developer pals, they ignore residents (Lytton Gateway, Maybell, Alma Village, downtown parking, etc). If the developers are not involved, they will support residents (Vehicle dwelling, Cubberley homeless center).


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm

And as expected the JCC is brought into the discussion-- the usual punching bags for those that are against ANY and ALL change in palo alto. This project was vetted by the usual committees, boards and councils. Obviously using the terms "unsightly" and " intrusive" are an opinion. But what is intrusive about the project. It is in an industrial
Area at the edge of town. There are no homes nearby and very few pedestrians that actually walk by it.
I think most people do not realize that the JCC is built in the EICHler style, based on a design by Julia Morgan and made to look like th briones house. People need to realize that most of the homes in palo alto are no prizes. However the appears to be a need to claim that our buildings from the last century are somehow special-- otherwise palo alto would just be another small town


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

So sorry to tell you that the JCC, 800 Alma and the Alma Shopping Center are *all* poster children for pushing the new urbanism and making huge and intrusive mistakes.

Like it or not, that's the way it is.

As for Eichler style --- the old Edgewood shopping center is a perfect example of how Eichlerism does not transfer to commercial buildings. They attempted to use the same features used in their 3 bedroom homes, such as 4x10 beams at 6ft intervals on a large and out of scale facility. The result was not attractive at all.

Yes - taste is in the eye of the beholder. As unscientific as it is, I don't think anyone would argue that there are far more posters who oppose the new urbanism effort than approve.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm

The Cheesecake Factory ten years ago marked the beginning of the
downward spiral in Palo Alto not only for its desecration of the
University Ave streetscape which is stunning in itself, but because it exposed the process, the culture of City Hall of favoritism
toward local developers along with incompetency which together led to all the rest of the disasters which followed. The ARB blatantly violated its central mandate to promote compatible development when it approved with staff recommendation Roxy Rapp's CAKE for University
Ave. It was an unfettered mall prototype design which was followed by more than 50 Cakes all in mall settings following the one on University Ave. The ARB under public outcry should have resigned and a new slate of Council candidates should have emerged, recognizing
the danger zone Palo Alto was in, but it didn't happen and here we are today.





Posted by Sunshine, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Arbor real was the start of the downside of palo alto to ugly. The new JCC center on charleston at San Antonio is another ugly from the outside. That avoids mention because it is not in an area most see every day.
Arbor real is too closed to el camino and charleston.
The sidewalks along el camino and in many ther areas need to be wider, lets start with twice as wide. That leaves room for a row of trees along the street. Then the buildings should have space between the sidewalk and the wall for landscaping. Main entrances should face the street. Commercial buildings should have windows along the street.
All sidewalk increase in width should come from the building area, not the roadway. El camino should remain three lanes wide. Buildings along el camino should have adequate parking behind and under the building.
If the parking is removed along el camino then a bike lane, separated from the roadway and sidewalk can be installed. Currently biking on el camino is suicide. Either prohibit all bikes on el camino and alma or put in separated bike lanes.


Posted by Less hypocrisy, too, please, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

@Sunshine,
There is no room for a full-width sidewalk or bike lane on either side of Maybell, and it's a school commute corridor. Neighbors have been belittled by the developers for wanting safety of the bicycles and pedestrians included in the traffic study, and for not wanting a giant high-density development built there to put even more cars on the road there. Maybell is a horrendous obstacle course now as it is.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Judith - Yes! Less space on the streets! Combined with new dense development! Exactly what we need......

Not An Issue - Yes, the JCC IS always brought in to the discussion of obtrusive architecture that outsizes is surroundings by a long shot, and is not respectful of the architectural character of the neighborhood it's in. There ARE warehouse size neighborhoods around - in fact about a half mile south on Charleston the scale of the building and the style of the building would not have been out of character. (There are neighbors in fact nearby, and the building itself is residential!)

If being called out is so offensive to the stakeholders of a facility, they perhaps should have been more respectful of the zoning laws and neighborhood scale, in the design and location chosen. Its really disingenuous to continue to be so surprised and apparently insulted that the JCC building is called out repeatedly for being the architectural offender that it is.


The subject of this thread by the way is all about how wrong and remiss the official approvers of the massive developments in Palo Alto have been in the recent last several years. I don't think pointing to the legitimate approvals the JCC received does you any good in an argument about whether the building is unsightly and unattractive.

