Hotel, townhouses to replace Palo Alto Bowl Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:28 am
After serving Palo Alto for more than half a century, Palo Alto's only bowling alley will soon be demolished to make way for a new hotel. The City Council voted 7-2 Monday night to approve a 167-room hotel and 26 three-story townhouses for the 4309 El Camino Real property.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 12:59 AM
Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:45 am
While private property rights have won this battle, the City can choose to dedicate some portion of the $1 million-plus in new revenue every year to create a substitute resouce.
If we can't preserve our recreation and places for community gathering, we can at least dedicate a portion of the City's substantial financial gain to replacing what is being taken away. How about a new facility near the golf course... and purchase a little extra land for our compost facility at the same time?
Or... are the skeptics correct that the Council is just hiding behind private property rights to grab the higher revenue so they can avoid controlling the City's spending.
It is time for fiscal discipline. We have lost a community asset, so we must dedicate the City's financial gain to replacing this lost asset vs. spending it on masking our continued failure to control spending. Ethically we must replace the community detriment with a new community benefit. This same lack of discipline is the root cause of our $450 million infrastructure deficit.
Posted by Philip, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:48 am
The way I see it, it’s going to cost the city money. See the hotels on hotel row don’t fill up to where it’s hard to get a room from what I can see. If that is the case adding another hotel will just drive down prices in order for the ones there to compete for the business there is. So with the TAX being % based and only a fixed amount of business prices for rooms will come down and with it the money made from taxes will also.
Posted by Jonrie Davila, a resident of Menlo Park, on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:23 am
I am sad to learn that the Palo Alto City Council approved the proposal to tear down the Palo Alto Bowl and the Thai Garden restaurant sharing its building. I enjoy bowling at the Palo Alto Bowl weekly, and celebrated my 50th birthday there last October. I have been a loyal patron of the Thai Garden restaurant for about 20 years, as well. I do understand the property owner's desire to profit handsomely by redeveloping it for dense housing and a hotel. I doubt, however, that the redevelopment will result in as much revenue for the city as its staff have estimated. The article notes that we are currently "at a time when hotel revenues are plummeting", and yet the staff think it will generate $850,000 a year in transient occupancy taxes? Will anyone be keeping track of this after the project is completed, to evaluate whether the staff's estimates were reasonable? And if it turns out that the estimates were unreasonable, what is the consequence? The city will receive lower than projected tax revenue; the staff who made the erroneous estimates will continue in their jobs, probably without reprimand or any more serious detrimental effect on their employment; the new hotel on that location will not be thriving, as it will be competing for guests with dozens if not hundreds of other hotels and motels in Palo Alto, including a motel next door and a new-ish hotel directly across El Camino Real; and most of all, the public of Palo Alto and neighboring areas will have lost forever access to one of the few businesses in Palo Alto that offers inexpensive, good, simple fun for people of all ages. It is truly a shame.
Posted by Wakeup!, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:36 am
"That is great! Let's build more dense housing so that even more children can attend our already overcrowded schools! There are always portables, right?"
>>I believe that this area of Palo Alto is zoned for the Los Altos >>school district, so it shouldn't impact our "already overcrowded >>schools".
Sure, no problem as long as it affects someone else's "already overcrowded schools" as long as it doesn't impact our's. Los Altos just went through a contentious debate involving their overcrowded schools and found a way to make do. The key issue for them was how to deal with the increasing numbers coming from addresses in Palo Alto and Mountain View (for whatever reasons allocated to Los altos School District). Instead of showing gratitude and finding a way to not overload them any further, you in Palo Alto are approving projects that increase their load while patting yourselves in the back for being creative in not impacting your schools but a neighboring school district's. What an attitude!
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:36 am
As Larry Klein pointed out during the council meeting, the city did not own the bowling alley and has no right to tell the property owners what they can do with their property as long as they obey the law. this point is missed by many. Regardless, there were opportunities for this property to be bought by those that wanted to maintain the alley--these people did nothing except whine and complain---sound and fury signifying nothing.
Anyway cities love hotel taxes--it is a nice chunk of change from non-residents--isn't the hotel tax greater than 10%? basically taxation without representation.
Posted by Exporting Problems, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:43 am
"I believe that this area of Palo Alto is zoned for the Los Altos school district, so it shouldn't impact our "already overcrowded schools""
Did anyone else cringe on reading this?
I have seen this attitude enough to consider it all too common among Palo Alto residents who seem to have no qualms exporting their problems to neighboring cities, not realizing those neighbors already have their hands full.
