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Board balks at approving controversial Sherman Avenue development

Original post made on Jul 18, 2014

With protests from residents mounting, the city's Architectural Review Board on Thursday deferred its expected approval of a proposed three-story building at 385 Sherman Ave., the latest in a string of commercial developments slated to go up in the business district around California Avenue.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 18, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by allen edwards
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 10:28 am

Does this proposed building meet existing zone laws or not? Seems to me in my neighborhood questions like this were answered easily. If it meets the zoning, it is approved. If it doesn't, it is approved if none of the neighbors complain. It seems to me that Palo Alto needs to stick to this kind of model. Zoning should be respected or changed, but there should not be exceptions -- especially for "community benefit" that never materializes.

What am I missing?


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Posted by Judith Schwartz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:35 am

I think this new proposed building is beautiful and much nicer than the one it is replacing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I've seen quite a few new residential and commercial structures that are modern, graceful, and exciting as well as "traditional" styles that I think are hideous. In our old Palo Alto neighborhood there are charming homes being destroyed all the time and huge, ugly, and badly proportioned houses being put in their place. There are also examples of wonderful remodels and new homes that add to the charm and character of our neighborhoods--some are modern and some look traditional. It is hard to legislate taste.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

Given the traffic - now at all hours during the day, not just rush hours, I suggest that we not add housing or workspace in our city. Lets get as close to zero growth as possible.

This will stop the deterioration of our city as a place to live, and guess what, housing values due to supply and demand will increase - so all residents will benefit.

Somehow Menlo Park has limited its growth. Why can't Palo Alto?


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Posted by Mr. Context
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

The issue isn't one's perception of beauty. The issue throughout Palo Alto is one of context: Does the proposed building complement the scale and scope of the surrounding neighborhood infrastructure? Our current City Hall is a great example of architecture that does not fit either the scale or architectural context of the surrounding commercial infrastructure. And, sadly, this proposal is yet another example of a structure designed to fill every last square foot of its envelope with a building that is clearly out of context with the neighborhood both in scale and design. I applaud those members of the ARB who are pushing to reduce the scale of the project and conform its design to better serve and compliment the neighborhood.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

Yes, I know. A lot of you want to put Palo Alto in amber. Ossification is death to a city.

As for this:

"Does the proposed building complement the scale and scope of the surrounding neighborhood infrastructure? "

It's a commercial district, for god's sake. Three story building is within zoning restrictions. Maybe out of scale for an ant, but not even close to being out of scale for a commercial district.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I also think the proposed building is in scale with the surrounding area. There are many 3-4 story commercial and residential buildings nearby include a 3 story apartment building next door. I totally understand not wanting a taller structure next to your home - I didn't like it when my neighbors knocked down a one story ranch and built a 2 story McMansion but that is their prerogative.


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Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2014 at 2:28 pm

@allen edwards your comment contains an excessive amount of common sense, therefore it cannot be taken seriously in the realm that is Palo Alto.


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Posted by MD from TO
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

MD from TO is a registered user.

What lame reasons for approving this project. My in-laws live in PA and have for over 50 years. It's disgraceful that the real-estate interests have finally taken over the city with their 3-story monoliths. Here in SoCal (Thousand Oaks) we have height limits in our business district. No buildings allowed over 30 feet in height. That's called strict zoning in order to maintain a pleasurable quality of life-also there are restrictions on parking and views from adjoining properties. I'm going to chuckle the next time that a resident from Palo Alto - Northern California tells me that "I would never live in SoCal because of major urban sprawl and congested neighborhoods".


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Posted by Birch Court
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:09 am

I Googled Birch Court condos and learned that it contains some (all?) BMR units. A 1 BR/1 BA unit recently sold for just under $200K.


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Posted by Helene
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:42 am

Oh I see, a proposal to build another bigger building, while nearby we are eliminating lanes on California Ave.
Where are he brains in this city?


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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

"I Googled Birch Court condos and learned that it contains some (all?) BMR units. A 1 BR/1 BA unit recently sold for just under $200K."

Yes, a Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC) project throughout. How many PA citizens realize that PAHC is so powerful in PA? Not just their projects, which are many, but their political influence? They almost succeeded in pulling off that disaster at Maybell, along with a unanimous support of the PA city council. They got defeated, thanks to the common sense of PA citizens, who fought back.

I think PAHC should be completely defunded and rejected by our city council.


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