By the way - perhaps people do not realize (or care) what 'style' its built in because its so oversized and in your face, whether walking or driving nearby on Charleston or San Antonio, that people rarely have the opportunity to look at anything other than a blank wall in their faces. From the side view on the other hand, I see a massive boxed apartment complex, looks like something out of footage from the 70's of some dense urban decay area.



Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 5:45 am

Parent--given it's location, there is nothing wrong with the JCC, especially considering it's location. The fact that the stakeholders were respectful of the zoning laws goes without saying--they did nothing illegal. The fact that you are unhappy with how our council handles development is not relevant--the stakeholders jumped through all the hoops. The fact that you want to ignore the fact that the approvals were legitimate, just shows how biased you are against the JCC. The fact that you consider the building unsightly and unattractive is an opinion--shared by a vocal minority, who are unhappy with any and all new development in the city.
The "nearby" neighbors are not that nearby and it is a fact that this building is in an industrial area.
Few people actually walk by that area. Those that do can always look at the two gas stations of the hanger like building on the other side of the street. Those that are in their cars should be focusing on the road and not on the side of a building. I bet you that most people do not know, do not care what the building is and certainly do not sit their thinking about if it is "oversized and in your face".
It is unfortunate that some malcontents seem to view a building that provides services to the city and homes to many as being like a dense urban decay area!!!! These people are so full of themselves and what they think are their correct views of what buildings should look like that they lose site of the big picture.
Time to get over the JCC--it was built properly. It is hear to stay and it serves a useful purpose in the community.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:23 am

No one is saying that what goes on the inside of the JCC is upsetting. On the contrary, it provides many great programs, services, housing, etc. So get over that.

All of the criticism is about the exterior design, massing, placement and scale.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:33 am

"No one is saying that what goes on the inside of the JCC is upsetting. On the contrary, it provides many great programs, services, housing, etc."
Well, maybe if the building was not built the way it was, you would not have all the great programs, services and housing. Plus if you really believe that the JCC does provide great programs, services and housing, then maybe you need to get over the fact that it looks the way it does.
The JCC was approved after many meetings, discussion, presentations etc. Nothing wrong or illegal. People need to get over that or have they forgotten what used to be at that location??
IMHO nothing wrong with the exterior design, placement or scale given the goal of the buildings that comprise the JCC. Time to move on to something else--perhaps Alma Plaza, Edgewood Plaza, Arbor Real, 801 High Street or every other new development in town for the last 20 years. I know change is bad and it is a bitter pill to swallow--all those new, modern buildings that do not like the typical drab Palo Alto building


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:10 am

The major problem of the JCC is the banner signs drapped all over
the walls at the corner. This is the kind of thing you see in Las Vegas. The signs should have been allowed only for an initial period of say three months and then removed. The signs are the major problem there. The City has inconsistent sign control and this shows up at other locations in the City too - another aspect of our completely dysfunctional govt here in Palo Alto and the results show it all across the City in the deterioration and increasingly low grade physical environment in Palo Alto.


Posted by variance granted on JCC?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:04 am

"...stakeholders were respectful of the zoning laws..."
Wasn't a variance granted to permit the JCC to go above 50 feet tall?
I think it is on the short list for most awful architecture in Palo Alto.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

"The major problem of the JCC is the banner signs drapped all over the walls at the corner."
These are allowable according to Palo Alto law
"Web Link
You can check--there is a formula/table for wall sign size compared to total wall size.

"Wasn't a variance granted to permit the JCC to go above 50 feet tall?"
I think there was. Part of our zoning law allows for variances. The stakeholders did nothing wrong if that is what you are implying

"I think it is on the short list for most awful architecture in Palo Alto."
In your opinion. What to do with that awful JCC in that industrial corner of Palo Alto. Oh woe are the residents of Palo Alto--having to drive by and actually see it. Perhaps the JCC should offer counseling for the poor victims of this.

On my short list for most awful architecture in PA are any and all Eichler homes, most homes in Professorville, The Cheesecake Factory and most of the homes that the city considers "historic".