Posted by mom of teens, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:59 am
I'm sad that there will no longer be a local bowling facility. The bowling alley offered free games to students over the summer. It was great for them to have a safe place to hang out. My kids enjoyed biking over there for a game or two with their friends. Too bad there was not any brain storming about other options for the teens.
Posted by Philip, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:04 am
You right but they did change the zoning to make this possible. But as far as I know that may have been done when a Superbowl was being played at Stanford stadium and they needed the hotel rooms.
Plus what some don’t understand is that another hotel is not good for the hotel tax.
If hotel rooms are near full and travelers are putting off trips to come to your city due to it I can see where one may help but this is not the case now. The way I see it you have a fixed number of travelers to a city each year so another hotel will just get the others to lower prices… let’s keep the math simple.
You have 100 travelers coming to your town and you have 5 hotels each with 25 rooms for a total of 125 rooms now at %10 tax if the rooms are $100 that’s $10 tax per traveler for $100 total. So let’s say you add another hotel with 25 more rooms and the first 5 lower their price to make keep their share of the travelers let’s say to $90 so now you have the same 100 guests only making the city $90 in taxes.
Part of me says they had been better off taxing bowling at $1 a game.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:14 am
I don't know about all of you - but the Palo Alto I grew up in is disappearing before our eyes. Every day, new buildings are going up - the latest was the destruction of the ATT Wireless building (formerly Polly and Jakes) and before that one of HP's first buildings at the corner of Oregon Expy and ECR. It seems that the city council isn't interested in keeping the town livable, only in generating more tax revenue for an enlarged city government staff. And the new buildings downtown pay no attention to their neighbors - and end up being architecturally dull and out of keeping with their street. I'm voting against all council members who approved the destruction of PA Bowl. Just say no to more building!
Posted by Evan, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:19 am
I'm very sad to see the PA Bowl go. Not only have I participated in bowling leagues there as an adult, but I grew up going to disco night.
That being said, why is this decision up to City Council? The owner of the property should be able to determine the best use of the property. How would you like it if you had to go through a city council vote to sell your house? I'm sad the best use isn't a bowling alley, but if there's really a need for that service, it's likely another bowling alley will pop up.
Posted by confused observer, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:27 am
If I'm not mistaken, some percentage of new construction has to have open or green space or even (ugh) public art to meet Palo Alto's architectural standards. Could this percentage be amended to include a bowling alley? It's a recreational use like our beloved ice rink. Could it be city run or leased from the city? The loss of the Palo Alto Bowl would be a terrible blow to this community that seems to do a lot of lip-service to the issue of concern for teens, especially when what's being suggested for the site is another under-utilzed hotel.
Posted by James, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:40 am
It is sad to see Palo Alto Bowl closing, but as a business and a recreational service to Palo Alto, its success is unclear. In all of the nostalgic comments, it is hard to tell if PA Bowl was truly supported by Palo Altans, or people from neighboring communities, whose city councils should decide for their own citizens to fund a bowling establishment. If Palo Alto wishes to be the "upscale innkeeper" city on the Peninsula, so is our direction. Perhaps Mountain View or Sunnyvale to the South, or Redwood City to the North want to welcome bowling? This is a business decision to benefit our city's quality of life, not to stomp on our dear memories. I am still missing Stickney's Restaurant, which was treated very badly on their exit. PA Bowl has received its fair share of public debate.
Many years ago, when Palo Alto Bowl was "Fiesta Lanes", it seemed to have a booming business when bowling was a more popular mainstream pastime. I learned to bowl at downtown's tiny 8-lane "Indian Bowl" before the Van Dorens closed shop. This isn't a "Palo Alto story" but one that is across America.
So, good-bye to bowling. Instances of new, trendy high-tech bowling establishments are on the rise, but these are not affordable for families. I recommend Wii bowling for now. :)
Posted by Debi, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:41 am
"...there were opportunities for this property to be bought by those that wanted to maintain the alley--these people did nothing except whine and complain---sound and fury signifying nothing."