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:35 am

I take it then that you don't actually like the charm and character of Palo Alto and would rather have modern architecture all over town. In that case I wonder why you choose to live in Midtown, Palo Alto, rather than a town that completely encompasses the modern buildings that appear to please you.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:50 am

"I take it then that you don't actually like the charm and character of Palo Alto and would rather have modern architecture all over town."
Well, IMHO, in order to "love" the "charm and character" of Palo Alto you have to actually beleive that there is a charm and character. I do not think that PA has any special charm or character. I know those terms get thrown around plenty--if Palo Alto does not have "charm and character" then it would be like any other old, small town--and we can't have that correct???

"In that case I wonder why you choose to live in Midtown, Palo Alto,"
Are you espousing a "love it or leave it" approach. I live here because of work.

" rather than a town that completely encompasses the modern buildings that appear to please you."
Palo Alto will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Times change, places change. Palo Alto needs to change with the times.
Have all the new developments been sucesses? I don't think so. But things are not as bad as they seem. IMHO, a vocal minority keeps on attacking any and all new development as out of place, ugly, wrong etc. In fact, one gentlemen in town has made a career out of opposing all new projects in his role as a "watchdog".
As with any city, I think you will find that for all the people that dislike a given development there will be an equal or greater number that like it and some that do not care.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

Vocal minority. Hardly. I think if the shoe fits, wear it. You're the only one who has been defending the exterior design (etc.) of the JCC.

BTW - to paraphrase a quote from the "Godfather"...It's not personal, it's business.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:27 am

"You're the only one who has been defending the exterior design (etc.) of the JCC."

CPD--are you suggesting that this forum is representative of the feelings the residents of Palo Alto? Hardly.

AS with many issues, those that support something do not say much--it is the naysayers that constantly complain and whine and moan about it--in this case the JCC.
I think most people are grateful to the JCC for the programs and services they provide to the city. Most people do not care how the JCC looks--what is important is what goes on inside.

And for many people the housing provided by the JCC is what they call home--so you and others are constantly denigrating their homes--which seems to be a regular pasttime in Palo Alto


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

SteveU is a registered user.

We will never agree on what is Ugly and what is Beautiful (or so-so).

What I think we can agree on is when any facility encroaches on the surroundings by not being self supporting in it's usage needs, be it additional Traffic, Sufficient Parking or Noise.

When a New building opens and the negative results of those needs are immediately felt, the building operators should be required to correct those deficiencies, which may include mandatory reduction of occupancy.

Allowing a continuous string of underestimated needs should not be permitted.


Posted by PA Dweller, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

No one is saying JCC's design is illegal. All of the ugly architectures at the heart of this debate are legal. It does not take an architect to tell that the huge expanse of concrete blocks built right up to the street corners is an awful design, aimed at maximizing interior square footage of the compound without regard to exterior aesthetics. With the size of that parcel, they couldn't sacrifice a small portion of space around the edges to make it look less intrusive? No amount of colorful paint and banners can hide the expanse of uninspiring concrete. This is not some isolated industrial area. The area is akin to the southern gateway into Palo Alto / Mountain View passed by thousands of vehicles of each day. Majority of the public will never get to enjoy the programs at the facility, but all will get to view the unsightly structure as they drive pass each day for the next one hundred years.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

"The area is akin to the southern gateway into Palo Alto / Mountain View passed by thousands of vehicles of each day. "
Really, you want to consider that area as a "gateway' to Palo Alto? It is a lovely area, I admit, but...

"but all will get to view the unsightly structure as they drive pass each day for the next one hundred years"
That is so wonderful to hear--I think it will be more like 200 years.
But how many people do you think actually notice the JCC? how many do you think actually care how it looks?
I think you are just projecting your bias onto this--making it sound like people are bothered by the view they get of the JCC.
I also wonder how many people from outside of PA feel that the residents are too pretentious and full of themselves.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm

>> "You can check--there is a formula/table for wall sign size compared to total wall size."

Care to throw some actual numbers at this? Looks like a variance here to me.


Posted by love the jcc, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm

"Care to throw some actual numbers at this? Looks like a variance here to me."
No. Wouldn't know where to get them
If you check table 3 in the link I posted you can the graph. You allowed a sign based on size of the wall and the sign cannot be bigger than 203 square feet.
My point previously was to say that the signs are allowed.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Banners looked like 12' x 30' to me. South wall maybe 50' x 100' depending on how it's measured, which charts to 135 sq ft signage. Not trying to start an argument, if the signs are there then they are obviously allowed. Our rules are made to be bent anyway.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm

When it was first built, I thought the JCC was ugly and too close to the street. Now that I'm used to it, I don't mind it. At least the JCC offers services to the public. You don't have to be affiliated to rent the facilities for parties and weddings. The gym and pool facilities are also amazing. There is also ample underground parking.