Your tone is truly disturbing and prohibitive to open minded discourse and problem solving. I was one of the 12 "whiners" there last night until midnight. I did no "whining" but was there to see for myself how this would come to pass, what the issues were, voice my opinion (by the way, which is the stated goal of the council, right, to hear more from the people of Palo Alto). Please do not discredit the validity of my perspective b/c you think people who are new to an issue but take time away from their families to be part of our local government process are ignorant. I was home with a newborn while this plan was in its infancy. I subscribe to the Merc and consider myself an informed voter. I did not know about the sale of the land nor the plans to develop another hotel. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Secondly.... Really? The supporters and bowlers who frequent the Palo Alto Bowl could have bought the bowling alley? Really? Gee, why didn't we think of that? What possibly could have kept us from DOING that?? Oh, yes, because we are average people who enjoy average pastimes like teaching our children to bowl on hot summer days, on rainy afternoons after school, for birthday parties, for Great Gatherings fundraisers at Juana Briones, who do not have the resources to ski in Tahoe or vacation in Hawaii but are happy with enjoying a beer and bowling for Girls Nights Out, for Stanford Thursday Nights, and for League Bowling. We don't have that kind of money, even though we are lucky enough to live in Palo Alto.
But, most importantly, the occupancy rate for Hotel Row is 20%. Do the math. Palo Alto hotels are booked TWO TIMES PER YEAR: at the beginning and the end of the Stanford academic year. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:51 am
"Your tone is truly disturbing and prohibitive to open minded discourse and problem solving."
My tone is the exercise of my free speech rights--sorry you disagree with that right, since you also seem to have a problem with private property rights as well.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"Really? The supporters and bowlers who frequent the Palo Alto Bowl could have bought the bowling alley?"
Yes, you could have, had you tried. Should the original owner been forbidden to sell the site because it made you unhappy? What about his right to do with his property as he pleases?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"But, most importantly, the occupancy rate for Hotel Row is 20%."
Where does that number come from?
Larry Klein stated the city's position. The developer has a right to build the hotel. I think you are failing to grasp what private property rights really mean and what people are allowed to do with their own private property--as long as they adhere to the current rules and laws. I find it hard to understand your disdain for these rights, as well as the rights to free speech.
Posted by Debi, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:58 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Speaking only for myself, I am not confused about the issue at hand. I am merely speaking out on the tragic loss of this historic building. Don't put words into my mouth, and I won't put words into yours. I also do understand the legal rights of the property owner, and the potential litigation. Don't lump me with others who share my disdain. We all have valid opinions and the rights, as you pointed out, to express them.
Posted by cieboy, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm
Very sorry to hear this. Special thanks to all who really tried to keep this around. If what Tim Gray says is true and $ can be allocated to set up another bowling alley somewhere else I am all for it.
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I also support the right of a landowner to sell to whomever he pleases, within limits. Does this make me someone who must therefore have the resources to go to Hawaii or Tahoe? And more importantly, are you saying that those who are wealthy can't appreciate a bowling alley? Nope to both. K-Mart and I merely are saying that it is important to respect the rights of landowner (within reason). A group of people could have pooled the resources to buy the "Bowl". I have seen such actions before in other towns. No one did this and now we are losing a very enjoyable, family location to yet another hotel and row of townhouses. It's a sad day. But it is still a day that the private landowner has their legal rights and freedoms. I am disappointed not only in the developer with his bad ideas, but also in the people of Palo Alto that did nothing to find a new buyer (or group of buyers - coop style or otherwise). But please don't add to this unfortunate set of facts by being super sensitive to a differing opinion.
Posted by commonsense, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm
Sounds like a lot of you want PA to go back to Apple orchards. The community decided a long time ago it wanted the likes of Stanford, Hewlett and Packard and many others to live and work here. Palo Alto, like all of Silicon Valley, has changed quite a bit in the last thirty years and will continue to do so for the next thirty. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by rem, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm
Why don’t we have a honest City Council that will honestly say “Developer (Contractors) Lobbyists , Developer (Contractors), donate to us and we will approve!!!!”
It would be great if the City Council and all the other “Councils” and “Work Shops” learned a new word – NO or new phase – DISAPPROVED….
There is no sane reason for this except MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…..
Sound to me like DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT !!!! Gee, the CITY has messed up “University Avenue.", West Charleston Road @ El Camino Real, butchered San Antonio Road, butchered California Street and let’s not forget San Antonio and East Charleston Road.
Like I said ABOVE - There is no sane reason for this PROBLEMS except MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and not caring about the people of Palo Alto or ANY of the other communities …..
Where is the Palo Alto ELKS LODGE, # 1171 ?????
WHERE is RICKIE ?????????
I agree with you Lisa - Where has Palo Alto gone?????
Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:13 pm
Mr. Mart - Honestly, if you are as concerned about your issues as you seem to be, you should consider running for your city council or for the county supervisors. If you have as many supporters as you believe you have, then it would seem that they would support you, your causes and your candidacy. Then you'll have a better chance of influencing decisions.
Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:26 pm Daniel Mart is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
This cause was promoted in papers from PA, Santa Cruz, San Jose and other places. Over 2500 are on the FB group. I know for a fact that there are still many people out there completely unaware of this issue. "Any" grassroots issue, not just ythis one, is a challenge; it's a challenge to get people involved; involved beyond signing a petition or joining a FB group.
This is not the '50s or '60s; we live in a very different time; a time dominated by tiny cell phones with TV's and millionares calling all the shots with a much more "screw you" attitude.
In some ways, it's a worse time; it's definitely not as romantic a time.
As for city government, I don't know. I have been considering things.
Posted by palo verde neighborhood resident, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm
It is sad to lose a great wholesome, family entertainment resource. At the some time that we are wringing our hands over stressed-out, under-served teens in this community, a local business that was doing a great job of serving them is forced to leave.
I will miss Palo Alto Bowl and so will many families. They generously provided free bowling to K-12 students during the summer and participated in fund-raisers for our school district. Similar community based, clean, affordable entertainment is hard to find.
Although I understand the property rights issue, without recognition and support of the quality of life benefits some less profitable businesses provide to our community Palo Alto is becoming a less interesting, fun, quality place to live.
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm
We are in the DEMOCRATIC US. You need to return back to your socialist Kansas. Money is the root of all evil? How truly naive and one sided. Are we to assume then that those without money are all pure of heart? And what about the money spent to find major medical cures? or to pay the financial aid given to pay the tuitions of university students who don't have the funds? or to pay to house the family of ill children at Stanford or St Jude's? Were all these donations "evil"? Of course, I do realize that it is much easier to write on blogs and complain then to get a real job and have some "evil" money to help people with.... You are very entertaining, but not very helpful to any of the current problems.
Posted by Debi, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Apparently the discourse has gotten so negative that the hardworking (and busy!) staff of Palo Alto Weekly has been deleting much of the text. So, I cannot reply to or defend myself.
It's truly a sad day. I repeat, and please do not attack me, that if families had known this was on the table, we may have tried to garner funds from a foundation or the city to buy the property. I know NO ONE who could purchase this property. To "Sees Both Sides", I did not catch the first part of your comment but I think you misinterpreted my point. I was merely trying to make the point that my family does not have the resources to take vacations much less buy the PA Bowl. I am not sure how you jumped to the other assumption.
But, I am more saddened by the process and the discourse here. Divided we fall. By the way, as Councilwoman Kishimoto proffered: we can always try Lawn Bowling!
No point personally attacking me, guys, I won't be responding.
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm
Debi--this has been on the table for 3+ years (since the original owner sold to the developer). I do not know if the original owner tried to find a buyer to keep the bowl or whether he felt after all the years he would make a nice profit on the land (which is his perogative).
the developer has had the property for over 3 years. I do not think it was a secret.
As for Kishimoto's remarks--we could always count on a pithy comment from her--she, like her fellow council members want tax revenue and dollars added to the city coffers--so I am not sure what the point of her lawn bowling comment was.
Posted by stretch, a resident of another community, on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm
First the massage parlors, and now the bowling alley! Wait, first the City condemned and tore down the communes, then the clubs started disappearing and the moneyed people took over the town. No bowling alley - that sucks! What we end up with is a very clean, homogenized town with people packed in like sardines and no place to play.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."
Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:09 pm
An all around disgrace. I guess it gives the kids less distractions outside of the home and more time to study in their rooms alone.
"commonsense" you're missing the point here. Yes change will come regardless, but it's an ugly change. Mountain View has changed a lot in the last few decades as well, but it isn't FUBAR like things are in Palo Alto.
I imagine the ice rink is next. That's a prime spot for some condos.
Posted by jardins, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm
The City helped save JJ&F--a community fixture--by getting their future store to be located within the new office complex going up along that part of El Camino. Why couldn't the City have insisted that the new development on the Palo Alto Bowl property include a bowling alley--either in the hotel, or self-standing among the townhouses? A bowling alley is a community fixture, too.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm
Left out of the story was that Bob Moss & Herb Borock bought up that the planned development violated the "private street" ordinance that the council passed earlier this year. No one on the council thought to question the city staff after the public (ie. Bob's & Herb's as well as others) comments. I thought the council should have at least checked this out.
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm
I don't know what your point is. The US is still a democracy. Last time I checked, "democracy" was defined as "a political government either carried out by the people (direct democracy), or the power to govern is granted to elected representatives (Representative democracy)." We have been the latter for hundreds of years. Your cite to the Constitution does not disagree with my comments about the US being a democracy. Were you trying to make some other point?
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm
Thank you Bob! I agree!
By the way, I see much less concern from my Palo Alto neighbors in previous blogs on Congress' plan for massive cuts to the Medicare system which will cause real suffering to the elderly than I do about a beat up bowling alley. People in this town need to get their priorities straight.
Posted by Bob, a resident of Woodside, on Dec 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm
Sees both sides-
Growing up here I look at many silicon valley residents as being "sugar high". They run around in circles chasing their tails faster and faster until they black out and die. You see them in business, as parents, etc. I don't know why this area attracts them, maybe because wherever they're from rejected 'em and here they are considered normal.
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 4:26 pm
Again, I agree with you completely. I have lived in numerous places and I have never seen so many self-centered, self-righteous folks before. Yet, also these are the same folks who actually do very little to help society. For example, no one came forth with ideas on how to save this bowling alley except to stop the sale by the owner.... Another example - I constantly see articles about how little $$ people in the Valley donate to charities. Yet, I continue to see empassioned blogs on things like bowling alleys, paper shopping bags, parking, etc. Priorities are definitely askew.
Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm
Actually you did change the subject on a post about the bowling alley to Medicare. I don't care if you referenced other posts, this post is STILL about the bowling alley.
Also, I don't have kids, so you completely swung and missed on that one. I'm not surprised though.
Lastly, I think it's hilarious that you're on this thread ranting about how "self-centered" and self-righteous" the locals are, while at the same time thumbing your nose at...the entire city? Maybe you should move back to one of the numerous places where you previously lived.
Posted by Beth S, a resident of the Monroe Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 6:33 pm
This world is all screwed up because Poloticians are only out there to get a name for themselves. They need to start thinking with their heads and not just sit on their butts and collecting the money that they receive from our taxes. They don't care about the children only about themselves. Children are the future citizens of this city and all other cities. We need to start thinking about what is good for them. I can understand what the young people go thru and what has been happening on the railroad tracks. Citizens of PA think about what is good and what the children need instead of making more money with hotel taxes. The Bowling alley was a great source of entertainment for them and safe. The City better think of ways to help the younger generation and keep them off the streets & staying away from guns and drugs. Wake up Palo Alto its not too late. Hotels and high rise buildings don't make the city. The people do. I wish I had thought of the idea of getting a grant to save our children by saving the Bowling alley.
Posted by RecreationDeprived, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 15, 2009 at 6:52 pm
Let's move on and show support for opening a new bowling alley in the area. Maybe at the new center planned for San Antonio Shopping Center. Looks like the community still wants a place to bowl, have fun and socialize.
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm
PA Native (aka Genius),
I am also a native. BUT I am a native that is willing to find flaws with some poor behavior here. Are you suggesting that everyone behaves so wonderfully in the paradise known as Palo Alto?? Your supersensitivity is very helpful - it proves my point!
And you obviously STILL aren't reading correctly. My comment about Medicare wasn't to change the subject to Medicare. It was to point out that I am seeing more passion about this ridiculous subject of a decrepid bowling alley than I see on other posts about such truly important subjects such as Medicare. Sheesh. What is your reading level? 2nd grade? Or is that you simply enjoy ranting away?
Very glad you are "signing out". Now I don't need to respond to any more illogical comments!
Posted by Sees both sides, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:40 pm
5+ years ago at the Palo Alto Bowling Lanes. What a dump and an eye sore. I agree with you Emily.
But I also think that "Recreation Deprived" has a good idea. Those who really miss bowling (clearly not me), should do something. A nice new bowling alley would not be an eyesore for the rest of us and it would keep the bowling fans active. Then all would be happy (except PA Native who would miss making his illogical comments- LOL).
Posted by bpmom, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 9:01 pm
The council really didn't hear our point last night. We know the property own has rights. But we also know the council & ARB has the ability to stipulate that a builder provide more community benefit than a view of the heritage oak (even THAT was shot down). The builder will give $25K to "traffic calming" - they could've given funds toward cross-generational, weather-proof, affordable, disability-friendly local recreation. The council could've acknowledged last night that 10-15 ft. of seeded area & trellis won't give our youth, seniors & disabled the same amount of community recreation. And you know it'll be 10, not 15.
The PAUSD school district uses it for special ed community outings & "adaptive PE" - the city approved destruction of something of irreplaceable value to our most vulnerable population - children with special needs - and they did so without saying they would make it right.