Arbor Real was not designed well. The entire neighborhood has only one entrance/exit and it's a right turn only onto El Camino when you exit. Why isn't the neighborhood connected in the back to Wilkie Way?

I don't mind higher density housing as long as the developers are required to provide sufficient parking. For example, the Classics homes at Sterling Park banned overnight parking in guest parking spots because the residents were parking there instead of in their garage. The majority of homes in that development don't have driveways so you either have to park in your garage or on the street. Since most people don't park both cars in the garage or may have more than two cars, developers should be required to provide sufficient parking spots in the development instead of pushing the parking problem onto neighboring streets.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

>> "Why isn't the neighborhood connected in the back to Wilkie Way?"

It's answered in your next paragraph; Arbor Real has the same issue as Sterling Park. Someone from Charleston Meadows might wish to clarify.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

> "Am I the only one who thinks Arbor Real turned out really well and should be a model for future development along ECR? It is much better than what was there before."

I don't know if you're the only one, but I'd hate to live in one of the ground floor units facing El Camino. The doorways and patios are way too close to the street. IMO, the old Rickey's was much nicer.

> "… suburbs need to offer the choice of higher density living."

That's an oxymoron.

> " I say, make the street narrower by adopting one of the GRand Boulevard ideas."

Great idea. Build lots and lots of housing and offices and then take away car lanes.

Each lane on El Camino handles 900 cars/hour. Where do you think they will go? Through the neighborhoods! That is actually what the VTA is planning on. They're NOT assuming the people in those 900 cars will suddenly hop on a bus or a bike. They have clearly said they expect those cars to find other routes.

We already have the example of the Arastradero "road diet." Traffic on Maybell increased 24%, which is one reason the Barron Park folks are protesting about the 4-story 60-unit apartment proposal there.

Have you been on El Camino recently? With huge construction projects on both sides (north of San Antonio), one lane is often closed, causing traffic backups. This is in the middle of the day, not during commute time.

> "The major problem of the JCC is the banner signs draped all over the walls at the corner."

Strange that huge banners are within the law, but the store on University that provided an attractive bike rack had to take its little sign off the rack because sidewalk signs aren't allowed.

There are lots of little tripod signs all over Midtown. And lots of tacky tall poles with vertical flags throughout the city.

> "… how many people do you think actually notice the JCC? how many do you think actually care how it looks?"

Certainly a lot of people on this forum notice it. Everyone I know hates it, but maybe I just need to widen my circle of friends.

> "Now that I'm used to [the JCC], I don't mind it."

Well, there's the problem. One can get used to anything. The city/planners counts on that when they approve the next monstrosity.

> "I also wonder how many people from outside of PA feel that the residents are too pretentious and full of themselves."

Probably everyone thinks Palo Altans are full of themselves, but what's that got to do with ugly buildings?


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm

"Certainly a lot of people on this forum notice it. Everyone I know hates it, but maybe I just need to widen my circle of friends."
And, pat, do you think this forum is a true representation of the residents of palo,alto? The " a lot of people on this forum" that you me in numbers 6 or 7 people
Everyone you know hates it? Pretty strong feelings for an institution that provides so many wonderful services for the city. Do you and them hate the entire JCC or just the part at the corner of San Antonio and charleston?
I understand that you may miss the lovely KFC and Sun facility that used to be there. And also remember the history of how the JCC ended up there and the fact that they jumped through all the hoops for the city. And as others pointed out, the JCC is located in an industrial area, not adjacent to any housing, with few pedestrians that walk by it. Imam sure that most of drivers that happen to sit by while they wait at the lights do not notice it or do not care that it is there.
But I guess for some people there has t be at least 1 or 2 new developments in the city that they need to bash constantly, while claiming. That palo alto has " charm and character "


Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm

The character and aesthetic qualities of Palo Alto are being completely destroyed by our Council,ARB,staff.It is being done
by "commission" and "omission". Where existing rules/ordinances need to be revised and tightened up then that needs to be done. For example if the enormous banner signs plastered on the JCC are
legal then the sign ordinance needs revision. Those permanent banners
are the kind of thing you see, not on the streets of Paris, but
on Las Vegas Blvd hanging on the Flamingo Hotel & Casino. The
decline of Palo Alto is simply stunning in its scope and rapidity. The mistakes and failures of City Hall are piling up, overwhelming
our city with mediocrity, ugliness, tackiness, and gridlock.



Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm

The problem with the JCC is primarily the banner signs, not the
architecture. They should remove them for a trial period of three months and evaluate it and seek public comment. This is what needs to be done.And the City should revise its sign ordinance.These
would be positive steps.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Realist-- are you saying that palo alto is better than las vegas? Or are you suggesting that palo Alto is comparable to Paris!!!!!!
You can check the current sign ordinance and ask that it be revised if you think that is a problem. However you may be inadvertently hung local businesses.
The signs at the JCC are apparently legal, so why should they remove them and ask for public comment?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm

We may not all agree on all the ugly newer buildings, but they are done and built.

What is important is to make sure that we get no more of the ugly monstrosities which leave us so unhappy when they are built.

We need the ARB to keep to zoning rules, keep setbacks, keep height limits and other rules as well as put the parking and windows out front where they help add perspective and congeniality.

If we need to amend the rules to get away from future advertising banners or signs, then the rules should be changed.

We need some common sense when it comes to planning the future of Palo Alto. We don't want paybacks or bargains made to bend the rules or get votes for politicians or anyone else.

We are a residential town that wants to preserve our way of life. We do want to encourage new business and new retail, but not at the cost of charm and character. We even want sensible retail but in the right place such as large grocery store on Charleston opposite OSH and affordable family and household shopping without leaving town.

If rules have to be changed to do this, then let's change them. But don't let's change rules to accommodate ABAG, developers or unscrupulous individuals who don't even live in town.


Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm

We want a review process which has integrity. No special deals, no
exemptions,no catering to special interests and political influence.
After we get past that set of hurdles, we want competency and
professional standards. After that hurdle we want recognition,
understanding, and appreciation of the unique qualities of Palo Alto,
its aesthetic values, quality of life and balance between residential, business and technology, and academics in its historic role.Right now the Council/ARB/staff get a "zero" on meeting these objectives. The City is in a downward spiral as a community as the Council turns it into a commodity.Palo Alto is less than Paris, and it is more than Paris and unfortunately the less than Paris is becoming an increasing part of the picture.




Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Realist-- this article may, interest you;
Web Link

Even though Paris is cutting down on ads banners they are allowing buildings that are being renovated to have ads on them as long as the rest of the space is filled with an artist's work.
So the JCC banners are in line with what is happening in Paris.

Of course the whole idea of comparing palo alto to Paris is a bit ludicrous.


Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm

@ Not an issue
We are not talking about billboards or other advertising. In the case
of the JCC we are talking about permanent banner ads draped on the facade of the building. In Europe, especially France and Italy for example, where a renovation is occurring to an historic structure an ad across the building might be permitted in order to raise money to help with the renovation of that building. Right now, it is somewhat shocking, but in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Samsung has such an ad.These are temporary during the renovation.This is not comparable to what we have at JCC. As far as the reference, Palo Alto is more
than Paris in its central position in technology and the world economy but it is less than Paris in its visual/architectural features although still strong in that regard and unique in its
own qualities but becoming less significant in that regard as our
local govt squanders away and destroys those qualties.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2013 at 7:23 am

Realist-- yes, we are talking about advertising. The article clearly shows and states it. The article makes no mention of temporary ads. Anyway, you said that these kind of ads are not seen in Paris, but they are.
Your comparison of palo alto to Paris is quite a stretch.
Palo alto is no longer in a central position of technology-- that was decades ago and the world economy!!!!! You are comparing the architectural treasures in Paris to palo altos simple homes? Quite a stretch.
Anyway, the ads at the JCC are within the law-- if you disagree, file a complaint.


Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 7:29 am

Further, the qualities in Palo Alto we are talking about are its
scale,its balance of residential/business/academics, architectural
features,environmental quality and natural features. Preserving
this unique ambiance and character is where the Council/ARB/staff are
totally failing and through their actions actually moving destructively in the opposite direction. The character and balance
are fragile qualities which cannot take the hammering which the
Council/ARB/staff have done to them, with no vision of the future.


Posted by realist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 8:14 am

@not an issue
We need to draw a distinction here between posters/art on the one
hand, ads on commercial buildings, buildings undergoing renovation, and what we have at the JCC here in Palo Alto. Where that line may
be crossed in Paris especially from the art/posters tradition in Paris to crass commercialism we do not want to emulate here.

Secondly, in terms of historic comparisons, check out the Vanity Fair Oct 2010 which proposes that Palo Alto is the "Rome" of
the nascent century. This carries a theme earlier in work by Walter
Cronkite comparing Silicon Valley to Firenze as I recall which is
actually the more incisive comparison in a substantive sense.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

Well if Vanity Fair compared palo alto to Rome then......
But you stated that we would not see the kind of ads in Paris that we see on the JCC. Yet you are now saying something different.
The JCCs banners are within the law. Palo alto is not Paris, Nor is it Rome. And as for Firenze, palo,alto is a very small part of silicon valley.
Palo alto is a small town with a huge ego and an inflated view of its importance in the world. And palo,alto has to say that it has a certain " charm" and " ambiance" otherwise people like you, realist, would have to admit you are just living in a regular city, and that will not do for people that like to look down on others


Posted by Feeling shut out and walled in, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 9:35 am

This conversation is kind of devolving into a discussion about the JCC. I personally think the banner ads are a relief from the massive sameness of the walls. My problem really is this tendency of all these new buildings to treat the street as if it's some kind of sewer for people to pass through and to visually shut out the public.

The new building at San Antonio (while not Palo Alto) is probably the worst case in point, with no setbacks, and buildings right on El Camino with ugly back entrances right in people's faces.

I think the new urbanism design is soul-deadening and although I am not as great a critic of the ugliness of some of these structures, I do strongly wish we could agree to bring back setbacks and require integration with the street (and by extension, the community) in design.

I think I posted once above, but I don't want to hunt the moniker I used - please keep that in mind (and please don't delete me for posting twice under a different name, I would prefer to stay anonymous over such a hotbutton issue).


Posted by Feeling shut out and walled in, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

@Resident,

"We need some common sense when it comes to planning the future of Palo Alto. We don't want paybacks or bargains made to bend the rules "

Then please support what your neighbors are doing and vote AGAINST/NO on the Maybell referendum, Measure D. With that massive rezoning, Palo Alto is bringing all of those same ills from major streets into residential areas. They are setting a precedent -- in case you missed the meetings, lots of ominous stuff was said about this being the first time they'd financed anything this way, like the Maybell case is a test case and practice for doing more of it.

If you don't want 50-foot buildings in the middle of residential areas, if you don't want exceptions from the last era of overbuilding to be used as excuses to violate residential zoning into the future, if you don't want R-1 residential areas subject to the City's attempt to densify them every chance they get, vote AGAINST/NO on Measure D!


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

Recently Palo Alto has almost had to resort to 'begging" to get members for the Arch. Review Bd, Planning Commission, Parks and Rec, etc.. Why? Are there any firm qualifications for membership? Must be a resident? Must be a voting resident? Must be qualified in the field? Palo Alto could have been a homogeneous city architecturally reflecting its suburban and even Spanish heritage. But it seems now that architects want to 'do their thing", and we've got a mess, endorsed by the very boards that are supposed to oversee building, parks, etc. Do they know what they are doing? It is not "their" city to form, reform, redesign. Ultimately, the responsibility is with the City Council, and the buck stops at the dias. The latter has totally failed us. Time to start all over with these boards and get the quality we need, who understand and love the city, who have the guts to say "no". The City itself needs to set its goals, standards, and what the residents want and make the decisions conform to the standards from top down.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

It seems that Mings is now the next development we should be concerned with. Since they are rebuilding with a hotel and a restaurant this sounds like a sizeable development. This isn't a residential neighborhood, but it is an area leading to our open space. Someone has to keep a watchful eye to make sure that the open feel remains and a concrete jungle is not built.


Posted by Love the JCC, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Feeling shut out--

which building son San Antonio and El camino are you talking about?
Dod you mean the redo of San Antonio Center.
The buildings on El Camino are single story, I believe.
There are multiple entrances to the shopping center being built. Not sure what you mean by "ugly back entrances right in people's faces". The entrances from San Antonio drop you in to the Safeway parking lot, as do the El Camino entrances eventually.
How would you make the entrances "pretty"?
Anyway, this development is in MV so none of our business.


Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

To Resident - Permission to rebuild and renovate Mings with a hotel and new restaurant was decided a couple of years ago. The owners held off during the recession for various reasons, including financing. Now, they are good to go. The City and Council gave this permission a couple of years ago. Some developers have had to hold off actually starting work because financing was tight during the height of the recession. Part of the reason we are seeing construction going on in certain parts of town is due to the hold off of some developers - California - Birch Avenue, Park boulevard are two such projects that were given permission over the past two years, and that specific developer just started earlier this year with the both construction projects.

There is nothing you can do with respect to Mings - its a done deal, and had already been decided a couple of years ago.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

The new hotel on the Mings lot actually doesn't look half bad (in the rendering). If it resembled 801 Alma I think we'd hear some screaming.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Musical-- what is the problem with 801 alma-- besides the fact it does not look like an Eichler?
It is affordable housing near the transit center. Doesn't the side facing alma look that way to help with the expected noise issues from the train and traffic on alma?
Is it too modern for palo alto? Didn't it take 7 or so yeras before they got the okay for this?


Posted by Profiteers, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2013 at 1:32 am

The problem with the ARB is the obvious conflict of interest. Architects work for developers. So they avoid criticizing too strongly or they won't get jobs. They never say no. Recent architects who have gone to work for developers include Dan Garber (for Arillaga)and Heather Young (for Garber). Of course there are more.
And there are architects on the Planning Commission who never say no.
Like the staff, they see their job as helping development happen. They NEVER say no. And the council lets them get away with it. Our Mayor is a real estate attorney. Klein advises rich people on investments. Kniss is closely allied with developers. Price is allied with the unions. It all works to increase more and bigger development.


Posted by Q to profiteers, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 1:45 am

Wouldn't an ARB member need to recuse her/himself on decisions involving developers for who s/he has previously worked?


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:09 am

The next project we need to worry about is the SW corner of
Hamilton/Ramona across from City Hall Plaza. This is a high visibility location, sensitive at the entrance to the historic district on Ramona St, and the visual impact of the roof extension at the Epiphany from Hamilton all the way to Waverley has transformed
the skyline and really bulked up the whole area. The character of
the City, its unique qualities, scale, and interesting eclectic aspects, are being completely overwhelmed by out of control massive new projects which are out of place and cannot be supported by the infrastructure. There is essentially no regulatory or design control by the Council,ARB, and staff which sees its role as simply to assist local developers/architects and expedite their projects through the approval process.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2013 at 6:53 am

Since the council admits that bad choices were made, they should reappoint any of the current planning commissioners and ARB commissioners.

And we as voters need to cast our votes for someone other than Scharf, Price or Shepard in next years election


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

@Kate
Kate is right. The City is in a tailspin- no accountability, no
vision, self-interest rules. The review/regulatory process does not
work, it is a shambles. We are in a crisis, and it is late.
I have suggested that through the initiative process an overview
function be established to be outsourced to a recognized design
professional hired by and accountable to a citizen committee.
All projects would be reviewed as to scale, compatibilty, and
aesthetics. This would include not just private development but public projects/actions which affect the physical environment. Strong action is required by the residents now to turn this around. This over-view function would establish boundaries for public/private actions and projects within a framework of promoting the long-term public interest and protection of the character of the City, aesthetic values, and livability.







Posted by Michael, a resident of University South
on Aug 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

"[801 Alma] is affordable housing near the transit center."

So what? It's 3 blocks from either the transit center or from the nearest bus stop. Try carrying your groceries 3 blocks on foot or bike sometime. And where would you buy them? There's no grocery store near any train station.

"Doesn't the side facing alma look that way to help with the expected noise issues from the train and traffic on alma?"

Of course not. Alma noise and railroad din will come right into any open window that faces Alma. However, those blank walls will probably focus more noise into the PAMF facility across the tracks.

The thing is ugly for no other reason than its designer has no talent, or more malice than ought to be allowed in this town. It will be a highly visible monument to Palo Alto's failed architectural review process, and a great source of smugness for residents of our "lesser" neighboring towns.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm

So all housing shoul be built next to grocery stores? Heard of whole foods? Trader joes?
The smaller the window or open area the less noise inside.
Ugly is an opinion. At least it does not look like most of the sad looking structures in this city that people claim are historic and/ or have charm.