I would've liked the city council to acknowledge our efforts and concern. I would've appreciated hearing how they will help keep community recreation accessible - besides how they will take this dream all the way to the bank (yes, the developer said that). I didn't appreciate a response summed up as - go find your own money & build your own bowling alley. That was not an open, welcoming response to our very valid concerns.
I think the council owes us an apology & a response to our valid concerns. I will be waiting for that in person or in writing - they know who we are.
Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2009 at 9:29 pm
Emily: Took the kids to two bowling birthday parties in 2009. That's about par for the last 5 years. I most certainly will miss the simple recreation offered there, much like what's offered at Winter Lodge. Too bad really.
Posted by tose were the days, a resident of another community, on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm
I remember passing many a pleasant evening bowling and shooting pool at the old Indian Bowl on Emerson in downtown PA. Only eight lanes but always fun. Perhaps the council could have required a small eight lane bowling facility at Hilton site.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 1:55 am
Ok good. Hopefully we can slowly and steadily continue to redevelop El Camino south of Page Mill. Someone once wrote it looks like a 60's movie set - that's about right. Maybe we can develop more organized retail between Frys and Charleston instead of just drive by storefronts.
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 10:42 am
Apropos of the assertion above that certain special interests here consistantly prevail over the interests of the community at large, I recommend, fittingly, the book and website "Bowling Alone" by Kennedy School/ Harvard professor Robert Putnam about the decline in "social capital" and civic engagement. In his thesis he used the decline in bowling leagues as a entry into the larger discussion of how our society has changed -- people used to join bowling leagues, now they bowl alone, whatever the implications. (I guess the opposite is true for youth soccer if I can digress). They are basically prescribing that average Americans get involved, get organized, etc.
Posted by bowled over, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:01 am
I am a native midwesterner who went to college in New England before moving to Palo Alto. One of the more appealing aspects of Palo Alto is the character created by the existence of places like Palo Alto Bowl. With the demolition of the bowling alley and the construction of yet more homogeneous sterile buildings, Palo Alto is taking one more step along the path toward becoming like a lot of unattractive midwestern cities -- the sorts of places that many of us thought we had escaped when we came here.
The current focus seems to be on bringing in more and more residents rather than on improving services and the quality of life for those already here. A misguided strategy that will afford short-term benefits for property owners and developers and long-term grief for the rest of us.
Posted by Paly Grad, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm
How convenient that all the college students who live in Palo Alto that would have showed up to this meeting were off at school taking finals and unable to attend...
I think this is so sad! One of the more enjoyable family/friend activities in Palo Alto is leaving, to be replaced with more housing. Why doesn't Palo Alto make more housing by the 101? There are plenty of empty office buildings there that are not treasured venues of family entertainment.
Posted by zanon, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm
I cry that the bowling alley was going. it was beaitful. my heart fill with joy when isee it. i tlel all my friends around the world about it. it was like a 7th wonder of the world.
palo alto will not be the same without it. where will all the children go? whenever i was there, it was filled with those same children to over crowd our schools. they were laughing and cheering, filled with the joy that comes from bowling!
now they will fall to drugs and delinguincy, all because the council was too short sighted to see what a critical element, indeed, the only element that held this community toeether by a thread was bowling.
Posted by RP, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:12 pm
My family will miss the PA Bowl. I believe the City will be the lesser for its loss. This city just gets more and more generic and uninteresting. Have any of you noticed how the park play areas have all gotten generic and boring. Very few kids play on the park play structures anymore. The merry-go-round was taken out of the park on California Ave at Alma because it was “unsafe.” Now, with more residents and fewer recreation options, we will have even more bored children sitting in front video screens playing electronic games because they have little else to do. Now we will have more “nice” looking homes instead of that “eyesore”. Some want everything to look the same, nice and new. I prefer diversity, including old eyesores and funky architecture and the occasional simple activity to share with my family, like bowling. I dread the new El Camino that is coming.
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:34 am
How many PA residents actually use the PA Bowl? Yes, I know, we have a vocal minority who are agitating to keep the bowl open (without actually having to put an money behind their demands--they have no problems denying the owners their rights to do what they will with their property)--but how many local residents actually use the bowl?
We have heard claims about corrupt councils, millionaires and other falsehoods leveled by these agitators. They have not provided any proof for their allegations--but name calling and the spreading of falsehoods is the MO of those that do not have the facts to back up their claims (or have no desire to actually come up with a financial plan to keep the bowl open).
I have yet to see these agitators answer a couple of simple questions--1) should the owner be forced to keep the bowl open to satisfy their selfish desires and 2) what about the rights of the property owners, as long as they are operating within the law?
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:57 am
Sadly, it appears that this is now a done deal and we will be losing the PA Bowl.
Over the past few years, we have known that this would be a strong possibility but for most of us there has been little we could do to prevent it. Most of us are sad about this and have not been in a position to get up the necessary enthusiasm both in time, effort and indeed financial backing to have done anything to prevent this.
I applaud Daniel Mart for attempting at the 11th hour to do something. Whether he had a plan, or money, is irrelevant. He did have enthusiasm and managed to get a lot of people very interested in his crusade. However, he did start making a lot of accusations and name calling which may or may not have been warranted which I personally did not take kindly to. But, the underlying message is that this is a good attempt of one of the little guys trying to make a noise and standing his ground when the odds are stacked against him.
I hope for 2 things from this.
The first is that someone out there realises that Palo Alto has a need for a bowling alley. Most of us used this to some level during our lives here - my own teen was at a party there just this week. We will manage without it, but it will be a case of having to drive our kids out of town rather than letting them go off with their friends on their bikes for a couple of hours fun in their free time which is sad. Perhaps someone will read these blogs and realise that there is a market in Palo Alto to build some type of recreation amenity for local kids in some development they are planning.
The other aspect is that we must learn from this. The next time we hear of the possibility of losing a Palo Alto amenity, we should band together and act rather than just hope someone else will. Whether it be a privately owned amenity like the Winter Lodge or the closure of parkland by the City (not that there are rumors of either), we the people can do something if we act together and in good time. Look what has happened at Keplers, and No Knew Books, and perhaps others.
We can't alter the PA Bowl, but next time.... who knows?
Posted by RP, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 8:30 am
Here is my answer to your question. The property owners don’t have a “right” to do whatever they want with their property, no property owners do. These property owners, or the previous owners, obtained new rights when they, and the rest of the property owners along El Camino, convinced the City to change the zoning to beautify the street. Though the bowling alley was making money, the owners knew they could make a lot more money by building and selling houses. The zoning change by the Council facilitated their windfall. Zoning is meant to serve the community, but the houses and hotel that replace the bowl are not providing anything we really want or need.
So I ask you who are being selfish, the thousands of people who put their money down to bowl there every year or the property owner and developer whose sole desire here is making more money?
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 8:44 am
"The property owners don’t have a “right” to do whatever they want with their property, no property owners do."
You did not read my complete comment (or chose to ignore part of it) where I stated : 2) what about the rights of the property owners, as long as they are operating within the law?
First of all the original owner of the PA bowl had the right to sell his property. Do you disagree with that? He operated the site for 40+ years, I think. Did he not have the right to sell his personal property for profit?
The new owner, the developer, has the right to build on that property as long as he follows the laws. It was made clear at the council meeting that the developer was following the law and the city could not prevent him from building on that site. Do you disagree with that?
You further state that the new owners "obtained new rights"? Did they not obtain these rights within the law? Granted you may have a bone to pick with the city rezoning the property and with the city's desire to increase tax revenue from a new hotel--but the owner operated within the law.
Seems to me you want to force the original owner and/or the new owner to maintain the bowling alley, for your benefit, and against their personal desires. Or do you suggest that the city buy the property and run the bowling alley? Maybe Mr Mart can raise the money to buy the site
Posted by Another Paly Grad..., a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:46 am
I grew up in Palo Alto from birth until I moved to college, then for two years after I graduated. The Palo Alto Bowl was a favorite past time for our family, my friends and I as I grew up, and when I moved back, it was the same for many families that I would nanny for. Over time there will always be change, however, I think taking away one of the few family friendly venues in this city is a shame. How many more town homes do we need?! With the economy the way it is, why are we building more housing anyway. I know that I don't live there anymore, but I have just had my first child and I looked forward to the day when I could take her there as well as other places that I enjoyed as a child. I am sad that I will never be able to do that. It is a shame that Palo Alto is being inundated by more restaurants, housing, and office buildings. How many of those office buildings and housing venues are up for lease or sale right now? And how many restaurants have gone out of business? Doesn't that tell us that we already have enough of that? Maybe if enough people voice their opinions on this matter like was done with the closing of Keplers Books in Menlo Park, we might be able to keep a long time Palo Alto favorite around.
Posted by RP, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:52 am
You state that they followed the law in getting the zoning changed. You neglect to say that rich property owners and developers own the zoning process and write the laws. If the previous owners did not want to continue to run the bowl they could have sold it to someone who did, no? Instead, a developer bought it and, knowing the system, got it rezoned (I am not actually sure which owner got it rezoned, but that does not matter because it is the rezoning that increased the value for both owners). The original owners weren’t forced to walk away empty handed without rezoning. I believe they would have made money selling it to someone who could still operate the bowl.