Posted by PA Dweller, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

>>[801 Alma] is affordable housing near the transit center.

That being the case, the architect was supposed to design a building, not a fortress or a jail.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

It's not a fortress or a jail. It is affordable housing.
It is modern housing-- this s the 21st century. Not everything in palo alto needs to like an Eichler.


Posted by Ugly community, a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Wake up people look what you've done, what you're working your lives away for.. Million dollar postage stamp condos, meaningless tech jobs, building industries to make more money for VCs, speculation, unreality. Today at Red Rock Coffee in Mtn view, laptops on every single table, two laptops where two people were seated. Wake up from this ridiculous nightmare that is Silicon Valley.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

Not an issue.

Many times the things you say make a lot of sense.

I think here you are beginning to sound like a troll.

We do not all have the same tastes, I agree. You like modern buildings and have no affinity for old Eichlers (same as me) or buildings more than _ years old. I think we will have to agree to disagree.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2013 at 10:32 am

"Heard of whole foods?"

Whoa there. You got two contradictory streams going here. 801 Alma is for very low income citizens. Whole Foods is a tantalizing presence a half-block away, but there's a good reason it's called Whole Paycheck.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Agree. Better off walking (via the Homer tunnel BTW) to TJ's than going to Whole Paycheck. We've compared TJ pricing to Safeway and have found the basics to be about the same price. Difference is that you won't find Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and such at TJ's.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Agreed, perhaps the residents here need a shuttle to get them to the new Grocery Outlet in Alma Plaza!


Posted by Feeling shut out and walled in, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

"The new building at San Antonio (while not Palo Alto) is probably the worst case in point, with no setbacks, and buildings right on El Camino with ugly back entrances right in people's faces."

I wrote this above and someone who likes to be walled in when driving apparently needed to know which back entrances I was speaking about.

Driving past the new San Antonio Shopping center on El Camino, and the corner, all the businesses except the Counter on the end, face inside, and the back ugly entrances with pipes, emergency exits, and other ugly stuff people put out back abut El Camino with no setback.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

You arecorrect, curmudgeon, but that is one of palo altos big problems-- a lack of affordable shopping for residents-- most regular income people cannot shop their also. I stand correct

Walled in-- no need to get all huffy. The entrances from el camino are not back entrances. You need to realize why the center was designed that way. Not too hard to figure out given its location.
Any way this complex is in MV, so none of our business how it turned out. Do not shop there and let the management know your reasons if it such an issue for you.
P.S.i love San Antonio center and think it will be abreast destination when done. I have no problem being " walled in". I shop at places based on whatbthey have to offer, not based on setbacks, entrances or walls. Convenience trumps being aesthitically pleasing.


Posted by Feeling walled out and shut in, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

@Not an issue:
Here's what I said,
"My problem really is this tendency of all these new buildings to treat the street as if it's some kind of sewer for people to pass through and to visually shut out the public.

The new building at San Antonio (while not Palo Alto) is probably the worst case in point, with no setbacks, and buildings right on El Camino with ugly back entrances right in people's faces.

I think the new urbanism design is soul-deadening and although I am not as great a critic of the ugliness of some of these structures, I do strongly wish we could agree to bring back setbacks and require integration with the street (and by extension, the community) in design."

Those are back doors. Those are not front entrances to the businesses on El Camino, they are emergency entrances, with ugly piping and vents. The businesses open in, and their backsides are parked right on El Camino.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Quite the metaphor---the street is a sewer. You are talking about a very very small part of the center. The fact that buildings needed to be built that way at that location is very obvious-- or would you have preferred all the buildings crunched together in the center, with parking spots along the outside?
Also remember that this center also contains housing and it makes sense to have stores opening inside for the actual residents of the center.
Anyway, regardless of back doors, piping, vents and backsides this is a vast improvement over what was there before. Once finished this will be a great place to shop. And despite all the talk of a " grand boulevard" el camino is the types of street were you want businesses near the sidewalk, as witnessed by miles and miles of that along el camino.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,906 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 2,080 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,232 views

Sometimes "I'm Sorry" Doesn't Cut It
By Cheryl Bac | 7 comments | 1,177 views

SJSU Center for Steinbeck Studies to Honor Author Khaled Hosseini on Weds Sept 10
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 728 views