I have to move on and don’t want to continue this discussion because I don’t believe you will say anything to change my mind.
Posted by K-Mart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 11:04 am
"If the previous owners did not want to continue to run the bowl they could have sold it to someone who did, no? "
I do not know. You can ask the original owner. He had the right to sell to whomever he wanted. Did Mr Mart make an offer to the previous owner to buy the bowl? I think it is a bit presumptuous of you to say that the original owner could not sell to the people of his choice.
"Instead, a developer bought it and, knowing the system, got it rezoned"
ALl within the limits of the law--given Palo Alto's desire to generate tax revenue.
"I believe they would have made money selling it to someone who could still operate the bowl."
That is for you to take up with the original owner. Perhaps after 40+ years he wanted to make as much money from the property as he could. Perhaps no one who was interested in the bowl made him an offer--all the johnny-come-latelys seem to have gotten vocal in the last few months
Posted by paloaltomarino, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 11:11 am
I, for one, am happy to see it go. For years I've thought it was an eyesore, something fresh will be nice. Oh, and since it is a matter of public record, why don't you do a little research into REALITY, hotels do very well in Palo Alto, from the mid-level to the exclusive, even in this recession the hotels aren't suffering as much in Palo Alto as they are in other areas.
For those of you who love nostalgia, visit one of our 5 ancient libraries, after all, you all seem very fond of them. Instead of having one or two state of the art libraries you like visiting these relics. Why? Because there isn't a Palo Altan alive who isn't so self-centered that they can think "what would be better for the community?" as opposed to "what's better for my property value?".
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2009 at 4:36 pm
Received the following email from PA Bowl today.
Don't miss this exciting email from Palo Alto Bowl. Add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book or safe list.
News From Palo Alto Bowl
4329 El Camino Real • Palo Alto, CA 94306 • (650) 948-1031
Play |•| Laugh |•| Cheer |•| Smile |•| Celebrate
Book a Birthday Party Daily Specials Join a League Coupons Free Ball & Bag Company Parties
Winter Bowling Camp 2009
Palo Alto Bowl rolls out their first camp of it's kind!
Drop your kid's off for 10+ hours of bowling,
arcade play & tons of fun while you get your errands done.
Learn more about Winter Camp!
It’s not too late to book your Holiday Party
for colleagues and family.
Start your party reservation NOW!
$5 Holiday Family Special
Bowl 2 Games (shoes included) for just $5 this holiday season!
Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. December 21st – January 8th.
Whenever lanes are available.
New Years Eve Parties
Come party with us on the last night of 2009!
3 Hours of Planet Bowling (rental shoes included),
Party Favors, Great Food, Great Music, Lights and more!
Find out more details
Our Holiday Hours:
We're open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day!
Christmas Eve from 9am-1am
Christmas Day from 9am-1am
New Year's Eve from 9am-1am
New Year's Day from 9am-1am
Bowling Management Group 4332 Olympic Ave. San Mateo, CA 94403
To opt-out from this list, please update your preferences.
This looks like a business trying hard to succeed. For those who are going to miss this amenity, I suggest we all take advantage of these specials to provide our families with some lasting memories before it has gone for good.
Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View, on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:55 pm Daniel Mart is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Paloaltomarino, many, many disabled people have used the alley for decades, and a lot of these are students who because of their disability are unable to go to one of the very few remaining traditional alleys in other cities. And anyway, the new bowling clubs popping up around are not good for disabled bowlers and the lights are too bright. And Special Olympics, Palo Alto Recreation and every school in the Palo Alto Unified School District uses Palo Alto Bowl every day for their special ed programs/APE. The bowl also provides comradry for the developmentally and physically disabled; community and comradry that gyms simply cannot. Patients bowl alongside their doctors; 80 year olds enter competitions with 20 and 30 year-old students.
The Palo Alto council had had a terrible rep for many years; they cut down the iconic trees on CA Avenue behind the publics back (and didn't even follow proper city procedure); they lost over $4 million and never conducted an investigation into what happened; and they have approved nearly every major development project for years despite public outcry for decorum and fairness. And despite the city's budget crisis, demolition of the bowling alley, knowing all of the above info, is not right and is a clear case of institutionalized discrimination.
I am sorry that it's an eyesore to you; I am sorry that society continues to discriminate against the disabled, whether people know it or not.